June 18, 2007

Goals and Aspirations Revisited

Let's rewind to last summer. I had great hopes of getting organized. My first task at hand was to organize weblinks I had on three computers that I had accumulated since the beginning of time (or since 1997) into a del.icio.us account. It took me days to organize everything, but it has been the most beautiful tool I have. Now, I realize that I probably have more stuff in there than what I can use, but it has saved me so much time in the last year. IT'S ALL ABOUT THE TAGS, MAN!

Unfortunately, upon my arrival back at school in the fall, I discovered that the school district network had blocked del.iciou.us and every other social networking application I was interested in trying out in my classroom. My frustration was voiced loud and clear at least once a week as I tried to share links with my students. Since I knew of a better, more efficient way, yet couldn't use it, my life suddenly was worse off than before, although technically it was just the same as it had ever been. A little knowledge hurts sometimes.

(Actually, if I'd just taken the approach that many of my students do in trying to access such forbidden sites such as YouTube and MySpace by using a proxy, I'd have no problems at all. I was tempted, but that sets a terrible example and breaks the AUP.)

If any of you ever find yourselves in such a position, I did find an online bookmarking site that my students could view called Portaportal. It was very easy to use, but not as easy to post to. Plus, the site has advertisements, so about half the time there were some weird ads for "real" shrunken heads. Uhm. Yuck. Luckily the students don't even look at those paid advertisements on any site. Here's a screen shot of what my page with one folder open looks like once you have the secret password to get in. It actually worked out pretty well since, at this point, my del.icio.us account is too large to be student-friendly.

But guess what? I'm suddenly able to access del.icio.us at school, plus I am now able to access Wikispaces, too! I'm so excited, and now I'm returning to another goal from last summer:

So, what I'm working on this week is getting myself organized. It's not just for me, but so I can share with my colleagues, too. (I'm really just thinking those with the same grade level and subject.) My big undertaking is to create a wiki for me and my mates to use as a reference and for sharing too. There are apparently many uses for a wiki, so I hope this is a good one. We often share things anyway, but this might make it easier.
It's so sad that I'm about ten paces behind what's new in education, but I'm getting there. Oh! And as fate would have it, I've somehow scored some pay to work collaboratively with my colleagues this month--we call it a kind of in-service, I guess. A group of us is meeting in real life, trying to figure out how we can use wikis. In just a few days we have made a lot of progress in setting the groundwork for some online collaboration, too!

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