Monday, February 28, 2011

PS22 Chorus

One morning this week, as I listened to the morning news on TV, I heard them mention the PS22 school chorus from Statin Island, NY. I made a mental note to google them later. I ended up searching for them on You Tube and found their channel. These kids are awesome!
They have since performed for the Academy Awards ceremony and was able to go to Disneyland. I saw one of their interviews where one of the kids said, “We are living the dream.” I’m so happy for these children and am amazed at their talent and I appreciate Mr. Breinberg (chorus director) for all he has done for this group of children.
This article tells about how Mr. Breinberg, their blog, and You Tube has contributed to the success of the PS22 chorus. Because of all the things mentioned here, they have been view by millions of people around the world. If you have not heard them perform, please check them out.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Review and Reflection

This has been a very interesting class. It’s hard to believe we are almost halfway through the semester. This class has really opened my eyes to the huge amount of Web 2.0 tools that are available. Some of them, like Wordle and Second Life, I had heard of before but never use. Since I work in an IT department, I thought I was pretty techno savvy, but quickly learned how little I knew.
The first couple of weeks of this class was like a whirl-wind. All those emails coming in so quickly was very hard to track. Learning where to post a comment and when was so confusing. Learning to manage all those new accounts has been challenging. I think I have it under control now. But, we’ll see.
One of my favorite assignments was learning Second Life. I can’t believe I feel this way, because my first experience with it was horrible. Being so naive about the program, somehow I teleported to an unknown area and was pushed around and cursed. I think I jumped in too fast. After going through the tutorials and actually having a meeting with my instructor and fellow classmates, I found that I liked it so much better. I’ve since learned that the North Carolina Community College System uses Second Life for professional development. I may get involved with this in the near future. Second Life has also helped me to feel more connected to my classmates. The meeting we had was great in allowing us to talk and “see” everyone.
Although I hate blogging, it is beneficial in getting to know everyone. By reading everyone’s blog and viewing their weekly vlogs, getting to know everyone is so much easier than if we were only using Moodle. I really hate the vlogs too. Blogging reminds me of writing in a diary. I did that when I was a young girl and viewed them as a very personal and private journal. When mine was read by someone else (no, not my parents), I decided that I would never keep up another one. Never say "never". The vlogs are a struggle for me because it’s hard talking to the camera and not knowing who will see your video. I think it’s hard to come up with a topic that will be interesting enough to capture someone’s attention. Maybe it will get easier as the semester progresses, as others have said, we’ll see.  I can’t believe that I’m actually uploading videos to You Tube!
There are several tools I really like and feel like I will use again. Wordle was fun and so was learning about editing information on Wikipedia, Wiktionary, and Wikiversity. I found it exciting to learn that I can edit the information contained within these Wiki sites and help update information for others. The delicious toolbar that allows you to bookmark your favorites sites is also something I will use. It will be great to be able to access my favorites from different computers.
Learning about Michael Wesch has been wonderful. I love all of his YouTube videos. I may be one of his biggest fans. The information he presents about Media Ecology and Cultural Anthropology is fascinating.
Through all the frustrations of this fast-paced class and keeping up with the many websites, login names, passwords, and the confusion I’ve had about where to post what, this has been a great class. I look forward to all the new things I will learn and will be able to take with me when the class ends.

Living with Technology

Today has been one of those days I've needed to catch up on a few things. Seems like everything is moving way to fast and I don't have time for anything. I took a day off work and thought I would be glued to my computer all day. Well I have been, but it hasn't been so bad after all.

I love living in this day and age when everything you need is right at your fingertips. I've been able to log into my computer at my office to get some work done. I've checked my checking account balance and paid a bill online. I've spent most of my day doing homework assignments for an online graduate degree program through Appalachian State University. My husband has called two times to check on me via a cell phone. I've had a conversation with my daughter via texting and she even sent me a new picture of my grandson. I've caught up on my three email accounts as they are all delivered to my Droid. I was able to talk to a few friends on Facebook and even check my church's calendar events through their website.

Sounds like a lot doesn't it? Well it has been a very productive day and I have to count my blessings. I've done most of this while sitting on my front porch enjoying this beautiful 74 degree weather.  With a wireless Internet connection and my laptop, I'm no longer trapped inside the house sitting at a desk.

Life is good!


I'm really excited about using the Delicious website. I like the idea of all my links being in one place.

During any given day, I work on at least five different computers. There's three in my office, a laptop and desktop PC at home. So it has been a challenge to find all of my favorite websites and finding the ones I need to get my job done. This will make my life so much easier.

This is just one more of the Web 2.0 tools that I didn't know existed before taking this class. I'm looking forward to see what else lies in store for us.

Sunday, February 20, 2011


Wikipedia is one of those websites that I have visited before, but never really explored. I never thought I would be adding content to any Wikipedia articles. I set up my profile and updated an article about the college where I am employed. The most complicated part about updating my profile was trying to insert a picture.  I thought it would be nice to use a picture of one of my plants, but discovered I couldn't do that until I had edited at least 10 articles. That may take a while, or never happen, so I found one on the Wikipedia site that was free to use. I finally found a "how to" video that showed how to insert an image. That was really helpful. I've enjoyed the experience of editing articles on this site, but was so nervous about messing up someone elses content that was already there.

Desktop Virtualization

We are always updating computers in our labs at school. Recently, we decided to test cloud computing and knew that we wanted to use the Pano Logic system. We have already virtualized some of our servers and wanted to test desktop virtualization as well. I found a great article on the Pano Logic systems in eWeek magazine. Check out the article if you’re interested.

In planning for the installation, we had to upgrade all of the network switches in each building on campus. New Cisco switches were needed so that each Pano units could connect to a virtual Pano Manager server located in our server room. Each of these servers can run up to 25 Pano Units. This number works great for all of our labs. We normally have 20 to 25 computers in each room.

There are so many good reasons for moving to this technology. First of all, we have one central place for all updates and troubleshooting. No longer do we have to run across campus to work on an individual computer. The units are very small in size, and they require a fraction of electricity to run as compared to a conventional desktop computer. I’m amazed at how little electricity they use. A normal desktop computer (this does not include the monitor and other peripherals) requires approximately 400 watts of electricity to run. The Pano units only needs 9 watts to run. This in itself is a great cost savings to our already taxed budget.

All of the software needed for a particular class only has to be installed one time, on a server. Then when students log on to a computer (the Pano Unit), the software they need is there. This cuts down on the time it takes for our PC technicians to set up a lab.

We have had wonderful results with this system in the three of our labs so far. We do plan on expanding to all our labs as soon as possible.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Michael Wesch Video

Watching any of the videos by Michael Wesch is exciting. I love them! They are very interesting to me because of the classes I’m currently taking, and because I work in an IT department at a school. By being in an education environment, I can see the way students prefer to learn and how instructors teach have changed over the years. In conversations I hear across campus, no longer are students talking about certain textbook or encyclopedias. Google, YouTube, and Wikipedia is now their sources of information.
In An anthropological introduction of YouTube ,Wesch’s says that “when media change, human relationships change”. I see that students no longer sit in the cafeteria reading a book, or just hanging out with friends, most are online with a laptop, netbook, or iPhone. All seeming to be disengaged from their current surroundings. I do realize they are not alone, but are in their virtual world, with their friends, whether it’s someone across the room or around the world. And, maybe it’s the person sitting right beside them. Who knows?
I could really relate to his term “contact collapse”. In doing my weekly videos, I just want to be invisible. I hope that my friends and family never find my videos. I know I don’t have to worry, but I’ve wondered what I would do if one of my went “viral”. I would be so embarrassed.
One of the main things that stood out in this video for me was the comment about Carl Sagan calling our planet Earth “The Pale Blue Dot…the only home we’ve ever known”. And I loved Wesch’s follow up poem, …that dot, that’s there, that’s somewhere else, that’s everybody, on the other side of that dot, is everyone you know, everyone you love, everyone you’ve ever heard of….billions of potential viewers…it’s a little glass dot, the eyes of the world” Wow! No wonder it’s so hard to make those weekly videos.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Video #3 My favorite Web 2.0 Tool

My daughter's laptop messed up a few days ago and I haven't been able to Skype them. I normally visit with my grandson at least a couple times a week via Skype. Being without it this week has made me realize how much I depend on it and love it. Watch my video to see how I really feel about Skype.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Wordle - Before and After

Just created a Wordle for one of my assignments. According to their website, "Wordle is a tool for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text". I used the URL from this blog to generate the text for my Wordle. You can see mine here on the Wordle website. Then, using the text from my resume, I create this one.

I had heard of wordles before this assignment. One of the VP's at my school asked me to help create one for her to use in a presentation she was doing. She gave me the text she wanted to use and said, "create it". I googled the word "wordle" and found their website, then was able to generate what she wanted. I felt good about doing this because she only gave me a two hour notice to get it done.

The challenge for this assignment, I think, has been to display the graphic within our Moodle forum, I was able to display mine, although it seems a little blurred.

Second Life

One of our assignments this week was to create an account in the virtual world of Second Life. Being a newbie in SL, I thought I would list some pros and cons as I know it, one week in.

Interesting place
Great for meetings
Great for connectivity and engagement in  DL classes

Its huge!
Computer processor hog
Overheats my laptop
Rude people (avatars)
The unknown
Time consuming to learn
Big learning curve
Can be addicting

As you can see, I don’t know many of the good things about this program yet. I hope as the semester wears on, my opinion of this will change.
Our first class meeting in SL was challenging. However, I did get a few good laughs watching everyone’s avatar maneuver around.  The meeting also made me feel better about being in on online class. I actually was able to meet, see, and interact with my classmates.  I would like to get my avatar looking more like me. My hair is naturally curly and I can’t seem to accomplish that yet. Hopefully I’ll learn how beneficial SL is to education. Since we are having to invest so much time in learning this program, I hope it will be used in more than just this one class.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Google Image Labeler

I really enjoyed  the  video by Luis von Ahn. What a great idea he has to get all the images within Google labeled. I’m willing to help tag all those images for fun. I like the game and I like competition. This may cut down on my time playing solitaire. ;)
The idea of crowdsourcing to me is getting a group of people together to do some good old fashion brainstorming. My director reminds us all the time that “we are smarter together than we are individually” I have found that to be so true, because one person can’t know it all, or in a  case like this, can’t do it all.
We do use this method a lot in the IT department at my school. If we have a problem that one person can’t solve, or involves different areas of our network, we all gather to discuss the problem. By working together, we can solve the problem. It also works when we have a big project with a fast approaching deadline. Everyone, whether they have prior knowledge of the task  or not, chips in to help.  By doing a quick tutorial and a step-by-step instruction sheet, we can get the job done.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Explain Web 2.0 to your grandmother

What do you mean, explain Web 2.0 to Grandma. I AM GRANDMA!! And I know many grandma’s that are so tech savvy it’s scary. J Ok, just kidding….Now down to business.
“Web 2.0 refers to the transition from static HTML web pages to the new web of collaboration. In the days of Web 1.0, the average internet user was consumer only. Information distribution went one way, from the internet 'gurus' to the user. With Web 2.0 users are both consumers and producers of information. Web 2.0 is any type of web application that allows user interaction, sharing, and collaboration to generate content. This user-generated content replaces the author-generated content of more traditional websites. Web 2.0 allows users to give more feedback to the author of the website. User participation, dynamic content and increased standardization enhance and enrich the user’s experience. This interactive and enterprising process allows all users of Web 2.0 to share knowledge efficiently and effectively at a higher rate of speed. It allows a voice to all people who have access to the internet and is not constrained by economics or political systems. Web 2.0 somewhat levels the playing field between all its participants and subtly blurs the line between creator and contributor.”

Let me begin by explaining the Internet to you. It can be accessed by clicking on an icon on your computer desktop. Once the window opens, you will have access to the world. If you can imagine it, you can find it.
Like anything else the Internet is changing. Up until the last few years, accessing information on the Internet was like going to the library. You would find a book you want, take it home and read the information it contained. The words in that book never changed. This is called static. It will always remain the same. To learn something new about the subject you picked, you had to wait until the next book was published. Well, the Internet is no longer like that. New technology, called Web 2.0, allows the information you find to change constantly. This is called dynamic. Everyone that has access to the Internet can update the pages or information. Let’s compare it to books again. You no longer have to wait for the next book to come out, it’s like inserting more pages into the same book with updated information.
With this new technology, you can talk to your family and friends just like you would on the phone. This is called real-time. You must have Skype! We’ll get that set up shortly and I’ll show you how to use it. You no longer have to wait for new pictures of your grandchildren to be printed before you can see them. We’ll create you a Facebook and Flickr account so that we can “insert” or upload new pictures anytime we have new ones. We are no longer separated by distanced. We can see or talk to each other whenever we choose. What an amazing time we live in.

"Distance Learning Down Under"

I ran across an article by Evantheia Schibsted at She has written about the Alice Springs School of the Air (ASSOA) that has been providing educational opportunities to children in the Outback of Australia since 1951. This school was established by Adelaide Meithke. She used the RFDS’s two way radio network to put classroom lessons into distant rural homes. The radio network was used until 1995 when they began using computers and the Internet.
I was fascinated by the fact that Ms. Meithke saw the need for distance education long before we even knew it was possible. What a visionary! The article is worth reading. It can be found here.