Cloud Computing: Collaboration Simplified

Cloudscape

Cloudscape. Krappweis, A. (2012). Retrieved from http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1405908

One of the serendipitous joys of completing my own educational journey while I am teaching occurs when there is a truly meaningful convergence of the two worlds. This week it is in realm of collaborative learning. We explored Evernote which is a software suite created to help an individual archive collected work in much the same way that a traditional notebook/binder might, but that has applications in the cloud that make sharing and collaboration possible.

My own learners regularly bemoan when I assign them group projects (for all kinds of reasons that resonate at many levels), but one of their key complaints is their inability to easily connect with their groupwork partners. This week was no exception.

Voila! – based on my own learning in the session  I created an assignment in our college LMS where they have been charged with finding collaborative methods in which they can be asynchronous and remote from each other. Our own exploration of these tools meshed perfectly – I can now discuss this better with them with some degree of knowledgeability (limited at this point, but give me a week or two). As students who are very much digital natives, I am hoping they embrace this as a valuable resource. Duncan (as cited in Ribble, 2011) notes how important cloud computing is to digital literacy for learners in schools today.

Further, even more opportune was the arrival of a well done SlideShare presentation in my Feedly stream this week, entitled, “Making Learning Collaborative. It references TodaysMeet which we will be using in the next week or two to connect with our own learning groups. This gives the us the chance of connecting with our members in real time.

As part of our own assignment we are creating a slideshow. While I have used SlideRocket and am a fan, we are starting with a presentation in Google Drive (formerly Docs).  This gives me another opportunity for sharing a) samples of work product b) stories of the collaborative endeavor (no pressure Digital Literacy team!); these are real-life and not just theoretical which is a very authentic way to teach.

time

Time Distortion. Kohne, F. (2010). Retrieved from http://www.sxc.hu/lightboxes

Time management continues to be a key challenge for me. Our learning cohort has suggested some great tools and apps that sound very worthwhile in our Great Tools forum. I just need to carve out some dedicated time to really discover their capacity and the ways that they can perhaps contribute to my personal and professional lives. The idea of simplifying me PLE is very attractive – but I have not yet tried IFTTT tool – another task onto the “to-do” list.

Our learning team is working on Digital Literacy this week – anticipating another week of new and enhanced learning – clearly, these are educational directions in which all classrooms, remote and otherwise, are moving. I need to be ready.

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PLN’S Here I Come!

network

Networks.
Zeusmedia. (2012). Retrieved from http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1379237

This week we explored the impact of expanding our personal learning networks (as opposed to my personal learning environment). Until I started this course, I had not considered that I use or access any sort of formal (or informal for that matter) network from which I expand my knowledge base.

But in fact, even without the advent of digital technology, I used a series of tools to connect with colleagues, peers and others to help me increase my knowledge base for my own teaching and learning. This week, we discovered a number of tools that made this exponentially easier (I think – LOL!)

By creating digital connections and using specific digital tools, I can now access the power of the internet in a logical and systematic way – to reach fellow learners, others in education and experts in the disciplines in which I teach.

One of the observations that I am making as we go through these exercises, is that in some cases I feel an initial resistance – often based on an erroneous assumption about what a tool might offer – then upon exploring, I find that tools that offer so much more than I had assumed.

twitter_logo_grande

Twitter Logo. (2012). Retrieved from http://www.socialmediaxperts.co.uk/?page_id=1141

Hello Twitter!

Mu initial response to Twitter was probably similar to others – what can you say that I would have any interest in in 140 characters or less? Further, I know a number of people whose (innocuous) Twitter accounts were hacked – so skeptical would be a fair assessment of how I felt. However, once again, upon reading and viewing our course resources (including Ribble, 2012, Chapter 4, p. 25, eversion), who catalogues some really good opportunities for using Twitter in education; I am forced to reexamine and change my perspective. Used in the ways that it is described for connecting groups, Twitter seems to have some amazing properties. Of course, like everything else, the long term applications and implications will determine if it is something with which I stay, or ultimately opt out.  I am a fan of TEDTalks – I think that they have some excellent resources. I found this video clip of Twitter founder Evan Williams discussing the ways that Twitter users employ the tool – interesting as always. I also found Brad Flickingers’s YouTube guide to Twitter very good – realistic, short and good explanations to the steps that we might need to use.

Can I see connecting with my own students via Twitter? I am not sure – there would have to be some clear ground rules and I am already feeling a bit overwhelmed by constant communication, but perhaps when my formal learning is not so intense, I can explore new and highly relevant connections with them.

I do think that in a business context, Linked In might provide some very relevant connections, but my ever expanding digital footprint makes me a bit wary of continually expanding my web presence. If there are some compelling arguments by my learning colleagues I will rethink this position. I am going to have to go in and make sure that I am checking on my digital presence once we are done our courses to make sure that the digital markers that I am leaving are current and reflective of the impression that I want others to have.

BTW, did a podcast for my other course this week. Also very good learning so listen for a minute or 2 and let me know what you think. As part of that course we watched a very enlightening video clip on copyright and the internet – very timely and current in our ever-expanding online journey.

(I am following Chris Hadfield on Twitter – what a fascinating guy – so multi-talented – makes me proud to be Canadian)

Working next week on online collaborative assignments – another new(er) venture.

Awash on the Tides of Information (AKA Week 4’s Reflection)

tide

Saavedra, M. (2008). Retrieved from http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1046827

To mix some metaphors, on the information highway this week, I feel like I have been run over by a truck! Donna Papacosta (2012) refers to the information firehose, or the constant flood of information to which we are exposed. Well, right now I picture myself at the business end of that hose, flat on my back as a deluge of information washes over me. I usually love new learning but this week I am finding that I need to be a little more discerning in terms of nice to know versus need to know.

The concept of content curation or what Papacosta calls “finding, selecting, organizing sharing, the best of relevant content” in a “structured and thoughtful” way spoke to me from a very attractive place, philosophically (not so much when I looked at ALL of the tools). The notion of having a systematic way of categorizing information (and using a tool like LiveBinder) is very appealing. However, I feel that I need to step back and critically analyze all of the various sites to determine what I will actually use and what is interesting, but not beneficial for me.

On the plus side, thumbs up for:

Google Alerts – used this several times for another paper this week already.

LiveBinder – appeals to my personal organizational style

Diigo – great! – just need to learn all of the very useful (and fun) applications a bit better, but already using it regularly. I am always bookmarking sites and then wondering where they are. We transition computers every 2 years at work and with several at home, having this in the cloud is a huge bonus.

Still not sure about my Google Reader, but tried Feedly (thanks Dave!) and its visual impact and way of organizing is much more appealing. I can see this being a lasting tool.

A couple of my classmates liked the features of Paper.li, so I will go back and revisit, but I didn’t think it was quite right for me after a preliminary view.

Vis a vis, my PLE – well, this week I learned to make and edit a video and post to Vimeo (my other course). I discovered the concept of content curation; I am in the process of blogging via a podcast. I think that I need to add a “collating” category to my visual representation of my PLE. I can see that I am not capturing well enough all of the data management practices that we are learning.

All in all, not a bad week (for a digital immigrant)!

BTW, I have been following with interest a series on the digital world in the The Toronto Star. I mentioned it last week as it examined the impact on our neural networks. This week the series continues as it reviews the phenomenon of internet addiction. Interesting and controversial, but I snuck a peek as I am afraid that if I tallied my weekly online hours I would be appalled.