Sue Waters Blog

April 2, 2008
by Sue Waters
9 Comments

Al Upton and The MiniLegends Update — What’s Happening

Image from Al's blogAl Upton and his Principal meet today with representatives from DECS (Department of Education and Children Services) and AEU (Australian Education Union) to discuss the report prepared by DECS Special Investigations and what needs to be done to get the Al’s students blogs back online.

Background Information

For those unaware Al Upton was asked to close Al Upton and the miniLegend blog (and the student blogs) on 14 March while investigations regarding risk and management issues were undertaken. Main concerns were issues relating to use of student images on blogs and potential for cyberstalking because global adult mentors were interacting students. For more information on procedures Al used to set up his blogging program refer to this post.

Outcome of Today’s Meeting

This post is a summary based on the UPDATE 3 that Al has just posted on his blog which relates to his meeting today. Al’s whole mentoring and global collaboration is under severe threat – what he wants is constructive helpful comments that Al and his Principal can use to develop an action plan for student blogging.

Based on their discussions today DECS do not have any specific ‘blog’ policies or guidelines; responsibility (and liability) ultimately rests with his line-manager/principal assuming that he/she endorses the methodologies.

Some of the points raised in the meeting today included:

  • Any communication between students and adults overseas was strongly advised against by both DECS and AEU representatives. Appears there were also concerns with even the idea of closed collaboration with classes in different countries
  • Student identifiers e.g. photos/names/maps etc are a concern/risk. Student photos can be manipulated. Recommendations were that these need to be reduced as much as possible.
  • Parental consent forms need to reviewed and reissued with a range of options for use of student images or avatars
  • Individual student blogs were questioned with a general indication of that not being a good idea

My points are a summary of Al’s recollection of the meeting — you do need to read his update 3 on his blog.

Developing The Action Plan

Al and his Principal would appreciate the support of the community so that they can develop the action plan by taking into account all issues. They are after constructive helpful comments and thoughts; and a balanced discussion of the issues.

Check out this post for views raised on the issues so far.

He would appreciate constructive comments/posts on the mentoring program, use of individual blogs with students, student images/avatars/pseudonames etc.

April 2, 2008
by Sue Waters
10 Comments

Thanks Diigo, CoComment and TweetCloud For The Support

Image of No'sIt would appear that apparently it’s impossible to say NO to me, surely that’s not the case, however I’m feeling slightly sorry for the poor companies / individuals, this weekend, that got dragged into Sue’s World. Image of No!!!! by Claudecf.

Adventures With Diigo

Let’s start with Diigo. The educators have gone absolutely crazy in Twitter since last Thursday about this site — so much so that I had to name it The Site That Can’t Be Named.

I’ve made a conscious decision not to rush off to try every new shiny tool that people rave about because it becomes tiring/draining; it’s much better to let others do all work and wait to see if they still love in a few weeks or moved onto the next best thing (I’m with the cows — read the last sentence at the bottom of the post). However boredom won on Saturday night made me decide to try Diigo out.

Unfortunately installing the diigo toolbar crashed FireFox and kept crashing it whenever I tried to open up my iGoogle page. Nothing worse for me than not being able to do something; drives me crazy. Joel from Diigo immediately contacted me Sunday, when I twittered my problem — poor guy has been working hard since to reproduce my problem so they can check out the issue.

CoComment And Commenting

Meanwhile I’ve been having nice discussions with Christophe from CoComment; we been communicating since he became interested in my comparison between the RSS feed from co.mment and cocomment. I’ve decided to persist with Cocomment because 1) I’m so impressed with the responsiveness of their support and 2) I’m interested in the community aspects of their site (Hey Kim – you seem to be a CoComment power user — do you have any tips for getting more out of using it?).

Poor Christophe — my latest problem with CoComment addon was intermittent problems in FireFox preventing comments from being posted.

After considerable research Diigo wasn’t able to reproduce the problem so suggested I create an entirely new profile of FireFox — which I did last night. Installed Diigo toolbar – no problems. Added CoComment addon — oops now iGoogle is crashing. So we have Diigo toolbar + CoComment Addon + my iGoogle page = FireFox crashes.

Poor guys — now both companies looking into what has Sue done (but fortunately they have now been able to reproduce the problem using an iGoogle page exactly like mine).

So now we have the email competition — which company will enjoy the most email exchanges with me? Your thoughts?

My Own TweetCloud

And not to be outdone I’ve also managed to drag poor John Krutch into it; after he read my reply on Alan Levine’s post at not being able to use TweetCloud cause apparently I’m a prolific twitterer. Thanks to John I’ve now got my own fantastic TweetCloud and he is fantastic. I hope you all notice that Good features strongly in my twitters; this should dispels all myths that I rant and proves I’m GOOD.

tweetcloud.jpg

FINAL THOUGHTS

Thanks to Joel (Diigo), Christophe (CoComment) and John Krutch (TweetCloud) for all the fantastic support.

Would love to hear what you like the most about using Diigo and CoComment. Please let me know of resources, video etc that you recommend I should refer to for learning how to get the most out of using Diigo and CoComment. And let me know how your TweetCloud goes :)

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March 18, 2008
by Sue Waters
15 Comments

I’ve Gone Widget Crazy And Need Help To Control Widget Addiction

Edublogs have given all it’s users new freedom and allows javascript, iframes and object code to be embedded directly into Edublogs blogs. Which is great because I can just copy and paste pretty much most ‘embedding’ code picked up around the web directly into my posts or a text widget in my side bar.

Most importantly I no longer suffer from blogger envy caused by friends having cool toys on their blogs which I haven’t been able to embed. Trouble is I may have become “widget crazy” and need “widget addiction therapy”. Worst still I may have totally cluttered my blog sidebar, which is detracting to readers, so I’m hoping if I list the changes I’ve made my readers may give feedback as to their thoughts i.e. good widget, bad widget or no opinion yet on widget.Image of Lijit Search

Lijit Search

I’ve been jealous of Martin Weller having Lijit search on his blog for a long time. The reason I like the idea of Lijit is because I have my content located across lots of websites and this search allows readers to search content on my blog or all my sites (by clicking on the My Content Tab). Plus it provides some really cools statistics on how readers interact with my blog that are emailed weekly or I can check them out online in my account.

Unfortunately when readers click on My Content tab the search will also shows results from other websites – which is really bad. You want readers to stay on your sites not go to other peoples sites.

The Lijit search widget can be customised to your preferences. I’ve set mine up so that it displays where all my content is located whereas Martin Weller doesn’t display his content. To be honest displaying my content like this may be increasing sidebar clutter and I may have been better using another widget or my blog roll to link to my other websites.

I also still have my Edublogs search widget in my sidebar while I testing Lijit search.

CoComment

Okay I can compromise (although maybe my hubby wouldn’t agree :) ).  I still prefer subscribing to comments on other bloggers posts using co.mment because its RSS feed into Google Reader is better.  However I’m intrigued by the community aspect of cocomment which isn’t an option with co.mment.  So I’ve installed my cocomment widget to this blog; not sure if anyone really wants to read my comments on other blogger’s posts in my sidebar? Let’s be honest it is creating clutter.

Still need a guide to getting more out of using CoComment if anyone has seen one.

Blogroll Created Using Google Reader Shared Folders

John Larkin taught me this trick; it’s a really quick and easy way to create your blogrolls using Google Reader.

Benefit of this method is your blogs subscriptions are automatically updated whenever you add or delete a blog subscription without you having to adjust your blogroll within your blog dashboard.  Apologies to some bloggers –I’ve used two folders to create the blogrolls — Edubloggers and Non-Profit.  Some bloggers in the Non-Profit don’t exactly fit that category.

Other Widgets

I’ve also add a Shared Google Reader widget; it’s right at the bottom hidden away — not fussed if it stays or goes.  Plus haven’t been able to part with MyBlogLog widget; I like the pretty pictures :) even if I’ve not got into using MyBlogLog effectively.

I like the FeedJit widget on Frank’s blog that shows where readers are visiting from but think adding it will just make the sidebar clutter even worse.

FINAL THOUGHTS

So besides “widget addiction therapy” what are your thoughts on the new widgets i.e. good widget, bad widget or no opinion yet on widget.  Is there an important widget I’ve missed that needs to be in my blog sidebar?

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March 13, 2008
by Sue Waters
5 Comments

Passion Quilt Is Now Coming Together!

The Passion Quilt meme has definitely been interesting in terms of analyzing the viral nature of an effective meme within the edublogging community. Started on February 10 by Miguel Guhlin it has now appeared on over 100 blogs and it’s progress can be monitored by subscribing to either of these RSS feeds using your feed reader e.g. Google Reader:

Chart below shows posts that contain “Passion Quilt” per day for the last 30 days.

Technorati Chart
Get your own chart!

Passion Quilt’s Been Brought Together

Unfortunately I was only able to encourage a small number to upload their images to Flickr using the tag term passionquilt08 so that the Passion Quilt could be brought together as a slide show. But the good news is Miguel has been incredibly busy capturing the images from each blog using Skitch and uploading to Flickr.

Here’s what it looks like so far:

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.slideflickr.com/slide/LOh78Bsv" width="500" height="500" wmode="transparent" /]

Also worth checking out Miguel’s post to see what it looks like as a PicassaWeb slideshow and Andrea Hernandez fantastic work in creating a slideshow using RockYou.

Another Meme

Meanwhile Alan Levine must have decided I needed to join him in the doghouse since he tagged me with The Book Meme — who would like to be tagged :)

Check out the chart below to see how viral this meme’s been – chart shows posts that contain “nearest Book” per day for the last 30 days.

Technorati Chart
Get your own chart!

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March 6, 2008
by Sue Waters
5 Comments

What Advice Would You Give?

Image of adviceYep, I know a lot about “a lot of stuff” but there lies my problem; as Bill Watterson (Calvin & Hobbes) says:

The more you know, the harder it is to take decisive action. Once you become informed, you start seeing complexities and shades of gray. You realize that nothing is as clear and simple as it first appears. Ultimately, knowledge is paralyzing

So I need help, advice, on what solutions/options you would recommend for the following scenario. Image by Petite Corneille.

I’ve been contacted by a lecturer who teaches horticulture. She says:

I’ve been recording botanical terms e.g. plant names and spelling to help ot students using a tape recorder. It seems to me it would be much more efficient to put this stuff onto the net so that they can download it to their mp3 players but I’m not quite sure where or how to do it. Any advice?

Here’s my thought process so far:

  1. Worthwhile considering offering both video and audio formats - to enhance the connection between the terms and the botanical images
  2. For audio I’d use a USB headset and Audacity. My choice for video would be MovieMaker or PhotoStory.
  3. Will the outcome desired change with time? i.e. focus currently is the benefit of recordings on mp3 but long term will this change to include: students being able to interact using a forum and post their own videos & photos; being able to provide other resources (documents, PDF); and/or write posts.
  4. Does the site need to be password protected or can it be open?

Can You Help Out?

  1. What other questions are worth asking?
  2. What solutions or options are worth considering?
  3. Do you know of any sites that horticulture lecturers are using with their students?
  4. What haven’t I thought of?

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March 3, 2008
by Sue Waters
12 Comments

Twitter as RSS Reader and Snagging URLs from Twitter

Tonight’s insanity was motivated by Jeff Utecht’s post on Twitter as My RSS Reader especially when he says:

Lately I’ve been thinking about Twitter as an RSS reader. My Netvibes page has about 30 RSS feeds in it, but my Twitter account has over 700 people or feeds that I can learn from. What I have found recently is that I’m reading and following more links from Twitter than I am from my RSS reader.

Yes, I love Twitter (it’s well known) but I’ve been getting a touch frustrated by the number of Twitter friends that are doing exactly what Jeff highlights here. In many cases their RSS feeds aren’t being read; they’re totally relying on people to post the links in Twitter which if they’re not careful could ultimately limit their learning by getting sucked into group thinking.

Snagging URLs from Twitter

However I decided to keep an open mind and inspired by Jeff’s post work out how to effectively collect the links posted in Twitter. Off course I’d just read a post recently, in my Google Reader, which talked how snag the URLs in TwitterFrank suggested TwitBox. And if I was going to road test a twitter application – I might as well also compare my Snitter with Twhirl that Jeff likes to use (for those new to Twitter these applications make it easier to use twitter than using Twitter’s web interface).

The insanity part — it wasn’t probably the best idea to run all three twitter applications at the same time.  Unfortunately whilst I could cope with running the three applications — it appears they couldn’t (think it was an issue with TwitBin and the other two).

twitterapplications.jpg

Have to admit – Twhirl is really, really pretty and the colours are a nice change from Snitter (this is important to some of us) — and more importantly can be used for connecting multiple user accounts.

Twitbin definitely snags the URLs from your twitter followers; but to capture them all you would need to keep it running all the time (and Frank’s right– it’s ugly looking) plus it only snags the URLs, not the entire twit which provide you with the reason to want to check a link.

Tracking URLs Posted by Your Followers

I think there is merit in grabbing links from Twitter but we need an application that makes it time effective — like a TweetScan or Terraminds application that searches for URLs within your followers and delivers the entire twits.

Meanwhile I’ve been grabbing some excellent posts to read by tracking terms using both TweetScan & Terraminds and subscribing to the RSS feeds using Google Reader.

Personally I believe I take the whole 10 signs of Twitter Addiction to an entirely different level.  Perhaps the Twitter Addiction signs should also include:

  • You’ve got more than one twitter account, doesn’t everyone?
  • You run more than one desktop twitter application
  • You track multiple terms in twitter using TweetScan and Terraminds

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March 1, 2008
by Sue Waters
6 Comments

Can The Passion Quilt Meme Be Brought Together?

Love or hate memes, you have to admire the viral nature of an effective meme.

The term meme was originally coined by Richard Dawkins in his 1976 book “The Selfish Gene”; it refers to “A unit of cultural information, such as a cultural practice or idea, that is transmitted verbally or by repeated action from one mind to another”. Blogging memes normally involve a series of questions that a blogger answers and passes onto other blogs by tagging other bloggers to participate. Memes provide lots of link love to the previous tagger, people tagged and the originator of the meme.

Miguel Guhlin’s Passion Quilt meme, started on 10 February, has been incredibly viral — especially with educational bloggers. The idea is we could create our own passion quilt by each contributing an image that captures what we most passionately want children to learn in school…from our particular perspective.

Image of passion meme posts per day

The Passion Quilt meme’s rules are:

  • Post a picture from a source like FlickrCC or Flickr Creative Commons or make/take your own that captures what YOU are most passionate about for kids to learn about…and give your picture a short title.
  • Title your blog post “Meme: Passion Quilt” and link back to this blog entry.
  • Include links to 5 folks in your professional learning network or whom you follow on Twitter/Pownce.

The Passion Quilt meme now has over 70 participants which you can follow by subscribing to either of these RSS feeds for the tag term “passion quilt”using your feed reader e.g. Google Reader:

Bringing The Passion Quilt Meme Together

Definitely this meme has captured the hearts of many educators however:

  1. Miguel now challenged with how to bring it all together; combine the images with the words – he would like to compile the key words and images when I have a free moment but isn’t quite sure which tool and how to encourage the images to connect.
  2. As Allison Miller points out, it would be nice to track the meme’s travel.

Image of how to locatie the Flickr licenseMy solution would be to encourage each participant to:

My image for the passion quilt meme

Image of how to save as jpeg

geotagging.jpg

Adding Value To The Passion Quilt Meme

The value of this is two fold:

  • Means the words and images can easily be connected; and the passion quilt grown visually and geographically
  • Plus participants have differing skills levels – fantastic opportunity for professional development for all of us – providing an excellent opportunity to make the Passion Quilt meme considerably more meaningful than just another meme.

Using Creative Commons Flickr Photos

Remember when using photos from Flickr:

  • To check their license and only use in a manner stated in their license
  • “All rights reserved” means you can not use the photo without permission from the author
  • There are a range of different Creative commons licenses; each impose different restrictions on how you use the images. I strongly recommend that you read Skellie’s A Complete Guide to Finding and Using Flickr Images for an excellent overview of creative commons licenses.
  • All images licensed under Creative commons means that you are required to credit the author with a link back to their profile. You do this by inserting below the photo the link e.g. Photo by Sue Waters.

Image of Flickr CC licensesI would stick to searching and using Flickr photos licensed under any of the following Creative Commons categories (these licenses allow you to add words or make adaptations to the photos):

Thanks To

Yep — Robin, Kathryn (Hapy Birthday :) ) and Sue — I haven’t quite followed the rules of the Passion Quilt meme that you passed onto me (perhaps Darren’s been educating me?) however I hope you will join me in encouraging others to follow my suggestions to add value to the meme.

UPDATE

You can check out the growth of the Passion Quilt on Flickr:

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February 28, 2008
by Sue Waters
3 Comments

The Day Twitter Followers Made Me “Wash My Mouth Out With Soap”

What can I say?

Well apparently I said a lot more than people have come to expect from my mouth – as you can see from what’s been said in my twitter account!

twitterhack.jpg

While some of my followers were a tad offended by my tweets — some actually enjoyed these more than my normal ones plus some choose to follow me!

I’m comforted to know that I wasn’t alone in this – it was happening around the World – even Jeff Utecht and Leonard Low joined me.  Though it looks like my mouth was considerably naughtier than theirs.

Leonard even apologized.

leonardtwitter.jpg

Thankfully my mate Darren Draper came to the rescue, providing a link to the twitter blog post on what had happened.

Twitter was testing a new application server tonight that didn’t work right so they rolled it back. While many people saw the error page other people experienced a more dramatic error which had them accidentally updating other people’s Twitter. Apparently some reported every time they refreshed the page they had another twitter account.

This twitter appears to have enjoyed himself – saying “I posted as 150 different random people on Twitter. It was pretty amazing”.

Meanwhile I was totally oblivious to my twitter antics – which I discovered 2 hours later when I returned to my computer.  The hacking of our accounts was very short lived – stopped immediately Twitter realised the problem – but it did give me a massive panic attack at the thought of my online accounts being hacked.

Glad I use TweetScan tracking to alert me when people twitter my name.

February 14, 2008
by Sue Waters
18 Comments

Can You Sell Me The Benefits of coComment?

My most important tip for keeping up with conversation on blogs is being very effective at managing my comments on other people’s blogs and I showed how I achieve this using Co.mment in my last post. But as Joaquin pointed out in the comments of this post another alternative is to use coComment.

Last week I road tested coComment to compare it’s benefits with co.mment because Alan Levine post on his annual blog absence to comment highlighted that he uses Cocomment. Perhaps I was missing something?

Trouble is I’m not sure? Ultimately what I want is a simple an effective mechanism to manage comments. Co.mment provides me with this solution. coComment definitely has more functionality and it focuses more on the community aspect.

SO I have decided that I need the community (i.e. those that use coComment) to sell me on the benefits of using coComment because perhaps the issue is how I’m using it. So my plan is to show how I use the application and hopefully this will help others highlight aspects that I’m missing.

Comment Feed Viewed In Google Reader

I like to manage comments that I track by adding the RSS feed to my Google Reader account.

When a new comment is added to a post I’m tracking using co.mment it shows an extract of the post, the name of the commenter, date, number of comments on post and the comment.

commentrss.jpg

My feed from cocomment provides considerably less information. No extract from the original post, no indication of the number of comments on the post and the name of the commenter is only displayed if that person has an account with cocomment.

If the commenter doesn’t have an account the comment says Unknown says……. To make matters worse at the moment all comments with Unknown says are being feed through without the comments!!!!

cocommentrss.jpg

The feed from co.mment provides me enough information to remind me why I am tracking the conversation so that I can make an informed decision to respond back to the comment without having to go to comment or visit the original blog. This is not the case for the feed from cocomment.

Comparing number of comments

FINAL THOUGHTS

So where am I going wrong with coComment? What am I missing? How do I make the community aspect work for me?

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February 10, 2008
by Sue Waters
28 Comments

How To Effectively Manage Your Comments on Other People’s Blogs

Blogging is all about having the conversations — not talking to yourself! True conversations, which is what we want to achieve, is when we all, author and commenters interact.

Managing Comments on Other People’s blogs

I’ve many tips for keeping up the conversations on blogs but I believe the most important is being very effective at managing my comments on other people’s blogs. I use co-mment, which tracks my comments, and it notifies me automatically by sending the comment to my Google Reader account. This way when a person comments on a post that I have commented on I can choose to immediately respond back if I want. Co-mment means I can effectively manage my conversations, and they can be near instantaneous.

Setting up Co.mment Account

  1. Go to co.mment and click on Get an account to set up your account
  2. Click on Tool/Setting link and follow instructions to add bookmarklet to your web browser

Diagram of how to set up Co.mment account

Add A Post You Want To Follow To Co.mment

  1. Write your comment on the post you want to track
  2. Then click on the Co.mment bookmarklet in your web browser — make sure you are logged into your co.mment account

commenting.jpg

Subscribing To Your Comments From Co.mment Using A Feed Reader

There are a few options for recieving updates of new comments on blog conversations you are following:

  • Read them directly on your tracking page at co.mment
  • Subscribe by email — means you receive e-mail alerts when new comments are posted
  • Subscribe to your tracking page RSS feed using a Feed Reader i.e. new comments are delivered to your Feed Reader

Subscribing using RSS is the most efficient method because you can use it to manage all the information you receive e.g. comments from your co.mment tracking page, latest posts from blogs you read, your friends Flickr photos.

Subscribing to RSS from comment

Responding Back To Comments

By subscribing to my co.mment tracking page using Google Reader I’m quickly notified when a person comments on a post I’m tracking so I can quickly choose to respond back if I want.

responding.jpg

FINAL THOUGHTS

Do you use comment tracking applications? If so, do you prefer co.mment or cocomment and why? What are your tips for achieving true conversations on blogs?

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