Sunday, July 19, 2009

Thing 47: Evaluation

MW--All done and survey submitted. Thanks for providing another worthwhile online summer learning experience!

Thing 46: WebJunction MN

I think none of my school library, public library, academic library nor special library friends have joined WebJunction. No luck in finding any of them.

In looking around the site, I see that most of the materials posted for schools come from Bruce Pomerantz, from the state. He's great about cross posting important information. For example, I get an email or two from him and then I see it posted on MemoList, plus someone from the U generally forwards his stuff along and now I know I can find it on WebJunction as well. What is nice is that WebJunction is a central spot to find lots of stuff. For sure I will share this site with my student teacher in the fall--it has lots of good resources to help beginning and continuing school media specialists.

Thing 45: Cloud Computing

Two summers ago (or has it been three?), I started using GoogleDocs. It was a way to do some work when I was not at my school or home computer. It was super effecient and the service has worked well for me. This past school year I've noticed more and more students using GoogleDocs as a way to get their school materials back and forth between home and school. For the most part, it works well. Formatting, on occasion, gives us some trouble.

I haven't moved my whole life there just yet . . . I still rely on the server at work for solid back-up, plus an occasional back-up on a plug in hard drive. For presentations I take materials on a jump drive as I don't want to be caught in a situation where there isn't a reliable internet connection and unable to access materials. A pal uses his Iphone in that same capacity.

Where does it go next? Great question. It seems like we have started some conversations about moving to cloud computing for students in the years to come, especially as it becomes cost prohibitive to keep up with all the technoligcal advance--this is true for both schools and families. Interesting to me, brother-in-law who was once a huge advocate for cloud computing has put himself back on the ground, and pulled everything back to local servers at home and hardwired things. No more wi-fi at their house. Security concerns drove this choice.

This article published last fall from the Christian Science Monitor discusses the impact of cloud computing on the business world and surmises only the powerful will succeed.

Thing 44: The Economy

As the economy has tanked, I feel quite fortunate to have had parents who have taught be about saving, how money works and so on. Also helps that I was raised by parents who were raised by parents who lived through the Depression and have no trouble reusing plastic bags. I knew husband had great potential beyond boyfriend status when one of our first dates I handed him the Happenings book and said "I don't care what we do tonight, but it's got to come out of the book." He laughed with me and many of our future date destinations were from this coupon book.

What's interesting to me is the push back schools are now getting on providing economic education. Certainly its important, but as classes like FACS (a place certainly appropriate for home economics education (saving, budgeting, etc.) become less available because of required courses, where do we squeeze in this info. Students take economics in 9th grade, but will they remember all that they need when it comes time to saying "no" to credit card offers in college? Perhaps, as with many things, this type of education is best done at home with some reinforcing at school. This websites provided in this thing are great for that. I can see making things like the Lee LeFavor video available, having a brief discussion in class and then having a homework assignment in Moodle. The types of economic exploratory activities here go way beyond the classic stock game and certainly would have more impact on students.

What are your cost saving tips?
This summer, we've spent some time on Craig'slist looking for items for the house and for many of our needs, we don't need to have new things. Husband and I are both ok with gently used. For us as we look at the costs of some things, it's an easy choice. My pal Bonnie is also a fantastic garage saler. She's on the hunt for us as well. Regarding other tips, I love coupons, should print off more than we do, try to plan meals around the Sunday grocery ads, Husband bikes to work at least three days a week, so on and so forth. Most of these tips are things we've been doing forever and so when the recession hit, we didn't have to make too many changes in our lifestyle, these things were already a habit. A new habit we hope to acquire in the new house is baking our own bread!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Thing 43: Online TV and Video

When I've missed an episode of a TV show I like, I will take time to track it down and watch it online. Watching online, I find that I don't pay as close attention as I do when it's on the box in the living room. I'm distracted by checking email or looking at FB updates. The quality is not as great, but that's not what I'm after. Mostly, I want to make sure I'm up-to-date on the story line. I do like that you can watch a missed episode in less time than on regular TV (though I can speed up time with our TIVO as well).

I've had fun exploring shows on Hulu and looking at new movie trailers at Apple.

Right now having access to free TV content hasn't changed my viewing habits much. I still like to be comfy on the couch when watching TV (though I know we could get a server for the TV and set that up, etc. etc.) and sometimes I like to watch Gray's Anatomy at the same time everyone else is so that friends and I can call during the commercials. Will free access change things? Sure, we've already seen that with the writers strike and their demands for payment when things go online. How to license creative content and pay everyone fairly is a hot topic! No longer is the guilty warning on the bottom of sheet music not to "reproduce because it negatively impacts the livelihood of the artist" enough.

Thing 42: Music 2.0

Friend Eric introduced me to Radioio a couple of years ago and I liked listening to that when I was working late. No longer did I have to lug around cds, there was a website that had a variety of music formats and I could listen to whatever I wanted. If I were willing to pay a fee, I wouldn't even have to listen to the commercials. Lately it seems that connectivity to this site hasn't been great, so as I have been packing up the house this week I've been listening to The Current via the computer. (We no longer have a stereo or boombox, all is packed away). With the advent of the Ipod and podcasts, I've been able to keep up with favorite radio shows that I sometimes miss and that certainly is a boon! For example, we downloaded a whole bunch of Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me episodes to listen to in the car when driving to Chicago. If you haven't heard the recent episode where Paula Dean is interviewed, grant yourself this 7 minute pleasure. It's a hoot!

So will internet radio replace broadcast? I don't think so. It seems like the radio stations figured out the importance of the internet connection to their work before the TV stations did. In order to stay in business, they must stay relevant. They do that by having up-to-date content, making their original content available via the air waves as well as the internet and by hiring fantastic on air talent. Doesn't matter how good the news reporting is on NPR, if the on air talent isn't any good, no one is going to listen. Plus at this moment, the radio stations do have the advantage of a poor economy on their side . . . HD radio is a luxury for many people and in these times, it might one thing to forgo. Remember when new cars came with Sirius radio connections? They were fabulous, but how many people continued the subscriptions?

Thing 41: Mash Up Your Life

Ja, so our life is pretty much mashed up at the moment. Contents of one house locked away in a storage locker. Half the contents of the other house in storage at my parents house, quarter of the remaining contents packed up in boxes around the house leaving a quarter of things to get us through the next three weeks until we close on the new house.

My frustration with 23 Things is the constant registering for web services, many of which we may never use again. (I get that you don't know until you try, but at this stage I may be getting web service fatigue). Thing 41 wants us to register for yet another thing and quite honestly, I'm very happy with my Igoogle page and Tweet deck for keep tracking things. All the gadgets I have added to those pages do fine by me. So to answer the prompt do these services make life easier, some yes and are they productivity boosters? Yes and no, I like having only one place to check for blog, tweet and FB updates. Am I spending more time on FB this summer than last? Yep. Is that productive? Not so much. :-)