October 15, 2008

I'm done -- but in time?

I just reread the details on the last blog, and I see that the instructions say to complete the program "by October 15." Does that mean I can complete my final blog today? I hope so!

I did enjoy this course. I liked that it had finite, weekly topics with little exercizes to do, with plenty of additional things to explore if the interest was there. I ussually spent a lot of time wandering through all the links provided, maybe spending more time exploring than necessary!

Though I didn't spend a ton of time on it, I especially enjoyed the session on UMConnect. I feel like I had gotten partway through learning to host a session last May, and this little boost pushed me the rest of the way. I also loved all the productivity tools -- should come in very handy.

This program helped me to feel more confident dealing with technology. Some of my co-workers are pretty comfortable with technology, so now I'll know a bit more about what they're talking about, more willing to try the new stuff. I really expect to use Google Docs, NetFiles, and UMConnect often in the next year or so.

I would be very interested in participating in another course like this should it be offered. Any practice with technology is good for me. I think Extension could be making good use of interactive video conferencing, since many regional offices already have the equipment. It's funny that I feel intimidated by Twitter, but interactive video conferenceing feels completely doable in my mind. We could have in-person team meetings while avoiding all that travel. That alone would be worth it.

Anyway, thanks for offering this course. I sure learned a lot!

October 14, 2008

UMConnect

This lesson was great. I had taken Karen Mathees' course on this in May, but somehow I didn't get to the part about how to host my own meeting. Also, I hadn't downloaded Adobe Presenter. Now, I can think of a team where we could (and should!) use this tool. It would be a great way to avoid having to drive for in-person meetings.

I can see that there are some meetings where a plain old conference call would work fine. But, on the team I am thinking of, we will soon have the need to collaborate, real-time, to develop some Word and also graphic documents (flow charts).

This tool is very useful internally. I remember when I took the class in May I wondered whether I could pull this off with my external audiences. Assuming I get a lot of practice, I feel I could get to the point of being a reasonably proficient presenter. However, I don't have a sense whether my audience could handle the technology, or whether their internet service could support a presentation. What level of connectivity our non-U of M users need? Would dial-up service be sufficient (assuming we use the call-in conference call, not VOIP)? Aside from real-time trainings, it would be interesting to develop little modules with recorded audio. It would be fun to try, anyway.

Twitter

I regret to say that I feel I have hit overload with Twitter. I think I get it, and I did browse other people's blogs to see how they think they could use Twitter and UMChat, so I can see how useful it could be. But somewhere between figuring it out, trying to download Pidgin (and failing), and it being the end of the day yesterday, I hit "tilt." Somewhere, my technology brain is saying "no more!" So, I will have to come back to Twitter and chatting at a later time, when it will have an immediate use for it.

I did find the articles interesting. On one hand, I was perplexed that college students would be so disrespectful as to chat during class. What ever happened to real live talking? On the other hand, I was intrigued with appropriate uses -- communicating with the professor during office hours, asking a topic-related question during a presentation, etc.

October 13, 2008

One more thought about social networking

I forgot to mention this thought in my last post. What is the appropriate relationship between personal and professional on social networking sites like Facebook? I'd love to have a page where I share family pictures, ideas, etc. with friends and family, but would certainly not want that on my professional Facebook presence. Do people host two separate Facebook accounts - one for personal, one for professional? Perhaps I could use LinkedIn for professional, reserving Facebook for personal. However, plenty of professional contacts would naturally find me on Facebook. Weird. How do people handle this? So far, I've just tried to limit the information on the Facebook to people and topics I wouldn't mind professional contacts seeing, ie. not posting any personal pictures.

Social Networking

As a result of this chapter, I updated my Facebook page, and even friended someone -- my first self-initiated friend! Within Facebook, I have been a member of a "group" associated with my former employer, a nonprofit. I enjoy keeping up with the goings on of the organization, even replied to a comment which I've never done before. I also updated/expanded my LinkedIn profile. I've only got 5 "links" but it was interesting to explore this site more. Previously I've been very suspicious of putting too much of myself (time and information) out there on these sites, but I guess I do see the value in being known. Someone once told me "it's not about who you know, it's about who knows you." Thus, the toe in the proverbial water.

What's the value of using social networking in my work? I could see establishing a community of environmental education professionals in the state. Thus far, the professional organization supporting environmental educators does a nice enough job providing newsletters and conferences, but what if Extension could support the profession by hosting a Facebook community? It would be an interesting way to keep folks connected, talking to each other between events.

Productivity Tools

As soon as the Google Docs page opened, Iintuitively understood how to use it. Co-workers have offered to work with me this way, why did I not give it a try then? Anyway, it seems like a pretty simple way to track the development of collaborative documents. I also took the opportunity to activate my account with NetFiles. I have received files from NetFiles, but never uploaded them. Now that I am activated, I feel perfectly able to use this tool. I wonder whether Google Docs accomplishes the goal of NetFiles, too, by posting files, in addition to co-developing files with others? If Google Docs covers both needs, why would I need NetFiles?

Regarding the list tools, Nozbe, etc., I wasn't sure if I wanted to keep lists online. Often my reminders are one or two items long, not really worth a whole online list. Alternately, if I used a PDA, I could see managing my lists online, then accessing them through the handheld. Hmmm, another reason to hope for a PDA from Santa...

The Zamzar, Picknik, Doodle, and other tools look great and managable. I hope I remember to use them when the time comes! I've bookmarked them all so I remember where to find them.

Why do these tools seem overwhelming and complicated before I give them a try? Guess I really am a digital immigrant, not a digital native. I really appreciate the little video tours that many of the sites offer. I am an auditory learner, so having someone explain to me what a site's about helps a lot!

October 8, 2008

Wikis

I had fun looking through these Wikis. I can see that there have been multiple contributors, in a tidy, well arranged format (instead of a long string of discussion items, such as in a blog). My favorite location was wetpaint.com, maybe because it was the most attractive to me, maybe because the video (by the same guy we watched before!) made perfect sense to me.

I can see the benefit of Wikies in constucting a centralized place for community information. It's still a little scary/overwhelming to me, but I think I would just need to try it out. Everything is harder before I try it.

Podcasts

Well, I searched around for podcasts related to "environmental education" and was a little disappointed. Though I didn't really expect much, but what I found was...um, poor. I found a 5-minute, low quality recording of a poorly-led group discussion in which some kids (middle elementary, I assume) reflected on their pond pollution simulation. The instructor asked leading recall questions, the students gave pat answers. No independent, higher order thinking at all. Anyway, I guess if I am criticizing the quality of the podcast content, I'm getting the gist of the concept of podcasts!

On a happier note, I've always wanted to catch up on listening to Public Radio's This American Life, and have now subscribed to the RSS feed. I look forward to catching up on episodes I've misseed.

Flickr

Yikes, I have been out of touch for a long time! Trying to catch up, I had fun looking around Flickr today. I have used Flickr in the past when looking for images for educational presentations. A co-worker showed me how to search only for photos that have full (or mostly full) copyright availability. It's actually turned out to be very helpful. On the home front there have been occasions when multiple people take photos at an event (such as a reunion weekend) and then everyone can upload their photos to one location -- very helpful. I viewed the MediaMill tutorial which could someday come in handy. Animoto and the Color Pickr are both fascinating!

August 12, 2008

Setting up RSS feeds

I have set up some RSS feeds for myself using Google Reader. I chose Google Reader as I can see myself using other Google applications in the future. The system of copying URLs and pasting them into the Google subsctiption field is tedious. I would prefer to have "one click" shopping. I will also have to figure out how to unsubscribe from a feed when I find a new one with similar content that I like better. So far, the only feed categories I am using are news and movie related. I'm not sure how critical these RSS feeds will be, since I already get a lot of news from other sources and I never go to or rent movies. This little experiment will show me how useful these can be.

August 6, 2008

I figured it out!

After trying on MANY different templates, I'll stick with this one for now. I can see how blogs can become very personal -- an extension of a person's identity. A blog could also build an identity for an Extension program that may not have had any visibility before.

Is it just me or is this font size in this data entry box really small??

I'm blogging!

This is my first blog entry. Now, I want to figure out how to use the fancy templates.