October 7, 2008

Blog Musings and Not-so-Random Thoughts

Let me see, the prodding questions were:
* What were your favorite discoveries or exercises?
* How has this program assisted or affected your everyday work?
* Were there any unexpected outcomes or take-aways that surprised you?
* What could we do differently to improve this program?
* If another enrichment course of this nature were offered in the future, would you try to participate?

The exercises that have lead to the most thought and discussion for me were the social networking and communication (e.g., Twitter) ones. And that's probably because I have been having conversations about these with my two sons, the youngest being 18. While dad has been learning these "new" tricks, I'm hearing how sites like MySpace and Facebook are already becoming "old school' with the ones that got these off the ground - youth. I guess that shouldn't surprise me, but it is a real-time exposure to the life-cycle of these modern tools and the relatively short life span they have compared to the things that affected me at that age! That said, it makes me constantly wonder where these things will lead. What is the next Twitter, already being developed and beta tested, just around the corner?

At this point, I can't think of anything to change. Maybe that's because this was challenging as it was. The length of time between exercises was just fine. There were plenty of examples in each section to give some depth to the exposure to the topic. I really enjoyed this and would me more than willing to do something like this again.

Amy, you did a great job! Thanks for the effort.

Oh What a Web We Weave!

This has been something that Extension faculty seem to have used quite a bit. I've participated in a few and observed presentations of candidates for campus positions from the comfort of my office on several occasions. I have not set one up before, but having tested the service provided for us by the U, I am pleased to say that I could do this without a great deal of pain!

It has been a great frustration for me that we haven't been able to better use our broadband tools to save ourselves time and money in our work. For years, we have attempted to get administrations to sponsor and promote more usage of our facilities. Unfortunately, those of us "outstate" seem more ready and able to do this; the limitations have been on the St. Paul campus, in terms of a lack of conference areas with video, etc. Web conferencing is just one tool that I hope to see used more often. In my case, I think I could use it more to tie colleagues together in conversation across the state (instead of driving to meetings, at great expense). This I think will be of real value!

September 30, 2008

Twitter for this Twit?

My immediate reaction to the tools we've been learning about of late is "what the heck good would this do me??" In some cases I find answers quickly and in others I come up with no positive responses. This is one of them, in part because I am not involved in classroom teaching on campus (ala Twitter for Academics).

My first thought has been that the older one is, the less likely you will find "colleagues" aware of these tools, let alone ready users or potential users. However, just this morning, having worked through this assignment's readings, I asked at a next-door community college advisory committee meeting who among the group had heard of Twitter. Not one person did, including the college provost (who has teenage daughters and is younger than I)! He actually has about 1,000 students enrolled, so he has more opportunities to use this than I, so that made me feel less old. But, as the video in the assignment discusses, it's hard to know or find out who among your peers/collaborators are already users of this technology for you to interact with.

As with the social networking exercise, this is interesting, but I will just have to ponder this one and watch for opportunities where this tool may be a benefit for me and/or those I supervise. I'm sure something will pop into my head if I work on it awhile.

September 18, 2008

Networked to What?

This exercise has been a mixed bag of thought and feelings. I've had more questions come to mind than I've learned. (This is coming from someone who has felt like I probably should be "connected" via Facebook or Linkedin.)

I visited the sites mentioned and found many as either useless (the first one had such poor design, at least for Firefox, to be read) or quite useful (for the organization that created it). An example of the latter was the one for teachers, though I saw as much personal chatter (how to make a particular coffee drink) as I did educational sharing. Anywho, I do understand how many can use and gain from this.

Once I saw that the UM Alumni Association had a group in Linkedin, I thought I'd go for the optional exercise -- I created an account. I have populated it with information and, only moments after creating it, I coincidentally got an invite from my brother-in-law in Duluth who was just starting a job search exercise by networking in Linkedin! I have sent a bunch of requests to link and no responses yet. (My inbox does not seem to be working - maybe that's the problem.)

Anyway, I am working on fleshing out my profile...maybe I will have a stroke of genius on how I may use this. There is a link to read an article "Ten ways to use Linkedin" on the bottom of the home page. I need to do more research and brain stimulation before I can comment on how my life will be better by doing this!!

September 11, 2008

Holey Moley Rocky!

It's really quite amazing what has developed and available free online in just the last few years! First, I did try out the Zoho website and created a profile. I imported an existing Word document and the process was seamless & effortless and the result was a document that did not change whatsoever from the original Word document. Bullets were the same, no problems or glitches in formatting, etc. Really rather amazing. The added feature of being able to share access with others, etc. makes this particularly appealing...especially if I am working jointly with someone on a document and one or both of us is/are traveling. As Borat would say...very nice...

Doodle was my second visit and once I saw it I recognized that I had used it once or twice -- and promptly forgot the name afterward when, later, I really could have used it! Now I have it bookmarked. This will probably be the most-used productivity tool I have seen. (It is the nature of my work to be scheduling meetings with faculty!)

Finally, I checked out Senduit and Netfiles. While I had one experience with Netfiles, I was pleased to find Senduit as it is more amenable for use in sharing large files with multiple, non-University people.

All in all, this was a fun exercise and I bookmarked all the sites for future exploration!

September 3, 2008

Wiki Schmiki!

Maybe it's the inherent academic in me that recoils in response to a group project like a wiki. Where's the validation, the citiations, the peer review? They look great and many seem to have a lot of information, but how much of any of it can I believe? When I look over even the Extension wikis I also start to wonder who will ever find this information? The sheer volume of information out there boggles my mind.

Wikis didn't do anything for me today. Was it the wiki or just where my head is at? Today I will have to leave that question alone, unanswered.

August 25, 2008

Pod Power

This is one area that I have had some experience with, since getting my IPod for daily YMCA workouts. ITunes does a good job of keeping my MP3 player updated with NPR and other podcasts. As with most things, the only limitation is the time to listen, as I often prefer or need the motivation of high-energy music to keep me moving while exercising! Scanning the podcast services like Odeo, I was flabbergasted by the sheer volume of available podcasts to subscribe to. It shouldn't have surprised me, though. So why don't our administrators do this to communicate to the masses (like our deans!)? Maybe that's coming soon...for good or ill??

August 18, 2008

Flickr Fun

I've been aware of photo-sharing websites for some time, but not aware of all the features they have developed (and possible uses). Obviously, it is critical for everyone to tag files well if they are to have any utility to others in a broad searchable database. The databases for these sites must be huge!

Only last week I learned of a colleague who had uploaded family photos and created a memory book for her parent's 50th wedding anniversary. She was able to have her work published in a bound edition to be mailed to her parents and siblings as a remembrance. I see Flickr has similar products you can make from uploaded pics. This is really something! Unfortunately, I have done such a poor job of filing, cataloging my travel photos, I would probably have a hard time telling my Jordan pics from my Lebanon pics!! What a bum! What to do, what to do...

August 11, 2008

RSS Feeds Leave me Hungry

Hmmm...I kinda knew what RSS feeds were and now I know more. It still seems cumbersome to use or operate. I'm still unclear how they "come to me" so I know there is a new entry from a subscribed feed. Guess I will need to continue checking that one out. I am a user of Google email, so I set up my feed via the Google Reader. I got several subscriptions loaded on the aggregator, but that's about it. More to ponder this week ....

August 7, 2008

Blog Launched!

Here we go - authoring a blog! So far, this has been pretty painless and very well put together! Thanks, Amy. I look forward to new assignments (just saying that suggests I've really advanced from even my college days!). Look mom, no .....

(oops, I guess I do need hands!)