October 12, 2008

Wrap Up Thoughts

I am really glad that I had the opportunity to explore technology in this format. I appreciated the ways I could explore - and see how it could fit into my work. I enjoyed the format - a weekly opportunity to explore, experiment with the features and the opportunity to see how others are implementing it. I am still the most unsure about RSS feeds - only because I haven't identified a topic or two I feel the need to stay on top of (or an audience I need to be aware of at all times) and the twitter, which I just don't need to be that up to date with things others are doing - or share what I am doing. But I will clearly use pieces like the UM Connect, the social networking - and even being able to use google docs and others. I would strongly recommend some other forms of "updates" like these to expose us to technology that might not be familiar - or we haven't found a way to connect to it in our work. Seeing examples from others or pushing us "out of our box" to explore and utilize tools is a great way to open those doors. Thank you for this opportunity and for providing the learning in a very user friendly way. I enjoyed it - even if I did save it till the end (August and September aren't the easiest months for "new learning" for me.) Thank you!

UM Connect thoughts

I have been a participant on several different sessions on UM Connect. While I like the tool, I am usually frustrated through the process as someone doesn't know how to use - or they can't connect something - and it takes valuable time from the learning session to get one person (typically only one) up to speed. Very frustrating to listen to. I like the process of the system - I can sit at my desk and keep tuned in. (I did learn quickly to shut off my email though, because I could see a new message come in and then I'd need to read it and then pretty soon I was sidetracked!) The best system I have used is the University of Maryland Centracom system. It requires a headset and microphone - but only the presenters have open mics - the rest of the audience must press control in order to speak - and it even goes so far as you have to raise your hand to speak - and then you get called on. Not your usual conference call chaos of three people trying to speak at once. You can even "Step out" so the others would know you took a bathroom break or picked up a phone call, etc. There are so many possibilities of ways to use this system - I like it - and found it was easy to upload my powerpoint. Now to figure out how to keep people attentive if you have several slides!

October 5, 2008

Communicating

I've only used IM with our exchange student - I haven't tried it with other audiences. The Twitter concept is interesting, of course I don't always have an audience to use it with. Finding the right trial audience will be my test. I liked the Twitter for Adademia article - there were lots of possibilties there that helped me see the uses. I would need to identify a group that I could use - maybe a group of 4-H leaders or youth...finding the right "fit" will be the next step. I like continuing to learn and having done these "lessons" has helped to push me to think about uses of ways of using technology.

Social networking

I do have a Facebook account - initially designed as a way to stay in touch with our exchange student after she returned home. I've now found lots of connections - from high school friends to colleagues - and lots of young people I know as well. While I initially didn't think about it as a connection to the social scene, it's been fun to see how there are mutual friends, how people use it to stay in touch and to share photos, etc. I actually see it as a fun way to be connected through work with 4-H members - able to be in touch about things, comment on their lives and accomplishments and share messages. I realize they often check this more than email! I have also tried LinkedIn and will be interested to see how that works as well with colleagues and what ways that can be used. I do have a few Facebook friends who have told me to "get with it" and use it more - keeping it updated and telling what I'm up to. I guess I need to accept the reality of keeping in touch can also happen in this way as well, not just an email or a snail mail letter!

October 4, 2008

Technology Tools

I'm working hard to catch up on this - and I can see so many benefits to technology - and how they can help in so many areas of life. I am anxious to figure out how the organization tools could work for me - I love lists, but I love the satisfaction of crossing things off - will I get the gratification I need doing it on the computer? (A personal issue to figure out!) I checked out both zoho and google docs - google docs looks easier to use - I need to give a test and try it out. I also need to find a collaborator to try out the back and forth piece. I haven't yet moved from emailing files back and forth - I need to try it and see how it works. And I'm really anxious to try not having to haul my computer everywhere to do it! Using it where I am will be really convenient.

Wikis

I was first introduced to a Wiki site through the 4-H youth development webpages - as materials were put on those sites for things like Leader Trainings, etc. I had not realized those pages had some edit options - I only understood the accessibility component. I will definitely be revisiting those for a second look at user options. I like the possibilities of the editing option - especially if working with a team and wanting to review materials and the chance to give everyone a look. It scares me a bit with the piece of everyone being able to edit - although looking at the Thomas Jefferson site - I can see how adding comments would be a way to work with that. There are so many options and ways to work, it is interesting to see how the possibilities can fit into the daily work - expanding audiences, encouraging others to be a part of a work team, or just to get the word out and see what other information is out there by others. The possibilities are endless, just a matter of getting started!

Podcasts...

This was unchartered territory for me, and a bit frustrating. I struggled first with narrowing down a topic - I thought I would start with 4-H - but clearly found that was not an appropriate search. Everything with the number 4 showed up - and many were not appropriate! I backed out and tried again - and when I found some things under youth development, they looked fun and interesting, but no rss feeds - so wasn't able to post into my bloglines. I then tried other topics, but families, parents, kids - all turned into personal stories about raising their children - I was looking for more specific topics and specialized learning - not stories about individuals. Clearly I need to spend more time exploring podcasts and finding ways to use as a learning tool, or even a method of sharing. This one was difficult for me - probably because it was so new. Definitely worth learning more - but also caused a few moments of frustration.

Flickr Thoughts

I have heard so much about these sites but have never taken the time to explore them. Teens are always talking about Photo Bucket and looking for certain photos, etc - now I get it! I can see so much potential for "selling a program" or inviting folks to an event by using a site like this - being able to post photos - of past events or of the site/location where an event is, etc. Lots of opportunities to sell and promote. An example that comes to mind for me is the Speak Out for Military Kids retreats - to be able to share photos of past participants and the things that are part of the retreat - as well as for the camps we offer, showing the location and the different things we'll be doing (ropes courses, obstacle events, etc.) Rather than just a brochure of an event, being able to promote a site to visit to learn more - or for past participants to check back and see the photos from their event. So much potential, just taking the time now to learn and see how to set it all up.

August 26, 2008

Homework 8-26-08

I have never paid attention to all the "extra" things you can do while on the internet and how to monitor your interests without always checking into each website. This has been a good learning as I explore what I want to know each day and keep up with. As I look at various websites, I will be checking to see if they have a feed option and how I can connect. As I think about the different things I am learning, I am amazed at how I could use this with different audiences and the exploration others could do as well. There is never a slow learning day if someone can help set up the exploration like this - I appreciate this opportunity to explore in a new way!

August 19, 2008

First Posting

I am excited to learn more about how blogging could be used to interact with youth and their families about upcoming events, updates on recent events, etc. I am new to this process, but am interested in all the possibilities! I am behind in the work, as county fair season took a lot of time, but I hope to catch up and keep learning about new possibilities for communicating with others and how we can work in creative new ways to learn and share information.