Sunday, May 14, 2006

Hodgepodge: A little bit of everything!

As we start the process of finishing this school year, there are many of us that will spend some time developing curriculum for the new school year over the Summer. This is one of the tasks I will have in working with the teachers that will be a part of the Global Communications program, but I have also been collecting links of what I think are valuable resources for teachers in all disciplines.

Report and Notetaking:
- Easy bib: An online bibliography tool that will create a bibliography for you.
- Cornell Notetaking Tutorial: This site even has links to help you create your own note taking pages.

- The Wayback Machine: Part of the Internet Archive, it logs and keeps track of every page on the Internet and all of the changes in each page. (Some of you have seen me demo this!)
- gTranslate: A plugin for the Firefox browser that will translate any highlighted text.
- Google Cheat Sheet: Something everyone should have. If you can print it out in color and laminate it, something to keep next to your computer.
- The Ultimate Google Command List: Using this and the Google Cheatsheet, you should become a Google search expert!

- Google Calendar: Share an online calendar with any number of people.
- PBWiki: A free Wiki tool. I will be doing a demo of this tool with my computer repair classes.
- Online Feed Readers: If you don't use one of these now, you will soon! Here's a review of all of the major readers.
- Google Blog Search: This tool along with a feed reader, will help you find that article that perfectly illustrates that tough concept you are teaching to your class.
- Skypecasting: This tool will allow you to hold a teleconference with 100 people... For free!
- SkypeOut is offering free phone calls to anyone in the US and Canada.
- Interactive Physics Simulations: Published by the University of Colorado. Pretty cool!

I'll have another post out in a few days that will be an update of the communication and other tools that will soon become common place at Capuchino in the Global Communications courses.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Update: MySpace - Evolution and Assimilation

Over the past few months as the number of stories about MySpace has increased, but they have moved in many different directions. As with previous stories about MySpace, most are negative in nature, but instead of calling for bans of the site, many of the new stories are looking for ways to protect users and to assist law enforcement. How popular is MySpace? It is so popular in some settings that a Community College in Texas has banned MySpace, not because of the content, but because of the excessive bandwith students have used on the college network. The general consensus is that MySpace is here to stay, but there will be attempts from the community that they will take steps to moderate the behavior that exists there. I am not in denial about the fact that MySpace is and will continue to be a blogging site that is dominated by teenage content and the angst that age endures.

So, what specifically is going on in MySpace that is changing the community? Local law enforcement officials are looking at MySpace accounts to identify participants or potential witnesses to crimes committed in their community. The foiled school shooting in Kansas was discovered by local school and law enforcement officials reading the MySpace accounts of local teens. Police also used MySpace to catch two teenagers who had fire-bombed an abandoned airplane hangar after the teens had posted video of their crime on their MySpace site.

The other issue relative to MySpace is the fact that teenagers post too much information about their personal lives, including their dating and social activities. There have been several articles about sexual predators using MySpace to locate potential vicitms. There have been at least two instances that I have read where teenage girls have been contacted, lured out and murdered due to the information they had posted on MySpace. In the past few months there have been a few stories, where MySpace has been used to catch sexual predators. In response to this, there have been a few new web sites springing up, including: MySpaceWatch. MySpaceWatch allows users to monitor the MySpace accounts of five users and reports back any changes to the site. This borders on cyber-spying on kids, but if the kids are going to post in public, parents have the right to look. The commonwealth of Massachusetts wants MySpace to do more to protect users from sexual predators.

There is also a 'MySpace Economy.' There are sites that provide tools to add additional customizations to MySpace blogs. Other sites will create MySpace accounts for businesses to connect to users in direct marketing campaigns through the site. There is also a backlash against MySpace by some, deleting their accounts and calling it: MySpacecide.

As most of you know, the Global Communications pathway will have students working with blogs, wikis and podcasts. As part of the Global Communications course, we will be teaching Digital Citizenship. Some of the best material I have found on the subject is through a research project at Kansas State University. Some of the material the project uses is posted on the project web page.