Sunday, March 04, 2007
CUE 2007: The Will Richardson Trilogy
From the time I saw the lineup for this years CUE conference, the sessions I have been looking forward to the most have been the Will Richardson presentations. I have been blogging for about the past 18 months and my 'EdTech Epiphany' happened when I went to an Alan November presentation and started reading blogs and began to explore the blogosphere. One of the first blogs I subscribed to was Will's 'Weblogg-ed Blog' and his RSS Guide is one of the first things I put into a teacher's hand when they want to start getting into 21st Century Literacy. As I applied to become a Google Certified Teacher, the video I made as part of the application process featured stills of Alan, Will, and David Warlick. I even bought several copies of Will's book for each of the teachers in our Global Communications Program. Since I have seen Alan and David on several occasions, Will was the last of the "Big Three" that I had not seen present in person.
Now, during Will's first presentation he went through many things things that I was familiar with having been a reader and commenter on his blog and it was validating in the fact that I had interpreted things the same way many of the people in the blogopshere have interpreted 21st Century literacy. OK... So, Will is about 40 minutes into his 60 minute talk and I have a few notes on my notepad and then it starts... There's something that catches my ear. I had heard the term 'Folksonomies,' but had never really thought about the process of what makes a folksonomy. The idea that there are connections to resources and ideas that are user created and defined was interesting to me. I am intrigued by the prospect that that individuals can take the same set of facts and come to different conclusions, not to say that one conclusion is better than the other, but the sharing of these ideas can create a third conclusion that make the 'conversation' we are having in Web 2.0 much richer. There have been several terms used to describe the conversation and mixing of ideas: remixing, mashup and sampling, etc. I think one of the bloggers that embodies these ideas is Danah Boyd at UC Berkeley. The tag line of her blog, 'apophenia,' is "making connections where none previously existed."
Will gave several references on how individuals can do this and share back out to others. One of these ideas was the use of specialized or personal tags within his 'del.icio.us' page. You could then use this specialized tag to collaborate with a group of people and create a common reading list of items. The other items that facilitate the process of sharing a common set of ideas with a group of collaborators are: Pageflakes.com and suprglu.com The one 'trick' thing Will threw out was the 'RSS to Java Script' Translation tool. I immediately went through about 15 different things I could use this for. The one thing that immediately came to mind was to create blogs for each teacher and then create subscriptions on the Department pages on our school web site to allow teachers to access the school web page without having to use an intermediary to upload the pages.
The second session Will gave was on Podcasting and Vodcasting, we have been on the cusp of doing some of this with the Global Communications course and with the courses connected to the Global Communications course. (Health, English and Contemporary World Studies) Will presented several free MP3 creation and publishing tools, including: Audacity, Podomatic, GCast, and Odeo. He also presented a few open source / share alike music sites that can be used for student projects. (Jamendo and CCMixter)
The third session did have some repeats from the first two sessions, but there were a few very valuable tools that came out during this session that will facilitate some of the tasks I have been trying to complete with teachers and students. The most important one was the idea of 'screencasting,' or the ability to create a video that is a capture of a computer screen. I have known about screen capture software for sometime, but the cost was just a little too high to justify the costs. Will mentioned that the SMART board software includes this function and it's free... I downloaded the software as soon as I got home and was impressed with how well it works.
If you want the compete rundown of the resources Will uses in his presentations, try his presentation wiki.