Saturday, March 27, 2010

Thing 23 - So long, farewell, auf weidersehen goodbye

Completing 23 Things is definitely bittersweet. Bitter because now is the time to say goodbye to this wonderful project. But it is sweet since I now have been exposed to many different Web 2.0 tools that will expand my horizons not only as a teacher but as a person in this rapidly changing tech world.

I really enjoyed doing everything even if I ended up not liking the application, such as Twitter. Learning and exploring all the Things was not only very informative but lots of fun. My favs were probably Thing 14: VoiceThread, Thing 15: Screencasting, Thing 16: Widgets, Thing 19: Podcasts, Thing 22: Self Discovery.

The best thing about this project is now I can go out there and discover the many, many other "Things".

Probably my least favorite aspect of this was the physical writing of the blog. Writing is more of a challenge for me and I much prefer just going out and discovering the tools. But I understand the reason for doing it.

I would definitely do another one of these projects and would be happy to say "Hallo wieder"

Friday, March 26, 2010

Thing 22 - LooGix Gifs Online Photo Frames
I very much enjoyed this "Thing" - looking at many of the Web 2.0 applications available to use in cyberspace. I really enjoyed perusing the many Web 2.0 tools on There are hundreds to discover. I looked at maybe thirty or so and when more time opens up I plan on exploring the many others. I felt like a kid in a candy store with all the cool choices out there. I chose to do a animated gif program from LooGix.

This is a perfect example of a Web 2.0 program. A user friendly application that you don't have to download onto your computer in order to facilitate. In the past making an animated gif required an expensive program that had animated gif capabilities in it such as Fireworks or buying a program that would solely do animated gifs for a hefty price. Then there would be a learning curve trying to figure out how to make that animated gif with said program. With LooGix it's free and simple. You just upload some pics to the webpage, click a button and viola' - you have your gif. Can't be easier than that. I would definitely recommend this tool to others and am going to use it again.

Thing 21 - Tweety, Tweets and Twitter

Sorry, but I just can't get into Tweets and Twitter. I like it just about as much as I like Tweety Bird - which is not at all. I always rooted for Sylvester the Cat, hoping that one day he would catch that annoying Serinus canaria.

Last year I took a class at the school on Twitter. At first I thought it was a pretty good idea. I looked at some peoples twitter accounts and they seemed pretty good. The exchange was all about useful information such as new tech gadgets out there or teaching techniques. But this is the exception. The rule seems to be people reporting on information that would make Narcissus think they were self-centered. Information that people think other people would care about. Who thinks they are so important that everyone cares what they are doing every five minutes. Who has time to read all of these things?

It seems that twitter is a popularity contest like facebook is. How many twitter followers someone gets is akin to how many facebook friends someone has.

To me this is where the tech thing has gone overboard. Just like when I go out and see a group of friends all sitting together but not saying one word to each other. They are too busy texting and tweeting. It's like they forgot how to have a normal conversation.

I know I sound like an old man at the start of the 1900's who is still pro-horse and buggy and anti-auto. And I probably will one day say tweeting is the greatest thing ever. But for now I'll be an old fogey about it.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Thing 20 - Presentations 2.0

When I first looked at the science presentations on SlideShare I have to say I was very disappointed. Many seemed to be "books on slides". Just ugly Powerpoint slides with nothing but lots and lots of text. After seeing all of the other cool stuff on this 23Things project it really paled. My MTV brain couldn't focus on them.

After sifting through many of these bad ones I found the following presentation titled "Chemistry Living and Systems: 123.101 Lecture 1". Now the title itself is enough to drive anyone away screaming including myself - a chemistry teacher. And it had 93 slides. Ugh. I thought "This is going to be the worst presentation ever". And to validate my thoughts I had to click on it and see just how horrible it is.

But, I was wrong. This was a great slide show! It answers the too-often asked question "Why do we have to learn chemistry?" and it does it in a way that Powerpoints should be made - quick, visually stimulating, humorous, informative and creative.

I think SlideShare can be a fine way to get a nice presentation, provided you can sift through the much of the sub par ones. But perhaps an even better idea is that when our students are to make a Powerpoint they can be required to post it to SlideShare. This would really push them to make a great one since the whole world can see it, not just the teacher.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Thing 19 - Podcasting

Podcasting is a great way for learning. At first you may think that just having auditory deprives you of the visual portion that we all need. But what it does is forces you to imagine and create a picture of what is going on. It actually increases your attention whereas with both sound and picture ones mind might more easily wander.

The podcast that really sparked my interest was one on Einstein's famous equation E=mc2. The sight of this equation creates a strong magnetic pull for any science-o-phile. NOVA has 10 of the world's top physicists (including 2 Nobel Prize winners) describing the equation to the non-scientist type. You can listen to it here .

This definitely has inspired me to subscribe to podcasts. And I know as time goes on there will be more and more selections. These I can give to my classes to listen to with some questions or other assignment attached. Perhaps I or my students can make their own podcasts with activities that go along with it. There are lots of possibilities out there.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Thing 18 - Documentating Life using a Wiki

As mentioned in my last post, we of the troglodyte ilk have recorded our thoughts, visions, history, etc by painting on our abode's walls. Now wiki's have taken the place of cave paintings - or as Thag likes to say "Wiki's are the cave paintings of the 21st century".

For this exercise we get to contribute to history by writing on our own cave wall - ASH' Sandbox. I chose this easy version because I don't feel I have enough knowledge at the moment to contribute to any Wikipedia entry on ASH or any other topic. The process of writing to the any of the given options are easy but it's just the knowledge part that is difficult. And actually, coming up with 5 favorite TV shows was a tad challenging. There are so many to chose from.

In class I could have the students do something like "Welker's Wikinomics" but do it with a science topic. I could do an even simple one like the AP calculus wiki "Small Stones". This idea can be applied to any class. For example Chemistry can have students write the daily lesson on a wiki. And the really neat thing about wiki's is that we can invite students from around the world to contribute. Yes, things have come a long way since writing on walls.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Thing 17 - Reading History through Wikis

Where I come from, people share stories, information and history by painting on cave walls. Now most people use wikis. Wikis are an amazing tool that people from everywhere can contribute to a knowledge base.

What was life like before wikipedia? I often wonder about the impact of this wiki and how much people rely on it for information. The wikis I looked at spurred some ideas that, like all the other 23 Things, are going to take more time to marinate in my Neanderthal brain on how I will use it in class.

I use wikis all the time to gather information. I rely on them immensly, particulary Wikipedia. If I need to know some more about a chemical or other science topic I go right to Wikipedia. I couldn't imagine having to look some of this information up in a "book". The idea is so old school to me.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Вещь 16 - Холодные инструменты для вашего блога

Thanks to all of these cool widgets and gadgets I can now communicate with the millions of foreign language speakers who have been dying to read my "23 Things" blog. Once I put in my translation gadget a collective cheer rang out across the globe.

I already had a widget (a wildley successful poll) on my blog, but I went in search of another. Most all of the gadgets or widgets I saw were pretty fun. I first put in a "countdown until schools out" widget, but it looked a bit cheap so I left it out. The site I went to had some great ones but those that I really liked required a fee. I could see paying for them if I had a commercial website.

But I can see that many widgets are just distractions, even though they are pretty cool and fun. I almost got caught up in putting on a cat that followed your mouse, and a colorful game and a magic 8 ball, but they really don't serve a purpose for my blog. An important point in designing a web site is just because it is cool and can be done - doesn't mean it should be done. It has to be appropriate to the blog - like my translation tool. I now expect to be flooded with "thank you" emails from Moscow to Kyoto from those who can now read my blogging in their native language. You're welcome.