A few weeks ago, Kelly Christopherson posted an interesting thread, Walking the Talk, on the Classroom 2.0 Ning forums asking whether the teachers who promote web 2.0 tools are actually using the tools themselves. My response was:

Absolutely! Doing these type of things myself is the only way that I can truly understand how they will impact my classroom. It is time consuming, and sometimes I think I should just shut-down for a few days, but there is so much emerging every single day that I don’t have time to take a break.

What has really helped me this year is to keep a personal blog. Of course, I have my professional blog, my wiki, my twitter, del.icio.us, ning, facebook, yackpack, skype, etc accounts that I use every day on a professional basis. But, bringing these tools into my personal life has completely changed my perspective.

I know how the students feel when they are asked to write a blog post for school – the pressure of writing something academic and relevant to what you’re learning – the pressure of a professional blog. But, I also know the fun and excitement of experimenting with these tools for my personal enjoyment. I can honestly say that these tools have changed the way I learn, create, and communicate in every aspect of my life.

The only problem I’m facing is how to keep up. There are so many new tools emerging every day, how can we keep track of them all? Or at least, how do we pick the useful from the superfluous? How do you do it?

Which web 2.0 tools are your favorites and how have they helped you – either in your classroom or in your personal life?

Image: http://users.ox.ac.uk/~juggsoc/images/large/other_17.jpg

8 thoughts on “Keeping Up

  1. I’m with you on this one. I definitely have to use things first before I can even begin to contemplate their benefit to the classroom (I have to remember — not everything cool has a benefit to learning), introduce it in a meaningful way and find a way to assess knowledge and learning.
    And I also agree that the expanding world of Web 2.0 makes it both challenging and exciting to be a teacher right now.

    I don’t have a list right now for you but I will try to head back when I get a chance. Certainly: delicious, Classroom 2.0, blogs, wikis, podcasting, etc, are on the list.


  2. I feel overwhelmed by all the new tools available. Here is usually what I do to “try” to keep up. Not that THAT will ever be accomplished.
    I bookmark a tool, when I come across it, for possible future reference, but I ONLY check out and start playing with the ones, that fit into my current area of interest. I know that I might miss some tools this way, but otherwise I drive myself crazy.

  3. Tools I NEED:
    • My blog – it is my personal learning environment… my personal Pro-D session that never ends.
    • Del.icio.us – I hated my bookmarks before delicious, now I can’t live without them.

    A Tool I love:
    • Cooliris – keeps me on the site I am reading and lets me open and read others without adding another open tab to the 7-10 that I already have open.

    • I’m enjoying Facebook… my adult site (Students are told that they can add me as a friend after they graduate from high school.)

    I don’t get it:
    • Twitter (Must be my age, no desire to even try – can’t even get myself to ‘update my status’ on Facebook, why would I sign up to do this somewhere else???)
    • FeedBurner -Not sure what it does, don’t know how to set it up- have given up, (my humble reminder that I am a digital immigrant who is still pretty new at this web stuff)

    Really starting to love it:
    • Wikis – I jumped in with both feet in the classroom and it went well. I see great potential for global collaboration.

    How do I do it? I don’t sleep. Really, 3-5 hours a night. It is 12:30 now, I hope to be asleep by 2, and will probably force myself to bed at 2:30.

  4. I like the post, and appreciate the way David categorized his answer – in meme fashion. I guess I’ll follow along.

    Tools I Need:
    Google Reader
    – I track over 150 blogs from tech, education, library, NCAA basketball, and a few humor. I only go to an actual website wen something interests me…like this one. RSS feeds are not necessary to get updates.

    My Blog – I used my main blog for professional reflection this year. I wanted to show my principal that our staff should consider doing this and we could aggregate each blog. He still prints my posts out, and handwrites his replies. :-(

    Tools I Love:
    Flock Browser
    – I can bookmark to my Delicious account with a double-click on the star. Keeping clips of information is easy to do to. I usually don’t blog from Flock, but it is possible.

    – Classroom 2.0, Library 2.0, and I am beginning one for our middle school next year. I frequent Classroom 2.0 (which was my introduction to mscofino.

    I Don’t Get It:
    – Probably an age thing…I think it’s that I’m not that interested in recording my “every move.” I’m just not that interesting.

    Starting To Love It:
    – With a phone call, I can add of podcast to my homepage. The sound quality is good, and it has an automatic iTune Subscription.

    YackPack – I am experimenting, but seeing ways I can use this on our media center page next year. Still in “wait and see” mode.

    Problem – GCast and YackPack are currently blocked in our school system (streaming media) due to bandwidth issues. Lame excuse.

  5. How, what & why? Well, I began using all kinds of tools as I began my venture into web2.0. I try most of the new tools that I come across. Here’s how I’m coping with the incredible proliferation of tools.

    My blog – I use edublogs – wordpress. I’ve slowed in posting but that is because I’m doing more commenting right now and the time of year is very busy. I like the blog for discussing ideas and giving my opinion.

    wikis – they are a great tool for those who are beginning. In fact, I start students and new teachers out on a wiki because they are easy to use.

    calendars – as an administrator I find that I really need to be up on what I’m suppose to do and the deadlines I have. I use pbwikis calendar to supplement my iCal on my MacBook. I find that they are easy to use and sync very well.

    To Do – I’ve tried a host of them but really like the Zoho app. I have been using it for about 3 weeks and now just keep it open. Works great!

    Twitter/Jaiku/twitku – am using twitku – still not sure how this will fit but I think it has potential for some good instant communication. More interested in the work application than knowing what’s in someone’s fridge.

    Online Apps – I am using the Zoho group of apps. I haven’t fully given Google Apps a try but I like the Zoho group and will stick with them. I’ll probably get the students involved in using them next year.

    Online Desktop – DesktoponDemand is my favourite. It works great and has so many good tools. My next is Desktoptwo. As it develops, it could be something that schools look at instead of investing in desktops for the students. I’m pushing for some sort of idea like this so that students can access their work anytime, anywhere.

    Explode – liked it better before the switch. Still a good place to make contacts.

    Social bookmarking – used delicious but now trying out diigo, we’ll see how this works.

    I don’t think there is a way to keep up on everything unless that is your job! As educators, we need to be aware of what is happening and then use the tools that will best help us to teach our students.

  6. I, too, will post a la David Truss:

    Tools I NEED:
    • My blog – it preserves my sanity in an unsane world.

    Tools I love:
    • Tag Clouds. They’re just cool.
    •Technorati – makes keeping up with my favorite blogs so much easier

    I don’t get it:
    • Twitter – ???
    • FeedBurner – ???
    •Wikis – not sure how to use them in the foreign language classroom, esp. with emergent learners, i.e. 1st and 2nd year

    Really starting to love it:
    •Podcasts – opens up a whole new avenue to news, and language learning

    How do I do it? Like David T., I don’t sleep much, either. Like now for example. It is 2:21 am, and I will be facing an early morning class of rather uncooperative students in a few hours. This being said, the blogosphere and Web 2.0 is a labor of love.

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