Saturday, January 21, 2006

Read/Write Web 2.0 : Part 2

As promised, here is the second part of links and explanations related to last Friday's lectures.

In the second half of the lecture, I moved on to talk more about social networking tools, specifically:

  • Online bookmarks
  • Tagging
  • Photo sharing (Flickr)

I had originally intended to talk about Wikis, but again since time was against me, I decided miss this out. However, wikis are interesting, and potentially extremely useful in education. The most famous example of a wiki is the Wikipedia. The idea of a wiki is that anyone can contribute to and edit a set of web pages. This is how Wikipedia works. It is an encyclopaedia that is written by its readers. As it says on its own help page:

"Wikipedia is an encyclopedia written by its users (in over 200 languages worldwide). Anyone can edit Wikipedia, and its contents are free and open."

There are some concerns about the consequences of this way of creating an encyclopaedia. Is such information reliable? I have written about this in the past and I am no longer as skeptical as I was. If you want to look into it further, try watching Jon Udell's screencast which, among other things, shows how the Wikipedia resists vandalism and develops in scope and accuracy over time. You may also like to read an article from Nature that gives a reasonably favourable report on Wikipedia's accuracy when compared to Britannica. Also of interest is a Wikipedia Lesson Plan. Another example of a wiki is Wikibooks. I don't think the world of educational publishing has to worry about Wikibooks, but what if a class produced their own text book for the course you were teaching? Perhaps different people could be given responsibility for making an initial entry on a topic and then the rest of the class could edit, correct, add examples etc. as their understanding develops. The end product may not be as good as the school's text books, but the process of producing the wikibook could be extremely valuable. What do you think?

The first tool I did demonstrate was online bookmarks, specifically (there are others, but is the one I use most often despite its silly name). If you have ever saved a favourite/bookmark when browsing the web, it is very easy to see just how useful it is to to access a saved set of bookmarks from any machine. I used my bookmarks as an example. I showed the collection of links I had created for a digital video class which meant I could give the class a single web page to visit and all the links they needed could be accessed and I could keep it up to date - much easier than giving them a paper handout with hard to type web addresses that I can't update for them if a resource moves, disappears or can be replaced with a better site.

I also used my list to introduce the idea of tags. The tagging feature of online bookmarking tools make it much easier to organise and find bookmarks. Instead of having to choose a single folder in which to store a bookmark, you can add a number of descriptive tags. For example, I could tag the Jon Udell screencast mentioned above with JonUdell screencast tutorial and Wiki, allowing me to easily find the link by clicking on a tag or by entering the tag as a search term. makes it easy to add tags as it lists all the tags you currently use and suggests others have used to describe the same site. My guide to gives a step-by-step introduction and makes a number of suggestions on how it could be used in education. Download the guide and sign up for and remember to leave a comment here if you use it with a class - let us know how you get on.

Champion Blue
Champion Blue,
originally uploaded by DavidDMuir.
From tagging bookmarks I moved to tagging photographs, but really I wanted to show the educational potential of online photo sharing. I demonstrated Flickr by showing a picture of my dog Blue. I used various tags on this picture, but the one I highlighted was that it was the geotags. These specify where a photograph was taken and can be linked to tools such as Google Earth and Google Map. Are you going on a school trip? Do you have links with schools in other parts of the world? Do you want to show children places, or buildings or geographical features of interest to your subject? Take a photograph, geotag it and tell the children how to find it with a map tool! If you are interested, Make: Blog has a good guide on how to geotag photos.

Other potential uses of Flickr were also demonstrated including a getting to know you exercise, an example of a photograph being used to stimulate discussion about computer lab layout {sorry, I had messed up the previous two links... but I think they are fixed now} and a brilliant example of an art class sharing what they have learned about a piece of art. If you can't think of an idea where a visual image can be used a a stimulus for discussion or comment in your subject - you are not thinking hard enough! To add notes or comments to a photograph, you have to create a Flickr account, which you can do for free. There is good online help at Flickr and teach42 has provided list of Flickr related tools and ideas. If you use Flickr with a class, leave a comment here to share what you did and let us know how successful you were.

Another long post, but I think that gives you links to most of the stuff I talked about. That only leaves the promised links to the video of our lectures. You have been very patient and I think you've earned this:
  • My lecture on social networking tools
  • Ewan's lecture on blogs and podcasts and Web 2.0 and educational uses for all of the above!
Don't forget that Ewan has already posted a version of his presentation on his own blog.

Let me know what you think. Are these videos helpful or interesting? Was it good to get the links and further ramblings here too?

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P.S. I'm still marking essays... honest!


Vicki A. Davis said...

I love the links and the strategies! This is what I need! I'm going to spend some time over the next couple of days exploring the links.

I've used wikis and spend less time demonstrating and tend to introduce and let the kids demonstrate after they've figured out the usefulness. They make wikis to summarize. It does take longer.

I'm going to do some flickr this week like you did. Thank you so much! It takes longer to do the links but that is what other teachers need!

David said...

Thank you for your comments. I look forward to seeing what your class gets up to with Flikr... you will let us know, wont you? :-)

Have they already done stuff with wikis? I'd love to see that too.

Anonymous said...

Hi David,

I thought the lecture was great and I have now had a look at wikipedia and google earth and these are great tools and ideas but I don't see how I will be able to use these in the classroom. In my last placement school there were very few computers and it was very hard to get accees to any. And how are blogs useful in the classroom? Surely the more people who create blogs, the more junk there is going to be (e.g. old posts with broken links, ads, kids creating blogs.)
The very concept of letting young kids' work getting displayed on a website for anyone in the world to see and comment upon scares me.

Also, the kids know more than I do when it comes to computers. I do not think that this is safe how do you monitor this access?

Are kids supposed to edit their blog from home as well? How many of them actually have computers at home?

Anyway, if you have any tips on how to actually use these things in the classroom that'd be good :)

David said...

Hello anonymous

Thank you for your comments about the lecture. Yes I agree it is difficult when you don't have easy access to computers in the classroom. However this is an aspect that is developing. For example, both Ewan and I were surprised at the large number of your colleagues who didn't have a problem accessing the Internet with pupils in their placement schools.

I think I need a full post on blogging in school to do justice to your concerns, but to keep you going, you might want to look at the comments I got on an earlier post about student blogging - some of the ideas are applicable to pupil blogs. There are dangers in blogging with pupils, but remember what Ewan said - many of them are doing it already. Is it not better to give them a safe, supervised environment where they can learn to blog safely?

Check out the Sandaig's blog (especially the national poetry day stuff Ewan talked about) and MSG's blogs. Finally for now, have a look at Anne Davis's post on Guidelines for blogging.

Somewhere on my blog there are links to a conversation between me, Ewan and John from Sandaig (among others) about moderating pupils's posts... I'll try and find it for a blogging post sometime next week.

Hope this addresses some of your concerns. I'll try to do a better job in a why blog/how to blog post next week.

Chris said...

As it's midnight i'd better not start checking links for now - but this looks incredibly interesting for a tyro geek like me! Thanks ..

john said...

hi David,
Let me know what you think. Are these videos helpful or interesting? Was it good to get the links and further ramblings here too
The videos were well worth posting.
Lots of food for though.
I liked the whole view of Ewan's presentation with all the crunchy bits in;-)
FWIW I'd prefer something I could download and watch a bit at time. I had hassle with Windows Media player on my mac until I got the QT plugin from for playing WMVs.

80% of students think they are good at searching. It will be interesting to see how this sort of confidence will affect the classroom in the next few years.

You have excellent organisation technique, I have a few blue boxes hidden about school.

Further ramblings are great, all interesting, good to see the video examples and the links here. I really like the flickr stuff, at the moment we can't use flickr on the Glasgow network, do you know how other authorities are handling this?

Mind you watching nearly 2 hours of video leaves me a bit overwhelmed, not so much by the web 2.0, but by the idea of organising it inside my classroom.

Mind Valley said...

I know you really like, but I thought you might like to check out If you do, would love to hear your thoughts. Mike

R2K said...

Seems like a cool class! :)

Maybe I should repeat college and join up.

Bathroom Review

David said...

Hello John

Thanks for your comments.

"... I liked the whole view of Ewan's presentation with all the crunchy bits in;-)"

I agree. I like his cleaned up version and the fact that the full genius of his Lessig-style presentation is revealed. But I really like to hear and see him present it live. There's something about the spontaneity that is just brilliant.

"FWIW I'd prefer something I could download and watch a bit at time. I had hassle with Windows Media player on my mac until I got the QT plugin from for playing WMVs."

I agree... but one step at a time. Being allowed to show the video outside Jordanhill is a major advance. Convincing people that students should be allowed to save them is a long way off. :-)

"80% of students think they are good at searching. It will be interesting to see how this sort of confidence will affect the classroom in the next few years."

Interestingly, I was talking to one of the students after the lecture. He said he had claimed he was confident, then he saw some of the other things search engines could do and thought, "Hmm. Maybe I don't know us much as I thought I did."

"I really like the flickr stuff, at the moment we can't use flickr on the Glasgow network, do you know how other authorities are handling this?

I think Flickr has loads of possibilities and next chance I'll ask about to see how many block it.

David said...

Hello Mind Valley

(Nice doggy in the picture!) Thank you for the suggestion. I think I looked at Blinklist a while back, but a quick look at your blog makes me think I should spend a bit more time with it. If I do, I'll get back to you with my thoughts.

Hello Alex

I'm glad you think the class is cool. (A few weeks ago the heating system was squiffy and we weren't so much cool as freezing!) You would be more than welcome to join us. In the meantime, I'm glad you were able to join is virtually through the video.

Can I just add though that your blog has to be one of the most bizarre I've come across! :-)

Anne Elliot said...

I cannot open the video file for the lecture in January on "social networking tools" posted Saturday, January 21, 2006. I am not sure what my problem is. Working on a Mac with OS 10.4.6.

David said...

Hello Anne

Sorry, you asked this over a month ago and I've only just got around to replying. I don't know if you are likely to read this, but it may be of help to someone else.

The video stream is in a Windoze format which the Mac should be able to cope with (at least my ancient iBook running OS 10.3.9 can cope with it) but you may have to do some fiddling!

Firstly, for some reason, the video may not auto launch when you click the link. I found I had to start Quicktime player and then choose File->>Open URL... and paste in the link myself.

Aslo, I cannot remember if I had to do it for these videos, but I remember having to download and install some sort of plug-in for Quicktime that allows me to view more Windoze video formats than are supported by the default installation. If pasting in the URL still doesn't work for you, get back to me and I'll try to dig out more information about the plug-in I installed.