Created by Ruth Elliott

Welcome! Join me as I reflect on my learning journey with Web 2.0 tools. I'm sure I will find bandwagons to jump on along the way. Let's enjoy the trip.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Surfing the Wild Ride in Elluminate Sessions #eci831

Last Tuesday evening I participated in Dr. Alec Couros' virtual classroom. Dr. Couros is a professor at the University of Regina in Saskatchewan, Canada. He has 20 for-credit students and around 200 not-for-credit students in this graduate level class titled: Social Media & Open Education. (#eci831) (To learn more, read my blog post at .) I am delighted to be one of the 200 from around the world who are benefiting from this class. Alec is bringing in some ex

Surfing BreaksImage by via Flickr

cellent speakers (via live video, of course). Students are writing blog posts about the class. (Learn more at Class information, It's not too late to join.

I have participated in two Elluminate sessions in this class. (Elluminate: Prior to these two sessions, I have been part of three earlier Elluminate sessions. When you truly participate and engage in those Elluminate sessions, they can be a really wild ride. It's like trying to surf (when you don't know how). The waves just keep on coming. Sometimes you jump on your board and try to ride the wave (this is when you're typing your chat so fast that you feel as though your fingers could fall off). Sometimes you lay on your stomach and just hang on to the board (this is when you simply lurk and listen, trying to take it all in. You may mutter a little or do some heavy sighing but only in the privacy of your own home). Other times you fall off and get eaten by a shark (this is when you get so sidetracked by your private thoughts or by a side conversation with someone that you stop listening to the main conversation).

Boogie BoardingImage by therealglen via Flickr

Let me share with you some of my experiences from the 5 Elluminate sessions that I have been part of. In the first session (with Edmonton social media guru Mack Male [Twitter handle @mastermaq]), I participated with my classmates and professor in an online class from the University of Alberta. There were around 16 participants that evening. I knew most of them from our discussions in the online class. Mack shared with screen casts and slides to illustrate his talk about social media. The backchannel chat was going fast and furious. However, since there were only 16 of us, it was manageable. Mack picked up on most of the questions that we asked. I do remember that at one point I asked a question. It got lost in the shuffle. Much later on, one of my online classmates asked (in the chat) whether my question had been answered. At that point the question was answered. That evening, each participant went away feeling exhilarated. There was no moderator of our discussion but we watched out for each other. There were only 16 of us in the session.

The next session that I was part of was a session with George Siemens and Dave Cormier. It was held just before the Open Education Conference in Vancouver. I know the hashtag was #smti but have forgotten what that stands for. I was totally overwhelmed during that session. I rarely participated in the backchannel chat. I did not know anyone else who was participating. The ideas were new to me. I was struggling to understand the concepts and I had nobody to talk to. Since it was a conversation between George Siemens and Dave Cormier, they had some "private jokes". Maybe everyone else listening was privy to the jokes but I wasn't. At one point, Dave or George referred to Web 2.0 in a derogatory manner (Something about Reilly and picking up on a name one of them had created.) Since I had just completed a Web 2.0 tool class, my ears perked up. Here were two social media big-wigs decrying the use of the term Web 2.0. Why? So I asked, "What's the joke?" because they were chuckling over this concept. Dave Cormier replied (in the chat), "what joke?". I tried to explain but never did get a reply. I went away from that Elluminate session feeling excited with the ideas but disappointed because I never did receive an answer for my question. I still haven't received an answer so if any of you know the answer, please let me know.

The third Elluminate session for me was in another online class from the University of Alberta. The professor was introducing some of the tools for the class. It was similar to a face-to-face lecture class. There were fewer than 10 people in the session. It was informative but not exhilarating.

The 4th Elluminate session that I participated in took place on September 15th--the first session of #eci831 that was open to non-registered students. Alec Couros introduced many of the tools that we would use during the class (Google Reader, Tweetdeck). Alec did present lots of ways of using the tools that were new to me. However, since I knew about much of what he was talking about, I could follow along. I even stood up and surfed the waves on my boogie board. I made comments, asked and answered questions. I heard many people's confusion as they plaintively bleated, "What's ____________________?" I tried to hear those cries and answer them if I knew the answer.

(Just a little aside here: I am taking another online class in Inquiry Learning. In this type of learning, students need a little background in a subject before they can begin to choose their own avenues of questioning and learning. During the provision of background, there can be a lot of discomfort because it is all new to the students. I could see this type of discouragement and frustration exhibited by some of the other students in #eci831. According to inquiry learning theory, these feelings are totally normal when faced with radically new concepts.)

Now on to my 5th experience with an Elluminate session: That would have been last Tuesday evening (Sept. 22). Fortunately I had read Dr. Richard Schwier's paper ahead of time. I had some ideas about where his presentation was going that evening. This helped me to cope with the three things that competed for my attention: Dr. Schwier's mini video, the slides of the presentation, and the backchannel chatroom. Once again that evening, there were approximately 80 people in attendance at the class. I assume that the 20 registered students were present. This means that they were competing for time and attention with the 60 non-registered students.

(Another aside here: This past week Shel Israel, author of Twitterville, was participating in a visit with a class somewhere. He publicized this visit on Twitter and invited people to attend via Twitter. I was following the chat (using the hashtag Shel provided). Shel's intention was that he would tweet with the students in the class while the other visitors would simply lurk and listen. Instead, the visitors began to overwhelm the discussion because they kept piping up with new questions or comments. Shel had to tell them, "This discussion is only for people in the class.")

That evening I really empathized with those people who are taking this class for credit. I think that their questions were getting lost in the hurly-burly of the crowd of others talking over each other. I think that some of them were feeling overwhelmed by the three streams of inpu

The ConversationImage by soylentgreen23 via Flickr

t hurtling their way (video, screencast, backchannel chat). They want to participate in the conversation.

(Another thought I had at the time has to do with the "banking model" of school. This is really completely unrelated to the logistics of an Elluminate session. I heard one student say that she wanted to hear the professor's voice. She may have joined this class because of Dr. Alec Couros. She wanted to learn from him. Now there's all these other people taking up Dr. Couros' air space. What is going on?!? Last year I had a similar thought in my first graduate level class. The professor of the class (the person with the PhD) kept asking the students to share about their lives as teachers and their thoughts and opinions on the ideas in the class. I kept waiting for the prof to speak up and tell us what we should be thinking about those ideas. This was the model from my under-graduate education. I felt ripped off because I was paying for the class, to hear this PhD person talk, and instead I was listening to my peers. Eventually I came to see that my professor was a constructivist who was encouraging us to meld our experience with our new learnings to build our own knowledge and concepts. She knew that each of us came in with our own funds of knowledge. We were not empty banks waiting for her to fill us. In the same way in this #eci831 class, we each come with our own understandings and diverse backgrounds. We each need to take new concepts and meld them with what we already know. It's not Alec Couros' voice we need to hear more of but that inner voice within us that says "Wow, I love that concept. It really fits with me. " or "What in the world? I don't get it. I always thought that ..." In this way, I grapple with the ideas and confiscate a few for my own.)

So how can #eci831 become more manageable for those of us participating in it?

1) Discussion moderator: I think it might be good to have someone to moderate the discussion, to pick up on those important questions or address people's confusion.

2) Some form of I.D. for registered students: I don't want to be like those outsiders who horned in on Shel Israel's discussions with a class. I know that I am an invited guest but I believe that the registered students need to have a voice. They are the minority group in this situation. Could they have a different colour of font or could they put an asterisk before their class name? I don't want their questions and opinions to be lost in the press of the crowd.

I thank Alec Couros and his registered students for allowing the rest of us the privilege of being part of this class. I am enjoying it immensely. Whether I'm standing up surfing the wave, just hanging on to the board and trying to survive, or even being eaten by a shark, I feel really alive (dendrites growing and zinging in my brain) every Tuesday night.

P.S. I came across this blog post about a teacher's use of Elluminate in an elementary school setting. She used it to teach students about the instruments of the symphony.
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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Building a Network with Twitter (#eci831)

I have been part of Twitter since early in July of this year. I have gradually built a network, one person at a time. On August 6, I wrote a blog post titled "31 Tweets, 6 Followers, Following 24" ( If I were to write about the state of my Twitterverse today, the title would be "369 Tweets, 115 Followers, Following 194". In the past six weeks, I have been working on building a Professional Learning Network (PLN) as well as a local community network (for the cit

English: Illuminatable Earth globe, Columbus, ...Image via Wikipedia

y of #Saskatoon, #yxe). Many of the people I follow on Twitter have an either/or network. Is it possible for me to effectively build a network that includes both types of followers?

I remember in August when I followed Alec Couros (courosa on Twitter), I sent him a message asking him for Saskatchewan people to follow. He gave me two names. This is an influential Open Education guru living in Regina, Saskatchewan and teaching at the University of Regina. As of today, Alec has more than 5000 people (the size of a small Saskatchewan city) following him on Twitter. Alec has been so generous with the Twitter community that he has a Professional Learning Network that spans the globe. (I know I'm simplifying the picture somewhat. Alec is also offering an Open Education class, #eci831, which has given many , including myself, the opportunity to hear his voice.) Alec has a Twitter community from around the world. His PLN is enormous.

Here's my point: If I engage with other educators and share resources and ideas on Twitter, what will my local Saskatoon followers think? If I tweet about #CupcakeCornerSk that just opened in Saskatoon, will the members of my Professional Learning Network decide to "unfollow" me because these

sktoon09h01 Saskatchewan River, Saskatoon 2009Image by CanadaGood via Flickr

tweets are not of interest to them?

My question for other people in Alec Couros' class (and for any of the others who read my blog): How have you been able to build both a local and a professional Twitter community? Is it best to select one or the other as the priority? Is it possible to have my cake and eat it too?
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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Ruth's Random Resource Round-up Sept. 17, 2009

Once a week I gather together resources (mainly for teachers although some will interest others as well) and post them in my blog. Make sure to check out the bacon flowchart. Enjoy the links I have saved in the last week.

Spreadsheet of every TED (Technology, Entertainment & Design Conference) Talk (most around 15 minutes long)

TED Talks VisualizationImage by Lilly via Flickr

Live-streaming video from the Trafalgar Square fourth plinth (London) 24/7 entertainment one person and one hour at a time

Video about how to use Tweet Deck to organize the tweet input

Bloom's Taxonomy updated to include digital learning

Back to School Web Tools for Students (looks best for college students or older high school)

A wetpaint wiki about Twitter for Teachers (a work in progress)

Set up your own chat room at Tiny Chat

Teacher teaches other teachers about blogging

Flowchart to help you with computer expertise

Bacon Flowchart to help you decide whether you want bacon

Bacon frying in bacon grease.Image via Wikipedia


Search for a free E-book on any topic

Blog post which explains Wall Wisher (cool way for students to post interesting tidbits of research information)

GarageBand (only available for Macs, I think)

What is Garage Band?

Garage Band is a powerful and user-friendly software program that allows you to create soundtracks, accompaniments, podcasts, and much more. Using Garage Band you can:

  • Create musical projects (even if you don’t play an instrument),
  • Involve and inspire your students creativity,
  • Create podcasts,
  • Add effects,
  • How to export and share your projects
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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Newspaper Rant

What's black and white and read all over? If some people have their way, it won't be the newspaper. Why? Tell me, why? Just because I love my Twitter and the blog posts that come to my Google Reader, does this mean I should ditch (or diss) my newspaper?

So many people I meet online see everything in black and white (yes that's another newspaper joke). They love their breaking news (and yes, I found it rather shocking that after hearing about Ted Kennedy's passing on Twitter, I didn't read about it in the paper for 1 1/2 days) a

2:21Image by tcp909 via Flickr

nd their tidbits of juicy information (Kanye West anyone?). But why does it have to be either social media or the newspaper? Can't we have both?

Here's a few reasons I will continue to read my local newspaper--the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix--each day.

1) I believe in buying locally. I want to keep my city vibrant and growing. I believe that supporting my local newspaper is part of my plan to consume locally. I like the local coverage in my newspaper. It also covers national and international stories that I can find elsewhere. I think that local newspapers need to go even more in-depth with those local stories in order to attract readers.

2) I am a tactile person. I like the feel of the newspaper. I also like the idea that my newspaper boy (or girl) has trekked around the neighbourhood early in the morning (making some ca$h) to deliver my paper. My husband sits and reads the paper along with his breakfast cereal. I read it later and do the Suduko (in pen, I'm proud to say. If I mess up, I

Reading the newspaper: Brookgreen Gardens in P...Image via Wikipedia

give up for that day). A little later my son (17 years old) reads the paper from front to back. I even like the feel of the papers as I recycle them using Saskatoon's Curbside Recycling service.

3) Currently I have three main sources for news in my life:

1. I use Twitter for the latest stories. However, how much detail can be given in 140 characters? I do click on links sometimes to read more. Twitter is like the headlines or the captions for the news.

2. I read the local newspaper six days each week. This gives me more detail on the news I have seen in short form on Twitter. I follow local stories this way.

Maclean'sImage via Wikipedia

3. I read the Maclean's magazine (similar to Times or Newsweek for those in the United States). This weekly magazine provides more in-depth commentary and information on some of the national and international stories in the world. For example, it just had a cover story on the Kennedy family.

Bottom line for me is that I love my newspaper. Please, don't let it die. Tell your local newspaper folk how they can better meet your needs and serve you. Help them to find their niche in this evolving world of instant, viral news stories.

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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Ruth's Random Resource Round-up Sept 10/09

More resources for teachers. Also see my blog post from Sept 1 with additional resources at

E-Learning for Kids. Find activities in Math, Science, etc.

Slideshare presentation with many ideas for using technology with younger children

YouTube blocked at school. Save up to 100 videos for free at this site.

How to Find the name of that song.

A tag cloud with terms related to Web 2.Image via Wikipedia

Larry Ferlazzo's blog post with many URL's for collections of Web 2.0 tools

Blogging guidelines for students--developed by and for elementary students

Easy way to manage a class website - everything on one site

Microsoft Education Labs

Don't understand how Twitter works or why to use it. Read this blog post.

Many reasons for using Twitter

Advice for teachers new to Twitter
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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Back to School Musings

Over the long weekend, we took our daughter to Calgary to begin her new adventure of attending Ambrose University College there. She will be living in the dorm and eating her meals in the cafeteria. During the first day (Friday) she was there, our moving in process was constantly interrupted by other students coming to introduce themselves. It is a very friendly place.

We continued to assist with setting up our daughter's room on the next day (Saturday). That morning I thought back to some parents' stories of the first day of kindergarten. As soon as their five year old sees all the toys, activity areas, and other students, they say, "Bye, Mom" and they are gone without a backward glance. It is the mom who is left in tears a

kindergarten is funImage by woodleywonderworks via Flickr

s her five year old rushes off into the big wide world without her.

This is the way I felt on that second day of helping my daughter set up her room. She was just itching for us to leave so she could jump, feet first, into all that life on campus had to offer. I know this is exactly as it should be. However, being the mom that I am, I also feel sad and nostalgic because my little girl is all grown-up.
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Friday, September 4, 2009

Be a Virtual Attendee at ALT-C 2009 (#altc2009)

I received an email from Seb Schmoller inviting me to participate in the Association for Learning Technologies 2009
conference next week. All sessions will be available in Live Streaming video and sessions will be recorded for later
viewing. If you missed the Open Education Conference in Vancouver, now is your opportunity to be a virtual attendee
at a conference. Sept. 8 - 10 in Manchester, U.K. (hashtag #altc2009)

Seb invited me to pass along this email, so here it is.

September 4, 2009 5:28:52 AM

Seb Schmoller 8-10 September - Martin Bean, Michael Wesch, Terry Anderson, and ALT-C 2009 invited speakers - sessions
available over the Web‏


Feel free to forward this note as you see fit.

We will be making all keynote and most if not all invited speaker sessions from next week's ALT Conference available
over the Web in real time, and as archived files, from

Those participating remotely in the keynote sessions will be able to submit questions online.

The keynote speaker schedule is:

* Michael Wesch, Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Kansas State University, Tuesday 8 September,
09.25 to 10.25 UK time;

* Martin Bean, Vice-Chancellor Designate of the Open University,Wednesday 9 September, 11.55 to 12.55;

* Terry Anderson, Professor and Canada Research Chair in Distance Education at Athabasca University, Canada
- Canada's Open University, Thursday 10 September, 11.55 to 12.55.

For the timings and details of the invited speaker sessions consult go to the schedule at

If you intend to joining us, do not leave setting up your system until the last minute, and consult Elluminate
Help - - if you need it.

For a URL version of this email go to


Seb Schmoller

Chief Executive
Association for Learning Technology (ALT)
Gipsy Lane, Headington, Oxford, OX3 0BP, UK
Registered Charity Number 1063519
ALT Conference, 8-10 September 2009,
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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Twitter Poetry on the Plinth #oneandother

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 26:  Artist Antony ...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

This summer in Trafalgar Square in London, England, people (one at a time) have been occupying the empty fourth plinth in the Square. The project, created by artist, Antony Gormley, is called One and Other (Twitter hashtag #oneandother). You can watch live-streaming video of the 24/7 activities at This morning I watched a woman throw candies (she called them sweets) from her perch high above the crowd. Following her one hour, the next plinther gave salsa lessons (I was surprised he had no music).
Holly writes about her graveyard shift as a volunteer at the plinth (
An American professor spent an hour on the plinth. She invited people to help her create a digital poem (using Twitter). She explains the process in this video.

Juggling for Nelson video.

First Day on The Fourth PlinthImage by the_junes via Flickr

What an terrific project. It makes me wonder what we could do in my city of Saskatoon with creative vision and repurposing of our landscape. How many years has that empty plinth been sitting in Trafalgar Square? (not sure--maybe 200 years) This summer and fall it will be populated with 2400 individuals, 24/7 for 100 days. Amazing!

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