Sunday, November 20, 2011

Thought I'd Try Skype

My brother and sister have had Skype for some time now but I never gave it a try. Yesterday, I decided to sign up. I have a few reasons for doing so, some personal, some professional:
  1. I can see and talk to my family that I don't get to visit often
  2. Same for my kids, they can keep in touch with family and friends this way (through my account, not sure I'd let them have their own yet)
  3. Professionally speaking, I can use it when I become a SLMS to have virtual author visits and it would also be a great tool for group meetings (up to 5 participants) and screen sharing

For the second summer in a row, we hosted a child from the NYC area in our home for 10 days through the Fresh Air Fund. She and my daughter were instant friends and much like sisters. They've been keeping in touch over the phone and through the mail but now that I have Skype, I'm going to see if we can arrange a video call with her and her family. My daughter will be absolutely thrilled! This will be a great way for them to keep in touch until they see one another again next summer. Cant wait to give it a try!

My first Skype call will likely be with my sister. She's not out of town or anything, just more tech-savvy than I am right now and I thought we'd have some fun testing it out. Then I'll likely try it with my brother. He is out of town so this will be a cool way to see him.

When I try it out, I'll leave a comment and let you guys know how it went. Do any of you have Skype?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The End of my Adventure? Is Simply the Beginning!

Of all the 2.0 things I explored, Podcasting was by far my favorite for two reasons:

(1) It gave me a chance to try Garage Band. I love my Mac (R.I.P. Steve Jobs) but I don't have many opportunities to do any of the fun things with it. Garage Band rocks! My son can hook his piano keyboard up to my computer and take piano lessons. I discovered that I could record my podcast in Garage Band and it was super easy.

(2) It got me thinking about ways to use podcasting. Our group in LIS 506 that's developing my brother's website, set up a podcast for him that he can use to post his sermons and other messages online. Both on his podcast channel and the blog we set up for him. Once we have his website up and fully running, we'll embed his podcast there too.

I also found bookmarking tools to be useful. We've been using Diigo in LIS 506 & LIS 568 to share pertinent information with the group. I discovered its ability to create lists in my library. So I started one that has fun educational sites for kids that maybe I'll link to when I am gainfully employed after graduation as a School Library Media Specialist.

I used Zotero as well for bookmarking and I really like the citation tool that allows you to copy and paste citations into your documents. I did however notice that it is not 100% accurate. For an article I attempted to bookmark, Zotero pulled all the wrong information. I'm not sure how often that happens. So I am a little bit hesitant to continue using it.

Overall this experience has caused me to be more open to exploring new ways to do what I do more efficiently. Whereas in the past, I would hear of a number of different web 2.0 tools but had no interest really in trying them. Now, I believe I will be more inclined to take the adventurous route and try things out. This is an essential aspect of being a lifelong learner, a willingness to try. In another class, we were talking about Twitter, which I currently do not use. However, now that I know how it can be used to network with other educators to share ideas and build partnerships and collaborations, I am going to join. I want to find other School Library Media Specialists that I can converse with.

I'd rather not say this were the end of my web 2.0 adventures. This is simply the beginning, and who knows, web 3.0 (as Anna pointed out) may just be right around the corner!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Google Web 2.0 Tools & Others

The two Google tools I gave a try were Google Calendar and Google Earth. I set up my personal calendar and made sure to keep it private. I also was given access to my brother's church calendar that's in Google. I created an event (which was a meeting with my LIS 506 group), and learned how to embed the calendar in a website. I didn't actually embed one anywhere yet. I just copied and pasted the code in a Word document for later use.

Google Earth was a great deal of fun! I remember my children telling me about this a couple of years ago because they used it in class before. So I needed only to ask one of my expert children how to use Google Earth. I've got it downloaded on my computer and have received a personal tutorial from my son. He used it to look at different futbol (or as us Amerians say, soccer) arenas or stadiums across the globe. I used it to look at the house I grew up in as a child.

Outside of the Googlesphere, I tried Pandora Radio. It wasn't bad. I didn't always like the music it randomly selected for me. I say random, but in some ways it's supposed to be tailored to what they perceive to be my music interest based on the artist I enter in. Sometimes it was right on, while others not so much.