Archive for the ‘Networking’ Category

60 Seconds - Things That Happen On Internet Every Sixty Seconds
Infographic by- Shanghai Web Designers

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Interesting graphic in the Washington Post (see graphic below showing growth of the world’s capacity to store information)

I have been contemplating my personal learning network (PLN) as of late, and I have shared my off and on dealings with such tools as Facebook, Twitter, and the like.  As an educator, a PLN is vital in gaining new ideas, sharing, seeking support, and maintaining all sorts of human relationships that get one through the days, weeks, and years.  I have never been a good giver over my digital PLN, but living as a taker has helped me to survive.

Sometimes people come along and give you a good shot in the arm when you least expect it, and two gentlemen did just that for me many months ago.  Dale and Jarred were two new teachers, just finishing up their programs of study at university.  Last year was their first year in the classroom, and now they march along in the second.  I had followed these teachers, and visited with them on rare occasion, but I lost them for a bit (my fault).  I backed away from my digital PLN to gain some perspective, that I never quite found, and added them back today.  Hopefully they will take me back.

Chances are good they didn’t know I was gone, and that would be my fault for being a taker.  That’s okay.  I need to take from them, I need their enthusiasm, I need to hear of their struggles and triumphs, and I need to be ready to offer encouragement when I think they need it.  That encouragement makes me a giver.  Support is one of the great benefits of a PLN.  It comes from strangers, those you least expect, but they become familiar:  they become family through one’s PLN.

We come to the end of a calendar year.  This is a time of reflection for many, and a time to set new goals.  I’ve been thinking about goals, been taking stock of the past, and wondering how to navigate the future.  I have been looking for perspective.  I was referring to my PLN via my RSS feeder to find some wisdom, and Dale provided just the perspective I needed in the following video (Dale and Jarred:  Thanks for finding me many months ago even though you didn’t realize I needed to be found!):

You can follow Dale and Jarred on Twitter:  @DaleHolt and @JarredRowe and learn from them at “Not Your Average Teacherhttp://notyouraverageteacher.com/

They truly are not average, they are great!!!

The final day of 2009 brought me to a point I had been contemplating for several weeks:  What social networking sites should I no longer use?  I considered using suicidemachine.org to delete my accounts, but it would have had me join another social network to share why I “commited internet suicide.”  No thanks!  I began with MySpace, long ago unused and a dinosaur in the short history of social networking.  FriendFeed, MyLife (formerly Reunion I believe), and Classmates were next.  I joined the “class reunion” sites long ago before things like MySpace and Facebook took over that niche.  There were others, but I now thought of doing away with Facebook and Twitter; however, Twitter stayed as it has become a great professional tool, and I like the useful information I get from those that I follow (Thanks to you all!).

Facebook was staring me in the eyes like a wounded animal (Believe me, I know the look!), and I thought of all the Farmville, Mafia Wars, etc. posts I would be missing and that brought me to my senses:  I discontinued my account with Facebook!  I was free!!!  I had time on my hands, and I got things done in record time.  All I really had to check now was Twitter, and that could rack up responses in between real life as I hardly have anyone I follow anyway!  I played Apples to Apples with my kids, went to occupational therapy, read a book, researched and ordered a new piece of art, watched several great bowl games, and even shared a lengthy conversation with my wife!  What a refreshing chain of events.

Now, I know I could find ways to optimize my use of social networking sites; however, most people don’t really care what I say anyway, and I’ve tired of “listening” to those that “talk” all the time.  I have so many other things to do I honestly don’t have time to spend on much of this network that supposedly draws us together and breaks down walls.  I think it has become mostly a series of people on soap boxes, with everyone shouting at the same time, and no one is really listening, or cares to listen (Twitter is a perfect example of that, and I will have to filter my list better!).  Many talk of the “conversation,” but generally those that do are carrying it on with themselves or with a select few.  It’s tough to get in on these “conversations” that supposedly are taking place in the digital world.  I’d swear it’s like high school all over again!  You have to be in the right clique to get noticed, I left that behind 25 years ago, and I’ve got no desire to go back!  I’m 44 years old for heck’s sake!

With social networking tools I was in contact with former classmates from high school and college, sure I had family contacts, and even several of my former students in my friends list, but they have always been in/on my list, and they can find me if they really want too.  I have developed a web presence since the late ’90s, and I am out there for the finding.  I’ll still be using YouTube, Flickr, Ustream, and will continue this blog (almost at the 3 year anniversary!), and I plan to make myself available at my office during the work week and will welcome the opportunity to stop by and visit, in person, if anyone wants me too!  My home is yours, and I may be stopping by your house with cookies, my fishing pole, or even my mountain bike once I get up the nerve to ride again since breaking my arm.  I need human to human, face to face, smile to smile contact at this point in my life, and I am bound and determined to facilitate it!

The photo in this post is of my three boys and I on a fishing excursion over 3 years ago!  It seems like yesterday that we were together on that trip.  Time flies, and social networking can take us away from these people!  My Grandpa Hokanson and I used to fish almost everyday.  I’m talking EVERYDAY!  We fished in the middle of a western Wyoming winter catching whitefish by the hundreds, we fished in the summer with homemade rootbeer in our glass bottles catching cutthroat trout, we fished in the fall and listened to bull elk bugle in the mountains and hills right near the Salt River, or the Snake, or the Greys.  We also talked to each other, a lot:  a whole lot!  So much so that when he passed away  when I was 16 I didn’t have anyone else to really talk to because he was my guy, the one I trusted and confided in on a near daily basis.  I began to build a new, bigger network that included Farmville and Mafia Wars types but also encompassed an interesting bag of mixed nuts, if you will, over the years.  Most of those relationships were developed while in the same room or location.  This includes many of the people that were in my digital, social network.  The problem is, in that social network I still missed them.  You see, they weren’t really there, or at least they were only there in a limited number of characters.  Grandpa and I never limited our characters, and that was a really good thing.

Happy New Year everyone.  Stop by the place if you get a chance, or I’ll come over.  🙂

gaming_in_edThe new year is upon us and I have decided it is time for my first post of the year!  We have many initiatives going on in our school district at this time.  The main technology initiative is to create new building level technology plans that are student centered (as they should always be!!!) by the end of February.  We began the process with administrators in October and now various staffs throughout the district are in the process.  We have three Continuing Education Days (Dec., Jan., and Feb.) where schools have been given time to attend tech workshops and to develop the various plans.  It is an exciting process and not without hard work and some serious thinking as to what we want to do and prepare for over the next four years.

On the side, I have been researching and developing a gaming in education initiative that has explored various digital games that have educational value.  There is a lot of research out there, and I have been finding time to sort through as much of it that I can.  With limited budgets, I have especially been looking at free and open source games that can meet our student’s needs.  The following link will take you to some of the gaming information I gathered for a recent presentation:  NPPSD Gaming Research.  The project is not over by any means!

I have the opportunity to attend a student leadership activity and will be working with 5th grade student leaders from all over western Nebraska.  I am excited about this opportunity, and we will be creating a short podcast/PSA from the event.  I have also had the privilege of working with 6th, 7th, and 8th grade high ability learners on a monthly basis this year.  Our December activity was a service project for the local Salvation Army.  We will be starting a gaming unit when we meet in a couple of weeks and also in February.

There are plenty of other things I could mention here, but there are so many things to do and so little time!  It has been a wonderful school year, and I wish we had more time in each day to accomplish all that we hope to achieve.  Rome wasn’t built in a day; so, patience will have to rule!  🙂

Peace!