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Thursday, 25 February 2010

My Wish Lists for Diigo and SimplyBox

I love Diigo and can't live without SimplyBox.

Diigo is there for me in so many ways. Bookmarks are just the beginning. It is my new lifeline to Delicious (my backups of all backups), my research central, a big part of my PLN, and a vital teaching tool. I love the ease of bookmarking and annotating, sending to Twitter is also a perk. That said there are  a few things I would really like to see in Diigo.

  1. Bookmarking to multiple groups- So often I would like to bookmark to several groups at a time, but can't. This means bookmarking once for each group.

  2. Easy list construction using tag bundles or something similar-I am too far gone with my bookmarking to go back into each one and add it to a list. Tag bundles are a great way to easily bring in content to a list. Can we have that please?

  3. Easy user searches within groups- I use Diigo groups for teaching research and when I want to see what each member of the group has contributed, I would like to be able to search out that member, and have all the content they have added to the group appear. As it stands I need to go to each member's library or scroll through pages of group bookmarks and comments.

  4. Citation Generator-Diigo would be the perfect tool for teaching research skills if it had a citation generator similar perhaps to Noodle Tools.

  5. Sending to Twitter-might be a bit easier if the actual tweet was based on the description section of the bookmark. It would be important for this to remain editable of course, in order to keep things succinct.


SimplyBox is my Digital Teacher Toolkit. Only the best of the best gets in there, tools which I know I am going to use or recommend to others in our school, now or later on in the school year. I am very careful about its organisation and am trying to ensure that bookmarks have decent, if somewhat brief comments and a workable tag system. I love the fact that I can share my public url's directly to Twitter as well as on websites and with friends. Again, there are some changes that I think would make it ever more fantastic.

  1. Sub Boxes or Boxes within Boxes-Presently I have things organised into crates which contain boxes, but I now feel the need to have a boxes within boxes in order to keep things organised in a hierarchy.

  2. Shared Boxes-When having students share their boxes with me (They use it for collborative research much in the same way we use Diigo Groups.)I receive the emails, but only certain boxes actually appear as shared in my account.

  3. Boxing to Multiple Boxes-Just like with Diigo, I would live to be able to box to several boxes simultaneously. At present I need to bookmark to each box separately.

  4. Copy and Paste-I would like to be able to copy and paste bits and pieces of text from the comments box to the tags, twitter etc...instead of typing things out each time. It would be a real time saver if we could have this option.

Both of these applications are fantastic tools that no teacher or student should go with out. If you haven't checked them out yet, you are truly missing out on the organizational and collaborative power they offer. If used effectively both applications can act as the foundation for teacher digital toolkit as well as  potent teaching tools.

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Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Safety, The Rules Have Changed and Then There's Facebook

Look both ways before you cross the street! Don't talk to strangers!  Some safety rules haven't changed at all, but the arena in which they are practiced has.

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...
Image via CrunchBase

It's Internet Safety Week at our school and we decided it had to be a whole school event this year, which basically means that the majority of grades are directly involved somehow. In the Secondary School we have put together a series of mini lessons for form time, most of which contain short video clips, and hopefully lead to plenty of discussion. There are so many great resources out there to choose from, that we have been able to provide a fairly rich array of experiences for the kids. During the week we are also running assemblies for each grade which focus on web presence and safety settings. There is a clever video from the CEOP which we use in the assemblies and  which really gets the message across and spurs kids into action, when it comes to their online presence.  This leads me to Facebook.

We are aware that many of our students under the age of 13 have Facebook accounts, but do their parents know?  Let's face it, the kids are there for the apps and the cool factor! During our assemblies this week (after the video) a short demonstration is given on how to apply safer settings in Facebook, right at the point when the kids are starting to really worry about the information they have posted online. I've uploaded the presentation (which is not  mindblowing or terribly pretty, just a set of slides taking you through the process of adjusting your different settings). This presentation has also been posted on our ABCICT wiki by student request.  The response so far has been good. Kids are looking for help in adjusting their privacy settings.

So what message are we sending out? The message is simple. We know you may have a facebook account and if you are under 13 you shouldn't. Your parents need to be aware of it, be able to monitor your use of it and you need to ensure your behaviour is safe. We are not condoning it, but rather accepting that this is the case and trying to cover all bases in keeping  everyone safe. What's missing then? The parents of course.

Parents for whatever reasons are often unaware of the extent of their child's online activities and let's face it, kids (and other people) will lie about their age to get what they want, in this case an account.  Parents themeselves are an essential link in all of this. They need to be aware of the situation, regardless of their child's age, talk to their child about their experiences online, help them monitor friend lists, privacy settings and reinforce appropriate online behaviour.  Parents need to know. Sometimes its hard to get the message out.  In our case the school has started an online newsletter, which  intended specifically for the purpose of opening up the issues by informing and supporting parents in keeping their kids safe.

When you are focused on something like this good things often make their way to you. Just this afternoon a tweet came through on TweetDeck about a Facebook Safety blog post by Laura Deisley. Perfect! I've included it in this post as it contains an excellent set of guidelines for helping parents sort out their child's safety settings.

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Friday, 5 February 2010

Book Blurbs

In an effort to further promote reading, the ABC has added a new component to its Library Programme, called Book Blurbs.

The Book Blurb programme is intended to cover a range of reading objectives through the promotion of student written book recommendations.
In using this new system we hope to support students in achieving the following literature related goals, while promoting reading school wide.

1. Identify genre preferences.  2. Reflect and report on reading.   3. Justify responses to literature.    4.Read independently.   5. Identify, enjoy and appreciate
books.  6.Actively search out books which are appropriate to interests and learning needs.  7. Use personal reading experiences to form opinions and recommend books.

To participate, students will need to fill in a special form, available in the LRC, and place it in an envelope on the inside cover of the book they are recommending. It's that simple.
Book Blurbs will continue all year long. The forms and envelopes are available at the circulation desk for student use. A copy of the form has also been placed on the Library websites, for easy access from home.

Of course its easy to think up a new program. Promoting it and maintaining momentum is, of course, another story. In the Primary School Book Blurbs is running initially as a competition for students, which has placed it in the limelight. Speaking to students about it in assemblies and through daily messages, as well as encouraging them to use the system when taking out or dropping off books, should hopefully help as well.
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