Friday, January 29, 2010

Thing 5 -- LinkedIn (or NOT)

OK, so I've been a LinkedIn member for awhile now and I have to say that I'm not impressed. I am a frequent social network visitor and I find LinkedIn, well, quite ho-hum to say the least. Perhaps a better word would be BOOOOOORRRRRRING! Realizing that this particular network is a professional network, I understand how some of the features of Facebook like the games, funny applications, etc. are not appropriate, but honestly, the layout is bland and there is absolutely nothing aesthetically pleasing about the site at all.

I think the only useful aspect of LinkedIn is for job networking. It certainly serves as a no-frills way to connect with others in your field of expertise at times when you are looking for a job change or employment in general. However, that's the only benefit I find in the service. Otherwise, it's a lot more interesting staying in contact with former colleagues via Facebook because it's not so serious. If I had to label LinkedIn, I'd call it the conservative Republican of the social networks.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Nature of Blogging (Thing 3)

After reading some of the links to the different blogs posted on the 23 Things site I've come to several conclusions about blogging. Blogs read a lot like editorials in a newspaper, which are often pretty interesting whether you agree with the writer or not. One thing that's better about blogging is the availability of immediate commentary on the blog. I suppose this works much the same as responding to an online editorial. This aspect of the blog creates a type of discussion or conversation between individuals, much like a group of people sitting around a table drinking coffee and discussing the issues of the day. Although the tone is informal, it doesn't take away from the credibility of the content (within reason, of course). In fact, it makes the information more accessible to everyone.

What I love best about the commenting feature are the different ideas that surface on professional blogs. On the English Companion Ning, often the best ideas come from those people that tag onto the original post. Plus, anyone (for the most part, depending upon the blog) can attach links to other webpages, documents, etc.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Nings! (Thing 2)

I couldn't tell you exactly what a Ning is or how it's different from a blog. My best guess is that a Ning is a social network, similar to Facebook, but used for professional dialogue rather than personal. I belong to the English Companion Ning, which I find incredibly helpful. Basically English teachers at all levels post discussions on topics concerning, well, English (naturally). I started a profile there to post discussions about launching Harkness discussions in my Honors/AP Literature classroom. Here's the link if you care to check it out:

Sometimes I get "lost" in the Ning because once I search for something I'm interested in researching, I find myself clicking on all sorts of interesting topics. Next thing I know, it's an hour or two later! The Ning also forges new connections for me in the English teaching world.

I guess one thing that I still need to work out is how to use blogging or these professional social networks with students. One way that I think could work is to set up a social network for my classes. Since my students are relatively academically motivated, I can see some of them using the network for discussion and help in certain classes. Of course that might open up a whole other slew of problems with inappropriate posts, irrelevant posts, etc.

Relatively New to Blogging (Thing 1)

I'm relatively new to blogging. I have a Ning that I've been using to blog about my classroom discussions (English). I love the feedback that I get and I've also found it useful to search out advice from other English teachers around the U.S., and I guess even the world. This particular blog will be used to document my work on "23 Things", which is a technology "program" (for lack of a better description) for my school. Over an 8 or 9 week period I will tryout different new technologies and blog about how they went, how I used them/plan to use them, etc. I don't know how exciting it will be, but hey, you never know.