Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Personal Learning Progress - Part 2...Chopping Onions

My mom once bought a food processor.  And while it chopped an onion into uniform pieces in nothing flat, it was a pain in the backside to clean.  It had to be taken apart and washed and all those little trapped bits of onion fished out.  I decided right then I would NEVER own one of those.  Chopping onions with a knife and cutting board works just fine.  There is something satisfying about persisting at the task until the pieces are exactly the right size.  And clean up is a snap.

I tend to look at most objects, including webtools, with a critical eye to see if they are really a tool that will help me, or a toy that, while it may be a lot of fun to use, really doesn't move me from point A to point B.

My to-do list for the past couple of weeks was laden with new apps to take a closer look at.

So I started with a closer look at Symbaloo, leftover from my previous blogpost...

I even created an account.  And added two links.  I am supposed to be able to access my bookmarks anywhere, but that means I need to find them all first.  I realized I didn't have enough time to build a webmix of all the bits and pieces I use, although I can see its usefulness and efficiency once it is built.  I will add to it over time.  I will use it to create webmixes for teachers who ask for resources.

And then I moved on...

In the past two weeks, I have signed up at over a dozen sites.  Most of them have been free.  And most of them I just entertain the idea of using "later".

Like Symbaloo, Pearltrees is a site to organize your online stuff.  This feels like Scoop.It meets Del.icio.us.

I love the eye-catching graphics available here.  This looks like another way for this perfectionist to spend kill a lot of time.  Again, I think I need to add to it over time instead of cram everything onto it at once.  But Symbaloo or Pearltrees?  Anybody have a preference?  How have you used these with teachers.

Speaking of trees, check out InstaGrok, which looks useful for teaching research.  But I wasn't doing research or teaching, so I'll save that tool for another assignment, and let teachers know about it.

But will we use it?  Do we need it?  You can get nearly the same results using our Destiny Quest catalog... with print, website, and database results.  These can be filtered by grade level, subtopics, domain, etc.  The format just isn't a colorful graphic organizer.

While I was trying to organize my online stuff, I found Hojoki, a site to bring all of your cloud apps together.
I signed up, but then I didn't like the idea of sharing all my passwords for my Google Docs, Dropbox, Cloud app, Twitter, Delicious... The concept is great, but I just felt like I was sharing too much information with them.  I would love to hear from others that use this app.

Speaking of organizers, I found ThreeRing.  This app is still in beta format, but I am trying it out.  It is a place for teachers' to create digital portfolios of student work.
It is easy to set up and easy to use - especially with my iPad - and it is free for teachers.  I could see this being a great mom tool - a way to uploaded those early works of art, organize it, and eliminate the paper clutter.

Finally I decided I should stop and share all of this information with you before there was too much to report.  Trying to keep up with current technology, I thought I ought to put it in an eye-catching, graphic format...
So I signed up with Piktochart, Visual.ly, and got the Visualize app.  But I didn't really have statistical data to share and learning to use these tools was taking too long.  (My Infographic journey will be the subject of another post soon.)

Instead.... you get a plain, wordy blog post.  Because my goal was to chop onions, or in this case, share what I have learned, not wash more dishes.

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