Wednesday, April 16, 2008

On the Right Track!

Made it! This has been a real whirlwind tour of Web 2.0. I look forward to revisiting many of the websites we covered and learning more about them and trying them out in the days and weeks to come.

What has surprised me the most about this program is that it has reignited my curiosity. I didn't realize how stale I had become! Now I'm more interested to follow that link or try that mashup or search for sites or bookmark favorites online. I'm also not afraid to ask my neices and nephews what they're doing online and to let them show me the "new stuff." I thought I was doing well -- remember why I named this blog "Mezzanine"? I thought I had a good start on Web 2.0. Ha! As Will Rogers said, "Even if you're on the right track you'll get run over if you just sit there."

I think lessons I'll use most are the ones on RSS feeds, online productivity tools, wikis and bookmarking/tagging. I'll be inventing my job, for the most part, so I'll be doing a lot of research and designing my own processes. These applications will all be extremely useful. If I had stayed at Marymount after this week, I know I would have found uses for many of these tools in the Advisement and Transfer Center.

I loved the image generators and the Flickr tools, but I won't need them much except for fun. But I have to say that the "fun" sites inspired me to keep looking at each new lesson as an adventure. They kept me learning and they kept me refreshed and smiling.

I would wholeheartedly recommend that you repeat this program in professional development. I know that it has been the time element that has kept many from completing the tasks, but I think that time can be found in the weirdest places. It's worth it to persevere and continue to LEARN, especially when the world around us is moving on.

Thanks for providing this experience, these tools, and all the support that has encouraged me to take advantage of Web 2.0!

Linking Up

The social networking sites are pretty fascinating! And I think I'll be joining one in the next few months. I am moving to a rural area outside Knoxville, Tennessee, and I can foresee the need for communication with kindred spirits that might not be physically available in my immediate area.

Regardless of other sites I might decide to join, I'm going to become a member of Ficlets. I used to participate in lyric wheels and round robins until it got too hard for any of us to control who joined in. With Ficlets, that problem will mostly be avoidable!

My husband joined LinkedIn several months ago and has enjoyed that. One thing he discovered early on in his membership is that "headhunters" are mining LinkedIn for potential hires. Since most potential employers prefer that an applicant be currently employed, the profiles of LinkedIn members are helping them find appropriate people in the target field of business.

I look forward to setting up an account, but I'm going to wait for a few weeks to get that done!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


My siblings and I use IM on a sporadic basis to make joint decisions regarding our mom. Since we live in 2 different time zones and since each of us has a job that requires either total attention or being away from our desks for long stretches, we set an appointment time for the conversations. I suppose that defeats much of the purpose of the IM. I have only used it in other situations as a way to contact tech departments for hardware or software and follow their directions while they are standing by. Truly, I prefer the phone.

I can see how it would be a lot of fun between friends as a casual way to communicate, but to use it in an educational setting? I don't know. In our work in the Advisement and Transfer Center, we would probably be IMing the same information to different students over and over. This information is already available online and in hard copy at the Center, so that would be a waste of our time. Conversations with parents and students truly should be in person or over the telephone where attention to body language and/or voice inflection is imperative.

On the other hand, conversations between students and advisors could be greatly enhanced. Advisors might be more likely to IM than to extend their office hours. While face-to-face meetings are essential, any contact between advisor and advisees is encouraged.

The paper on texting in the classroom during lecture indicated that on-topic communication improved greatly over the three week period. I guess I just need to have more experience with IM before I can really find an educational application!

Monday, April 14, 2008


I discovered the wonderful world of podcasting when I first became obsessed with Bravo TV's reality show "Project Runway." Four seasons ago when the show had just hit the cable prime time line up, I fell in love with the fashion designers' mentor, Tim Gunn, and his candid yet eloquent commentaries about the contestants. I subscribed to iTunes in order to access Tim's weekly podcasts. Through trial and error, I learned how to download and listen. Loved it! Tim has become too busy to podcast in the last season or two and I do miss his observations. But podcasting is fun to listen to; it's like talk radio with no commercials.

I did find a few video podcasts while browsing through the assignment this week. One was an educator teaching piano teachers to podcast their lessons. The Music Teachers National Association believes that video podcasting missed lessons would help students keep up with the class.

Some audio podcasts I found and enjoyed were MuggleCast on Of course, this is for the Harry Potter fan. In spite of the fact that the book series has ended, the owners give out news of the fandom and of author J. K. Rowling and they even give "news reports" of what's happening in the Wizard World today. Another site was WillWriteForWine, a site where two authors discuss wine and/or the authoring process.

Vanderbilty University uses their audio podcasts to publicize the university calendar on a weekly basis. They have also used podcasts to record events from their Distinguished Speakers series and to record lectures by visiting professors so that those who are unable to attend will be able to hear the message as it was originally given. Vanderbilt's Owen Graduate School of Business has a directory of podcasts that cover a variety of subjects, including "International Law and International Students." To revert to Harry Potter for a moment, Vanderbilt (and probably other universities) is using podcasts like Hermoine Granger used the time turner: to allow a student to be in two places at the same time. While this is not appealing to many students, it is a wonderful opportunity for others.

The audio podcast is not much different than audio taped lectures. The video podcast, I think, is a greater innovation and better opportunity to use the new technologies in education. It may even help improve a professor's ability to connect with his or her students.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Big Think vs. You Tube

I am so glad to have been introduced to Big Think! Within seconds of surfing around on it I was listening to Paul Muldoon discussing his creative process as he writes poetry, Deepak Chopra talking about what makes a happy life, and the editor of "Newsweek" trying to rationalize the rise of religious fundamentalism. This is so much more exciting and interesting than how many times Howard Ralley (whoever he may be) threw up or enjoyed intestinal distress while traveling in India -- which, unfortunately, was one of the first things I viewed on You Tube.

I have seen a number of You Tube videos that were forwarded to me by people who know better than I how to use it, and I've enjoyed those videos very much. Unfortunately, my own experience in trying to find material on You Tube reminded me that "No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people." (In fairness, I have to say that other nations are involved in the idiocy as well. What dreck!) I did perform a You Tube search on Marymount and on a few other topics and found some interesting and creative videos on a variety of subjects. Once again I was reminded that good content is available, I just have to search for it. I just wish I could have avoided Mr. Ralley and many others of his ilk before I got to the good stuff. I know I'll go back at my leisure and explore more thoroughly, but this first impression certainly sticks in my mind!

My first impression of Big Think was "thank goodness." There is a great deal of material on the site and all of it that I took time with was stimulating and refreshing, even if it came from a point of view I do not agree with.

I do have to admit that Big Think made me think of Woody Allen's short story "The Whore of MENSA." In it Woody Allen plays the hero, a hard-nosed detective (played by himself a la Humphrey Bogart) who discovers an escort service where for a price you can pay an attractive woman to sit with you and discuss Dickens or Hawthorne. Proust is more expensive.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008


Being able to save my bookmarks to a web based site instead of on my less-than-mobile home computer is a great energy saver. As I prepare to move across country once again, I am happy to know that if my computer crashes I'll have those favorites waiting for me online. I won't have to go through the pain and frustration of finding them all again. I've already transferred most of my favorites onto my new bookmark page.

"Tagging" is a very nice sorting tool. It works well if you do it correctly. I did a search for "opera" tags on the page and the search brought up over 41,800 sites... mostly for Opera browsing software! As I had intended the search to bring me sites on the subject of "opera" as in The Metropolitan Opera, I didn't really get what I wanted. There was a link to the Met site (saved by 149 people) but I had to slog through the software sites to find it. When I revised my search to include the tags "opera," "music" and "theatre", I got 314 links to sites featuring the subject I had wanted. I guess it's true: "garbage in, garbage out." Even more so than in the past, I have to be specific as to what I'm searching for.

I have gone back through my series of posts and added some tags to a few of them. I've tried to be creative (hard for me!) and add some that apply but are unexpected. Following some unexpected tags on the sites that turned up in my opera search has been a great way to broaden my tag vocabulary as well as my knowledge of the sites that are out there.

The web truly is a web!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


Well. There are wikis for everything! I dipped my toe in the wiki water and came up with several subjects that have them. I loved the WikiHow site. I could have learned "How To Apply Makeup as a Man" or "How To Grill Tri Tip Steak," among many other subjects. I'm sure I'll go back to that one to learn "How To See Rome in Three Days." WikiHow seemed to be an excellent use for wikis as it is user friendly, can be easily updated or edited, and covers many different areas of interest. There were wikis for celebrity "fandoms", wikis for Lotus auto enthusiasts, and wikis to find the answers to life's burning questions.

I read an article on the "Information Week" site about How to Use Wikis for Business. One comment grabbed my attention: "The real problem with the 'wikitorial' was that the Times sent a wiki to do a blog's job." The example of a news team trying to use wiki for an editorial page really brought home that these new tools I'm learning about aren't just applications that may or may not make life easier or more fun. They are different from each other and have specific uses, flexible as they may be. I just need to learn more about them all in order to use them correctly and to my advantage.