Monday, June 30, 2008

Live commentary (shared note taking)

I just saw a cool use of a new tool - CoverItLive!

Right now, Kristin Hokanson is at the NECC and taking notes. What's cool is that I can read her notes as she takes them. What's really cool is that others can join and help her take notes!

Are you interested in seeing what she noted about the session she took from David Jakes and Dean Shareski's presentation? Check out her blog "The Connected Classroom". During the session, the notes were appearing as she (and others) was entering them.

She took a snippet of code from CoverItLive and embedded it into her blog and then as she typed, it appeared on her site. Since I can't make it to the conference, this is a great way for her to share what she is learning with me (and you!). Also, now she has the notes to the session stored on her blog for future reference.

Is there a meeting or session that you will be attending that others would like to get the highlights - as they are happening? - They could even give you questions to ask the speaker!

Soooo many really cool tools are out there! And they are all easy to use!

Thank you for sharing Kristin!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Sharing is amazing!!!

I get inspired and educated by seeing what others are doing. Today, I had several "WOW" moments. I'll share the path I took this afternoon and hope that my sharing will inspire and educate you.

A little before lunch, I noticed in my twitter stream (using TwitBin to follow it) bnr1 tweeted "@lorisheldon - Hello Web 2.0 class... from State College PA". That peaked my interest. So, I went to to see if perhaps lorisheldon was someone I knew and if not, if they were someone I might want to get to know. After all, she is either taking or teaching a Web 2.0 class. Turns out, her twitter profile says she's a "3rd grade teacher turned HS tech. coach". I saw from her recent tweets that she was teaching a Web 2.0 class and was showing twitter. She had requested people say hey and tell where they were from. So I sent her a hello.

One of her recent tweets gave the URL for her Web 2.0 class. Of course, I went and explored and discovered some tools I wasn't aware of along with an excellent video - WOW #1 - The Connected Classroom

After watching the video, I had to explore WOW #2 TeacherTube a YouTube site just for education. This is where I came across WOW #3 - Pay Attention

Which brings me back to getting inspired. I've been developing (slowly) a Web2.0 class for more than a year now. This gets me going on it again.

Of course, in this example the subject was Web 2.0 tools. But, if you use twitter, you'll be following people who are sharing things that you are interested in doing and learning and get inspired from.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

BSA Starting Open Source Software Developent Projects

The Boy Scouts of America has just started developing an Open Source Software project at:

Their mission statement reads:

We are committed to serving the needs of the community. Our Open Source Initiative is dedicated to bringing together the Scouting Community and the Open Source Community in a joint effort to serve the needs of the wider community of software users.

In the welcome page, it states:
In the tradition of the Open Source Movement, the resources of the OSS Website are "Open" to the community. We welcome the participation of organizations who face the same sort of technology issues that we do. Many of the challenges faced by the local Boy Scout Councils, and their volunteers, are the same challenges that other non-profit organizations deal with every day.
If your organization has similar technology needs as BSA, then this might be something worth exploring and getting involved. I think it is a great idea for BSA to tap the resources of all the Scouts and Scouters (adult volunteers) to help build the tools that they all need - and in the process share it with everyone else.

It makes me proud to be a part of such an organization.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Ask the Expert

Knowing the following:
eXtension has an "Ask an Expert" feature that is supported by numerous Extension Agents and Specialists from across the country. They answer questions in about 16 different categories with more to be added.

Extension Services across the country have publications on MANY different topics.

I recently revisited the AllExperts site and thought about a question that has been on my mind for quite some time. It first came to me when I learned about Wikipedia.

Would an agent or specialist participating in others (i.e. AllExperts and Wikipedia) as an expert and contributor be a good way of marketing Extension?

My Current Opinions and Thoughts:
Yes, it is good for agents and specialists to participate and contribute in other sites where 'experts' are needed and recognized with one caveat. There must be a way for the contributions to be recognized as coming from an Extension Agent or Specialist. This can be done in Wikipedia by each individual creating and maintaining a user page with information about credentials and of course their association with Extension (with links). This may require that we maintain two separate accounts - one for when they are representing Extension and one for when we want to post something that should not be associated with Extension - i.e. personal opinions that aren't backed by research.

When we contribute we need to be sure to reference (and link when appropriate) Extension publications, services and expertise.

The argument against this is that we are providing these other services free content and expertise, improving their reputation - which may drive traffic away from our sites. I disagree with this argument. IMHO, the more we can be seen as expert participants on other sites, the more traffic will be driven to our own sites.

Besides, the Extension mission is to disseminate the researched based information to the public. Doesn't it make sense to take advantage of all the venues we can to achieve that goal? Let me make a physical world analogy - if we had the opportunity to talk to a large group of interested people that someone else gathered together, wouldn't we take advantage of that?
Of course we'd wear our Extension name tag and mention Extension services and products in our talk. So, what's the difference?

The problem I see is that most of us are assigned a geographic region to serve. With the web, we are serving a many more than our region and most in our region will never see the results of the time we spend in these endeavors. How do we justify spending time on these type projects to our funders - who primarily care about the people in their geographic region?

Call for discussion:

I don't claim that I'm right in my thinking - that's why I'm posting. I'd like to hear your opinions and reasoning - especially if they disagree with mine!

Should agents and specialists be encouraged to contribute to non-Extension sites? If so, how should those activities be encouraged?

How can they be rewarded and recognized for the time it takes?

How can we 'sell' it to our funding sources?

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Another great use for twitter

Over the past year, I've written about interesting ways that Twitter is being used.

Michael Martine wrote a good article titled "Twitter is like sex" where he makes the point that you just have to get in and experience it to understand it.

The more I use Twitter, the more I find it to be an invaluable tool. Sometimes the noise to value ratio gets a little high, but then something like today's power outage where eXtension and NC Cooperative Extension house their servers occurs. They can't send an email to any of their mailing lists because they are on the servers that are without power. However, I found out about it because some of the people that I follow 'tweeted' that their building was without power. They also used the eXtensionOrgSys twitter account to post the status of their system.

Last week, I drove with my wife to Pennsylvania. Before leaving, I turned on Twitter's SMS feature to have the tweets from that those I follow sent to my cell phone as text messages. Throughout the day, I was able to keep up with my friends and what was going on in the world. I tweeted what I was doing so they could keep up with me. Vince Verbeke shared how to pronounce Wilkes-Barre and even gave directions to a great garden center to visit from where we were having lunch.

After using twitter for more than a year now, I still feel it is a great information gathering tool. It is a great relationship maintenance and building tool. And it's just fun. Twitter is still the first thing I check - before email or anything else. It's like going to a party with all your friends and being able to listen to and even participate in all the discussions. Some I just listen to and laugh, others I participate.

vcverbeke, myself and some others are posting an IT Tip Of The Day (ittotd).
vvanpetten is doing a great job of using twitter to promote her blog and herself.
jdorner is where you can find me.

If you haven't tried Twitter yet, the way I would suggest getting started is to try it with some friends or family that you don't see often. Convince them to 'try' it for a month.

I recommend using a third party tool to read and post to twitter. "How Are People Twittering" has a top ten list as of January 31, 2008. Right now, I'm using Twitbin in my Firefox window. I also like Snitter. And plan to try out Twitterrific (free w/ ads) on my Mac.

Caveat: Twitter is not 100% stable. At this time, I would not recommend using it for mission critical information. Just this morning, there were a couple tweets that I could read on the twitter web site, but didn't get them in my Snitter or TwitBin.