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Your search results are different than others: Important to know

Attention:  

Did you know that Facebook and Google were filtering the results you get?  It’s true.  This means that results you get may be completely different from results that your friends, your neighbors, your adversaries, people of different ages, different demographics, different locales and countries get.  This is a scary thought to me.

Essentially what is happening: If I am a right-wing or left-wing person who only searches for right-wing or left-wing ideas, this is what I will find.  This is what will be presented to me.  This is what is reinforced in me as: Truth.  I take that idea back that ‘this is scary to me’ and want to replace it with: THIS IS TERRIFYING TO ME!!

Proof:

Watch this video to understand more:

Strategy:

I am not going to repost this post from The Filter Bubble, but they explain main ideas for how to combat search result filtering:

  1. Burn your cookies.
  2. Erase your web history.
  3. Tell Facebook to keep your data private.
  4. Hide your birthday.
  5. Turn off targeted ads, and tell the stalking sneakers to buzz off.
  6. Go incognito.
  7. Or better yet, go anonymous.
  8. Depersonalize your browser.
  9. Tell Google and Facebook to make it easier to see and control your filters.
  10. Tell Congress you care.

I would add:

  • Compare friend results – like you saw in the video
  • Network through places like Twitter around the world and ask to compare results from people outside of your sphere of thinking – Try to think what you search for and like and choose the opposite #tag instead – for example, if you are a Republican and always search #Republican, try #Democrat instead, and vice versa.  If you search #Vanilla, try #Chocolate.  Connect with new people from the other side of your views, your searches, and your beliefs.
  • Start searching things you don’t normally search – Try to trick these algorithms. (I don’t know if this is possible, but it’s worth a try)
Taylor made is good, but not always.  I hope you take action to see what you might be missing.
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Google to teach speaking

Attention:

You might not sound as smart as you think, especially if you consider how you sound in a foreign country.  Maybe you think your pronunciation is great, but you can’t understand why no one gets what you are trying to say.  There are things that you can do to practice.  One of the best sources I have recently been referred on to was Rosetta Stone (RS).  The reason I like it is because the software ensures reading, writing, connecting thoughts, listening AND SPEAKING!

It does not translate words for you.  At first I thought this was a silly way of learning, but after going through the RS system for a while I realized that building upon reference ideas and then repeating them was a great way to learn.  The drawback, however, is the cost.  (£149.00)  In that case, I have a workaround answer for you, but I will get to that after I have shown you proof that the RS system works.

Proof:

While researching for proof that Rosetta Stone was the best way to learn online or off out on the market, I found some contrasting evidence.  Some people spoke very highly of the product, such as these reviews:

Without a doubt the highest praise went to the ease with which reviewers were learning. Courses were described as being instinctive and natural, even though many had been skeptical about there being no English on the Rosetta Stone software. A lot of learners said that their children were also following their course and were enjoying the quizzes and games. Rosetta Stone seems to be engaging for any age group. The pace seemed to be appropriate, and many users liked a feature of the CD-ROM where it automatically started each session with a quick review of what was previously studied.  (http://www.therosettastonereviews.com/)

Rosetta Stone helps you learn 31 various languages spoken all round the world. It dishes some different and interesting techniques to get accomplish to the languages you want in your armory. People who want to study languages difficult to understand for fun or individuals who loves incomprehensible languages, should also give Rosetta Stone a try.  (http://judgesreviews.com/software/rosetta-stone-reviews)

However, this review was only a partial glimpse:

Some people will get benefit out of Rosetta Stone. I can see how it would happen. I did indeed learn something from this program, including having my first ever conversation in Dutch, which gave me an enormous boost of confidence.(http://www.fluentin3months.com/rosetta-stone-review/)

A further read of this same reviewing would show you this review as well:

Injecting this confidence is something that Rosetta Stone does very well but to be honest the time would have been much better spent on other tasks.  (http://www.fluentin3months.com/rosetta-stone-review/)

With that said, I have to personally say that I can see the benefit and enjoyment factor present with the RS method.  If you have time, it is worth giving it a try to see if the slightly expensive system is worth it to you.  If not, read on and maybe I have some alternative solutions.

Strategy:

There are many free websites to learn another language.  A good example of an English site for this is learn-english-online.org  Like most, it allows you to read, to write and sometimes even listen, but the sites do not include speaking.

Along comes Google!

I figured this out when my wife, who is not a native English speaker was trying to use the Google VoiceSearch found when you are using Chrome as your browser.

She was having the toughest time.  It was a little funny, especially when I heard what she was trying to say and what was coming up on Google.  For example, she might try to say, “Samui, Thailand” and it comes up, “Simile Highland”.  It takes some practice.  Sometimes it is even necessary for me, as a native English speaker to hear what she is saying and tell her to say the word(s) with more enunciation or inflection on a certain part.  How Google works well, is it confirms automatically where I might say to her, as her teacher, that she is saying something incorrectly, but she doesn’t hear it herself.  She might insist she is saying it correctly, but I have no proof.

Well, now I do.

This Google App is available on iPhones, iPads and I am sure lots of other devices.  Because of this, it means teachers can carry it around for students who are trying to pronounce something for immediate confirmation about whether what they are saying is said correctly or not.

All-in-all, I love the idea.  I hope to apply it through technology integration in classrooms, by carrying around a smart phone and pulling it out when the need is there.

Who says we should ban phones in schools?  With enough ingenuity there are plenty of authentic applications for them.  Now, if I can justify spending $15,000 for Microsoft’s MS Surface Table to the school, that would be neat.

 

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Computer Labs are made wrong. Here’s why:

Attention:

Get rid of rows of computers in your school!!

How many schools have you been to where the computer labs are a room full of 20-30 computers lined up in rows around a the room?

Lots?

Me too.

This is old school thinking and it’s wrong.  A computer lab should not be row upon row of computers. There is no need. We have wifi and students have laptops of their own (or they should).

More and more forward-thinking schools are implementing laptop programs.  If this is the case, get rid of the desktops. Put them in the library or put two or three computers in each classroom.  Donate them to the office staff or the underprivileged school down the road.  Be more savvy when you invest the money into technology.

Proof:

“Results confirm the hypotheses that [students] seated in circles engage in significantly more on-task behavior than those in rows and that [student] seated in clusters engage in more on-task behavior than those in rows but less than those in circles.” http://psycnet.apa.org/index.cfm?fa=buy.optionToBuy&id=1985-18658-001

Yet most computer classrooms in schools still have row upon row.  The desktop computer no longer needs to be the standard.  The laptop, the tablet and the smart phone are smaller, useful technologies that need to be employed effectively.

Computer classroom designers might take a look at leaders in the field, Google’s and Facebook’s headquarters, to see what fun engaging design looks like:

GOOGLE

     

images from http://www.reactorr.com/blog/index.php/2009/08/google-land/

FACEBOOK

images from: http://freshome.com/2009/10/15/facebook-headquarters-in-california/

I wish schools I have seen or worked at looked fun like this.

Strategy:

Then what should the computer classroom of 2011 and beyond be?

  • Outdoors – Why limit the confines of classroom learning to a classroom?  Get kids outside experiencing and doing, with tablets and cellphones connected to the internet as supporting reference tools or better yet as creation tools for capturing, writing about, drawing and much more.  Take students on trips to the mall, the store, the field, behind the school, the cafeteria, and nature. Read more about outdoor classrooms here.
  • If educators have to works indoors, two words: Beanbag chairs (Swiss balls could also work– They are lightweight, movable workstations.  Put electric/data ports for charging and connectivity throughout the floor of EVERY classroom and put lots on the walls. (At least until they mass market wireless electricity)
  • Group centers and Circles can easily be formed by the teacher for collaborative physical meeting points.
  • With the new-found money in the budget, invest in specialized media centers: graphics tablets, video raid systems, video greenscreens, music stations and studios with sound editing capabilities. Computers aren’t just for using the Microsoft products.  Start thinking about how the other subjects like art, drama, phys ed, and science can be using them.
  • Fitness rooms with setups to place tablets are a must.  Make sure you have speakers to plug those iPods into.
  • iPads and iMovie are a must for drama class and why not for the sports field.
  • Wacom tablets are a new must for art class which can now also be called Digital Design class.
Administrators and educators:
Think outside the box.  Redefine the computer classroom.  Think Engaging. Think Useful. Think Fun! Invest more in your wifi.  
Good luck with the future.
 

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Good ePortfolio example

Hello students, educators, professionals, prospective employees and possibly even prospective employers.  I am sure that you are aware that you need to consider your online presence.  You need to worry about what you post on Facebook and tailor your comments professionally on blogs and websites because you know that once you post something it is always out there.

Future schools, employers, colleagues and acquaintances will all possibly be able to see what you created.  It’s best that you take a proactive approach to the internet and create your professional existence.

That said, I came across an excellent ePortfolio just now through LinkedIn (I would consider this site a professional’s Facebook).  The portfolio created by Eric Forsyth had these elements that you might consider for yourself, especially if you are an educator, but you could adapt them accordingly:

  • Home
  • Contact Information
  • Education
  • Employment History
  • Promotion Timeline
  • Teaching Timeline
  • Scholarship Timeline
  • Service Timeline
  • Teaching and Advising
  • Publications
  • Presentations
  • Research Studies
  • Authorship Samples
  • Service
  • Grants
  • Recognition
  • Affiliation
  • References
  • Family
  • Outdoor Pursuits
  • Just Out Riding

It makes me feel like I need to do more substantial things in my life.  You might think so too.  I look at Dr. Forsyth’s efolio and compare it to my rendition.  Noting differences, he is missing artistry and my idea of good resources and videos.

You too, can and should update or create your very own ePorfolio if you haven’t done so already.  You could do that here at WordPress.com, start one on Google Sites or try eFolios or just do a Google Search for Online Portfolios and decide which website suits you best.  It’s best to start early and keep it up, because you would be surprised how many things you can add to it if you are diligent enough.

To see Eric Forsyth’s portfolio click here

 
2 Comments

Posted by on May 10, 2011 in Technology

 

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Do you use Facebook, Gmail AND Hotmail?

I bet you do.  I bet you also use them similarly to how I use them.  These days I use Facebook for daily communication, Gmail for important stuff and Hotmail or Yahoo for junk mail.  Why is that?

Facebook has come out on top as the daily most used website.  It’s due to feeds from friends, ease of use, and non-clunkiness.  This is the place to be if you enjoy knowing what many of your friends are doing, most of the time.  Because of this, you probably will write quick emails to them to comment about their activities.

Hotmail and Yahoo, however, may have been one of the first email clients you started using.  You were probably not thinking too much about the silliness of your “handle” when you created the account.   Therefore, you don’t share this information with people you want to think of you professionally.  The account is still active and since you need a certain area to send email confirmations to this is your likely choice.  Also, you remember the email password.

And then comes Gmail.  It hasn’t been around as long as the former two and if you were born around the time I was (1976) or even sooner you started to think about how people are viewing you online.  You needed to apply to a college, or job, or start a company and to do so you didn’t want somebody emailing you at fluffy123@hotmail.com or cheezeslick69@yahoo.com.  It just didn’t cut it.  You probably went out and tried to get a variation of your name – figure that, and now you have the third or fourth email account that you consider professional.

It could be the Outlook/Yahoo/Facebook combo, or the Webmail/Hotmail/LinkedIn combo, but when all is said and done, I bet you have something along these lines.

Whatever happened to the days before email?  “Page me.” “Call me on my home (rotary) phone” I hardly remember them.  Do you?

 
2 Comments

Posted by on May 8, 2011 in Technology

 

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Search beyond Google. Wonderwheel and more

I do it.

My students do it.

We all do it.

We GOOGLE IT!

The easiest thing these days is to find an answer.

But is the answer always the best answer?

How many of you have gone beyond the first, second or third page in search results in Google?

How many have used tools like:

  • Google Scholar (for articles, legal opinions and journals)
  • Google Books (find whole books, partial excerpts, etc)
  • Google Finance (find stock quotes)
  • XE.com (for exchange rates of currencies and precious metals)
  • Survey Monkey | Survey Gizmo (for creating your own surveys)
  • ERIC (digital library of education literature)
  • OEDB.org (free online classes)
  • TeacherTube.com
  • IMDB.com (International Movie Database)
  • Youtube.com (many free online tutorials | courses these days)
  • the library
  • an expert
  • Google WonderWheel (as seen above) Wonder wheel How-to.pdf [Presently, Google Wonder Wheel seems to no longer exist.  I hope the people at Google bring this option back.  For now, check out Google Image Swirl, another similar product, only for images]

This is not an exhaustive list of tools-beyond-Google, but it is a list I presently use as part of criterion for my students to gather information in preparation for a project.  I recommend you, as an educator, employ these techniques and others as well.  Google is great, but it doesn’t always have the best answer.

For a great interactive graphic that demonstrates: Google Tools to support Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy

 
 

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Basic Reading in Google Search – ISTEC final notes

At the ISTEC meeting we had the session that I usually enjoy the most.  It is a time when people come up and show a thing or two they find nifty.  It is usually the cutting edge stuff that no one has seen before.  For example:

Search for kids

  • Google – Advanced Search (basic reading age)

Go to Google – Advanced Search

Choose Reading Level:

Another great Kids Search example was:

Some of the latest resources mentioned are listed below:

  • dropitto.me – a dropbox add-in allows others to send files to your dropbox
  • edmodo –  an excellent, free (course management system) CMS for teachers and students
  • packrati.us – adds twitter feed URLs to your delicious account
  • calibre – e-books library management system
  • epubread – allows you to read ePubs in Firefox
  • posterous.com – fun ways to share and collaborate online

Concerning e-portfolios, these items were presented:

A noteworthy site to work in conjunction with those listed above:

  • topicmarks – summarizes text documents for you electronically
 

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