Friday, June 30, 2006

It is a Wiki Wiki World

Thank you, so much, for inviting me to this blog. I am excited by the possibilities! For one, it seems that this crazy web has connected two people who may have met in 2001. Back in those days (pre-children), I taught FT at a branch campus of Penn State. I took a group of students on a Spring Break Challenge trip to the weather-torn Camilla, GA for a Habitat for Humanity Build. It is, to date, one of my best teaching memories. It turns out that our lovely hostess, Vicki, may have been volunteering at the water/volunteer station during our trip!

We connected because of her incredible teaching blog, and, I believe, a shared Christian outlook, but, the web, and all of these emerging technologies, has allowed us to connect. She can now go to the First Baptist Church of Camilla and tell them they served the best fried chicken I ever ate in my entire life, and she can tell me how the residents are doing in the community we served.

Technology is amazing.

Blogging and wikis are incredible tools. I met Dr. Jean-Claude Bradley from Drexel University in March, and, as a result of his inspiration, was sold on the concepts that had failed for me (blogs never worked - a wiki seemed silly). Now, I almost always publish my materials on my College English wiki, and all of my classes are linked to a blog.

Jean-Claude has some amazing tutorials that walk you through the set up process (even adding chicklets and setting up iTunes). This technology, and his use of it, has inspired me to return to a love neglected (teaching writing for science and engineering).

I am interested in everyone's thoughts about open sourcing educational materials. Vicki posted an interesting link to teacherspayteachers, and I am wondering how people feel about that concept.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Great first meeting

The first meeting was great! You had great questions and I was thrilled with how well each of you learned. I hope you will all take the challenge to create a netvibes startup page. Feel free to share here any great new RSS feeds that you have found to add to your page.

Remember to add the RSS Feed for this blog there. The RSS feed is:

Here is a summary of what we talked about along with hyperlinks for those of you who would like to share this and get on board. I encourage you to take notes as you learn to do something new and post your experience here on the blog. Topics that you have questions about or want to discuss are great also. Remember to add this page to your Net Vibes account!

Today's Meeting

We started the meeting with you sharing what you would like to learn about the New Internet. You wanted to learn more about:
  • Blogging and how it works
  • Wikis
  • RSS
  • Internet Telephone Services
  • Tagging
  • Podcasting
  • Open Source software

The Magic Button of the New Internet

We began by discussing the "magic button." This Button usually has the words RSS on it. RSS stands for "Really Simple Syndication" but I like to call it "Really Simple Subscriptions."

What does RSS do?
Just as Foghorn Leghorn says, "Look at me, Boy", an RSS feed lets a web page tell you "Look at me, I've got something new to tell you." Right now, people take twenty or thirty minutes a day to look at several websites for information. Sometimes you read something just to realize that you've already read that yesterday! Using these RSS buttons you can subscribe to the websites you read the most and have it all on one page! The computer will tell you if its new or not!

This little box (called a chicklet like the gum many of us chewed as kids) is the backbone of this Incredible new Internet and allows us to do more with less time! (Remember, the button may look different and be more like the one shown on your right! They all do the same thing, though!)

How do I use the RSS?

I used Net Vibes to demonstrate how you can use RSS to put customized information on a page. Here are the simple steps: (there are other ways to do this, but this is the easy way.)

Set up an account

1) Go to and click Sign In to set up an account
2) Delete anything you don't want on your page by pointing your mouse in the top right hand corner of the little boxes. An x will appear. Click the x and you can delete the box.
3) Type the name of your page up at the top.

Find information to add to your page
1) Look for the RSS or XML button or words on web page. (This is called the "feed.")
2) Click on the button and it will take you to a page with a lot of words on it that says XML
3) Click in the address box at the top to select the text.
4) Right click on the highlighted text and select copy.
5) Go to your net vibes page
6) Click Add Content in the top left Corner
7) Click Add Feed
8) Right click in the blank box and select paste
9) Click Add
You can move it around on the page by moving your mouse on the top bar of any box. Your arrow will turn into a four pointed arrow (I call the snowflake). You can then click and drag that box anywhere on the page.

I showed you several places that you can get feeds for your Net Vibes Page:

Customized Google News - - Search for your topic and then click the RSS button to get the feed for that news search. Here is the feed for the Camilla, Georgia News.

Weather - To add the weather, click the Add Content Button and then there is a weather button. Type in the name of your city and then add it to your page.

New Movies that are coming out this week. Click Add Content. Paste this feed in the box.

New DVDs out this week. Click Add Content. Paste this feed in the box and add it to your page.

Healthy Recipes. Click Add Content. Paste this feed in the box and add it to your page.

My Christian podcast feed is: Add it to your page like you did the others.

Startup on your NetVibes Page

You may want to make NetVibes your startup page now that it is so useful. To do this in Internet Explorer:
1) Make sure you are on your NetVibes Page
2) Go to Tools --> Internet Options on the menubar at the top of your page.
3) Click on the General Tab at the top of the box.
4) Click on Use Current.

We were running short on time so I gave you a brief overview of some New Internet Technologies:

Blog- came from the term web log. We discussed several political influences from blogs and a little about how they work.

Wiki - A quick way to make web pages and cooperate with others. You can look at the Wiki I use at school at Wikipedia is the most well known wiki. You can use them to create documents together with others.

Internet telephone - A way you can make calls over the Internet. This is also called IP Telephony and I recommended that you use Skype

Podcasting - Audio files availabe on the Internet in mp3 format. You do not need an ipod to listen and can listen just by clicking on them and listening to them on your computer

Open Source software - Free software you can use that downloads on your Computer. Tommy has used Open Office and recommends it highly. You can download Open Office at (Beware, it is a large file.)

Web Apps - Usually free software that you use on the Internet. I recommended Writely for word processing, Gliffy for graphics, Airset for calendars, and Google Earth for maps. You have the ability to save it and edit and use it from any computer.

I talked a little about the well intentioned but ill informed Deleting Online Predators Act. I have written about this on my blog and am writing my representatives. I encourage you to write as well. I have some resources on my blog post about DOPA.

I also shared with you the importance of creating good, accurate information for the consumption of the leaders of tomorrow. Over 90% of teens go on the Internet at least once a week for information. They are asking questions of the Internet and many fringe groups are answering because mainstream, responsible groups are ignoring the potential. If you are in a civic group or organization, it is vital that you share about the New Internet and encourage your participants to blog.

This is why I am passionate about sharing the story of the New Internet with Teachers and Parents and those who care about kids and I am writing a book this summer on that very topic. My book is focusing on how to use the technology and to supervise children who use it. More on that later.

We cannot block this technology, we must educate adults and students on how to use it wisely. If we ignore the power of the New Internet we will suffer and be left behind. If we ignore the power of the Internet over our children, they may be harmed.

Thank you for attending in person if you did. If you're an online reader, welcome to our group. Our membership is open to all who are interested in learning about the Internet.

The next meeting

The next meeting will be at Camilla Java on Wednesday, July 19th at noon. If you have friends invite them. I was thinking about discussing safety on the New Internet but am rethinking that. We still have a lot to learn about blogs and wikis. What do you think?

Do you want to know how to set up your own blog? Or do you want to know about how to do something else like making telephone calls on the Internet? Joe and Patty have a great place and state of the art hookup at the conference table so I should be able to demonstrate most anything there at the table.

Stay tuned to the blog here and I encourage you to post. In fact, I will buy coffee for the first person that posts here besides me! Welcome to the New Internet!