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Archive for the ‘Internet’ Category


As my regular readers are aware (and my family shudders about…) I tend to over-share. Everyone pretty much knows everything about me. That’s a decision I made and is my problem; sharing as much as I do may have consequences. I’m willing to live with those.

The talk here is about Open Learning and Open Resources and the like. Now, I’m not an educator, so my apologies to those of you that are. What I’m having trouble with is this over reaching need to protect “My Stuff”. I’m sorry, but there is nothing that you create that hasn’t been created before. Not anymore. This is the world of the Internet.

You may just put a different spin on it or a better spin. You may just be reaching different people that missed it the first time. You are using your gift to help others learn when you share what you know! That’s what I love about the Internet.

I wished my writing was unique. I wished I had something new to say. I wished that people would say, “Wow, listen to what she has to say! Isn’t that amazing” or “I used to know her before she was famous” – things like that. I thought that’s what I needed to be happy. The approval of the masses. Wow. Was I out to lunch on that one! Who did I think I was, really?

I heard today that the stuff you create is what defines you or what defines your institution! Ack! I certainly hope not! I hope that you or your institution is defined by what you give back to the world. That you are defined by the unique gifts you share.

For example: You create a wonderful new way of teaching someone how to do math. You are truly gifted in being able to explain what cannot be explained. Yet you hold that so close to you, only letting those few students in front of you be able to learn your technique. Because you’re afraid that someone will steal your method. Who are you protecting? Certainly not those learners out there that desperately need your gift! You are protecting yourself, your 15 minutes of fame, your idea.

But…what if a place existed that you could share your beautiful gift with hundreds? Even thousands!? If, because of you, all of those people suddenly had access to that kind of understanding of Math? That student that never would have had the chance to see it suddenly has the answer he was looking for and can now move on and share his gift! Bringing math to students that can’t even get shoes let alone access to a school like yours. Wouldn’t you feel good about that – that you were able to reach out to so many!? What would it matter if you weren’t necessarily recognized for that. If you just knew in your heart that you could help someone by sharing your gift?

Ok, maybe I’m over-simplifying and being naive. I know we all need recognition for the work that we do. But, let’s think about the kind of recognition we REALLY need…is it money? is it awards? is it to be published?

Or is it to just know that on our tiny visit to this Earth we made a difference. We may not necessarily know the difference we made in someone’s life. All we know is we did our best to get our gifts out there. We did our best to share what we know. And really, is there anything better than knowing that? To go to your grave knowing that you did everything you could to help someone. That you will be remembered for what you shared not the book you published or the job you did. You will be remembered for your heart…

Sorry, kinda ranting and all over the place today. I just see so much potential in this conference – this room full of educators and people that know so much and have so much to give but are too afraid to share it. Man, what a world it would be if we threw out the pieces of paper that says I’ve got this PhD or that Masters and just reached out to everyone with the learning! Made sure that everyone learned as much as they were willing to learn. That there were no walls in front of them. That they had equal opportunity to be WHO THEY WERE MEANT TO BE….

Wow….I can see it! Can you? 🙂

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Modern Love

I read this funny post this morning (click the link to read it):

Mommy Said What blog

She talks about how she uses modern technology to communicate with her husband. Some of the comments show concern about her relationship, but I think she has nothing to worry about. Everyone complains about their spouses occasionally. No relationship is perfect.

The point that I think people missed in her blog is that she and her spouse can still laugh and have fun with each other. That is the important thing. The technology allows them to communicate a little more than maybe they would have in this busy life we lead.

I do think that the technology can “take over” sometimes, and that’s not a good thing. It should not be the ONLY way we communicate.

Take Facebook for example: I love it because it does let me keep up on what is happening in the lives of people I care about. Many of my FB friends are extended family or old friends that I don’t normally see/hear from very often. At least with FB, we can still communicate. If I had to call every one of these people to let them know the “latest”, I would be on the phone for hours! I don’t have that kind of time.

FB allows me to see what “the kid” is up to as well. He won’t always tell me things, but at least I can kinda see what is going on in his life. However, it is WAY more important for me to find a way to communicate with him face to face.

How do you get a teenager to talk to you? You don’t try to talk to them when they are on the cell phone or in the morning when they emerge from their cave. You talk to them when they are lazing around at 11 o’clock at night! That is when they are ready to talk. They just hanging out, bored usually – just plunk down beside him and see what he says. That has always worked for me.

As for the hubby – I love texting! It’s nice to know he’s thinking of me in the middle of the day. A quick note saying hi! makes my day! There are other “notes” we send back and forth to each other too, that no one else needs to hear! This adds to the “excitement” and anticipation! What’s wrong with that!! 😉

The technology allows us to keep communicating even when we are far apart. He’ll be going away for the week and I will miss him terribly! But with texting and chat and video chat and FB, I can still “talk “to him when he is gone!

That is what is great about all this technology. It shouldn’t be the only way we communicate, and it isn’t.

We still go out on “dates” and hang out with friends and do fun stuff with our kids. That quality time is the most important. But, I do think that all this technology ADDS to our ability to communicate with each other. It enhances our communication in my opinion.

What’s your opinion? Does the technology we use to communicate hurt or help our communication with each other?

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Internet Addict

One of my friends is without Internet at her house and doesn’t know when she’s going to have it.

I simply could NOT imagine it! WOW! I had heart palpitations just thinking about being offline for more than a few hours! I may not go on the computer for the entire day on the weekend, but I know that it’s there…safe and sound and secure. My grownup security blanket!

I think I must have an addiction to this thing!

Those of you that know me, know that I’m on Facebook a couple times a day, and many, many times at night. I flit from various online tool to another, back and forth.

I (or the hubby, being the smart hubby he is) turn on the computer before the coffee gets brewed!! I can Tweet from my cell phone. I can send a blog entry from my PDA. (Yes, I have both, don’t ask….)

Do I need an intervention? 🙂

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Some Good Blogs to Read

I always say  that things happen for a reason. I am a true believer in that theory.

I have come across some really great blogs lately that I’m trying to find time to read. Some days, I need this more than others. I am so great at giving others advice (well, I’d like to think I am!). I am not so great at heeding my own advice!

The biggest message in these new blogs: Simplify Your Life

I do like my life complicated, but I do let it get to me sometimes. The biggest problem I have with the complexity of life is setting priorities. That’s a tricky thing for me. I want to be everything to everyone all the time. And I can’t do that. Then I get frustrated.

So…I’m constantly on the lookout for ideas on how to set these priorities. I have read so many books and so many articles. They are too numerous to even count!

I guess what I need to remember is that I just need to keep trying. Life is Learning, so as long as I keep doing that, I’m still on the right track!

I also get distracted! I just got distracted from giving you those great blogs to read! Too funny!

www.mnmlist.com – I really like these ideas from Leo Babauta on basically living with the bare essentials.

http://zenhabits.net – another Leo Babauta blog about being productive, yet still living the simple life. I really like this one too. A lot of great ideas

I am following these on twitter too so that I can be constantly reminded to simplify my life! Yeah, using twitter to simplify – constant distraction. hmmmmm. Need to rethink that one to evaluate if it simplifies my life, or complicates it!

Good Witch Bad Witch – a don’t know how I stumbled on this today, but thought it looked pretty good. Humorous and helpful at the same time. Experienced life coaches. I thought I’d subscribe to this one too – I’ll see how it turns out!

And I continue to receive emails from FlyLady – there is always great stuff coming from her about how to get my home (and in turn my life…) back!

I’m sure as I go on, I’ll find more stuff to read and try to glean some advice from. I’ll keep you posted!

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Safety….what safety?

Internet Safety. How do we keep our kids (and ourselves!) safe on the Internet?

I get asked this A LOT! This comes up constantly from friends, families and co-workers.

Basically, what I say to people about Internet “safety” is this:

No, the Internet is not safe (even with the kinds of things that your friends may tell you about various blocking tools and tracking – kids can figure out “workarounds”, believe me! It is VERY SCARY….and I know a lot about IT and use some of the tools that our kids and students are using.)

However, saying that, it is a wonderful tool when used properly and when used with recognition that there is a danger. The world is a scary place, it always has been!

Think of it like this:

Your child is walking down a street in New York city to see a once in a lifetime show at 1 a.m. It’s exactly the same. The internet opens your child (or YOU) up to the big wide world at all hours of the day!

Is it safe? Nope! Is it a tremendous opportunity? Yep! Do you want your child (or you!) to live in a bubble? No! Do you want them to “see” the world? Of course! Do you want them to learn? Definitely! To have new experiences? Absolutely!

You teach them to minimize the risk to take advantage of a great opportunity:

  1. You teach them to travel in a group (or Internet version: only be friends online with friends you know, not strangers! You wouldn’t let them talk to strangers on the street in New York! You would want to know who they’re talking to whether it’s online or on the street!) IMPORTANT: Realize that once it’s online – REGARDLESS of what kind of security settings you use – it’s out there.Anyone can get it if they really want to. Understand that. So, be smart about what you “say” or do on the internet with your friends! Teach that to your kids and remember that yourself!
  2. You teach them to pay attention to their surroundings on the street – bad guys on that side of the street, maybe we should go the other direction! At a party where you don’t know anyone? Maybe I should call home? (or Internet version: if it seems a little scary, stay away from it! Keep your eyes open! Pay attention!)
  3. You teach them that if something makes them uncomfortable then don’t do it! Tell someone about it – whether it’s online or at school or someone’s house, whatever. They have to know that THEY – no one else – are in control of their body, their life. No one has any power over them. Drill that one into their heads! That’s a really big one in my opinion. They have to know that they are in charge – have that self-confidence so that no one can take advantage of them. Online or on the streets of New York!
  4. You let them know that it’s OK to make a mistake, that they have somewhere to turn when (not IF) they make a mistake. They are going to screw up, whether it’s online or on the street. It’s going to happen. What’s important is that they learn to recognize it and say something about it and LEARN from it.

You have to make them (and yourself) “street-wise” – if someone really wants to take advantage of your children (or YOU) then they are going to do it regardless of the bars you put on your windows or the locks on your doors or the papers you shred or the software you install. No one is completely protected from bad stuff happening to them. It’s IMPOSSIBLE!

It’s a fact of life. If bad guys really want to get to you – they can, no matter what you do. The key is to make it harder for someone to do it to you or your children so that maybe they’ll move on to an easier target. Pay attention and always be aware. Don’t be afraid to try new things – you will miss out on great opportunities or even miss out on life. We can’t hide or live in a bubble! That’s not what life is about. It’s about taking chances, but being smart about it and praying that God will watch out for the rest. He won’t give you anything that you can’t handle, that I truly believe, but He helps those who help themselves.

It’s good to watch and read things about Internet safety (and lack thereof!) and talk to your children and students about the risks – they need to be aware of them (as do we) so that they know that there are bad things out there and they need to be smart. Regardless if it’s on the internet or on the street.

Hopefully, I’ve made sense here. I just worry about people thinking that they are “safe” from bad things happening if they put the bars on their windows and the software on their computers or even ban Facebook and “stuff”. These things do NOT mean that you can let your guard down! You still need to remain VIGILANT regardless of how much “protection” you put in place. Our precious little people are NEVER going to be totally “safe” – just “safer”.

And I certainly don’t think that we shouldn’t let our kids have DS’s or be on the Internet or travel to New York – that’s not the solution either and in fact will make them be sneaky so that you don’t know. You certainly don’t want them to be sneaky or be afraid to tell you about stuff. You want to be open and honest so that you know what’s going on in their lives.

Again, I KNOW for a FACT that I have made (still make!) plenty of mistakes as a parent. All I can do is do my best and offer what I can. We are all learning every day!

There’s my Internet safety advice for the day. This is my opinion only!

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All things Google

🙂

I am truly becoming a google convert! Every time I turn around, there is some new tool or application or feature that I fall in love with on Google! No wonder they are gaining ground!

I created a gmail account before I went to Boston (it was a prerequisite for participating in one of the classes). Mark from Bentley University showed us the power of Google Docs in my very first session and I was completely hooked!

All of my notes from the conference are google docs. I immediately set up a wiki (called Sites in Google) to allow Olds College staff a place to share their thoughts and notes from the conference. A couple of the “keeners” 😉 joined me in collaborating a little.

Then I got home and found out that I can sync my work calendar with my Google calendar! I have been desperately trying to find a way to get all my calendars in one place: home, work, appointments, etc. Finally! it worked! Now that Bruce has a google calendar too, he shared it with me and vice versa so that no matter where we are, both of us know what is going on with the family and each other!

I started messing around with Google Reader! Another great tool to keep my RSS feeds flowing through! And it allows me to easily scan through and quickly find those articles that I’m interested in.

Next, I found an article (that I haven’t had a chance to read yet!) on putting cool photo albums and shows up onto Picasa so that I can share photos etc with my family! What an awesome way to share our holiday pictures without having to put them on Facebook for my FB friends and on my personal blog site for the extended non-FB family. One place! and I can have my little story lines etc. The video was extremely convincing!

I love having an IGoogle home page that is customizable to show “My Stuff” that I want to see every day.  I even have a little Bejeweled game on there for a distraction, there is a gadget that has rotating pictures of places I like to visit plus another with inspirational quotes. It’s a really great way to start the day!

The amazing (to me, anyway) thing that I found tonight on a tweet that I stumbled on for #gonegoogle: being able to add “interesting calendars” to my calendar.

http://gmailblog.blogspot.com/2009/09/new-in-calendar-sports-schedules-and.html

I now have the phases of the moon on this online calendar….I have the Boston Red Sox schedule, including scores after the game…and most importantly (and something I’ve been dying to have) is that I can have Google AUTOMATICALLY add my Contacts birthdays to my Calendar! As I update my Contact information, their birthdays automatically show up! No more transferring birthdays from one year’s calendar to the next (IF I remember to do that!). No more forgetting, because it will be on my ONE calendar that just has EVERYTHING on it!

I get very excited when I find things that make my life easier! Google seems to have so many great tools and features! Anything that makes my life easier, I will recommend to others! Check it out!

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I for one feel absolutely lost when I don’t have access to it! This morning, we have no email and the file server seems to be a little worse for wear. Surprisely, it has been going relatively well here at the College. Not too many upset people. However, how long will that last?

I have found that when we’ve had various outages in the past, we are usually good for about 1/2 a day. After that, people start to get anxious. So much of what we do every day here is completely reliant on the technology we have. For half a day, we can find other things to do. After that, it depends on what technology is missing.

If email is missing – that lasts for about 1/2 a day – people can make calls or use personal email accounts to communicate. The biggest issue for the first 1/2 of the day is the fact that some people don’t have access to their calendars! That’s hard to figure out which meeting you have!

If voicemail or phones are missing – that can be down for a few days – seems not many people care about the phones. There’s always a cell phone around if you really need to call someone! And if people can’t find you by phone, there’s always email!

If the access to files is down – that is the worst – that is only good for about 5 minutes! This is the day to day work that we all do. If we have enough warning and can grab the files we need, that’s ok – we can work with that. However, if there is a sudden outage (or a “hiccup” as I like to call it) then we have calls and people coming in to the office in a bit of a panic. Understandably – this is the work we are doing every day.

However, as I keep reminding people (including myself) – let’s get our priorities straight here. Yes, there is inconvenience and stress when these things happen. Data loss even can seem like a HUGE deal – and no doubt – to the person it happens to – it IS a HUGE deal. This has happened to everyone in some way or another – sometimes in our control (eg. a mistake we’ve made) or out of our control (eg. a server going down).

But…put this in perspective. No one is going to die or get hurt because of this technological problem. We are not in that kind of an industry where that could happen. At most, it is time (and possibly some $$) lost. But no loss of life or limb. That is the perspective we need.

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