Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Thing # 23: Summary

I did not finish all 23 things. The activities took more time than I anticipated, and I found that some of them were just not interesting or useful for me. Although I did not finish all 23 things, I have made some discoveries from the things I did finish. I did enjoy LibraryThing. I will continue to use Google Scholar and blog search. I also discovered that it is possible for me to waste a lot of time on non-essential activities on line. I will use online activities, but remember to be selective and set priorities in what I do. 

Thing #11: LibraryThing

This site is very enjoyable. It was very easy to sign up and post books. I included the HOSA contest reading in my library. I did not find a group that focuses on these books, which will be read by HOSA members around the country, so perhaps I will start a group. This site will be useful for school related reading, and is also of personal interest since I belong to a book club that is always searching for good books to read.

I like the suggestions of other related books, based on interest rather than profit potential. I am intrigued by the opportunity to get free books in order to write book reviews. No books are available now, but I will check the new August list and request a review copy if I find an appealing title.

Thing # 10: Image generator

I created a clever image on Famous People Image Maker, but I have not been able to insert it into this post. It's a picture of Wonderwoman in her skimpy costume, with a cartoon bubble saying "I didn't know that this was a dress code violation!" It would be a cute classroom poster, but the website is set up to sell magnets of the images created, not to let teachers create free posters. This was an easy web site to use, there are hundreds of images of famous people and characters. 

Monday, August 4, 2008

Thing #9:Useful Blogs and news feeds

I wish I had moved on to this thing sooner. More information is not always better. Useful information can be hard to find. Google blog search was the easiest way for me to identify health related news feeds. I discovered several useful news sites that I had not been using. 

I find that I am less interested in blogs maintained by individuals, which often offer opinion. I need to stay current on the results of scientific studies. Opinions and analysis are interesting, but, I have learned that the new tools can be very distracting. I need to set priorities in exploring online resources. 

I found Technorati confusing, and did not find what I was looking for there.

Thing #8: RSS feeds

I explored RSS feeds several weeks ago. I subscribed to 2 blogs and several news feeds, and quickly became overwhelmed. Some of the information on the feeds I chose did not have adequate depth, some was not relevant to my interest, and there was just too much information  coming in. I had trouble finding bl0gs related to health. I was spending too much time sorting through news articles to find what I needed. I went back to checking my favorite web sites directly. 

Thing #7: Cool Google Tools

I explored this thing several weeks ago. I had already been using Google Earth, and it is one of my favorites. I have used it to explore my neighborhood, city, places I have visited, places I would like to visit. It is a lot of fun, personally educational, but not very relevant to what I teach. 

While working through this thing I discovered Google Scholar. This has been one of the most valuable things I have learned from this course. It provides links to scholarly articles and abstracts, without having to weed through commercial sites. I have already used it to update my knowledge, and get new details to enhance lectures. The depth and detail of many of the articles will be beyond many students, but some students will be able to use this effectively. One problem is that many scholarly journals require subscriptions which SBISD does not provide and are too expensive for me personally. Rice University does allow public access and provides online access to most scholarly journals, so, by using Google Scholar to locate article ahead of time, I can be more efficient when I visit a research library.

Google does offer many other tools, but I have not discovered a personal or academic need for most of them.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Thing #6: Google Tools

Google Scholar: I need to stay current on new developments in health and medicine. I do not need the frequent updates of Google alerts, but I do need good quality information. I tried searching a topic with google scholar. This is a much more efficient way to find scientific studies. It weeds out the commercial and irrelevant sites. This is a tool I will use that will improve my knowledge and therefore the quality of my teaching. 

Google Documents: This will be a useful tool for collaborating with colleagues on other campuses. We are in the same department, we teach the same course, we are the only one teaching the course at our schools, but we rarely get to see each other. I will suggest that we use this tool to increase collaboration on developing new lessons.

I will also try this a student group project on researching health occupations. I tried a group online research project a few years ago. It was not successful. Students prepared documents, and emailed them to me for coordination and posting. We had problems with incompatible formats, and problems with email getting past the SBISD spam filter. I had concerns about copyright violations and fair usage. I think using google documents will allow students to more easily access and share documents, creating a useful product in a controlled environment.