Information overload – get a Google reader!

I’m constantly amazed by the changes I have seen in myself over the last two and a bit years. They’re not physical (not to say that I’ve been unaffected by the ravages of time!), but more attitudinal. As I’ve become more familiar with technology, I’ve noticed a shift in my reading habits. I’m a Teacher- Librarian and English teacher, and have a deep love of the written word. I love eloquent, simple language that can evoke feeling and move me in some way. I love being so completely immersed in a novel that it transcends all else and I can do nothing but turn the pages. I love sharing the reading experience with my students. But I’ve noticed a change in my reading habits.

As I’ve developed my interest in what is possible with the Web, my love affair with the novel has waned. Maybe it’s just that I’m reading the wrong books, but I’m finding it more difficult to become engaged and commit the time needed to complete a novel. Two years ago I felt overwhelmed by the wealth of information flooding from the Web; today, not so much. I think this is because the type of reading I am doing has changed.  An essential part of my reading today is via my Google Reader. Here I access the latest feeds from people who write blogs that are of interest to me. Most of these are people involved in education from various corners of the world. These people are filtering the information overload that is the Web for me,  and I, in turn, am doing my bit by writing this blog and adding to the filtering process. By being part of this community I am helping to manage my own professional development and hopefully am assisting other people with theirs.  

What’s led me to this moment of introspection is a post from Will Richardson. He refers to an article in the Christian Science Monitor by Thomas Washington, a School Librarian. He discusses student reading habits and the perception that students dislike reading and have an aversion to it. He speculates that it is not an aversion, but rather a reaction to the information overload that is our modern world. He says, “For them, and now maybe for me, moving on to something else is an adaptive tactic for negotiating the jungle that is our information-besotted culture of verbiage.”

As much as I recognise a shift in my reading habits, I hope that I never tire of the pleasure that comes from total immersion in a story that moves me in some way. A large part of my job is to encourage students to read for their own enjoyment. I’m pleased to say that at my school there is a strong reading culture and we have many readers accessing our fiction collection, along with our biography/autobiographies and high interest non-fiction. One book of late that has had that special immersion factor is Meg Rosoff’s ‘What I Was’. I can’t tell you what it is about – it’s one of those novels that you spoil if you reveal too much. Meg’s novels are always interesting with unexpected plot twists and turns. Give it a go.   

Passing it on – the power of the Web

Will Richardson has posted this video called ‘How it all ends’ on his site. He found it at Chris Lehmann’s site. It’s a Science teacher’s attempt to explain the debate surrounding global warming and what we should be doing about it. Another example of the power of YouTube to enable us ordinary joes to gain a voice and be heard. The message here is clear – pass it on. Your science teachers could find this a valuable teaching tool when addressing Global Warming issues.

Flip Video – just what we need

Once again I need to refer to Will Richardson! He showed us Flip Video cameras at the ELH conference and explained how they made it easy to upload your movies with the USB that ‘flips’ out the side of the camera. And they’re ultra cheap at $150.00 U.S. for 60mins of recording time. I budgeted for them for our Library but have just read a comment on elearnspace saying that they are not available outside of the U.S. I can’t imagine why not. We have been doing a lot of work with digital storytelling and they would make it much easier for our students to create their own content. Hopefully we’ll be able to find a way to source them. If anyone knows anything about their availabilty in Australia I’d appreciate some info. 

Flip video

Thanks fellow bloggers!

Last night I wrote my first post. Well, I thought, that will fade into obscurity until I tell someone they should have a look at this newfangled thing I’m doing. Wasn’t I suprised (and very excited I might add) to see comments  from Alec Couras   and Judy O’Connell this morning. Thanks for taking the time to notice – it means a lot to a novice.

I was reading a column by Kate Holden in Melbourne’s Age newspaper and a metaphor she included prompted me to think of the blogging community;

“Conversation irrigates us, and makes us flow in new directions.”

This is certainly true when I think about the blogs I have been reading and the new directions their words have been leading me to . My interest in this was really sparked last  August when I attended a five hour workshop run by Will Richardson.  In a small group session at the Expanding Learning Horizons conference he took us through dozens of Web 2.0 applications and made us think how we could apply them to our educational settings. One of the applications he showed us was Jing, a fantasic screen capture device that is free from Techsmith. I’ve used it to capture images that I want to use in presentations and I’ve been thrilled with the results.

Jing

You can capture any part of the screen you like and can crop the image. Tools are provided to enable you to highlight, write on your screen capture in a text box and frame sections that you’d like your audience to note. Your captured image can be hosted on screencast.com. I have yet to use this facility.  I’ve found this to be an invaluable tool and would recommend that you give it a go.