@audreywatters :

Despite all the pushes to “bring Twitter to the classroom” and calls to have Twitter “replace traditional professional development,” I’m less and less convinced that’s a good idea — or at least, I’m more and more convinced that we should not rely solely on Twitter as the site for online PD or for online educator community. Both can and do exist online — PD and community — but I’d wager the best place to find both remain on educators’ blogs. I wonder if, in fact, “the future of professional development” might be a “return to blogging.”

via Is Twitter the Best Option for Online Professional Development? from the Hack Education blog.

That would be a nice development in 2015. I’ve blogged a lot about twitter and while it continues to be a good tool, I’d go along with the questioning of best. I suspect our professional standards are looking for a bit more depth too?

Friendly Monsters

Some recent links from my Pinboard. Mostly related to open resources.

Monsters

#glowblogs improvements: mobile

image

On of the real benefits to upgrading glow blogs to WordPress 4 will be its mobile interface. When WordPress 2.9.2 came out in 2010 we were just into the start of the mobile web and the term responsive web design had just been coined.

Now a large percentage of the population have devices in their pockets that are more than capable of posting content online.

. The WordPress  dashboard now  is responsive resizing and rearranging the tools to fit on my screen. Adding an image is simple and a gallery is easy enough.

WordPress now lets me select several images to insert in a post or create a gallery.

This post was started in the train, continued on the tube platform and finished on the couch all using my phone.

Personally I am not the greatest typest on any device. Many folk will be faster. Or I could start a post while mobile, capture images and save that as a draft for later.

I am looking forward to seeing how glow bloggers go mobile next year.

#glowblogs improvements: text handling

IMG_0072.JPG

Since WordPress 3.9 the TinyMCE editor now automatically cleans out all but the semantic HTML from Word (or Rich text copied from elsewhere), meaning any fonts, styles, etc. You preserve headings, blockquotes, lists, links, bold, italic.

From: Peek in the SPLOT: TRU Writer

This means WordPress handles text pasted from word a lot better that the current WordPress 2.9.2 does

Even though, like Alan, I don't think writing everything in word is a great idea lots of folks do exactly that. This then should be useful for #glowblogs after the upgrade.

I'll be posting a few things here about the changes in glow blogs coming in January over the next few weeks.

Glow Blogs Phase 2

change

We have just announce the hope that phase 2 of the Glow Blogs project will go live sometime in January next year. This is a wee bit later than our original plans. Personally I am not too disappointed as I can see how hard the team across the Scottish Government and Code For The People (as was)1 are working.

Before I started this business, I could not really see what all the fuss was about, surely all we need to do is upgrade WordPress and all would be well. And that would be fine if it was one blog, dealing with, and sorting out any wee snags and glitches. But width >130000 blogs we need to try and make sure, as much as possible, that the blog owners don’t have much work to do. A major benefit of the newer version of WordPress should be making people’s lives easier it would be a bad start if they need to do a lot of work to keep their blogs looking the same.

Some Details

Here is an example or two of the work that is being carried out.

Anarchy

The Anarchy Media Player plugin was used to display video and audio on Glow Blogs. This plugin is no longer supported or updated. Much of its functionality has been improved on in core WordPress. WorpdPress now lets you upload or add a link to audio or video and choose to link to the media or embed it.
If we just turn off the plugin that would result in existing links to media, that are embedded, just being presented as links. If we leave it in folk may continue to use the features which may not survive any future upgrades. After a bit of though the developers have produced a slimmed down version of the plugin that will continue to change links into embeds. This new version will not however present buttons on the posting tool bar and encourage its continued use.
Hopefully this will smooth the upgrade experience for some people.

Resize

The old glow blogs had an upload file limitation of 8mb, this has been increased to 50mb which should help people to post small videos and reasonable length audio files. There will be extra cost in hosting the files and we want to balance this out a bit. In the old blogs quite a few folk ran out of space just by uploading un-edited image files. A plugin, resize at upload plus was added to the service in the hope that people would turn this on, images would be resized and very large sizes would be remove.
In the new setup this plugin has been updated and will be turned on for all blogs. The images will be resized down to 1200 pixels maximum width. This will ensure that images will still look good but trim some size of the rather large images that come out of digital cameras. This resize can be turned off, just in case someone want to have a photography blog and allow huge images to be stored.

These are just two of many changes that the team are working on. There is also the effect of the upgrade on the themes used on blogs, particularly the > 60 profile/e-portfolio themes. Each change needs a fair bit of discussion and work from the developers, each bit of functionality needs to be tested and all the other functionality need to be tested to see if the change has unforeseen consequences.

The User’s Experience

This is going to improve, WordPress has always been regarded as a good bit of software from an end user perspective. Improvement however means change. I am confident that these changes will make things a lot better, but habits will need to adapt. Hopefully we can explain any points of possible pain before the upgrade. We will be changing centuries in software terms, 2.9.2 was released in 2010 version 4 came out this year.

As usual I am more than happy to discuss any aspect of glow blogs, please get in touch if you need more information.


Footnotes:

1. Code for the people have joined the WordPress.com VIP Team at Automattic! They still are working on the Glow project.

Dark corners of the Internet

republica 2013 099 #rp13 by Blogging Dagger Attribution-ShareAlike License

How do we redirect seemingly inane goals of “connecting” beyond upping friend, follower, and subscriber counts towards notions of community and care and concern for each other, especially in places and conversations that are fraught with anger, frustration, and deep, deep potential for harm?

from: What We Don’t Talk about When We Talk about Connectedness by Bud The Teacher
Great Question, greatarticle gives no glib answer except some more good questions. I am sure I can’t answer it either but I don’t think the answer is to turn if off or ignore it. Children face danger in real life too, I wonder if we can learn from that?

Education Modern Learners is behind a membership wall, some articles like this one can be read with my free membership.

Leicester City Council OERs

Leicester City Council is the first local government authority in the United Kingdom (UK) to provide 84 community schools with blanket permission to openly license their educational resources. The council is recommending that school staff use the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license to share materials created in the course of their work. The Council has also released guidance and practical information for school staff on using and creating open educational resources (OER).

from: Leicester City Council gives permission to 84 schools to create and share OER – Creative Commons
Leicester’s material is available at Open Education for Schools – Guidance and Resources and is itself released under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International licence (CC BY 4.0) so that they can be shared and adapted openly, as long as attribution is given.
What a wonderful example to others.

Wikipedia Tips from #eduwiki

image by Tflanagan (WMF) Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International

Yesterday I went along to the EduWiki Conference 2014 conference in Edinburgh organised by Wikimedia UK. A really interesting day included presentations about how wikipedia is being used in education (mostly tertiary) and a great discussion of how support for using Wikipedia in schools could be developed.

Like, I guess, most primary teacher I used wikipedia a fair bit, and bless simple.wikipedia.org, aimed at learners of english provides articles using Simple English using the 1000 most common and basic words in English. A great resource for younger pupils or pupils who prefer simpler english. However I know I only scratch the surface of Wikipedia. Along with my colleague Ian Stuart I’ve talked to a few Wikimedians at various events recently and always learn something new.

From the school education perspective the talk by Martin Poulter, @mlpoulter, former Wikimedia Ambassador at Jisc, was really valuable, his premise was that for academics it was well worth looking under the bonnet of Wikipedia. This was not some terrifying code view of articles but just using some of the tools on Wikipedia pages.

Wikipedia pages are available in different languages listed at the bottom of the left sidebar. These could : give different perspectives, eg looking at the different language versions of the Gaza Strip page illustrates different points of view. These pages can also be used by pupils studying languages.

Each Wikipedia pages has a link to a Talk page, there you will find discussion of the article and get a measure of how much discussion and work has gone on behind the scenes. The article may be rated for quality & importance. There may be links to a project1 that helps organise the page.

Some pages Talk pages, example, may show that they are a Featured Article you can then click a link to show Article milestones which shows the progress of the article quality.

Back on the article pages you can find the contributors by clicking view History, then Revision History Statistics, you could also look at Page View Stats these have more statistics and graphs than anyone could want. I don’t think you would want to visit these pages every time you look at a Wikipedia article in class but they are useful to know about. With older pupils and tertiary level students it can demonstrate the huge audience you could gain by editing Wikipedia.

After looking at a page Martin took us the Wikipedia Main Page asking how many people had never seen it a surprising number of hands were raised. The Main page lists sister projects2 & other good stuff, seldom visited for example the Featured Content page.

Featured content represents the best that Wikipedia has to offer. These are the articles, pictures, and other contributions that showcase the polished result of the collaborative efforts that drive Wikipedia. All featured content undergoes a thorough review process to ensure that it meets the highest standards, and can serve as the best example of our end goals.

It would be well worth projecting the main Wikipedia page in class now and then for a look or looking at he main page of some of the sister projects, perhaps the word of the day or species of the week.

On twitter Martin posted a couple of other resources: Ten Ways Educators Can Use Wikipedia & the Education Brochures both of which look like they are worth exploring.

You can get some idea of how interesting the rest of the day and conference were from the #eduwiki tweets, I used Martian Hawsksey’s tools to create an archive and an exploratory view.

Open Content Toolkit

IMG_0462 by Communications Mann Attribution License

The purpose of this wiki is to provide a gateway to contemporary and historical open digital media content from media archives and collections around the world. It is a space to explore, discuss and share examples of the use of open media at all school stages and at all levels of education. It is intended to be a truly Cross Curricular resource. The toolkit is free and open to all with an interest in open resources, media archives, education and the digital humanities.

from: OpenContentToolkit – home

A great new resource from Theo Kuechel. There are already 100’s of pages full of information about where to get free to use media along with suggestions of how it can be used and ways to use it.

There is already a growing members list an the wiki is open to requests for members and edits from those members. I’ve joined and I hope lots of other teachers do to.

~tilde

 _________  ________  _________  ________  ___       ___           ___    ___ 
|\___   ___\\   __  \|\___   ___\\   __  \|\  \     |\  \         |\  \  /  /|
\|___ \  \_\ \  \|\  \|___ \  \_\ \  \|\  \ \  \    \ \  \        \ \  \/  / /
     \ \  \ \ \  \\\  \   \ \  \ \ \   __  \ \  \    \ \  \        \ \    / / 
      \ \  \ \ \  \\\  \   \ \  \ \ \  \ \  \ \  \____\ \  \____    \/  /  /  
       \ \__\ \ \_______\   \ \__\ \ \__\ \__\ \_______\ \_______\__/  / /    
        \|__|  \|_______|    \|__|  \|__|\|__|\|_______|\|_______|\___/ /     
                                                                 \|___|/      
                                                                              
 ________   ___  ___  ________  ___       _______   ________  ________        
|\   ___  \|\  \|\  \|\   ____\|\  \     |\  ___ \ |\   __  \|\   __  \       
\ \  \\ \  \ \  \\\  \ \  \___|\ \  \    \ \   __/|\ \  \|\  \ \  \|\  \      
 \ \  \\ \  \ \  \\\  \ \  \    \ \  \    \ \  \_|/_\ \   __  \ \   _  _\     
  \ \  \\ \  \ \  \\\  \ \  \____\ \  \____\ \  \_|\ \ \  \ \  \ \  \\  \|    
   \ \__\\ \__\ \_______\ \_______\ \_______\ \_______\ \__\ \__\ \__\\ _\    
    \|__| \|__|\|_______|\|_______|\|_______|\|_______|\|__|\|__|\|__|\|__|   
                                                                              
                                                                              
  ________  ___       ___  ___  ________                                      
 |\   ____\|\  \     |\  \|\  \|\   __  \                                     
 \ \  \___|\ \  \    \ \  \\\  \ \  \|\ /_                                    
  \ \  \    \ \  \    \ \  \\\  \ \   __  \                                   
 __\ \  \____\ \  \____\ \  \\\  \ \  \|\  \                                  
|\__\ \_______\ \_______\ \_______\ \_______\                                 
\|__|\|_______|\|_______|\|_______|\|_______|

For the last couple of commutes I’ve been hooked by a ~.

(I am cross posting this at my mainly educational blog and my ds106 one because I think this is so interesting.)

It started when I read I had a couple drinks and woke up with 1,000 nerds which touches on some many interesting things, online identity, ownership, internet history and made me think about about community, teaching about the web and some of the posts Jim Groom has be posting recently (/~space for example).

The ~tilde.club set up by Paul Ford while drinking is

not a social network it is one tiny totally standard unix computer that people respectfully use together in their shared quest to build awesome web pages

It mirrors what was the standard way to give university folk accounts and allows users to work on a remote computer through the terminal, communication and creating web pages. You will get a much better idea by reading the post and going to ~tilde.club and clicking some links.

It looked interesting enough to have a shot, but I had arrived at the party a little late. Fortunately there are other tilde clubs springing up and I got in to totallynuclear.club as ~troutcolor.

All I’ve done so far is created a webpage, set up a blog and visited other members pages. I had a quick chat on the commandline with ~maze who answered some questions.

Hopefully I’ll use the blog to document what I am learning as I go. I am certainly learning. I’ve use a terminal now and then locally on my mac and even very occasionally to play with my Raspberry Pi, but this is quite different. I find myself strangely drawn to the process. For some of the users on the tilde clubs nostalgia is a reason for being their, I missed that whole section of computer history as I started late. Any webpage creation I’ve done has been by uploading files via FTP or by using blogging software or social media. The ~tilde clubs work in both a older and modern modern way. I’ve noticed similarities in the way the developers for glow blogs work, not ftp for them, they talk of git, and are often logged into some cloud server via a terminal.

There are other interesting features emerging on totallynuclear and other tilde clubs I hope to get the courage up to try the IRC chat soon.

What could it be good for

Apart from fun which is a good enough reason.

Given that I an a teacher I wonder if this could be a good way to teach pupils/students about the web. I don’t think that there is anything Perhaps cover some technology history and web literacy. Although the technology is not very shiny and new it does feel quite exciting. It also, to some extent, remove a veil from the technology and perhaps could loosen the ties to silos.

What does it look like?

This is a very short screencast just touching on the basics, which is all I know at the present.

Starters for 10

Some links to interesting totallynuclear things: