You get what you name

This past January I had a friend build me my first “home built” desktop. I named her Starbuck, after the hotshot pilot on Battlestar Distractica. Well she has definitely taken after her namesake. She rocks…when she’s on, she’s hot. But she is also one temperamental beaoch. She has been in and out of the shop since she was built. We had another incident this week, video card. I’ve learned two things from all of this:

  1. when you name them, they live up to their names (and yes, mini-me has lived up to her name as well…we’re currently taking over the world from the local Irish pub)
  2. RedSeven rocks! If you are in the phoenix area and you need PC help…RedSeven is the place to go.

Hopefully I’ll get a few blogs out this weekend…I’ve got a few new techs I want to play with!

Five Things?

Well thanks Alan (http://cogdogblog.com/2006/12/27/five/)…I guess I’ve been “tagged” with the five things meme (http://pulverblog.pulver.com/archives/006087.html). So, what are five unknown things about me:

1. I once won best jr. handler at a St. Bernard national specialty. So yes, I guess if I really wanted to I could have become a dog show handler (think Best in Show, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0218839/ yes, I know most of the people who those characters are based upon). But in reality, my step-siblings were always much better at it.

2. I coached high school volleyball (freshmen level) and swimming for three years. My last year as the swim coach, the year I was head coach, I took four girls to state championship. That was exciting!

3. When I was a plebe at the military academy I swam on the companies intramural swim team. During the meets I always swam in the I.M. (all four strokes), against a bunch of guys. One memory I still giggle over is of a firstie (senior) coming out of the water and saying “I can’t believe I was beat by a plebe girl.” Gotta have a little girly fun in the nation’s biggest frat-house!

4. I’ve always had nightmares from Poltergeist (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0084516/) because I had a big tree covered in glow-in-the-dark lichen outside my window. What makes it worse is that now I’m intellectually interested in, read & write about, horror films; however, I still get nightmares from them. The most current nightmare inducing movie was Silent Hill (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0384537/). I really want to watch six chicks with picks, The Descent (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0435625/); however, since Stephen King picked it as one of his top 10 films this year (http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,1569937,00.html) I’m a little worried.

5. This semester I have two, yes two, former students teaching at the college where I teach. I’m not that old yet, damn it!

Geeky Wedding

I firmly believe that some of my best ideas come from the fact that I do too much at once, multitask, etc., and “wires-cross.” In the act of crossing something funky emerges. So now that I’m starting to think/plan for wedding stuff, of course the geek has taken charge. So, last week I learned about BaseCamp’s project management tool (http://www.basecamphq.com) and decided I would test run it with the wedding as the project. Today as I signed up for and got reading the RSS feeds Alisa suggested (fyi…http://www.techcrunch.com; http://www.lifehacker.com; http://www.gizmodo.com; http://www.webware.com; http://www.readwriteweb.com/) I’ve already latched on to two things.

First, a google maps mash-up for wedding activities…how cool is that? (http://lifehacker.com/software/google-maps/weddingmapper-google-maps-mashup-227135.php) Since the wedding will be in Vegas, and technically it is a double wedding (separate days, separate locations, overlap of family) there will be lots of location stuff to worry about. Hey…if this makes it easy to share with everyone, and to map for my own sanity…rock on!

Second, since we’ll be out of town, and some individuals need to bring children, I was starting to wonder about childcare. Yeah…hopefully you read my mind with “who the hey is going to trust their children to someone they do not know from Vegas?!?! So to find an online babysitter database (http://www.webware.com/8301-1_109-9674155-2.html?part=rss&tag=feed&subj=Webware) is another definite rock on! That means I can start searching for people now!

I think this geeky element to the wedding will be fun. The other couple met online; they’ve already sworn it will be a very internet heavy based affair! So…these cool tools should help, right?

Spring 2007

Well…it’s time to get back into the swing of the school year. One of my resolutions is to blog more regularly. On some level, I really need to use it as a reflective area for all the craziness I am doing. So, some of the stuff you will get rants, raves, and other reflections upon this spring:

  1. online readings about teaching and technology
  2. my Ocotillo R&D research, primarily about using Web 2.0 tools in teaching: this semester I’m playing with:
    1. MySpace as a course management system
    2. YouTube (it’s got some great videos of older films by women directors that are buried in university libraries, and of course, there are videos about shoes…(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tYnn51C3X_w rated R for language and shoe fetishism!)
    3. Personal portals
    4. podcasting
    5. Other usual suspects: social bookmarking, blogging
  3. my Sandbox Workshop series, related to the Ocotillo R&D stuff
  4. finishing the dissertation
  5. planning a wedding (YES…I got engaged over the holidays)
  6. trying to get a new website/blog/server space up and running
  7. working with some part-time faculty with their first times teaching online

You know…the regular list of entirely too much to do. Stay tuned…

Ocotillo: Technology Choices Part One-Context

The fun, yet overwhelming and time consuming, aspect of my R&D gig for Ocotillo is all of the options available to play with Blogs, Social Bookmarking, RSS aggregators, and other “gluing” tools. However, as happens with any type of research, we do take into account our context and resources…ie, what we have access to. For example, I would really like to play a little more with open source course/content management systems; however, that also requires a heavy level of planning with my CTL technology folks. Not impossible, just planning that I’m not organized or motivated enough to do, as of yet! But with the numerous “free” interactive programs available on the net, I’m at least good to go for this semester.

Since I have already been playing with blogs for a year, I felt very comfortable running all of my different courses with a different blogging program. Since pretty much all blogs have RSS feeds (kinda the basis of their technology), I was pretty much open to playing with anything. However, I did get requests from my CTL this time. They first asked if I would test run the blogging option available in the newer version of WebCT; however, they were not able to make that upgrade in time for the fall semester. Guess what I’ll be playing with next spring? But they were willing to install some instances of WordPress for one of my classes. I used Uniblogs last spring and summer, and Uniblogs switched, or glitched, their servers in the summer…which was not pleasant during five week courses! However, I had liked WordPress (what Uniblogs used)…so we’re trying it at school. I decided to also to test run Live Journal, an older blogging program, as well as Blogger. Although I like Bloglines because of the built in RSS aggregator, the blog does not allow replies (or at least the last time I looked it didn’t).

Now my social bookmarking choices were a little more bias and contextual driven. I am very biased towards Furl because it has such a robust annotating options, including the fact it actually saves the page. However, Del.icio.us is the more “popular” (as in more widely recognized and adopted) and I think it does a better job of the “social” aspect…networking topics, entries, individuals, etc. My final option? Of course you would think I would do a little research and see what is the buzz and what is currently being applauded as a “good” bookmarking service. But NOOOO…instead, my choice is based on the fact that Ma.gnolia is one of the bookmarking services that already has a flake option in Pageflakes. Since I wanted students to use Pageflakes, I made sure they say “familiar” names (Pageflakes also had Del.icio.us and Furl options).

And all of this to say (basically I need to wrap this blog entry)…context matters! People need to recognize a variety of things influence the adoption of technologies (or textbooks, or…). And I think that is ok, we just need to be aware of what is influencing us.

Shelley’s Sandbox Series

This past summer I asked that the college pay for an institutional access to an online workshop. Since it was the end of the fiscal year, an administrator scraped up the money and just asked that I make sure to invite others to the event. I worked with our CTL (Center for Teaching and Learning) and got about eight people (including some adjuncts) to attend. While we watched/listened to the presentation we had a few side conversations. But afterwards, we chatted for about thirty minutes with me sharing ideas of some wacky stuff I’ve already done. And then after everyone else left, I chatted with my CTL contact/friend about how I could have easily done the workshop myself. That’s when we came up with the idea of Shelley’s Sandbox Series (officially called the Technology Sandbox).

The theory behind the sandbox series is that folks need a venue to learn about technologies as well as some time and resources to try out the technologies…in other words, to play. Therefore we designed this series of “workshops” that only have the facilitator (me at this point, but we can easily incorporate others) introduce the technology for 20-30 minutes, pass out some quick “getting started” instructions, as well as a few idea of how to play. Then, give the workshop participants an hour or so just to play.

We had our first workshop yesterday and I think it was a success. Many participants mentioned that they needed the time to play with new technologies (or processes, ideas, etc.). And by slotting it as a workshop, they built the time into their day. I’m very excited that our CTL allowed the series to count as Café credit for the adjunct instructors. By participating in the Café program, adjuncts can get paid for attending professional development workshops.

We have eight workshops scheduled throughout the year. We’ll be covering:

· Thursday, 8/31: Bookmarking & Blogs, Come out and play with cool tools like: Furl, Del.icio.us, Blogger, Uniblogs, & Live Journal

· Friday, 9/29: Blogs & RSS, Come out and play with cool tools like: Uniblogs, Bloglines, Sharpreader, Newsgator, Sage, & Gritwire

· Thursday, 10/26: Wikis, Come out and play with cool tools like: Wikispaces, PBwiki, Writely, & Zoho Writer

· Thursday, 11/30: Social Networking & Instant Messaging, Come out and play with cool tools like: MySpace, Facebook, YouTube, AIM, & Trillian

· Friday, 1/26: iPods & Podcasting, Come out and play with cool tools like: iPods, Audacity, AudioBlogger

· Thursday, 2/22: Idea/Image Networks, Come out and play with cool tools like: 43 Things/Places/People, Flickr, Photobucket, & LibraryThing

· Friday, 3/30: Tagging & Gluing it all Together, Come out and play with cool tools like: Technorati, SuprGlu, PageFlakes

· Thursday, 4/26: Virtual Reality, Come out and play in the virtual world of Second Life. You will be responsible for opening your account prior to attending the session. The sandbox facilitator will send you information about getting an account in Second Life.

And to top it all, the CTL has come up with the coolest logo to brand the series.

Play On!

Welcome Back…two weeks ago!

I took the initial notes for this blog entry in my notepad on 8/14. Yeah…I’ve been that busy. As you’ll see from my blog postings in the next couple of days, I’ve been up to some good stuff; however, it’s just been time filling. I wish I had Alan’s self-discipline blog regularly (heck…write regularly, I’d be done with my dissertation already); however, I’m playing catch up now on my way to North Carolina to spend some work and play time with my partner in scholarly crime.

I guess this is a belated “welcome back” posting. When I took these notes it was the week of accountability (week before classes start) and it was crazy meeting, to meeting, to meeting type of week. As an introduction to the semester, I figured I’d warn everybody of what I’m up to and what topics of blogs you should be looking forward to.

Dissertation: I’ve shifted from a focus on deadline to a focus on process. 300 words or bust! Basically I want to commit to 300 words a day (don’t worry, I’ll grow it, anything is better than the current nothing).

Textbook: All I can say there is I’ve signed a contract and have deadlines! But it will be fun to start test running materials in my classes.

Ocotillo (the districts teaching and technology group): I have an R&D position. I’m “testing” blogs, RSSs, and “gluing” stuff together. Basically they are giving me a little money/resources to do the stuff I was going to do anyway. But what does this mean, I’ve got my students using blogs, bookmarking tools, and working up to RSS aggregator/Portal type things.

Shelley’s Sandbox Series: This series will function as some of my workload for Ocotillo. Basically it is the idea that in an hour and a half “workshop” the facilitator only spends 20-30 minutes introducing a “new” technology and then leaves the rest of the time for the participants to play with it. I had my first one yesterday, I think it went smashingly!

Humanities Instruction Council: I’m Mesa CCs representative to the district HIC. We’ll see what goes on there. I’m excited about stirring up the pot a bit! I think we are in a ripe space to make some innovative revisions and additions to the curriculum.

English Technology Group (the department’s technology committee): We’re working on the department webpage, imaging/upkeeping department computers (esp. classrooms), making a department technology acquisition and turnover plan, and run some “teaching with tech” workshops.

And of course, my classes on top of all this. But I’m excited about those, and barring the vague emails of the past two weeks (I’ll get them trained to include their name and course in every email yet), they all feel like a good group of students.

Hang on…it’s going to be one of those, I’ll be more productive because I’ve got so much to do, types of semesters.

Social Play…kissing hands and shaking babies

One of my “gifts” is my social nature! I have no problem walking into a room without knowing anyone and walking out with numerous new friends and colleagues. Although I did have a pile of colleagues who were attending this conference, it was also smashing to meet new people. I loved that I got a pile of business cards of people who wanted me to send information, or that I’m requesting information from them. I guess this posting is just to say that although my institution “gets” the information that I learned about while at the conference; the administrators who approved to pay for my attendance need to also realize that we, both me as an individual and the institution that I work for, gain from my networking. Come on…I hung out with the Adobe folks, after the Adobe party!

At one of the many more social functions Alan suckered me into playing a game. Yes, I have an addictive personality: