Skip to main content

Communities Online

For October 16, 2007...
Blog post: Add a YackPack plugin to your PBwiki (click on plug-ins) and try it out. Sign-up for tappedin.org (http://ti2.sri.com/tappedin/index.jsp) and explore its features for online chat (see how it was used at Hillcrest High School:
http://www.slideshare.net/sbgaddy/hillcrest-high-school-21st-century-project-student-products). Reflect on how you might use tappenin.org or other discussion sites (WebCT/Vista, Moodle, Drupal) or tools (IM’ing, etc.) or virtual/game sites (Second City, etc.) for online discussion.
I gave up trying plug-ins with OS X and Safari, which I think might happen in many educational settings. I just don't have the energy to manually link and setup so many items, even though I have done so with images and other elements in PBwki. As with Google Docs and other "Web 2.0" items not supporting Apple's browser at this time, I generally won't sacrifice my system to another browser. (FireFox is the only major alternative, though Camino is also a Mozilla application.)

As the discussion thread on the Society for Technical Communication's mailing list recently concluded:

"I'd rather have a sharp object inserted into my eye than deal with Second Life or a similar virtual world."

There are several reasons for this:
  • The animation is poor without a very powerful computer, and even then it seems to demand a lot of resources.
  • The movement can cause problems for some users, especially those with seizure disorders or migraines.
  • Most virtual worlds, for whatever reason, end up with the same social issues as "real life," with a bit more flirting and a lot more anger.
  • I hate most live chats, with or without animation, because I read slowly. Unless it is one-on-one, I get lost quickly.
I'm sure many students can and do accomplish a lot while multitasking online, but studies have also revealed that work suffers despite what students (and working adults) imagine they can do. When your attention is divided, even talking while driving, your overall effectiveness declines dramatically. We simply don't like to believe this is the case.

I like threaded discussions and have used them for several years as a teacher. However, interactive chats have ended up dominated by the same students who speak up during a traditional class session. I find asynchronous threads give more students a chance to participate.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Slowly Rebooting in 286 Mode

The lumbar radiculopathy, which sounds too much like "ridiculously" for me, hasn't faded completely. My left leg still cramps, tingles, and hurts with sharp pains. My mind remains cloudy, too, even as I stop taking painkillers for the back pain and a recent surgery.

Efforts to reboot and get back on track intellectually, physically, and emotionally are off to a slow, grinding start. It reminds me of an old 80286 PC, the infamously confused Intel CPU that wasn't sure what it was meant to be. And this was before the "SX" fiascos, which wedded 32-bit CPU cores with 16-bit connections. The 80286 was supposed to be able to multitask, but design flaws resulted in a first-generation that was useless to operating system vendors.

My back, my knees, my ankles are each making noises like those old computers.

If I haven't already lost you as a reader, the basic problem is that my mind cannot focus on one task for long without exhaustion and multitasking seems…

MarsEdit and Blogging

MarsEdit (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Mailing posts to blogs, a practice I adopted in 2005, allows a blogger like me to store copies of draft posts within email. If Blogger, WordPress, or the blogging platform of the moment crashes or for some other reason eats my posts, at least I have the original drafts of most entries. I find having such a nicely organized archive convenient — much easier than remembering to archive posts from Blogger or WordPress to my computer.

With this post, I am testing MarsEdit from Red Sweater Software based on recent reviews, including an overview on 9to5Mac.

Composing posts an email offers a fast way to prepare draft blogs, but the email does not always work well if you want to include basic formatting, images, and links to online resources. Submitting to Blogger via Apple Mail often produced complex HTML with unnecessary font and paragraph formatting styles. Problems with rich text led me to convert blog entries to plaintext in Apple Mail and then format th…

Screenwriting Applications

Screenplay sample, showing dialogue and action descriptions. "O.S."=off screen. Written in Final Draft. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) A lot of students and aspiring writers ask me if you "must" use Final Draft or Screenwriter to write a screenplay. No. Absolutely not, unless you are working on a production. In which case, they own or your earn enough for Final Draft or Screenwriter and whatever budget/scheduling apps the production team uses.

I have to say, after trying WriterDuet I would use it in a heartbeat for a small production company and definitely for any non-profit, educational projects. No question. The only reason not to use it is that you must have the exclusive rights to a script... and I don't have those in my work.

WriterDuet is probably best free or low-cost option I have tested. It is very interesting. Blows away Celtx. The Pro version with off-line editing is cheaper than Final Draft or Screenwriter.

The Pro edition is a standalone, offline versio…