Monday, May 3, 2010

Ending the semester

It was nice to end the semester with getting to work with my classmates a little bit more. I wish that I had gotten to know them all sooner in the semester, but at least I know we have more classes together in the future.

The first group I started working with was Lucy's brainchild. She, because of her experience being out and about in the world and experiencing other cultures, saw the value in having a translation product. Our group for this project consisted of Lucy, Krysti, Brooke, and myself. With this project, which we named Globetalkers, we met a couple of times on Skype to discuss the nitty gritty, but we decided on having a centralized website to reference that would contain the information of the product and also have the product out in the social networking world (it even has its own Skype account!).

In the second group I worked with, consisting of Amy, Karyn, Shelly, Thomas, and myself, we developed an LMS system using a Presi to put it together. I had never used a Presi before, and I think I ended up spending part of one Skype meeting just playing with the tools. In this project, which we called New Open Book Learning Environment (or N.O.B.L.E.), the backdrop was the shape of a tree where we looked at the foundation of this system and the three branches that would benefit and what it could offer. It was neat playing around with new tools in this group as well.

Even though I was not looking forward to the group projects since my experience with group projects in the past was less than fun, this time around, everyone was active in the groups I was a part of, and it was a great learning experience as well as a social experience. I'm glad to end the semester on a high note!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

My individual project

I've been struggling with how to put together an individual project (in addition to really settling on something that I would enjoy), when I came across a CNN article on a guy that was analyzing dreams via Twitter.

I don't really understand Twitter, but I thought about how great it would be to have a site where people could submit their dreams, similar to Postsecret's site (which is nothing more than a blogspot as well!). I named my idea "Such stuff as dreams are made of..." (geek alert!) from a quote from one of my favorite Shakespeare plays, The Tempest.

What I did was start a blog, so there would be somewhere to dissect and discuss any dreams I found to post. Since I didn't have any immediately, I also embedded a few youtube videos. I also started a twitter account for this project and linked the RSS feed of the twitter account into the blogspot page.

What really got this project rolling was when I created a facebook group page. Before the last two weeks in this class, I had never created a group facebook page, but now I've created one for this project and my two group projects. Since facebook is the hub of social activity right now, it seems like this is the best place to plug in and get people. I asked classmates to join the facebook group page and I posted it on my facebook status as well. Initially, I got about 13 people to join the page. Then, suddenly, overnight, that number doubled. I don't even know about a third of the people in the group. Facebook is such a social network that friends of friends were joining the page because they saw the link in their feed that a friend had joined the page.

What this shows me, since my interest in Postsecret was that there are so many websites that become popular through word of mouth (People of Walmart, Cakewrecks), is that is it very easy for a site or idea to gain some momentum fairly easily. The really neat thing on the facebook group page for "Such stuff as dreams are made of" is that people really did start posting dreams and nightmares they had. So I was able to take real dreams from members and put them on the blog.

Obviously, this concept is still in the infantile stage since I have held back from really pimping it out, but I think this might be something that I will play with this summer in a goal to see how many people really will join this group. I'm amazed at how social networking really has a snowball effect (I remember when "Can This Pickle Get More Fans than Nickleback" was running rampant; they did achieve their goal in the matter of a week or so).

Monday, April 26, 2010


I've always enjoyed going on vacation and then showing my photos to other people. I'm not sure if the people I showed the photos to enjoyed it as much as me, but that's okay. I also love to travel, and if you are in a certain area, a lot of buildings and scenary can start to look the same in the pictures. This presents a problem when later on trying to go through and label the photos and remember where they came from. I have many pictures from my trips to France and Italy where I'm at a vineyard, but I don't remember where. If had geotagged my photos when I uploaded them (although, these trips were more when digital cameras were just coming out), I wouldn't have this problem.

This brings me to a story. When I was in France in March 2004, I spent a day in the city of Arles and went to a little fortified town on some beautiful cliffs called Les Baux. Les Baux might have been one of the most beautiful spots I've ever been in in my life. I took many pictures and even sprung the 3 euros for access to the crumbling castle that offered even better views. I was so excited about these pictures. However, my camera was stolen from me that night along with all my photos. My biggest regret was that I then had no pictures from this one day of my trip (and that I had to use disposable cameras the rest of the time). Over the years, I forgot the name of the place even. Until I started geotagging my flickr photos.

By geotagging, I realized I could look at a map and look at photos anywhere in the world. I used this to slowly track down the city of Les Baux that I didn't have pictures of. To me, this is more valuable than posting my pictures, but maybe my pictures will help someone else one day.

Along these same lines, it seems like the fact that digital cameras can keep track of where you are should also help with post-vacation memory. I really think that having the location on a photo would be better than the date and time (that is usually wrong anyway). This seems like it would eventually make geotagging your own photos obsolete since plugging your camera in could already download all that information.

I'm also very interested in photosynthing - I think it's a neat idea to take the pictures and experiences of many other people and piece together something as intricate as the Notre Dame Cathedral. I think this might show how maybe our photos and experiences are not as unique as we might think- there is a common thread that links us all and we all have shared experiences. One thing I particularly liked about this lecture was reading the comments underneath it. This is a man with a passion (and a bit of attitude) for this technology. I'm not sure how many other people read through the comments, but it provided a little more specific information about this sort of technology.

I'm hoping to get back into taking pictures this summer while I'm on break, and this assignment reminded me of that. Now I'll know how to license, tag, and geotag all my photos!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

My Rte 66 Trip

I have always had a dream to drive Rte. 66. I think it's because I've heard the Chuck Berry song way too many times. To me, Rte 66 always seemed like that little piece of old-fashioned Americana that has been dying out with the invention of bigger and better things (i.e. I-40). I used google maps to create a map that pinpoints all the major cities that Rte. 66 goes through.

View Maureen's Route 66 Trip in a larger map

I marked some general feelings I have when hearing the city names and my sort of plans for each major city. Since I haven't been to many of the cities, I would have to do research to figure out exactly what I want to do (I'm a sucker for tourist traps like "The World's Largest Ball of Twine").

One thing that I really liked about marking my trip down in google maps is the ability to turn on photos, videos, webcams, and wikipedia articles for my map. So simply by clicking "More" at the top of the map, I can choose these things. This is nice to get a sense of what people felt was worth a photo. Plus, after my trip, I would be able to add in my own Rte. 66 trip photos.

I have never played with this part of google maps before, so this was very interesting to me. I have a Garmin gps device that I never leave home without, but it only gives bland directions and shows roads. If google maps could combine with my gps, I could have photos of what I am looking for, satellite pictures, wikipedia pages that might recommend some of my tourist traps. This would be a far cry from the vacations I took with my family as a kid, where we had a paper map that could never get folded the same way again. I think that this newer technology would make it very difficult to get lost or to remain lost for too long. This is where I see cell phones taking over the gps market since it doesn't make sense to have a bland gps unit when a cell phone can do all that and more!

Friday, April 16, 2010


I found this assignment to be one of the more difficult ones, so I've been putting it off for awhile. In theory, it should be an easy assignment to simply make a few modifications on a "poem" of sorts, but I think that editing poetry is akin to a serious crime since you are changing someone's personal thoughts and experiences. Also, since this particular poem comes from the Rives poem, I can't bring myself to change too much since the Rives poem has that nice stream of consciousness quality to it.

So I just changed a few spots where commas were needed since I visualize the DI-Rives-poem as being read aloud just like the original, and commas are important to breathing and adding pauses for an audience to take it all in quickly. I also marked a few spots where I needed clarification or else had a question.

thank God! If you take a man's cookie he's got no cookie but if you copy it he might find it offensive, but you've got a cookie too.... Teach a man to copy a cookie and everybody gets to eat!

I liked this line- probably because one of my favorite quotes is similar - "Don't judge a man until you've walked a mile in his shoes, that way you have judged him, have his shoes, and are a mile away."

Anyway, I'm not really sure what further modifications could be made to this poem without telling DI that his poetic voice is wrong or that his experiences with the web didn't happen. I'll be interested to see what others think or want to add to it.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Educating without copyright

Since most of my thoughts with websites and content without strict copyright tends to gravitate towards how I can use something in my classroom. With this in mind, I decided to look for lectures that were either in public domain or had creative commons licensing. What I found was Academic Earth. This is a website that seemed similar to Wikiversity to me in that it seemed like potentially you could take a whole course this way (the literature section was pretty interesting). There are lectures within each topic, and some of the topics and lectures have handouts, worksheets, syllabi, and even quizzes and tests.

This would be helpful to me since it would give me a good source of lectures already organized for content. If I were developing a class, I would be able to find lectures and handouts on a topic very quickly. Just in general, this website is a good source for lectures and seminars that were taped. I would be very interested to see a site like this combine with Wikiversity since online lectures in any sort of quantity were lacking a bit for each topic in Wikiversity.

Almost all of the lectures and courses I looked through were under creative commons with the freedom to share and to play around with them and remix them. The only stipulations were that I had to attribute, I can't use the courses and lectures for commercial purposes, and I have to be willing to share with the same license anything I adjust from this website.

I've embedded a lecture about Dante here (I plan on adding this in to my World Lit class).

Watch it on Academic Earth

This website is so awesome that most of the lectures even have a button to click for embedding and one for citation. So the video above has this citation: Giuseppe Mazzotta, Dante's Inferno, Purgatory and Paradise, Fall 2008. (Yale University:, Open Yale Courses (Accessed April 12, 2010). License: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0

I'm glad that I found this and now know how to embed since I feel that many sites provide audio, videos, pictures, etc. that could really enhance my online courses and even be nice just for my own betterment and interests.