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The following list was primarily derived from EDUCAUSE.  They produce a monthly publication that seeks to identify, compile, and review new technologies that show promise in education.  Below, I describe the emerging technologies that began to gain prominence in 2007.

  • Digital Storytelling.  Digital storytelling combines a narrative with sound, video, graphics, or other digital content.  The stories usually incorporate an emotional section and are often interactive.  Digital storytelling creates a bridge between purely technical content and fields of study that may not view technology as a natural fit in their programs.  Digital storytelling can improve information literacy, and this application offers a promising platform for e-portfolios (EDUCAUSE, 2007a).
  • Open Journaling.  Open journaling employs an open access model in which the publishing process is streamlined through online submission, review, publication, and archiving.  This approach serves as an alternative to traditional peer-reviewed publishing techniques.  Open journaling provides an infrastructure where students can learn the basics of publishing, communication with journals, the peer review process, and tagging (EDUCAUSE, 2007b).
  • Creative Commons.  Creative Commons is actually the name of a nonprofit organization that offers an alternative to traditional copyright.  From a legal standpoint, original works automatically maintain specific rights.  Creative Commons allows authors to maintain some rights while releasing others; the intent of the company is to increase the distribution of and access to intellectual property.  The freeflow of information has the potential to greatly enhance all aspects of education (EDUCAUSE, 2007c).
  • RSS.  Subscribers of a Real Simple Syndication (RSS) protocol can access online material using an “aggregator” or “reader.” The tendency of most Internet users is to choose primary sources of information.  RSS provides consumers the ability to generate a list of those preferred sources so that updates and information are automatically sent to the subscriber (EDUCAUSE, 2007d).
  • Wikipedia.  This online source is a free encyclopedia that allows anyone to contribute to or edit entries.  Wikipedia was initially launched in 2001, and is one of the most frequented Web sites in the United States.  College students are using Wikipedia as a primary research tool, with millions of articles in a multitude of languages.  Higher education faculty question this resource’s reliability as a research tool because entries are editable and are not subject to expert review (EDUCAUSE, 2007e).
  • Twitter.  This online technology is a hybrid mix of social networking, blogging, and instant messaging from a cell phone.  Users have 140 characters or less to depict their thoughts or convey what they are doing.  Interaction between students and educators can be fostered through Twitter in areas such as metacognition or ideas about an issue (EDUCAUSE, 2007f).
  • Cyberinfrastructure.  Cyberinfrastructure merges human resources, data and technology into one, and this technology is most often used in high power computer hardware and applications.  In education, this tool encourages students and faculty to share methods, tools, and experiences to enhance learning (EDUCAUSE, 2007g).
  • Haptics.  This technology allows users to feel what is happening on the computer screen.  Haptics applications present force feedback to consumers concerning the movements and physical properties of virtual objects displayed by a computer.  This technology allows users to move beyond traditional human-computer interactions, which have primarily been limited to images, data, or words (EDUCAUSE, 2007h).
  • Data visualization.  Data visualization illustrates information visually in a new format.  It is the visual approach that helps one discover relationships and trends that could be advantageous or significant.  This application allows students to process information quickly and see patterns that otherwise they might overlook (EDUCAUSE, 2007i).
  • Skype.  Skype allows consumers to make free phone calls between computers and low-cost calls between telephones and computers by using a voice-over-Internet Protocol (VoIP).  This technology allows educators to maintain contact between collaborators and colleagues in different locations at a minimal cost, if any.  An additional capability of Skype is to host videoconferencing from distant locations (EDUCAUSE, 2007j).

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2007a, January). 7 things you should know about digital storytelling. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7021.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2007b, February). 7 things you should know about open journaling. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7022.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2007c, March). 7 things you should know about Creative Commons. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7023.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2007d, April). 7 things you should know about RSS. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7024.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2007e, June). 7 things you should know about Wikipedia. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7026.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2007f, July). 7 things you should know about Twitter. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7027.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2007g, August). 7 things you should know about Cyberinfrastructure. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7028.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2007h, September). 7 things you should know about Haptics. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7029.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2007i, October). 7 things you should know about Data Visualization. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7030.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2007j, December). 7 things you should know about Skype. Retrieved from  http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7032.pdf

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Web 2.0 was designed to encourage social collaboration, user-centered design and interoperability. An overwhelming number of applications have been developed in association with Web 2.0. In the midst of this social media, individuals can become overwhelmed with the options and inundation of information. This technological flood can, at times, send users into overload. Prioritizing what is important and urgent is an essential skill in using Web 2.0.

Interestingly, Web 2.0 enthusiasts have recognized this issue and created applications that assist users in filtering and prioritizing information. Aggregators represent a genre of Web 2.0 tools that accomplish this task. There are a number of aggregators available, but I would like to discuss Netvibes as a representative example from this group. In addition, one of the assignments from IT 780 was to present on a Web 2.0 tool, and I chose Netvibes as the tool on which I would present.

The term “aggregate” simply means to gather into a whole. Web 2.0 aggregation, therefore, can be seen as an application that gathers pertinent information from various sources into one place (i.e., Web site). An analogy to aggregation can be illustrated by the evolution of sandwich making. Before 1916, if someone wanted to make a normal sandwich, then they would need to go to the baker for bread, butcher for meat and, perhaps, a number of farmers to get fresh vegetables (e.g., lettuce or tomatoes). However, Piggly Wiggly became the first self-service grocery store in 1916, and sandwich connoisseurs could gather all the needed ingredients for a sandwich in one location. Similarly, aggregators allow users to gather all desired Web-based content in one location.

Netvibes offers a number of widgets and tools to facilitate this gathering of information. First, users create a custom home page with widgets that can be accessed from any location with Internet access. This allows users to always have access to their Netvibes home page. The application centralizes content. Live data can be added to the home page, such as stocks, email, weather or headlines. Social networking sites (SNS), such as Facebook or Twitter, can also be added to the home page. RSS and Atom feeds are also supported by Netvibes. In fact, users can embed another website within their Netvibes home page.

As mentioned earlier, a number of aggregators exist, but Netvibes offers several competitive features. SNS integration is a crucial component of Netvibes. In addition, Netvibes updates in real-time, so information is always current. There is a great deal of flexibility within Netvibes, including multiple page and tab creation. Bloglines, Google reader plus iGoogle, My Yahoo! and Pageflakes are additional aggregators. In my opinion, Netvibes, Pagefalkes and iGoogle are the three best aggregators currently on the market.

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