Monday, May 3, 2010

I'm Getting Jing-y With It!

Below is my first foray with Jing. Tremendous thanks to Vicky for introducing me to this fantastic tool. Now if I could just figure out how to be able to fit the whole video into my blog screen... I'm working in it!

Jing allows you to record what you're doing on your computer (up to 5 minutes). So if you want to show students how to navigate a particular site, it's perfect. Earlier tonight, I added notes to the words in the next vocabulary unit. Sometimes the definitions in the vocab text we use can be misleading, or it will offer parts of speech for the word that are seldom employed. I've found this can just confuse kids more often than not. With Jing, I can give them a quick explanation of how the words are most often used, including turns of phrase that most often accompany the words.

Jing is genius, and it's very easy to use. Plus, they have a default thing that allows you to save it to the almighty cloud, freeing up space on your gear and guaranteeing that it won't inadvertently go bye-bye.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Diigo snafus

I was trying to use Diigo with one of my classes last week and the experiment sort of blew up in my face. I don't know whether I had things set up incorrectly, but there were a lot of screwy things happening that we couldn't quite figure out. I'll mention at the outset that if anyone out there has experience with Diigo, please send along your thoughts on these snafus we were experiencing.

Weirdness #1: I had all my students set up an account, then we went to an article on The Catcher in the Rye that I had previously highlighted and put sticky notes on. Some students could see my sticky notes, while others could not. We found that if students exited out of their web browsers and then opened them again, they then could see the sticky notes, but there were a few students who never could see the sticky notes.

Weirdness #2: I often could not see all the comments that had been made. For instance, a sticky note would had a number "8" on it, but when I dragged over it, I could only see 4 comments. Even odder, when I accessed the page later, notes that had previously had a certain number of comments now showed fewer comments. The difference between the number of comments that should be there and the number I can actually read remains, too.

Weirdness #3: At one point, a boy was messing around and highlighted nearly the entire article. This highlight showed up on everyone's version of the article. It remains on my copy of the article every time I access it through my bookmark of the page. Very annoying. I love that I can see my highlights, but I don't want to see those of other people.

I was hoping that I would be having students sign up for a tool they could use in the academic years to come, and I'm sure that may be the case once we can figure out how to work. However, at the end of the class when I asked them how they liked it, they booed. It sort of worked and when it did, it was great, but it never lived up to its promise. Or we just couldn't figure it out.

There are other things about Diigo I don't fully get. As I understand it, if I go to any web site with Diigo, I can see all the sticky notes anybody with a Diigo account has made for that site, right? Yet when I go to sites that I'm sure Diigo users must be accessing -, for instance - I see nothing. So no one with a Diigo account is commenting on any of the news stories on NPR? How can this be? I must be doing someting wrong.

My apologies to Diigo and all associated with it for the comments. I feel a little like I should send a fruit basket. I'm really looking for answers to how I can use this seemingly remarkable tool... well, at all.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Learning to Crawl

Call this my recommendations post.

Since it's original airing earlier this year, I've been recommending Frontline's show "Digital Nation" to everyone and anyone ( - There's probably an easier way to imbed this link, but, alas. It 's the next chapter in Frontline's exploration of the brave new world we are all, to varying degrees, inhabiting; the predecessor is "Growing up Online" ( I recommend both programs. I also recommend Frontline's "The Merchants of Cool" ( - not exactly the same subject, but this program shows how adeptly these new tools are being employed, not always towards laudable ends. The stuff in these shows may be very familiar to many, but it was novel and fascinating to me.

I also heard an absolutely chilling interview with Richard Clarke on Terry Gross' Fresh Air show last week ( Most of what he writes about in his new book, Cyberwar, is the role that - what even to call it? - computer technology (I feel like a geriatric) will play in future warfare, but he also claimed that countries that manufacture computers have, without most anybody's knowledge, installed gear that essentially can turn any PC into a drone for nefarious and illegal activity without the user having any clue that it's being used in that way. Man, do I ever sound like a loony. Listen to the interview. I'm sure there are those out there that have their reasons to dismiss Clarke, but his credentials have always struck me as sound and impressive.

Hot on the heels of Clarke's interview, a family friend sent me this story out of the Philadelphia Enquirer detailing a school district's use of school-issued laptops - the district has gone "one to one" - to essentially spy on the students:

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Welcome to "It Came From 210," my first sojourn into the blogosphere as an active participant, a "blogger." Let's see how well this jacket fits.

This blog will serve as a record of the high school classes I teach. More than anything, at least at this nascent stage, this is an experiment borne of the tech class I'm taking. Part of the awkwardness of this is not knowing who, exactly, my audience is. Is it me? Is it my students? Is it Pipefitters Local 647 in Cicero? To be determined, I reckon.

Behold as I take these unsteady, entirely self-conscious first steps in the virtual world. Even as I type this, I worry about the obsolescence of the form. Today's blog might be tomorrow's cass-single. Nonetheless. Forward, charge.