Monday, February 25, 2008

Reason #273 for Digital History

Reason #273 for Digital History, less baggage.

Part of a continuing series of humerous takes on why digital history can make things a little easier.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Selkie Rescue

This isn't really an education piece, but a helpful bit of information that might come in handy.

My old computer crashed about a year and a half ago and took with it my entire university career. Those years of work meant a lot and I wanted to keep my essays and research, so I had kept my computer with a hope that I might be able to one day recover the documents. A few computer stores suggested nothing could probably be done and the few experiments I had tried failed miserably.

Then just a few weeks ago I read about a program called Selkie Rescue in the Globe and Mail. Using the program and my internet cable I was able to hook my new computer up to the old, set up a local network, and transfer over all of my files. The whole process took about 3 hours, but that included a test run with the demo, buying and downloading the real program (about $100), and transferring the files.

I found it really effective and would definitely suggest trying the same if your computer has crashed and will not boot. If your computer died because of a virus you may want to be more careful, but in my case the problem was software.

Now to backup my files.....

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Voice Thread

While attending the podcasting workshop with the Learning Technologies Centre George Siemens mentioned Voice Thread as an interesting new program.

Voice Thread allows you to post individual images, movies, or presentations. You can then add your own note or audio to go with the picture. The best part is that others can then come along and post their own audio comments as well - essentially creating an audio forum.

One example I noticed had an art teacher asking a question about a piece, and then letting students post their own comments. I think this would be a really great program to help walk students through complex sections. Also a chance for an inspired teacher to explain difficult topics to students across Canada.

I put together my own quick example describing my history trip to Hecla Provincial Park in Manitoba. Feel free to post your own comment as a test just to try it out! If you set up your own Voice Thread for you class be sure to let us know.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

[James Mullen, 2B, 1909-11 (baseball)] (LOC)

At the Social Bookmarking workshop offered by the Learning Technology Centre, Peter Tittenberger mentioned afterwards that the Library of Congress has posted 3000 images on Flickr.

It really is a great example of what historical organizations can be doing to reach new audiences. For teachers it also presents a really unique and interesting resource that is available to them. It also might be neat to think about archives and museums in your community that need help with the monumental task of scanning and categorizing images.

It also shows the advantage of social bookmarking over conventional descriptions. I found the images in this file immidiately by clicking on the appropriate tag. A similar search of Canada in the LOC Bain collection didn't reveal any of them because Canada was not in the title.

On a personal note, this project also touched home in a way that I hadn't expected. Being a baseball fanatic, I was of course drawn to the images of the baseball players.

About the second images I clicked on I noticed that the player sported a Toronto jersey. Reading further they have three images of players from the Toronto Maple Leafs AAA team in the early 1900s. It touches home because, if I'm not mistaken, my grandfather played for the team in the late 40s.

He has since passed away and I wish I had of spent more time learning about his playing time. These pictures brought back many memories and have encouraged me to keep searching out more information on the team.

History matters everywhere, even more so when it comes up against new and unexpected intendants.

Learning Technologies Centre - University of Manitoba

In Manitoba we enter a winter hibernation that allows for thoughtful blogging and time to share the wealth of information. I've been attending some lunch time workshops of late generously provided by the Learning Technologies Centre at the University of Manitoba.

The workshops are intended to help faculty and students get started with online basics, but I've found them to be a helpful refresher. It's nice to have the opportunity to hear about how programs can be integrated into the classroom. Fortunately for those of you not in Winnipeg, or available at lunch as the case may be, you find all of the helpful information on their Learning Wiki.

I've had the chance to sit in on the blogging, social bookmarking, and podcasting sessions so far. I found them all really helpful. I would definitely suggest you check it out.

More than anything thus far it's emphasized the me the importance of building an online community - which means even if no one is reading this - we're going to keep on trucking. As more teachers become involved, we have the opportunity not only to create our own shared personal spaces to discuss our profession, but shared spaces to support each other and our students.