Last night I gave a short presentation to one of the Educational Technology classes at SDSU. I described the tools I use to try and organize the vast amounts of information I seem to so desperately need to survive. This post is going to quickly summarize the sites I shared and the role they play in my constant search for some sort of digital order in my professional life.
Educational Technology Personal Knowledge Management Project
I created this as one of the final projects for the SDSU masters program. It is essentially a catalog of all of the resources I acquired while earning the MA degree. I used a blog (Movable Type) as the engine for this project because I like the ability to categorize and tag each post (for easy searching), include a full citation if I wanted, and write a detailed abstact if necessary. I know that if I had not done this project at the time, I would not have an real listing of my ed tech resources. I would like to migrate this blog from Movable Type over to WordPress at some point. WordPress is free and growing as a blog engine.
Scuttle – Social Bookmarking
I initially included some key web sites in the KM blog mentioned above, but when I started going through all of my bookmarks I realized that would be too much of an undertaking and something that I would not continuous update. I decided that I wanted to use online social bookmarking site. I initially used del.icio.us, but then I came across Scuttle. It works similarly to del.icio.us, but you can install it on your own server. I opted for this because while I think the social part is cool, I was more interested in the tagging of links for easy searching. By having it on my own server, I can control who (if anybody) contributes and what links are included. I am starting to use this service with my students and having that control can be important.
If you do use Scuttle, make sure to delete the registration.php file so spammers don’t set up their own accounts and fill your database with undesireable stuff.
While I like the blog solution for my Educational Technology resources because I had a variety of types of resources (journals, web sites, and books), I found I also had 150+ books on various historical periods that I use for research (and for interest) when developing my lesson plans. The insertion of those on the KM blog seemed too cumbersome. That’s when I came across LibraryThing. Just type in the ISBN of the book and it magically finds the book (actually it searches through several databases, including Amazon.com). You can tag the books and add comments (something I still need to do), plus you can see who else owns the same books and check out their collections.
I track about 120 different RSS feeds, mostly from blogs, through Bloglines. This site allows you to subscribe to an page with an RSS feed and see when it has been update – all in one place so you don’t have to visit each site to see what is new. I know a lot of people have moved away from Bloglines for newer clients and different online applications, but I still like its simplicity. Google Reader might get better as time goes on, but for now I’m sticking with Bloglines. One site I did recommend for anyone wanting to stay on top of new developments in the Web 2.0 world was TechCrunch. This blog tracks start up companies and developments at established giants.
I’ve done a number of wiki-based projects with my students, but this school year the world history teachers at my site have begun using a wiki to outline course expectations, objectives, and lessons that meet those objectives. We keep it private so I can’t link to it. The five of us all have the ability to edit. I love this idea of a living document that can evolve as we do. Originally I used two different wiki engines (TikiWiki and MediaWiki) installed on my server, but I’ve found that WikiSpaces (and other free wikis like PBwiki) are equal in quality and are probably easier to use.
If you have any questions please e-mail (danmcdowell at gmail dot com) or comment.