During the Web 2.0 session we gave to our study abroad Academic Directors (ADs) a few weeks ago, we began with this great YouTube video by Michael Wesch, a professor at Kansas State University. Even though the video moves quickly, and for many of our ADs English is their second language, the video was well-received and set the presentation off to a positive and fun start. The entire audience was completely engaged in what we had to say, and hopefully a bit of web 2.0 was demystified in the process.
Archive for August, 2007
A great article from the Washington Post tells the narrative of a communications professor at American University who gives her students an assignment to shut off all their media devices for 24 hours, then write about it.
A few weeks ago 79 Academic Directors (ADs) from our study abroad programs came to campus for orientation. During this time I helped present a session on Web 2.0. to help them better understand the media habits of our students. Over half of our ADs aren’t American citizens, and while Facebook and Instant Messaging definitely has a global reach, many of these staff had limited experience with these technologies, and many others want nothing to do with them whatsoever. The overwhelming consensus among all of the ADs is that they’d prefer their students spend more time exploring the culture instead of wasting away in internet cafes.
Continue reading ‘“Media Fast” and study abroad’
It’s official, our Fall 2007 SIT Study Abroad blog has it’s first student blogger signed on for when our programs start in September! We weren’t sure whether the project would appeal to our students, nor if they’d want to participate in a blog owned by World Learning vs. a personal blog. Some are doing both. However, the unanimous response from the students we chose was “Yes, of course! I’m honored!” Well, we’re honored to have them too. So it’s a win-win for everyone.
I received the signed waiver last night (via a photograph that was emailed from Brazil – smart kids!) and sent out the formal Typepad.com invitation soon after. You may wonder what the waiver is all about, or you may also ask why we haven’t taken a blood sample and an oath over a bible saying there will be no inappropriate material written over the course of the semester. I think some of our staff would have preferred that method, or that we’d have avoided blogging altogether, but maybe in my own young naivety, I’m trying to give our students the benefit of the doubt.
Continue reading ‘Our first blogger’
Note: this was first published for Michaela’s personal blog on August 21. 2007.
No sooner than I had made my last post, Google Maps announced that they’ve added a feature that allows users to build their own personalized maps and post HTML snippets to their blogs or Facebook pages, similar to the Zee Map functionality I mentioned below. It’s clickable AND draggable, and has the potential to feature all the images, text and video your little heart desires. Harrumph.
You can read more about on the blog here.
And here is my quick attempt at playing with this new feature illustrating my fall travel schedule:
Incidentally, and I’m not sure if it had to do with my slow connection at work, I was disappointed with the speed at which I could update this map. Everytime I tried to add a new place, the map froze and I had to return to maps.google.com to get it to respond again. At least it saved the markers I already added. Also, overall I felt Zee had more features and seemed a bit more simple to use…. For example, I couldn’t seem to figure out how to set the zoom “view” for the user, so I could make it obvious there were more than just a few links on the map. If I went to the intro URL (maps.google.com) afresh, I was able to pick a view just by zooming (not intuitive), whereas if I didn’t type the URL in afresh, it would only create a map of the most recent marker I had added. For now I like Zee better. For now at least…
Note: this was first published for Michaela’s personal blog on August 21. 2007.
One of the first projects I’ve been working on at my new job is setting up a blog for our fall study abroad programs. We have 79 specialized programs scattered across the world and each student has a vastly different immersion experience. I thought it might be fun to follow 10 of our students through a blog, as they undergo a semester of transformation.
Beyond the usual decisions of what blog software to use and whether to host 10 separate blogs or 1 blog with 10 voices, and how to handle photographs, it’s been hard to ignore the controversy out in the academic world: whether or not it’s appropriate to feature student bloggers on an organization’s website. Students tend to be extremely insightful at times, while at other times, extremely inappropriate. My research of other study abroad students (on programs unassociated with ours) uncovered provocative YouTube videos, inappropriate photographs and captions on Flickr/Webshots, and independent student blogs that blasted their study abroad programs and overseas experience. Granted there is lots of *great* stuff out there too, and hopefully as with most things on the web – the good will rise to the top, and the moaning/complaints/inappropriate discussions will sink to the bottom.
The other discussions I’ve been involved in with folks revolve around directing the types of content we want from our students (both on our official blog and if students choose to blog independently) and/or censoring negative content – all things which are hard to do on something as “leaky” as the web. I also struggle with any idea of censorship because of the free speech/freedom of press implications, etc. I believe the web should evolve organically, though the unpredictability of student behavior – college students for that matter – makes this issue a tough one. Kids have gossiped for hundreds of years – the internet has just evolved as another medium for this type of behavior. Anyone who has spent anytime on Facebook or MySpace knows this. Also, beyond our blog, what if students are writing inappropriate content on personal blogs – are we allowed to tell them to stop? I’ve tried to explain that what we don’t “allow” our students to do, it will still likely surface somewhere else if the student is determined enough. But regardless, you throw in free speech and ideas about civil society (which we try to teach in our programs) and you’ve only added fuel to the fire while not practicing what you’re preaching. It’s hard for folks to understand this, but hopefully in time it will be more clear and some best practices will emerge.
It’s definitely going to be an interesting learning experience, not only for our organization and myself, but for our students as well.The blog is located here, though not populated yet (our student bloggers will be identified in the next week!).
In the process of setting it up in Typepad, I’ve found a few scripts that add some multimedia and interactivity to the blog in a simple (and free), yet useful way. My two favorites so far are:
A Zee Map that features the locations of each of our study abroad bloggers.
Welcome to the first post of Amy and Michaela’s new technology blog. In the hopes of adding new knowledge and experiential anecdotes to the technology and non-profit/academic sector, Amy (a Canadian e-learning specialist who works for Queens University) and Michaela (an American online strategist who works for World Learning have joined forces to publish Girls with Macs.
We hope that in the future this site will provide useful resources to practitioners engaged in non-profit and educational technologies from the unique perspective of two young women who have worked in both the programmatic and technology sides of non-profit organizations, and are committed to making the world a better place through technology. We have both lived and worked in Southeast Asia (Amy in Thailand and Michaela in Cambodia) for non-governmental organizations and we hope that along with references to our work and experiences in Canada and the United States, we’ll also be able to share applications for the same technology in developing countries. Girls with Macs eagerly welcomes suggestions, ideas, and introductions, and Amy and Michaela look forward to populating this site with useful and relevant goodies, as well as a bit of our own personalities.