Start Small? Or go Big?

So, I had a busy weekend–what with friends coming to visit on Thursday and not leaving until this morning. Lovely having you here, guys, but I am WAY behind on my school work. I wasn’t planning on updating this until tomorrow afternoon, but I got a jump on my COMM and Shakespeare homework, did some cleaning, and then started poking around. I figured, I’ll at least start looking around so I can have some kind of idea for a post. Of course, I had plenty of ideas, but this whole blogging thing is new to me–should I focus in on one aspect of my PLN? Or should I give a broad overview of what’s happening all over the spectrum? I went back and forth about this while I added a lot of my classmate’s blogs to Google Reader. As I looked through their blogs I realized that everyone was at different points in developing their blogging “groove.” I’m not sure if any of my classmates are reading my blog but I have to say KUDOS! I am very impressed and also mildly intimidated. So, that was the end of just “poking” around…I had to get something substantial and concrete going before I got to sleep tonight.

Today (or more correctly tonight and into tomorrow–since it’s 11:48 pm and all), I want to talk mainly about RSS Feeds (specifically my experience with Google Reader), but because I found so much interesting stuff on my classmate’s blogs, I wanted to touch on some of those things first.

At first I felt kind of weird taking ideas from my classmates. I almost didn’t want to read their blogs for fear that I would feel the need to blog about something completely different and original. If I knew what THEY were blogging about then I would need to blog about something different, and well, I was scared that I wouldn’t have any original ideas. I talked myself out of that mindset, and gained confidence after reading Jessie’s newest blog entitled “Entering the Conversation,” that this is what it’s all about. The humming conversation in my constantly growing PLN is about asking questions, finding answers, asking more questions, and helping eachother become better communicators. Through this process we will become wiser, better read, more technologically inclined individuals. We will be thinkers. I love that I can learn from my classmates through these blogs. Of course, I have my doubts. How long will I be able to go one step further than my classmates and my professor? I guess only time will tell.

When I visited Britanny’s first blog entitled, “January 21, 2009 — My first blogging experience !!” just out of curiosity (since I had obviously already set up my blog) I watched her video on blogging that she found on Youtube:

This is what brought it all together. First let me say, I really like “The Common Craft Show” tutorials/videos. I find these videos to be inspiring. I almost want to make one myself, but in this case…I think I need to slow down and start small. I am now following The Common Craft Show with Google Reader and Twitter.
ANYWAYS, I hope I can explain my thought process in a coherent manner (as I let out all the air in my lungs). Our PLN’s are about a conversation. We have entered in an ongoing conversation of thoughts and ideas, and we contribute to this conversation by keeping blogs. Blogs are a way of receiving news according to “The Common Craft Show,” because really isn’t everything news to someone? Yes, I think it is.

News Media:
Now I want to take step back…or sideways, rather. I’m currently taking a Communications class all about News and the Media. We discuss reasons why the media is inherently unreliable and how it got that way (which is why I don’t feel so bad for being a lazy citizen when it comes to reading the newspaper). My instructor assigned a reading for tomorrow written by Robert McChesney which outlines the history of journalism and how partisan journalism was transformed into professional journalism and subsequently how the 21st century “marked the point where news became both professional and personal” (in the words of “The Common Craft Show“). A news system that is professional and personal ultimately turns into a news system that is commercialized by media owners (often times huge conglomerations) in order to turn the biggest profit possible. This is why most of the news is “filler” or “soft” news. We constantly see glamorized stories covering car chases and burglaries instead of the real issues behind these events–like hunger and poverty caused by the decline in economy.

The Conversation:
What I’m getting at is essentially what my classmate Jessie outlined in her most recent blog post, Entering the Conversation. A connection has been made. Last semester I took an Acting class that helped me relax when performing in front of people. I used the relaxation techniques and new found confidence I found in Acting to help me improve in a persuasive speech class during the same semester. In persuasive speech I learned about strategies of propaganda that I am currently applying to the previously mentioned News Media class. And now, my News Media class has turned me on to analyzing the news which makes me want to push through the clutter and find real stories that matter. Unbelievably, I’m finding that news by using my Personal Learning Network. It’s a conversation. I’m making connections to people and ideas. I actually think that my network started before I logged in to Social Networking, Blogging, Microblogging, RSS Feeds, Social Bookmarking, and Nings. These websites are just platforms for exploration. Granted, I’m still getting used to exploring the platforms, but once I get the hang of it I think I’ll have super human learning powers. Anyone? Anyone?

RSS Readers:

Jason Whitney’s post about google reader pushed me to do a little exploring. He posted this video in his blog about RSS Readers and how they operate:

I already knew most of what The Common Craft Show was outlining, but as I said before…I was inspired. I added all the classmates I could find to Google Reader, and as I already said, poked around their blogs. My classmates obviously gave me some new ideas, but I wasn’t quite satisfied. I want to be innovative. I want to contribute as much as I can. I started by going into help, and reading up on the easiest ways organize my feeds, read my feeds, and find new feeds. Personally, I don’t like to read my subscriptions on Google Reader. I like the professional feel of the blogs I’ve subscribed to, and I won’t let Google take that away from me. Lucky for Google I can easily click on the title of the blog I have yet to read and it quickly takes me where I want to go. This was all well and good, but it was frustrating that most of my classmates didn’t have easy to find RSS buttons. I even took Google’s advice and used my browsers “find” function. I typed in RSS and got nothing. I ended up having to copy and paste each persons web link until the “Add a Subscription” tab. A minor setback, but nothing big…EXCEPT for the fact that I took Jason’s advice and downloaded Stylish (a Mozilla add-on that stylizes your favorite pages).

The problem with Stylish is that there are too many options. I can’t decide! And I can’t see in that tiny example picture to tell what’s really going to happen to my pages. Maybe you can customize your Google Reader to be exactly what you want, but it wasn’t easy enough for me so I’m just going to let it be bland (which is very unlike me I might add). The setting I chose from Stylish hid my “Add a Subscription” box, and so for a good 25 minutes I couldn’t figure out how to add subscriptions. Lame! Eventually, I figured out how to make it stop. I got my button back and all was good with the world.

Here comes the fun part. And maybe I should have put this at the beginning of my long winded Blog Post, but hopefully the video will entice some readership. I was trying to find a way to browse/search for new blogs about education. I wanted to peruse through some blogs so I could LEARN and EXPLORE. This is not as easy as it sounds, and maybe I’m just not getting the software but I couldn’t find ANYTHING. So I started looking through some of the recommended sources, and I found a blog titled, “Free Technology for Teachers.” There are a LOT of things I didn’t read about, but I did read all about a program called Memonic. Here’s a video that I found on the blogs post entitled “Memonic – Capture and Organize Your Web Findings” :

Memonic is free, and surprisingly easy to use. All you have to do is add the “Save to Memonic” “bookmarklet” and you can save several different areas of any website that you want. Really, it’s the same as copying and pasting text from your browser to a Word document, but you don’t have to fumble around. Search as long as you want, save as much as you want from wherever you want, and when you’re done you can go to your collection of excerpts in order to edit them. For example, I used Memonic to collect the You Tube videos I placed in this Blog Post. I also collected small portions of my classmates blog posts in order to reference only what I needed all in the same place. The Memonic blog also suggests that:

“Memonic could be a good resource for helping students organize the findings of their web research. The ability to add commentary along with the URL could help students remember why they clipped something.”

How many time’s have you sat at your computer researching for a ten page paper with twenty tabs that contain journals and periodicals from all over the web? Memonic saves the website, and only the information you plan on using. If you need more information from that site later…ADD MORE LATER! If you have your own thoughts and ideas but you’re afraid you’ll forget, you can edit what you’ve saved and add your own text in a different color.

Honestly, I think this is going to change the way I write papers.

I’m realizing that I need to go about this blog a little differently. My goal is to update twice a week or more. Hopefully I’ll gain ideas more frequently, and start and explore various PLN threads via my classmate’s blogs. I hope I can be diligent and stay inspired. Later on.

Be Gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars. In the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. -Max Ehrmann


~ by caitfordlyyours on February 2, 2010.

4 Responses to “Start Small? Or go Big?”

  1. Thank you very much for your Memonic review and your kind words! We’ll continue to improve Memonic and we’re happy to hear from you directly about your experiences.

  2. That, to me, is the definition of a useful and reflective blog post. You show what you are learning and how your understanding are changing, as well as the process by which you are learning it, and then you are generously pointing your reader towards various resources. I’ll be checking out Memonic soon. Hats off to you for this one.

  3. Hey! I’m glad that you found something useful and helpful in my blog!! I just read yours and you are doing a great job!! That video helped me out a lot to. I watched it before I started my blog so I thought it would be right to include it to hopefully help others. So, glad u found it helpful to!!


  4. So your Blog is pretty much the same as the last time I checked in, and I hope that you have more inspirational stuff to report. I like your style of developing and sharing your processes, and keep posting regularly so that there’s a reason to visit you often!

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