Fanning the flame of Flickr

I’ve never been a Flickr user.  I’ve known it exists, and might have been directed there a time or two when image searching for something, but I’ve never seen a real use for it for myself either personally or professionally.  To begin diving in and exploring Flickr, I turned to the internet for advice on how one could utilize Flickr in the classroom.  I mean are we just talking about a database of user submitted photos?  Is that it?

I found this article first and was drawn in by the Listicle-type title.  Scrolling and scanning through the article, I was looking for the listing of the “13 ways” and couldn’t find anything.  Then I realized that they just posted a picture of an attractive-looking brainstorming session documented with marker.  It would’ve been extra cool if this had been a crossover with Bubbl.  Not only was this low-tech offering pretty disappointing, I didn’t find that the “ideas” were anything terribly original or innovative.

This next article was a bit better.  As we’ve already seen in our class, and as the author points out, the “groups” feature is especially useful for a classroom.  Probably the most helpful part of this article was the list of suggested links at the bottom that kept my search going strong.  The article linked me to this YouTube video that had some really solid ideas.

Finally, I came across this article and was satisfied with both the narrative description and the strong list of ideas.  I wasn’t even aware of “third party Flickr applications” and this article opened the door to using those with Flickr in creating some dynamic lesson plans.

Google Sheets as a Mindtool

I’ve been using Google Sheets for a few years now.  I say this with pride because it’s a spreadsheet tool that I feel I can actually use proficiently.  Even though I’ve been exposed to Excel for many more years than Google Sheets, I’m still no where near a proficient user of Excel.  It just always seems to be just out of my grasp.  There’s too much to do, too much to learn, and the math element makes Excel even more daunting.  However, Google Sheets never felt that way.  If I had to describe the difference between Excel and Google Sheets for me as a user, I would say that Excel feels like it’s a tool for math/accounting geniuses to make their tasks easier; whereas Google Sheets feels like it’s a tool for people who aren’t comfortable with math/accounting to make their tasks easier.  But that could just be my own math bias.

I started using Google Sheets at work for everything number related.  It was helpful in organizing the budget and purchasing for the textbooks for all of our courses and programs.  What I loved the most about using a Google Sheet is that a field can both occupy information AND a usable link.  For example, in the sheet below that I’m currently using for work, I’m able to give myself a full view of the materials we’re purchasing and how much we’re spending for some of our programs, and then I can even link the PO’s to this master spreadsheet.  So it’s a tool for calculations but it also becomes an organizational tool as well.

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More than anything, I think that it’s this organizational feature that elevates Google Sheets from being just a tool, to being a mindtool.  While any spreadsheet technically organizes information, Google Sheets makes housing and storing and connecting AND organizing information all the more easy.  Every file that’s needed can be stored within the same Google platform making the linking files easier to navigate, locate, and connect.  It’s this level of cognitive use that transforms Google Sheets from a tool to a mindtool.

Corporate Education- leaving the Bubbl.

I sold out a few years ago and entered corporate education.  I work for a for-profit institution and I explain that we’re in the business of changing lives.  And I mean it.  For-profit schools, especially the vocational schools like the one I work for, have gotten a bad wrap for years.  But we’re one of the good guys.

As I’m working through this course, it’s pretty cool to experience each tool or piece of software from the corporate side and then think how it might be used in the classroom.

Bubbl.us is one of those tools that’s really easy to look at from both sides.  I get excited about Bubbl.us as an educator.  I wish I had this or knew about this when I was still in the classroom.  As a former Language Arts teacher, we did brainstorming for EVERYTHING.  I’m really big on mapping things out before you put pen to paper.  Especially as a teaching tool for novice writers.

As sixth graders, my students would enter my class with horrible writing habits.  They would enter the classroom, receive a writing assignment and just start writing away.  They would treat every essay like it was a race against time.  This left zero time for planning.  When I would first introduce brainstorming and bubble maps, students would groan.  You mean purposefully drag out the writing process and make it more laborious?  What is WRONG with you, Ms. Deller??  But over time they would start to get it.

Bubbl.us would have made brainstorming even more fun.  If I had to imagine how I would use it for group brainstorming… I think I would still have done a preliminary brainstorming on the white board with a good old fashioned marker.  I would have written things on the board as they popped out of my students’ mouths.  Then, I would have loved to assign an expanded brainstorming map to the students as a classwork assignment on their laptops.  For this one poetry project we would work on, this would have been ideal.  It was a multimedia poetry project and they could have linked the different pieces of media to the Bubbl map.  It would have served not just as their brainstorming tool, but as their organizational tool for the whole project.

In legal writing, you have to plan first, although we use a different planning system.  I’ve been trying to think how I could have used Bubbl.us for my legal students, but I’m not sure it would work as well.  Bubbl.us is great for brainstorming and interconnecting random thoughts.  However, legal writing has to be so… logical and linear.  The very design of Bubbl.us doesn’t leave a lot of room for that.

In the corporate world, we brainstorm all the time.  It’s a key component of problem solving.  I’m just trying to figure out of my colleagues would think I’m a nerd if I whipped out a Bubbl page for our next impromptu brainstorming session at work.

Welcome

Welcome to my blog.  I kept a journal all through middle school, so you’d think that keeping a blog would be easy.  I’ve started several but never gone past more than a couple of entries.  Recently, the concept of blogging has become a silly joke in my family, thanks to a family member, who is a non-digital native, and uses the wrong words for tech-related things.  See the translation dictionary below:

blog- verb– to Google something: “Go blog how long it takes to roast a chicken.”

Blueberry-noun– any smartphone: “Go blog on your Blueberry how long it takes to roast a chicken.”

meme- noun– My sister and I have explained this to everyone in our family multiple times but they still don’t understand what it is: “What’s a meme again…?”

 

I’m excited to see where this new journey into blogging leads.  And in the meantime, I’ll have to ask my family members what they call actual blogging.