Some thoughts from week three

Bluebells at Dockey Wood (Explored)
Photo Credit: Brian Smithson via Compfight

So I’ve made it nearly to the end of week three and I think I’m still on track, if not the “right” one as such as there seems to be so many options. Compulsory blog task 1 was posted early and has been positively received.

I feel I should be doing more reflecting through non-compulsory blog posts like this but it doesn’t come easily to me. I do think about what I read and view but often it feels like they are such short unrelated snippets it would be too daunting to turn them into a cohesive whole. I have scraps of paper, notes in Evernote, Diigo saves with annotations and so many thoughts swirling through my mind…where to start?

Ok, here are some random jottings:

About search engines, the algorithms they use and how personal information is used

Lately have seen more and more evidence of search engines (Google) using previous searches and geographical location to target me. For example I recently searched for a book on the Bookdepository. For days later I kept seeing ads for that book on other sites. There is something in Facebook (which I’ve turned off) where your avatar will appear with an ad on your friends home page when you’ve liked a page giving an implicit personal recommendation which I certainly don’t want to bother my friends with.

I feel that Google has improved generally – I more quickly get what I’m after for SIMPLE queries. The knowledge graph information is often all that is needed to answer a quick question. I remember how good the search engine Ixquick was years ago, before Google became a verb. It described itself as meta-search engine because it collated the results of multiple search engines to find the best results and this was revolutionary to me at the time. I vaguely remember it claiming to be private but back then I had no idea what that really meant. I think it would be worth doing parallel searches on Google and Ixquick to see the differences in results.

I might be very naive but I’m not particularly concerned about my search history being saved. I don’t think I search for anything that anyone other than advertisers might find remotely interesting (certainly not anything incriminating) and I’m very skilled at tuning out from advertising. As for favouring results geographically close to me – well, by and large that is a good thing, especially when I’m out and about or travelling. In a different political environment of course this could be very different. I do like knowing that search engines like Duck duck go and ixquick are available.

Technology and youth: 5 competencies

I’m interested in the 5 competencies listed by Helen Haste that she says all students need and teachers should be teaching. I’d love to chat with teachers about how competent they think they are for each. If teachers can’t model the competencies themselves then teaching them is a challenge.

It would be good to see some sort of self-assessment tool for teachers. For example I think I’m fairly competent in Agency and Responsibility; Finding and Sustaining Community, and Managing Technological Change, but only ok with Managing Ambiguity and Managing Emotion. Maybe something like the ePotential survey Victorian government teachers complete each year (when not engaged in union bans over a pay dispute) to place you on a continuum and guide you to resources to help you further develop.

Connected learning

This infographic is a terrific summary of what Connected Learning can and should be. I think it would be great to stick up in the staffroom as a conversation starter.

Connected Learning

Connected Learning Infographic

Google Glass

The interview with Margaret Power was interesting. Google Glass is still not available to buy here in Australia but I’m sure I’m not alone in wanting to get my hands on some glass! I found it interesting that while she uses the glass extensively within her classroom for global collaboration and communicating with parents, she doesn’t see so much potential for it as a tool for use by students. I wonder also at the interviewer’s comment (quoting another interviewee) that he didn’t think Glass would change humanity, that in a few years it would be completely normal for everyone to be wearing it. Seemed like a bit of a contradiction to me.

On a personal note, Google Glass is one of the few recent technological development that my husband has shown interest in. He’s not exactly a Luddite but he’s a long way from an early adopter and really does not get my excitement over shiny things. However, as a powered parachute pilot, he can see immediate value in wearable technology that can incorporate a GPS, altimeter and camera.

Scholarly book review

I’m starting to feel more confident about the book review. I think I’ve settled on a book and have edited the Google doc to that effect although I have a second title in reserve. What’s been gratifying is that since starting to read it I’ve come across quite a few articles and sites that have relevance to the issues raised. These have come up in the module one readings as well as more generally through links on Twitter, blog posts accessed through Feedly and links from various Diigo groups. I’ve started collecting them in a not too haphazard style and hopefully they’ll serve me well when the time comes (not too far away!).

Technology issues

Finally, as I posted on Twitter this afternoon, I’m continuing to be frustrated by various technological failings and I can’t figure out whether it’s to do with my browser, my PC or if it’s just personal. In the first week I couldn’t post to the forum but that has fixed itself up. Last week when on the subject site each time I tried to navigate to a new page I’d get this message:

Failed to load

but when I reloaded the page loaded without problem, again this issue has sorted itself out. But now today I can’t access any of the Thinkspace blog sites directly although I can view the posts through Feedly on Chrome or directly on Internet Explorer. However I can’t log in to my dashboard through either browser. Which means this blog post isn’t going to get posted at all (right now I’m typing in Evernote). Perhaps I’ll try my iPad.


So I did try my iPad but it isn’t the best for using the blog editing tools. I assume I could use the Edublogs app (which I’ve successfully done before on another blog) but the downside of that is that drafts are not synced. So what has happened is that I finally got the 15 year old off the PC and after trying again to access Thinkspace, including installing another browser, I did what I probably should have done at the beginning – restarted the computer! Yes the good old Spiteri theory (named for an IT Technician at my previous school) has proved it’s value once again! I guess it’s no coincidence that at my new school the IT Technician’s office door has a huge sign saying “Have you turned it off and on again?”

Retrieved from 

So there you have it, some random, rambling thoughts. I hope I get better at this.