Flickr makes everything delicious

October 11, 2008

I created an account in Cheryl\’s Flickr.  I uploaded some pictures of my family.  I searched for educational uses of Flickr and came across an interesting article flickrinclassroom. The article suggested the following ways that Flickr can be used:


  1. Using single images as writing prompt, sometimes called Flickton
  2. Multiple image digital storytelling projects
  3. Creating slides shows within Flickr 
  4. Virtual Field Trips 
  5. Creation of visual arguments, e.g. biology classroom-The Case for Genetic Engineering 
  6. Illustration of Poetry with Flickr, or Flickr meets Carl Sandburg 
  7. Using Flickr with Google Earth to teach Geography because of the geotagging
  8.  Visual documentation of school events 
  9. Visual documentation of student artwork and other school products 
  10.  Creation of digital visual portfolios, using the photoset function of Flickr 
  11. Social software applications:  how to tag, how to make comments 
  12. Delivery of school/classroom visual information via RSS  
  13. Intellectual property rights lesson using Flickr Creative Commons licensing 
  14. The use of third party Flickr applications to produce classroom products: 

  •  Motivational posters 
  • Magazine Covers 
  •  Movie Posters 
  •  Flickr slideshow 
  • Mosaic Makers

Go to Resources about Flickr for more information.

I am not sure why I would use Flickr since I have a Facebook account and I have more file space there.  My one observation is looking at both Flickr and Del.ici.ous as well as Facebook and MySpace last week as well as Blogger or wordpress is that they all seem to offer the same thing.  You can use Delicious as a blog.  You can use Facebook to photo-share.  You can use Flickr for video sharing (like YouTube).  I know that I am stating obvious but  it seems like a convergence is developing between social objects, social networks, and sharing. What will the social online landscape look like in 2 years or 5 years?

Cheryl\’s delicious account. I actually used del.ici.ous to search for some sites that talk about the educational uses of delicious.  Here is what I found: Top 10 ways to use Delicious,Tags Help Make Libraries Del.ici.ous, Using Del.ici.ous in Education (this site gives a list of references on how del.ici.ous is being used in the education.  I like the ability to link to other people’s del.ici.ous sites that are doing research or work in areas that are of interested to me.  I found a great del.ici.ous site on PLEs that had a lot of resources on how people are using PLEs in education.  The great thing about del.ici.ous is that you do not have to “reinvent the wheel”.  So much of the work and searching as already been done and you can tap into it and find what is applicable for your topic of interest.

I have been reading Web 2.0: new tools, new schools.In the book, it gives some uses for both Flickr and Del.ici.ous.  Teachers have been using Flickr to go digital storytelling.  From the book Web 2.0 new tool,  new schools the authors write, “Students begin by composing their narrative, and from it, synthesize the story into its critical elements to develop a script.  They add multimedia to the script by including photographs, music, and audio then put it all together in a logical sequence.” A English teacher uses Flickr to illustrate personal history narratives that are similar to the type that they are reading in class.  They also illustrate the events behind protest songs as they answer the question “How can you maintain a just and equitable society?”  A PE teacher has students create public service announcements on addiction and asked them to take two relevant statistics and make them come alive using Flickr in a digital story.  

Some teacher are using Del.ici.ous as a cross-curricular resource.  For example, a health and PE teacher conducts a Web search to find sites on disease, finds CDC site,  and adds it to the school’s social bookmarking service.  The health/PE teacher is trying to find ways to integrate science issues into his health topic for the week.  The science teacher is covering genetics the same week so the two teacher get together and review the sites on the social bookmarking service.   Meanwhile, the social studies teacher is scanning sites for tags to genetics in the social bookmarking service.  They will be discussing genetic engineering current events in class and she comes across the health and PE teacher CDC site along with other sites that have been tagged by the science teacher. 

Some teachers are using Del.ici.ous as research tool.  For example, student teams work on a project and can divide their topic into subtopics. They can create topic folders and store URLS together under the appropriate folder, then they can get together and share what they have found on line and select the web sites that are the most relevant to their project.  The ability to search Delicious using tags helps the students narrow the amount of information that they need to search through. The students also learn to identify what is valuable or not to their project. 

There is also an Appendix article by David Warlick called A Day in the Life of Web 2.0 that gives an interesting case study on how a teacher can use Web 2.0 tools in their classroom and in the school.  The article can be found in Technology & Learning, volume 27, Issue 3, October 2006.  You can find it online at BYU Library. 


A journey through social networks

October 3, 2008

As I have been searching the Internet and reading blogs, it has sparked ideas that may seem or are a stream of consciousness. Bear with my mental journey through social network.  My first stop was a site that shows some good examples and ideas of using social networking tools in the classroom.  Since reading Lave and Wenger’s book, Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation as well as following Wenger’s work Communities of Practice, I am interested in how we can use his model in schools.  There is a lot of research and case studies on CoPs’ uses in business and professional development, but not in education.  I think that the Web 2.0 technologies may have just removed the barriers to fully using the concept of CoPs in the classroom.  Situated learning (the theory behind Communities of Practice) is putting learning in the context in which that learning would or does live.  I thought about how students could use LinkedIn to find mentors and participate where the real learning happens. 

My second stop was reading about data portability.  I watched a video by Chris Pidillo What is social networking? and it generated this idea: “If our students can be or are creators and publishers of content instead of consumers of content,  what happens to the content that they create on SNSs.  What happens to the content that I create for my class or that we collaboratively create together?  I find it ironic that the students are the creators but not the owners.  An interesting issue for copyright law.

Next stop.  A list of social networks in education This site is useful because it gives you an idea of what kinds of social networks are being created.  My observation is that not many educational SNSs are being created by students which brings up another thought: “  What if students who were tired with the school system and who were tired of being bored, got together and collectively demanded a different way to be educated or a different way to learn.  Is this possible?  Does it already exist?  Are there students out there who are tired of de facto standard of school and education?  Clay Shirky in his book “Here Comes Everybody” describes this as collective action.  Groups coming together with a shared goal.  I wonder what would happen if a school of students or an entire system of schools acted in a collective effort to change our educational system.  A revolution!

As I meandered around the Web, I found 2 sites voted the two best social educational networks:

In reviewing these sites, I asked myself: ” What would drive my students to an educational SNS? ” Facebook is fine but I am not particularly draws to it.  My friends?  Usually when I engage with my friends, we are doing something even if it is only hanging out watching a video or talking.  I can see meeting my friends on YouTube to watch a video or on Flickr to see photos of their latest trip. I can meet my friends to talk about a job on LinkedIn.   I don’t know why I would meet them on Facebook.  It would be like my friends getting together and not doing anything (no talking, no interaction) If I was going to create a SNS for my classes,  what would be the draw. .  the social object(s)?  Flickr was not only created a world around photos by around the subject of photography.  Shirky uses the example of HDR photography, someone posted a photo where they used this technique.  Soon people where asking how they did it and the sharing and conversation started a trail of instruction.  How could I do that in my classroom?  Could I use the model of Flickr and YouTube in creating my own SNS? Do I have a student post a problem that they solved and explain how they did?  Do I have other students post the same problem and how they solved it and explain it?  In the process of these students sharing and conversing about the problem, they, in effect, are creating an instruction. 

A brief stop at an excellent 4 minute video that illustrates what it means to be a digital native. (You can also check out the article written by Mark Prensky on the same topic. Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants.)

 The video is called “A vision of Students today.”  It was created by a cultural anthropology class at Kansas State University. It is very thought provoking.  According to the video, if our students read may be 49% of their textbooks but they will read 2300 web pages and 1281 facebook profiles; if they will write only 42 pages but 500 pages of emails; if they spend 3 ½ hours online.  2 hours on cell phones. . . Why are we still using offline tools to teach?  To follow the discussion as it unfold go to

Continuing on my web trip, I come across Social Networks- What is their strengths and weaknesse? and a 45 minute video from Clay Shirky about his book “Here Comes Everybody” Video from Clay Shirkey He mentions an interesting point:  Freedom of the press, freedom to gather and freedom of speech have all come to together.  What a convergence.  I wonder what interesting laws and case laws that will generated.   I also found on the site a  Slideshow on the Future of Social Networking. 

A final mental point on the journey.  Right after I graduated my friends told me that I have to “network” in order to find a good job.  To bad that this was about 20 years before LinkedIn. 

People, not things acting as social objects?

September 29, 2008

In teaching an undergraduate course in Integrating Technology into Teaching this semester, I am having the students use wikis to create their final projects. As a I think about social objects in light of this assignment, I am wondering if I have created a social object in education. A project based assignment seems to have some of the elements of social objects: the IPT students contribute and collaborate on a special needs student and his/her learning need using learning strategies and technology. I thought that the social object was the project but it seems to me that the social object is the student, not the project based assignment. Can a person be a social object?  Can a person be “content that acts as a social object”, as Weller defines a social object?  In structuring my course instead of thinking about assignments and assessments,  maybe I should be thinking about the objects that my students can get engaged in, the tools that facilitate the social interaction could be the assignments as well as the wikis or blogs.  It seems to me that students would find a person (a special needs child) far more engaging than a project assignment. Just random thoughts about how I am designing my course. . . or how I can do it better.

Are objects social?

September 29, 2008

I tend to disagree with the author that mentioned that it is not about the object but the conversations that happen around it.  Well that depends on if the conversations are about the object itself and not just random conversation.  This is where the metaphor of the campfire breaks down for me.  Although a campfire is an object that draws people in, usually the conversations that happen around a campfire are not about the campfire.  Shared content (the object) is the conversation.  When you post a picture on Flickr, there is an initial message in the picture that you send (a probe you could say), then the subsequent conversations(feedback and probe cycle) that follow as long as the conversation is about the object, in this case, the photo. The act of sharing content is the initial conversation. 

A book club may be a better analogy because the book is the object that the conversation is about and the book creates the conversation.  A study group may be another example. A better analogy might be found in the theory of Communities of practice. Wenger on his website Communities of Practice defines what a community of practice is.  It must include a Domain, A Practice, and A community.  The domain is a shared competence or domain of interest (an object).  A Practice is a group of practitioners developing a shared repository of experiences, tools, stories about the object. A Community are members building relationships, helping each other, and sharing information all around the object.

Martin Weller, in his article  Social Objects in Education mentioned that “the educational value is not the content, but the social interaction it begets.” I disagree. Some objects have an inherent social-ness about them.  I believe that the value lies in conversation that is inherent in the object itself.   

Can educational content, assessments, or assignments be a social object?  Educational content is a very broad topic.  I might ask what kind of education content “begets” social interaction?  Maybe it depends on how complex the object was.  The more complex the object, the more points the object offers for discussion.  Some educational content may offer this and some may not.   I wonder what kind of social objects teachers talk about in the teachers’ lounge. This might offer an interesting answer to the question of “can educational content be a social object?”  I believe that assessments or assignments narrows the field down.  I do think that assessments or assignments can be a social object as long as they are not too specific.  Again they need to offer enough handles for discussion. Assessments can offer how to write them, how to grade them, how to handle reliability and validity, kinds of assessments, alignment with outcomes, etc. 

In my experiences with Blackboard, I have never had a conversation about an assignment or an assessment. Assignments and assessments are posted there but no conversations happen about them and there is very little social interaction around them, at least not on Blackboard.  Blackboard (whether its intended use is like this) is a one way interaction for me. It is also not an open system. Sharing is limited to those in the system. Once you leave the system, you don’t take those conversations with you, nor those social interactions.

I found two articles that helped me understand the concept of social objects better.

Cultural-Historical Activity Theory .Although this article is a little heady, it discussed the generational development of social activity theory. Concepts of Vygotsky and his colleagues created the concept of artifact-mediated and object oriented activity and collectivity activity collectivity activity is driven by objected-oriented motives.  Interesting article as it relates to social objects.

On the Life of an Object. This article is written by 

Personal Learning Environments

September 17, 2008

If we want to use new media to spread the gospel, think about a place individual users constructed activities, show the process they went through to gain their understanding, see some of the learning objects and resources they used, invite friends to participate, rather than subscribing to courses or having courses allocated to them.  I can see a convert to the church explaining how he/she learned about doctrinal concepts and how they applied them and gave others ideas on how they can apply them. Think using PLE to model a certain way that students learned a topic. . . learning objects and resources he/she found valuable.    I am kicking around the idea of how PLE relates to life long learning and what it would look like. Also, I came across a diagram by Stephen Downes about PLE which I am not sure I understand .  Can someone shed some light on it?

Educational uses of wikis

September 17, 2008

In searching for information about educational uses of wikis, I came across Educational Uses of Wikis that offers excellent references and a good comprehensive list of literature written on educational uses of wikis.  There were two references that describe a similar project to our class project.


There may be some ideas in these ideas to assist the class in our book project.

Another article by Peter Duffy and Axel Bruns entitled The use of blogs, wikis, and RSS in education: a conversation of possibilities offers a overview of the concepts of wikis, Blogs, RSS feeds, the educational benefits and the educational uses; however the thing that I find most interesting is the “Further questions to explore” sections of the article for Wikis, Blogs, and RSS.  One of the questions is about the process of teaching students authorship of wiki writing which is different from the genre of essay writing. Will this change or alter the requirements of writing in our schools in the future?  How will the process of writing changed due to the influence of wikis and blogs?


Thoughts on the Church’s wikipedia entry

September 17, 2008

In exploring the wikipedia entry for The Church of Jesus Christ Of Latter Day Saints,  I was struck with how strange the Mormon theology must be to those not of that faith.   It is interesting to me to see how people see our religion. In an effort to objectify it, it sounds very cult-ish.  No wonder people have the impression that Mormonism is a cult. The difference between objectivity and revealed truth stood out very clearly.  I did make one small change to the entry. The changed the date of when the church was founded. Before it read “in 1830” and I changed it to April 6, 1830.  A small change and maybe insignificant but to those who are of the Mormon faith, this date has very symbolic meaning.  As I made this change, I thought to myself “do I have the right to make the change?”  as if I needed permission to make a contribution.  The idea that anyone can make a contribution to a body of knowledge is very freeing.