Archive for March, 2013

I am more than certain that everybody has done it: stayed up all night without batting his or her eyelashes once. Pulled an all-nighter while working hard, or hardly working, because they were simply tossing and turning in bed and then the sun was peering through their window. The past few weeks I have been lucky enough to collaborate with two of my current classmates, Ryan Dalpiaz and Cassie Teevan, and together we conquered our goal.  It was our job to produce a radio show for our “New Media Literacy and ELA” class, better known as ENG 307. Music Energy (+clipping path, XXL)At first glance I was mortified by the uniqueness and depth of this task, especially since it involved working with two of my classmates whom I knew little about. Before my eyes, in a matter of minutes, my attitude shifted. Working with my ‘co-hosts’ was not only a beneficial experience, but it was an all around good time. After our first meeting, where we got together to discuss the theme and structure of our show, and assigned a workflow for the upcoming meetings, I was eager to get started, since I had an alarmingly upbeat reaction to what the future held for the three of us.

Our first obstacle hit rather quickly, since none of us had previously worked on a podcast, or used the audio program, Garageband that we were expected to work so closely with. After watching a thirty minute tutorial that demonstrated the majestic features of Garageband, we directed our attention to our audience. We garageband_freebiesearched near and far to find a topic that would interest us, and be easy to relate to for all of you!  We brainstormed for about fifteen minutes, sharing ideas and bouncing potential topics off of each other.

Some time during this process, the light bulb turned on, and this one carried some intricate enlightenment. We highlighted our own lives, and realized that together we had more than enough experience to masterfully create a twenty minute radio show. We yearned to share some terrifying experiences with late night homework assignments, and took on the stereotypical role of a relaxed student, in comparison to a rather stressed out perfectionist. This topic waslightbulb sincere to us, and allowed each one of us to speak from our own experiences. Regardless of whether we spoke from first hand experience, where we faced up against the clock, and spent all night completing an assignment, heard a story about how a friend handled a situation similar to this, or just took part in a restless night, we knew this would transform into a comedic yet worthwhile show if we simply spoke to this. We decided to artistically craft some homemade radio personalities to fill these roles, and once we did this we wanted to ensure the flow was similar to a radio show. We turned these personalities into ‘callers’ who wanted to share their stories on the air, as they participated  in our rather unique “My Favorite Caller” challenge, that was taking place right on our show!

This competition allowed us to incorporate a plethora of voices, which kept things interesting, as well as a wide range of creative commercials depending on what each caller seemed to need. For example a stressed out caller, who was up all night doing homework encouraged us to include a commercial on “Rejuvenating Shampoo”. Our show was dedicated to those who were up all night, for any reason. We wanted to let viewers know they were not alone, and provide a safe haven for our fellow insomniacs. Our show turned out great, and we were able to mix and match our narration with some really attractive music. SomeRadioShow_N sections of this project were quite gruesome, especially becoming accustomed to the technological aspects, but once we managed to work out the kinks we thrived vastly. The skills learned in the process will remain with me, and I am sure that they will be incredibly useful. I had a tremendous amount of unanticipated fun, and collaborating with two remarkable people made the whole process rather exhilarating. I am proud of our final production, and encourage everyone to check out “What The FM I Still Doing Up Radio!?”

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Breaking News in Cyberspace: Early on last week, Google announced that it is indeed shutting down its popular—well not popular enough—RSS (Really Simple Syndication) reader, Google Reader. It appears that Google is taking a step away google-reader-closed-featured-570x270from RSS; they have also terminated the RSS extension for Chrome, claiming that a wretched ‘bug’ has nested in their admired Chrome browser, and shows no signs of relocating. They have labeled this error as a “No Fix” and plan to shut down this unprofitable service altogether on July 1st, 2013.

Is something peculiar going on here? Once further explored it seems like Google wants to not only strip away users access to Google Reader, which displays RSS feeds from websites in a simple list format, but they also want to massacre any rss-mansupport for RSS entirely. RSS also presents an easy way to keep track of news and permits users to receive alerts from their favorite sites, without having to visit dozens of different web pages every day. RSS may not be extremely popular for all computer users, but for some junkies it is a central part of the web, necessary for keeping them connected.

Google RSS extension for Chrome made it simple to discover and subscribe to RSS feeds, given that it linked up with any webpage. It was a trouble-free, one-click process, since the icon appeared in the URL bar of every page that offered a feed. Once clicked on, this icon gave users a plethora of ways to subscribe to the feed, the main one being Google rssReader. RSS delivered headlines straight from the source, and synced news feeds between multiple different apps. Overall it made life online simpler. So now that Google Reader is gone, where do we turn?

Luckily there are a few alternatives out there for those who rely heavily on Google Reader. Two of these options include Digg and Feedly. Digg is a new social site that plans to build off Google Reader and make things even simpler. Their main goal is to digg-google-readermake text “sexy” again, rather than having a text-heavy feed. The updated RSS system will have a feed, along with folders to keep things organized. Digg is willing to step up and alter their current RSS model, but for now when considering a new RSS client you must steer away from Google Reader. Feedly is more comparable to a magazine, it is the current frontrunner, already adding over 500,000 new users over the past two days. Feedlytimthumb.php can be a plug-in for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari, but not for Internet Explorer. One setback is the scrolling option, especially when accessed on a mobile phone, or tablet. This app requires users to swipe in a number of ways—up, down, left, right, but does not allow for quick scrolling. It also only shows a select number of feeds on the front page, until you open the side bar, where the rest will be stored.

Feedly will sync with Google Reader and presents users with a similar experience. google_readerThe most difficult thing will be transferring your previous Google Reader feeds. This link will be tremendously helpful if you are having any difficulty with this process.

Apologies to those who get the majority of their updates and news via Google Reader, but newsflash: RSS IS NOT DEAD, and hopefully the two options discussed above (Digg & Feedly) will serve you well.

Happy International Women's Day!

ImagePinterest is a new-fangled, rather popular website. For a select group it may be used to simply keep up with the latest fashions, or find the perfect dessert recipe, but believe it or not Pinterest has educational value as well. Teachers struggle to brighten up their bare walls as they wrap up their summer and snuggle up in their classroom. Finding the perfect décor is challenging, especially when the goal is to intrigue, and welcome a large number of children or adolescents. Although I am a novel Pinterest user I have discovered the educational gold mines that are hidden beneath the fashion advice and weekly dinner specials. Pinterest is not only a great place to follow the most recent fads; teachers can Imagealso utilize it to improve the educational experience. Pinterest is capable of playing a major role in the classroom, and can be of huge assistance to educators and students. This is a valuable reserve where teachers all over the world can share reading lists, lesson plans, and other helpful sources. Pinterest is bringing educators together, and revolutionizing learning.Image

Pinterest is a tool that can be used in many different ways. Various categories exist on this website that are called boards, some groups include: food, art, celebrities, and quotes. When looking through, you can “pin” items that intrigue you and attach them to your own personal board. These individual boards are easily accessible, making things effortless to keep track of.

For example, since there are so many different teaching ideas and helpful hints I decided to make a board called “teacher references.” This allows me to pin anything related to the topic of teaching to my board, and follow things I deem enjoyable, and hope to use someday in my future classroom.Image

Pinterest has an entire category devoted to education that can be examined here. This feature narrows down one’s search and directs each user to a helpful list of resources. Some examples of the pins featured in this section include: educational conference notifications, book reviews, math fun, pictures of projects produced by students, teaching ideas, lesson plans, and more. After perusing the education category it is more than likely that a plethora of information will be worthy of holding onto. To keep all of this valuable information at your fingertips, users can create their own Pinterest account to “repin” articles or useful resources onto their board. There is also a public board, which permits each user to engage with others who share their interests. If there is something one wishes to model for students or colleagues they simply pin it to the public board, and everyone will have the opportunity to take advantage of the source. Educators and students will build a great forum to communicate, and can collaborate on group projects, or share useful information.Image

Pinterest is helpful as teachers plan activities, and formulate lessons for students. It also grants them with decorating ideas for their classroom. This tool can help teachers make the learning environment for students original and exciting. Along with this, it is extremely helpful that one can follow their friends or colleagues. By having all teachers in a particular school get Pinterest and follow one another they can easily share their ideas over this social media website.  Along with being able to pin things, Pinterest allows users to upload their own pictures. For example, if a teacher created a great bulletin board, they can upload it to Pinterest for other people to use and see. Pinterest is a great way for educators to help each other out, they will work together to reinvent learning, and keep students interested by assigning pleasurable projects, and exciting lessons.