As I stated in the previous two parts of this four part series on instructional technology tools that can be used in the classroom to enrich learning, I actively participate in a personal professional learning network using Plurk and Twitter. Through these two web services I have learned copious amounts of information, training and resources in the past six or seven months than I have in just about all 19 years of teaching. It is amazing and I wanted to share some of the tools that I deem extremely useful to enrich learning in the classroom.
The third tool I want to share is Dabbleboard. I have written about this unique tool before but I wanted to share it again with you. At first glance, Dabbleboard looks like a limited version of Inspiration or CMAP. While that may be partially true, the biggest asset of Dabbleboard is the ability to collaborate and share a diagram with a team of students. Students can be at different computers, different locations, and work on the diagram at different times. Dabbleboard diagrams are shared by the use of an invite via email and now a URL generated by the site. Several enhancements were made with the most recent release.
Within the Dabbleboard layout, any previous diagrams created are stored in the library and can be reused and imported into new diagrams. When I logged into Dabbleboard, the diagram that I originally created back in July was automatically loaded for me. I can continue with that or begin a new diagram.
Dabbleboard is an excellent way to brainstorm story maps for digital storytelling, generate a hypothesis to test as part of the scientific process or create a flowchart depicting a process or steps of a group project. You can create a template for students to access with the capability of adding weblinks, images, and sharing with others in real time. New features have recently been added such as rotating or flipping images and auto detection of shapes drawn by hand to create resizable, neatly drawn objects.
I really like that you can share diagrams via a URL instead of limited to an email from Dabbleboard. If I were having students create accounts, I would have specified usernames and use my email address for the registration process as displayed to the left. I could also set up a generic email address and add the individual student’s names to the main email address.This way I would still have access control to the students’ accounts. Diagrams can be made public or private allowing only designated students access to collaborate on a diagram. This is a great security feature when working with students.
To the right is the original diagram I created in July. If you click on the thumbnail image, it will take you to the public link of the diagram. Take a few moments and experiment with the diagram and move items, change colors, etc. to see the full capabilities of Dabbleboard. Dabble with Dabbleboard!
As I was ‘plurking‘ this afternoon, I soon discovered that several people were missing many of their Twitter followers. For many of us, tweeting and plurking is serious business and crucial to professional development. Through the tweets and plurks, I learn a great deal about new technology tools, if someone is streaming a workshop or session live, advice on tech strategies and tools, as well as where and what people are eating for dinner. Granted, the posts about eating dinner or going to bed are not posts that help me grow professionally but the two micro blog tools are my lifeline to what is currently happening in the ed tech world. It is live, up close, and personal with notices of all kinds of learning opportunities available for free presented from all parts of the world.
This evening I noticed on my Twitter profile page that the problem of followers ‘disappearing’ from our lists was ‘almost finished’. I took a screenshot as I found the notice interesting but I don’t have complete confidence in the efficiency of restoring the missing followers.
I haven’t found an application that has the same features of Skitch where you can highlight and draw on screenshots so I only have a plain screenshot here with a poorly handdrawn circle around the statement of ‘almost all’. The statement doesn’t cause me to have much confidence in the restoration process.
Just for kicks since I wasn’t receiving all of my Tweets, I checked out Twitter’s blog and they had a post about the problem of the missing followers. Their explanation of the process is shown below:
Where Are My Followers?
Update: This has been fixed but the actual numbers and profile pictures might not look right until tomorrow afternoon due to caching.
Recently, some people began noticing a decline in their following and follower numbers. We investigated and determined this was caused by an error during a database upgrade. We’ll be restoring followers throughout the day to those who were affected and keeping the status blog and Get Satisfaction forum updated with specifics.
So by tomorrow afternoon Twitter profiles ‘might‘ not look right due to a caching difficulty. Okay, but will all of my followers and their tweets show up en masse? I don’t think anyone really knows.
To show how important tweets are to us, a fellow edublogger Tom Barrett posted a picture to his Flickr account showing the breakdown of his Professional Learning Network (PLN). The picture was included in his post about missing his Twitter Connections and posted to Flickr. I found it extremely interesting as if I were graph my connections to learning from other ed tech colleagues the dispersion of resources would be very similar.
Notice the amount of the graph attributed to Twitter. I definitely concur that Twitter is a crucial piece of learning in my PLN. If you graphed your PLN resources how much would be allocated for learning from Twitter or Plurk? Stop and think about it – it just may surprise you the depth and volume of learning that occurs from micro blogging. So please continue to Tweet and Plurk and continue to make those networking connections.