Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Cool Tool of the Week - Toasting My Screen

Today, via Coolcatteacher in Twitter, I came across Screentoaster, a free online screencasting option with no need to download any apps to your computer.

They are still in Beta and you need an invitation code, which I got in my email immediately after I requested it.

It's very straightforward to record your screen there following the instructions. The audio you record after you've captured the screen, which feels a little awkward, but it's manageable after some practice. You can also add subtitles after having captured the screen.

Then, it's just a matter of publishing it and getting the embeddable code.

All in all, screentoaster is a nice free option to prepare tutorials, show specific collections of pages and adding voice comment.

In this first toasted screen above, I talked about a very nice Flickr post Cheryl Oakes sent to me. It can be very useful for our educational visual explorations.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Carpe Diem


As we prepare for a New Year, which can be any time you decide it to be, not the 1st of January, but any time you decide to seize your day - It could even be a single New Day - appropriate yourself of your own time, make every minute count for you, for your life, for the ones around you. Make a small difference that might have a big impact in someone or in many.

Seize the day, the hour. Carpe Diem.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Flickr Love Project

More than words, I think the slideshow depicts how a fantastically simple idea can be of a huge impact for people. The Flickr Love Project is such an amazing example of a connector.

You send a Flickr Mail to Keiko, a sweet Japanese girl, and she sends to you hearts in an envelope. The only thing you need to do? Take a heart photo, spread love and share it with the group.

Simply that. The result? Powerful. Joy, sense of belonging, sharing, enjoyable moments, and way beyond.

As an educator, I can't resist it! I think this idea is one that could be used with any kind of object to connect classes around the world. I've been part of a Teddy Bear project with kids, and I now can picture a new twist to it by connecting classes via Flickr as the Teddy travels the world. It can be a simple paper Flat Stanley or monster.

Also, the guys at the Photo Fridays Group is doing a similar exchange with some raisins. Really cute.

I can picture some very nice and effective collaborative projects happening using Flickr, snail mail and an object to connect people and raise more cultural awareness, tolerance, peace...

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Edublog Awards - Best Teacher Blog?!

Originally uploaded by carlaarena

This is just so awkward. I've been checking the edublog awards because I think there are many gems worth checking. some blogs I am already subscribed to, others are new. I don't think an award is always fair, for it excludes tons and tons of wonderful blogs out there who are making a difference to a group of people.

What a shock to realize just today that I was nominated for Best teacher blog. This is totally insane as I feel so small when I read so many great ideas and posts. On the other hand, it means that there's somebody listening to me and I might touch an educational-driven soul in very unpredictable ways with my ideas and thoughts .

I guess this is just a time to thank for the wonderful group of educators I interact with. Let's look ahead, keep looking forward and blogging away.

A BIG thank you for whoever thought I, along with my ideas and resources, was worth to be there. Crazy, crazy...

The Journey

The funny thing? I just decided to make a move to this Collablogatorium space in an attempt to make life more simple. However, it doesn't matter where you are, does it? It matters what you stand for, your self-expression, meaningful conversations. Tha's what edublogging is made of, plus a big dose of enthusiasm and optimism.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Cool Tool of the Week - MoodBox

Because of a Mashable post, I decided to have some fun with the alpha service MoodBox. You draw, doodle, add photos and avatars in different backgrounds to announce to friends how you're feeling.

You have to download a desktop app, but it's pretty straightforward and fast. At this point, you need an invitation to join. I submitted my request to get an invite and when I checked my mailbox, the invitation key was already there.

I had fun with the TV-like screen MoodBox and very quickly designed my mood.

Besides sending your visually-enhanced mood, you can also publish it. Then, it's just a matter of sharing it with the world.

Fun! And I can see great potential of this cool simple tool in the classroom, where kids could represent how they feel and how they are during the day. Besides, this could be an interesting assessment on kids' reaction as an activity follow up. Let's say there's a project they're involved in. Once it's over, the teacher could ask them to visually represent how they felt about the project.

The drawback? Right now Moodbox is only available for PCs.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

When Will the Visual Revolution Get to Our Classrooms?

More and more we see the power of graphics, visualization, images, videos to convey a message, to touch our souls, to sell. Visual representations have been part of society much before we started using written code to communicate. In fact, images were used to record historical facts and communicate ideas in a group of people long before words in written form became common place.

egyptian wall

However, visual power has much been a passive one for the last centuries for the majority of people who were not into any visually-enhanced profession, or were not talented artists. Things are changing now. The way we communicate through digital media is giving another dimension to the interactivity and manipulation of visuals by amateurs, you and me. The power of communicating visually is in our hands, at our fingertips, one click away. No need for technicalities. Just a wish and you can communicate and interact with others in online photosharing spaces (just check the tons of possibilities at Mashable's 90+ photography resources and tools) and you're there, visually engaged and engaging others. How about the possibilities for videos? Exactly. This is a promising area. No need to be simply a mere spectator of great Hollywood productions. We have the power, you and me, to mix, remix, reshape ideas and share with the world, interact, and learn in the process in totally appalling ways with very little technical knowledge.

The visual revolution is here. But when will it reach not just some lucky schools with inspired educators? When will the educational system empower learners to work together with teachers to create a new and potent form of expression that might lead to creative, innovative ways to find solution to problems, to encourage critical thinking, to give a boost to learners self-esteem and motivation, to enhance meaningful interactions and cultural awareness?

How long will schools wait to be part of the vernacular video revolution (via Judy O'Connell)? How long will educators wait?

Related post:
Flickr Educational Power

Nik Peachey has compiled some interesting blog posts on the topic of videos.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


Durff challenges us.


I've been doing exactly that for the past weeks. In fact, I've been discussing exactly that with a group of educators at http://webtools.ning.com/forum/topics/reading4reflection-stuck-in

It's just great that Durff asked, for I've been thinking ahead and looking for ways to simplify things, but in order to have a clear view of what's for us in the near and not so near future, we need to evaluate what we've been learning.

What I've learned this year?

  • The importance of deepening our connections in order to add value to our networks and gain from them.
  • The value of e-learning is truly in the human interactions and collective construction of meaning
  • My essential need of learning, being a lifelong learner
  • The rediscovered pleasure of reading and sharing with others what I'm reading about
  • The power Twitter holds for me as a connector
  • Online Social bookmarking with Diigo
  • My need to get deeper into studies about Communities, networking
  • It is OK to say no for the sake of your own mental health
  • My risen interest in mobile learning

What's up for the near future?

  • Keep exploring ways to engage learners in an elearning context
  • See possibilities for teacher engagement at my school in the ed tech world
  • Moving back to Brazil certainly means changes in terms of routine and new professional challenges
  • More learning. Maybe Master's? Who knows?
And the wheel keeps spinning and I want to keep adding value to my network and receiving from it.

Thanks, Durff, for starting this networkchallenge.

What are your plans for 2009?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Flickr Educational Power

As a group of wonderful, inspired educators - Alice Barr, Ana Maria Menezes, Bob Sprankle, Cheryl Oakes, Daniela Munca, Jane Petring, João Alves, Mary Hillis, Nina Liyulkun, Ronaldo Júnior, and Susan Burg - get ready to co-moderate a free six-week online session, Images4Education, through the Electronic Village Online, I've been totally immersed in Flickrverse. My main focus has been the potential of Flickr in the Classroom.

It's been a journey of discoveries. True pearls. Starting with Mike Coghlan's tweet and enjoying his very straightforward wiki which he's been using to train educators.


I'm lucky to be in Twitter and connect so easily to others...

Back to Flickr, would you like to see even more? The wiki http://educationalsoftware.wikispaces.com/Flickr is a very comprehensive resource if you plan to work with Flickr4Education.

By the way, a Diigo group called Flickr in Education was also a place that I looked for good references. Though it is still a small library of bookmarks, it has provided me with great tools and blog posts. Our own Diigo space to share bookmarks during the Images4Education session is starting to take shape and soon will be a resources-rich hub for educators when the group starts to add their contribution.

Talking about Flickr posts that are worth exploring and considering in an educational setting, here are some true gems worth spending time with, even if they are not all directly connected to education, they can give you wonderful ideas:

My Own Interesting Snippets

Why Flickr and Alan Levine Rock
Telling Tales with Flickr
Classroom Uses of Flickr

The Davey's: Best of Flickr
Embed Flickr Notes in Other Websites

Motivating Language Learners with Flickr

These are just some of the finest pearls I've bumped into recently, or have bookmarked them some time ago.

By the way, an idea that comes to my mind. What if we all bookmarked in Diigo Flickr resources we found in cyberspace related to education, Flickr4Education? Not only that, what if we tagged Flickr4Education our Flickr photos that might be of interest to the educators community? What if we started the #flickr4education in Twitter? I'm sure Flickr would be even more powerful for our community with a collective action to bring together loose pearls out there in cyberworld into consistent tagging.

Let's start right now the flickr4education movement and show the educational power of Flickr.

Tag it: flickr4education

Monday, December 8, 2008

Still on Simplicity

I spent the weekend checking things at home, deciding what I should take back to Brazil, throwing things away, selecting stuff for donation, uncluttering. I also had good laughs with my sons checking their crazy school stories that I keep and cherish as precious moments of their growth.


All this kept me thinking about my digital forward motion. Simplicity, right? So, how about if you and I take this moment of the year when we're wrapping things up to unclutter. How about

  • unsubscribing to e-lists we're part, clutter our mail boxes and we waste precious time everyday to delete the messages without even opening them?
  • making some participation priorities? What is feasible right now for us in terms of connections, active participation, conversations? Which lists, blogs, communities should we contribute to? Which nodes of our network really add value to us, personally and professionally?
  • deciding for online spaces that help us be more productive and efficient? Which spaces are only time consumers and don't really add any value to us?
  • dumping old concepts and embracing the new? How about making a detachment exercise?
I'll start by unsubscribing to some e-lists and changing notification preferences to some groups. I'll keep tweeting. This is where I feel truly connected, I share and receive so much from the network. The Webheads, this fantastic group of educators keep me going. Always looking forward to stronger bonds with them.

It's also time to rethink my google reader architecture. How can I make the most out of my reader?

As for my detachment exercise, I started a big one. My husband is ripping all our CDs and we'll have a Media Center at home. This means we're giving all the CDs away. It's a big step for me, but time to move forward. It's my biggest challenge now, to overcome this feeling of attachment mainly in a period of moving, in which we need to decide what stays and what we let it got. I guess it's a perfect moment to just let certain things go.

How about you? How could you make your digital life more pleasant, productive and efficient?
Let us remember. Simplicity is key. It lightens our souls, let us connect even more tightly, and make us laugh more often. Which digital practices will you box and let it go? How can you make even wider, open online spaces without sacrificing what matters to you?

It would be great to hear your tricks and ideas.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Moving Physically and Digitally

I'm moving. Physically and digitally.

I'll be back home to Brazil soon. I thought. This is an opportunity for reshaping, resizing things in my life. Here's the plan. I'll make the change not just physically, but also digitally with one single motto. Simplicity.


Though I love my Explorations blog, and could still write stuff there, it takes me a great deal of effort to blog there because of bugs, layout that doesn't follow my commands... I'm never satisfied. I have the great support of the guy behind Bloxi, Gary, and I've been faithful, loyal to him for his invaluable and prompt help. However, at this point, I need to be realistic with myself.

My life will change drastically when I go back to Brazil in terms of schedules, free time to blog and do other stuff that I love. So, simplicity and quality of life are key.

That's why I'm starting this new blog, fresh, blank, simple, from the beginning again. I have no idea where it will take me, but that's what I want now. Simplicity, quality of life, meaningful connections with myself and others. Moving back home and forward, physically, mentally and digitally.

How about you? What do you want for 2009?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Edublogging with Passion

A friend of mine in Italy, Seth Dickens, has kindly asked me to talk a bit about edublogging. We had planned for an interview, but due to technical issues, we went for a recording.

Edublogging... How many times have I written about it, gave tips, presented, and tried to inspire others? Fact is the ones who endure the first stages of discoveries and experiments are the passionate educators, those who teach with heart and soul, who truly believe in their transformative potential as an educator. These are the ones who, later on, become passionate edubloggers.

The point of my talk was what I've been saying from the beginning and what I wrote about in the article "Blogging in the Classroom: It Doesn't 'Simply Happen' ". Persistence, fearlessness, being passionate and knowing that you have something that will add value to someone are key to make it a successful endeavor.

We make lists of how to be a successful blogger, but formulas are not in the core of Edublogging, conversations are. Conversations don't mean that you need to get tons of comments. They mean a talk to yourself, commenting on other people's blogs, and yes, getting comments when your readers feel the urge to interact with you. I sin as a blogger, for I am not consistent as I should be or as would be willing to. However, I've decided to let it go, for I have little ones and a husband to care for. I have professional projects and other ways to connect. Nowadays, Twitter is my means of quickly connecting to others, though it's not a substitute to blogging. Twitter is connection, blogging is reflection + connection. One complementing each other in my circle of learning.

WashingtonDC_Day5 (5)

Through blogging, edublogging my mind pours out, I learn, share, re-shape who I am and how I see things. But, my ultimate question is how could I show that to other educators? Maybe I can't. Just through their own blogging journey they will learn what passionate blogging is all about, some will just find the excuse for not even giving a try. Blogging is a transformational act one should be willing to undergo. It won't work if it's just mechanic, technical. No. It's humanistic, contextualized, personalized, collective, cultural, intense.

I'll never forget some memorable posts that show the power of blogging:

Marina's post - A psychologist talking about her experience about being a clown.

Having Dennis Newson as our class mystery guest

Motivating my adult students to predict a short story by Edgar Allan Poe we read in parts in class.

The rich cultural exchanges my group had with Dennis Oliver's group in the US due to our International Exchange blog.

Emerson, a quiet adult student in class, surfacing as a wonderful blogger and commenter.

Discussion with Russian students and readers about the Brazilian movie "The City of God".

Sharing Love Stories

Wow! Just so nice to travel back in the past through blogging. It's a record of a moment, a state of mind, it shows us and our learners in ways we'd never share in the old brick and mortar classroom in such intense exchange and connection. These are just some of the examples mainly with students in it, but there is the other side of edublogging as a professional and personal development. This is another story and certainly deserves another blog post!

This post was first published at http://explorations.bloxi.jp/a/edublogging-with-passionedublogging-with-passion