ThatCamp Philadelphia: Working With Students Who Have Low Technology Skills

After my initial panel proposal was accepted, I ran this panel on working with students who have low technology skills as the opening panel for ThatCamp Philadelphia. I wanted to run this panel because this is an issue I deal with on a day to day basis and I am always trying to find new ways to initiate learning for my students. Technology skills are extremely important in this job market, so I really stress them in my classes.

Janine Utell took notes for this panel as well.

  • Digital citizenship is important. Not just for student work, but also for the job force (applications, etc)
  • Many participants noted that their students had a hard time interpreting what they found online. An example given a lot was clicking on “sponsored links” on a Google search.
  • Some schools offer a one credit technology course (that can be tested out of by students)
  • Library sessions are helpful, but more time needs to be spent on evaluating sources
  • This whole “digital natives” thing is nonsense. Many students don’t even know how to use ctrl-f!
  • Solutions to this need to come from the curriculum side, not just the classroom
  • An issue brought up, and I have heard this from students, is going from high tech classes back to really analog ones
  • A list needs to be made, on a school by school basis, of what students need to know for composition level technology skills
  • A big requirement that should be built into school handbooks is mandating that they check their email
  • There should be “technology across the curriculum” ala writing across the curriculum
  • An idea Sherrie Block and I have talked about here at BCC is doing workshops for students on a monthly basis.
  • There was a large concern in the room to not just outsource all of this to the library
  • I require my students to send me an email from their BCC email to prove they can open it and that it works. I use this for their first quiz grade
  • Another great idea that happens in my classes anyway is to have high tech students team up with low tech students
  • Walmart has computer only applications now. If you can’t figure it out, you can’t apply
  • New Jersey does have a K-12 information literary requirement according to Deb Gussman
  • There needs to be outreach to local principals/superintendents
  • Have students do a tech survey on their way into college
  • Gussman gives her online students a list of what they need to know before taking the class
  • I’ve introduced Zotero to my sophomores in the past
  • An idea I had was to have to students put programs like Zotero, Firefox, Google Chrome, etc on a flash drive using Portable Apps
  • Students absolutely need to learn how to cite before being allowed to use Easybib, Zotero, Moodle, etc
  • As Deb Gussman points out, Easybib, Zotero, Evernote and others output errors sometimes
  • An idea Utell had was to do coffee sessions with faculty who could be allies

There are so many great ideas here. I am forwarding this post to my Dean and program director because there is so much we could implement into our program.


Ubuntu users who want to try Google Chrome can now do so by installing Chromium, an open source project based on the Chrome code.  Ubuntu Geek has all the details, which will install the browser and also add the nightly build to your repositories.  Some things don’t work yet like flash (although they are getting closer in nightly builds) and the ability to print.

Nevertheless, the browser itself is very nice and extremely fast.  I find it is as fast, if not more, than Firefox.  That said, this is before it gets boggled down with plugins, themes, and extensions like Firefox can become if you aren’t careful.  I look forward to what comes next for Chromium and appreciate an open source port of another web browser.


Add Firefox To Jaunty Notifications In 9.04

I like the new visual notifications in Ubuntu 9.04’s panel.  However, this only works for selected processes and programs.  An Ubuntu user has created an extension to add Firefox notifications to Jaunty’s panel.  This is very useful and will hopefully lead to other programs adapting similar extensions.

(Or do they already?  Is there an easier way to get my programs to use Jaunty’s notifications in the panel?)


Safari On Windows

Last week Apple announced that the newest version of their browser, Safari, was going to also be available for Windows.  I’m not much of an Apple user.  I used one as a kid, but these days the computers in my room either run on XP or Ubuntu Linux.  After hearing about Safari being available for Windows, I became curious enough to download it.  So did over one million other people.

I played with Safari for a few hours and I have to say it is very fast.  That is, however, about the only thing it offers that stands out.   Tabbed browsing is nothing new anymore.  RSS integration is nice, but I read my feeds via Thunderbird.  I’ve never found a web or browser integration I really enjoyed.  The lack of plugins, like Firefox, or widgets, like Opera, really turned me off as well.  My Firefox browser is deeply customized, and my Opera browser, via their speed dial feature, opens everything I use in it with a mouse click.

Safari also has some serious security issues.  TechCrunch reports that there is a variety of known problems already.  Wired goes as far as to ask who in their right mind would run Safari on Windows?

I uninstalled Safari the morning after I downloaded it.  There isn’t any reason for me to use it; with good options like Firefox, Opera, and the new, admittedly nostalgia ridden download of, Netscape out there, Safari offer nothing that would compel me to use it. On Firefox

As the TechCrunch post says, if you aren’t using yet, this new Firefox extension they are reporting on should convert you.  I have been using on and off for awhile.  Recently I began to implement all of my bookmarks and links into it.  Conveniently, this extension has come along that extends even further what I was doing and augments it by allowing tagged bookmarks to completely assimilate Firefox.  Cool.

Doing The Twit(ter)

You may have noticed that each day, or a few times a day, I have been updating my Twitter page. I have been trying to keep it to once or twice a day so people who visit this blog can see what I am up to that day without the self important, every twenty seconds, updates that the program is prone to I am sure. I love some other people’s updates because they are very interesting people.

O’Reilly Radar also reports that presidential candidate John Edwards is on Twitter. That is pretty cool. The linked blog post also has an interesting discussion of Edwards being on Twitter.

Jill Walker’s posts about Twitter have been very useful. Like Dr. Walker I am enjoying logging my day. Adding a Twitter update to my morning routine has been a useful way to ask myself "just what am I doing today?"

There are a variety of ways to tweet. SMS, the web, and other ways. I have been doing it via my profile. I hate text messaging. There is a Firefox plugin so users can tweet via their browser.

There are some other fun things people are doing with Twitter: Twittermap is a mashup of Twitter and Google Maps. I added myself to it, but I haven’t seen anyone nearby yet. Twittervision gives a live feed of tweets from around the world. Twitterific is a Mac only widget for your desktop. Someone needs to create one of those for Windows. Oh there is one. It doesn’t track your friends tweets though.

I think there is a lot that can be done with Twitter. I like the constraint created by having only 140 characters. A writing project I am working on right now involves short bursts of writing like that.

Perhaps I should release it via Twitter when it is finished?