Foursquare, More Square, We Square, Your Square

I started using foursquare back in January during Educon when a few friends checked into my car. I didn’t really get it, (if you don’t either watch this video) but I thought it was funny and I wanted to join in. I signed up for an account and found that it was really easy to use from my Droid, so I started creating venues and checking in when I would travel for work and go to different schools in NJ.

I soon realized that I could send my check-ins to Twitter (which I rarely do) and to Facebo0k. Foursquare actually became a great tool for me to add status updates to my Facebook page and I soon realized that many of my ed tech friends were using it there as well. I figured that anyone that didn’t want to see those posts would just hide them.

After using foursquare so much at ISTE10 and even presenting about it in the Social Butterfly Lounge, I decided I might review a few basics as many have an interest in it on their way to BLC10 this week.

Here’s a A How To on foursquare. This one will answer many of the simple questions you might have that you are hesitant to ask an existing foursquare user.

How to pick your Mayorship battles is one that some folks I know (present company included) should take a look at. Chris Craft has coined the phrase “fauxsquaring” based on a recent competition for the Mayorship of a specific venue. This article provides some reasonable guidelines.

As of tonight, Alec Couros is the Mayor of BLC10. There will be some competition as we all arrive tomorrow for pre-conferences and EubloggerCon East.

How to be cool (and not uncool) on Foursquare is something every foursquare user should read after they’ve earned their first few badges. As I’ve already pointed out, there are some guidelines to follow.

So if you can have some fun with it, look at it as a way to track where you’ve been, possibly get a free coffee or a coupon for your troubles, then you’re in for a treat. If you’re look for educational value, look here as I don’t plan on using foursquare in the classroom any time soon.

Another “Unconference” – Edubloggercon East at BLC10

I heard many educators last week at ISTE10 ask what an “unconference” was. Since so many hadn’t attended EdubloggerCon on Saturday, I could understand how they had trouble grasping the concept, especially after going back and looking through the Tweets with the hashtag.

Since Liz Davis and I have spent some time over the last few days making sure that everything is set for EdubloggerCon East in Boston this Monday, I thought I would break down, in simple terms, what my take on an unconference is, since there seems to be some different definitions floating around.

What is an unconference?

Why would you want to attend one?

  • Everyone at an unconference has a voice. Here you would get to hear from educators you might not typically learn or share with at other more formal events.
  • You don’t have to feel obligated to stay in a session. Feel free to apply the “Rule of Two Feet”. If you feel you have joined a discussion that does not meet your needs, let your feet take you to another discussion.
  • There are no requests for proposals (RFP’s) for an unconference. You just put your name and session idea on a wiki or chart paper. These are just conversations and there is no need to have a formal presentation as you and your group should be having a conversations. Perhaps you’d like to start one.
  • You get to meet some of the people that you communicate with on Twitter, Plurk, in Nings out in the Edublogosphere.
  • Unconferences are typically FREE

How can you participate?

  1. Unconferences are usually advertised via Twitter, conference sites, blogs, wikis. (Since they are free to attend, they don’t have any funding for formal advertising.)
  2. You can participate in person, via the backchannel, or they are usually Ustreamed.
  3. Come to the unconference in person. No one is ever turned away.

Having said all this, EdubloggerCon East is scheduled for this Monday, July 12. For the 3rd year, Alan November and the November Learning team have graciously donated space to this free unconference. Liz  and I set up a wiki, communicated with Jennifer Beine with regards to how much space we think we are going to need and the rest is really up to the attendees.

This year session topics include:

  • Unconferences for everybody: edcamp
  • Renaming/Rethinking 21st Century Learning
  • Design Simplicity or “The Beauty of the Widened Vertical Scroll Bar”

There are several others listed on the session grid and I’m hoping additional attendees will come forward and fill in the blanks that morning. We’ll be streaming at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/ebce10 and you can follow us on Twitter using the #ebce10 hashtag.

ISTE10: What did you learn about helping students?

Credit: Dean Shareski's Flickr Stream

I like a good edtech conference just as much as the next geeky educator. I’m all about which iPad app is best for Twitter, and becoming the Mayor of the ISTE Mansion. But all that aside, at the end of the conference, I want to be able to look back at what I can share with the educators I work with.

It’s taken me a few days as I divide my time between my family (priority #1) and both preparing for work next week and reflecting on work from last week. I’ve divided my comments on ISTE into two sections. There are some resources I’d like to share as well as some concepts I’d like to highlight as they were the highlight of the conference for me.

Here are some resources I’d like to share:

yolinkhttp://www.yolink.com/education/
I presented 3 sessions in the yolink booth on the conference floor this year. I thought I knew about yolink until I saw the resources from the other presenters. They blew me away. Each of their lessons and slidedecks are shared on the site we created for the conference. If you are not familiar with yolink, watch Ken Shelton and Richard Byrne discuss it’s benefits or come see me at BLC10 as I present it again along with some other great, free and useful tools for students and teachers.

Critical thinking and Internet literacies wikihttp://critical-thinking.iste.wikispaces.net/
I believe this wiki is organized by David McGavock and I’m hoping it is going to continue to grow with it’s ideas on how to teach Crap Detection to students. The wiki currently has links to video resources as well as a vocabulary list that I know will be helpful to many educators I work with.  The concepts presented here are based on Howard Rheingold’s teaching of critical thinking and Internet literacies. You can learn more about and from Howard from his vlog at http://vlog.rheingold.com/.

SweetSearch4Mehttp://4me.sweetsearch.com/
Released in Beta just before the conference, SweetSearch4Me is recommended for students in kindergarten through 8th grade. Similar to SweetSearch, this search engine searches only Web sites that their staff of research experts, librarians and teachers have evaluated and approved as high-quality content appropriate for young users. Only the best sites directed at elementary school students are included, and many of the results on the first page were created exclusively for kids. The final site is anticipated to be released in September.

Here are some concepts I’d like to share:

I’m combining my thoughts on two sessions I attended. The first was a conversation at EduBloggerCon facilitated by Scott McLeod and Sylvia Martinez. The second was a session during ISTE facilitated by Rushton Hurley. Both, for me, had in common the traits of how to work with people effectively.

  • Anyone can use technology; we don’t all have to be gurus
  • Everyone has an expertise; we can all learn something from each other
  • A good teacher doesn’t need to know the indicators, they just need to know the content and how to understand how to get a student to learn it.
  • Communication is key
  • Be compelling
  • Being aware of the culture
  • Get a clear conversation going
  • It’s always about the people, whether it’s students or adults

Most importantly, the discussions reminded me of something that I find myself chanting in the car sometimes late in May when the end of the school year is near. I want to help children learn. I’m passionate about it. I enjoy it. I have fun.

We all can agree that there is a population of educators out there that don’t want to teach, don’t want to use technology effectively, and don’t want to have fun. The question is, how can we get a conversation going with them? We can try. We can only do our best. I didn’t walk away from ISTE with a miracle cure for any of those issues, but I did walk away with a renewed sense of commitment to children and helping them learn.

#ISTE10 Where to go, What to see, What to do

If you are attending ISTE10 next week, you have most likely been flooded with e-mails regarding events, booth #’s, Tweet-ups and every imaginable social gathering. I’ve assembled a list of some of the highlights of what I’ve received with some of my notes as I thought it might be helpful for those that have not attending ISTE before or are looking for some guidance as to how to manage their time. (I’m sure I’ve missed something. Please feel free to leave additions in the comments.)

Are you deciding where to go and what to attend?

  • Drop past the ISTE Bloggers Cafe to meet Sue Waters, The Edublogger and leave your contact details with her to WIN one of 10 twelve month Edublogs Pro subscriptions per day. (This is also a great place to meet folks from your PLN and have those more informal, yet priceless, conversations that make the trip to ISTE so worthwhile.)
  • The recently announced Global Education Conference will be at the Global Collaboration Session Sunday night from 7:00 – 8:30pm  in the Convention Center Lobby A, table #P19.
  • Visit ISTE’s Social Butterfly Lounge to learn about Twitter, FourSquare, Facebook and more. (Stop by to see me on 6/29 at 2pm)
  • Don’t forget to use your conference planner to keep your self organized (make sure to schedule a visit to booth #2419 – the yolink booth to visit me)

Are you looking to present something?

  • Sign up to present at ISTE Unplugged.  This is your chance.
  • Participate in the Classroom 2.0 LIVE! broadcast of their show live from the Blogger’s Cafe / ISTE Unplugged area on Wednesday from 1:30pm – 2:30pm.

Are you looking to stay connected?

  • For instant conference updates, visit ISTE Connects. Here you’ll find blog posts, Twitter and RSS feeds with links to everything and everything having to do with ISTE10.
  • Visit the ISTE 2010 Ning to connect to other conference attendees.
  • The official conference hashtag is #ISTE10.
  • Check out the folks blogging about #ISTE10.
  • Go mobile with the new ISTE app (hey ISTE! – where’s the one for the Droid?)

I hope this has been helpful.

I’m looking forward to ISTE10 and reconnecting face-to-face with many from my PLN that I only get to see this time of year as well as meeting those of you that I have only yet to communicate with virtually.