Collecting the Good Stuff

One of the reasons I am an inconsistent blogger is that I quickly run out of ideas. I spend a few months building up a list of things I’m bothered about, which I then vomit into my blog. And then I go quiet for a bit.

This is an issue when trying to do #28daysofwriting (1 post for every day in February). Last time I tried this sort of thing, I ran out of steam half way through and didn’t finish.

So to inspire me, I’ve begun collecting other people’s blogs. I use ifttt.com to automatically search twitter for the hashtag #28daysofwriting and send the tweets, including any urls with related content, to a spreadsheet here. It’s been quite good so far. It’s tuned me back into Tom Barrett’s blog and made me see a couple of other people’s posts who have presented me with more food for thought – more ways to stay inspired.

Unfortunately I only thought of this a couple of days ago, so I haven’t collected everything since the start of February, but at least it’s a start!

#28daysofwriting Day 13

Developing Digital Literacies. #1: Be out there

Having been challenged by Steve Wheeler that maybe primary schools do have a role to play in digital literacy, I’m now thinking about what we actually do at my school to encourage, or even teach digital literacy.

1. Being Out There.

Schools have got to have an online presence. Aside from the legal requirement, by being online you show your online parents that you care. A study by Weber Shandwick shows that company bosses who use social media are 10% more likely to be seen as open, honest and respectful. If this is true for business, surely it is true in education too.

The legal requirement, I hear you ask? Yes, there is now a comprehensive list of things that are required to be published online, including the school prospectus, how school spends the pupil premium funding and how school spends the new sports funding. A more comprehensive list can be found here.

In my own experience having a Facebook page for my school has drastically cut down the number of cyber-bullying incidents that were happening two to three years ago. Instead of it being a regular distraction to the business of school, there is at most one incident per year – just on a time-saving basis this has been worth it, but add to it the negative impact on learning and the emotional hurt of cyber-bullying and I would say that having a Facebook Page for a school is a must. I would direct you to my school’s Facebook page, except that I know of a better one – my colleague Chris Talbot at Broadmeadow Junior School has a better one than mine.

Of course in small schools, managing an online presence can be painful and time consuming, or expensive. You’re already spinning thirty seven plates and now you have a website and social media to think of too. Myself I’ve cut down the time and expense by using ifttt.com. Using this service I write one post on Google+ and it automatically posts to Twitter and Facebook, so instead of having to write something in three places, I can write in just one.

Schools that are being digitally literate are encouraging their students to be digitally literate too. It’s a role modelling thing. Take Lyndon Green Junior school for example. Their Twitter stream is full of content that it must help their students and parents improve their digital literacy.

So be out there. Be online. Be on social media. If professionals at schools can’t do it safely, how can we expect our communities to do likewise?

Wrestling with the Internet

I’ve been wrestling with the internet. Wrestling with rules that I haven’t written.

What I’m trying to do is to be able to write something in one place and then for it to appear in other places. Some people call this autoposting. I call it saving my time.

Many services offer this already. For example, when you take a picture on Instagram you can make it appear in Facebook, or Twitter, or Foursquare.

For other services you have to do things that are a bit more involved. For example, I choose to keep my blog on a self-hosted WordPress site. This means that I own the data, but WordPress offers some handy formatting. I had previously setup Feedburner to tweet whenever I write a new post. Today I’ve also made ifttt.com do the same job.

What I really wanted to do today is make my new posts appear automatically on Google Plus. But it’s been a bit harder than I thought it would. It appears that there used to be a solution, but it isn’t working anymore. The solution involved a backdoor to Google Plus via an SMS service from Google Voice, however this service doesn’t seem to work within the UK, and I’ve read one or two things that indicate it has stopped working elsewhere too. Reading between the lines of other peoples posts in forums and blogs I detect that Google Plus is trying to position itself as the manual posting place – the place where you go to actually write your content.

Myself, I don’t mind that, but when I write a blog post I like to write it in a text editor of some kind – Google Docs or even Notepad do the job. Then I can cut and paste the text into my WordPress Dashboard. This might seem labour intensive to some, but I have had too many experiences of losing a WordPress blog that I’ve been writing straight onto the web dashboard – I need something I can save regularly – and I can imagine the same thing happening if I tried to get into the habit of writing directly onto Google Plus.

So here’s my solution. I’ve setup a new blog on Blogger at wheregoestheroad.blogspot.co.uk. I can use ifttt.com to autopost from WordPress to Blogger. I have then updated my Blogger account so that it is using my Google Plus profile.

And now, using this very post, I’m going to find out if it will automatically appear on Google Plus.