Sunday, July 31, 2011

Posting Wordpress Blog Entries to Social Networks #Plurk #Twitter #Facebook (Updated 08/04/2011)

One of the fun aspects of having a blog is auto-magically posting its content to your favorite social networks, such as Twitter, Plurk, Facebook, and, of course, Google+. Unfortunately, some of these social networks make it easy, while others are just plain difficult. Finding one tool to manage all your social media/networking tools is important, but which? There are lots of choices and folks like lots of different ones, such as the following:
  1. Hootsuite.com (my favorite at the moment in spite of the ads in the free version)
  2. Tweetdeck.com
  3. Seesmic Web
There are other tools, but I've found that running via the Web is the way to go. I like Hootsuite because it allows you to schedule your updates to the network of choice. That's a pretty nifty feature, isn't it, especially for PR folks or school district communications?

IN A NUTSHELL:
To post to twitter/Facebook via RSS, use any one of these tools:

To post to Plurk.com, which can in turn post to Twitter and Facebook, use:
Currently, I do not know of a way to post to Plurk or Google+ via RSS; you have to post it "manually" or in "real time." The rest of this blog entry was my exploration of how to accomplish that.

UPDATE 08/04/2011: Post from Google+ to Anything via RSS
Your public posts on Google+ can be routed via RSS using PlusFeed to Ping.fm or Facebook, allowing you to type something on Google+ and have it appear magically on Ping.fm, Twitter, Facebook, your blog, or whatever.

Remember, the challenge is posting directly to Google+ from RSS feed for a blog, web site, or social networking site where you post updates. Here's how it could work:


  1. Post something--maybe your latest blog entry--to Google+
  2. Take the RSS feed from Google+ and have it pulled into Ping.fm or Plurk.com, both of which can post to Twitter and Facebook.
  3. Your blog entry appears on Twitter/Facebook/Plurk.
The problem with that process, though, is that we usually want content to get into Google+, not get content out to other networks.

ORIGINAL ENTRY:
For example, posting to Twitter and Facebook are a cinch. You can use various tools to get the job done, such as FriendFeed.com, Twitterfeed.com, Ping.fm and Hootsuite.com. How are you getting this done?

Networkedblogs.com
Using Ping.fm to post to Plurk....

Using Ping.fm to post to Plurk

And, of course, the wonderfully talented Twitterfeed.com:

A new addition to the team that I just discovered and couldn't believe worked so easily is Hootsuite.com (here's a tutorial). I had no idea you could drop an RSS feed (only 1 on the free version...I tried doing two, but it balked even though it said 2 were allowed in the free, ad-sponsored account) and then have it publish content to the social networks of choice...except Ping.fm via RSS. Here's a nice walkthrough on how to accomplish that with Hootsuite.

As you can see from my screenshots, Hootsuite.com can publish to Twitter, Facebook, and Ping.fm...and Ping.fm is the tool you can use to publish to Plurk. So, the route to follow is:
  1. RSS feed fed through Hootsuite.com that...
  2. Publishes to Twitter and Facebook
What I wish it could do was the following....
  1. RSS feed fed through Hootsuite.com that...
  2. Publishes to Ping.fm, which in turn,
  3. Publishes to Plurk, which in turn,
  4. Publishes to Twitter and Facebook
Or, if you factor in Google+....
  1. RSS feed fed through Hootsuite.com that...
  2. Publishes to Google+ and, Ping.fm, which in turn,
  3. Publishes to Plurk, which in turn,
  4. Publishes to Twitter and Facebook
It seems complicated, but in truth, isn't. While I haven't found an easy way to publish to Google+, I hope that Hootsuite will eventually add support. Problem is, it won't work for Plurk...note that in the list of profiles below, Ping.fm isn't one of my choices, even though I have added it as one of my social networks. What a pain.



What I like about Hootsuite is that it allows you to manage multiple accounts easily, and the interface (IMHO) is better than Seesmic (which stopped working for me) and Tweetdeck web versions.

You can do this by checking your settings in Hootsuite.com:

and...

Hootsuite has made it very easy to get it done for Twitter and Facebook, but until it gets Ping.fm, Plurk and/or Google+ support, it's not all that great for mastering social media tools. . .it fails the "one ring to rule them all" test of social media.

So, we're back to Ping.fm for posting to Plurk:

This will feed your RSS feed to Ping.fm and then Ping.fm will post to Plurk....


How are you accomplishing running your Wordpress RSS feed through your social network of choice?

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

Saturday, July 30, 2011

MoodleTip - Feedback and Solving Problems

Thank you very much for your e-book Adventures in Moodle Administration.
Source: Email from Moodle user. 

It's always great to get affirmations like this one about the work one does and I'm certainly grateful to my PLN for providing those in abundance. However, every solution brings new opportunities for learning in the form of problems:

Thank you very much for your e-book Adventures in Moodle Administration.  I've been trying to replace a fried Moodle server with a new one using 2.1.  The old server I setup using XAMPP, and really didn't have any problems once I got it working in our DMZ.
I've tried to follow your excellent directions, but I've run into two problems, if I could impose upon you and ask for your help.The first is logistical - my old server was simply moodle.schoolname.org [anonymized to protect emailer's privacy]Now it seems that I might have to append /moodle to that address?Is there any way I can get the old address to work? 

Second, I seem to have messed up the connection to the database.  Moodle still runs, but after I added a theme and two mods and a filter, I obviously did something wrong. I can't access the database through phpMyAdmin, the login page comes up, won't accept my password, or gives me this message: Error  Cannot start session without errors, please check errors in your PHP and/or webserver log file and configure your PHP installation correctly.Or more recently a numeric error.  What is my next step? Is there a file I need to look at? (What file, and where would it be?) A tool to check the MySQL database? Or should I just scrap the whole thing and start over?Thank you for your time, I'm more of teacher than a programmer - actually not a programmer at all, so I can get lost when easily in the innards of Moodle.
Below is my response...what would you response be?
Thanks for the email and my apologies for not responding sooner.

Your old address should work, but you need to put the contents of the Moodle folder at what is called the "root" level of your site. Wherever that address points, you put the contents of your Moodle site there, not in a subfolder (e.g. Moodle). That means that when people type in your address, it will go straight to your Moodle site's index page because it is "in the path." I hope I'm not confusing with geek speak!

As to the dbase problem, that really does sound like a corrupt dbase that you will need to fix. What you'll need to do is optimize/repair your MySQL table. How to accomplish this is limited if your PHPMyAdmin is unavailable. If you have physical access to the server, though, or can access it remotely in a way that allows you to run programs (I presume Windows-based server since you're running XAMPP), then you can try using Navicat Lite to "repair/optimize" your database(s).

Here is a tutorial on how to repair your MySQL database - 
Repairing Your MySQL Database - Part 1 and Part 2 

If you can't login to your MySQL, then things are far worse off. There is a way to accomplish that and I can send you an email with that info...but it can be touch and go. Here's a blog entry--Conversations that Solve Problems--that I hope will provide some guidance to you.

Finally, I urge you to join MoodleMayhem.org email list and/or Facebook group, where a wonderful group of folks might be able to offer deeper insights.

Image Source:
Puzzle pieces - http://swampschool.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/cconsulting.jpg

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Friday, July 29, 2011

How to format FAT32 on GNU/Linux


Note to self: Here's how you do it. Don't forget.

sudo mkfs.vfat /dev/sdb1 -n udrive
the -n udrive names the flash drive that's being reformatted.
vfat is the FAT file system
mkfs is make file system
sudo grants admin rights.

Sigh.


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MoodleTip - Uneditable Summary Section in #Moodle

Earlier today, a colleague at a university sent me an email asking for help (actually, the second one in two day from different folks!). The problem was that the edit button on the summary section in the topic list of a Moodle course was not editable.

Here's the problem as it was described to me:
Even though many are worrying about 2.0 install issues, I took your advice and just did an upgrade to the latest 1.9. I have a problem that may be an issue for other moodle administrator's as well. In Moodle 1.9, I had a teacher open the top box, the header, and do a manual cut-and-paste into that section, without uploading a graphic file. What it did was "freeze" that area, so I cannot get into that section and delete the graphic. How can I get to that section to make edits?
The problem looked like this on the screen:
Fortunately for this Moodle course, the problem has been encountered before (although this was a first for me!), as I found out after an extensive google search (2 minutes):
http://tracker.moodle.org/browse/MDL-1458?actionOrder=desc

This was only one of a handful (less than 5) experiences with a Moodle bug, and thankfully, like all the previous encounters, the Moodle folks had solved the problem for me already. All that needed to be done in this particular case was to get a copy of the revised or "patched" editsection.php which exists in the moodlefolder/course path. Supposedly, you can replace that ONE file and it all will work.

So, I did. Here is what it looks like:

Unfortunately, this issue is still unresolved but there is a low-tech way to fix it without editing MySQL.

Realizing that each edit button in a course has an ID, I copied and pasted the edit code:

http://moodlesite.org/course/editsection.php?id=739
Then, after reviewing the numbers for the other edit buttons...which you can do by pointing your mouse at them and seeing what value pops up in your browser's status bar (bottom left on Chrome browser), you can see that the numbers are in a particular "area."


So, after doing that, I made an educated guess at the ID number for the edit button (shown above). The window popped right up with the edit:

I removed the offending HTML and then saved the changes. Voila, it works! Here is what success looks like:

Note that "Edit Summary" now appears as a possibility, when before, you couldn't do anything. I verified this approach by backing up a course with the same issue, then restoring it and trying it again. Worked twice!

Was there a better way to solve this problem?

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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Job Posting - Director of Professional Development

A note from the TCEA Executive Director....
TCEA will be adding a third director of professional development immediately. We are looking for someone who has been a district technology director or CTO in a 4A or 5A school district for at least five years. Information on the position is attached.
Here's the job description that was shared...looks like a great opportunity for someone! 

Job Description for Director of Professional Development



Job Title: Director of Professional Development
Reports to:   Executive Director
FLSA Status:   Exempt


SUMMARY: Work with staff to provide training opportunities to TCEA members across the state and at the office in Austin. Work with the board liaison to schedule workshops and presentations for the annual Tots and Technology conference. Answer phone calls and email on a daily basis.


ESSENTIAL DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES:
  • Plan, develop the content for, and provide regular, ongoing professional development opportunities to TCEA members and non-members including (but not limited to):
    • Face-to-face workshops
    • Webinars
    • Video conferences
    • Online courses
    • Convention sessions and workshops
    • Verizon Thinkfinity trainings
    • Area event sessions
    • On-site personalized training for campuses and districts
  • Oversee assigned professional development opportunities provided by TCEA with responsibilities including (but not limited to):
    • Preparing articles and resources for TechEdge and TechNotes
    • Providing needed information to Communications staff for professional development postcards and flyers
    • Sending emails to professional development participants providing them with necessary information about each session
    • Working with Events and Exhibits Coordinator to order food for each session as needed
    • Providing professional development information to Executive Director to place on calendar
    • Facilitating each session to ensure facilities and food are up to standard
    • Providing all needed materials for professional development (certificates, sign-in sheets, evaluations, name badges, name tents, workshop supplies)
    • Sending follow-up email to participants asking for input on professional development
    • Ensuring that all policies and procedures relating to professional development are followed
  • Oversee workshops and presentations for TCEA Tots and Technology Conference with responsibilities including (but not limited to):
    • Ensuring that all policies and procedures relating to conference sessions are followed
    • Working with staff to open Call for Participation for sessions as required by procedures
    • Working with board liaison to schedule workshops and sessions for conference
    • Sending acceptance and waiting list emails to all who proposed sessions
    • Contacting all presenters who do not respond to emails to ensure they will be presenting their session
    • Mailing formal letter and contract to each presenter; then following up to ensure that TCEA has a signed contract from every presenter
    • Building grid for TCEA conference and providing it to Communication department when needed
    • Ensuring presentations and workshops run smoothly at the conference



QUALIFICATIONS AND SKILLS REQUIRED:
  • Minimum of five years’ experience as a district technology director or CTO in a 4A or 5A Texas school district
  • Minimum of five years K-12 classroom teaching experience
  • Professional development skills (both effective and engaging; based on best practices and the latest research into adult learning)
  • Master’s and Bachelor’s degrees required
  • Knowledge of and ability to train people in current educational and technological topics
  • Previous experience training adult learners
  • Overall knowledge of staff development and Texas TEKS
  • Office/business skills
  • Ability to provide needed information in a timely manner
  • Basic knowledge of services available from this organization
  • Familiar with organization policies and procedures
  • Ability to make administrative decisions
  • Ability to conduct limited travel
  • Ability to work well with TCEA staff, board members, and members in general



LANGUAGE ABILITY: Ability to read, analyze, and interpret common scientific and technical journals, financial reports, and legal documents. Ability to respond to common inquiries or complaints from customers, regulatory agencies, or members of the business community. Ability to write speeches and articles for publication that conform to prescribed style and format. Ability to effectively present information to top management, public groups, and/or boards of directors.


PHYSICAL DEMANDS: The physical demands described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

While performing the duties of this job, the employee is regularly required to sit and use hands to finger, handle, or feel, talk or hear. The employee is occasionally required to reach with hands and arms. The vision requirements include: close vision, distance vision, peripheral vision, depth perception and ability to adjust focus.


BENEFITS:
Salary Range:  $55,000 - $70,000
Full health insurance with vision and dental for employee, paid vacation, and retirement program with generous matching.


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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Role of Schools - Developing Student Social Skills


A Church sign on the way to the swimming pool this weekend read:


"Forbidden fruit. Creats many jams."

When we focus only on the non-virtual social culture of schools, are we abrogating our responsibility to help our children develop social skills they will need as adults? 

As I was poring through my morning email spam, an article from THE Journal caught my attention. It wasn't the article's title--The Virtual School Debate--that hooked me, but a sentence embedded part of the way through the teaser article.

Certainly, educating and preparing students for a successful future is far and away the No. 1 mission of every school, but it is not the only thing schools do: Among other things, they also serve a custodial function, provide hot meals and help young people develop social skills they'll need as adults.
If I could revise that line, it would read, Schools also help young people develop social skills they'll need as adults.

That's a pretty tall order, especially in these times where social media is how teens and tweens primarily interact with each other (a world with stories of Jaycee Dugard haunting our movements outside our house), isn't it? And, this article isn't the only one advocating this perspective. Consider this paragraph from an engaging read on Social Skills and School by Dr. Candy Lawson:
School is not only a place where children learn reading, writing and math. It is also a place where they learn to get along with other people and develop social skills. Social skills are the skills we need to interact adaptively in our cultural environment. Although students don't get grades on social tests from their teachers, their peers are constantly giving them "grades" on "social tests" every day. If a child does well on these "tests", he is apt to be well liked and happy. He will enjoy school and look forward to coming to school. If a child fails these tests, she is apt to feel disconnected and left out.
Failing a social test can be more painful to a child than failing a reading or science test. For some children, social skills can be the hardest subject to pass in school. Social skills play a very important role in a child's emotional health and well-being.
The success of teachers and administrators in helping students develop social competence depends on their ability to (a) develop a school-wide culture of social competence, (b) infuse the curriculum with situation-specific social skills lessons that target key behaviors, and (c) match the level and intensity of instruction to students' social skills deficits (Gresham, 1998; Sugai & Lewis, in press).
While I'm sure we could play this game all day--finding quotes on the internet that testify to the role schools must play in helping students develop social skills they need to interact adaptively in our cultural environment, I'm wondering why it's taking so long for people to acknowledge another idea--showing kids how to be social TODAY means modeling appropriate use of social media/networking tools. 

Andy Affleck, cited in this NPR Article on Social Networks, points out, "that children need to be socialized in the online world just as much as they do in the real world." The NPR article points out:

Despite ominous reports of cyberbullying and "Facebook depression" among young people, the number of parents who are cool with their children — between the ages of 10 and 12 — having a social media account has doubled in a year...It is legally verboten — by the Children's Online Protection Act of 1998 — for a website to collect personal information or track the cybertrail of anyone younger than 13, without parental consent.

According to the New York Times, a 2009 survey by the Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project reported that 38 percent of 12-year-olds in the United States participate in social networks. And in June 2011, Consumer Reports estimated that about 7.5 million people who use Facebook are younger than 13.
 "For some teens and tweens, social media is the primary way they interact socially, rather than at the mall or a friend's house. ... A large part of this generation's social and emotional development is occurring while on the Internet and on cellphones. Parents need to understand these technologies so they can relate to their children's online world — and comfortably parent in that world."
According to the New York Times, a 2009 survey by the Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project reported that 38 percent of 12-year-olds in the United States participate in social networks. And in June 2011, Consumer Reports estimated that about 7.5 million people who use Facebook are younger than 13.
Are we, as educators, abrogating our responsibility to model social media use that is appropriate, failing to engage our students when we walk away from the use of social media in schools? Or, should this be something teachers are NOT responsible for? In spite of the assertions that schools should develop social skills, should this be something that PARENTS are responsible for?

What happens to those students when we ignore this subject except to ban and castigate teachers?


Via Dean Shareski's collection at
http://www.flickr.com/photos/shareski/3105810379/in/set-72157606411341392/
Finally, there is tremendous value in developing social networks...they essentially connect us to each other, giving us access to a wide range of ideas and information. 

What we learn is quickly becoming perishable. Static knowledge has an important and valuable role, but things are changing so fast, and we are being called upon to do more and more, so we need to develop a stream or flow of rapid tacit knowledge acquisition.
Most of the new things we will need to learn are best learned while working with others, not from a textbook or lecture (Source: Education Innovation)

“We have greatly overestimated value of access to info and greatly underestimated value of access to each other." - Clay Shirky as cited in Education Innovation
Shouldn't we want our children to start building those networks now, when they are younger, rather than later when need to do it for professional purposes? Imagine if had learned to collaborate with others only in a work setting....


Other relevant entries:


Image Reference
Bridge. http://www.ezeedictionary.com/imagedict/a/abrogate.jpg


Hopping electrical towers. via Google+



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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure