Saturday, October 24, 2009

Improving your Destiny

OK, so I have had some ideas brewing in my head, and they are all coming out at once.

I decided to update our school's library website because it was crazy ugly, and not very useful. The problem was that we use Destiny for our main page. If you are familiar with Destiny, you will know that the site only allows you to barely edit the home page. You can write html into the introductory paragraph of the home page, and it will be displayed, but everytime I tried something even remotely interesting, Destiny would tell me that it could not display the page.

However, I solved the problem.

Before we go any further I'll show you what the site looked like before and what it looks like now.

Here is a link to our Elementary school library website. This is similar to what our site looked like before:

Here is a link to the updated MS/HS Library page.

To do this I created a frame and told the frame to display a different page. So, in other words, instead of trying to make the page on our Destiny homepage, I just told our Destiny home page to display a website with a different URL inside a window. I just adjusted the window to the proper size, so that it displays just as if it was part of the original Destiny page.

Here is the basic HTML code that you can throw in your own Destiny Home page introductory text:

OK, I just realized that if you post html code in the body of a blogger post it interprets the code and runs it. I will have to figure out how to show you the code without it interpreting the code.
All you would have to do is adjust the height and width to your liking and you are set to go.

I created my new site using iWeb, and published the site on the local school servers, so if you are in America, and the page loads a tad slowly, you know why.

Let me know what you think.

This was my way of getting around the extreme limitations of the Destiny Home Page.


Just a short post so I can share these two tools:

They are both great sites which have the ability to capture video of your computer screen and record your voice through a built in microphone at the same time. I have begun doing screencasts of how to use the various library resources and tools. Both of the websites then allow you to host your video there, as well as host it on youtube, or download the video, so it can be added to a podcast or shared locally.

I have one posted on my youtube channel already. Just visit and check it out.

These are great tools.

Youtube Channel

A class I am taking is making me consider all of the various technologies that I could possibly be using for the library. I have been a big user of podcasts over the last few years, but I have stumbled across some limitations. The greatest limitation is that many people don't know how to use podcasts. I have created online lessons, I have sent out sheets, I have given small lessons, and I have even done full presentations, but many people still refuse to allow it into their classrooms. It is seen as something new (even though it is pretty old at this point) and additional to their workload. This is why i have been experimenting with Youtube. I created a channel ( and have been posting booktalks there in addition to posting them through my podcast, which I do through our school's blackboard account. Even though I host it on Blackboard, it is public and if you search for Doha in the iTunes store, you will find my podcast. The response I have recieved from the youtube channel has been overwhelmingly positive. I have recieved many more views, and it is easier to share the videos with students and parents.

As of right now, I am wondering what the benefit of even keeping the podcast when the Youtube Channel seems so much easier for the teachers, students, and parents. I would just have to create one last podcast telling my loyal subscribers to visit the youtube channel. Should I do this, or should I just keep posting the videos in both places?

Lack of competition a good thing?

It's been a while since I have posted to the blog, and I had not noticed that when blogger stopped working over here for a day or so, it copied a post 4 times. so, ignore the last three posts.

Anyway, I was working on some thoughts for my educational tech class, and my brain happened across this idea which I posted in a discussion board there.

One of the most valuable features of the internet is the fact that new technologies can be implemented and spread so rapidly. Also, it is set up in such a way that a small company can become huge if they develop the proper tool at the right time. However, this quickness in change and development is one of the greatest weaknesses in the design--you always have to learn something new and abandon your old tools to stay up to date. Now that there are a few larger comanies such as Google, we see certain tools being adopted more universally. Not just because the tech is stable, but because since they are already huge, you can be somewhat certain that people from other companies and schools are using the same tech. We can teach Google Docs and other Google apps because it is actually being used in the real world. But as more and more people adopt these tools, the more difficult it will be for new tech and new tools to become popular. It's not just one or two people that have to change or adopt a new technology, it is the whole world at this point. Think of the evolution of social network websites. The first popular one was Friendster. It was usd mostly by college and high school kids. Then people moved to Myspace. The same kind of people used Myspace that used friendster, but it was easier to use and had many more features. But then came Facebook, and there is now almost universal adoption of this technology/website. Each social network improved on the last, but there was not a huge adoption of the tech until Facebook came. Now, can you imagine how hard it would be for a new social network to become as popular. I can't think of a new social network replacing Facebook. Facebook will just have to change and adapt over time. It's become its own upgradeable platform. The only thing I see overthrowing it would be a new kind of technology that replaces social networks entirely.

Now, as Google Apps and Google docs become more widely used, the more difficult it will be for a new competing website or tool to become popular. There is less and less competition, and in ways that is bad for technology and its advancement as a whole, but it is kind of good for schools that need stable tools that they can count on being used for more than 2 years.

What do you think? Is a lack of competition actually a good thing for schools? Is it good in the short term, but bad in the long term future?