Taking Facebook Outdoors

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The following are notes from the September 29, 2007 workshop presented by David Spencer to the Council of Outdoor Educators of Ontario (COEO) during their fall Conference held at Camp Wanakita in Haliburton,Ontario.

Taking Facebook Outdoors: Connecting youth with the outdoors through social networking technology

This interactive workshop examined the current popular social networking technology that youth are using to connect with each other. Participants explored web sites such as Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, Wikipedia and information sharing technologies such as listservs and RSS feeds.

If outdoor educators are to reach and impact today’s youth, could these technologies be used to connect, encourage, educate and empower youth? Could these technologies be used by field centre staff to connect with students after a field centre visit? Could COEO reach new members and interact with the present membership?

This workshop will be geared for beginner participants and will help distinguish the buzz from the practical tools.



Transitions

The web has changed significantly over the past five years. Visitors to web sites could only read information from static HTML pages. They had little control over the selection and display of content. They could not add or update content without the webmaster's approval. Through the development of databases, web developers have enabled web visitors to select, search and categorize information, photos, videos and music they are seeking. Some of the more popular software and computer languages used for these databases is available for free as open source code. For example, PHP code connecting to a MySQL database has enabled web visitors to add their own content. A number of content management systems (CMS) now use PHP and MySQL to store and serve content. Examples include Facebook, WordPress, Joomla, Wiki , PHPBB and Moodle.

The webmaster's role has changed from content posting and control to content editing and moderating contributor discussions.

The cost of registering a domain name and hosting a web site has dropped significantly. Today, outdoor and environmental educators can register a domain name for less than $25 and host their own web site for less than $150.

Many young people spend a considerable amount of time on the web. They realize the importance of web communications in their lives and have the skills and tools to connect to each other and post content that expresses their interests and concerns about the environment. As educators, we could use these technologies to educate and empower our young people.


Social Networking Portals

Social networking is the term used in what is called Web 2.0. This refers to the second generation of web communications where web users have more control of content and are able to share their own preferences and make new friends from around the world.


Facebook

http://www.facebook.com

  1. What is it? Facebook is a social utility that connects people with friends and others who work, study and live around them. People use Facebook to keep up with friends, upload an unlimited number of photos, share links and videos, and learn more about the people they meet. All that's needed to join Facebook is a valid email address. Facebook was launched at Harvard University by Mark Zuckerberg.
  2. How does it work? Facebook is made up of many networks, each based around a company, region, or school. Join the networks that reflect your real-life communities to learn more about the people who work, live, or study around you.Facebook's Platform enables anyone, anywhere, to build complete applications that you can choose to use.
  3. How could it be used for outdoor and environmental education?


Facebook Identity Theft Protection

  1. Facebook Identity Theft Protection Guide article written by Joe Fahrner on March 4th, 2008. Joe's tips include the following:
  • Tip #1: Limit the amount of personal information available on your Facebook profile.
  • Tip #2: Proactively manage your Facebook privacy settings.
  • Tip #3: Only accept friend requests from people you know.
  • Tip #4: Limit the amount of “time and place” data that you expose through Facebook.
  • Tip #5: Remember that even people you know can be identity thieves.
  • Tip #6: Consider an identity theft protection service.

MySpace

http://www.myspace.com/

  1. What is it? MySpace is a popular social networking website offering an interactive, user-submitted network of friends, personal profiles, blogs, groups, photos, music and videos internationally. Many musicians use MySpace to promote their music and lyrics. The minimum age to register an account on MySpace is 14. MySpace is headquartered in Beverly Hills, California, USA.
  2. How does it work? Each MySpace user creates and maintains their personal page on the site. MySpace allows users to create and customize their user profile pages by entering HTML. Users may invite and add friends to their page.
  3. How could it be used for outdoor and environmental education?

Social Networking Software

Ning

  1. What is it? Ning is a platform for creating your own social networks. Ning includes a combination of features (videos, blogs, photos, forums,) from an ever-growing list of options. Then customize how it looks, decide if it's public or private, add your brand logo if you have one, and enable the people on your network to create their own custom personal profile pages.
  2. How does it work? Web developers can log into the Ning web server and manage their own social network.
  3. How could it be used for outdoor and environmental education?

Moodle

  1. What is it? Moodle Moodle] is a course management system (CMS) - a software package designed to help educators create quality online courses. Such e-learning systems are sometimes also called Learning Management Systems (LMS) or Virtual Learning Environments (VLE).
  2. How does it work? Moodle is a software package for producing internet-based courses and web sites. It's an ongoing development project designed to support a social constructionist framework of education. Moodle is provided freely as Open Source software (under the GNU Public License). The web developer loads the software on their web server and sets up their own courses.
  3. How could it be used for outdoor and environmental education?

Online Survey Services

  1. What is it? Survey Monkey is an online survey creator that allows you to set up public or private surveys for your projects. You can also download your survey results and create graphs and charts of the data.
  2. How does it work? A user logs in and creates their survey online using the templates provided. Survey responders visit the unique survey web page to complete and submit the survey.
  3. How could it be used for outdoor and environmental education?

Online Calendars

  1. What is it? Google Calendar is an online calendar creator system that allows groups to share their calendar and even embed it within their web site.
  2. How does it work? A user creates an account and logs into Google Calendar. They can set up their own calendar and and calendars of friends and colleagues to their caleendar,
  3. How could it be used for outdoor and environmental education?

Online Video Sharing

YouTube

http://www.youtube.com

  1. What is it? Founded in February 2005, YouTube is the leader in online video, and the premier destination to watch and share original videos worldwide through a Web experience. YouTube allows people to easily upload and share video clips on www.YouTube.com and across the Internet through websites, mobile devices, blogs, and email.People can see first-hand accounts of current events, find videos about their hobbies and interests, and discover the quirky and unusual. As more people capture special moments on video, YouTube is empowering them to become the broadcasters of tomorrow.
  2. How does it work? Users log in to view and upload and hare videos.
  3. How could it be used for outdoor and environmental education?


Search keywords: kayaking, canoeing,global warming, Ecological Footprint, Tree Identification, Tree Planting

Google Video

http://video.google.ca/

  1. What is it? Google Video is a video sharing network owned by Google Inc. Google Inc.recently purchased YouTube.
  2. How does it work? Users log in and upload and share videos.
  3. How could it be used for outdoor and environmental education?


Bicycle Safety--Smart Cycling

Listservs

Yahoo! Groups

http://groups.yahoo.com/mygroups

  1. What is it? Yahoo! Groups is a listserv system that allows members to send an e-mail message to the listserv. That message is then relayed to all members of the listserv via e-mail. Users may also read the messages and follow the threads online. Yahoo! Groups give Yahoo! users a place to meet, interact, and share ideas with each other. As well as providing e-mail relaying and archiving facilities for the many lists it hosts, the Yahoo! Groups service provides additional functions on the web site, such as voting and calendar systems and file uploading. The basic mailing list functionality is available to any e-mail address, but a Yahoo! ID is required for access to other features. Its main competitor is Google Groups.
  2. How does it work? Users log in to join an existing group or they can create their own and invite members. A number of topics relating to outdoor and environmental education are listed.
  3. How could it be used for outdoor and environmental education?


Examples of Yahoo! Groups in action:


The Friends of Bark Lake
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/FriendsofBarkLake/


CEEPS · Canadian Experiential Education Practitioners
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CEEPS/

Google Groups

http://groups.google.com/

  1. What is it? Google Groups is a free service from Google where groups of people have discussions about common interests. Internet users can find discussion groups related to their interests and participate in threaded conversations, either through the Google Groups web interface, or by e-mail.
  2. How does it work? Users log in to join an existing group or they can create their own and invite members. A number of topics relating to outdoor and environmental education are listed.
  3. How could it be used for outdoor and environmental education?

MediaWiki

  1. What is Mediawiki software?
  2. How does Mediawiki software work ?
  3. What are some sites using MediaWiki ?
  4. How could it be used for outdoor and environmental education?

Wikipedia

  1. What is it? Wikipedia is a multilingual, web-based, free content encyclopedia project, operated by the Wikimedia Foundation, a non-profit organization. As of September 2007, Wikipedia had approximately 8.2 million articles in 253 languages, comprising a combined total of over 1.41 billion words for all Wikipedias.Maintenance tasks are performed by a group of volunteers; these include developers, on the MediaWiki software, and other trusted users with various permission levels including "steward", "bureaucrat" and "administrator." Administrators are the largest group of specially privileged users, and have the ability to delete (remove) pages, lock articles from being changed, and deter users from editing. Wikipedia is funded through the Wikimedia Foundation.
  2. How does it work? Wikipedia runs on wiki software using PHP running on a MySQL database. Users log in to edit and add content. Visitors may also make edits.
  3. How could it be used for outdoor and environmental education?

RSS Feeds

  1. What is it? The acronym RSS stands for really simple syndication. RSS is a family of Web feed formats used to publish frequently updated content such as blog entries, news headlines or podcasts. An RSS document, which is called a "feed", "web feed", or "channel", contains either a summary of content from an associated web site or the full text. RSS makes it possible for people to keep up with their favorite web sites in an automated manner that's easier than checking them manually.
  2. How does it work? RSS content can be read using software called a "feed reader" or an "aggregator." The user subscribes to a feed by entering the feed's link into the reader or by clicking an RSS icon in a browser that initiates the subscription process. The reader checks the user's subscribed feeds regularly for new content, downloading any updates that it finds. An example of a feed reader is Google Reader. Look for this symbol. 48px-Feed-icon.svg.png

RSS Feed from Canadian Geographic

http://www.canadiangeographic.ca/default.asp?rsssource=main


RSS Feed from David Suzuki Foundation

http://www.davidsuzuki.org/latestnews/rss/default.xml


RSS Feed from WWF Canada

http://www.wwf.ca/Blog/SaveOurClimate/index.php

Places to add Content about Outdoor and Environmental Education

Helium

http://corp.helium.com/About/whatishelium.aspx

  1. What is it? We’re not a blog or a collection of edited encyclopedic listings. We are a vast resource of experience-based knowledge, wisdom and creativity. We welcome a variety of voices and opinions. Above all, we’re a community serious about writing articles of lasting value.Our writers are also our editors. Every article that comes to Helium is rated by other members, using our proprietary peer review technology. Through our fair, trusted and democratic rating system, each article submitted to the site is ranked against competing articles, until it’s place in its proper position based on its quality.
  2. How does it work? Users log in and submit stories. The best writers at Helium earn money. Helium shares a portion of its revenue with those who share the most and the best with us.
  3. How could it be used for outdoor and environmental education?


SearchWarp.com

http://searchwarp.com/

  1. What is it? Our mission is to foster intelligent discussion from diverse viewpoints while providing useful information to the World. Our vision is to be a platform for common people to be heard while airing sometimes uncommon points of view. We pledge to do what we can to use our small corner of the World Wide Web to make the Internet a better place.

Glossaries


Cool Search Engine that Saves Energy

http://www.blackle.com/

Ideas

  1. Set up a listserv for discussion of "Social Networking on the web for Outdoor Education"
  2. Ask for permission from COEO to set up a COEO page on Wikipedia
  3. Ask for permission from COEO to set up a network for COEO on Facebook. Done. View the Facebook Group here.
  4. Produce a 30 radio show about COEO's purpose and history.