Journal: Snow Day Victories

Well, it turns out that a scant inch of snow is enough to delay my place of work from opening until noon.  Since I have a morning class, that means a snow day!

I was of course uneasy about the possibility of my students coming to class to find nobody there, so I called everybody.  I also told every single person and voicemail I spoke to that in the future I would not be calling. See the homework blog for more details.  I’ll have even more options for them in person tomorrow, but I’m not posting them because they highlight where exactly I work.

Victory #1:

I spent the morning registering for a class for my own professional development as an ESOL teacher.  Yay!  It starts Monday and will meet weekly all the way through mid-May.

Victory #2:

high five? by StephVee on Flickr
high five? by StephVee on Flickr

I also spent time getting my work email to run through Gmail instead.  Success!  My mistake from Monday was trying to accomplish what I wanted through the college email system instead of through Gmail.  Maybe tech support could have pointed me in that direction instead of just saying that my request was “impossible,” but I got there eventually.  🙂

I’m so excited about this change for these reasons:

  • General annoyance: Gmail’s interface is just better from log-in to reading to sending.
  • Gmail has a SPAM filter.  I see no evidence of one in my work email.
  • Personal boundaries maintained: I set up a new work Gmail separate from my personal account.
  • Inbox overflow issue solved: messages will only stay in my work email for a moment before flying to my new, huge work Gmail.
  • My replies will be faster: I’ve set up filters in my work Gmail that will forward important messages straight to my personal account.
  • More flexibility for me: I can now email my colleagues from my personal account but have it look like it’s from my work account.

In other words, I’m in charge now, not the email system. It’s a good feeling!

I’m not going to do a complete email victory dance until I’ve seen my set-up in action for a week or two, but I’m very happy with my progress!

Happy snow day to all!

PS – Yesterday: 20 students, engaging grid activity warm-up about the students’ exercise habits, beginning of the Getting In Shape unit, reading charts, talking about the calories that various activities burn.  Very fun!

Advertisements

Ning.com?

At work we’re looking to make a social network function for quite a large and geographically distant internal network, which in an ideal world would have 5 or 6 related but distinct subgroups.

Our overall goal is to use a system to efficiently get information around these groups. Email is not cutting it.  We would like to free ourselves from its grip.

We were initially very excited about Drupal, but I’m told that we would have had to rely on a programmer to make it happen for us, and he has evidently fallen off the face of the earth.  I hope he’s ok, wherever he is.

In lieu of outside help, I’ve been looking around at other options.  I heard Ning.com mentioned a few times, and as far as I can tell it’s just Moodle.  Regardless of which nonsense-word social network service we use, I’m excited about several features:

  • Initial setup was intuitive
  • I can post events, announcements, links, and other information
  • Groups
  • A blog, forum, etc.

My concerns about Ning.com in particular are:

  • I have an alarming quantity of information to post, including a forms library.  Is there a good way to do this using Ning.com?  Or is this where Moodle really shines?
  • I’m having trouble editing the layout of my page, as opposed to the main network page.
  • Will it be intuitive enough for enough of our network to make it worth trying?

I also have a more general concern about Web 2.0-ing my program.  Within our program, there are a lot of details, complications, and restrictions, not all of which are intuitive.  It’s the nature of our funding streams, and is even a little extreme in a nonprofit context.  We definitely want our network to collaborate with each other, talk, share stories, etc.  We also need the rules, regulations, and expectations, and their relatively strict natures to be abundantly clear.  How do other networks walk that line?  What are some tips for success?