English teacher Tom McHale sets down his cup of coffee and boots up the computer at his classroom desk. It’s 6:50 in the morning. After logging in, he opens up his personal page on the school Intrablog. There, he does a quick scan of the New York Times front page headlines and clicks through one of the links to read a story about war reporting that he thinks his student journalists might be interested in. With a quick click, Tom uses the “Furl it” button on his toolbar, adds a bit of annotation to the form that comes up, and saves it in his Furl journalism folder which archives the page and automatically sends the link and his note to display on his journalism class portal for students to read when they log in. Next, he scans a compiled list of summaries that link to work his students submitted to their Weblogs the night before. With one particularly well done response, he clicks through to the student’s personal site and adds a positive comment to the assignment post. He also “Furls” that site, putting it in the Best Practices folder which will send it to the class homepage as well for students to read and discuss, and to a separate Weblog page he created to keep track of all of the best examples of student work. It’s 7:00.
After taking a sip of his coffee, Tom takes a look at his research feeds. He’s been asked to keep abreast of the latest news about technology and teaching writing, and this morning he sees his Google search feed has turned up a new version of “Write Outloud.” He clicks the link, reads about the new version on the site, and then clicks on a different “Furl It” button that has been created for his department to share. When the form comes up, he writes a couple of lines of description about how it might benefit the department, and then saves it in the Technology folder which automatically archives it to the tech page of the English Department Website. Later that day, all the members of his department will see his link as well as any others his colleagues may have added as a part of their daily e-mail update from Furl. He also decides he wants to create another search feed for the words “journalism” and “weblogs.” With a click on the toolbar, a dialog box appears and he enters his terms, then clicks on the Feedster radio button (one among four choices.) He hits ok, and a new feed headline box is added to his portal.
At around 7:05, Tom uses his personal Intrablog to upload an assignment on symbolism for his major American literature class. When he opens up the document online to check it, he Furls that too with his English login and it gets sent to a separate Web page set up on the English site for American Literature Best Practices. The rest of the American Lit teachers will get an automatic e-mail later in the day notifying them of his published “learning object” that they can use in their own classes. Then, he creates a post for his Lit class portal that has a link to the assignment, and he publishes the post to the class homepage. Automatically, parents who have requested it get e-mails that their son or daughter has homework to do that evening. E-mails also go to a couple of counselors who are tracking at risk students.
About 7:15 Tom decides to scan the latest school news feed which aggregates all the new posts from the Weblogs he is subscribed to. He sees that the basketball team won the county tournament, the new edition of the school paper is online, and that the superintendent has posted important information about an upcoming safety drill. He clicks through to read the entire post, and then leaves a comment suggesting a way to alleviate crowding in the hallways during the drill. (He sees a parent also has a suggestion about the timing.) Back at his page, he decides that he doesn’t want to scan the library news any longer, so he goes to his subscription page and unchecks the feed. He does notice, however, the “New Feeds” section lists a new “Tech Deals” feed that the tech supervisor has created. He clicks to subscribe to it.
With just a few minutes left before his first class, Tom opens the personal journal part of his portal and types in a few notes about an idea he had for the lit project his students are completing next week. He files them into his Lit department so that he can pull up relevant notes all at once if he needs to. Now that his volume of e-mail has been drastically reduced, he scans the few messages in his in box , takes a last gulp of coffee, and opens his classroom door to the sound of happy students. Well, maybe.