Friday, December 11, 2009

Tech peripherals

This semester the first new peripheral was the microphone for Smart Recording. Easy to use for the students though there was a problem with constantly recurring lack of sound. This required administrative password access as students accessing settings at will could potentially wreak havoc. It seems there is a solution to this underway though we faced each incident as it arose. I used the lab with the students as Khun Eed was right there and ready to help adjust. We learned very quickly to do a test before launching in to the presentation. The thrill of uploading there finsihed products on to YouTube nipped any complaining and frustration in the bud.

The Document Camera is easy to use in tandem with the Smart board and saves scanning, sending and reformatting. Easy for students and teachers to put up examples and lowers the nerve level as students get used to providing evidence instantly, using it to project a picture or data, as a prop for discussion.

The Smartboard itself can be the bane of my life. It either works brilliantly - or not. With a mac I now have to reset the display every time I plug in. We ( being me and various people from EdTech) have reset the display but dependent on whether someone else has use the Smartboard it is a process and requires me being really organised, using breaks to set up and not expecting to just plug in and go.

For novel study summary the students worked with cameras and movie cameras to summarise plot or showcase charcter development. It was a lot of work to put movies in to imovie but we used the pyramid learning and peer tutor. We've ended up with quite a few experts at pulling movies together. More with this next semester...

Relevant - How?

What is a 'good' educator? Someone who values learning, motivates students to question, connect, communicate, create ... There have been many wonderful teachers in the past who have taught without technology - that is the technology as we know it to be now. Of course one can be a great educator without digital tools but with the right tools for each task the possibilities increase exponentially.

NETs encourage educators to
  • Facilitate and Inspire Student Learning and Creativity
  • Design and Develop Digital-Age Learning Experiences and Assessments
  • Model Digital-Age Work and Learning
  • Promote and Model Digital Citizenship and Responsibility
  • Engage in Professional Growth and Leadership
Clearly there is relevance in the standards, though as we discussed - the document would and could stand as what many good teachers ahve been doing for years - without the word technology inbedded. They could be applied ot any curriculum area. ISB has come far since being on this new campus. The one computer lab has long gone and laptops are the computer of choice. Technology is a part of learning every day. There are always newer and newer tools. I jsut don't want ot throw out the great ones as new ones appear. It does not have to be the latest - for it to be great. But I, for one, will keep looking. The NETs may indeed help along the way.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


If you teach it, you better understand it - so of course it is every teachers responsibility - regardless of whatever other title they are using - specialist, principal, administrator standards need to be understood. Teachers and administrators have clearly stated expectations and standards which easily align with a wide variety of tasks within curriculum. The NETS are clear and easy to understand, adapt, and work with. Like other guidelines - Gardener's, Taylor's etc., it is impossible to address everything all of the time, but in a spiral curriculum it can be done over time.

NETs address creativity, information gathering and communication. What we need from all learners - an ability to know and understand - - take the thinking to a higher level and of course the ability to communicate their creation - through a variety of programs and media.

Having said that - people's confidence and capabilities vary, so minimum standards being set make sense. At ISB minimum skills for use of Panthernet have been stated in order to facilitate long distance learning when necessary. Incoming educators are often overwhelmed so a succinct document with expectations is valuable.

Leadership comes not only from administrators, but from colleagues and students. NETS outline and reflect possibilites. Learning is always the focus and technology a tool.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Screencasting for Learning

In the two streams of teaching I am responsible for screencasting is accessed, or used by all students. In the IT class it is modelled and taught through Smart Recorder, iMovie, with the end products differing.

With Smart Recorder students develop a screencast that will teach other skills within programs such as Excel, or Word. It takes a sound knowledge of the subject to show, while at the same time confidently tell, how to import images, or make and label a bar graph. For many students it took a number of attempts to be satisfied that it was an effective teaching tool. These screencasts are saved in a file that is able to be accessed by each incoming class.

iMovie was a more open ended project and allowed creativity in combining images to tell about one of their passions. Because it was not content driven the students had a lot of fun, and freedom to choose images and music that appealed to them.

In the Humanities classes, screencasting is used by teachers and students. The teacher generated screencasts from Notebook software or SmartRecording can all be used as an all class teaching tool, as a reference for those who need review, and for students who are absent. In a co- teaching and EAP situation that I work in - it is perfect to view in small segments.

Students all have used Smart Recording for novel review, and geography terms. These have been uploaded to YouTube and onto blogs for sharing. Some students have worked with iMovie to bring to life novels, and have motivated others to experiment. There continue to be many other ways and programs to introduce and use screencasts and those are next on my list.

There's about 200 milliion websites today and there will be more tomorrow.

Five Mind-Blowing Web Stats You Should Know

How to...

Learning, inside and outside the classroom has continued to be impacted by the exponential growth of on line information in many forms - video notwithstanding. If you want to learn how to upload something, there is a video; want to learn how to build a glider, carry out an experiment, there is a video, define a geographical term - it's there.

I can search for appropriate videos to support outcomes. Students can search for videos on their own to enchance their understanding, or students can create their own videos. YouTube provides an excellent host service to upload videos that can easily be accessed by students, their families or indeed anyone who accesses YouTube. Students then can download their videos into their own blogs.

All this is well and good but what are needed are the skills to analyse, assess (accuracy and content), reflect, apply... These have not changed whether it is digital information, or not. If anything, there is more of a challenge when wading through a plethora of information and videos to find the best fit for the subject and ascertain its accuracy.

I'm lucky to work on a team where we work collegially and are always looking for improved ways to support learning. This IT course continues to remind me of the options 'out there'. For someone like me who likes to follow the most obscure lead, finishing blogs have been the lowest priority. It's about the journey for me, and I have expanded my 'bag of tricks' from understanding of programs, to new tools, questioned my use of technology, changed tools - and best of all I know I will continue to do so. Thanks Jeff and Kim

Digitally Exploring

Mixing It Up

As a summative project for a novel studied, students could choose from podcasts, powerpoints, iMovie clips, movie making, Smart Recorder - to name but a few.The intent of whatever mode of story telling they chose was to clearly show the themes within the novel, and to entice others to read and understand the novel.

Logistically I wondered if it might become a nightmare due to computer bookings, cameras and the diverse groupings the students selected. The only real issue, as it turned out, was that the students who chose to make a movie did not realise how long it would take them to pull it all together. None of them saw it as work and once given extensions spent much of their weekend editing and re-filming. There were issues such as group dynamics to deal with but many told me how much they loved the experience and how hugely proud they were of their final product. They clearly showed understanding of issues in the novel and key concepts.

When we played the completed projects it was a celebration of group work portraying clearly showing understanding with more than a twist of creativity.

From their reflections I know that there is enthusiasm to try something new, different, challenging. There is a pride in their newly acquired skills. Raising the bar...

From basic powerpoint such as

Less is More

The Grade 7 Team has 4 new members this year and so, 5 weeks into the year, it was time to present to parents our curriculum, we reviewed the Powerpoint presentation from the previous year. Apart from the curriculum content changing, the slides had too much information on them. We agreed to go for minimal words and more powerful, thought provoking images.

We divided up the 16 slides amongst the four of us, and each added our own perspective to the presentation. At the next meeting we ran through the slides and critiqued each in terms of clarity and conciseness. One of the images was changed as it didn't make the same connection we felt we needed, and we wordsmithed in order for succinctness.

Because the slides were much more minimalistic is allowed us each to have a common base but to add our own personalities into the presentation whilst keeping it consistent content and theme wise, across the grade. As much of the curriculum is current, as opposed to historical, the parents were made aware of the possibilities open to their child's learning. It made for excellent discussion.

It is not only within the G7 classes that I am constantly working to make presentations more precise, and I find Powerpoint an effective vehicle to do this. It is not on the web so we are not reliant on the server - which can still be inconsistent - and powerpoint has so many temptations to clutter up a presentation is is easy to showcase from the sublime to the ridiculous in terms of clarity and purpose of each presentation. Skills learned within powerpoint are easily transferred to other visual presentations.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Worth 1000 Words

Geography terminology doesn't always inspire enthusiasm in students, so I am always looking for new ways to make learning vocabulary engaging and most of all memorable in the educational sense. In order to share the work, and spread the knowledge of terminology so we can move on to the more complex understandings I decided to have each student make a Smart Recording that can be part of a 'Geo Bank' and used as a class resource, as well as beyond the walls of the classroom. The image above was used on the first page of the example given as the visual guide for students, and inserted in a word document along with Word Art and a text box for the definition. All simple. Clean, clear, effective.

The second page includes a world map and three diverse examples of the term - e.g. isthmus. Upon completion the students then make a recording describing their visual and using their document, picture and Google Earth to clearly show examples and locations of their selected term.

The big project is the creation of their own island and culture so these should provide a rich resource of their island and neighbouring countries.

As more than 1/2 of my classes are below the 43rd percentile in the area of vocabulary(according to recent testing) it is imperative that visuals be clear, and catch the viewers eye and provide that hook for learning. Not only will curriculum content be supported by these images - it will be enhanced. In Medina's Rule of Thumb for presenters, the increase in understanding is clearly shown that recall is 3x stronger with visual and 6x stronger with a combination of visual and oral. Not only for the ESL students - for all.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Always learning

Teaching two streams of classes - humanities and IT class is quite different. One is teaching skills (keyboarding, programs etc) and the other much more using skills to support learning of curricular content. What is evident is the transfer from one class to other - cross grade, and over time. In the IT class the students learn to make movie clips and focus on Excel or Word to feature in their clip. One year/class later in the mainstream classes they transfer the knowledge to the geography terms to collaboratively form an on line resource for Geo Terms.
That's just one small example but what it does is allow so much more shared and peer supported learning. Students can focus on the content and not the application. I'm lucky to work in a very competent IT team and as I follow in their wake I am able to consolidate what I do know and constantly incorporate new ideas to support learning.
Reflecting - I know it is a combination of what this course forces me to do and what I find useful and applicable. I'm simply on a journey of absorption and adaptation of IT skills.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Preparing for Mass Collaboration

Students collaborate willingly on a daily basis. They are on line more outside school hours, than they are in school. They collaborate on Facebook, My Space, mail, HI Five, You Tube, MSN, Skype, Genie, World of Warcraft, and Counterstrike. Their social interactions – hopefully positive in nature set much of the groundwork for collaboration with the easy to and fro with their ‘friends’.

“In the economy of things you are identified by want you own – your
Land, house,car. In the economy of ideas that the web is creating,
you are what you share – who you are linked to, who you network
with, and which ideas, pictures, video, links or comments you share.
The biggest change the web will bring about is allowing us to share
with one another in new ways and particularly to share ideas. That matters because the more ideas are shared the more they breed,
mutate and multiply, and that process is ultimately the source of our creativity, innovation and well-being.”
(We Think Leabeater. Charles P. 6)

Students need to be taught that collaborative communities do have creators and leaders, but the format is not the same as they may have traditionally been aware of. As collaborators they need to be taught to create and answer interesting conversations, and be open to adaptation. Basically good people skills translated into an elearning situation. These develop over time and creations such as Web Quests can be very effective steps in that direction by directing learning with multimedia - combining individual and collaborative efforts and shared ownership. People create for many reasons – grades, recognitions, altruism – but whatever the motivation mass collaboration can bring changes we have yet to imagine.


The power of the web lies in its exponential growth in terms of access, knowledge, ease of use, and our growing reliance on it . It has power to transform lives in positive and negative ways. It is far more powerful than the radio, or the television ever was in their time as leading communication models.

The web connects for social and business reasons. Information sharing beyond anything imagined by most users. Barriers of knowledge and information are crumbling. It impacts learning of all – and connects learners not in the same room, nor country. A collective learning model is emerging. It allows innovation and mass production. It draws people into political issues, and influences presidential elections. If we don’t like the world we live in, we can join or create a virtual world.

In the classroom it allows us to communicate with other classrooms sturying similar topis, to take virtual tours
The impact on our daily lives continues to grow and at times the ability to totally disconnect takes a monumental effort. That living in the moment with the people or place you are physically with is threatened many times by our electronic world. It has the potential to be an invasion in our lives. Will the web allow us to be more in control of our lives… or less?

It seems there will be nothing the web cannot reach and so we must be discerning.

ON LINE SAFETY? You? Me? Whose responsibility?

If it takes an entire village to raise a child when you are physically with them, so where does it begin and end in a virtual world?

If it is shared technology, it is shared responsibility by all– always. Shared by parents who purchase the technology for their children, shared by schools who supply the technology, and shared by the people who use the technology. It is constant and current. Acceptable Use Policies(AUP)outline clearly what is acceptable behaviour across the board, and from that safety can be addressed.

What to post – and what not to post on line.? NetSafe – a New Zealand organization outlines many common safety broaches committed by teenagers such as home addresses, posting sensitive pictures, negative comments, first and last names next to e mail addresses and identifying photographs. It also teaches how to adjust settings for optimum privacy on social networking pages such as Facebook.

All users need to be aware of the life of anything sent, or posted on the internet. It needs to be taught explicitly and embedded in practice. In parenting – consequences for the inappropriate use that will almost certainly happen, need to be in place.

Currently a cyber bullying case at a school in Sydney has made headlines for the way information was removed from networking sites and manipulated into defamatory information.

“Several teenagers at an elite Sydney girls school are coming to terms with the full magnitude of their public betrayal via the internet. Where to begin? One has had her genitalia discussed in anatomical detail. Another has had her face likened to a koala's. A third has learnt that her circle of friends is not friendly at all: "She thinks she's best friends with lots of people but they actually hate her."
Two year 9 girls at Ascham, who thought they could casually destroy or trash the reputations of other girls in order to advance their own social standing, have left the school in disgrace. So at least some natural justice has been handed out. Thirty-one Ascham girls have been named and dissected in a posting on the social networking site MySpace… “

Ascham Fallout – Sydney Morning Herald. May 2, 2009

Sadly most people do not learn lessons until it directly impacts them even when (ironically) Ascham was one of the first schools in Australia to be involved in responsible internet behaviour.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


Photo Beware of copyrights, etc. by Spushnik

Interpretation? Ethics? Ownership? Copyright ???? “Imitation is the highest form of flattery?”

Having read and re-read the copyright laws of Thailand, the image of a sieve stays in my mind. Sometimes things may flow through almost unseen, and other times not. The escalating number of prosecutions is tantamount to the global pressure exerted perhaps. Or it could simply be a response to the exponential growth of postings on the web. I am unsure that I actually know anyone who has not lived in this country and purchased a 90 baht dvd without losing sleep and so it seems to me that unless we are blatantly flaunting ‘the law’ and that the biggest impacting factor is our own integrity. Do we value that someone else has the creative edge, has made the effort, and put in the time enough so we acknowledge and indeed acknowledge them as creator. And be willing to pay for it? It worked for when they bypassed record companies – they made the most money ever from sales.

“Do as I say – not as I do” is a saying I heard years ago and seems to be quite fitting for most benders of copyright rules. Academically I’ve always cited in essays, presentations etc – well the lesson I learned the hard way at university has stayed with me. Do I consider fair use? Is work transformative? When working with students I’ve taught the acknowledging of others’ work through citing or referencing. It has to be said that I still have a ways to go myself despite taking al the pics from Creative Commons and pointing the praise the photographers way. Small steps in this grey world seem to work.

Not for the Pirate Bay crew though –one of the world’s top websites for illegal filesharing - they have received jail terms for promoting others to infringe upon copyright laws though the site is still in operation. Read on if interested…

Meantime I am reading We Think by Charles Leadbeater (and 257 other people). He put his book on line as a work in progress. He was told repeatedly the book would not sell – people would steal his ideas. He needed to copyright it etc etc. He didn’t – and it has sold. In his foreword Leadbeater says “We are living through a great levelling brought on by the power of the web. What we make of it is still thankfully up to us.” The focus of his book is not copyright – apart from how it was created -but it has made me think – if the personal computer is indeed replaced with more controllable gadgets such a the iPhone – what will it to do the progress of innovation of the web due to the control Apple exerts over it and indeed Leadbeater sees the Apple iphone as a “seductively dangerous little tool” due to the constraints. Still reading …

The New Private…

It would seem that the point of most communications on the net involve sharing. So another conundrum indeed. We want to share information and social tidbits, but we do expect privacy for many transactions on line. We would hope that personal e mail and bank transactions remain private and secure, But is this realistic?

To allay parental concern, many of the internet sharing that occurs within ISB – is in the form of an intranet such as Panthernet. Of course anything within that system could be copied and pasted, attributed to whomsoever’s name is attached – and that is out there also.

Of interest is our Digital Shadow which incorporates all the information generated by a user at any given time.

“Your shadow includes things like images of you on a surveillance camera, your bank records, your retail and airline purchase records, your telephone records, your medical database entries, copies of hospital scans, information about your web searches, general backup data, information about credit card purchases, etc.”

("The Diverse and Exploding Digital Universe." EMC)

This shadow is larger than what is created by the person and the implications for the security of this are enormous. I did not start generating a footprint until I was in my 20’s so imagine the size of one generated by those beginning as they begin school.

Privacy? Who knows honestly – when images of us outside our homes and in the streets can be uploaded by satellites without our knowledge , anything is possible…
tattoo_750 by clocker

In the perfect world Digital Footprints would perhaps be little like a walk along the foreshore, some footprints staying a while, and some washed away. As this is not the case, internet users of any age need to be made aware of the permanency of digital word and image, and their expansive reach. Digital Tattoo seems a more fitting image as the possiblility of being stung by it or attempting to erase something once posted, would be about as successful, and perhaps as painful in the interim.

A digital footprint is a record of our activity in places such as Facebook or My Space, e mails sent and received, photos and blogs etc. We send these presuming they are only going to be seen by the people we have selected, but not so. Links spread the word – both good and bad. Having noted that – it’s here -the internet is the major form of communication now for many people and so responsible use is the key.

Childrens’ mistakes would likely be small, teenagers a potential cacophony of inappropriate postings and comments as they stretch and grow, and often feel invincible. They keyboard giving a sense of distance in terms of connectivity. As educators, teaching and modelling responsible and respectful use explicitly is important. Ultimately though students spend much of their time out of school on their social pages, so it is also the responsibility of the parents who purchase the computers to ensure their children are using technology appropriately. Footprints will differ digitally, as everything else about individuals does. So will the need to monitor and direct.

Silvia Tolisano clearly spoke of the positives for learning and is what educators are doing – using technology to learn in an every expanding environment.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Final Reflection

The Connected World study was a perfect example of team work. The initial planning was done in team time to provide a clear structure and so we were able to utilise the time together to really consolidate thinking.

The use of google.doc for storing documents was a new experience in sharing and editing as we went along. Truly the curriculum as a living document. The chat feature – sadly, disabled rather suddenly - had allowed thoughts to be thrown around and develop before going on to the documents.

The timeline was already created and needed only tweaking, we worked on a blogging introduction (yes blogging) and the rubric created with a lot of discussion on emphasis.

One of the things we talked about was how authentic the learning process was. We experienced as the students will be doing this week. Documents got clogged as two, or more people, tried to work on the same and so work was more clearly defined and we divided into teams to get tasks completed.

It was an excellent chance for me to listen to my future team mates and see what they planned – and then to add in my perspective from my own experiences. The technology was easy to manipulate (despite the usual challenges of internet) but left with a positive feeling that all team members are invested, and a vision of highly motivated students working on the Connected World project.

PLN Revisited

It has to be said that I under-utilise my PLN.

On the positive though…The RSS feed I set up a year ago – following the advice of my personal IT assistant in the next room (Ross Tague), whose wake I am traveling in at times, has saved me hours of scouring the net. Refining key words has improved the news streamed to me. My day often starts off reading articles in my RSS.

Moving beyond my safety zone of programs – Microsoft Office etc when teaching Intro to Technology has been a shift.

I tend to use people who know, rather than figuring it out myself, though think there is more than one down side to this - and I think of the teenage Zolan who pulled computers apart, rebuilt them and sold them . Right now I am happy to adopt and adapt. Oh my – I am an immigrant!.

Blogging (Rambling) On...

Working in a tech savvy team means I am exposed to lots of new (to me) ideas. I am trying hard to do new things in new ways but it is human nature to make links. Yesterday when using Google Earth – to take a trip back in history to the Cradle of Civilisation – the first thing I did was get the students to find their own houses, their friend’s house, a holiday place… – because they are so interested in themselves that unless they have dealt to the personal – they are not ready to move on and learn. The same can be said of adults no doubt.

IT constantly blends process and product. The choices of how to present something, where and to whom is so broad it is exciting.

The realisation mid lesson that we have gone beyond what I know in technology because students move so fast, means we all learn from each other. Some students are so passionate about a program that they know great tricks – I love it because the quality of the lesson improves instantly, and it is truly a learning community.

Continuum of change

Adopt and Adapt: Shaping Tech for the Classroom
21st-century schools need 21st-century technology.


Marc Prensky’s succinct summary is easy to relate to. The ‘Big Tech Barrier’ existing in schools certainly does impact the learning curve. The thought of sharing my lap top is not a comfortable one and yet I ask students to do it every day.

Things have evolved slowly in the past years of education – that is no longer the case. Teachers in a role as the font of knowledge, is also not the case. Facilitator is probably to light a term, and again I think of the Networked Teacher and need to take a deep breath as I dive in deeper.

“Dabbling. Doing old things in old ways”...

Well, one has to dabble to get started – so that’s not all bad, and doing things in the old way worked for so long – the resistance by the Luddite ‘leaders’ has severe ramifications for slowing down the learning process. Letting go of the fear of someone else knowing something that you don’t, is a huge part of moving forth from this. Embracing what others know – as opposed to being threatened by it – opens a whole new world of connectivism.

“Doing old things in new ways.”

The doing old things in new ways seems to be where many learning environments are floundering. Simulations for social studies bring it alive for students who often have trouble with the concept of people being distant in space and time, can help make sense of history. The ways children will be, and are using old things is new ways is exciting. It is hard for adults to stand still when children are moving past them. Unless adults adopt and adapt strategies that help students learn, they are standing in the way of powerful learning experiences.

“Doing new things in new ways”

As more people who really know and understand the power of technology to impact learning are absorbed into an educational environment, the greater the critical mass and the faster the changes. The more the digital ‘immigrants develop a comfort level with the ever changing technologies and the digital ‘natives’ have power over their own learning.

“For the digital age, we need new curricula, new organization, new architecture, new teaching, new student assessments, new parental connections, new administration procedures, and many other elements.” That is a big ask and a lot to do. The organization as a whole has to be on board. It is a lot of education in the community. However it seems ludicrous to not use the capabilites at our fingertips to extend the learning of each and every student.
“Edutopia” may not be as elusive as Utopia.

Random ramblings...

Ruminating on the trials of being a Digital Immigrant I realised that that is better than not being prepared to move at all. Immigration is the first step. Hell you can move countries and create the same environment once you’ve moved – or you can get into cultural diffusion. It’s a start.

Educational issues aside I spent time last night sitting with my son, playing WarCraft in a virtual world which included known and unknown friends. Would I have chosen that game for him – not a chance . But it is the new Cops and Robbers for him right now. If he was not a physically active child I would be worrying but – it only holds his interest for a while before he craves the physical movement. I am conflicted with the virtual world some children create, and tehn don’t move beyond. But f course they could be sitting in on one dimensional space on front of a television set. Not a lot of thinking going on there.

The horrified response to my teenage daughter when she found out I was teaching IT was quite the proverbial slap. But nothing like a child to get an adult moving. I was not that bad at all – but by her standards I was not ready to take on an IT world. Was she wrong?– of course. They might be small steps but – hey I’m talking them and trying to fit them into my crazy world.

Note to self – must read the Grown Up Digital book Julie recommended.

G7 Project Sketch

(Below is a working draft of our project sketch as created by Robin after a meeting of 7th grade humanities teachers- which I will be joining next year)

Essential Questions:
How do places change over time?
What do we need to live a comfortable and healthy life?

Enduring Understandings:
The students will…
Understand some key issues of least one world problem (hunger, poverty, environment, conflict & peace, etc.)
Make connections between that issue globally, regionally and locally.
Recognize their roles as citizens of the world, their regions and their communities and to see how what they do affects others.
Understand that they can contribute to solving the problem, even in some small way.

The Connected World Unit consists of four separate but related projects.
1) Blog/journalling - Each of the 160+ students in 7th grade will keep a blog, using ideas inspired by Clarence Fisher. We will assign our students one of 19 regions of the world and one of 8 global social issues or problems. We will do this together because we want to make sure that among our 8 classes, we have the students divided into good working groups for the next phases of the project. Each student will work on a different issue for each region. Their blog work will consist of a series of personal reflections/journalling about what they are learning through and other good websites for MS students to learn about current events and blogs from other countries. This addresses Standard # 3: Research and Information Fluency

2) The second phase of the project is also inspired by Clarence Fisher. Our 160 students will create a link/resource filled 7th Grade online ‘hyperText’ book about the regions of the world. This will be a resource for next year’s students in their regional studies. Students will work online and collaboratively with their regional-counterparts in the various classes. They will work on their section of the wiki - each writing enough about their issues to put together a solid chapter on the region backed up with evidence, examples and sources. One of the sources students will be required to use is to communicate with people from the regions they are studying. This addresses Standard #5 Digital Citizenship. This also addresses Standard #4 Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making.
I am excited to be involved in this as I have a broad knowledge of the South Pacific region, and the literature from there which I know has been missing from the grade. This background knowledge should round off the team as we move into project stage.

3) The third phase of the project is based on one of the Flat Classroom projects. We would now group the students by issue, rather than by region. There could be as many as 8 students per issue, so we may divide them into smaller groups for this phase. Each group would be responsible for making a 2 - 3 minute video about their problem. Their videos will serve the function of educating others in the school community about their issues. Because they will now be working with students from different regions, they will be working together to understand the similarities and differences of how their issues play out in different regions. This will get back to the idea of making connections. They will present their videos to the 7th grade.Symposia? Standard #1: Creativity and Innovation & Standard #2: Communication and Collaboration & Standard #4 Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making.
4) The final phase of the project will have students working together once again to create a project or action plan that has the kids themselves becoming part of the solution. They will create project ideas/plans to help or address the problem (other than through education) and they will present those ideas at a project symposium to a panel of teachers (maybe experts as well) their fellow students and they will post these solutions or action plans on a publicly accessible website. This is when students will have made connections between the EQs and the EUs. They will have evaluated and synthesized research and information about complex global issues. They will have educated others and finally, they will have come up with a plan that aims to help solve the problem.

This addresses Standard #1: Creativity and Innovation & Standard #2: Communication and Collaboration & Standard #4 Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making.

Geeked Out

Geeking Out – Digital Youth

Messing around and being “Geeked Out” is the new cool. The article read as randomly as I see the teenagers act in my home and around me in every environment I come across them. Teenagers have the…
“ability to engage with media and technology in an intense, autonomous, and interest-driven way is a unique feature of today’s media environment.”
They are talking on phones, messaging, uploading another photo on their mail, sent from their latest iphone . (and that could be the adults as well). More and more we live in more than the ‘here and now’ . Technology pervades our lives. Maybe even more so the TCK’s in our environment – out of their own culture they absorb themselves quickly into the tech culture.

Social Networks MySpace, Facebook, Bebo etc take up hours of most teenagers lives. How many friends can you accumulate? The word friends is yet another word being redefined by technology. Who hasn’t been told that you have only a few good friends in your life you can count on? That needs redefining in tech terms as we are so connected that someone, somewhere in the world is awake and ready to be our ‘friend’. That makes us popular – right???? And being popular can be everything to a teenager. More motivation to ‘geek it up’.

The ingenuity and thirst to learn exhibited by someone like Zelan aroused in me some envy and admiration for his determination to overcome resource deficit and navigate the tech world. It is motivating in terms of utilizing the people who know in my working environment and the hardware and programs available.

I exist in a world where specialized knowledge networks and communities are my fingertips to impact my own learning, and thus those of the students I work with. A timely reminder indeed

Blogging on...

Our surprise Friday night guest got me thinking. Too true that before starting a major project you have to make sure you will be finishing it! The sounds great and I will take some more time to check it out.
citizen journalism?
I am going to make a point of remembering to mix it up and use the following more often
• Youtube
• Teachertube
• Ning
• Twitter
• Google groups
• Google calendar – at least department wide
• Delicious
• Flickr
• Wikis

Interesting, and out of this what most stand out for me is how the impact of technology can be life changing if it is in a place in the world
where there are not different nationalities. We exist in a community of over 50 different cultures and so cannot help but be touched by them and understand the scope of our differences and similarities. So I forget the countries were there are still pockets of people who live in isolation of other cultures.

I was horrified to learn that Luddite leaders in schools are blocking youtube and internet access. One step forward – how many back?

Connectivism Changing the MInd Set

Connectivism A Learning Theory for the Digital Age: by George Siemens

“Over the last twenty years, technology has reorganized how we live, how we communicate, and how we learn.”

This would have to be one of the biggest understatements I have read. It certainly has reorganised all three areas (and created chaos when it does not work) over the last 20 years – but the exponential growth is as yet unrealized. It is escalating at a pace that is mind boggling. In the IT class of 50 people – the level of skill competence and confidence is huge. Multiply that and imagine implications for teaching and learning.

“Learners as little as forty years ago would complete the required schooling and enter a career that would often last a lifetime.”

The learning of a former ISB student – my daughter Alexandra – is on my mind constantly these days as she begins her university studies and pilot training tomorrow! What will flight look like in the future? What will the technology “look” like? What challenges face her and how has ISB prepared her? How do we all prepare students for what lies ahead when we aren’t too sure ourselves? Gonzalez’s (2004) notice of the ‘shrinking half-life of knowledge’ is probably already out of date.

A learning trend “Technology is altering (rewiring) our brains. The tools we use define and shape our thinking.”

Marion Diamond spoke in Egypt (2001) about being at the forefront of neuroanatomy a mere 45 years ago. Pat Wolfe was at the same conference and spoke of implications for learners way beyond “fight or flight”. What are these tools define and shaping us? Interesting to ponder the ‘infantilising’ of the human mind after reading an article in the Guardian about Facebook and Bebo.

And then there is this...

Beginning thoughts...

What I hoped to get out of the course to date was time to ‘play’ with technology and embed it in my work and IT in order to improve learning and communication. Improved comfort level with IT and a chance to meet and work with people I don’t know yet. What I am finding is that I have TOO much to find out about and absolutely no time right now to do so. Constantly feeling in a fog and overwhelmed, considering bailing but I know that all of ‘this’ will be still here to absorb and use and I just have to realize that because it does not get my best effort now – doesn’t mean that it won’t later. That this community of experts and learners I move in is here to teach me – and I will indeed pass that on to others.

I’m excited by things like cluster maps that will spread the message further in charities I am involved in, such as Operation Smile. I see far reaching opportunites there . Must get on to that!

Skyping personally is great but I want to use it more as am ‘expert’ link – or motivator for teaching. Yes – old ideas new ways – but someone will push me further.

I fear this is going to end up a list of things I still have to do! Someone out there will make me!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Bloom's Goes Digital

Bloom’s organisation of the thinking/learning structure is nothing new. It’s been around since 1956. In 2002 I discovered a book in a Sydney bookstore with Anderson’s revised model showing the elevation of creating beyond evaluation, which of course made sense. I wondered why I had not thought of it? The change to verbs is glaringly obvious in hindsight and so much more learner friendly. Lower Order Thinking Skills (LOTS) to Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) in and of themselves provide a clear structure for learners and as structure for ensuring thinking is occurring. Independent learning can be scaffolded and personalized easily with models such as these. The projects that have been produced show exactly how far the learners will go when they are able to challenge themselves.

The direct relevance of Andrew Churches New Bloom’s Taxonomy Digitally is clear. His wiki, Educational Origami is a wealth of resources. The pedagogical underpinnings are sound. Technology is imbedded in an authentic manner to challenge learners. The terminology and structure has already been added to the learning environment I work in. I expect to continue to see growth in the standard of both process and product.

Personal Learning Networks

Personal Learning Networks – An oxymoron

There is nothing ‘personal’ about learning networks. Once ‘it’ is one the web it is there forever. We’re told that over and over – so as a totally reflective learner who mulls matters over, changes my thinking and constantly connects to new ideas – it is with a many false starts that I sat down to write blogs. Do the reading – sure. Talk about it – not a problem. Write about it – not yet thank – maybe in a month – or more.

“We must also be adept at negotiating, planning, and nurturing the conversation with others we may know little about -- not to mention maintaining a healthy balance between our face-to-face and virtual lives” Will Richardson (World Without Walls: Learning Well with Others)

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Truth and Bias

Alec Couros

Truth and bias on line

An unrealistic expectation would be that the web provides truthful information always. Information makes one think, hopefully – with the glaringly obvious statement that humans enter the information and those humans have bias - or they straight out lie, embellish, hope to entertain, impact people’s thinking…

The earliest and strongest visual that stays with me is the “Cat in the jar” or Bonsai Kittens. It caused an outpouring of anger through the SPCA in a little town in NZ not long after I left – and made the local paper. I do believe the entre population of 60,000 may have had access to 1,000 computers at that time so one would hope the exposure over time to so many untruths, jokes etc has made people more discerning – but then again – it still looked real and possible last week – so still the reactions occur. Spaghetti on trees – laughable now – but at the time.? With the exponential growth of information it is more and more important to know how to be as discerning as possible about sites used and information accuracy.

Reviewing in my mind– many days later - the video link shown by Chris Betcher is a well organized and timely reminder for all.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Blogged Under

Finally - keys on keyboard. From this course I want to utilise what I do know, and expand it hundredfold. Work with others who know far more in terms of programs, skills etc and then synthesise the info. and pass it on to others.