Saturday, February 17, 2007

A Day in the Life of a Global, Connected Educator

I was most interested to read Anita McAnear's editorial "What does Globalization mean for Education"(this is a free download), in the February 2007 Learning and Leading with Technology magazine, a publication of the International Society for Technology in Education. Anita is the acquisitions editor for L&L as well as the national program chair for NECC and has a canny astuteness gleaned from vast experience as an educator and in her role with ISTE. She states. "We are increasingly interconnected and interdependent. But what does this mean for education?" Her main points include:
  • It means increased opportunities to learn with and from the global community
  • It means wonderful collaborative projects for students and teachers
  • It means wonderful opportunities for students to be involved in global projects on their own
Don Knezek, CEO of ISTE, also stresses his views about the ISTE priority to 'learn with and from the global community' in "Taking Ed Tech Leadership Global"(also a free download). He also recently wrote an article for Scholastic Administrator entitled "Think Global", where he states, "An education leader today cannot claim to be an informed leader without knowledge of what is happening in education within and outside that leader’s own country. Learning with and from the global education community stimulates ideas that might never have come to mind otherwise. Understanding how educators and young learners in other countries overcome shortages of resources can provide both inspiration and strategies to help the most seasoned leader".

This enhanced global perspective coming from key ISTE leaders is both encouraging and transforming. It is supported also by a lead story in the same L&L magazine "
Project-based learning around the world", (members only download), that details how ISTE and Microsoft have partnered to develop project-based curriculum for
a global audience. This includes an interdisciplinary project-based course with teacher training materials that is being adopted and 'localized' by participating countries. This article features how Denmark has adopted and adapted the material for use in their education system.

As I have been reading and digesting these initiatives and ideas I have reflected on my past week in terms of globalization and connectivity and how we have remarkable tools, opportunities and associated responsibilities in education. Which brings me to the main thrust of this blog posting. I can honestly say that the events below did not all happen in one day however they did
all happen this week (Feb 11-18, 2007), I have just squashed them into a 24-hour scenario.

A day in the life of a global, connected educator
The day in Dhaka begins with a 5:15 alarm and a 6am review of email to check if anything needs immediate attention before going to work. I notice there are about 4 emails from wikispaces being student responses to discussion postings I made last night. My Grade 11 ITGS students are collaborating on an essay using a wiki page. Today is the last day to edit. I will need to do one final review and post some comments to the discussion tab on the wiki before our class this afternoon to help them tidy up each section. The email inbox also brings a comment from Miguel Guhlin to my blog posting on "The Moving Finger Blogs....". He is suggesting a meme to do with the influence of poetry on blogging.....will have to think about that one. Another email is from Vicki Davis, notification of an update to a shared document in Google Docs. We are collaborating on a various documents to do with our Flat Classroom Project and send each other updates regularly. This one needs to be finished soon and sent to Thomas Friedman in New York to be included in the rewrite of 'The World is Flat'.

At school, at my desk at 7am I scan my school email and find 'AL's Weekly Tech Tips' (from our subscription to
Atomic Learning) contains links to 'What is RSS' and tips for 'Geometers Sketchpad'. I forward the email to all teachers. I grab 15 minutes to browse through my bloglines and catch up with the world at large. I notice David Warlick is working hard in Shanghai; Terry Freedman is almost ready to launch the first section of the new Coming o
f Age online book and the Read/Write web provides an excellent review and index for the online video industry that I promptly bookmark on my delicious. The NextGenTeachers feed gives a posting from Kim Cofino about what she calls the 'Viral Video' by Michael Wesch which was created as a response to Jeff Utecht's Web 2.0 video. I remember that I have still not seen all of this as my Internet glitched the other night and stopped the download. I am delighted to find however that Jeff's TechLearning blog posting, found through bloglines once again, details the development of these and talks about the power of connections. I make a note on my Palm TX to go back to this tonight at home.

OK, better do some 'work'! My first class is at 8:45am and I need to decide on my approach to the ITGS Case Study for the Grade 12 students. Their final Paper 3 exam is based on a prepared case study. I will be handing out the scenario and disc
ussing with them approaches to research and providing a time-line leading to pre-testing of their knowledge before the exam in May. I am delighted that the case study is to do with 'podcasting' this year and I wonder what other ITGS teachers are doing around the world about preparing their students. I decide to login into the International Baccalaureate Organisation Online Curriculum Center and browse the discussion forum. I find a couple of posts where teachers have shared their mock-exam questions and I copy these in preparation for delivery to my students. One set of questions also comes with sample answers. Whew! that has saved me about 1 hour trying to think of my own. I read also that other teachers are using the practical approach I was contemplating, that is asking the students to not only research podcasting but to create podcasts and put them online. I was reassured that this was a good idea and started sketching out a 3-week schedule. My students are not new to podcasting but this will be a challenge for them to do it all themselves and I think the constructivist approach will help them understand the concepts better.
Just after 8am I notice Vicki is online (after 9pm EST). I initiate IM and we discuss the article for Friedman. Having declared I have 10 minutes spare we both open the shared Google doc and, as Vicki put it, had our 'hands in the pot together'. Google docs is so good! As Vicki and I were both editing sentences were being rearranged and deleted magically before my eyes. I commented that we would either end up with a masterpiece or a disaster! I make a note to use this with a class of students soon as it provides a better synchronous collaborative environment than editing on a wiki page.

Later in the morning the Head of Science comes to see me about our plans for installing SmartBoards next year. Once again I refer to delicious and I refer him to a
BECTA research paper from 2003 as well as a recent blog posting from Justin Medved, Technology and Learning Coordinator at the International School Bangkok about interactive whiteboards. Back at my desk a Google chat window opens, it's Jeff Utecht at Shanghai American School with a quick question. He is talking f2f with David Warlick and wonders if I can remember the link to the student created educational blog I mentioned previously where an advertising feed is making money for the student. I search my email and chat sessions with this student and find another website he has done about Indian music that also makes money for him. I pass this onto Jeff via the chat window.

Scanning my GMail before afternoon classes I notice a colleague from the IL, USA,
Vinnie Vrotny is keen to try and initiate a Skype session this evening. We have tried to connect before but connectivity and power issues at my end here in Bangladesh have prevented this. Likewise with the International Voices podcast by NextGenTeachers of which I am a member, in the past few weeks. However, the fibre optic cable is back up again so I let Vinnie know we should try again. He is keen to have me speak on this occasion about my experiences with global projects as it will be to introduce a 'global connectivity' workshop at his school with Primary level teachers. I contemplate what I can share with others who are nervous about initiating and sustaining a global project and reflect on many available online examples including iEARN, the Global School Net Foundation and Jennifer Wagner's TechnoSpud Projects. I decide to try and present a logical approach to collaboration including finding a partner, planning a project, setting a realistic time-frame that includes a definite beginning and end and an agreed outcome, tools to use for regular communication and the inspiration to stay on board and 'make it happen!'

At home that evening the Skype session is successful, however I am sure I sound like I have a stammer as the feedback in my headphones is very distracting. I then spend some time catching up on the latest with two conferences I am attending and presenting at in the next 4 months. The first is
ECIS IT 07 at the International School Dusseldorf in March. I am presenting on Web 2.0 and wikis in the classoom and co-presenting on podcasting with Chris Chater from the American School Paris. I am really looking forward to this conference as there are a lot of excellent European-based educational technology people I want to learn from. The keynote speaker is Seth Reuf from International School Luxumbourg and the plenary session will be given by Barbara Stefanics from Vienna International School. I have followed Seth's work for years, especially his online shared resources to do with technology planning in an international school. Barbara is the chief moderator and online guru for ITGS with the IBO. I decide to set up a new wiki for my presentations and explore whether wikispaces, pbwiki or a new one I found, wetpaint, would be the best option. I love wikispaces but elect to go back to pbwiki for this venture and start a new wiki for the presentation material. The other conference coming up is NECC2007 in Atlanta and I was pleased to see the searchable program come online this week. The session I am preparing for is called 'Mobile, Digital, Ubiquitous: Solutions for Learning with Handhelds'. It is a panel session I am moderating the panel that has key representatives from the UK and the USA and this session is sponsored by the ISTE SIGHC, a special interest group led by Mark Van 't Hooft.

One last check of GMail before going to bed and I find a comment has been made to my
Podcast Bangladesh video on YouTube. I have not checked this video for a while and am surprised to find it has been viewed 515 times since last September! Who are these viewers? I retire pondering the globalized and connected world we live in and try to remember what life was like as an educator before this immediacy, collaboration and interaction was possible...........

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3 comments:

Clarence said...

This is a very interesting post and makes me think a lot about how I spend my own days (which look very much like your own). It also makes me wonder about how our practices differ from our less connected colleagues. Are our practices so fundamentally different from more tradtional classrooms that the two are quickly becoming mutually exclusive from each other? I wonder if we will soon be speaking different "languages" about education and teaching and will only be able to enter the different worlds with difficulty? The teaching "world of worksheets" does not understand what we do, and I am having more and more trouble understanding what it is that "they" do.

Vicki A. Davis said...

Yes, this is amazing! Such a connected day! I sometimes am not nearly as connected as I want to be because I have so many things going on! I am actually taking a morning to connect and read -- this is great and I may think about writing about my connected day as well!

I'm glad that I've connected with you!

Anonymous said...

Hi Julie

It is so great to get to know you. Grins, I am so amazed by all you do and have done!! Thanks for all your hard work and sharing it with us all.

Enjoy your day
Jennifer