Friday, June 30, 2006


Can someone tell me if there are any sessions at NECC06 about ELGG? I an on a mission here as I what I have read and seen so far about this Learning Landscape created by David Tosh and Ben Werdmuller is very exciting! Searching through the NECC program I can find nothing with ELGG or other key words that looks like what I need. There are the usual and worthy presentations about moving into authentic assessment etc and adopting eportfolios, digital portfolios, electronic portfolios but nothing cutting edge about use of platforms and Web2.0 tools for portfolios.

At International School Dhaka we implemented a digital portfolio program 3 years ago that interfaces with our ubiquitous learning objectives and the IBO objectives for authentic assessment. However, as technology has moved on I am searching for an alternative to the basic weblog software. Thanks to Peter Ford who has held our hand all the way through this project and maintained our isdweblogs. It is time to expand and offer teachers and students a better method that incorporates Web2.0 ideals.

ELGG may be the answer. I read Aaron Campbell's post this morning ELGG and International Education who claims:

"Students will now be able to incorporate photos, podcasts, and vidcasts into their portfolios much more easily than ever before. This will be a big change from the bound paper-based portfolios that have been the staple for portfolios until now. For online courses and focused discussions, we’ll use
WebCT or Moodle, both of which integrate with Elgg."

Also, I have been viewing the ELGG site of Miles Berry from the UK, another astute educator who forges ahead.

Also, Tosh and Werdmuller have an online paper, "Creation of a Learning Landscape: weblogging and social networking in the context of e-portfolios" which details the aims and ideals of ELGG in terms of providing technology to enhance student engagement, reflection, communication and sharing!

Back to my original question....who can I talk to at NECC about ELGG???

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Thursday, June 29, 2006

eLearning Break?

It is pre NECC06 and my family and I are in Mexico....Baja California at the Rosarito Beach Hotel taking a much needed respite from Bangladesh and trying to emerge from the end of year fatigue coupled with ongoing jet lag! I didn't touch a computer for 4 days....but have now found by stealth the hotel has an excellent wireless connection in the Lobby! OK, a few hours later I am still trying to finish the online content of my Podcast Bangladesh presentation and catch up with the global conversation. I am really looking forward to the prospect of meeting international educators and bloggers and podcasters again this year. Skimming blogs this afternoon I found Mark van 't Hooft and his Ubiquitous Thoughts blog also looking forward to what NECC will bring including handheld sessions. Mark is the chair of SIGHC and a great promoter of mobile and ubiquitous computing.

For international attendess to NECC don't forget the International Attendees Reception on Tuesday July 4 from 4-5.30. I will be there! along with many other educators who want to discuss collaborative opportunities.

How does one take a break from eLearning and the blogosphere?
I think it is a matter of balance....I am still searching for this balance and know I need to recharge and take stock in order to get through another year of international teaching. Meanwhile, the world is an email and an RSS aggregate away and here in Rosarito the sun is shining........

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Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Blogging and Podcasting NECC

This list arrived an hour ago from the Web Marketing Manager at ISTE, Barbara Hewick. It is a list of volunteer bloggers and podcasters for the NECC06 conference in San Diego in 2 weeks time. This list details the eductors who have volunteered to blog and podcast the conference. There will be many others as well, but these online participants have put up their hand and offered personal resources to record the event. One of them happens to be me........
I am wondering about the statistics to be generated by the forthcoming conference. How many words will be blogged?? How many minutes/hours of podcasting will be uploaded?? Who is going to read and listen to all of this?? How many of those reading and listening are not attending the conference?? How many days/weeks will it take to complete the blogging and podcasting to upload and then to listen/read and respond to??
Would anyone like to guess?

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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Hitch a ride with HitchHikr

Congratulations to David Warlick for setting up a new interface for conference collaboration and accessing tagged blog postings. HitchHikr (try HERE if not opening) is a conference aggregator that is far from a 'dumb and useless idea' (David's comments) and here I am 'sticking my thumb out' to help promote it. Read about it on 2 Cents Worth.

In David's words:
In changing times, we need to raise our heads out of the water every once in a while, take a drink of kool-aid, network, learn, and energize. Yet, we can't always make it to the conferences we need to attend to mix with the people we need to see -- face-to-face. This is why Hitchhikr was invented, to provide you with a virtual space where, thanks to blogs, podcasts, and RSS, we can connect, share, respond, and grow knowledge out beyond the place and time of the event.

I signed up this morning and find the interface user friendly and comfortable. Of course the conference I am attending in 2 weeks, NECC06 is already represented, but so are many others that I will not have the privelege of a f2f experience therefore I am really looking forward to reading postings specific to certain events in the one place.

Thanks David! and I also look forward to the connectivity tutorials coming soon on HitchHikr!

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Friday, June 16, 2006

Defining my NECC program!

As well as trying to define my own presentation (eluding me in final form still) I am scanning and skimming the online NECC06 program and adding essential items to my conference planner. The statisitcs of this conference are intimidationg. Did you know there are 13 Concurrent sessions time slots (one-hour each) with 25 different presentations happening at each time .......that adds up to (3 5's are 15, carry the one....) 325 presentations just for this one category. Then there are keynotes, workshops, posters, global gallery, SIG meetings, rountable sessions etc....and the trade hall!

I would consider myself an experienced NECC attendee now (coming up for my 4th conference) though definately not entrenched
. A word of advice to new comers, try to focus on what is important to you. Make a preliminary plan and pencil in the essential sessions you need and then decide the day before on how to fill in the extra space. You will find that your focus tends to wander and you become attracted to sessions that may not have looked inviting from the online/hard copy blurb.

What is important to me? What are my objectives?
Coming from a 'hit the ground running' year here at ISD and looking forward to another year the same I have some specific objectives and things to find out at the conference.
  • Tablet PCs: we are looking to pilot Tablet PC technology to enhace our laptop program
  • Handhelds and ubiquitous computing: our handheld program has endured another year but needs reinforcement in terms of valid curriculum goals (podcasting is starting to do this)
  • Student learning environment: I need to explore software so we can decide what to use for learning management, including developing an alternative environment for presenting student digital portfolios. Moodle looks good, what about ELGG? (cannot find this through the NECC search)
What will I be attending?:
  • My own presentation Podcast Bangladesh where I aim to share our podcasting pursuits at International School Dhaka (This is on Wednesday 5th at 8.30. A special invitation to all who read this blog)
  • International Committee meeting. As a member of the ISTE International Committee I look forward to meeting other members f2f again this year and discussing development of ISTE as a truly internationally focussed organisation
  • International Attendees Reception. For all international attendees to meet and mingle. (4pm Tuesday 4th)
  • Kids Club....Oops this is for my daughter, what a great time she is going to have over the 3 main conference days with cultural and leisure activites in different locations around San Diego
  • Open Source Portal by Sharon Betts (re Moodle and eLearning) Wed 3.30
  • Nicholas Negroponte Keynote address: Not to be missed. Founder of the MIT media Lab and $100 laptop guru, and author of Being Digital. Thursday 8.45
  • A Web of Connections by Will Richardson Spotlight session Thurs. 3.30
  • Technology Leadership Forum Friday 8-12 Hosted by SIGTC and SIG Admin
OK, that's enough for today but I still have a lot of decisions to make and spare time to fill in...did I mention the SIGTC and SIGHC business meetings?

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Saturday, June 10, 2006

Why Handheld Computers?

Grade 7 Handheld User in the classroom

The handheld computer is the most recent example of a powerful learning tool for students. It is part of what is called the '4th wave' of technology which has brought the idea of anytime, anywhere, anyone mobile technology and learning. The 4th wave includes handheld devices, improved Internet connections and wireless access to information. The 4th wave builds on the communication, creation and collaboration of the 3rd wave of technology in the 1990's to provide teaming, lifelong learning, learning organisation and new approaches to teaching and learning of information and digital literacy. The use of handhelds in the classroom allows students to be actively engaged in their own learning and be more involved in their own enquiry into concepts. Technology is more natural to students today. They already have a vast array of technologies at home (mobile phone, playstation, desktop computer) and are comfortable with their use. Handhelds are ultra-portable allowing students to collect data in real time without having to 'go to the computer'.

What are our challenges as teachers and parents?

s teachers we need to give students relevant learning experiences and teach them how to appropriately use emerging technologies and apply them to real-world situations. We need to give students the abilities to embrace the 4th wave of technology because this is the future and that is where they will live. Parents need to support the program by encouraging security of devices and show regular interest and a desire to know how the handheld is being used for everyday learning.

But...what about their handwriting skills?

For the past two years the question has been asked at every parent meeting where handheld
computing is discussed. I have two main responses to this concern. Firstly, all teachers and students aim to use the best tools they have available for each particular task. It is obvious handheld computers are not the best device for writing an essay on unless perhaps an extension keyboard is attached. However, given a choice of copying a homework task by hand onto a piece of paper (2 minutes) or havi
ng it beamed (via infrared communication from the Palm) as a file from the teacher or fellow student (5 seconds) I would choose the latter as the most appropriate method. Secondly, as technologies continue to merge we will be witnessing more devices that can recognise handwriting on the screen and translate it into text. This is available for laptops and PCs (e.g. Tablet PC) and will become more prevalent with other mobile devices allowing handwriting to continue to be used in conjunction with the technology.

Promoting team work and collboration with handhelds

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Friday, June 09, 2006

Top 10 Favourite Ed Tech Blogs?

According to the ISTE SIG newsletter I received today via email (subscribers only) the Top 10 Favourite Ed Tech blogs for June 2006 are:

I am always pleased to be able to explore new blogs, particularly ed tech teachers and participants in the evolving paradigm of eLearning and digital literacy. I was also pleased to see that I already knew of and in fact subscribe to some of he above list, but by no means all. My question is where did this list come from? Is it an arbitrary list compiled for the newsletter or was it created through an educator vote?

Through the above list I have Bob Irving's 'Shiftin' Paradigm Blues: Notes from the trenches...a Middle School tech coordinators ramblings' to my bloglines. I see I am only the fifth person to subscribe to his blog...there goes the theory about popularity vote? However, I do look forward to reading his occassional postings and may have found another soulmate in the digital world.

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International Collaboration: Bangladesh to Australia

What started as individual weblog programs in two different schools in different global hemispheres has developed into an ongoing collaboration that has recently earned international recognition.

International School Dhaka, Bangladesh (Julie Lindsay, me and my school)
and Presbyterian Ladies College, Melbourne Australia (John Turner) have united for the second year to develop online interactive student projects. The projects have centred around two areas:
  • A Sense of Place: students post photos/images online with descriptive passages describing how these provide them with a sense of place for where they live, go to school etc., comments are encouraged from students at the other school
  • Online Debate: A fomal debate following agreed guidelines with adjudicators from each school. In 2005 this consisted of students posting text-based comments. This year (still to be completed) it has been expanded into vodcasts and podcasts with text also remaining. The topic this year is "School students can use the web to change the world"
We welcome viewers to our collaboration pages. This year we have a portal at Bangladesh to Australia weblog. Also the current debate material can be accessed from Burwood to Dhaka weblog and the ITGS Forum blog posting.

Also, we were all pleased to hear that we have been recognised in the 2006 SIGTEL Online Learning Awards with a Highly Commended for our
Bangladesh to Australia: Cross Cultural Learning via Online Collaboration entry.

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NECC06: Blogging and Tagging

David Warlick has started to blog about NECC06 and suggested we tag our posts with necc06. Great idea! Also, we now know there will be full wireless connectivity at the conference.

To be honest, the intricacies of RSS are still not completely clear to me but I am trying to keep up. The practice of tagging a blog post allows blogs all around the world to interconnect and ideas to interact and bounce around. It allows users to find like-minded posts on relevant topics such as necc06. I have not bothered too much about tagging my posts until now, however I am a presentter at NECC06, I will be blogging NECC06, I want to know who else is blogging NECC06 and what they are saying. Therefore, how do I tag my posts?

I have taken advice from Technorati and their help page on Using Technorati Tags. Being a user I think I come under the category of "If your blog software doesn't support categories or you're not sure". Therefore I am editing each post with the suggested HTML tag.
I have also investigated Ping Configurations on the Technorati site and for this has told me to make sure I have allowed my blog to be public so that automatic pings can be fed back to Technorati each time the blog is updated. Otherwise, I could manually update my ping as a Technorati subscriber. I am concerned about making the blog 'public' as such as this seemed to attract spam comments. I have advised my students not to make their blogs public for that reason.

I would welcome any further advice available on this matter re tagging and pinging.


NECC06: Corners and Oceans

Despite good intentions the posts on this blog have not been as regular as I would like. Being a full time technology coordinator and teacher in a developing international school tends to eat up the time and energy left for blogging. However, I am continuing to be an avid reader of other people's blogs and my aim is to be more proactive in continuing the digital conversation by sharing with my readers current hot topics and threads.

NECC 06: Just around the corner (and across the Pacific Ocean!)
I am really looking forward to NECC06 (National Educational Computing Conference organised by ISTE, International Society for Technology in Education) coming up in less than a month in San Diego. An email arrived today containing the first SIG (Special Interest Group of ISTE) newsletter which reminded me once again of the many opportunities that await thousands of attending educators at this event. It also included a link to some helpful Tips and Resources for Blogging.

The program for NECC is as huge as ever and fully searchable online. I have attended NECC the past 3 years in Seattle, New Orleans and Philadelphia and love the opportunity to see more of the USA as well as interact and learn at the actual conference.
This year I am presenting Podcast Bangladesh as a concurrent session. It is a challenge presenting on this more cutting edge topic as the proposal I submitted in October 2005 now looks a little off centre to what has actually developed in my school and with my students. However I intend to make my presentation a cultural exchange as well as share ideas and projects from the academic year. Searching the NECC program database brings up 28 items for the term 'podcast'. There is a good mix of practitioners talking about using emerging technologies in their everyday teaching and professional development as well as workshop 'how to' sessions on podcasting. The session 'Podcasting and Podcatching for the absolute beginner' is a spotlight session run by Larry Anderson, National Center for Technology Planning with Lucy Gray, Jeanne Halderson, Ted Lai, Julene Reed, David Warlick and Tim Wilson. Amongst the non-workshop (workshops = more $$$ to pay) sessions my Podcast Bangladesh presentation, being at 8.30am on the Wednesday will be the first session of the conference on this topic! Am I nervous? A little.......

OK, today is the day I start to plan (with gusto) what I want to say and how I want to say it about podcasting, Bangladesh, international collaboration and interaction, international education, emerging technologies, Web2.0, classroom integration, teacher PD and so on. (How long do I have to convey my message???) The online resources I have started and now wish to develop further and share with others are:

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