Tuesday, October 31, 2006

K12 Online Keynote: Opportunities and Creativity in Education

Week 2 of the K12 Online Conference has started and I am working through the two new keynotes for this week. One aspect of this confernce is the range of accents! From a Georgian twang to a Scottish brogue! (I mean this affectionately of course).

The Overcoming Obstacles keynote:

Unleash the Potential: Remix Obstacles into Opportunities
by Anne Davis, Georgia USA

A select summary (bits that I wanted to particularly remember)
  • What is the best way to present the obstacles?
  • I don't have an answer for each obstacle, neither do you, but we all have a passion for creating environments for students where there is joy and excitement and a connecting and learning by talking and sharing globally.
  • We need to be creative and think of ways to get others involved....have those conversations in unexpected places....extend the conversations into actions that can affect the change.
  • Remix #1: An opportunity to change public opinion on high-stakes testing
  • Remix #2: An opportunity to reach a technophobic teacher: Provide examples of actual work with students...teachers want to see the technology making a difference
  • Remix #3: ...Seize the time...make the time for writing and thinking. Help educators reframe their use of time. Blogging is valuable use of time
  • Remix #4: An opportunity to build concrete examples that this type of learning is powerful.
  • Remix #5: An opportunity to involve others outside your classroom (parents, school board memebrs etc).....show them relevant posts made by students. Make them part of the process and they may become part of the solution...
  • Remix #6: An opportunity to change public opinion on the use of social networking tools in schools and libraries....the best way to protect our young people is through education. Invite parents in on the dialogue on these tools....
Anne's wiki Remixing Obstacles into Opportunities
Aim: to provide a 'Quick click' to 'just for the moment' resources. Readers are invited to contribute resources.

Anne asks: What is one way you can turn an obstacle into an opportunity??

I posted this comment to the conference blog just a while ago:

"Anne, I am thinking hard about how to turn an obstacle into an opportunity. Sometimes during the working week there seem to be so many ‘obstacles’ that I feel clousterphobic. I totally empathise with your views on needing to be working with the students. As an administrator I still have a teaching load, but my classes are like fresh air to me after meetings and problem solving and planning etc etc for the rest of my time. I am very reluctant to let them go. This is where I work through many of the obstacles that others find and help to show other teachers good examples of what is possible and what does improve communication and learning.

My looming obstacle is a parent education evening where I have elected to discuss digital literacy and eLearning and how it improves education and benefits the students….I think I may be throwing myself to the wolves here. However, I was heartened by a conversation with parents today (remember I am in Bangladesh but many of our parents are well educated and well travelled) about social networking sites and found their attitude to be positive and their knowledge broad about the good and not so good aspects.

After hearing you tonight I feel heartened and reinvigorated to start planning for my parent meeting and determined to turn it into an opportunity to share experiences, discuss fears and show examples of learning in the 21st century using the tools that these parents pay a lot of money for in school fees. Wish me luck! Thanks Anne for your inspiration!"

Checking the wiki again I find there are already great resources available that I can use for my parent evening with topics such as filtering and online safety issues. Anne also provides a page on presentations to be shared. Does anyone have presentation material or ideas or resources that are specifically for parent evenings aimed at fostering community learning, collaboration and discussion in a positive way? I would be most interested in seeing these. In return I promise to share the resources I finally put together for the session at our school in a few weeks.

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Thursday, October 26, 2006

Reaching New Heights with Online Learning

Since arriving home to Dhaka last night from our 6-day trip to Nepal and Kathmandu I have had my nose totally buried behind the computer screen. Luckily our wonderful maid, Nihola, arrived this morning (after her EID holiday) so that pile of washing and ironing is miraculously being done while I enjoy the blogosphere [the joys of an expat lifestyle ;-)].

Talk about new heights...'top of the world' in Nepal and now a chance to interact and learn from 'top of the heap' classroom practitioners, administrators and all-round collaborators. I am humbled by the diversity and quality of the presentations I have caught up with so far and will be spending the rest of today finalising my contribution for next week. When I used the term 'top of the heap' I was referring to those of us who are willing to put ourselves forward and share our experiences, to interact, to collaborate, in order to also learn from those around us. The list of presenters are as diverse as the topics they have offered to share. Diverse in geographical location, experience, position and outlook. However, we all have a common bond and this is what is making the K12 Online Conference so great! Today I have already downloaded new programs, learnt more about online presentation techniques and have a lot of new ideas to contemplate for when school starts again next week.

I would like to pay tribute so far to Vicki Davis for her systematic overview of wiki practice and pedagogy in the classroom. She presents a clear formula for success and I have learnt so much from her handouts and video! Her presentation is: "Wiki Collaboration Across the Curriculum".

Also, a tribute to Lani Ritter Hall for her presentation: "Second Nature: Extending Dialogue in the Blogosphere" . I have been trying to get together a definitive guide to blogging and commenting based on what others have already written. I thank Lani for her great video and list of resources. As a jazz musician and Brubeck fan, I also empathise with her analogy to jazz. I think we can all learn a lot from her work and her attibution to others, including Anne Davis.

Lani says about commenting to blog postings:
"Commenting is much like jazz, with forms and themes, but also incredible opportunity for creativity, innovation and adaptation"...... Use of commenting to extend and reinforce thinking and learning. Dialogue out there now often takes a shallow form and do not encourage the dialogue and deeper inderstanding of conversations. "....but it is hard to cross the line to comments that reflect good thinking. Time for new rhythm to scaffold the music".

Brubeck analogy "Take Five" benefits of blogging and commenting:
  • Global audience
  • Encourage deeper thinking
  • Connect students
  • Offere teachable moments
  • Improve writing
"Time Out"
  • Inapprorpaite comments: Grab a teachable moment and move on (A. Davis)
  • A Plan: report, delete, discuss, do not respond
"In Your Own Sweet Way"
  • Comment in writing
  • Oral (eg Vaestro)
  • Podcast
Lani reviews Blogmeister as a controlled environment for teachers and classrooms.
"Pennies from Heaven"
  • Invite parents
  • Other teachers
Lani concludes her video with:
"Second Nature": "Comments unleash the potential to foster incredible learning through meaningful dialogue...What sweet music! Won't you join?" Find more links to resources from her presentation.

Finally, I am also trying to edit and upload our Nepal photos.....here are a couple. The rest can be found here (eventually...don't worry I will remind you again when they are all uploaded).

Durbar Square during Diwali, Kathmandu

One view of the Himalayas (My husband took this! I have no stomach for joy flights)

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Thursday, October 19, 2006

Testing Talkr and reflecting on technology

I should be packing for my trip to Nepal tomorrow...however, why not add talkr to my account, and why not try it out on this great story I found on the OLPC site!

Found at the One Laptop Per Child wiki:

"One Pencil Per Classroom

Imagine that writing has just been invented in Foobar, a country that has managed to develop a highly sophisticated culture of poetry, philosophy and science using entirely oral means of expression. It occurs to imaginative educators that the new technology of pencils, paper and printing could have a beneficial effect on the schools of the country. Many suggestions are made. The most radical is to provide all teachers and children with pencils, paper and books and suspend regular classes for six months while everyone learns the new art of reading and writing. The more cautious plans propose starting slowly and seeing how "pencil-learning" works on a small scale before doing anything really drastic. In the end, Foobarian politicians being what they are, a cautious plan is announced with radical fanfare: Within four years a pencil and a pad of paper will be placed in every single classroom of the country so that every child, rich or poor, will have access to the new knowledge technology. Meantime the educational psychologists stand by to measure the impact of pencils on learning."

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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Friends of E-Learning Blog

Recently I blogged about the use of ClustrMaps and how I know where the readers of eLearning blog are, but would love to know who they are. Thank you to those who responded.....it was exciting hearing from you and reading your wonderful and supportive comments. Here is a summary of my new 'Friends of eLearning blog'

  • Thomas Ryberg from the northern part of Denmark has an eLearning Lab conference website about social software and Web2.0 and said: "...I very much enjoy your blog and have recommended it to students here as well in relation to a course on learning, social software, web 2.0"
  • Kelly Bauer, a 4th grade teacher from Albuquerque, New Mexico has a great cyberclassroom! and also uses clustrmaps. I can see tonight you now have your first non-US clustr on the map showing where I am in Dhaka, Bangladesh! Kelly said: "Blogs like yours are what have inspired me to finally start blogging myself and my students put out a podcast. Keep up the good work. I enjoy reading your blog!"
  • Diane P from 'the usually wet Northwest' is a 7th grade Language Arts/Social Studies teacher. I can see from your student blog you are from Oregon, USA. Your students are developing an interesting discussion on China via the blog this week!
  • Pete Whitfield is from Manchester in the UK and teaches music at a further education college to students of age 19+. (Pete, I am also a music teacher and have taught secondary-tertiary level....jazz is my speciality...in recent years I play rather than teach it). Pete's blog is called eLearning for Music Pete said, "I'm mad about learning technologies; my college is rolling out Moodle and I'm a big fan. The college would go nuts if I used a blog to manage my classes as the garden is very firmly walled at our place! ....I enjoy your blog; the writing is persuasive and engaging. Mine is currently a series of notes and comments!" Pete, don't underestimate yourself, I enjoyed reading about your daily struggles and passion for music technology, keep on blogging!
  • Quintus Joubert is Director of Business Development for a multimedia eLearning company (Cyber Media Creations) and has a newly created eLearning blog focused on computers for corporate training. Quintus said "Good job on a creative and entertaining blog, keep up the good work!"
  • Rachel, from Taranaki in New Zealand also left a comment. She has a colourful, upbeat and informative education blog called Bard Wired. Thanks for sharing Rachel!
  • and a late entrant...just in time for the edit to this post...'Em', a special education teacher, technology coordinator, and professional development specialist in Connecticut, USA said " Have only been reading your blog for a short while cause I just recently discovered it. And I'm glad I did." Thanks Em.
Thanks again to all of you for shouting out and identifying yourselves and for your kind and encouraging words. It is great to hear from you and to see what you are doing in your part of the world with blogging and eLearnng.

I have another request to all readers of this blog: Please join my Frappr map. Put a pin in the 'Friends of E-Learning Blog' map so that we can continue to share and be identified as a community of educational bloggers.

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K12 Online Conference: It's off!

Tonight (Dhaka time) David Warlick's Pre-Conference Keynote was launched on the K12 Online Conference Blog. Entitled "Derailing Education: Taking sidetrips for learning", David begins by focusing on the changing face of information. He highlights his keynote with an accompanying wiki, and a video presentation. He also invites participants to collaborate on an 'Assignment' via the wiki:

"Your assignment is to think about the educational technologies that we have used in the past, and the applications you learn about and explore in this conference, and try to place them in what seems to you to be the proper positions on the long tail."

There is also the first online
Fireside Chat coming up in about 5 hours with David using Elluminate.

agenda for the entire two-week conference can also now be found on the Blog.

In his posting today David mentions the
tyranny of locality and how we are not bound by this during the conference. We are free to watch, read, interact asynchronously and at times synchronously, consider, reflect and respond and partake when we please. This is great. I love it! However, let me inform you of the tyranny of living in a developing country on the other side of the world to the USA. This is a less discussed and documented concept in terms of online conference participation but I would like to highlight the main points:
  • I could not access any more than the first 5 minutes of David's video tonight as the Internet connection is crawling along here in Dhaka
  • The power went off at 9.25pm and came on again at 10.40pm (luckily I had one reading light and could at least get on with some of my marking...no Internet however at this time, slow or otherwise)
  • The fireside chat is at 4am on Tuesday October 17, given that this is now 5 hours away I doubt that I will be up, even though I do start the average school day at 5.30am.
I do not meant to detract from David's keynote at all, and I look forward to catching up with it in full probably tomorrow when our Internet is back to 'normal' again. I congratulate the organisers and behind-the-scenes master minds of the conference, and in particular David Warlick for his creative and accessible keynote.

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Friday, October 13, 2006

Google-centric learning

Nicholas Negroponte claimed that one of the first English words the village children and users of the $100 laptop learned was Google. It seems also for educational technology participants every second word or website lately is 'Google'. You would not have missed the YouTube takeover by google this week for 1.65 billion. Also this week Google announced a new website called Google for Educators. Read reviews on this from ZDNet and silicon.com. The site has a teacher newsletter you can sign up for which also links to a Google Teacher Center group. The education home page provides links to the following 'teacher suitable' applications:
  • Web search
  • Earth
  • Book search (cool!)
  • Maps (even cooler!)
  • Video (Google video)
  • Docs and spreadsheets (incorporates former writely.com)
  • Blogger
  • Sketchup (great clasroom applications for 3D design, great links to examples provided)
  • Calendar
  • Picasa (image manipulation)
  • Personalised homepage
  • Google Apps for Education (mail, talk, calendar and page creator)
It also provides tutorials and a chance for educators to 'speak out' on how they are using these tools in the classroom (moderated 'speak out' snippets found on main pages). Although in its early days I was most impressed with the user-friendly tutorials and ideas linked to each tool. But...that's not all folks...How would you like to be a 'Google Certified Teacher'? OK, I thought, why not? So I followed the link from the home page (association with WestEd looks impressive). As a pilot program it is being offered in Northern California (oh....) and it is a f2f one-day session. To be honest I am a little surprised. Google are starting to really take off with Web2.0 tools and are leading the way in many respects with digital literacy and flexibility of classroom facilities, so why run a 'have to be there in person', f2f pilot? Where is the global perspective? I would love to know if Google will broaden this to include international educators and if they have plans to run online sessions. Once again, as an international educator I am left out of the loop...well actually in this case all educators except those in Northern California are left out.

One other fairly new release from Google recently is The Literacy Project. It claims to be: "A resource for teachers, literacy organisations and anyone interested in reading and education, created in collaboration with LitCam, Google, and UNESCO's Institute for Lifelong Learning." It has links to the following:
  • Book search
  • Scholar
  • Video
  • Maps (find literacy groups around the world!)
  • Blogger
  • Groups
It is promoting sharing and collaboration around the world. Kudos Google for this one! The link to Video starts with " See what literacy organisations, schools, and educators around the world are doing - or share your wisdom with the world." Kudos Google!

Postscript: read what Andy Carvin has to say about this issue in his post this week "What's up with Google and teachers". BTW, my students were most impressed that my blog was quoted in an Andy Carvin blog!

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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Readers of E-Learning Blog Who Are You?

Dear readers of this blog, I know where you are but who are you? I would love to hear from you in a brief comment to this posting. Are you in education? Primary? Secondary? Tertiary? Are you in business? IT related? Are you a fellow blogger?

A warning to all Web2.0 users: Be careful about what you label as 'tacky'.
On a previous post with typical blogger 'toungue in cheek' style I made an 'off the cuff' remark about ClustrMaps. At the same time I wrote in amazement at what a great way to gather statistics.
Clustrmaps responded with:

"....on the grounds that (1) you're in the educational world and would probably prefer zero advertising, and (2) this may help reduce our 'tackiness' score, we'll give you a free upgrade to ClustrMaps+ status, which means no more advertising and (starting in a few days) better maps zoomed in to the various continents.

Hope that works out OK (readers: no insulting us just to get free ClustrMaps+ upgrades!)"

Today, to my surprise, I find I have been made one of three ClustrMaps Users of the Month for September 2006. What fun! Thanks ClustrMaps!

Update on statistics to this blog: I have had 296 visits since September 25! and 22 visits in the past 24 hours. This made entertaining breakfast talk in our house today. "Pass the CornFlakes please, by the way I have 3 clusters in Australia now", "More juice thanks, did I tell you I have two cluster in Africa?" "What is the island off the coast of China...oh Japan!, well I have a cluster there as well!"

[There was a working copy of the ClustrMap pasted here but Admin at Clustrmaps have just advised me that this will effectively double the number of hits to my site...ooops, sorry about that]

Also, you may have noticed on this blog I have linked to GeoVisitors. This facility shows the location of visitors in the past 24 hours. Not sure how and if if this corelates accurately with ClustrMaps or not but it is another fun way to identify activity to this blog.

I look forward to hearing from you this week!

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Friday, October 06, 2006

Getting a grip on social and personal learning

I have just blogged on In Touch with a Flat World about Community Learning with ELGG. I have nearly 30 students now using ELGG as their primary blog for my classes. I am pleased with the way it provides an interface for community and social learning. In conjunction with our class wiki for ITGS as well as other digital tools for a socially networked classroom I feel that we are starting to now model and create a vibrant 21st century classroom. We still have a long way to go as the students have not quite 'got it' yet as to why this is a good thing to do. However those that have been blogging and interacting online with me in class for up to three years now are getting closer. For example, the Grade 11 class had a couple of new students arrive this year who had never blogged and were quite nervous even about using their laptop in class. They are struggling and have not achieved the fluidity of the more experienced and dedicated amongst the class.

I thoroughly recommend you watch the video of Miles Berry at the Curverider event in the UK recently where he talks about
'Personalisation, social learning and the e-strategy.'
I am inspired by his comments and the practice he has put into using ELGG with Primary students within a closed network. Our practice here at International School Dhaka is with senior students using the free online elgg.net faciliy.

I have summarised the basics of what Miles (see bio) was saying about personalised and social learning using online tools:
  • For learning it is not always the destination that matters ….it is the people you travel with
  • Personalised learning focuses so much on getting to places as quickly as possible…actually we should be thinking about social and exploring the places enroute and talking to the people you are traveling with.
  • Moodle: freedom for the learner to choose the bits they want to explore, to engage with others.
  • ELGG could provide a personalized online learning space re UK plan to achieve this by 2008 for every student. Collaborative approach, not simply personalized learning, more of a social model.
  • Digital show and tell using ELGG space: ePortfolio
  • Moving towards something the students actually use rather that just for assessment purposes
  • ELGG provides the ability to find other learners who are enthusiastic and interested in the same things.
  • The idea of writing for an audience mattered a lot to the students…..the reflection they encouraged helped to take more responsibility for the learning they are engaged in.
  • ELGG says these are the resources and learning objects that other learners are interested in
  • The idea that it is not simply about content…about engaging in productive activities
  • ELGG and Moodle has a role in supporting teacher PD: being able to connect and share experiences
  • Concept and practice of what it means to be a person…adding to the value of content rather than taking from it.
  • Instructivist agenda…getting through the content still prevalent, however there is social learning and a constructivist approach in some schools…classrooms as learning communities, learning from one another.
  • Who personalizes the learning? Is it ‘the computer knows best?’
  • Role of the parent as well…contributing content and response via the blog. Role of the teacher of suggesting resources and content. Role of the pupil to personalize learning, make choices
  • Person the individual should be able to choose their learning journey, every person has a unique contribution to make.
What I really like about social learning is the ability to see a little bit further into the minds of my students. Through their blogs and interactions I can monitor what they are discovering each week, how they feel about it, when they are finding concepts difficult and how they support each other with their work. I can see who has not bothered to explore and reflect each week, who has participated in the learning process and who has not.

One reason why many teachers are not blogging or not encouraging blogging as part of what they do, I think, is that are intimidated by this more 'up close and personal' relationship with their immediate students. They are not willing to put themselves on the line either. My students read my blogs when they want to, they even post comments. I am prepared to share and be part of the learning community as well.

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Monday, October 02, 2006

Global Learn Day

Now in its tenth year Gobal Learn Day is happening later this week on October 7/8. Thanks to John Hibbs who works hard as the 'Captain' of the voyage around the world.

This promises to be a fascinating and almost surreal event as interviews and comments and online material is collected over a 24 hour peiod from many different areas of the world.

See the timetable of main events.
The keynote speakers are Vint Cerf and Sir John Daniels.
The Global Learn Day blog gives more details.
Keynotes and special appearances.
The full list of speakers is extensive.
Information on how to talk, listen, text and chat can be found HERE.

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Get Ready for the K12 Online Conference!

A brief update about the K12 Online Conference.
The list of proposals from countries is US centric however there are inclusions from Australia, UK, China, Canada and of course Bangladesh ;-).

A PDF flyer can be downloaded HERE to help spread the word in your own immediate or global community about the conference.

Also check out the conference timeline and K12 Online Conference Blog.

Also, collect all of what is being blogged and images that are being uploaded to Flickr.com at Hitchhikr.com for this conference.

Don't forget the dates for the online conference are:
October 23-27 and October 30-November 3

Being in a muslim country the first week coincides with end of Ramadan celebrations called EID and our mid-term holiday. Therefore most of our teachers at International School Dhaka will be out of the country travelling. I will probably be in Nepal for the first half of week 1, hoping to pick up a good Internet connection at the 'Yak and Yetti' hotel!

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, try to join the conference and participate, interact, collaborate and be part of this online event. Try not to be passive about it as the ideal is to be a contributing participant as well as an observer.

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