Friday, December 15, 2006

Flat Classroom Conversations: Part 3


Bangladesh ITGS Class: Without Walls

Part 5: What Would You Ask Thomas Friedman if He was Here?
Students were asked if Thomas Friedman was here what would they ask him? A candid discussion ensues. We considered that the world is flat based on the concept of the 'flattening of the playing field' and the technological developments (most of the ten flatteners) and that our classroom in Bangladesh has the same opportunity to be heard and make a difference as any other classroom in the world. Students expressed confusion and requested their TOK teacher to come into the discussion for further clarification. Listen to the next podcast as well (Part 6) for the next episode. (3 min 22 sec)

Students watch Friedman speak at MIT

Part 6: Flat World Concepts
A discussion between Flat Classroom students and International School Dhaka's Theory of Knowledge (TOK) teacher, John Lindsay about concepts related to and presented in Thomas Friedman's book 'The World is Flat'.
A question: What are the implications for education? For 21st Century Learning? Are we pioneers? Will other teachers do this Flat Classroom Project?
One answer from an educators perspective:
"The classroom is now not bounded by the four walls and that in a real sense things that are the other side of the world, whether that be round a spere or in a straight line, are still brought in much closer, things are more accessible (mobile and ubiquitous).....
There will be expectations then that students will take the shorter path in this flat world to the resources, there will be more expectations because of the possibility"
(John Lindsay) (6 min 25 sec)

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Flat Classroom Conversations: Part 2

Gr11_1 Gr11_2

Bangladesh ITGS Class: Without Walls
Continuing our conversations about the Flat Classroom Project and our 2 week collaboration with Vicki Davis' class in Camilla Georgia.

The project was completed on Tuesday December 12. The student wiki pages were locked down that day and now a team of international judges are reviewing each page and selecting winners for the handful of awards we have nominated. This is a bit of fun for us all. As I see it all of the students are 'winners' and any final recognition for a job well done will be icing on the cake for them.

Part 4: Flat Classroom Topic Discussion
Individual students talk frankly about their Flat Classroom Project topics. These were based on the ten flatteners discussed in Thomas Friedman's book, 'The World is Flat'.
(9 min 51 sec)
  • Naimul (aka Sourov) shares his candid thoughts about the Internet being 'a bad place' and how it can alienate users rather than unite them
  • Virtual communication: what are the best ways to do this?
  • How Google is taking over the world

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Flat Classroom Conversations Part 1


Well, I feel as though I have been around the world and back on a non-stop flight! A similar feeling to being hit by a Dhaka bus.
Seriously, we are all tired but feeling good that the Flat Classroom Project has been a success in more ways than one. The intensity of a short-run collaboration brings out the true character of all participants. It has helped my class to bond with each other and with me far more effectively than the regular day-to-day classroom experience. I am very proud that all of my students managed to finish their project and upload a personal video to their collaborative wiki page.
If you have not heard of our project yet read Flat Classroom Project Launch Today.

Here are direct links to their completed pages:
  1. Connecting the World Online
  2. How the World Wide Web has Changed the World
  3. How Work Flow Software can Enhance Productivity and Communications
  4. Combined with 8 due to absences.
  5. Why we should be promoting Web 2.0 tools for sharing information.
  6. Globalization and Outsourcing
  7. Google Takes Over the World
  8. (Combined with 4) The Changing Shape of Information - PLE's and Social Networking
  9. Mobile and Ubiquitous Computing
  10. Virtual Communications
  11. Wireless Connectivity
Bangladesh ITGS Class: Without Walls


Yesterday in our last class before the winter break my Flat Classroom students and myself as well as a couple of guest teachers discussed the project. The students shared their experiences, thoughts, suggestions for the future development of the project and more! I have created a series of podcasts from this discussion and invite you to listen in, from wherever you are in the world, to our conversations.

Part 1: Hello
This short podcast is a 'Hello' in Bangla and a discussion about the characteristics of the Bangla language. (2 min 22 sec)

Part 2: Reflection 1
Students discuss the use of a wiki for facilitating the Flat Classroom Project as well as their thoughts about global collaboration and tools used for this. (3 min 14 sec)

Part 3: Reflection 2
Students continue to reflect on their project experiences and discuss their involvement. They also talk about the educational advantages of doing this project, including their thoughts about the international exposure the project has attracted. (3 min 8 sec)

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Sunday, December 10, 2006

Flat Classroom Best Wiki Nomination Thank you

A sincere thank you to those who nominated our Flat Classroom Project in the Edublog Awards for Best Wiki 2006. We are very excited and honoured to have been included!

Also nominated were APWH Wiki, Classroom Google Earth, David Warlick’s CoLearners Wiki, Schome and Support Blogging. What an inspiring collection of innovative educators. I encourage you to explore these wikis as they offer cutting edge solutions to connectivity, collaboration and best practice use of online learning.

Click HERE to vote for your favourite wiki. You have until Midnight GMT Saturday 16 December 2006 to vote.

But that's not all! The news gets even better. Vicki Davis, my colleague on the Flat Classroom project, has also been nominated for Best Teacher Blog with her Cool Cat Teacher Blog. Also, one of our esteemed Flat Classroom Project 06 judges, Darren Kuropatwa has been nominated for Best Teacher Blog with his A Difference blog. Congratulations to you both!
To vote for Vicki or Darren click HERE
Also, Happy Blog-Birthday Vicki! What a great way to celebrate.

I am so proud to be working with international educators such as Vicki and Darren and others who have been nominated for EduBlog Awards. These educators are truly amazing, hard working, conscientious and have a profound love of teaching and improving education systems.

What also inspires me is the collectivism of edubloggers. One for all and all for one, to coin a phrase. A day does not go past (wait a minute, an hour does not go past) when I do not learn something from someone in the blogosphere. To be truthful I can't afford to open my aggregator while at school.....I can get seriously sidetracked ;-)

Thanks also goes to Josie Fraser for her work on the EduBlog Awards for the second year in a row.

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Thursday, December 07, 2006

Atif and ELGG: Watch the Video

In a recent post I shared the news of Atif, my student, being on the BBC 'Click' TV program talking about social networking. Since then, Atif agreed to upload his full 1.30 minute video to Google and has embedded it on our class wiki.

I recommend you take 2 minutes to view this young man and listen to his thoughts on social networking. He talks about the ability to be connected to the rest of the world through the learning environment blogging software called ELGG. He talks about not being alone and how he values online friendships as much as offline ones. He talks about living in a country such as Bangladesh where the political instability often makes travel difficult and how online communication provides vital social and academic resources.

Atif concludes his brief but eloquent presentation with:
"Nowadays everyone meets people online and it's not that dangerous, especially in Bangladesh since people we communicate with are mostly from foreign countries."

I hope you join me in appreciating Atif's realistic appraisal of the everyday use of online social networking tools, ELGG in particular. This is from the mouth of a digital native, a 'baby' of the 21st century, an international student/citizen with an honest and inclusive outlook.

As educators we can all learn something from this. We can learn to look for and promote the positive uses of emerging technologies. We can learn to persevere with their integration into everyday learning. We can learn about what it means to be an international person in a shrinking world. These are valuable lessons. Thank you Atif for being our teacher.

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Sunday, December 03, 2006

Digital Future 2007 Report Findings

I am picking up on some ideas from Andy Carvin's post to his blog on PBS Teacher Source to do with The Center for the Digital Future and their 2007 Report just released. The press release summary provides an insight into the use of the Internet in the homes of about 2000 Americans in an ongoing annual survey of the same households. Andy was intrigued by the increased involvement in online communities with offline or civic action.

I am finding these points interesting:

In general the 2007 Digital Future Project found that Internet use is growing and evolving as an instrument for personal engagement – through blogs, personal Web sites, and online communities.

Online Communities
  • Online communities: daily use -- A significant majority of members of online communities
    (56.6 percent) log into their community at least once a day.
  • Member interaction -- Online communities are online havens for interaction among members; 70.4 percent of online community members say they sometimes or always interact with other members of their community while logged in.
Internet Users
  • The number of Internet users in America who keep a blog has more than doubled in three
    years (now 7.4 percent of users, up from 3.2 percent in 2003).
  • The number of Internet users who post photos online has more than doubled in three
    years (now 23.6 percent of users, up from 11 percent).
  • New friends, online and in person -- Internet users are finding growing numbers of online friends, as well as friends they first met online and then met in person. Internet users report having met an average of 4.65 friends online whom they have never met in person. Internet users report an average of 1.6 friends met in person whom they originally met online -- more than double the number when the Digital Future Project began in 2000.
Internet Access and Use
  • Americans on the Internet -- more than three-quarters of American are Internet users; 77.6 percent of Americans age 12 and older go online.
  • The Internet at home – more than two-thirds of Americans (68.1 percent) use the Internet at home, a substantial increase from the 46.9 percent of users who reported home Internet use in 2000 (the first year of the Digital Future Project).
  • Hours online -- the number of hours online continues to increase, rising to an average of 8.9 hours per week, an average of one hour more than 2005.
  • Internet connections at home: modem use plummets -- Use of telephone modem to access the Internet continues to decline. Last year, the number of Internet users who reported that they went online through a telephone modem dropped to less than a majority (45.6 percent) for the first time in the Digital Future Project. Use of telephone modem for access dropped again, to 37 percent of Internet users.
  • Access to the Internet through a broadband connection grew slightly, increasing to 50 percent, compared to 48.3 percent in 2005.
  • Men and women online -- For the first time the percentage of women going online was higher than the number of men.
  • Internet use and its effect on time spent watching TV – More than one-third of Internet users (35.5 percent) say that they spend less time watching TV since they began using the Internet -- a modest increase over 2002.
The Internet and Education
Schoolwork and the Internet: children’s views -- Children and adults continue to express conflicting views about the importance of the Internet for schoolwork. Of Internet users age 18 and under, 80.5 percent say that going online is very important or extremely important -- slightly less than the 83.5 percent who reported the same responses in the previous study. However, almost three-quarters of adults (74.1 percent) say that since their household acquired the Internet, the grades of children in their households have stayed the same.

The Internet at Work
Does the Internet make workers more productive? -- The percentage of users who say the
Internet at work makes them more productive has continued to increase overall for all six years of this study. Almost 70 percent of users who have access to the Internet at work (69.7 percent) say that by going online at work their productivity has improved somewhat or a lot, an increase from 66.3 percent in 2005, 65.8 percent in 2003, 64.5 percent in 2002, 60.9 percent in 2001, and 56.7 percent in 2000.

Brief Summary
In general, according to this report the use of the Internet is higher, people have a better connection and are doing more 'social' activities such as sharing resources (photos) and making friends or communicating with family. There is signs of increaed use of the Internet at work along with increased productivity. In education however there is no real sign of Internet use to increase grades. In the latter I doubt there is actual acknowledgement of social interaction as a benefit from Internet use. It seems that more people are using online learning communities but not necessarily as a tool for educational pursuit.

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Saturday, December 02, 2006

BBC 'Click', Bangladesh, ELGG and Social Networking

Some excitement for my students this week! On the BBC 'Click' flagship technology TV programme Chris DeWolfe, the MySpace CEO is interviewed. As part of the 24 minute episode young people from around the world were invited to send in video clips of themselves talking about the use of social networking software. My student, Atif, took on this challenge and produced a 1.30 video describing his use of ELGG. He sent this to the BBC producers and was chosen as one of the handful of students to be featured on the episode. Well done Atif!!

We are very proud of Atif's recording. He speaks clearly and succinctly about the use of ELGG and how it helps to connect him with the rest of the world. Other people talk about different social networking sites and the main focus of course is on the use of MySpace. Chris DeWolfe gives a fairly impartial review of the development of MySpace and focuses on positive aspects.

To see the full 24 minute Click episode click HERE and scroll to the end of the text and select 'Watch the full interview'. This will open a new window with an embedded Real Player window. Atif is featured in the first 5 minutes.

In the short section that is viewed on 'Click' Atif discusses how ELGG links him with his immediate school community and the rest of the world. In Bangladesh with some of the political turmoil students sometimes find it difficult to physically get to school as the streets are not considered safe. Social networking software is playing an increasing role in joining alienated individuals, extending the walls of the classroom and enhancing educational experiences. This is all good and I not only encourage it with my students but build it into our everyday classes.

As an aside to this storyAtif had some problems uploading the final video to the BBC by the deadline. Last weekend Atif Skyped me and asked if he go into school to use the Internet as his was too slow at home and he needed to upload his video by a certain time. Luckily we have a wireless network (encrypted for security) so all Atif had to do was get his driver to park outside the school gate while he used his laptop and the WLAN, there was no need to even get me to come over and open up the building! If I can persuade Atif share and upload his full video to Google I will hyperlink it here.

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