Tuesday, January 30, 2007

ISTE and NETS: Should be called iETS or GETS?

You may be interested to explore the
Draft of refreshed NETS for students by the International Society for Technology in Education.

This is a working document detailing "What students should know and be able to do to learn effectively and live productively in an increasingly digital world..."

On the NETS refresh Project page it states:
"The collective wisdom of the educational technology community is necessary to help ISTE maintain the NETS for Students and associated resources as fresh and meaningful guides for leadership and innovation in the use of technology. Please add your voice and expertise to the NETS•S Refresh Forums."

YOU are invited to contribute to their online survey to have input into what the National Educational Technology Standards should look like.

What are the new NETS?

I: Creativity and Innovation (new)
Students think creatively, construct knowledge, and develop innovative products using technology.
II: Communication and Collaboration (based on old NETS 4)
Students use digital media and environments to communicate and work collaboratively, including at a distance, to support individual learning and contribute to the learning of others.
III: Research and Information Retrieval (5)
Students access, retrieve, manage, and evaluate information using digital tools.
IV: Critical Thinking, Problem-Solving and Decision-Making (6, 3)
Students use critical thinking skills to plan and conduct research, manage projects, solve problems and make informed decisions using appropriate technology tools.
V: Digital Citizenship (2)
Students understand human, cultural, and societal issues related to technology and practice legal and ethical behavior.
VI: Technology Operations and Concepts (1, 3)
Students demonstrate a sound understanding of technology concepts, systems, and operations.

I just completed the survey about each point and contributed a couple of ideas for rewording. I am impressed with the idea to highlight creativity and innovation but think that more emphasis should be given to what the outcome is. Creativity is a powerful force that can be used to improve the way we learn, the way we live, the way we communicate. What are the local and/or global outcomes of a student's creativity and innovation? Can a statement that comes towards raising awareness of output and consequences be included in this document as part of the first standard?

The online survey, however, offered no opportunity to contribute a new name for the standards! Why are they still being called 'N' (National) ETS?? Let's really put the 'I' into ISTE and take the opportunity to break away from US-centric nationalism and create a truly global and useful set of standards that can be adopted internationally.

My humble suggestions include:
  • iETS, International Educational Technology Standards (doesn't role off the tongue so easily and may be confused with a new gadget ;-)).
  • GETS, Global Educational Technology Standards...lets 'GET' them
  • iLDS, International Literacy and Digital Standards (??)
What do you think? How can ISTE best cater for all of its members and educational technology initiatives on a global basis? How does the NETS refresh come towards doing this? or does it still have a long way to go? Have you already completed the online survey? What did you say?

As a member of the International Committee for ISTE I am very interested in what you (as an ISTE member or as a person working in education reading this blog) has to say.

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Sunday, January 21, 2007

The Flat Classroom Project, The Learner Profile and School 2.0

Those of my readers who have followed our Flat Classroom Project may be interested to know it is pretty much all over for this season. The awards have been announced and students have voiced their opinions on the project, the process and the flat world. The wonderful judges have contributed their time once again to discuss where we have come from and where we could now go to. However, Vicki Davis and I continue to discuss and reflect on what actually happened and what significance it has had in terms of our own teaching and student learning.

Quite a lot has been written about School 2.0, 21st century learning, different models of education in the classroom, bringing schools out of the 20th century, and new schools modelling best practice reform recently. There is a common theme running through all of these that focuses on defining what 21st century skills are and describing the ideal learner and learning scenario in this new century.

Well, in my humble opinion, the Flat Classroom Project is an excellent example of what 21st century learning is about. Let me explain this with reference to what is called the
Learner Profile from the International Baccalaureate Organisation.

From the IB learner profile booklet it states,
"The aim of all IB programmes is to develop internationally minded people who, recognizing their common humanity and shared guardianship of the planet, help to create a better and more peaceful world."

I would like to focus on five of the 10 attributes: Inquirers, Communicators, Open-minded, Risk-takers and Reflective.

Natural curiosity and a love of learning was fostered throughout this project by the intense need to work with a complete stranger. Students started the project posting a short personal audio introduction to the wiki. To us it was curious that the southern American accent and lifestyle was so different. Why did these students spend time hunting quail and other animals, why did they seem to play and watch so much football? We inquired further and learned more about our partners and their lifestyles.

Working effectively and willingly and being creative when expressing ideas was very important throughout this project. We found that given the time zone differences we were never in the classroom at the same time therefore synchronous interaction such as chatting online or using Skype (VoIP) was limited. This did not matter as we also had asynchronous methods with which to communicate. The wiki itself provided a discussion forum for each page where teachers and individual students for that topic could post messages to each other.

This project was designed to share life experiences and cultural differences. The cultural interaction promoted knowing more about the world (Time magazine's first 21st century skill) and a sense of celebration of similarities rather than dismissal due to differences. We designed a code of ethics that stated "Remember you have a global audience. Everything you create can and will be viewed by others. Our schools have paired together because of our mutual standards of excellence and pursuit of 'flat classroom' experiences and educations for our respective classrooms. Represent the best your country has to offer in your actions and understanding."

As the students approached unfamiliar situations and uncertainty their true strength of spirit helped them explore new roles, ideas and strategies. This was not an assignment that could be written in one night. This project relied on time management, planning, organisation and above all interaction with their partner. It involved learning about new IT tools that would allow students to use multimedia to express their ideas. It was a whole new learning paradigm that needed independent, responsible and brave students and teachers to see it to completion. It also allowed for opportunities for excellence in different areas and, as per the flat world theme, all students were leveled by having the same chance to excel. Not all did excel of course as this is the real world we are discussing, not a fairytale.

A major focus of the Flat Classroom Project is to take time to reflect on what has been done, how it could have been improved and where to go from here. Through their personal blogs, group discussions and written reflections students have given thoughtful consideration to their own strengths and weaknesses and the learning that took place.

Pizza: Food for the flat world?

The pedagogy of the Flat Classroom Project allows for embedding social learning into the mainstream curriculum. It uses real-world topics and authentic assessment. It focuses on student-centred learning and personal development largely through responsible online interaction and use of Web 2.0 tools. It fosters and developes 21st century skills and global learning. It breaks down the classroom walls and flattens the teacher-student relationship.

It has been a life-changing educational experience for us all.

Congratulations to all participating students and teachers for leading the way so that others may follow and find their own adaptation and meaning.

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Sunday, January 14, 2007

Meet Justin Medved from ISB


While in Bangkok recently I visited Technology and Learning Coordinator for the International School Bangkok (ISB), Justin Medved, at school. He spent some time showing us around the fabulous campus and discussing his ideas for improving education using technology.

Justin is a young, confident and enthusiastic teacher. Originally from Canada he is out discovering the joys of expat life and international teaching for the second time, his first experience out of Canada was in Egypt. ISB is a large and well resourced campus. Justin proudly showed us the initiatives in the library, classrooms and computer labs to do with how the technology is being placed, accessed and used on a daily basis. He outlined his vision for a school where all curriculum areas are thinking about the learning and using available digital tools to support this.


Justin is currently searching for a library/literacy/tech person to support the Elementary school and to complement his work in this area. It has to be somebody who understands how to collaborate as a team with other teachers and to share enthusiasm about Web2.0 and digital literacy.

Listen to the podcast with Justin recorded live standing outside the Design Technology room right next to a water feature (yes, you can hear running water in the background).

Quotable quotes from Justin:
"Viral enthusiasm when everyone gets the same tool and they are all learning to solve problems...if I can find my high flyers and early adopters and really teach them well.....I see my job as making myself redundent...if noone needs me any more I have done my job"

"Who's teaching the 21st century literacy skills...that's everyone's job!"


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Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Edublog Awards 2006 Thank you


A big thank you to the Edublog Award organisers (especially Josie Fraser) and to all of the viewers of the Flat Classroom Project. A special thank you to Vicki Davis [my fellow workaholic ;-)] and to all of our students in Dhaka, Bangladesh and Camilla, Georgia who have been wonderful throughout and delightfully intrigued by the international recognition our project has received.

On the
Edublogs Award page you will find a list of the winners in the other categories. I also recommend you read Graham's post about winners and non-winners at Teaching Generation Z. The award show can be heard via podcast from the EdTech Talk website.

What really inpresses me about these awards is the international representation and the recognition of best practice blogging and use of online spaces from a global perspective. Congratulations to all winners and nominees!

You will find this on the Edublog page, but in case you are wondering what the Flat Classroom Project is all about:

The world is indeed flat as are our classrooms. We truly believe that we taught lifetime lessons within a short two and a half week project. Our students entered the projects as kids and are now using terms like “professional” and “collaborative” to talk about who they are. Working through the project requirements has made them more aware of the meaning of connectivity and learning and has highlighted the sense of responsibility that we all have to be collaborators on the path to knowledge. This sort of project indeed serves as a landmark and a notice to all teachers that they can now connect with other teachers via their blogs to find curriculular commonalities and create collaborative learning environments that can be meaningful and fair to their students. This is truly the greatest project that each of us have participated in and we look forward to doing more together and with other classrooms around the world. Thank you for recognizing us and the amazing students who have truly created the content on this amazing wiki. Thank you for this recognition!

Written by Vicki Davis & Julie Lindsay

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Monday, January 01, 2007

Five Things About Me

First of all, Happy New year to all and I hope that 2007 brings lots of challenges, opportunities and special joy. I was tagged by Vicki Davis recently and decided New Years Day was a good time to share some information. Here goes:
  1. I was born in Melbourne, Australia and lived there until 9 years ago when my family and I left for international teaching. My married name (sounds old fashioned doesn't it?) is Lindsay, of the Scottish Lindsay's (with the 'ay', not 'ey'). My maiden name is Hunter of the north Ireland Hunter's. My mother's maiden name is Irvine, originally from England, somewhere near Chichester as I had a great great uncle who played organ in the Chichester Cathedral. As you can see my origins are very much from Great Britain but being only second/third generation Australian there no convict chains rattling in the closet.
  2. I have one daughter who we named Violet Rose. I love cottage gardening and once had a wonderful garden back in Melbourne, hence the attraction to flowers. The year Violet was born she was mentioned in a noteworthy Australian magazine as being the only person with her name recorded that year. Violet as a name was more common two generations ago but I believe there has been a slight revival in the past 10 years.
  3. I am a jazz musician and have a masters degree in music (jazz analysis). I play piano and worked for many years in a band and as a soloist playing at piano bars and other venues. No, I do not sing (unfortunately), despite many singing lessons and a willingness to improve I just don't seem to have that talent. Playing jazz is my outlet although there are few opportunities here in Dhaka. Being a jazz musician is something that I treasure as it is quite personal but at the same time can be easily shared with others. I dream of one day owning a grand piano and a house with lots of windows looking out onto a beautiful garden.
  4. This is the 7th year I have lived in an Islamic country, 3-years in Kuwait, and now this is our fourth year in Bangladesh. Both countries have quite different approaches to being Muslim, however some aspects are the same. The ongoing muezzen sounding out from the many mosques dotted is a familiar sound. Also, today happens to be Eid-ul-Azha: The Festival of Sacrifice. This signifies the end of Hajj and Muslims celebrate with special prayer and sacrificial killing of animals. Here in Dhaka there will literally be blood in the streets this morning. Last night we walked around our neighborhood to see many cows and goats tied up in the streets adorned with colouful garlands and being fed copious amounts of food. Today, this morning, they will be sacrificed and butchered with the meat shared amongst the poor. It is a dramatic sight.
  5. I love my profession of teaching and particularly love the new challenges that learning with digital tools and disruptive technologies brings. Connectivity is a keyword for me. It helps to break the isolation of living in more remote places and it allows me to interact with wonderful people from all over the globe. I enjoy working with learners of all ages and despite ambitions to move into adminstrative leadership positions I am reluctant to leave the classroom as the daily contact with students is an essential element of being an educator for me.
OK, there you have it. I would like to tag Jeff Utecht, Miles Berry, and Miguel Guhlin

Cows in the streets of Dhaka the night before Eid-ul-Azha

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