Monday, February 26, 2007

Sohel's Wedding

Mohammad Mahbubur Rahman Sohel, known to his friends as Sohel, is our IT Liaison Officer at International School Dhaka. He works with the IT Managers to support our digital program and liaises with teachers, students and other staff to provide service and support for laptops, handhelds, other devices and software etc. Basically if anything goes wrong with technology the first person we all go to is Sohel. Needless to say Sohel has a good command of the English language and the patience of a saint, the latter being most essential when dealing with frustrated users of the network and vague or misguided students who can't login, print or boot their laptop, amongst other ailments.

This past week Sohel was married to Chotto, or more formally Ismatul Komor. It was a marriage organised by both families. A group of teachers and IT personnel were invited to Sohel's village for the wedding. We took off in two mini buses early on Friday morning and headed west for the village of Faridpur, a 'back water' according to the Lonely Planet on Bangladesh. The trip took about 4 hours and included crossing one of the two largest rivers in Bangladesh, the Jamuna, on a car ferry. I was surprised at how much of a novelty us westerners were on this trip. It reminded me of my trip through China 22 years ago when I mini-bused all the way up the East coast to Nanjing and was stared at at every opportunity. On this trip, stopping to sight-see or take a break from the hectic road we were always surrounded by Bangladeshi's who came to observe us in a curious but friendly manner.

The actual wedding program we attended involved both families and was the final reception in a series of days and events. The marriage ceremony had already taken place on a different day. The new bride, adorned in a shari and trimmed with henna and jewellery, sat in a room waiting to receive visitors while Sohel met and greeted all guests at the front. We were surprised that he was not in traditional wedding attire for a groom but were told his new father in law had bought the what could he do but wear it? We dressed in salwar kameez (traditional pants and tunic) or shari or punjabi (men) and after greeting the bride were taken to eat and then mingle with the other guests. It was a friendly and happy occasion.

Sohel and Chotto

Crossing the Jamuna river by ferry

Sightseeing: Ros with many curious friends

Violet and Benjamin with iPod

This last photo I love. I call it a 'cultural juxtaposition'. On this occasion we drove to a river closer to Faridpur to see the work being done to try and beat the erosive forces of nature. As usual we were followed by a group of villagers. Violet and Benjamin, being a little bored with the significance of their surroundings were more engrossed in finding their favourite tunes on the iPod. Notice the NECC ISTE kids camp TShirt from last year? You see, somehow I had to include technology into this post.

See more photos of our trip.

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Connecting Globally

Last Friday evening I was invited to Skype with Vinnie Vrotny. Being exactly on the opposite side of the world Vinnie, Director of Academic Technology at North Shore Country Day School, Winnetka, IL USA was 12 hours behind my time zone. So, at 8.30 am in Winnetka and 8.30pm here in Dhaka we had a Skype session to kick-off his teacher workshop on 'global connections'. I was pleasantly surprised that my Skype was working so well and despite some bad feedback in my headphones the session ran smoothly. I was invited to talk about my approach to and experience with global collaborative projects.

I am very impressed with the initiatives Vinnie is taking with his school and his determination to encourage and support his teachers on the road to connecting with others around the world. He has even started a parents course on Moodle called 'Gaining Digital Citizenship'. I encourage you to read his comprehensive blog posting about the the 'global connections workshop' as he includes the podcast from our session, discusses passive and active collaboration and how and where to find partners. He writes about finding connections by being active in the blogosphere. It is still an insiders secret that new friends and connections and 'soul mates for collaboration' can be found through being online and taking the initiative to make contact via email, commenting to a blog posting, reading RSS feeds and following leads from other blogs.

In Vinnie's words:

"If you are really willing to move forward, create your own blog. Use it as a place to reflect on your teaching. Others may find it and be willing to share their thoughts and comments with you. Once the connections are made, then you can use them to expand your network.

Whenever I find a project, blog, wiki, or podcast that I want to utilize, I always contact the creator. By doing so, you let them know that they work that they created is valuable to someone and it allows you to establish a new relationship. It is through these new relationships and networking that you find out about other projects and resources. It is through sharing and communicating that we expand our world.
It all starts with you and your willingness to take the first step. It can be scary, but the reward far outweighs the risk."

Like Vinnie, I believe connectivity and making the most of opportunities to support social learning are fundamental to 21st century education.

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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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Friday, February 16, 2007

Going 1:1- An international school perspective (Part 1)

I am responding particularly to Jeff Utecht's request for ideas and input on 'How to go 1:1'. I am also using this posting as an overview of the past 3 years of the Laptop Initiative For Education at International School Dhaka (ISD), Bangladesh.

Jeff's school, the Shanghai American School, is in an enviable position as it has made a strong commitment to 21st century learning and they have already fostered that with open discussion, ongoing planning and now a week of workshops and conversations with resident consultant David Warlick. Now the question is how to proceed with a 1:1 program and how to spend the money available! I think the fact that SAS is an international school is pertinent to the plans that are put into place but more importantly the essential philosophy and vision needs to be agreed on so that everyone can move forward towards that goal, maybe at varying speeds but at least in the same direction. Using ISD as the model I will offer my experiences over the past 3 years.

The Vision
Creating a 1:1, mobile and ubiquitous school environment is essential. There is no question about this. Students and teachers need to be online (Intranet and Internet) when they need it, not when it is convenient to the timetable (computer lab scenario). They also need access to creativity and productivity tools provided by computing (eg audio and video file and software) to support their learning in an integrated, holistic approach to curriculum. We have this vision at ISD and it is clearly articulated. It is also clearly supported with available funds given the circumstances of the school itself. ISD is a for-profit international school that has been fully accredited to deliver the IBO programs at PYP, MYP and DP levels. We have about 320 students in the secondary school (middle/high).

Laptop Initiative For Education (LIFE)
Our laptop program has always been based on student and teacher ownership of the devices. We do not have laptop carts, we do not give laptops to teachers. We expect all students from Grade 8 and above to purchase a laptop and have it at school ready to use everyday. On a regular school day we now have about 220 laptops being used.

To facilitate this we have provided:
  • An IT Support department to troubleshoot device and connectivity problems; to configure all laptops to the WLAN; to install and take responsibility for the compulsory Norton Corporate anti-virus software (cost passed onto the students) and to install designated software as per curriculum objectives at the time
  • A WLAN throughout the secondary school and library areas where the laptop students are working
  • Deals with representatives of local and international companies (HP and DELL) to provide certain laptop specifications as well as a 3-year service warranty for each device. This means next business day support by a technician to the school and a replacement laptop on loan if the student's device is down for a period of time
  • Reduced price licensed software (cost passed onto the students) for designated packages, currently we install Inspiration, Adobe Acrobat and Adobe PhotoShop Elements (I might add this was a coup in Bangladesh where unfortunately pirated software is the norm)
  • A teacher interest-free loan to purchase a laptop (model designated by the school)
  • A laptop incentive scheme for teachers this year to give up their classroom desktop in favour of their own laptop (option to take a portable hard drive and an LCD flat screen)
  • Security for devices with lockable student lockers and exit gate checks to ensure the owner is the person taking the laptop off the premises
Implementation of laptops into everyday learning and classroom practice has been facilitated by:
  • Ceiling mounted digital projectors (half of the classrooms this year, half next year)
  • Projectors available for loan from IT Support to continue to support those without permanent installations this year but also to foster continued mobility of use. It may not be convenient to always have the projector facing a certain wall!
  • Encouraging digital exchange of documents (eg PDF files) and ongoing digital communication with students via email, blogs etc
  • Encouraging PD and conversation that promotes best-practice use of laptops
We do not have a perfect implementation. We have teachers who are not on board for various reasons. We have technical problems and theft and a number of ongoing challenges, some pertinent to where we are and who we are, some related to the big picture of ubiquity and 1:1 learning. However, we are continuing to improve and extend and refine. I cannot imagine working in a school where students of the levels I described above do not carry laptops.

As an international school with many teachers staying only 2-3 years I do think it is better to invest in the infrastructure of the school and in the teacher's PD. I do not think the school should purchase laptops for teachers. A laptop or inequivalent mobile device should be seen as essential to a teacher's toolkit and be a personal purchase. However it is essential that all or most teachers do have a laptop/mobile device and are brought on board early.

I am calling this post 'Part 1' as I am sure there are experiences left out that I will want to talk about later. Also, we have a handheld program at ISD so Part 2 will give some details about this 3-year old program.

Your comments and responses are always welcome!

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Monday, February 12, 2007

The Moving Finger Blogs.........

I have an affinity with the Persian poet, Omar Khayyam. My grandfather quoted his verse all the time and spent hours trying to explain the meaning of them to me. I grew up remembering but not always understanding his 4-line or quatrain verse.

At my grandfathers funeral I read three of the verses from
The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam (or was it four?). I have to think hard now which ones they were as this was over 20 years ago. I have not revisited Omar for a long while. So, where has this blog posting come from? And where is it going to?

  • Firstly, we happened to watch a DVD the other night, The Keeper, about the life story of Omar Khayyam. It was something we picked up at our favourite pirated shop here in Dhaka for the usual $1.50. What an amazing 11th century scholar, mathematician and astronomer
  • Secondly, my family and I are moving back to the Middle East in August to take up new teaching positions at Qatar Academy (more about that later) so I have been ruminating on this life changing decision and preparing myself for the turmoil of moving
  • Thirdly, I was tagged by Miguel Guhlin a while back now with the request to write about how I go about developing posts for my blog! So Miguel, here goes a belated response.

Blogging allows me to reflect and evaluate and be 'erudite' if I want to or be 'trivial' if I want to.
I write for myself as well as for others. I like to reflect on what I have found online and also to share new ideas and findings with others. It helps to assimilate the new knowledge out there by writing about it and preserving 'research' in a blog post for future reference.

Blogging provides an opportunity to co
mmunicate with different people and to make connections that would not be possible in any other way.
I have 'met' many new friends through online interaction and often consider one or more of them as I write to my blog. What would "....." think about this? How would they respond and evaluate this issue? and so on.

Blogging gives me a chance to say my piece, make my peace and leave a piece of me for others to remember.

"Oh, come with old Khayyam, and leave the wise
To talk: one thing is certain, that life flies
One thing is certain, and the rest is lies;
The flower that once has blown for ever dies"

Blogging is all encompassing, all consuming, personal, public, joyous and unforgiving.

"The moving finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy piety nor wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a line,
Nor all thy tears wash out a word of it"

Blogging is an indulgence I enjoy, and life is too short to not do what you want sometimes!

"Ah, make the most of what we yet may spend
Before we too into the dust descend
Dust into dust, and under dust to lie
Sans wind, sans song, sans singer and sans end"

Browse more of Omar Khayyam's verse

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Sunday, February 11, 2007

Wiki Pedagogy: 1001 More Reasons to Take Notice!

I am fascinated by the pedagogical development of wiki's in education. I looked back at some previous posts about wiki's including two of mine and two from Vicki Davis. These specifically explore and present best-practice use of wikis for writing and collaboration. They also reveal secrets of how to develop a wiki-centric classroom. Then there has been our collaborative Flat Classroom Project that also used a wiki to unite users and define online interactivity.

Well, I am excited to share with you another best-practice wiki discovery! Clay Burell from Korea International School has launched the Thousand and One Flat World Tales Project. This is a writing project where Clay's students are encouraged to tell an 'amazing story'. A clear assignment is detailed for Clay's students and ideas about creating a 'blook' but there is more than that, Clay has invited students from around the world to tell '..a never ending tale...' Already students from Colorado, Hawaii, Missouri, Connecticut, Canada as well as Korea have joined together to start writing collaboratively.

Clay was the guest speaker on International Voices, the weekly podcast produced by NextGen Teachers. He talks about the writing process and how online publication facilitated by a wiki provides for 'authentic audiences' and 'authentic publishing.' He sees the wiki ' a tool and a better way to develop student writing.' I suggest you listen to his conversation in the International Voices podcast (see the sidebar on this blog!, or download here. If you want your students to have a global project experience and develop writing skills why not join Clay and his 1001 Flat World Tales!

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Thursday, February 08, 2007

My Internet Speed Test Meme

After yet another frustrating evening on the telephone to our ISP night person, Sheesh DeltaSoft is the company in Bangladesh and provides the connection for our school and our apartment. Seeing as I am Head of Technology I get a little bit of attention sometimes ;-), so I have been trying to get some bandwidth.....and not really succeeding.

The latest is he thinks it is my wireless router and tomorrow evening will come and turn the router into a switch with a fixed IP address for our three laptops. Well, I think that is what he meant..... The fibre optic cable went down again today in Dh
aka so the connection for the country reverted back to satellite and we really felt it in class.
Now, as I am about to go to bed after having completed only one of the five blogging and online tasks I had set for myself I find Chris Craft has started an Internet Speed Meme. Yes Chris I agree that high-speed Internet access is a strong flattening effect and right now I wish that I had some!

Try your own luck with the online speed test and use the tag speedtest07

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'Expert Voices' fosters blurred boundaries

One of the Flat Classroom Project judges, Darren Kuropatwa, is airing an idea, or rather developing an initiative this past week. He calls it 'Expert Voices'. His ideas include collaboration and breaking down the walls of classrooms. He discusses similar objectives to the Flat Classroom Project in terms of working in groups, producing learning objects, using blogs and wikis and students being able " demonstrate their expertise in the topic and demonstrate it in a format that educates an interested learner."

I really like the direction Darren is taking with this. As he puts it on his A Difference blog:

The boundaries between classrooms blur.

The boundaries between teachers blur.

The boundaries between grades blur.

The boundaries between students blur.

Learning crystallizes.

Darren has set up a wiki for Expert Voices and is inviting classrooms around the world to offer concrete proposals for ideas of how and when to connect students studying related content.

Providing resources and facilities for teachers to find each other around the world is not a new idea. We need to step back a little and reflect on the success that initiatives such as the Global SchoolNet Foundation with the Global SchoolhouseInternational School's Cyberfair, or the International Education and Resource Network (iEARN) with their global Learning Circle classroom program amongst other programs.

The availability of Web 2.0 tools coupled with increased bandwidth and new online liaisons amongst educators is continuing to bounce many new ideas around. However the organisations that have for a long time now been encouraging collaboration and multicultural projects continue to have a lot to teach us in instructional design, project outcomes and teacher preparation. Darren mentions rubric development and I know he has been working on best practice rubric models just as Vicki and I have for our project. The Cyberfair project, now in its 12th year, offers a Peer review rubric that is worth more than a casual glance. Furthermore it is advantageous to all to integrate Web 2.0 read and write ideals into student collaborations to facilitate the learning and the communication.

OK, I fully support Darren with his 'Expert Voices' ideas and am floating this idea today. I have a Grade 10 Digital Storytelling class. About 17 students work for a 12 week unit to produce a digital story. My course is based on the excellent work of Bernajean Porter. Last year I started a blog to display the best digital stories. I have not added any new stories to the online blog yet this year...but I will! I have a new class (my third set of students for the year as we rotate 3 classes through 3 units) starting in about 4 weeks. Is there anyone out there, any other teacher with a class creating digital stories or studying multimedia or wanting to integrate multimedia and student-centred learning, willing to collaborate?

I see this as an excellent opportunity for students to join a partner from a different global location, with a different cultural background and create a digital story together! Imagine the sheer power of that story with 2 or more people adding content and creativity! My unit is for a Technology/ICT class focussing on using the Design Cycle therefore I am not restricted by content as such. I can join with a mathematics class, a history class......the imagination takes off. What I do look at is the student being able to put something of themselves into the story and to personally narrate it, amongst other criteria for impact, design etc.

I look forward to hearing from any interested collaborators. I encourage you to also keep watching for Darren's further development of 'Expert Voices'.

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Monday, February 05, 2007

International Voices Podcast #1

I am posting this again even though I linked to it in a previous post last week. NextGenTeachers, Chris Craft in particular, has been working hard to bring online useful interfaces and allow all of us to access resources, blog posts, podcasts etc created by this group.

Here is our very first, inaugural in fact, podcast. Show notes can be found on the blog. This new flash player should also make it easier for YOU, the reader of this blog to listen to the podcast.

Download International Voices Podcast #1

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Friday, February 02, 2007

A Wiki and a Million Penguins

I have visions of waddling penguins using their beaks to tap out messages on a keyboard......

Here is a great idea and something you must have a look at, if you can get in. I have tried a few times in the past hour but the page is often inaccessible or is only opening in a shell format.

I am talking about the British publisher, Penguin, and their launch today of a web-based, collaborative novel called 'A Million Penguins'. Using a wiki platform everyone is invited to write, edit and/or read the novel. What a great idea and an interesting experiment in global and collective authorship. The problem today is that a million people possibly are taking on the challenge and the website is not coping! The book is already up to Chapter 7.

Penguin is claiming this is the first wiki novel to be started by a major publishing house. According to the main wiki page, and I am reading this from the website of the news article in The Age (Melbourne, Australia) as I cannot access the actual wiki page correctly:

"A Million Penguins is an experiment in creative writing and community. Anyone can join in. Anyone can write. Anyone can edit. Let's see if the crowds are not only wise but creative. Or will too many cooks spoil the broth?"

Well, technical difficulties aside, this is a most engaging project and one that could be emulated within a classroom, within a school and between classrooms and schools. I suggest you keep you eye on this over the next 6 weeks as the story develops. If you can get access, explore the ethical guidelines and most importantly the history of the wiki to find out how many and who is contributing to this epic novel. I wonder if Penguin will end up publishing?

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Are you a Next Generation Teacher?

I am very pleased to be part of a new international association of educators called 'NextGenTeachers'. This international group of educators has emerged to unite and share ideas and resources to do with developing 21st century learning using digital tools.
Our motto is:
"Educators connecting to explore the next generation of teaching and learning"

The NextGenTeachers planning group includes Chris Craft, Jeff Utecht, Tom Barrett, Justin Medved, Kim Cofino, Doug Belshaw and Aaron Smith. We come together from different parts of the globe including China, UK, USA, Malaysia, Bangladesh and Thailand.

Our first podcast was recorded this week which featured the group members discussing who we are, why we are getting together and also some initial discussion and views about educational technology tools as well as 'Tech tips'.

The main aims of the group are:
  • to be inclusive
  • to have an international focus
  • to provide a forum for conversation about new approaches to teaching using technology
  • to provide access to online resources created for and by other educators
  • to utilize cutting edge technologies in collaboration and in the delivery and sharing of information

I invite readers of this blog to explore the NextGenTeachers blog and download our inaugural NextGenTeachers Podcast. I also invite you to participate in NextGenTeacher activities by subscribing via RSS to the blog.

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