Friday, March 30, 2007

March 30: Stop Cyberbullying Day

Important Announcement!
Today, March 30, has been declared '
Stop Cyberbullying Day'. I believe the initiative has come from Andy Carvin in conjunction with a number of concerned cybercitizens and was in response to the disgraceful treatment prominent blogger, Kathy Sierra, has had to put up with recently.

This is a great initiative and I invite you to support it by spreading the word and sharing your resources with the rest of us. Andy has started Stop Cyberbullying: "A social network to discuss cyberbullying, identifying resources and solutions to address this epidemic of online cruelty." It is a great place to interact with other concerned online dwellers and to participate in discussions and share resources to do with cyberbullying.

Vicki Davis has a creative post today called B:-( Stop Cyberbullying bit by bit where she lists a number of action points that we could all consider doing.

I would like to share my own online resources for cyberbullying as I have recently put these together and mentioned them in another blog post. However, being Stop Cyberbullying Day, I have revisited these.

First of all I have a Cyberbullying Presentation all set to go if you need something to show students or teachers or parents.
I also have a collection of information and resources that I have roughly divided into suitable for parents, students and teachers.

I would also like to highlight the work of Parry Aftab of (who kindly responded to my earlier blog post). I have used Parry's videos in the presentation, but since creating it she has been able to upload even more and they are all available on YouTube.

Parry's profile information on her YouTube account details the work she is doing, the dedication with which she approaches this. The wiredsafety group invite people to volunteer and be part of the team who make a difference. This includes teenagers, who have formed a group called 'teenangels' who receive special training to help fight cyberbullying.

"Parry is one of the leading experts in cyberlaw and Internet safety and security in the world. Her Internet safety charity,, is comprised of thousands of unpaid volunteers, including Parry herself. They help Internet users with anything that goes wrong online and help teach safe, private and responsible interactive technology work. They deal with predators, cyberbullying, harassment and stalking, hate, piracy, privacy and misinformation and hype. Her educational videos and animations are available to share and use."

Parry Aftab's Cyberbullying: the video Part 1
This video was uploaded on March 22 to YouTube and runs for 4 min 28 sec
It is a 'must watch' video as it details what cyberbullying is, the different types of cyberbullies found and gives details of the network Parry has set up to help victims.

Scott McLeod has provided some
cyberbullying badges that you may use, such as this one.

So, spread the word, pull together your resources and open up discussions in your school and working environment. Join forces to stamp out bullying and the new digital form of bullying 'cyberbullying'.

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Thursday, March 29, 2007

What Teachers Make

I wish to share this poem with you by Taylor Mali called 'What Teachers Make'. I first heard this last weekend at the ECIS IT conference when keynote speaker, Seth Ruef, recited it with permission.

The poem plucks at a heart string and takes me back 30 years to when I first started at University in Australia with the vague notion of perhaps becoming a history/politics teacher but with the hope that my musical career would take off instead and save me from a life of boredom. Needless to say you can guess the outcome ;-). I now continue to have music in my life as well as a rich career as an educator who also 'makes a difference' in the lives of the future decision makers in the world.

Enjoy the poem. There is a YouTube version I have embedded here as well.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

ECIS IT: A significant IT conference

Having just returned from the ECIS IT07 conference held at the International School Dusseldorf I am spending time reflecting on the significant issues this event has raised. In essence educators do want to be using technology and online resources but they do not feel confident, they do not feel capable of leading the way, and they do not feel convinced that the extra effort needed from them personally to be blogging, wikiing, etc is going to improve their classroom or their students' outcomes. At the same time there is this ongoing feeling of needing to maintain control over the education process, over the students, over their own resources (many educators will not share their resources). Until this need for control is broken down, either through proactive policies, approaches to PD etc. I feel that progress in most schools towards 21st century ideals is going to be slow.

With delegates from across Europe, the USA and beyond there was a true international feel and spirit to the sessions and workshops. Thanks also goes to organiser, Pat D'Arcy, Head of IT at ISD, for the excellent organisation of all conference events, including the social dinners and river cruise (along the Rhine River!).

If you peruse the conference program you will find a variety of presentations and workshops were offered. The Moodle sessions were a great opportunity for us to learn from Steve Druggan (Munich International School) and Chad Fairey (American School of Paris) about their individual school implementations. We were also given 'sandbox' access to iSkoodle, the ECIS moodle.

The sessions that I presented on Web 2.0 and Wkis in education were very well attended. I was impressed with the level of interest in creating wikis amongst the educators and pleased with the positive responses to the focus I gave which was to use wikis to support learning and to collaborate. One question during the wiki session: What is the fundamental difference between a wiki and using Moodle? One answer from a fellow attendee: A wiki provides for student as well as teacher controlled content and therefore more student-centred learning opportunities whereas a Moodle environment is essentially teacher controlled.

I also co-presented with Chris Chater from the American School of Paris on podcasting in the classroom. Chris has a wealth of experience with practical podcasting and is coming from a music background that includes using audio as a tool. He has an elementary school level podcasting group called the Paris Pod Pups, well worth a look as it is totally student directed. I was able to learn a lot from Chris and his use of free sofware to record, edit and manipulate recordings. More information about the conference and then podcasting sessions can be found on the conference blog.

The two keynote speakers were Seth Ruef from the
International School Luxumbourg and Barbara Stefanics from Vienna International School. Seth's keynote summary and podcast show how he sees teaching and the role of IT in this ever complicated world. I suggest you listen to the podcast as at the end he recites a poem about being a teacher that is quite captivating both in its delivery and its message.

Here are the photos I took while in Dusseldorf as a slideshow on

A street in the area of the conference (suburb of Dusseldorf)

Julie and Chris at ECIS

Chris, Seth, Barbara and Laura in Dusseldorf

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Sunday, March 25, 2007

From Dhaka to Dubai to Dusseldorf

To get to the ECIS IT07 conference I travelled for 24 hours from Dhaka, through Dubai (8 hours in the airport....bad connection) and then into Germany to Dusseldorf. The trip itself was relatively uneventful. I would not recommend such a long wait in the Dubai airport. The trouble with this airport is that transit accommodation costs and arm and a leg. I tried to use my old Emirates Silver FF card to get into the Emirates lounge where there is free food, drink, armchairs, TV and Internet. But they were on the ball and informed me, in a loud voice in front of everybody else (blush) that my card had expired and that I was now only a Blue FF member. I did however eventually find the free restaurant for Emirates flyers where you can get a meal if you are in transit for more than 4 hours (near Gate 23 for those in the same predicament).

I am enchanted with Düsseldorf so far! The Am Schwan hotel is a stones throw and a bit from the river (will get back to on it's name). I have an attic room which overlooks the river. This morning I woke up to the sound of swans (I am assuming this as they sounded swan-like). The trees are just emerging from winter and there are real signs of spring, with daffodils and other spring flowers. However, with my thin blood I am feeling the cold, and the wind is brisk sometimes but invigorating.


The view from my hotel window during the afternoon and then at sunset

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Sunday, March 18, 2007

Mobile phones at school: Students have their say

In a
recent post I discussed the emerging use of mobile phones and the ubiquitous nature of the technology. Just about every student has a mobile phone in the secondary school here in Dhaka and they bring it to school. The obvious security advantage is the ability to make contact outside the school in a time of emergency or upset and given the political climate here we all see this as a positive. Apart from this the technology is not being used for educational purposes [yet] and in fact students are being told not to use them during school hours or activities. I cited the typical tug-of-war at a school athletic day as real-life example of a student finding it natural to want to video the event using his mobile phone.

In response to this post, Graham Wegner, commented as the devils advocate and said, "Did Student B have permission from those involved in the tug-of-war to do the videoing? How much say did the students who would appear in the video footage have in the matter? Where would the video footage end up? Would anyone's rights to privacy be trampled on by this act?" and "....I think there is a huge teachable moment for your students afterwards in terms of where the line is drawn between a person's right to capture video footage of a school event and the rights of those to control their own identity and who may not want to be part of that footage."

In response to Graham's excellent observation that I was focussed on using the technology and not giving obvious consideration to the 'digital citizen' ramifications I took the issue to my ITGS Grade 11 class last week. I asked them first to read our draft Mobile Phone Policy and also our Handheld Users Agreement document.

Here are the student comments, taken from our class blog:

Naimul: "I believe that if the mobile footage is being used to be put in an website then it is a different matter. i feel than it is okay to put up video footage of other people with out their permission as long as their is nothing offensive in the video, we should not let technology make us so vonurable, if this becomes a normal habit for people then technology will become very limited in term of usage. it might be an issue if the person recording the video zoomed in to certain individual but if the video footage shows everyone competting in an event the there should not be any regulations against it. we should not be shamed for who we are so i would say it was okay for that student to video the tug of war."

Shakila: "I think it would also be fair to ask the person who is to be videoed. There is also another issue that if there are a group of people, one cannot ask permission from each and every person.......There should always be a line drawn, because the ones who are willing to put things up online or make something public should ask him/herself in the victims position. Mobile phones are very effective tools, so it would be wise not to misuse them."

Salma: "I read the Mobile phone users policy draft but i dont think mobiles should be allowed in school because like instant messaging softwares, mobiles can easily distract a student. They can use their mobile phones to socialize with other students or with outsiders. The question is if they had a mobile phone, where would they be using it without permission from the teachers-the school bathrooms, an empty classroom, inside school premises." and "Students will be using this technology to upset other students which makes these stduents victims to mobile bullying.There have been delicate cases around the world where many people have been upset and hurt emotionally. We should ban the use of mobile phones."

Omar: "As far as the Mobile Policy goes, it depends on the school flexibility, whether it treats its students as responsible, trustworthy students or not. In addition, I believe that the policies made by school should be mature as many of the statements seem very childish, as it direct us by saying what can be done and what cannot be done."

Atif: "I think that mobile phones should be treated as an incentive for students for learning. Teachers should not think that they are only for calling people. Nowadays cellphones are commonly used as camera's, music players, receiving podcasts, browsing the internet. They are just tools as long they are used properly. I think that cellphones should be allowed in their own risks. If they get stolen then it should be the students responsibilty and not the schools. Phones can also be used for certain activities or as as a tool for timing experiments. "

Salvi: "I believe that it was fine for the student to video the tug of war. First of all the student took the permisson of a teacher before videoing it. In the mobile phone policy, it clearly states that students are allowed to use their mobile phone in lesson times at the discression of the teacher. In this case, it was not even lesson time and the student did take the permission of the teacher before videoing it. Also, it is okay to video other people unless their is nothing offensive in it which would disturb the privacy of the people in it. And even if the video ends up at a web page or somewhere else, it will not really matter, as there is nothing offensive in the video. It is only a game played by a lot of students and also the video was not recorded based on a particular person. So it is okay."

Sabbab: "It is very pleasing to see the use of mobile phone technology in use at our school. it might be true that some of us here at ISD feel that the privacy is being violated, but in this very case i think the student was not wrong in photographing the sport event as he seeked a teacher's permission and he was allowed to do so. this complies with the ISD Mobile policy.
I think that before any events at school we should have the consent of all the students reagarding photography or video issue."

I was pleasantly surprised at the different balanced opinions that came through in this online discussion. It seems that the general feeling is that mobile phones are OK to be used during school, especially with the permission of a teacher and that although they can be a distraction, there are some valid educational uses for them. In terms of taking images and video the feeling seems to be that if permission is granted (putting the onus on the teacher?) then it is OK, and also if it is a large crowd and not selecting an individual for some reason this is very much alright. There is a feeling of 'what is all this fuss about' in some comments but there is also shown an awareness of what can happen if information about someone is put online without permission.

Thanks Graham for your push to look at this in more depth as it truly did provide an excellent 'teachable moment' in my class. Our school mobile phone policy (draft) has a long way to go before we gain consensus and I am be interested if any readers of this blog have a mobile policy they can share.

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YouTube hosts Flat Classroom Project Review Video

I really love using YouTube. I have used before and also Google video quite a lot but I find YouTube to have better facilities for social networking and sharing videos.

This weekend I created a new video to review and reflect on our Flat Classroom Project from last year. I have spent a bit of time on this but am still not completely happy with it. The challenge to keep it under 10 minutes in length (to upload to YouTube) meant I left out certain aspects of the project but for viewers I understand that maybe shorter is better as you will not have the same emotive approach as I do. However it was extremely therapeutic to go through the material from the project again and to reflect even further on what we did and how we can improve on it. I have included video and audio from both classrooms and teachers and focused on the students (of course).

Here it is, the Flat Classroom Project 2006 Review and Reflection
by Julie Lindsay, March 2007

YouTube has this great facility called 'Channels'. Each logged in user can create their own channel. If you view my channel you will see my profile, the videos I have uploaded, the video I subscribe to, my favourites and the people who subscribe to my channel. If you like what you see maybe you will subscribe to my channel so that you can be notified (when logging into YouTube) when I have uploaded new videos. Recently I created a presentation on Cyberbullying and discovered Parry Aftab's great video resources on YouTube. I subscribed to her channel and since then have easily located all the new uploads.

YouTube is becoming a vital resource and I find myself referring to it more and more each week. The other day at the graduation committee meeting we were discussing guest speakers and who to invite. Our head of secondary had his laptop on the WLAN so searched YouTube to find interesting examples of graduation speeches that had been uploaded!


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ISTE Board Elections: The Challenge to Vote

I am delighted and considerably humbled to have been chosen for nomination as International Representative on the ISTE Board. The voting opened this week and online information and links to the ballot can be found on the Voters Guide page. ISTE members will need to login to vote. If you are not a member of ISTE yet, please consider joining, not just because you can then have your say in the Board election, but because it is a a go-ahead international organisation that is striving to provide resources and support for digital literacy and technology integration in education.

Could I say at this point how proud I am to be standing for election alongside the other candidate for the International Rep. position, Ralph Leonard. Ralph is from Australia and is the General Manager of Information Economy with the Government of South Australia.

As part of the selection process for nomination candidates are asked to answer three questions. I am sharing a slightly abridged version of my answers here on this post.

1. What skills, level of involvement with ISTE, and experiences in the area of educational technology qualify the nominee to serve on the ISTE Board?

I am an international educator with an Arts (music) and IT background. Currently I am Head of Technology and Director of E-Learning at the International School Dhaka, Bangladesh. ISD is a World International Baccalaureate school and I am responsible for the development and implementation of educational technology from PreK-12. Initiatives at ISD have included the implementing a laptop and a handheld mobile program. As well as teaching senior classes my position involves coordinating educational staff and IT support personnel as well as developing and delivering professional development.

As a member of ISTE I have attended NECC in Seattle, 2003, New Orleans, 2004 (where I presented ‘Fostering an Online Learning Community for the Development of Student Digital Portfolios’, Global Gallery), Philadelphia, 2005 and San Diego, 2006 (where I presented a concurrent session ‘Podcast Bangladesh’).

In 2005 I was invited to be a member of the ISTE International Committee.
In 2006 I was appointed ICT Curriculum Specialist for ‘Learning and Leading with Technology’, the ISTE magazine.

More details can be found hyperlinked from my online Professional Learning Environment at

2. Identify the three most salient issues in educational technology and discuss how the nominee thinks they affect K–12 education and the educational community.

“Leadership” in educational technology is essential for schools to move into 21st century learning with confidence and direction. A responsible technology leader must lead by example, encourage, be creative yet decisive and ultimately transform. It is only through strong leadership that teachers, students and the general community will be given opportunities to embrace new educational technologies and objectives. School administrators have a responsibility to promote visionary leadership in educational technology and value the difference it can make in reform of educational systems. Technology leaders have a responsibility to take a holistic approach to learning and to work closely with colleagues to raise awareness and promote confidence in using digital literacy tools that will ultimately improve learning outcomes. They also have a responsibility to be aware of and interact with the international education community in order to share ideas and resources and maximise learning opportunities.

“Connectivity and ubiquitous, mobile learning” are key factors in promoting best practice use of educational technology. The development of online resources and read/write web facilities has opened the door to many opportunities for learners to interact, collaborate, share and experience on a local, national and global basis. Being a connected learner is crucial today. Knowing where to find resources and expertise and how to sift through and determine how to use these resources for self-directed learning is a necessary skill. It is through connectivity that best practices in education develop and flourish. Mobile and ubiquitous technologies allow and promote this connectivity and ‘anywhere, anytime’ learning to take place.

“Professional Development for 21st century learning” is necessary to provide a technology-rich learning experience for all. Current discussion about 21st century learning, school 2.0, E-Learning 2.0, the new face of learning and so on is suggesting a major shift in education needs to take place to cater for the demands of this century and beyond. Information literacy awareness supported by effective professional development in digital tools is essential for all educators. It is unsatisfactory now to just learn about the technology, it is essential to be learning with the technology and to realise that although the road may be rocky, all participants in education can succeed and grow accordingly. We should be evolving towards more streamlined PD opportunities that have clear and realistic outcomes in order to improve learning as a whole across all curriculum and age levels.

3. How does the nominee envision leveraging his/her position on the ISTE Board to benefit ISTE members?

My teaching and administrative experience spans four countries and a number of curriculum areas including Australian, British and International Baccalaureate. My current position in a progressive PreK-12 international school has provided opportunities for me to participate in an educational environment that has as its underpinning philosophy an approach that is holistic, multicultural and promotes global communication. I believe in taking the best of what has been developed in the world for education and using it to benefit all learners.

I would encourage more global interaction and awareness of educational systems and approaches to literacy around the world. Internet technologies will increasingly provide opportunities to transform our classrooms, enhance our learning experiences and connect schools. The ‘flat classroom’ scenario has become a reality and meaningful cross-classroom learning experiences are now more easily available. I have a vision and a commitment to educational technology that includes fostering global citizenship and life long learning. My recent studies in Educational Technology Leadership and experiences as a technology leader have prepared me for being an active and valuable participant on the ISTE Board. I am able to provide a real and enhanced global perspective and will work towards fostering the ongoing development of ISTE as an organisation with a truly international clientèle and focus.

Once again I encourage ISTE members to cast their vote and good luck to all candidates. Voting is open from now until April 13.

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

Meet me in Dusseldorf at ECIS IT 07

Get Wired, Get Webbed, Get With IT is the theme of the conference I will be attending and presenting at in Düsseldorf one week from today!

This year the ECIS IT conference is held at the International School Düsseldorf (ISD) in Germany and organised by the ECIS IT team. ECIS stands for European Council of International Schools.

From the ECIS 'About us' web page it states that:
"As an international school membership organization, the European Council of International Schools provides services to support professi onal development, curriculum and instruction, leadership and good governance in international schools located in Europe and around the world. ECIS creates opportunities for education and dialogue, encourages alliances with other organizations, and acts as a catalyst for the advancement of international education. ECIS schools are committed to the promotion of an international outlook amongst all members o f t heir communities."

One connection I have with ECIS is that my school in Bangladesh, International School Dhaka (the other ISD), is an accredited member. In fact, as part of my job over the past 4 years, I have been working on accreditation committees to document and have accredited our academic program, amongst other criteria.

The conference program shows an excellent variety of topics and reflects the needs of educators in general as well as providing for more specific IT Management sessions. Not only are there great presentations but there is a complete social program organised by Pat D'Arcy from ISD. This includes touring Düsseldorf, taking a river dinner cruise and a social evening with live musicians (I think a lot of these will in fact be conference attendees...I have heard rumour of some excellent Irish music to be performed!).

My presentations (yes, for some reason I have offered to do more than one....??) include 'Wikis that Work', 'Using Web 2.0 to develop a PLE' and a co-presentation on 'Podcasting in the classroom: Tools and Techniques' with Chris Chater from the American School of Paris. You will find details and links for my presentations on my new wiki......when I finish it all this weekend. Meanwhile you may like to dip into the new conference blog Chris has set up, or check on conference blog posts and images through the conference HitchHikr page (thanks David for setting this up today for us).

So, if you are coming to Düsseldorf I really look forward to meeting you and this is going to be a great conference!
I love conferences, the synergy, the interaction, the sharing of ideas, the growth, the new friends.......

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Friday, March 09, 2007

Another Speedtest meme!

It's not that I am obsessed with speed or the lack thereof......I just happened to click on StumbleUpon and this popped up:
So, I chose a server in Thailand, the closest to Dhaka, and here is the result. Compared to a previous test the download speed today is a lot faster (216 cf 74) however the upload is a little slower (41 cf 68). Overall the speed just isn't what it should be....or what I think I am paying for!

However, the accompanying statistics that come with this data are interesting.
  • This is the first speed test taken with InfoTech, my ISP
  • My connection is faster than 3% of other connections around the world (!!)
  • The Bangladesh average is 274 kb/s
  • The Asian average is 2316 kb/s
  • The global average is 3414 kb/s
The speed test site provides HTML codes for embedding and linking information directly into blogs and websites. This is fun. What a great tool for a school project!

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Can I video the tug-of-war with my mobile phone?

Even at the secondary school athletics day I am confronted with decisions to make about student use of mobile technology. Student A asked permission to bring his iPod to the field and a set of speakers so that he could play the 'Blue team' theme song. I gave permission. Student B produced a mobile (cell) phone just as we were getting ready for the tug-of-war and asked if he could video it. I asked why he had brought the device and mentioned security risks etc. He replied he had finished his main events and only then retrieved it from his locker. I gave permission. Then Administrator A announced over the loudspeaker that all mobile devices would be confiscated as this was not in the spirit of the event. By lunchtime he had a pocketful of devices. I had already warned my two students to lay low and kept a protective watch over them. [Yes, I am a rebel sometimes ;-)]

OK, I know an athletics day is not the time to be sitting with earplugs and isolating oneself from the occasion, however, I do think we can legitimately discuss appropriate use of technology and mobile devices even in terms of athletics and sporting events without putting out a blanket ban.

I am heartened by the discussion Karl Fisch is fostering on this topic in his recent 'What if?' post. Karl also shares his frustration with blanket dismissals and over-eager administrators who, although having good intentions at heart, are not taking the time to fully explore and consider the ramifications and opportunities mobile and ubiquitous technology brings to education. In Karl's words:
"Instead of posting those signs, could we not have a discussion with our students and staff about appropriate use of technology? There are very real issues that we as teachers are struggling with that are much more deserving of our attention than a sign that I don’t think actually accomplishes anything – at least not anything good. As we’ve seen on numerous other blogs, many of our students are more than willing to spend time thinking and discussing important issues, why not involve them instead of dismissing them?"

In a previous post to this blog I also lament the absence of a common language to start this discussion of important and real issues. How can teachers meet and leave their prejudice and 20th century teaching skills at the door and be open to a frank discussion? How can we meet the students at least half way? More student involvement in the discussion is essential, either through student live forums (eg Student Representative Council) or through online interaction (eg blogging).

I believe there are two main problems here:
  1. A lack of understanding on the educators side as to what advantages for learning and interacting mobile devices can provide to teachers and students and classes in general.
  2. An unwillingness, on the educators side, to relinquish 'control' of the learning arena. It is still the case that if the teacher is not instigating it, directing it and controlling it it is not considered a good learning environment.
We can do better than this. We need to keep the conversation alive.
Thanks to Karl for his new release of '
What If' and his ability to keep posing the questions and inspiring us to consider the alternatives.

Picture Credit: Moblie phone closeup

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Thursday, March 08, 2007

Digital Citizenship and Cyberbullying

In a recent post I discussed the proposed refresh of ISTE's NETS.S. The fifth standard, replacing stand 2 before of 'Social, Ethical and Human issues' is 'Digital Citizenship'.

V: Digital Citizenship
Students understand human, cultural, and societal issues related to technology and practice legal and ethical behavior.

In the March edition of Learning and Leading, Anita McAnear, details the importance of Digital Citizenship (free download) in empowering students to protect themselves online and for all educators to take on board the responsibility of locating appropriate resources to teach cybersafety. She also provides a list of excellent resources well worth exploring.

I think sometimes we are not good at doing this as our efforts tend to be reactionary rather than proactive. In a typical school day it is easy to avoid more difficult ethical and social issues until something happens, and then we turn around and wish some 'learning' had been engineered before the event rather than after.

I have a choice example from our school. Recently a boy in Grade 6, age 11, used his school email account from home one evening to email nasty comments about a female teacher. To do so he 'hacked' into another students account, masqueraded as that student, and then sent the email to a wide group of random email addresses on the school contact list, including the said teacher herself. Investigation took place and evidence collected. Needless to say the IT support wheels moved quickly and all email accounts for the entire school were cut off for 3 hours. Using the email accounts of suspects, IP addresses and login and logout records we essentially determined who the suspect was and detained him until a confession was offered. All in a days work, but rather unpleasant and time consuming for those involved.

Since then I have put together some material on a wiki and a presentation to do with cyberbullying. Today I presented to the Grade 6 classes and we had a good 40 minute session viewing and discussing material and filling in a survey. The purpose of the session was to raise awareness and to try and impress on the students that being a digital citizen is a responsibility that we all must take.

I am sharing my resources here so that others may use them or take ideas from them as I have found it invaluable to be able to take work of others for my own use.
The 'Cyberbullying Presentation' wiki provides full details with hyperlinks to all material with embedded videos. There is also a PPT to download to guide you through the material rather than having the wiki page open in front of the audience. I also downloaded the YouTube videos and we viewed them offline. (Don't forget that is a great converter for .flv to .mpeg or any other format you need).

The presentation itself would not be as good without the help of online material from many sources. I have created another wiki page to collect and showcase online safety resources as well. However a big thank you goes to Parry Aftab for her online material at, and Also, a big thank you to Jeff Utecht and the Grade 7 students at Shanghai American School for making the topic real by sharing their student-created cyberbullying videos. Jeff has created a SAS YouTube account where these can all be found. Today I showed 3 of the student videos to our Grade 6 students, so thank you to Tait, Raymond and Matthew for your wonderful efforts!

I welcome your input and comments as to your own experiences with Digital Citizenship awareness and cyberbullying education in your school. Next term I plan to hold a parent meeting/workshop and will be looking for further best-practice ideas for bringing parents into the world of the teenagers and younger!

Photo credit: from called 'citizenship first flight'

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Monday, March 05, 2007

Wanted: New cheese and a common language

I am thinking about change and about how I thrive on change and diversity. I am thinking about how some people cope with change where others flee. I am thinking about how I have always been an 'early adopter' and 'pushed the envelope' in my life as a musician and as an educator and in doing so have gained and lost friends depending on the other persons ability to cope with change (and with me). I can be intense, I can be dismissive, I can be impatient, I can be confrontational......but I thought I essentially spoke the same language as everybody else. Not so.....somebody has 'moved my cheese' and I am left searching for new cheese and a common language with which to communicate my needs!

It started with Clarence Fisher blogging about a 'A New Language'. In response to my 'day in the life of a global, connected educator' post recently he discusses the emergence of a new language and a new form of learning using online tools for connectivity. As Clarence says, "I first want to argue that the learning of a student in a globally connected educator's classroom is both quantitatively and qualitatively different from the learning of a student in a different classroom. Not only do I believe that these two students would obviously be learning very different things, but that the actual structure of their learning is different. They have a different experience of what learning is, of what counts as knowledge, and of how learning happens." He then goes on to talk about a new type of digital divide where "Globally connected educators believe that learning happens in different ways, using different tools, and in different spaces and times that teachers not involved in learning in these ways may not see."

In response to Clarence I commented to his blog, "Your comments here have really hit a nerve with me as I firmly believe this is a new language and a new approach to learning.
What we are doing is taking the best pedagogical constructivist approach, wrapping it in holistic, multicultural and global learning and tying a neat Web 2.0 bow around it. You are right, I am having more difficulty discussing this with my fellow face-to-face colleagues and finding the 'new language' I speak a barrier. I am looking for solutions to this dilemma as being a 'technology leader' I want to be innovative and creative but at the same time accessible and not alienate others."

To which Clarence replied, " [my statement in bold] the most succint, total, one sentence description I have seen of what we are trying to do. Not so simple sounding though is it....?"

Meanwhile, Miss Profe is in the conversation with, "The fundamental dilemma that all of the discussion re: Web 2.0 creates for me is, does it really elevate the cognitive discourse in our classrooms?..........I just get the feeling that if I as an educator roll in on Monday morning tricked out in Web 2.0 fashion, that somehow intellectual curiosity and spark will burgeon amongst my students. A teacher who uses textbooks and worksheets may be creating real learning opportunities in her classroom, and to suggest that because her neighbor is using Web 2.0 is somehow providing his students with a more phenomenal learning experience. I think we need to be careful with this type of thinking."

To which Clarence replied, "Granted and agreed. But, I do believe that I have a much greater opportunity of creating learning experiences that are meaningful, connected, and authentic using these tools than I do without them."

So, we have new ways of applying old concepts with our students that are potentially more powerful and meaningful. Connectivity ultimately breeds deeper understanding of how the world works and breaks down pre-conceived notions of what is black and white including prejudice and notions of stereotypes.

Moving our secondary school staff meeting this afternoon we discussed how to revive the apathy and malaise engulfing our senior students. Why do they prefer to sit in the student lounge drinking coffee rather than get themselves promptly to a classroom 'on time and ready for learning'? Why do they not hand in their assignments 'on time' and under achieve? There was talk about 'punishment' for non-conformity and talk about 'imposing penalties' for non-compliance of school-imposed codes of behaviour. There was a lot of talk about how we as educators can 'control' this situation and make it better through coercion and force. Unfortunately there was very little talk about what methods we could be using to help improve the learning environment in the school, or what techniques we as a school and as a teaching faculty could look at to motivate and inspire the students, given the circumstances of a face-to-face environment. When one teacher asked if anyone had done any study on 'learning' and best-practice pedagogy for this situation there was silence (!!??). I said there was some excellent material available to do with computer games and which there was also dead silence.

Yes, I know what you are thinking. These are teenagers, they need the structure and discipline, they need to be told where to go and when to get there all day. But they are also digital natives and thrive best with a gadget in hand and online. However the comments from my colleagues that disturbed me the most were based on getting rid of the technology. "When they do detention (punishment) they will not be allowed to take their laptops and work", "We should ban the laptops for a month"........ control, confusion, .......dismay on my part. I do not speak this language. I do not want to remove the tools that link these young people with the real world.

Moving along......Stephen Downes in his rebuttal post to slogans for 'the way it is' and 'the way it will be' The issues in front of us, talks about the concept of 'the illusion of change' and states, "The recent 'School 2.0' movement is a good example. By locking into the concept of 'school' the proponents, while looking for all the world like they are enbracing change, are in fact freezing the state of education into an archaic past, where the school is the centre and where everything else - including the students - revolve around that central concept.
The idea of 'school 2.0' by definition eliminates as out of scope any concept that reduces or eliminates the importance of the school (and by extension, the elements that constitute a school, such as classes and curricula, teachers and lessons)."

I admit I aspire to have a fuller understanding of Stephen's writings but what I think he means here is that by continuing to use the term 'school' with its inherent and associated baggage we are in effect blocking our chance of educational transformation. As part of the 'new language' we need to be disassociating ourselves from the old concepts and thinking out of the box rather than putting old labels onto new ways of working.

That is what I want to do. I can think outside the box, I am creative and I embrace change to the extent that I know and feel that our educational system is letting us down. It is not coping and therefore we are not coping with the needs of our students. Yes, I believe 'intellectual curiosity and spark' can be aroused in our students if we provide interest and stimulus for discourse.

What is your 'new cheese'? Do you have others who speak the same language?

Image from: December 30, 2005

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Sunday, March 04, 2007

NECC 'Birds of a Feather' fly on a Wiki

Well, here's one for the birds......I mean books. The NECC07 conference to be held in Atlanta June 24-27 this year has just announced their 'Birds of a Feather' session planning details, and they are on a wiki!
The homepage states: Birds-of-a-Feather (Birds) sessions provide opportunities for NECC attendees to engage in discussions about topics of interest. (They are not presentations.) There are two time slots for Birds sessions at NECC 2007:
  • Monday, June 25, from 4:45 to 6:15 pm
  • Tuesday, June 26, from 4:45 to 6:15 pm
This is so good! Thanks goes to Anita McAnear and the NECC planning committee. The wiki allows readers to contribute ideas for, amongst others, 'Birds I'd like to attend', 'Birds topics I'd like to offer', 'Requests for meeting spaces'. Concurrently with the Birds sessions are the ISTE Special Interest Groups (SIGs) business meetings.

Already on the wiki are offers from Terry Freedman for COA 2nd edition and Women of Web 2.0 as well as Bernie Dodge webquest users and shakers, Open source and online tools users, technology integration etc, etc.

The facility of the wiki provides an interactive venue for interested participants to contribute ideas and discuss options prior to the final program for Birds being finalised. I encourage readers of this blog to view the Birds of a Feather wiki to see how collaboration can be facilitated using a Web 2.0 tool and if you are attending NECC07 take a closer look at what you may want to attend/suggest/host for one of the Birds of a Feather sessions.

The time line is:
March 1–15: Contribute/brainstorm topics and requests for meeting space
March 16–30: Evaluate topics and potential interest, formulate collaborations
April 4: Announce list of accepted topics and moderators
Ongoing: Planning of Birds
June 25–27: Posting of results
Post NECC: Hosting of results

My main problem: How will I choose which sessions to go to???

Photo credit: August 20, 2005

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Stumbling around the web

There are so many things I want to blog about tonight but my bandwidth is not my best friend again in Bangladesh. However, I must share with you all some of my most recent discoveries online. I really love reading other peoples blogs and trying out what they recommend. Sometimes I need to read about it 2 or 3 or more times before trying. So, if you have heard about these Web 2.0 tools before and not tried them yet maybe I can encourage you to 'take 5' and explore.

First of all, you may notice my new sidebar tool called 'NeoCounter'. This comes from NeoWorx and provides a counter that will display the number of visitors and their flag. How cool is that? There are other options as well including NeoEarth, NeoFlags and NeoBoard. I customised the NeoCounter option and installed this feature into my blog template exactly a week ago and sat back to see what would happen. Well, my blog has had 213 visitors from 43 countries in one week!. I am amazed but not sure how all of these counters and statistical data collecting devices correlate Feedburner tonight has the figure 131 readers (is this per week?, subscription?). However I love seeing the colourful flags of NeoCounter and reading the growing list of country names each day.

Have you found StumbleUpon yet? This is great fun. After registering you can install a toolbar to your browser that allows you to click and it will randomly find an interesting website based on your preferences eg education, music, sport etc. As you find these sites you have the option to give them the 'thumbs up' or 'thumbs down', meaning you like that type of website and want more or not. Not only that but you can login to the StumbleUpon website and have a personal page where your website preferences and likes and dislikes are recorded. Not only that, you can network with other stumblers and choose friends that have the same likes as yourself! One of the best websites I have found so far, amongst a few very interesting ones, is Musicovery. This provides streamed radio based on genre, era and mood of music. It provides a set of files that are represented in mind-map fashion and will play consecutively until the theme ends (about 1 hour), unless you select another option and change the course. This is so much fun and useful for education. At your fingertips is 70's rock, 50's jazz, 60's blues etc. Not to mention a great tool for the odd party (80's dance music anyone?).

Another find this week is Pluggd. According to the Read/Write web this is a vertical search application that presents information in 'fundamentally new, different and intelligent ways'. This time the search is for podcasts. Similar to StumbleUpon you can sign up for free and have customised suggestions and be able to bookmark and share with other users. Social networking once again!

Finally, quote of the week from my bloglines goes to Miguel Guhlin in his writing about The buck stops here!, with
"The tsunami has hit education." Read his blog post for context but he refers to the need for and the inevitability of change and that connectivity and creativity are related on a level that can be blogged about in the same paragraph. Yes, I agree the tsunami has hit and washed away any doubt we have that acknowledgement, gratification and constructivist knowledge building via online connections enhances and supports learning. We cannot go back to the way it was before, we can only continue to build on what we have, refine it, improve it and use it. And this will take creative and dedicated people, many of whom will be educators in their own right and leaders in the eyes of the connected community.

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