Saturday, January 31, 2009

One great conference and Two great minds

During the Flat Classroom Conference we were privileged to have two great minds join us via Skype to share their ideas and interact with students.

On Day 1 we brought in Thomas Friedman, author of The World is Flat. For those who don't know Tom featured the Flat Classroom Project in the latest edition of his book and has been supporting the project from afar for a couple of years. On Day 3, during the closing ceremony for the conference we were delighted to have Don Tapscott, author of Growing Up Digital, and Wikinomics also speak to the students. For those who do not know already, our Horizon Project is featured in the new book Grown Up Digital, published November 2008.

I want to give a special thank you to colleagues Steve Hargadon and Dave Cormier for their assistance in streaming and recording some of the sessions during the conference. Steve has collected related multimedia on his Future of Education Ning, and Dave added the Friedman conversation to the EdTechTalk community at Flat Classroom Discussion with Thomas Friedman. You will also find ALL multimedia from the conference available on the Ning.

Great Mind #1: Thomas Friedman
Conversation with Tom Friedman (read the invitation for students to interact with Tom during this session)
Some salient points made by Tom include:
  • You can act on your imagination - this is what you have that can make a difference to the world we all live in - use it!
  • HOW you do things really matters in a flat, intertwined world. We all leave a digital footprint, therefore HOW you do things matter even more as they will be come back to you
  • Hot, Flat and Crowded - Tom's new book - thinking of the global implications, of global warming, flattened economic conditions, rising populations....a book about America as well as a prescription for how the USA can get their act together. The idea of ET rather than IT...Energy Technology
  • Tom admitted he was the most 'unflat' person in the world as he does not use the new technologies
  • Talked about the 'disease of over-connectedness' (I felt myself settling further into my seat at this point...who me?) and it being detrimental to health...hmmmm....
"Take advantage of what is new and never lose sight of what is old" "The Internet will make you smarter but it will not make you smart"

I felt extremely proud that we were able to invite Tom Friedman to an event where a multi-cultural group of students could benefit from asking him questions and interacting with him. About 12 students lined up with their questions. Very brave, very determined and very confident they wanted to reach out to this acclaimed author with their ideas and questions. Tom's warmth and interest in the students and their questions was obvious.

Great Mind #2: Don Tapscott
Don was relaxed and also keen to speak to students. He spoke about the consequences to education and the world of NOT collaborating and working to improve educational systems as we know them today. He urged us to find new learning modes and also talked about the new project we are co-planning with him. More about that later! Don is on Twitter and was quite comfortable using Skype for the call to us. He also offered to send individuals a personal, signed copy of his new boo, Grown Up Digital, if you read it first and added a review to the page of the book! Let Don know you have done this via a Twitter message!

Technorati Tags:

The Conference that Changed Lives

There is a lot to say about the Flat Classroom Conference, January 24-26. I intend to blog about it for weeks, as it will take me that long to really analyse and share and make sense of it all. However, for now, I am too exhausted for depth. I just spent 9 hours today (the first day of the weekend after the conference) at another conference, NESA Winter Institute and Peer Coaching for technology with Karen Meyer, wishing I was home sleeping and blogging about the event that really changed lives, the event that took what being at a 'conference' to the edge, the event that challenged ALL participants, real, virtual, student, teacher and administrator to re-think education and their place or role in it.

During the Student Summit all student teams worked towards pitching an idea for a new flat classroom project that could be realistically implemented later this year. At the end of the 2nd day, after a final team presentation we voted for the top 4 who then had the chance to work all of the next day on refining their pitch into a short multimedia piece. These 4 finalists worked with experts, including Frank Guttler, multimedia guru and former AFI screen education leader, on creating a final video that could be played at the closing ceremony and that could then be voted on as the winner. Remember that all teams, 4 students in each, were composed of people from different schools and cultures who prior to coming to Qatar or to the summit had not known each other before. Given this and given other cultural, language and social hurdles to get over, the students are to be congratulated on the final outcome and on their ability to work intensely on something they are passionate at about.

So, all finalists are located on the front of our Flat Classroom Conference Ning, and voting via Polldaddy closes on February 3. Vote now! Who do you think deserves to have their idea run as a global collaborative project involving classrooms from around the world?

Here are the videos:

Eradicate Poverty, by Tech Trust
Members: Steve, Nessa, Ahmed, Narel
Statement: "Eradicate Poverty" will lend money to aspiring entrepreneurs in the 3rd world. The success of the future is at stake, let's act with reason!

Find more videos like this on Flat Classroom Conference

Aristmatic, by Aristmetic
Team Members: Casey, Tiphanie, Fibba, Mohammad
Statement: Our Project is a social network to improve how math is taught.

Find more videos like this on Flat Classroom Conference

Face Poverty, by Hope 2.0
Team Members: Chantelle, Karla, Letisha, Khaled, Ahmed
Team Statement: Face Poverty is an initiative to change the world. For one life can make a difference.

Find more videos like this on Flat Classroom Conference

Eracism, by We are Eracism
Members: Nastassja, John, Yaqsan, Antonia
Statement: Our aim is to give teenagers all over the world an opportunity to express their opinions and ideas about issues in the current world.

Find more videos like this on Flat Classroom Conference

Technorati Tags:

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Across My Desk (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Moving Finger Writes....even in Qatar!

Today the Australian class, 1 teacher and 3 students, arrived for the Flat Classroom Conference. It was wonderful inviting them into our home, our school and our lives to share with them what we do here in Qatar. Anne Mirtschin wrote a 'sensory' post about her experiences coming to Doha. She also shared a few pics taken throughout the day as we visited the current Flat Classroom Project 2009-1 class here at Qatar Academy and worked on preparing registration bags etc for the event in 3 days.

Find more photos like this on Flat Classroom Conference

I also want to share this article I found today from the Boston Times, 'Cursive, foiled again', that starts off with "We email, we text, we Twitter - what will become of handwriting", then discusses rationally the evolution of handwriting and the inevitable move to digital communication modes, but with the need to preserve handwriting as an art and as an historical reminder of how life used to be.

A final quote: "The moving finger writes," says the famous Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, "and, having writ, moves on." Nowadays, the finger more likely is hammering away on a computer keyboard, texting on a cellphone, or Twittering on a BlackBerry."

Technorati Tags:

Monday, January 19, 2009

Reminder: Flat Classroom Conference in 5 Days!

I have barely blogged about this at all and it is starting in 5 days! The Flat Classroom Conference, Leadership Workshop and Student Summit, is an amazing opportunity for leaders, teachers and students to come together in Qatar and experience 'flat world' learning experiences.

We have a busy, diverse and challenging 3-day program mapped out that can be viewed online at Day 1, Day 2 and Day 3. We have about 50 people coming into Doha internationally, including over 24 students and their teachers from Australia, Ethiopia, India, Pakistan, Oman, and USA. Along with local international and government teachers and students we have about 130 participants.

The conference is in 2 strands, Leadership Workshop and Student Summit. Both will run independently as well as join for plenary sessions throughout. Featured presenters include Vicki Davis (the co-founder of the Flat Classroom Project), Don Knezek and Lynn Nolan from ISTE, Jeff Utecht (Asian-based educational technology consultant), John Turner (flat classroom teacher and leader) and Frank Guttler (Screen Education Consultant and Visual Literacy Advocate).

The theme of the conference is Ideation Nation: Citizenship in the Global E-Learning Economy and Vicki writes about what this all means on the Flat Classroom Conference Ning in her post, 'What is an Ideation Nation?'

The Student Summit will provide an amazing opportunity for students globally to team together and take on a project challenge. The virtual flat classroom wiki we are using for the event is filling with ideas about global issues and how we can work together to make a difference in the world. Not only will the trip provide multi-cultural experiences beyond the normal middle-high school students realm, it will also provide an encouraging environment where creativity and imagination coupled with hard work may inspire something new and exciting. We are challenging the students to come up with solutions to global issues via the creation of meaningful projects and objectives using technology to communicate and unite others around the world.

Other conference highlights include: (Remember Doha is GMT +3, EST +8)
Conversations with Thomas Friedman: 5-6pm Saturday Jan 24. Yes! Live from Washington DC via a Skype link-up, world renowned author of ‘The World is Flat’, Thomas Friedman will speak at the conference. The Flat Classroom Project is inspired by the book and uses the 10 flatteners as topics for student team work. In fact Vicki and I are featured talking about the project in the latest edition (2007) of ‘The World is Flat’. Tom will talk to the conference participants about his work, including the latest book, ‘Hot, Flat and Crowded’ and then invite questions from students. What an opportunity for our students, to be able to converse with the author of the books that have inspired the project and the conference.

Flat Classroom Debates: 6-7 pm Saturday Jan. 24. This session, in the style of 'Doha Debates’ has a ‘future of education’ focus. It will include a virtual link-up between two international conferences and provide opportunities for the audiences at both to participate by asking questions. Educon 2.1 is an education conference happening simultaneously to the Flat Classroom Conference at the Science Leadership Academy, Philadelphia, PA. The topic for debate: “Education systems successfully prepare students for flat world global challenges”.

There has been some nervousness about coming to the Middle East by participating schools. In fact some schools who applied for scholarships to attend ended up not gaining permission from their school authorities. Those who are coming can be guaranteed a unique cultural exchange and a life-changing experience. Teachers and students at Qatar Academy have been posting to the Ning for a few weeks now sharing images and information about Doha. Jess writes about life in Qatar from an expat. student perspective, and below Abdullah shares a video he recorded to help answer questions about what to bring.

I invite you to keep watching this blog for daily updates about the conference, and I also encourage you to participate virtually in the backchannel and uStream events scheduled. Updates will appear first on the Ning, so come and join us!

Find more videos like this on Flat Classroom Conference

Technorati Tags:

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Across My Desk (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Friday, January 16, 2009

International Teacher Recruitment for Dummies

The view from our Sheraton riverside hotel room while at the Search Associates Bangkok job fair (life isn't all bad)

Inspired by Jeff Utecht's recent post about the
international teacher recruiting season, I thought it might be fun to offer some advice and share experiences from the past week when my spouse and I ventured to the Search Associates Bangkok job fair. Maybe this blog post will inspire others to contribute....maybe we could even write the book, given that a Google search did not throw up a current edition of anything with this title.

So, here we go, a list of DOs and DO NOTs aimed at getting you, the wary international educator, through what is one of the most painful and stressful episodes in life. You may have seen that stress level indicator, you know the one where moving house is at a certain level of stress, as is changing jobs, and I think death of a spouse is one of the highest. Well, I also plan to rewrite this chart as attending an international job fair surpasses all of is THE MOST stressful.

When attending an international teacher recruitment job fair I suggest you -
  • DO be prepared for an emotional roller-coaster ride as you move from one interview to another (if you have interviews)
  • DO NOT get upset if you are not invited to interview with anyone, it may be a problem with the organisers database....or maybe the recruiters ability to use it
  • DO NOT turn up at 8:50 for the interview sign-up session at 9:00 thinking you have lots of time as you will end up at the end of a very long line
  • DO carry tissues at all times for those inevitable knock-backs, better still, sniff all the time as though you have a cold, this should fool them
  • DO keep an open mind about where you may end up and take advantage of all possible interviews....this is important as there are amazing opportunities out there if you are willing to be adventurous
  • DO NOT be fooled by pictures of scenery and enticing words of 'eco-tourism' as an appeal to move to a remote country....get real, this means there is basically nothing to do except look at the scenery and walk may appeal, but we have been there and done that, it depends how old your kids are and what the family needs as a whole
  • DO NOT discount smaller schools or schools that do not have the same reputation as some of the 'heavies' out there....quite often these are gems with dynamic learning environments and less politics to wade through
  • DO some preparation for those inevitable interview questions eg 'What do you do if the administration do not use technology yet?' [what sort of school is this?] or 'How will you encourage the reluctant teacher to integrate technology?' [Is this going to be my responsibility only? What about a top down vision as well?] or 'How do you feel about moving out of MYP and into IGCSE?' [I feel terrible...what am I doing in this interview?]
  • DO NOT be alarmed if the vertical file with your name on it NEVER has any notes, requests or (wait for it) job offers during the entire fair, it's a silly system anyway and technology should be employed more effectively to facilitate communication between recruiters and teachers
  • DO NOT feel under pressure if you are given 2 hours to decide to accept a job as technically the recruiter cannot do that to you, so go on, report him/her to the organisers...then see how many job offers you get....remember that recruiters network as well
  • DO NOT feel completely demoralised when after your third interview with the same school they still have not made a job offer, there must be something left to talk about, besides the lack of organisation on their part is not your fault even though it may feel like it at the time
  • DO NOT expect recruiters to really know what you do, despite having a copious online presence supported by hard copy CV material, get real....reading details is not everyones forte [Grin....personal story - one interview finished amicably but with no real interest in us and on the way out of the room I commented on the book, The World is Flat, that the recruiter was reading....Yes, very interesting, was the response....Oh, by the way I added, I'm in that book, page 501-3...(!) ]
  • DO drink plenty of liquids and remember to eat, dehydration is detrimental to being able to think your way through a difficult interview, however try to leave stonger drinks until after securing the job
  • DO respond positively to recruiters who appreciate what you have done in your career and know, without asking the 20 most difficult questions from the recruiters handbook, that you will be able to do the job...these people are few and far between
  • DO be flexible when considering taking a position is perfect, every position is an opportunity for growth and change, if you want 'sameness' go back to your home country and work there
I hope this helps, and in no way during the above list am I referring to any school in particular. The list comes from 11 years of international teaching and having attended 6 international job fairs in this time.

By the way, I am pleased to announce we have accepted contracts with a school in Beijing, Beijing BISS International School, to start in August 2009. It is a small, accommodating school, offering all 3 IBO programs, and implementing Apple Macs 1:1 in the senior school. I have accepted IT Coordinator and look forward to carrying on the good work of the current IT person. As a family we are very excited to be moving to Beijing, it will be a big change for us having lived in Muslim countries for the past 9 years.

Technorati Tags:

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Across My Desk (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Across My Desk (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

7 Things You Don't Need to Know About Me

Thanks to Anne Mirtschin from On an e-Journey with Generation Y, I have been tagged for this meme, '7 Things You Don't Want to Know About Me'. I have not been very reliable with meme's in recent months....almost to the point of being rude and 'standoffish'. Not intentional, just too busy tho think about it. However, Anne is one of my colleagues coming to Doha in 3 weeks time, and bringing 3 of her students with her for the Flat Classroom Conference, so I think in all fairness they may need to know a few more things about me before arriving!
You may like to review the 'Five Things About Me' meme I wrote 2 years ago as well!
  1. I rarely finish everything I have on my plate, or a cup of coffee. It is a standing family joke. I always have to leave some remnant of the meal, and usually half a cup of coffee.
  2. I once made 4 pavlovas on the same day trying to find the perfect recipe...and I did! The Australian Women's Weekly, Best Family Meals (or something like that) recipe book was the winner. I still use that recipe today.
  3. I have low tolerance for incompetence. This is a tricky one, as it can also be misconstrued as general rudeness and an inability to get on with others. But, there you have it.
  4. I once taught Grade 7 woodwork class. It was either that or cooking, but my colleague got in first and took the cooking class so I was stuck with the hammers and saws. This was in my second year of teaching back in the 1980's and our school was short a teacher for the year. Luckily the students were too young to use the power tools!
  5. I was a community radio DJ for 6 years. Back in my home town of Melbourne I was an avid volunteer for community radio and ran programs for Plenty Valley FM, 88.6 in Melbourne. Really loved it and really miss it now. Highlights included running a student program for 5 years with a weekly live-to-air, in the studio, program with a group of students. Also I was part of the jazz presenters team and rostered 2-3 times a month to present the jazz show.
  6. My favourite car colour is red. That probably says something about my personality as well. I have owned 2 red cars in the past. Currently driving a leased silver car......
  7. My favourite exercise is brisk walking. I hate running, can tolerate swimming but get bored with it. There is nothing better than a brisk walk on a pleasant morning. Here in Doha most of the year it is too warm to be called pleasant, in fact for many weeks it is just too hot to get any enjoyment from walking outside.
OK, that's far too much information in one blog post....moving on to bigger and better ideas for the next post I hope.

Technorati Tags: