A new way to communicate

Happy April Fools Day from Google – better than ever!

Mark Rennick explained on Digital Citizenship in Schools that he was able to make good use of this Google prank:

I just used it to illustrate to a class of Yr. 6 students the perils of believing something just because it is on the net and a brand name stamped on it. I actually had them up practicing the movements. The look of disbelief on some faces when I told them they had been pranked was priceless.

Ahh Friday afternoon library lessons……..

Digital divide – what can go wrong!

Wrangling with online tools has become part of the daily work expectation for many – but not for many of our teachers in schools and universities it seems.

The more I work with educators, the more I worry about the learning opportunities we are creating for our students. Of course, I am generalising here, but nevertheless, I remain perplexed by the idea that teachers feel they are too “time poor” to learn something new each day. Every day, teachers expect their students to ‘go forth’ and find new information, learn new ways of approaching a topic, write another essay, fill another wiki, write another blog post, make another movie, sit another exam…..you know, it’s endless.  So students should stick at it…but not teachers?

Last Saturday I attended a wonderful full day of workshops at Tara School,  run by some trusty colleagues for the ICTENSW teachers.  Attendees came from city and country locations – some even found their way there from Singapore.  My workshop is one that I plan to run in a  few different locations in Australia and NZ during the year.  I wasn’t sure if it was really worthwhile – but Saturday reminded me of the great digital divide that is emerging  in teaching ranks. Here were keen teachers, willing to learn – what about the rest?

It’s not an issue of resourcing – it’s an issue of understanding and capability.  We need to make sure we remain sufficiently skilled to actually be quality mentors for our students!

Two areas stick out like a sore thumb - digital footprint and information seeking.

It’s the same problem we have always had – the expectation that only teacher librarians need to really know how to find stuff! I’m afraid that in our digital era, the stuff finding has to become a core digital skill for all teachers.  This is all the more paramount, when you juxtapose information seeking skills and knowledge creation strategies with digital footprint/digital citizenship and the power of positive digital interactions for professional learning.

The two are not mutually exclusive!

Learning to wrangle the web correctly and well  for information, communication, collaboration, social networking, gaming etc is an essential core skill for 21st century students.

I created a Livebinder to drill into some of these questions.  We didn’t get to do very much at all, even with two hours,  but at least the resource is there to learn more!

The rationale behind Knoweldge 2.0 is acknowledging the information maze; recognising that googling is the default skill that poor teaching promotes; finding out what else is around and why you would craft different approaches to information seeking; discovering the difference between seeking, and having information & news delivered with the power of RSS;  considering the power of academic databases and RSS; pegging cognitive skills into the mix, and dipping into the Howard Rheingold bunch of goodies; and then setting up your own personalised strategies.

All that can take a day to work through, not just a workshop. But it IS the sequence of thinking that every teacher needs to go through at some point if they are going to consider themselves as proper participants in Knowledge 2.0 or 21st century learning, or whatever else you want to label the learning  of today’s kids!

Let me know if you’d like to have a workshop like this at your school or institution.

Our scissors are now digital

School of Information Studies

Week One in my new full-time job at Charles Sturt Uni, and I have discovered the challenges that a few years of change ‘in the cloud’ have wrought!   The ‘work’ challenges are being met thanks to the welcoming support from all my new colleagues. They are an amazing team, spread around the world, and in my online environment this is a wonderful extension of my already robust PLN.

However, as I settle into my preparation for working with students in courses online through Charles Sturt Uni, I also have to set up a whole swag of new equipment. Am I lucky?  You think about it…

What do you do when you have to prepare a new lot of equipment for your online interactions.  It should be easy – right?  It used to be dead easy – load up a few software applications, add a couple of browsers (maybe) and then you’re away.

Well, if you are really working in an online 21st century kind of way (I’m sure you know what I mean), you’d find that you  have to set aside loads of time, and would have to keep tinkering constantly for a week or two to re-establish your online tools, and favourite ways of managing your work productivley, collaboratively, creatively, and uber efficiently. I haven’t got the systems down pat yet – and am using this opportunity to review some things, so am keen to get some feedback if you have favourite tips and tricks that I’ve not listed.

I’ve been keeping a list as I chug along setting things up. I’ll remember more of them when I get back home from Wagga Wagga (loved seeing the kangaroos on campus!).  Interestingly I find that I do different setups on different computers depending on how I ‘bend’ that particular tool to my needs.  But without going into specifics, here’s what the list is looking like after one week…and I’m not finished yet.  I found it incredibly frustrating initially to have a browser window that did just that – browse!!  There are many tools/options, and some that I choose not to use, though I realise that they just might be amongst your favourites.  Of course, it’s also about tools that synchronise, or work in partnernship with my iPhone and iPad.

I wonder how I ever used to work without the additional speed and flexibility that these tools provide me.

I wonder how YOU manage, if you don’t have a similar looking list?

Here’s my running list of core tools  so far:

Can’t wait to see how the list ends up!  Tell me what I have missed too please  …

Free web stuff for your library

I couldn’t resist sharing this presentation from Sarah Houghton-Jan. You know – you really don’t have to have megabucks to squeeze the best out of interactive web spaces – just a co-operative and flexible IT manager!

Don’t turn a digital blind eye…

Denver Convention Centre

So here we are  –  back at school again!  After the amazing ISTE2010 conference in Denver Colorado, I can honestly say that I came away packed with inspiration, and refreshed by the multiplicity of exciting approaches being tested and proved for their value in schools around the world.

There were many highlights, but above all, the message came across loud and clear from top to bottom  that we need to be proactive and adventurous in digital environments. Don’t guess  –  collaborate and learn from others! Build academic rigor through excellence in digital innovation.

I was so impressed with the schools that have a solid track record of integration of handheld devices such as the iTouch. They have shown us that it IS possible to have secure networks AND robust learning taking place that transforms opportunities for students. Even more exciting was hearing from those that are also exploring the added advantages that an iPad can bring to flexible learning. Of course, educators also reveled in the opportunity to explore and share Apps for the iPad. ISTE2010 was groundbreaking for me  – seeing so many iPads in one place was amazing!  Oh yes, the TL Learning Tools Smackdown was a real winner!

It was exciting to hear and see Howard Rheingold in person, in his Crapdetection 101 session. He has so much to offer us in understanding issues around good critical thinking in our digital environments. Take the time to watch his presentation, and then visit ISTEs critical thinking compendium.

So back to school for me  and the challenges of digital learning.

Thanks to our Powerful Learning Project initiative, our Digital Citizenship program delivered through a private Ning is once again alive and active with a plethora of curious, clever, colourful and amazing expressions of learning by our Year 7 boys. I know @snbeach will be pleased!

I love watching what happens in the first week!  Some boys are really excited (once again) to be working in an environment that to them ‘is like Facebook’ – which makes it cool! Others can’t help but use the Ning environment to ‘shout out’ about topics that are close to their hearts – who should win the next rugby game; should Ricky Ponting be dropped from the cricket team; and personal reflections on home and school. At the same time, boys are able to reflect on the topics being discussed in class, and sometimes amaze me with their  insights into their own digital world.

For example:

Cyberbullying is common  and mainly occurs because the person on the other side of the screen can’t see how hurt the victim is and they think it’s all a big joke to them. It is one of the largest forms of bullying because it doesn’t have any physical requirements, like conventional bullying does, but can be done by anyone. It is a major problem and is mainly based from social networking sites, not from SMS’ and phone calls because they are too intimate in communication.

One of the most annoying things about cyberbullying is anonymity and not knowing who is bullying you. It also is only effective in large groups so you feel excluded and like everyone is against you, unlike when you know you have friends to support you and back you up. If I experienced cyberbullying I would probably tell a teacher and document all the incidents so that the cyberbullies would get into trouble and hopefully learn a lesson.

Digital Citizenship cannot be ignored. Out of 160 + boys, only a few believe that they have had any help or guidance from parents or teachers in these digital environments.  So our digital initiative is being ‘rolled out’ via our English faculty – communicating in digital environments seems a very good reason to adopt this as our own (yes Darcy – I’m an English teacher too, so perhaps rank as a small part of your English Literati set perhaps in some small way?)

Other examples:

This is all well and good that the school’s IT group has put all this time and effort in to making this program but I have a an idea that this is just a trap for cyber bullyers. Because I’m gathering that school has no jurisdiction over our use of Facebook.

Ning is sooo cool, its just like a mini facebook, I can learn soo much from this!!

The important message  is that the world is changing really fast and in order to keep up with all the new and exciting things, we also need to no how to use these things in a responsible matter.

Cyberbullying = cowardice!

Very perceptive !

These environments are so important in both social and academic spheres.

Why do some educators continue to turn a digital blind eye?

The world is now a global village

Marshall McLuhan explores  the world as a Global Village in 1960 –  with extraordinary relevance to our 21st century reality!

Electronic media haven’t wiped out the book. It’s used, read and wanted now more than ever. But the role of the book has changed. It’s no longer alone. It no longer has sole charge of our outlook nor our sensibilities. Of course the trouble is, we act as if we were still solely in the age of the book.

Oh yeah!

Oh my! Twitter makes history for Google search

While the short form musings of a generation chronicled by Twitter might seem ephemeral, the Library of Congress wants to save them for posterity — and Google wants to let you search them like an archive! We’ve already seen the 140-character status updates on what people are doing turn into a global publishing phenomenon.

Now Twitter messages will be archived permanently by the Library of Congress.

The Twitter archive of all public tweets, starting from its inception in March 2006, will join such august collections such as letters from the Civil War and famous photographs from Great Depression-era works project.

For its part, Google thinks you shouldn’t have to wait to start doing sociological and anthropological research into the Twitter archive — so it’s turning on a feature that lets you choose a point in time and start to “replay” the short-form messages from that point on. Google’s search combines Twitter updates with those from MySpace, Facebook and its own fledgling micro-publishing service Buzz.

The point of all this?

We’re watching the making of digital history – again!  You may still have a lot of people to explain Twitter to – now you have an additional reason to make them sit up and take notice.

Via Andrew Hiskens on Twitter and Wired.

The Digital and Literacy World of Young Children

A new report from the Pearson Foundation examines how digital media is affecting early literacy around the globe.

How is digital media changing the way young children learn? Could the way young children learn be evolving to meet a new, dynamic digital media format?

Authors Jay Blanchard, a professor at Arizona State University, and Terry Moore ask these and other questions in their new report: “The Digital World of Young Children: Emergent Literacy” (PDF), out this week from the Pearson Foundation.

The white paper was released at the annual Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) International Symposium.

Blanchard and Moore conclude “developmental milestones are changing as today’s children approach learning and literacy in new ways, not thought possible in the past. “

The paper is worth a read, especially for understanding our current context around the  emergent literacy needs of primary-aged students.

(via Spotlight on Digital Media and Learning)

Did you know what’s happening to the Internet?

This is another official update to the original “Shift Happens” video. This completely new September 2009 version includes facts and statistics focusing on the changing media landscape, including convergence and technology, and was developed in partnership with The Economist.

Thanks to Wes Fryer for the tip-off in his post Can you Imagine So Much Global Sharing?  My answer is – I never could, even though I’m an avid reader of SciFi. Dreaming and doing are quite different things!

Also in the same post – a peek at the state of the Internet. 

2010 is one amazing year!

more about “JESS3 / The State of The Internet“, posted with vodpod