We can solve this problem together!

There are many ways we can create learning environments for our students that will help develop their thinking and problem-solving skills. While I spend a lot of time working with technology and Web 2.0, I am fortunate to hear from my colleague, Nicole, about another technology approach – that is beaut for young kids!!!

Welcome to the world of Freddie the Bee-Bot! It is worth reading and absorbing the developing story of Bee-Bots Downunder, as youngsters in our schools engage in collaborative thinking and co-operation about their learning while they program Bee-Bot action.

A Bee Bot is a visually attractive, audible easily handleable programmable floor robot which can be used to support the development of skills in a wide range of areas. It allows learners to give a range of instructions from simple to more complex. It can be used for the development of fine motor skills by using the directional buttons. It can support imaginative play through the use of commercial or school designed covers. It allows learners to demonstrate skills in ways that a traditional approach would not support.

Nicole created a blog to keep a record of the learning these kids are doing. Nicole explains:

The children work collaboratively, and through their own experiences develop and use positional language, problem posing and solving skills and the ability to work co-operatively to achieve a goal. It is important that the students use whatever strategies that are meaningful to them to solve the problem.

Keep an eye on the developing achievements of our Bee-Bot kids at Bee-Bots Downunder. Fantastic work Nicole and team!

Why the world isn’t flat…..isn’t it?

A few hectic weeks…..and a few frustrations later, I can’t help but reflect on the value of our global dialogue in helping us to ‘push’ our thinking in education. As I have mentioned before, the challenges of bringing an aging teacher workforce into 21st century thinking is sometimes overwhelming. Then good things happen, and I know that we are ‘going to make it’.

I have had quite a number of emails from colleagues who attended the presentation at the State Library on ’2020 vision’. All have been to indicate how excited they were at what they heard, and what each person has been doing to get some Web 2.0 projects underway. I don’t always get an email – but I see activity in my wordpress hits; I see new delicious accounts setup; and I find new blogs linking to HeyJude.

We learn from each other – with a global reach. Just this morning I ‘skyped’ Carol from Fielding Graduate University…and I thank Web 2.0 tools for making this kind of professional exchange possible. I recommend taking a look at her Learning is Chaotic links. Carol has been doing some interesting research, so why not drop by and provide some feedback. I am hoping to link up with Carol and Fielding later in the year.

I am able to learn so much from classroom practitioners in my schools, in Australia, and around the world (I have some favourites in my Heyjude Blogrolls, and others are at Bibliosphere News; and new blogs are appearing everwhere, my most recent discovery being Principal Laffan’s blog Laffan Out Loud) – but right now I am fascinated by the work that Tom Barret is doing at ICT in my Classroom, and really enjoying watching how our students are Making the Most of Web 2.0 with his help. Tom says:

Our ability to connect has obviously greatly improved since the advent of this 2nd evolutionary web. The walls of all our classrooms have begun to tumble and we look further outward, the earth as they say has become flat.

We have had a ‘shakey’ start to the venture – but it is also part of the learning for our teachers. The enthusiasm is more than tangible – I can vouch for the teacher enthusiasm and commitment as I have skyped with Jamie weekends and up to midnight some nights!! (IM on skype is a great way of working into the wee hours, without disturbing family, plus it allows ‘next-gen’ multitasking, as we worked together to solve technical problems!).

What’s equally interesting is the number of times that Heyjude blog has been included as part of an academic program of study – universities here in Australia, Canada, and USA. I see this as exciting because it shows how the world of education IS flattening out – and even if I feel a bit like a ‘travelling roadshow’ at times, I know that I have to keep going.

Mind you, Web 2.0 is not what is important – what is important is the changing understanding of the learning landscape of our students, as well as our own opportunities for professional learning. I know this because my blog tells me that it is not only subscribers from English-speaking countries who are part of the dialogue.

So during the last week I discovered Adam Paszternak’s FIKSZ blog, and his post  Tíz technológia-alapú áramlatról könyvtárosokna which turned out to be Michael Stephen’s Ten Tech trends for Librarians. Here’s Michael’s take on the translation.

I’ve exchanged some Hungarian and English messages with Adam, and joined his Delicious links, and got some fun feedback on some of my shared links ;-) I am particularly enjoying seeing Web 2.0 developments through another language and culture, and seeing how innovation presents the same challenges and opportunities regardless of where we are.

Finally, this small reflection is really a response to a post from John Connell on Why the World isn’t flat. John points to an article by Pankaj Ghemawat, professor of global strategy at IESE Business School, entitled, Why The World Isn’t Flat, and asks for response.

I don’t claim to even begin to understand global economics – but I do claim to understand that I can’t be an effective educator without globalisation of my education work. Geographical boundaries, cultures and economies clearly do impact on what in happening in a locality – but is the global perspective that is driving the philosophical changes education. It is important to realise that we are in the middle of significant change – and just because of this, it can be to easy to say ‘well that won’t happen’. I don’t agree with Pankay Ghemawat, just because I think he is taking a short view of things. He says:

Of course, given that sentiments in these respects have shifted in the past 10 years or so, there is a fair chance that they may shift yet again in the next decade. The point is, it’s not only possible to turn back the clock on globalization-friendly policies, it’s relatively easy to imagine it happening.

For me he presents a narrow view when translated to education – a view locked to economic dialogue, without recognition of the cultural changes that are also affected, and which also create change (what happened to the cold war?).

The Australian Good Weekend Magazine ran an article on Shi Shengrong, an unassuming Chinese/Australian citizen known as ‘the sun king’ of solar energy fame – who is the richest man in China, and director of SunTech in Wuxi, China. It is the intersection of business with social responsibility that interest him most. He is determined to retain his focus on solar power and help solve the world’s polution problems. When asked about the goal of economic development he responds:

Few people answer that it’s about eating poisonous foods and breathing acidic air. But that’s what will happen unless we change course. We need to ask ourselves these questions. That is the real bottom line.

Yep! The world is flat – it’s just a matter of how we look at the matter, what period of time we look at, and the questions we ask that gives us the real bottom line.

In my presentations I talk about the profound changes that have taken place in learning in my lifetime. Now it is my responsibility to help ensure that the changes taking place for our students, at a much faster rate, will be fantastic.

Who’s Watching YOUR Space?


This is a great encapsulation of the OCLC Symposium: How do we operate as educators and information professionals? If you haven’t joined the conversation, or become part of the action, then it really is time to start.

We need to learn how to experience these technologies and put them into practice!

Click on the link to go to YouTube – the owner of the video does not allow this video to be embedded into a blog!

This is the 3-minute version of the most recent OCLC Symposium at ALA Midwinter 2007. More than 400 people attended this discussion of social networking practices and trends on January 19, 2007 in Seattle, Washington. Michael Stephens, Instructor, Graduate School of Library and Information Science at Dominican University and author of Web 2.0 & Libraries: Best Practices for Social Software, was moderator. The expert panel included: Howard Rheingold, a leading thinker on the cultural, social and political implications of communications media and virtual communities; danah boyd, PhD candidate at the School of Information at the University of California, Berkeley and Fellow at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Center for Communications; and Marc Smith, Senior Research Sociologist, who leads the Community Technologies Group at Microsoft Research. The full video (2:23:19) can be viewed at http://www.oclc.org/index/symposium

Our Schools are Flat

Warlick: Our Schools are Flat

Originally uploaded by mstephens7.

David Warlick shares his presentation from the SLJ leadership summit, and I really appreciated this particular image. I picked this up from Michael Stephen’s Flickr collection – I’ve got him in my list of contacts.

So this image shows how not only schools are flat but we are getting flat too! From David to Michael to Judy, via flickr, and the blogging template embedded within Flickr, which I am testing now.

I am also reading The World is Flat by Thomas L Friedman. Wow!

He says in his introduction:

It is now possible for more people than ever to collaborate and compete in real time with more other people on more different kinds of work from more different corners of the planet and on a more equal footing than at any previous time in the history of the world – using computers, e=mail, fiber-optic netowrks, teleconferencing, and dynamic new software.

I am also listening in to the Fireside Chat of the K12 online conference via Skype!

Whether we like it or not our world is flat, and all the better for it,  when we recognise the amazing power of this new information landscape.

Graphical images everywhere!

Another librarian in comics, this time The Librarian, from the made-for-TV movie, Return to King Solomon’s Mines.

Flynn Carson, guardian of mystical artifacts scattered throughout world history! Originally appearing in the hugely popular made-for-cable film “The Librarian: Quest for the Spear”, Carson is back and this time his mission is to prevent the powerful Key of Solomon from falling into the hands of a ruthless warlord! He is joined in his quest by Emily Davenport, a beautiful fellow scientist who may be his only hope to locate the legendary Mines of King Solomon before it is too late!

Not to be outdone by movies and comics, we also have the microsoft powered LiveSearch of Ms Dewey – leaving many of us wondering if this new interface actually works!

Take a look and enjoy!

But it does have potential doesn’t it? in making the knowledge work of information seeking fun in the first instance and bringing a new interface to searching which just might hook kids?

It is a real ‘information’ problem – a globe of information – and the only discussion in some circles revolves around how to engage students with use of technology tools, forgetting that engagement involves cognitive and affective domains – i.e. I seek, I get confused, I want help, I don’t undersand, etc. While it is vital to learn to integrate technology and Web 2.0 thinking, it is also a gross error to assume that using technology = using our intelligence to full capacity.

Human knowledge is complex and requires deep thinking – and sometimes a deep capacity to search, find, sort and synthesise information, viewpoints and knowledge. 21st century wisdom builds on all that came before.

Let’s not forget the cognitive dimension of Web 2.0 and technology integration – and lets have fun with Ms Dewey and King Solomon’s mines.

Learning Agenda Web 2.0 style

While some of my colleagues are at the Australian Computers in Education conference in Cairns, I am catching up on another batch of marking for Charles Sturt University before flying out to HongKong for a very well earned rest. When I get back it will almost be time for the Global Summit, where I hope to see a few of my fellow bloggers.

John Connell will join us at Catholic Education, before the Global Summit, ‘in conversation’ and to inspire us with his work in Scotland. Might have a podcast to share afterwards if John is happy with the idea. If you haven’t dipped into John’s blog, I highly recommend it. I have no idea how one person can think and write so much, but be assured that you will be challenged by the diversity of his posts.

I’ve been doing some writing for the office in the last couple of weeks, teasing out ideas around future directions and our learning agenda. One concept that has tested thinking for a few people has been around the whole issue of learning management systems (LMS) and virtual learning environments (VLE). Funnily enough some of my colleagues get stuck on debating semantics and how to describe systems that we are rolling out for our schools. As if describing the system will somehow make it more worthwhile or more relevant?

In fact, what we should be focussing on is the Web 2.0 world of our students and their personal learning environments (PLE). Remember, its a combo-world. In Macca’s sales speak – we are constantly ‘upsizing’ and offering ‘fries with that’ because we have to!

Today we can deliver TO student expectations beyond the LMS and VLE that have emerged in recent times as the answer to learning for a 21st century technology world.

The emergence of Web 2.0 and social software moves us beyond the use of integrated LMS or VLE to social networking and education immersed in the future world of our students. No use debating which LMS to buy, or what a VLE is! Understand MySpace and you will understand the shape, meaning, value, future directions of student learning.

In fact, any discussion of the educational value of LME or VLE, and the integration or separation of social software must must be grounded in new ‘MySpace pedagogy’ and must include a genuine understanding by educators of the Web 2.0 world of our net-savvy students.

I suggest that we need a combination of a number of tools: a management system, personal tools and social networks. Our integrated solution requires this personal learning environment, because the very nature of what our students do and how they use online spaces extends their learning beyond the classroom and the present …. right into the future …. for life and for lifelong learning.

In fact, ‘Web 2.0 as platform’ is the natural implementation and platform for 21st century learning.

It’s time to dream the impossible dream and leap beyond the context of our current understandings.

Flexibility and personalisation are at the core of our re-purposing of education. If students think about the internet as a virtual locker, backpack and notebook, then we must create flexible learning environments which support the use of multipe resource tools, including Web 2.0.

If we do this, then we will have a learning framework that is Web 2.0, 24/7, global, contextual, personalised, real, physical, virtual, and visceral.

We’ll help our students be passionate about their personalised learning!

Now, off to HongKong :-)

MySpace additions – wow networking!

Following up from my post on Social Networking Explained

…..it is good to find that my group of schools will be encouraged to take a more postive approach to the value and purposes of social networking right down to flexible use of MySpace.

Back on Tuesday 17 May at a K-12 School Library network meeting, Jan and myself raised the matter of MySpace and tried to encourage people at the meeting to take a positive view of the opportunities that MySpace represents. My post MySpace and School Libraries resulted in some feedback to me from some teacher librarians saying that they had changed their view of MySpace and were now looking at how to develop a better approach.

So of course this recent post by Jane’s E-Learning Pick of the Day on Zapr reminded me of the highly flexible possibilities that MySpace or similar offer.

zaprEasy communication and transfer of information is what MySpace is all about. Zapr includes a MySpace Zapr Link Tool . Zapr lets you create links to any files on your PC. Then you can send these links to friends (via email or IM) and they can get the files directly from your computer via their browser.

Is this important. You bet! Jan at Delaney College explains that students are using MySpace for storing their learning ideas and learning resources. They are bamboozled when they get to school and suddenly can’t access their own work, their own files, and continue right on with the learning from where they left off the night before.

You might like to add Jan’s del.icio.us to your network, or Jan’s del.icio.us work with teachers to your network. Thanks to Jan for sharing her enthusiasm.

Cut and paste literacy

Reading through some of the Sites of Current Interest to Me from John Connell:the Blog led me to Rough Type and a comment about a paper published about My Space. The paper stands in contrast to the lack of dialogue about MySpace in educational circles. (Partly this is because some schools block access, so by blocking they think that usage goes away; partly it is because they have never heard of MySpace; partly this is because they see MySpace as being irrelevant)

Whether its plagiarism, or creativity, or school intranets, or learning spaces – looking at student behaviours in MySpace is essential if we are to work with the potential of technology and the potential of our kids to create a ‘new future’. Ogh…I know ‘new future’ sounds cliched…but whatever your term for future planning, MySpace and it’s ilk are here and ready to be our advisors and help shape our understandings.

The paper is an indepth analysis of elements of MySpace with important ideas for our understanding of literacy in this Web 2.0 space.

Is illiteracy the new literacy? Berkeley’s Dan Perkel writes, in a paper, Cut and Paste Literacy, on MySpace profiles: “A social perspective of literacy helps show that a part of [the] problem in this framing of copying and pasting as a literacy practice is that it does not neatly fit within common educational practices. From the perspective of the social niche of traditional schooling, to copy and paste is to plagiarize, unless there is careful attribution of sources …

‘All Your Own Work’ in a Web 2.0 World

I attended an a full day seminar organised by ALSANSW looking at the issue of Plagiarism in light of the NSW Board of Studies unit “Working with Others” soon to be compulsory for testing in Year 10. My task was to provide a context for thinking about plagiarism which included an understanding of the Web 2.0 world of students and teachers.

Apart form ‘showcasing’ Web 2.0 my aim was to encourage teachers and teacher-librarians to re-examine what it means to create a community of enquiry for themselves and for their students…by participating in new forms of information organization and sharing…..like social bookmarking, wiki, and blogs. We have to recognize the level of social networking that kids engage in more and more, and the fact that information seeking will sometimes take place via instant messenger, myspace or other social ways.

With Web 2.0 the purpose and function of learning as defined by teachers needs revision. Maybe……..

The purpose of learning should…

  • Be informed by connections and communication
  • Promote open sharing of knowledge
  • Allow for individuals making decisions on their own

The function of learning should be….

  • About being a member of the community of practice
  • Recognize that all spaces are learning places

Perhaps Web 2.0 learning is defined by three things:

Focus

  • On identity
  • Who we are in society

Framework

  • Multitasking multi-modal environment
  • Virtual learning mode

Future

  • Personal integrity and social contribution
  • Individuality and creativity

A very interesting day, with some curious interactions and comments afterwards. The one that made me chuckle was “we are never going to use these [Web2.0] technologies”.

Hmm, a bit like the network meeting I organised back in Term 4, 1995. Some ‘system’ representatives came along – because I had organised a chap who brought his own computer, and who could access Ozemail at $5.00 hr and show us ‘THE INTERNET’. Yes, these visitors said to me “Judy, you shouldn’t have organised this – this internet business will never happen in schools!”.

OOPS! How about Web 2.0 then??

 

Teacher as Learner in Web 2.0

Quarter of a year blogging! Hooray!!

OK, time for a personal whinge :-(

The last week has been a frustrating week in many ways, but the most frustrating of all has been the ‘negotiations’ I have had in discussion about my academic study program.

Supposedly in a Doctor of Science Education Program with a technology focus through Curtin University, I have come to the conclusion that unless I can find an academic environment that reflects the changing learning landscape of kids today I am totally wasting my time seeking to learn more about learning landscapes via an academic study program.

Really nice folks at the uni – don’t get me wrong – but just NOT giving me the learning extension that I need.

Here is an example – the reader for Learning Environements, which I must read (ok, I can do that) but which I also have to demonstrate that I understand (!) contains 16 papers, all from the 90s, and one only from 2001. Now you and I know that this represents Web 1.0 generation of thinkers. Even if they are ‘cool constructivist thinkers’, they are talking about a learning environment and learning landscape that is rapidly becoming irrelevant. While it is important to ground current research and learning in past knowledge and research – I do not have this option.

“You can add a bit on about Web 2.0 if you like, but do not make it the main thrust of your paper. You must demonstrate that you understand our philosophy”

Despite the fact that a previous module run by Peter Taylor extended my thinking on constructivism in marvelous ways, this time around I feel that being forced to operate in the constraints of the concepts presented in our Reader is really a great example of ‘enculturation’ and not at all about border crossing into Web 2.0 in theory and practice.

I suggest that practitioners in the field who are blogging and sharing their experiences through books, presentations, seminars, podcasts etc are teaching much more about what is possible than this academic approach to readers and stale research processes allows.

Practitioners such as Stephen Downes, Will Richardson, Doug Johnson, Stephen Abram, Michael Stephens, John Connell, Leigh Blackall, Ewen McIntosh, and Alan November are engaging with the learning needed in new environements, gathering me up in the learning as they go – something my current academic program does not do.

I suggest that attending events like The Global Summit will also help me along in my learning. I suggest that opportunities to interact with global colleagues like the event at TeachMeet06 will give me learning opportunities that no analysis of a “reader” would ever manage. How sad that I have to ‘regurgitate’ to prove that I understand.

What I have learned and continue to learn through social networking, Web 2.0 and peer to peer discussions is far superior to my current academic offerings.

My students and my schools are the priority. It is vital to innovate, have fun, and learn all at the same time…..so unless I can actively research SecondLife, or an aspect of Web 2.0 in 2007 …… that’s it to my current academic institution.

I want to thank all the wonderful people who have contributed to my professional learning – fantastic stuff for this teacher as learner.