Remix epitomises Web 2.0

A concept I like to present when doing professional development about Web 2.0 is the idea of “remix”. If we look at millenials, we see that all their digital actions are associated with remixing and personalising of music, video, pictures, information – whatever really!

So the reappearance of Writely as a Google product, is another example of a writing tool that allows students to cut and paste, as well as combine and create, all in the one online tool. It features collaborative editing — multiple editors on the same doc at once — and can be used as the editor for writing your blog, saving out to a post instead of a file on your machine.

Writely – the Web 2.0 word processor is now accepting signups again.
We cannot escape ‘remix’ – nor would I suggest that we should! What is more critical is that educators come to better understand the shifting agenda in this ‘remix’ culture, and appreciate the strength of this approach and integrate it into our educational aims. Of course we have to work out what this means – and how ‘remix’ can be about developing creativity, fostering critical thinking, collaboration, and knowledge creation.

So a post on this topic from Sheila Webber is timely, as she alerts us to to the fact that Colin Lankshear and Michele Knobel have generously posted Chapter 3 (“New literacies: concepts and practices”) of the forthcoming 2nd edition of their book New Literacies and on their blog they had also posted Chapter 4 (“New literacies in everyday practice”) as well.

Three experts from Part 2: New literacies in everyday practice make a good summary of my views on ‘remix':

Until recently the idea of ‘remix’ as a practice of taking cultural artifacts and combining and manipulating them into a new kind of creative blend was associated almost entirely with recorded music.

While this remains the dominant conception of remix, its conceptual life has expanded recently in important and interesting ways within the context of increasing activism directed at copyright and intellectual property legislation.

We accept this conceptual extension of ‘writing’ to include practices of producing, exchanging and negotiating digitally remixed texts, which may employ a single medium or may be multimedia remixes. At the same time we also recognize as forms of remix various practices that do not necessarily involve digitally remixing sound, image and animation, such as fanfiction writing and producing manga comics (whether on paper or on the screen).

Learning Technology Forum

Wednesday and Thursday this week saw Learning Technology teachers from primary and secondary schools in the Parramatta Diocese gather for a two-day forum.

The presentations from this forum will be made available via podcast – and I hope provide the links for you when they are available .

The forum was opened by Kevin Jones, and as Head of Curriculum he was able to provide some clear insights to ‘set the scene’.

Kevin focussed on the beliefs that underpin/enable/epitomise 21st century learning, and the approaches that will enable (if not ensure) quality 21st century learning. Some of the key points were about the beliefs that must drive our understanding and the staffroom approaches that help us be more effective.

The Beliefs
Learning in the 21st century is about

  • student “centredness”.
  • Student ownership
  • Student choices
  • Student responsibility

The Approach

Collaborative work practices (staffroom approaches) will help us meet the learning needs of our students.

These practices must include use of technology that enhances collaborative work practices for:

  • Programming Organisation of assessment
  • Marking to standards
  • Evaluation
  • Cross-curricular approaches

As Kevin explained, “Our approaches and practices have to reflect our beliefs about individualised learning”. “We need to think about our own approach” “We need to think about what our current practices indicate about our beliefs about learning”.

Then we will engage more effectively in how to use the tools.

I followed with a presentation on Engaging the google generation through Web 2.0. For this session I drew from the article of the same title published in SCAN, Vol 25 No 3 August 2006.

Net Neutrality

I want to pick up on a post from John Connell which picked up on ‘net neutrality’. He said

Tim Berners-Lee, as you might expect, has fought against any attempt to damage the open nature of the Net , and has used his own blog in the fight. A particularly interesting take on the protagonists ranged on either side of this debate is offered by Lawrence Lessig in his influential blog. He points out that, in his view, those arguing for net neutrality are those who ‘get’ the Net, and those opposed are those who have never ‘gotten’ it.

I am still a bit ‘rattled’ by the Phillip Adams session at the seminar – not so much by what was said as by what wasn’t said. I realise that it was the whole issue of net neutrality that was central to my concern, and that media people perhaps might not always ‘get’ the Net (not counting the media magnates who see the Net as a cash cow). Why is it bugging me so much?
With the launch of Microsoft’s blogging and social networking platform  Windows Live Spaces (formally MSN Spaces), you can see the distance that even media commentators need to travel in order to effectively comment on learner needs as a result of the changes taking place under our very noses.

I may not have time to listen to a rerun of the sessions via podcast (though I have captured them in itunes already), so I could be wrong – but I do not recall much elaboration around the social networking that social software enables – nor the implications of this for learners. People throughout history have always developed their best ideas by discussing them with others. Nothing is different now, other than that it happens constantly online or via other communications media.

The issue for me then is who ‘gets the Net’?  Who is going to ‘translate’ the developments effectively for teachers? Are we going to stay way behind developments with only pockets of currency?

Schools are busy working with various learning management systems – 5 years too late! And 5 years is a LONG time in the online world, but like 5 minutes in education. There’s the problem.  Even if an LMS has interactive components it can’t keep up. Why? Because there is a constantly evolving suite of social software that can and should be used within the learning environment regardless of the LMS system currently in vogue.

So back to the beginning….how to promote curiosity, clarity, keeness, and conscience – faith in ourselves and our world?

Wikipedia Adds Citation

Seen on digg: commented on at The Savvy Technologist:

Wikipedia has added a feature called “Cite This Article” to its site. The feature appears as a link in the Toolbox section of each page and provides key bibliographic information as well as citations pre-formatted in all of the major forms. Interestingly, they add the following note at the top of each citation page:

Most educators and professionals do not consider it appropriate to use tertiary sources such as encyclopedias as a sole source for any information — citing an encyclopedia as an important reference in footnotes or bibiliographies may result in censure or a failing grade. Wikipedia articles should be used for background information, as a reference for correct terminology and search terms, and as a starting point for further research.

Here’s an example citation page for the Wikipedia article about basenjis.

Wikipedia is the ‘mumma of all wiki’ and shows clearly what can be done in a good collaborative environment. Wikipedia is a great complimentary resource to other online sources of information and this citation facility will further embedd wiki technology into our thinking.

WikispacesThe reports on the NECC conference, at which there were a host of great speakers. Catch lots of podcasts or audio playback of sessions and interviews. Adam Frey from (the mp3 file) talks about free wikis for teachers. He has a very Australian accent!

He says,

Technology for too long has been complicated and too hard to use.

Of course, making things easy is what Web 2.0 is about.

Teachers are finding wiki an easy way to work on web pages together.

Teachers and students  are taking advantage of this technology in their classrooms – and example of using a wiki from a teacher in Georgia – students using a wiki to create a study guide to share with their fellow students. This wiki was created entirely out of class time purely from student motivation to study and use a technology to help them.

Its easy and its fun!

Web 2.0 changes everything!

Try telling everyone this! It is a great thing to discover what is changing around us with the uptake of Web 2.0 – but it is not always as easy to communicate this to people who are not engaged in these discoveries via the blogosphere.

A post from Doug at Borderland asks "terms like social and networking are used to describe the change, but what do those words mean?" Indeed! and it is not easy to explain this to newbies to Web 2.0. However, I would say that reading about and dipping into social networking tools is probably the best way to explain.

The paper from FutureLab looks at Social Software and Learning and the 'shape' of learning as a result of the transformation in the new technology environment of our students. However, the post by Doug draws together some of the key people and ideas. Read it – it will make you think. Also Dough alerts us to Blogging as Participation: The Active Sociality of a New Literacy, a paper that Colin Lankshear and Michele Knobel presented at a recent AERA conference demonstrates the difference between two of various possible mindsets regarding traditional and new classrooms.

I have found that the visual image of Web 2.0 – the extended mindcloud – has been a great visual starter at sessions I have run. 'Participation' and 'Remix' provide two good concepts to open up the discussion with people, before actually going into showing and discussing social software. I am also adding Michael's Academic 2.0 concept model to my discussion pool.

Take 'remix' as an example – and ask just how many kids now buy a CD or album, and listen to it in total, just as they bought it. Everyone understands that kids like to remix their music, and they like to deliver it to their ears via an mp3 player. This alone marks kids as different to the adult generation's experience of adolescence.

In schools we still need to 'introduce' teachers to new ways of thinking, organising and doing. Until we do that we will not see the required curriculum change to 'learning space', 'learning times'. The blogosphere is a great tool to point teachers to blogs that discuss, demonstrate, and showcase great school initiatives. I like squidoo and some wiki as well for this. Much easier than talking about it!

Curriculum As Connectivism

Roger Stack's recent post on curriculum as connectivism explores how the integral theory of AQAL relates to connectivism as a curriculum metaphor.

Roger talks about learning as network creation and how we might provide 'learning ecologies' to meet the needs of students and is exploring these ideas in the process of planning the implementation of the new Curriculum Framework in TAS.
He examines:

  • Curriculum as Content or Subjects
  • Curriculum as Discrete Tasks and Concepts
  • Curriculum as Experience
  • Curriculum as Cultural Reproduction
  • Curriculum as "Currere"
  • Curriculum as Intended Learning Outcomes
  • Curriculum as Connectivism.

He offers quite a compact journey through constructivism, and presents graphical representations of these. An excellent opportunity to revisit our thinking about curriculum in tandem with adressing the issues of curriculum as we repackage for a connected world.

Roger provides reading links that are also very useful. I have added Roger to my network at Del.ici.ous.

Cut and paste – a research skill in Web 2.0

I have been reading with interest the discussions on OZTL_NET about 'cut and paste – a research skill'. Opinions have varied about appropriate strategies to encourage critical examination of information, and best use of technology to facilitate gathering and analysing information. Concensus seems to support good use of Word and a web browser to achieve the required result.

The post from Barbara Combes from the School of Computer and Information Science at Edith Cowan University is worth sharing on this topic before pointing out future possibilities.

From Barbara:

How to be smart technology users and take notes?
Students are instructed to open a word document as well as the website.

First action – in the word doc create your bibliographic entry using whatever style your school endorses.

Second action – alt-tab to switch to the website. Copy and paste if you need to by copying, alt-tab to the word doc and paste. HIGHLIGHT the copied text to indicate that these are not your words.

Third action – underneath the copied text/graphic write a commentary -why did you copy it? What does it say? Why is it relevant to your studytopic. Why is this piece of information important.

Fourth action – all notes MUST be handed in as a portfolio with the final copy of the assignment AND these are included in the assessment rubric, along with the bibliographic data.

Two main criteria of the assessment rubric:

1. You MUST indicate the depth and breadth of your research by using intext referencing and an end of text reference list.

2. You MUST indicate your understandings by using your own words.If you fail to meet these 2 criteria then the assignment is worth NOTHING. It is only a collection of someone else's words and understandings. All the student has demonstrated is the skill to cut and paste using a keyboard.Students have a copy of the rubric BEFORE they begin the assignment (it is not supposed to be a mystery) and take time to ensure that they clearly understand what they have to do, expectations and consequences.

In other words – throw the responsibility for their learning back to the student. Professional development and the backing of your administration as a whole school approach is the only way to ensure that this approach will work and that studentswill learn how to use technology appropriately, efficiently andeffectively. Ask the teachers what they are assessing – student outcomesand undertandings or the ability to cut and paste?

Future developments will take the essence of this approach further, and be far more flexible, intutitive and embedded in best research practice of information professionals.

From the Centre of History and Media of George Mason University comes news of the 'educated browser' FireFox Scholar. According to this report the Web browser, the premier platform for research now and in the future, will achieve the kind of functionality that the users of libraries and museums would expect in an age of exponentially increasing digitization of their holdings,

" We are calling the project SmartFox: The Scholar's Web Browser, and it will enable the rich use of library and museum web collections with no cost—either in dollars, or probably more importantly, in secondary technical costs related to their web servers–to institutions. This set of tools will be downloadable and installable on any of the major open-source browsers related to the increasingly popular Firefox web browser: Firefox itself, Mozilla, and the latest versions of Netscape and the AOL browser (all based on the Firefox code base). SmartFox will enable users, with a single click, to grab a citation to a book, journal article, archival document, or museum object and store it in their browser. Researchers will then be able to take notes on the reference, link that reference to others, and organize both the metadata and annotations in ways that will greatly enhance the usefulness of, and the great investment of time and money in, the electronic collections of museums and libraries."

Read the full report here. It is also worth exploring some of their other tools here. 

Social Software and Web 2.0

Today I had fun working with a small group of teachers, in a workshop simply called  "Introduction to Blogging". This was intended to help people think about, and be confident enough to go back to school and get involved with blogging.

It's great to see teachers and teacher librarians volunteering to
come and learn these things!  With this training, and with those
who have already got their blogs under way, I am seeing a wave of interest in blogging and other social software.  After my presentation at the last large network meeting, I am finding others with whom I can talk about blogs, news feeds, tagging, flickr, de.lic.ious etc. 

Nice to know we have begun  thinking about and working with social software – and started to do new things. In this context I would highly recommend the article by Brian Alexander that appeared in Educause Review  Web 2.0: a New Wave of Innovation for Teaching and Learning?  Vol. 41, no. 2 (March/April 2006): 32–44.  You can read this online here or download the pdf file. Though written for the Higher Education sector, the article provides a comprehensive overview of social software and Web 2.0, and asks some challenging questions about the implications of these developments for education.

"The term is audacious: Web 2.0. It assumes a certain interpretation of Web history, including enough progress in certain directions to trigger a succession. The label casts the reader back to Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s unleashing of the World Wide Web concept a little more than a decade ago, then asks: What forms of the Web have developed and become accepted enough that we can conceive of a transition to new ones?"

Grab this article and check out the other issues for more treasure.  

Getting Social – Creating an effective adoption strategy

For local blog learners, this post from Ewan McIntosh is worth a look:

If you have a suggestion or success story of implementing social software (blogs, wikis, podcasts) in your area or institution please do share it on the wiki.

Check out the wiki – but better still, add to your regular reading list. If you need information on issues, approaches, ideas, or changing directions and opportunities with social software, and you want to know what the leaders in the field are doing – you can't do better than the Scots on this one!

I've also had some conversations with teacher librarians in recent days about MySpace and Bebo, and what they are saying to their students who are spending time on these social spaces at school. Questions are asked about 'what' students are doing, and with whom they are interacting. One reply was 'I have been to a lot of schools and I like to stay in touch with my friends'.

" In school, though, in a classroom there is far less choice as to whom you connect to, so groups perhaps reflect more diverse types of person. But is it education's job to wade in here and try to help students better decide how they use their social space, what information to share, how to use it to learn?"

Read the rest of Ewan's comment here.