What matters more than your talents?

Inspiration and passion – that’s what we want to ignite in our students, isn’t it? I am not sure how often we succeed, especially when we are locked into rigid curriculum ‘must do’ topics by state syllabus directives.

But at the end of the day, talent must be nurtured and passion must be ignited and recognised for it’s true worth.

Thanks to an alert from one of my inspirational friends on Facebook – Buffy Gunter Hamilton of the inspirational The Unquiet Librarian – I was able to listen to Amazon founder, Jeff Bezoz,  address new Princeton graduates.

He makes the case that our character is reflected not in the gifts we’re endowed with at birth, but by the choices we make over the course of a lifetime. As founder and CEO of Amazon.com, Jeff Bezos defined online shopping and rewrote the rules of commerce, ushering in a new era in business. This is testament to his belief that talent and passionate choices go hand in hand!

Now I’m never going to ‘invent’ anything!  But Jeff ‘s address has inspired me to revisit my talents and look for new inspiration in my own professional goals, and to try and bring a little more inspiration into my daily teaching interactions with my students!

It’s Bloomsday!

I remember  being in Dublin on Bloomsday on June 16th  back in 2004. Amazing!

Now I admit that I wouldn’t be expecting too many of my students to dip into and enjoy James Joyce’s book Ulysses in its full glory-  but on the other hand  it’s important to find ways to allow students to dip into good literature. Igniting an interest is important!

Reading ‘Ulysses’ can be hard work.  So here’s an abbreviated form…Ulysses Seen a serialized cartoon App, which is also now available for your iPad, as well as online at http://ulyssesseen.com/

Robert Berry’s comic adaptation of the 1922 edition of James Joyce’s epic novel, ULYSSES is accompanied by a page-by-page reader’s guide, dramatis personae, and pop-up translations of non-English passages. The reader’s guide is enhanced with discussion groups and links to online information sources, photos, videos, and other assorted bric a brac allowing you to dive as deep as you like into the world of Ulysses.

This is just another good way into good literature.

A Pixel art aside!

As I wind down (or is it wind up?) in readiness for the trip to ISTE2010,  followed by an excursion to Scotland and UK,  I accidentally bumped into this video, courtesy of my favourite reader PULSE  on the iPad.  More about Pulse later…

Meanwhile, here’s an 11 minute documentary exploring the merits and impact of pixel art, animation and chiptune music.  Loved seeing this and hearing the interviews that tell the story and emergence of this artform. Enjoy!

Looking for Music?

ccMixter is a web site providing samples and remixes that are released under various Creative Commons licenses. Now the site has a new addition: dig.ccMixter, available in beta at http://dig.ccmixter.org/.

Looking for music for a video, school project, game you’re developing, podcast or just for listening on your mobile music device?

Find exactly the music you’re looking for – podsafe, liberally licensed – using dig.ccMixter Music Discovery tool.

Dig allows people who are looking for music to find it more easily.  What I listened too was fantastic quality too.

(information via ResearchBuzz)

Flat Classroom Project: Fresh start in a new world

The brilliant work by Julie Lindsay (Beijing, China) and Vicki Davis (Westwood Schools, Georgia, USA) continues in The Flat Classroom Project 2010-1 which is now is well under way for 2010.

The Flat Classroom™ Project is a global collaborative project that joins together middle and senior high school students. This project is part of the emerging tend in internationally-aware schools to embrace a holistic and constructivist educational approach to work collaboratively with others around the world.

One of the main goals of the project is to ‘flatten’ or lower the classroom walls so that instead of each class working isolated and alone, 2 or more classes are joined virtually to become one large classroom. This is done through the Internet using Web 2.0 tools such as Wikispaces and Ning.

The Project uses Web 2.0 tools to make communication and interaction between students and teachers from all participating classrooms easier. The topics studied and discussed are real-world scenarios based on ‘The World is Flat‘ by Thomas Friedman.

I was honoured to be invited to present the Keynote, ‘Pandora’s Box: Fresh Start in a New World’ for FCP10-1. This time there are  over 200 students from 10 classrooms across 6 different countries.

Here are some guiding questions to get them thinking about how to respond and start a discussion or foster an existing discussion:

  1. Is global collaboration using emerging technologies a pandora’s box? Why?
  2. How can we best prepare the ’17 year old Internet/connected world’ to mature and grow into ‘adulthood’?
  3. How has the flat world impacted on you as a teenager? as a teacher?
  4. What place do immersive worlds and virtual realities have in education?

Open Source ethos

I have been spending a bit of time thinking about The World is Flat by Friedman in preparation for the first Flat Classroom Project in 2010. Amongst other things, I thought about Open Source thinking and flat world communications which I planned to share in the  Keynote kick-off.

Well, you now how it is – I just couldn’t share everything  I wanted to (lots out in the rough cuts), but the ‘finds’ are still inspirational.

You have to be inspired by the powerhouses of  Open Source software and Open Content. There is no doubt in my mind that an Open Source ethos is the best way to collaborate, create, share, and be empowered to inspire future learning.

For example, during the crisis in Haiti, the Open Source community did amazing work in Haiti OpenStreetMap to assist aid and rescue workers to do their work and help the relief and reconstruction effort. It was a Flat Classroom Project in action – creating up-to-date  maps of  Port au Prince. Dozens of mappers and developers were able to lend a hand, coordinating on the OSM Haiti WikiProject.

Thanks to Paul Hamilton, I was inspired by yet another amazing example of the power of work taking place using Open Source Software to help people. The development of the  Eyewriter is inspirational. The Eyewriter uses low cost creative technology an free open source software to enable graffiti writers and artists with paralysis to draw using only their eyes.

posted with vodpod

Understanding games education – an open (re)source

ETC Press is a publishing imprint with a twist, being interested in the participatory future of content creation across multiple media.

Great credibility and open source  adds up to a great way to transform learning!

ETC Press  is an academic, open source, multimedia, publishing imprint affiliated with the Entertainment Technology Center (ETC) at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) and in partnership with Lulu.comETC Press has an affiliation with the Institute for the Future of the Book and MediaCommons, sharing in the exploration of the evolution of discourse.

ETC Press also has an agreement with the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) to place ETC Press publications in the ACM Digital Portal, and another with Feedbooks to place ETC Press texts in their e-reading platform. Also, ETC Press publications will be in the ThoughtMesh.

ETC Press publications focus on issues revolving around entertainment technologies as they are applied across a variety of fields.

Thanks to a tweet from @lernys I’ve now happily downloaded a copy of Ludoliteracy: Defining, Understanding, and Supporting Games Education, by José P. Zagal.

[cover thumbnail]This is free and looks like a very worthwhile read. Grab yourself a copy.

Book Description:

It seems like teaching about games should be easy. After all, students enjoy engaging with course content and have extensive experience with videogames. However, games education can be surprisingly complex.

This book explores ludoliteracy, or the question of what it means to understand games, by looking at the challenges and problems faced by students taking games-related classes. In response to these challenges, this book then describes how online learning environments can be used to support learning about games by helping students get more from their experiences with games, and helping students use what they know to establish deeper understanding.

Based on the findings from a series of research studies, Ludoliteracy examines the broader implications for supporting games education.

Check out more Current Titles on games, media, design, communications and social networks.

Give credit where credit it due

Another year of school and the vital need to think through ‘plagiarism’ rears it’s ugly head again – particularly as the Open Content movement gains strength. The recently released Horizon Report 2010 explains:

A new educational perspective, focused on collective knowledge and the sharing and reuse of learning and scholarly content, has been gaining ground across the globe for nearly a decade. Open content has now come to the point that it is rapidly driving change in both the materials we use and the process of education. At its core, the notion of open content is to take advantage of the Internet as a global dissemination platform for collective knowledge and wisdom, and to design learning experiences that maximize the use of it.

Collective knowledge and wisdom depends on one thing though – giving credit where credit is due, whether it is courses, information, ideas, inspiration, motivation, etc. In fact, development of knowledge and scientific research has always depended on this.

But with the global reach of information and info-trash the ‘times, they are a changing‘.  Misinformation can become information. Knowledge can too readily become bias. So learning to give credit where credit is due is a critical and essential information fluency skill for our students to acquire.

Creative Commons

Let’s demonstrate to our students how easy it is to acknowledge inspiration in an online learning world. It takes a quote or a backlink – that’s all. What does it achieve?  Well, first and foremost, it builds learning conversation and creative endeavour,  and secondly it demonstrates that a learner is able to analyse and synthesize thinking from a global repository of possibilities. Sharing is so important, but so is sharing openly and inclusively.

It’s so easy to plagiarise, and call something your own!

Well why not, you might ask? Mashup? what’s wrong with that? There’s plenty of that around and it doesn’t really hurt does it?

Let’s face it, if I take myself as an example – I’m one in millions writing online. What does it matter if someone takes what I say and publishes it in China, or Russia or Timbuktu. Not much really, other than it misses the chance to develop better resources or better information about a topic.

However, educators and managers of technology supporting educational institutions online  understand the need to build that online info-puzzle together. We’re a big crowd with the potential to influence things!

That’s where book publishing and refereed journals  still have it ahead of the internet at this point in time – up to a point anyway. In addition, the notion of acknowledging ideas is a tradition in Western scholarship which for me has value in building credibility, personality, creativity, knowledge, and quality facts.

[Of course, what I'm talking about here is a very simplistic peek at the much more complex topic of knowledge  sharing which is at the heart of what we need to introduce our students to. Do drop over and read  If We Can’t Even Describe Knowledge Sharing, How Can We Support It? A nice 'peppery' look at the complexity of knowledge behaviours.]

How can we change the tendency in an online world to ‘copy and paste’ what suites for personal profit or gain?

Together, let’s entice our students into being captivated by the amazing opportunities that online learning presents. Introduce them to Creative Commons Licensing. Make sure that when they grow up they understand the power of the “By licence” (via Beth Kanter).

Teach your students the wisdom and value of giving credit where credit is due.

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Random happiness with Heyjude

I love this! It fits with the randomness of people happiness ~ just one in a crowd!

Thanks to a tweet while I was sleeping I was led to this ~ via @artykel ~ and it brought a grin to my face.   Hope it cheers up your day too!

PS:: Check out Kelly’s 365Project. For those of us getting hooked into daily photoblogging, I thought this was a fabulous alternative – which I didn’t know about :-)