Student opinions on Social Networking

As a followup from my last post on MySpace, I recommend a visit to Vicki Davis – Edublog Award winner for Best Wiki with her Flat Classroom Project wiki. Vicki leads in Web 2.0 thinking.

On her Westwood School Wiki you will find a comprehensive virtual survey of her 9th and 10th grade classes on MySpace and social networking. If you haven’t got a list of your own for discussions with your students, Vicki’s list provides a great starting point.

Vicki’s Westwood Wikispace was listed as December’s Space of the Month by Wikispaces.

Catch Vicki at Del.ici.ous as brightideasguru, or on her Cool Cat Teacher blog.

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The Wow Factor – Edublog Awards

Stranger things have happened ……but this morning I was delighted to discover that my fellow bloggers had voted me in as the winner in the Edublog Awards for 2006!

What an outstanding bit of WoW!

Cool Christmas present! :-)

Of course, I am just a lucky one! amongst so many wonderful colleagues in the blogosphere who have been providing inspiration and support to us all as we dig deeper into the digital possibilities around us.

So …….

…. to all the wonderful bloggers who won in their category, were nominated for a category, or who took part in the voting.

Most important of all – there are many many good educators who are introducing blogging into their classrooms or libraries. You are all…

The International Edublog Awards

The Edublog Awards

This years nominations have poured in from edubloggers worldwide – and the results, as I’m sure you will agree, are pretty outstanding. My condolences to the many, many high quality nominations who didn’t make this year’s finals: there were plenty of worthy contenders who would have been equally at home here representing the best that the edublogosphere has to offer. Please do enjoy checking out this years finalists, recommending them to colleagues and above all – voting!

Much to my surprise, I find I have been nominated for the category

Best Library/Librarian Blog 2006

I hope I get some votes :-)

Read through all the categories, and participate in the voting. The blogosphere is full of very talented and committed edubloggers, and there are some fabulous blogs listed this year!

Keep an eye on the Edublog webpage for profiles and other award updates.

You might also enjoy looking at last year’s awards. I did because I wasn’t blogging then!

Its just an “Interactive Whiteboard”!

I've had some experience with interactive whiteboards both in the classroom and for professional development. I know that there are plenty of teachers who are taking this technology 'on board' (excuse the pun) and finding very good uses when working with students. Many more teachers are still hankering for a 'piece of the action'.

Nice – but not enough. I have had reservations about the whole 'enthusiasm' thing. It is great to have good technologies to work with. I know the benefits. But lets keep the whiteboards in perspective. It is critical that we do not take Whiteboards as THE solution for providing engaging technology learning experiences for students. It's as if the Whiteboard is THE solution. Big sigh of relief – we are keeping up with new technologies!!

In my view it was just one bump on the rollercoaster ride of our teaching and learning journey. I don't want to dampen the enthusiasm, but I do want it kept in perspective.

So it was great to read the post from New Zealander Leigh Blackall, where he picked up the long reflective piece from Australian educator Graham Wegner . As Leigh says, the graphic sums it up – for me too! But better still, read the whole of Graham's reflection here. Graham is responsible for IWB implementation at his school, but as he explains, he is not a blind advocate.

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 edublogs.com 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.

The Learner as Network

A post on Will Richardson's webblogg-ed brings home the critical issues central to the whole debate about 'futures' in education. The learner has always been considered central to the education enterprise, and in a constructivist sense the learner is the creator, shaper, and manager of learning experiences. Translate that into the world of ICT, and you get education being 'delivered' with different IT tools, exploring new and/or different ways to allow students to engage with ideas for the creation of new personal knowledge.

Sound good? Many schools think so, and in some cases are appointing people into a position that might be a Director of e-learning (or similar). e-learning what? how?

What then about the socially networked world of our students? Aren't they busy e-learning without any help from their teachers?

Will comments on how far we need to go:

" We are still about control, not sharing. We are still about distribution, not aggregation. We are still about closed content rather than open. We are static, not fluid. The idea that each of our students can play a relevant, meaningful, important role in the context of these networks is still so foreign to the people who run schools. And yet, more and more, they are creating their own networks, sharing, aggregating, evolving to the disdain of the traditional model of schooling that is becoming more and more irrelevant.

Read the full post here. My concern is that educators need to understand (if not adopt) the ways of networking that permiate the lives of students. Also,what we need in our schools or educational institutions is someone who can 'direct innovation'. This is vital to ensure that a true blend of tools, techniques, processes, and thinking strategies can happen. Who can bring a broad curriculum understanding to integration of ICT and social networks, as well as promote and develop literacy for reading and relaxation as well as communication (essential for metacognition and learning), plus embed knowledge techniques for information search, analysis and sythesis? If the position criteria are any guide – what we now need is a Director of Innovation. This is not an IT leader, or teaching & learning leader, or curriculum leader, or information services leader. This is new, and this is important!

We can no longer afford a silo mentality. We need a genuine innovator to remix a new learning framework for our students – within a school that is remixed in shape and style to accommodate "the learner as network".