Connect and inspire – oh yeah!

Yesterday I had the wonderful opportunity to attend an ACEL conference held at the University of Wollongong (a hour and half drive from Sydney). This conference, around the theme of Tech-savvy Leadership and Learning, drew a good crowd. It was impressive to see a large number of attendees from the Department of Education Schools, who attended as part of an exercise in creating knowledge networks who could continue learning about innovation with ICT during the year.

The keynote speakers included key researchers from the University of Wollongong, who shared their work and their perspectives on learning in a digital age. I always appreciate hearing about research, as this adds significant value to our more anecdotal reflections on day-to-day classroom happenings. We test, experiment, play, get creative with pedagogy and researchers help us prove we are on the right track!

However, a number of us chatted between sessions, the more digitally savvy, social network connected attendees, and we were a little troubled by some statements made about social networking and digital learning. Some of the ‘push’ of the conference was ICT, PD, and the horrors of cyberbullying. For those coming new to new media, they needed to hear about the power of personal learning networks – but I’m afraid I might have been the only one to mention this.

One keynote speaker actually stated that ‘you can’t make friends via social networks like Facebook’. I shook my head, and wondered about all the wonderful professional contacts I have made via social networks – and the excitement in meeting them eventually F2F – building on professional respect, collaboration, sharing of resources and more.

This is not a new outcome at conferences – we are starting to see a digital divide emerging in that some people believe they can talk about and research digital learning environments and social networking without actually being active participants in that world!  I like to see keynote speakers who can share their online digital identities with us, and prove to me that they really do understand the architecture of participation that is learning in our new century.

Nevertheless, it was a fabulous day. The attendees were very enthusiastic as far as I could tell. Thank you to Julie Reynolds, Principal of Cedars Christian College, who invited me to present a session at this ACEL conference.  Julie’s enthusiasm, and that of her staff, was so wonderful. They are really working hard to make their school 21C friendly!

I guess what I tried to say in my presentation is to remind people that passion as to drive our connections – and that we cannot operate effectively in working with technology without social networking. I believe that PD is NOT the single answer – creating connections and promoting a shift in our mindsets is even more important. In fact, without flexibility, experimentation, collaboration, and innovation driven by our dialogue ‘with the crowd in the cloud’ it must might all be for nothing.

There is not much you can say in an hour – not really!  So it was very nice to have people take the time to come and chat afterwards and say that they felt inspired to try! That’s the key thing – try – and the rest will take care of its self.

Here are my slides!

For those who visited earlier, thanks to @slideshare for fixing the embed problem. Twitter teams are the frontline of service!

Fair Use for Media Literacy Education

The Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education — Publications — Center for Social Media at American University.

This document is a code of best practices that helps educators using media literacy concepts and techniques to interpret the copyright doctrine of fair use. Download the full report from the Centre for Social Media.

Media literacy is the capacity to access, analyze, evaluate, and communicate messages in a wide variety of forms. This expanded conceptualization of literacy responds to the demands of cultural participation in the twenty-first century. Like literacy in general, media literacy includes both receptive and productive dimensions, encompassing critical analysis and communication skills, particularly in relationship to mass media, popular culture, and digital media. Like literacy in general, media literacy is applied in a wide variety of contexts—when watching television or reading newspapers, for example, or when posting commentary to a blog. Indeed, media literacy is implicated everywhere one encounters information and entertainment content. And like literacy in general, media literacy can be taught and learned.

more about “The Code of Best Practices in Fair Us…“, posted with vodpod

Plastic Logic E-Reader

This thin, lightweight and flexible e-Reader is one of the many newly emerging  interface tools that will change the way we ‘do business’. The Plastic Logic device won’t be available until next year but is built on E Ink’s screen technology, which is also behind the Amazon Kindle and the Sony Reader.The reader is one third the weight of a MacBook Air, is readable in broad daylight, and has a battery life of several days.

more about “Plastic Logic E-Reader“, posted with vodpod

Wiimote in my classrooms?

Nintendo Wii Remote, sometimes nicknamed “Wiimote”, is the primary controller for Nintendo’s Wii console. A main feature of the Wii Remote is its motion sensing capability, which allows the user to interact with and manipulate items on screen via movement and pointing. A familiar ‘toy’ in many families, the wii has now entered the classrooms at St Josephs College!

Building sophisticated educational tools out of cheap parts, Johnny Lee demonstrated his cool Wii Remote hacks at the prestigious TED Talks – the key global innovation forum in the world.  In this he demonstrates how to turn a cheap video game controller into a digital whiteboard, a touchscreen and a head-mounted 3-D viewer.  Teachers and students around the world have downloaded Johnny’s free software to create interactive tools for their classroom.

Recently Anthony, our e-learning integrator,  took this idea and made an interface out of a simple IR pen and a Wiimote that is capable of turning any data projector into an interactive whiteboard irrespective of the surface that is used. Anthony claims that this simple setup costing less than $100 installed coupled with the free Smoothboard software has the potential to be one of the most exciting innovations for some time.
A number of staff have been trialling the Smoothboard with early results being very promising.

Students in Gary’s science classes have been running interactive lessons using learning objects developed by the Learning Federation.  When Fergus, our Head of Social Sciences, saw the demo in Gary’s class, he requested a pen and wiimote immediately and now eagerly awaits delivery!

After hearing that we would be demonstrating this technology in the staff room,  said

I’d better get mine organised quickly, before a rush from other staff. The flexibility makes this the perfect solution for my classrooms.

My mission is to keep an eye on this exciting experimentation – we’re grabbing video clips of the action. Meanwhile watch the TED talk about this Wiimote revolution.

Google images – or bust!

I’m constantly amazed at the lack of direction provided to students about the use, value, purpose and function  images into their work – including the notion of authentic creativity (i.e. ripping off other people’s work and presenting it as your own is not mashup – its trampling on someone’s work).

Well I won’t preach – no point. I see teachers constantly falling for presentation as if it somehow has translated into quality higher order thinking in the heads of students. Doing a google search for images, and dropping it into a powerpoint, and essay, an animoto, a machinima or anything, without some purpose behind it all teaches very little…AND it doesn’t even address visual literacy or creativity either.

So yes, there are places to find images..if that’s all you need.  See Find Free Images Online!

Doing a Google image search is also valid if the image found is demonstrating cognitive understanding in a visual way, and is also referenced back to the source.  For example, a good image from NASA, credited as such, adds value to a student’s compilation of knowledge and understanding of the topic being considered.

Unfortunately, what  I see too often is a pretty picture found, dropped into a title page or text, to ‘make it look good, miss’, not chosen to enhance and support the content being discussed and explored, and certainly not referenced back to the source.

So I suggest some of the following uses for Google image search – ways that support the cognitive engagement with topic and text:

  • If you want to know if a person is a man or a woman and the name doesn’t help, do a search for the name.
  • If you don’t know the meaning of a word, the pictures may help you.
  • Find what’s interesting about a site, by looking at the pictures included. For example:
  • Type the name of a painter and turn your search into a randomized art class!
  • Discuss how images have been used in sites for key historical characters, and the message that they portray. e.g. try ‘Hitler’
  • Have some ‘keyword’ fun with Google Image Labeler. See how you go in two minutes, and what keywords you come up with to name your image!
  • Play with Montage-a-Google and focus on visual literacy!

Truth is nothing will stop teachers and students using Google Image Search. It’s easy.It’s here to stay.

Comes back to pedagogy doesn’t it.  Do you want pretty pictures? or do you want to help teach kids creativity, discernment, visual literacy – oh and ethics around the creative arts :-)

Those Wacky Kids – Mark Pesce – Symposium in Sydney

We’re living in a time of incredibly accelerated change. We can communicate freely using video – Youtube and BitTorrent! and more. Wikipedia is the most significant advance of the 21st century for knowledge sharing. The key difference is the way it keeps developing – and its perfectly normal for “wacky kids”!

Mobile phone and gaming technology such as the Wii is ‘co-prescence’ – human beings live to communicate. What we have done is given these ‘wacky kids’ the tools to accelerate communicate – and all of it is perfectly natural to them – the only world they know.

The unintended consequence of this hyper-connectivity is the emergence of totally new and unexpected changes. Kids walk to the school door and get stripped of their hyper-connectivity. They are learning that collaboration and communication are not important – the hidden curriculum is denying the value of the learned experience from their life of ‘co-presence. There is a subtle and invisible argument between school and life. Students are losing respect for the clasroom. School is losing the connection with the way that the rest of life works.

The classroom is becoming an antique, but we don’t necessarily know what to do about it. Getting computers into classrooms is not enough. What do we need to use these fore once they arrive in schools. Watch the kids to see how the kids are hyperconnected. Then work it out! Connect around the globe – kids in one classroom with kids in another. [while this is not new to some of us, seems to be a key message to deliver to those attending the symposium today]

The computer is a window – NOT a destination.

The classroom is the disruption – the outside world is clamoring to get in to make the classroom relevant. The schools need a window that is opening into the real world. That technology, however, offers a profound change, making people afraid – then postpone change because the decisions are difficult.

We cannot afford to be frozen into inaction! We are the mutants. If we can’t change education in the next few years, the tide of change is going to whip right past us. But education won’t fade away – there is too much pressure from too many directions. So the pressure will continue to rise, and unexpected things will continue to happen.

Mark reflected on the amazing transformation of various technologies – Twitter being the most recent revoltuion in news connections and services. The greatest news feed about the earthquakes in China was Twitter.

“The street finds its own use for things” that the makers never intended.

At the end of the day, WE are the change agents. All we need to do is to start to share. We need to connect with each other. We need to use the tools of hyperconnectivity. We need to use the relationships to exchange knowledge. We need to pool our expertise.

Just ONE of those ideas can change the ideas in your school! Follow Mark on Twitter to find out more about the good ideas that happen at this Symposium.

When we learn how to use these tools we can then work out how to transform education!

Mark Pesce

Parallel information universe

Quite a few things today reminded me of the parallel information universe that I live in. This morning a wonderful meeting with mothers at the school – to introduce myself, my new staff and our new vision for learning 21st century style. We talked a little about the MySpace/MSN world of our boys, and how best to deal with pull of technology – sometimes in the wrong direction.

A good question was about plagiarism – what can a mother do to help her son who is cutting and pasting information for an assignment, and playing with fonts, keywords and more to ‘hide’ this capture. My response is always the same – pick your opportunity! The key thing to remember in mentoring our children is to focus on knowledge creation, the discussion of ideas, the veracity of information, and the value of what is being read in helping to understand the topic under study. This means that a parent can ‘let go’ of the process so often promoted, which I suggest is wrong. I’m sure you have heard this said many times…..”put it into your own words” …..which of course is actually a highly complex action.

Much better to let that go. If a task/assessment has been set that really is about making a student learn some facts – then so be it. No different to giving dictation, or asking a student to copy notes from the board. The thing to do is to engage a student reflecting about the value of the material they are ‘copying’. Once a student begins to question, weigh up, challenge, consider and reconsider information and knowledge – then the matter of plagiarism is half way to being solved.

Some of the mums expressed a keen interest in learning more about the online world – safety, online tools, research and more. I have offered to run sessions, course or whatever parents would like to help them in their own understanding about the possibilities of 21st century learning online. By the way, through it all, I emphasized that literacy and reading (in all forms) must underpin the work of myself and the team in the Resource Centre at Joeys.

That was one parallel universe within my daily work at school!

The next parallel universe was revealed late in the afternoon in the foyer of a hotel in Brisbane. A group of us met with Will Richardson to begin to prepare for the Why 2 of Web 2.0 seminar tomorrow (join the ning to take part in the conversation).

Lots of fun discussion about places, people, and events related to leading in a Web 2.0 world. And there it was – the division. School libraries, or libraries in general and teachers and education in general. This is a particular pet hate of mine. We should all be on the same page – or at least on one of the pages in the same volume :-) It’s rather like my blogroll – many of the people in one group know nothing of the research, publication, blogs or other initiatives of people in the other group.

A good example? Well I suggest that in Australia schools we all need to know of the work of Will Richardson (education) and Ross Todd (library). Both are world leaders in education. I know that you can think of equally good examples!

In schools there can be no excuse for this. My role is to operate effectively and efficiently as a teacher, a leader of e-learning, Web 2.0 online learning, and teacher librarian. Stop and take a look at your professional practice – and add a bit of knowledge from your teacher or librarian friends – then branch out from your own zone of comfort into other sectors or disciplines. Go on. It’s very worthwhile.

What got me started on this idea of this parallel information universe was prompted by an excellent article with the same title by Mike Eisenberg, which has the by-line “What’s out there and what it means for libraries”.

In a way that’s part of my topic at the seminar tomorrow. But the article itself is an excellent look at Web 2.0 tools, providing strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of a host of tools. This article is a great discussion starter for you.

Journal articles like this remind me of the intensity of change needed – so that parents, teachers, and teacher librarians can actually understand the world of learning as it is becoming, and work together rather than in parallel in forming global blended learning environments.

This is much more than co-operative program planning and teaching by teacher librarians. This is much more than teachers asking the teacher librarians for help and guidance.

What it IS about is creating strong personal professional learning networks that draw information and expertise across sectors, disciplines, and fields of creativity – where Will and Ross know [of] each other, blend their knowledge and research, and can then inspire we teachers and teacher librarians to newer heights :-)

Time to think out of the square everyone, and stop living in parallel universes.

Photos: 3D cubist kites, 無敵大合照啊

Top 100 Tools for Learning Activity

Between January and March 2008 the Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies(C4LPT) invited learning professionals to share their Top 10 Tools for Learning – both for their own personal learning/productivity as well as for creating learning for others. 155 learning professionals contributed their Top 10 Tools. You can find the links to their individual Top 10 favourite Tools lists at

The Analysis of top 100 Tools  provides plenty of food for thought.

In total over 460 different tools were named, but from these Top 10 Tools lists we compiled a list of the Top 100 Tools for Learning Spring 2008. 109 Tools were mentioned 3 or more times and an additional 34 tools were mentioned twice.

The list appears on pages 3-10 of this document and also online at

I’ve provided a copy of the document (top100s08) to all my staff! Or you may prefer to provide the Summary PDF link.

Digital media and learning

The MacArthur Foundation launched its five-year, $50 million digital media and learning initiative in 2006 to help determine how digital technologies are changing the way young people learn, play, socialize, and participate in civic life.

Just how does growing up with these tools affect young peoples sense of self, how they express themselves, and their ability to learn, exercise judgment and think systematically?

Since then we’ve seen a number of initiatives emerge from this funding.

I like to use the video threebillion fact’n’stats to teachers.

We all crave stats ‘n facts about what is happening; research and information about youth, digital media developments, gaming and more. A new series of publications from MIT Press provides quality content to keep our minds focussed on this field!

Thanks to the generous support of the MacArthur Foundation, open access electronic versions of all the books in this series are available.

Civic Life Online
Digital Youth, Media and Credibility
Digital Youth, Innovation and the Unexpected
The Ecology of Games
Learning Race and Ethnicity
Youth Identity and Digital Media

Photo: World connection in blue