We’re living in a conversation

How do you feel about online conversations – in public, during conferences, in the classroom. The recent 2008 The Australian Computers in Education Conference generated quite a bit of discussion about the etiquette of blogging and microblogging (twittering) during conference sessions, which was further fueled by Grahams reflection on Redefining Conference Professional Respect. We talked about it on Twitter, and in other online and virtual spaces.

My fellow traveller on the ACEC study tour to NECC 2008 , Jason Zugami, has jumped in with a Google survey to get a better understanding of what it is that drives educators views on this matter – and interestingly, a comparison to what it is that they believe about the immersive use of online tools in classrooms.

By the way, there is a huge lesson in all of this for the way people run conferences these days. Wifi should be accessible and free. Collaboration and distribution of information and ideas should be considered the norm.

Conference Blogging and Microblogging Ettiquette

Please visit Jason’s online survey, and add your voice to the discussion.

I can’t wait to see the analysis on this! Thanks Jason.

I filled out the survey, and kept a copy of my responses for myself to push me to generate further ideas. Here are my quickly written responses – amazing how different my thinking is compared to a couple of years ago.

Buckle in and read the following if you dare!

How do you feel about the undirected use of laptops during conference presentations?

It is essential to have the freedom to search links, explore ideas and interact with concepts being presented at a conference. I choose my options as to when to listen and stare at a conference presenter, or when to listen and connect with my laptop to check out idea, share ideas with others, or discuss issues being raise. If I am bored I certainly don’t want to be captured with no escape as well..I would rather check my email than waste the time sitting in a presentation that doesn’t demand my attention.

How do you feel about the undirected use of mobile phones for texting/microblogging during conference presentations?

When it comes to professional learning this is absolutely essential for being engaged with the content, expressing opinions and reflections about the presentations, and just plain having fun through interaction. Remove the ‘industrial model’ from conference presentations, and allow them to be interactive and collaborative. Use the tool, don’t abuse the tool.

How do you feel about participants undirected sharing their thoughts on a presentation on a public blog?

If a presentation is worth listening too, it is worth sharing. End of story.

How do you feel about participants undirected sharing their thoughts on a presentation via micro blogging services such as Twitter during the presentation?

If a presentation is worth listening to, it is worth tweeting about. If a presentation is not worth listening to, it is worth tweeting about that too. Twitter is about conversation and reflection too. I particularly like it when questions come in via twitter that can be presented to the speaker for response. I like it even better if there is a twitter stream of the conference on display, so everyone attending the conference can see what is being said and what is being reflected upon.

How do you feel about participants undirected sharing the content of presentations with those not at the presentation?

Share with the world – the more we share the more we grow in our understanding of what is possible. Refusing to share is like writing a book, publishing it and refusing to allow anyone to borrow it from the local library. If you only want us to buy a book, or buy our attendance at a conference presentation then you are not a 21st century learner. Sure, getting the information via shared feed at a conference is not as good as being there – we know that, because we love the F2F interactions. But sharing content is the next best thing! Go for it.

How do you feel about participants taking undirected photographs during a presentation and publishing these?

Fantastic. Just keep the flash off please!

How do you feel about participants taking undirected audio recordings during a presentation and publishing these?

Fantastic! So long as it doesn’t disrupt the streaming bandwidth for the main presentations (assuming the conference organisers are savvy enough to realise the value of streaming!). Standalone audio recordings on the other hand are fine but not as good as a presentation that incorporates image or video. Either way, publish and share at all times.

How do you feel about participants taking undirected video recordings during a presentation and publishing these?

Great! so long as it is not being streamed and using up the bandwidth of the main streaming organised by the conference team. Imagine 20 people streaming!! It’s great to have access to go back to sessions in this format, as good presentations lend themselves to review for further reflection. It’s about deepening our learning and understanding – not limiting it!

How do you feel about participants making undirected live broadcasts (audio or video) of a presentation?

This is a great idea, but the reality is that most venues don’t have the bandwidth to have more than one stream working effectively. Hence it is really smart of conference organisers to incorporate streaming into their program, instead of impacting the audiences opportunity to focus on blogging, microblogging, or using online tools to collect conference notes etc. If we believe in cloud computing and Web 2.0 then we don’t build in restrictions into our conference structures – we capitalize on Web 2.0 to promote and disseminate the ideas and information being generated by the collaborative crowd.

How do you feel about participants making undirected ratings on the quality of presentations via blogs and microblogs?

Frankly, it adds a bit of spice, and keeps presenters and conference organisers honest! The time is over for tolerating boring presentations. However, this should not be seen as a way of attacking the presenter, nor undertaken in such a manner that is offensive. I see this as a golden opportunity if undertaken with a positive aim in mind. After all, we expect students to stand up in class and be assessed as part of their learning!! It’s time for educators to be accountable for their work too!

How do you feel about the undirected use of laptops during your lessons?

Awesome! Now here is a true challenge to teachers. The truth is that unless pedagogy has shifted in the classroom to create authentic and project-based learning, the undirected use of laptops doesn’t work. Teachers who are in control mode can’t cope with this. Teachers who are mentors know that it is essential.

How do you feel about the undirected use of mobile phones for texting / microblogging during your lessons?

Mobiles are just communication tools, organisational tools, and collaboration tools. What are we afraid of? Oh I know! We have to change our classrooms into 21st century learning places :-)

How do you feel about students undirected sharing their thoughts on your lessons on a public Blog?

A real-life skill to be learned, and one that is essential to 21st century learning. Sure students will waiver at times, but isn’t the idea that we should be supporting students to think and learn in multimodal ways? That is their natural domain – let’s work with it.

How do you feel about students undirected sharing their thoughts on your lessons via micro blogging services such as Twitter during the lesson?

Use the tools to shape thinking – twitter is just one of many ways for teachers to create effective blended learning environments. Microblogging is an ideal way for communicating and reflecting in that immediate MSN style of thinking that comes naturally to kids. Capture the world of opportunities and be amazed at the outcomes.

How do you feel about your students undirected sharing the content of your lessons with those not in your class?

Anyone students can share with works for me. That makes it a 21st century global class, and those that share back become members of my class.

How do you feel about your students taking undirected photographs during your lessons and publishing these?

Of course students should share. The bottom line is the nature of the digital citizenship and digital literacy skills of the students that we need to nurture. The truth is that unless we nurture them, then students will undertake activities that are counter-productive to quality learning. But simply saying ‘don’t do it’ is an abrogation of our role as guides and mentors in this 21st century world that we have stumbled upon. Let’s sort out our thinking and get one with learning.

How do you feel about your students taking undirected audio, video recordings or live broadcasts during your lessons and publishing these?

Please do! As long as it is focused on improving knowledge and understanding and incorporates safe digital citizenship in the production.

How do you feel about your students making undirected ratings on the quality of your lessons via blogs and microblogs?

Students need to learn how to be be authentic in their collaboration and engagement in the learning process. Whether it is reflecting on other students or commenting on the nature of the teacher’s engagement with the multimodal learning of their students, it is an area that is evolving. It is also an area that is highly sensitive for most teachers, but needs to be unpacked and incorporated into the formative processes of learning.

Overall comments.

The world has changed! I am thrilled to be part of the 21st century learning that is now possible at a conference, in my classroom, at home, in fact absolutely anywhere. I want my students to have the best opportunities. I want them to be thrilled too!

UPDATE: These same topics are currently being discussed at ISTE in relation to NECC conferences and more. Read about it or join in the conversation at Fair Use & Digital Citizenship 2009

Photo: Speedmonster 5

Going somewhere?

The twitterverse, nings, wikis, blogs, and more are full of great ideas being shared by teachers to promote ideas and innovation in learning and teaching. It’s great to see the information networking take place, and the discussions happening formally and informally, such as the Oz/NZ educators.

But I would like to urge teachers and teacher librarians to do more than join social networks, chat in flashmeetings, or blog their collaborative ventures.

Please consider contributing to your professional association in some way.  Join a committee, become an executive member – do something!  Our professional associations are the ones that lobby on behalf of our subjects and profession, respond to government papers and initiatives, profide first class professional learning opportunities -  in fact, do so many things that represent the best interests of teachers and students.

It is not enough to ‘get into’ social networking. It is more important to be a contributor via active professional bodies in your state or country. I have always helped if I can, locally, nationally and internationally via a number of associations. Last week, I added another small contribution to my weaponry (because that’s what it is – weapons to forge a better future) by volunteering to become an ISTE Docent. What a treat it is to be in charge of helping others at ISTE HQ, even if only for one short hour each week.

It constantly surprises me that people hesitate to take this step to volunteer with their preferred professional association. I hear all sorts of excuses. Yet the real gains we have made in education have often been driven by those who work tirelessly via their associations.

Next time you see nominations, or are asked to contribute in some way – please – give it a go. This is your chance to put other interests ahead of your own and make sure that we are ‘going somewhere’ in education.

Photo: A course for nowhere

Haiku – in the clouds!

Like all good things, the finest are not always found where you would expect them. The behemouth trade display at NECC mainly gave me a headache rather than inspiration – except for a couple of quiet finds that were buried amongst the usual widgets, gizmos and latest emperor’s new clothes of IT.

So after some delay I am looking back over some of those quiet discoveries.

Today I created my test account for Haiku Learning Management System. Now I am not an advocate of the usual wall-garden variety of LMS being a denizen of Web 2.0 cloud computing :-)  I understand the reason why schools go down that path. I have yet to see one that equates with the approach that LAMS (Learning Activity Management System)  takes – i.e. supporting the pedagogical side of learning, rather than just the organisation and presentation of a learning materials.  LAMS provides teachers with a highly intuitive visual authoring environment for creating sequences of learning activities that make you THINK about your pedagogy. But that’s another story!

However,  if you must have something, then chose wisely and don’t look for 20th century solutions – focus on the current and future learning platform that IS the web.

This is why the Haiku LMS has instant appeal.  It is as easy to use as any blog, wiki, ning etc  tool you are currently playing with. It does what a good LMS needs to do – allows you to create classes, drop boxes, add attachements – whatever. Choose your own templates for a fun look too!

BUT here’s the BEST part – it already has over 80 Web 2.0 tools ready to embedd – just drag and drop to rearrange your layout!

Absolutely everything that you might want is there. If is isn’t – use the embedd code box to add the latest.  I remember them saying at the NECC stand that as soon as a good tool becomes available they will grab the API and add it to their Web 2.0 kit. Looking at the full set I found all the popular Web 2.0 tools, and some I wasn’t so familiar with and am now off to explore

This is the BEST of cloud computing I have seen for a school-based LMS yet.   The power of this is amazing and wonderful – and just what we should all be doing.

I would love for this to be used at my school.

Photo: Cloud Kicker

How do we support teachers? – Symposium response

Digital Education Revolution – provide your feedback!

In Australia we have the Australian Government Quality Teacher Program (AGQTP), which includes teacher quality and their impact on student outcomes. Considerable funding has been directed towards this. Rolling out a range of workshops in regional areas, as well as activities with professional associations. Also considering subject-specific standards and on-line professional learning resources.

Suggestions from the floor:

Portfolio of examplars at the national level. Podcasts as resource tools. Fund technology coaches for schools. Consideration for remote areas of Australia – and how to transfer information to regional and remote areas. Collaboration between various sectors. Use technology to assess literacy standards in national testing programs.

Responses to questions from the sessions:

If teachers don’t have time to do it all! Yet we are re-tooling our whole processes of education – the exploration is going to take time – and will make us more efficient and integrated in the end. Any organisation that is going through the process of transformation, will required us to commit. Our pedagogical knowledge has to change – technology can solve the pedagogical issues if we want it to. So bottom line – buy time to learn!

The key issue remains the need to establish collaborative environments. We have more knowledge than we can share with old technologies.  Sessions like this symposium should be streamed, so that educators can talk in the ‘back channell’ promoting the conversation.

Assessment should be a trust relationship between the educator and the student.  It’s a true social network in the making – information should be exposed and developed, and made transparent.  We need to focus on the social networking of education.

The 21st century classroom is a state of mind.  It’s a set of relationships between someone who wants to learn and someone who wants to teach. The relationship is around the transfer of learning.  Education is dead: long live learning!

Photo: Listening to the Stars

Real Wired Child

A while ago I had the opportunity to speak to the P&F at our largest high school. The topic was Myspace or Yours: Possibilities and Pitfalls.

Parents wanted to spend time talking about online safety, games, and hacking! Yes, it is true that for some of our students it is hard to provide them with the online and computer challenges that they crave.

I took with me a copy of Real Wired Child by Dr Michael Carr-Gregg. This is a wonderful guide for parents (unfamiliar with the online world) who want to know what their children are doing online, and what they can do to ensure their children’s wellbeing when they venture into cyberspace. Real Wired Child gives practical advice to parents on how they might manage their children’s online communications, social networking, web surfing, downloading and gaming. The truth is that we need to start teaching our students from a young age exactly how to learn, collaborate and share using blogs, wikis and more as part of everyday learning. I love the work of  Al Upton  and his young ‘mini-legends’ – proving that students are never to young to work in a global online world.

Michael Carr-Gregg urges parents to venture into the online world inhabited by their children and get in touch with their day-to-day lives. He explains what kids get up to, provides guidelines for family internet safety and advises how to minimise the risks without limiting your children’s freedom to learn, explore and communicate online. At $19.95 I consider this a bargain. Better still, buy some copies for the library, so parents can borrow a copy. More information available from Penguin.

I prepared a presentation for the evening, to stimulate discussion and thinking about the issues. Thanks to my (online) colleagues Graham Wegner and Sue Waters, whose earlier work provided a basis for this presentation.

The 21st century educator …. and professional practice

This is a really nice thought-provoking presentation from Kim Cofino called The 21st Century Educator: Embracing Web 2.0 in your Professional Practice.
I think this presentation is worth highlighting on it’s own.

I won’t be at the conference – but I can almost hear what Kim will be saying about personal learning networks :-) Thanks for sharing Kim!

  • 21st century literacy specialist!

    I always love reading what Kim Cofino has to say at her blog Always Learning or in her Twitter posts as mscofino…which are regular, and packed with questions and ideas. But what I really love is the concept behind her role at the International School Bangkok in Thailand.

    Kim explains:

    I am the 21st Century Literacy Specialist at the International School Bangkok in Thailand. This position combines my past experiences as a technology facilitator with the wealth of resources available in the library. ISB is actively seeking to build a Learning Hub that successfully blends the traditional role of a library with the requirements of the 21st century global student. My role is to bridge that gap. As the 21st Century Literacy Specialist, my work is focused on helping core subject teachers utilize web 2.0 technologies in the classroom, to create a global and collaborative approach to learning. I enjoy working with my colleagues to design authentic and engaging international projects incorporating social networking, blogs, wikis, and podcasts, and whatever comes next!

    Kim’s been telling us all day on Twitter how she has been finishing off the long haul of working on her conference presentation wiki Developing the Global Student: Practical Ways to Infuse 21st Century Literacy Skills in Your Classroom.

    Naturally when she finally posted the link I had to take a look.

    I think you should take a look too! :-)

    You should also take a look at Kim’s post The Slideshow must go on where she tells you a little about the conferences that these materials have been prepared for.

  • The Connected Library – get one now!

    judysuzette.jpgEarlier this week, our network of teacher librarians were able to spend the day with one of Australia’s leading school library practitioners. Fabulous Suzette Boyd from Scotch College has been an inspiration to many of us during our careers, keeping us grounded on quality services, imaginative enterprises, exciting initiatives, and most important of all – customer focused!

    Yes, the kids are what it is all about, and Suzette certainly knows how to manage a school library to achieve the best.

    As Victor explained

    Suzette was indeed different. I would have liked to have spent an entire day listening to her recount many of the things which she has tried over the years – her ideas are innovative, creative and above all real-world.

    During the course of our day we looked at Suzette’s key points:

    • building connections and trust with students
    • communicating with and enlisting the support of all users
    • being positive, upbeat and enthusiastic
    • marketing and promoting the library through an extraordinary array of ideas and activities
    • influencing the Principal
    • becoming the cultural and educational hub of the school.

    The best news of all is that Suzette’s inspiration is no longer a secret. She is sharing her vision with us all through her book The Connected Library: A handbook for engaging users.

    John Marsden says

    The Connected Library is a flight manual for librarians

    Marita Thomson says

    Slim enough to be manageable in these days of information overload, I found this book affirmed many of my current practices but more importantly inspired me to reach a bit further. There are first all those things I always meant to do but didn’t quite get to and then the more difficult area of taking a few risks. I think what is obvious or correct or a risk will vary from one library to another, but Suzette’s book is an excellent place to find your next project.

    In recent times librarians in schools have come to be considered technology experts, curriculum leaders, literature gurus, web masters and providers of on-line information and professional development. They are also expected to be human dynamos, with energy to burn, to have a huge capacity to absorb new information, to have the imagination to deliver exciting new programs, whilst at the same time having the ability to maintain an efficient and relevant library service.

    Suzette Boyd believes this is probably still not enough and that the level of engagement with users is the real measure of success!

    This book is good reading and very manageable. Go on, order it today, or borrow a copy. Your local public library will probably buy it if you ask.

    Let me tell you about Ning! and the new bonus!

    The big news from Ning! is that it is offering Ad-free student networks. This is a real boon.

    I like Ning very much for the robust social networking it provides – it’s excellent for good discussion and group sharing, ideal for new users to social networking, and especially good for specific global projects like the Flat Classroom project, or for your own school-based projects or staff space.

    But I have been avoiding ‘marketing’ it in my schools because of the advertisments.

    No longer!

    Steve Hargadon writes about the new look Ning! – and how current education users can request to have advertising removed. As a member of the FlatClassroom Project, Classroom 2.0, The Global Education Collaborative, Library 2.0, NextGen Teachers, School 2.0, Stop Cyberbullying, Edublogger World, and lots more. I’m not active really, just drop by sometimes – unless the group is project-based such as The Horizon Project and the Flat Classroom Project.classroom-20.jpg

    I especially like the way we can use Ning! to introduce groups of new teachers to the world of robust social networking – sharing information, ideas, videos, movies etc, as well as having a personal space to run a bit of a blog (for those who haven’t got time to ‘go it alone’), a way to discuss and ask questions through the forum….and more!

    Now it’s time for more people to have a go! Go on, start by joining a group – I have found another that needs my attention – Ning in Education! Time for me to schedule a workshop!

    What I would like is a better way of integrating all my groups FaceBook style! API anyone?

  • Ustream.tv

    ustream.jpgThe twittersphere is full of excitement as more and more ed tech bloggers give UstreamTV a try this week.

    Whether you broadcast live, chat live, or record your show for later, this has some interesting potential for teachers to experiment with in some way. Teachers like Coolcatteacher and Budtheteacher have a Ustream space already.

    A great addition to the professional learning toolkit for global educators.

    A post on Twitter, and there we all were (just before midnight) participating in some cool PD at Where the Dust Settles. Learnt about PollDaddy! Discovered how easy it is to use this tool to effectively share information and have fun!