Get your horizons boxed in!

Ever collected boxed sets of your favourite authors, movies and the like ~ to keep and remember?

I’m predicting that 2010 will be a year of amazing shifts, consolidating the innovations that Web 2.0 introduced. Educators always like to study how, what, where, when and why…so go on over now and collect your boxed sets of the Horizon Project Reports put out since 2004 by NMC.

Your  own ‘boxed set’ of Horizon Reports as a single pf:
http://www.nmc.org/pdf/horizon-reports-set.pdf (2.5 Mb PDF)

Collectors Edition which also includes the 2008 and 2009 Australia-New Zealand Editions, the 2009 K12 Edition, and the 2009 Economic Development Edition!
http://www.nmc.org/pdf/horizon-reports-all.pdf (4.6 Mb PDF)

Look for the news on January 19, 2010 when they will add to both collections, the newest edition– the 2010 Horizon Report– which will be released at the EDUCAUSE ELI Annual Conference in Austin, Texas.

Grab the Wordle for the reports too if you like!

Wordle: Horizon Reports 2004-2009

What Matters Now

Seth Godin writes about marketing, the spread of ideas and managing both customers and employees with respect. If you’re not familiar with his books, check them out here.

Seth’s newest ebook What Matters Now is a compilation (or is it a collaboration) of ideas and actions happening around the world.

Seth explains:

We want to shake things up. More than seventy extraordinary authors and thinkers contributed to this ebook. It’s designed to make you sit up and think, to change your new year’s resolutions, to foster some difficult conversations with your team.

Over 70 authors pitched in, and it’s now free to download here, or on Scribd.  Some great ideas to grab for education too!

Did you know that last year 1.2 million books were loaned out in developing countries through Room to Read?

Take one of the pages, and use it as a discussion starter with your students, or your next faculty meeting.

Digital Dinosaur

I’m a digital dinosaur – or so some of the Year 10 boys at school would have it!

Today we had the Year 10 computing exams. These are held on the same day across the state of New South Wales, to test students knowledge and skills in core computing skills related to media, file sizes, processes,  storage etc.

So much chatting afterwards. A group of friends were gathered around a computer, and began to discuss the computing world as they see it. A lively discussion ensued, but my ears pricked up when one boy said,

Can you believe that my mum has FaceBook? Like, why does a 40-year-old mother need FaceBook?

A few other ‘old’ people of similar age were quoted and discussed. The final pitch to end that topic,

Don’t they have a life?

Thank goodness I could smile and keep quiet. What WOULD they have thought of me and my FaceBook account …… at my age :-)

Labyrinth of information

Labyrinth

Labyrinth

Understanding – that is what I believe we are about in education – helping kids engage with information, culture, experience, to build personal knowledge and understanding. In passing across my RSS reader last night I encountered a post by Sheila Webber that set me thinking once again the whole of helping students develop the skills to ‘do things with information’. Sheila writes about ‘abstracting’ which is a topic that has been reintroduced for her Masters students.

In the course, the students read an article in advance, then in the session they briefly go through some key points about why abstracts are useful, what the differences are from an introduction, indexing etc., and how to write one. Then the students draft an abstract in class, swap it with their neighbour, read their neighbour’s abstract and make at least one positive and one critical comment. Then of course they have a discussion about the issues.

Here’s the crunch. Sheila says

Being able to read through something, pick out the key points and present them clearly is a good skill to have in the workplace, not just for study, I think. It is also useful in focusing on how articles are structured, and thinking about how you might identify the key points as a reader.

Now my mind jumped across to our classrooms. Besides the normal curriculum activities that are intended to introduce content to students, hopefully in such a way that they can wrestle with ideas in an authentic way (think project-based learning), there is the problem of their evolving skill-sets.

The relationship between a person with a question and a source of information is complex. We ask our students constantly to be ‘doing things with information’ including constructing new interpretations, new versions, new representations of information that they have trawled for in books, magazines, and rather more often in digital resources. Yes, Google still gets a good workover.

What we need to be doing more of is emphasizing the methods for constructing appropriate representations of information. This is more than referencing and critical thinking. It is honing the skill to summarize and articulate the content, meaning and purpose of a body of information or knowledge that is being absorbed or incorporated into the thinking activities taking place in a student’s head. Do we do enough of that?

It is important that we remember to incorporate methods for modelling both the construction and deconstruction of information. As students learn this skill, there thinking will become more flexible, and their minds will eventually be able to abstract information concisely and efficiently.

At school we are constantly exploring ways to promote construction of information. There is much to be learned about this problem in our digital age. I have a sense that we are not addressing the issue well enough yet. I think we all need to learn a lot more about this area because of the demands of 21st century learning.

Gary, our chemistry teacher, and member of the Powerful Learning Project Team, has been spearheading an initiative for doing things with information in Chemistry.

Gary has deployed Mindmeister, first up, as a tool for organisation and reflection of content. This online mind – mapping tool has the added advantage of collaboration. Gary’s students worked in teams to pull together information on different parts of their topic. This was revision work. This was collaborative note taking. This was far more effective for distilling information for the students. the tool is interesting as it allows more than one student to be working on a mindmap. Gary’s secret? get different groups of students to focus on different parts of the mindmap. This is step one in learning to ‘do things with information’ ! One day, these kids might be able to understand what’s involved in abstracting!

Bonus: And get this!! If you plug in your Skype information you will be able to call other people who are also editing the mindmap. If you have a pro account you can take the map offline for some Google Gears functionality.

Reflecting on my learning network

Early Saturday evening I stopped to look back on the twitter responses to our “TWEET” during my workshop on RSS and Social Bookmarking…where we had a few other diversions too :-)

Thanks for the fun at the workshop! and for my wonderful network for responding to our “TWEET” to the learning universe….. WOW!

It’s makes me stop and reflect on how global connections are part of every educational conversation…these captured tweets say it all!

TWEETS in response to our callout

Celebrating and learning together – ASLANSW

Saturday saw a group of enthusiastic Teacher Librarians gather to attend the last major professional development activity for the 2008 year hosted by the Australian School Library Association of NSW.

It was a great day because though it was cloudy, the sun shone with all the smiles as we acknowledged the work of a fabulous teacher librarian from Delany College here in Sydney.

Jan Radford and students

Jan Radford and Head Girl and Boy

Congratulations to Jan Radford for winning the Teacher Librarian of the Year Award from the Australian School Library Association.

I caught up with her Principal, and the Head Boy and Head Girl after the award ceremony. They were there to see Jan receive her award and join in the enthusiasm of the day. What they have not been part of is the many many years that Jan has devoted to keeping her school library at the forefront of learning through the years of change, adopting and promoting the best ways to encourage our young adults to become readers, writers, and young people of passion. Thanks Jan for all your work.

My workshop

I chipped into the day’s activities with a workshop on Social Bookmarking and RSS. I’ve run this type of workshop a number of different ways, but the focus today was not just on opening and getting into a tool, but more about what these two tools can offer us as professionals to manage our own information needs, as well as organise good learning opportunities for our students.

The usual handouts of course! But to to help the conversation along (and so people could go away and revisit the things we talked about ) I put together a demo site in Netvibes, which includes examples and some information for further reflection. We could have spent a day working on this!

Visit Heyjude’s Demo site to see what I mean.

The Lo-Fi Manifesto

The current issue of Kairos online journal exploring the intersections of rhetoric, technology and pedagogy, has an article by Karl Stolley – The Lo-Fi Manifestowhich I particularly enjoyed, given our penchant for fancy and flexible web tools for connectivity.

Discourse posted on the open Web can hardly be considered free if access requires costly software or particular devices. Additionally, the literacies and language we develop through engaging in digital scholarship and knowledge-making should enable us to speak confidently, unambiguously, and critically with one another……And as teachers, we should actively work to provide students with sustainable, extensible production literacies through open, rhetorically grounded digital practices that emphasize the source in “free and open source.”

Jump over to The Lo-Fi Manifesto and also checkout the substantial explanations in the drop-down panes for each element. Some of these concepts are highly relevant to our discussions about 21st century learning or the digital and design environment within which such learning takes place or is supported.

Manifesto

1. Software is a poor organizing principle for digital production.

“What program do you use?” is a question I often get about the slides I use to present my work. I have concluded that the proper answer to the question is to counter-suggest the asking of a different question, “What principle do you use?” John Maeda, The Laws of Simplicity

2. Digital literacy should reach beyond the limitations of software.

The ability to “read” a medium means you can access materials and tools created by others. The ability to “write” in a medium means you can generate materials and tools for others. You must have both to be literate. Alan Kay, “User Interface: A Personal View”

3. Discourse should not be trapped by production technologies.

In an extreme view, the world can be seen as only connections, nothing else. Tim Berners-Lee, Weaving the Web

4. Accommodate and forgive the end user, not the producer.

Don’t make me jump through hoops just because you don’t want to write a little bit of code. Steve Krug, Don’t Make Me Think, (2nd ed.)

5. If a hi-fi element is necessary, keep it dynamic and unobtrusive.

This is progressive enhancement: it works for everyone, but users with modern browsers will see a more usable version. We are, in a way, rewarding them for choosing to use a good browser, without being rude to Lynx users or employees of companies with paranoid IT departments. Tommy Olsson,Graceful Degradation & Progressive Enhancement

6. Insist on open standards and formats, and software that supports them.

Because they share a common parent and abide by the same house rules, all XML applications are compatible with each other, making it easier for developers to manipulate one set of XML data via another and to develop new XML applications as the need arises, without fear of incompatibility. Jeffrey Zeldman, Designing with Web Standards, (2nd ed.)