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.

CNN enters Second Life

Just as CNN asks its real-life audience to submit I-Reports — user-generated content submitted from cell phones, computers, cameras and other equipment for broadcast and online reports — the network is encouraging residents of Second Life to share their own “SL I-Reports” about events occurring within the virtual world.

CNN citizen journalism everywhere you turn! It is interesting to speculate how many teachers are abreast of citizen journalism trends, and the impact of these types of initiatives.

Read the report or watch this introductory video from CNN.

  • Transformation Lab – Library 2.0 prototype!

    This is old now (in a Web 2.0 world 6 months is old!) but this video about the The Transformation Lab, funded by The Danish National Library Authority and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (and The Main Library in Aarhus), is well worth watching to provoke discussion about future ideas and options for libraries.

    Comments added to the YouTube video:

    “There will be books in the physical library of the future – but I think they will be connected to digital material. In this way they can be enriched with relevant digital information that will be exposed, when the book gets near a mobile phone, interactive table or an info coloumn as in the video”.

    “In another project at the Main Library in Aarhus – The Children’s Interactive Library – they made som prototypes showing how books can be tagged with digital information using RFID-chips”.

    “One of the prototypes was a Bib Phone – A “phone” that allows you to talk to books and hear what other people have told them! This is a new, funny and different way of reviewing, commenting or even hiding secret messages in books. The messages are inherited in the particular book allowing the next person access to hear it”.

    “Actually there were books in the labs. One of the ideas was to bring various types of media in closer contact with each other – combining words, images and sound – increases the user’s qualitative experience of the media. The Literature Lab presented successive literary topics. In connection with each topic – such as poetry — all types of media related to the topic were brought together and combined to increase the user’s qualitative experience and sense of coherence in the library”.

    The community will lead – from Stephen Heppell

    The opportunity to hear Stephen Heppell again in a recent Keynote session was a winner for me (albeit via video)! He has long been a leader of learning, inspiring innovators the world over (including my own Director Greg Whitby) to move forward in response to the urgent needs of 21st century learning. I have had the pleasure of seeing Stephen ‘live’ for a conference Keynote for the International Association of School Librarianship in HongKong back in 2005. A rare treat for those of us from Australia.

    Stephen mentions his mobile phone in this Scottish keynote. I remember spending a pleasant evening at the same IASL conference dinner with him….. and I remember a guy full of fun, and down-to-earth enthusiasm. Stephen used his mobile phone to help me do quick calculations during a fund raising auction at the conference dinner, and generally spent heaps of time talking with us about what he can do and what he will be able to do in the future with his phone! I love listening to Stephen :-)

    Ewan McIntosh alerted us to the keynotes for the Scottish Learning Festival which have been made available now in a version that will play on your video iPod or MP4 player.

    It’s a great way to revisit the rich resource that each keynote address provides. You can right-click (or ctrl-click on a Mac) each of the links below to download these to your computer, and drag them to your iPod or into iTunes:Three of them are of particular interest to me:

    but I want to focus on the last one for now.

    Stephen Heppell explores the consequences of technology and change and reiterates that learning will get better and better, with a transparency in understanding, and with downsizing of schools and schooling. He talks of small schools at the end of each road addressing the personalized learning of students – genuinely responding to what I heard about ‘individuation’ from Yoram Harpaz.

    He explains that the future is ‘massively about teamwork’ and collaboration. It is about stuff that is free, and people reporting, and huge amounts of real-time data helping us make judgments about what we should do and what we shouldn’t do. He asks ‘where are we with real-time data’? What are we doing with our mobile phones? etc. What we need is to allow pupil-centric approaches to learning to take over – technology empowering this all the way.

    For Stephen ‘identity’ and ‘time’ are critical. Real time use of technology is extraordinary and evolving in amazing ways. In this context, doing the job of teaching is spectacularly complex and getting harder every day.One thing that is clear is that Stephen has moved well beyond the notion of system schooling, redesigning schooling, top-down structure etc. He talks about a learning world built from the bottom up.We’re a long way off from what we need – or are we?

    Let Stephen explain.

    Photo: School Bell
  • A directory of wonderful things

    For our schools it is time to take a well-earned break with the term 3 holidays now underway. So it’s time for me to have a bit of fun on this blog too before I get back to more serious matters….

    Time to talk about wonderful things…boing boing style …. prompted by my lightweight breakfast reading of the Sun Herald (no, not my choice of paper).

    An article there about a device that creates plates, bowls and other tableware on demand and recycles them (a Star Treck fan like me recognises this!) , produced as a prototype by MIT led me to comment “I bet they got that from boing boing!”

    A little research showed me that Boing Boing listed the story Dishmaker: Printer for Dishes on February 12, which came from Gizmodo, who had linked to this story 12 months earlier at TreeHugger. Well, here’s a video about the earlier prototype…you are looking at the beginning of replicators for us all :-)

    By the way, boingboing is a weblog of cultural curiosities and interesting technologies, and is listed by Technorati as Number two blog in the world, with Engadget, the number one blog in the world, having replaced boing boing at the top.

    Boing Boing is a ‘beaut’ blog full of eclectic news!

    Today I read about a recent “in-world” labor protest that took place in Second Life. The company in question: IBM. The aggrieved: 1850 avatars, including some bananas and triangles. Link.

    I discovered a beautiful Gallery of Illustrated Endpapers. What are they? Endpapers are the inside covers and facing pages of books. Today, endpapers are almost always blank. But our more sophisticated forebears made good use of endpapers by adding thematic illustrations to them.

    Look at the endpapers here.

    I also found out about a Terry Pratchett DiscWorld reading order guide; thought about the Walk to Rivendell challenge; and saw how mobile technology worked for a reporter in Myanmar who had had his camera confiscated.

    There’s lots more to read on Boing Boing every day – so add it to your RSS reader! Lots of good ideas to provoke discussions in your classrooms.

    Now, settle back and watch another video – Dice Stacking – reported by Boing Boing of course!

  • Passion is the purpose….I knew that!

    If you’re a teacher, especially if you are an ICT teacher ‘doing’ software or programming, then I have to share a ripping good read from Giles with you.

    You know, Giles realised something, that he says is specific to his own circumstance.

    I realised that what he wrote is a ‘must read’ for schoolies!

    We all have to think differently, and infuse our learning purpose with passion and diversity. Go on, read When the Beast is Born, and decide what class or staff meeting you will use this piece for a discussion starter :-)