Google Earth across the Curriculum

Many teachers hear “Google Earth” and think it’s only something that social studies or geography teachers can use.

But, in fact Google Earth can be used across the curriculum. Thanks to Richard Byrne, Free Technology 4Teachers, for creating and sharing this document!

Watch out for the next instalment – Richard is working further on this. Follow Richard on Twitter to hear his alerts or add his blog to your RSS reader.

UPDATE: An alert on Facebook from Stephen Heppell pointed me to Google Earth Lessons. Thanks Stephen!

Real and imagined ~ are the same!

Each school, each leadership team, each school library team and each teacher needs to learn how to restructure the core business of schooling in order to embrace learning in our changing online world.

We say this often and slowly the ship of state is turning ~ but fast enough for our students?

I came across two things today which brought a smile to my face. What we imagine is possible ~ is real these days!

Take a look at TechXav –  seems to be as professional a website as any you might come across….. by 11-15 year old students?

TechXav is a technology blog written by a group of young and zealous teens, ranging from the age of 11-15.

Wait – they’re even located around the world!!

Right – and imagine what they think of being shown a powerpoint! or opening a text book!

I also read a post by Will Richardson about phones and about the disruption they are already creating for most schools (high schools at least) and about the huge brain shift we’re going to have to through collectively to capture the potential for learning in our kids’ pockets. I love the video he shared as well!

Yes, we’re facing a huge challenge ~ much bigger than just the roll-out of laptops in our schools in NSW. It’s a fundamental, seismic shift that likely will swallow some education institutions.

So this little promo video shared by Will also bought a smile to my face.

How to Score Full Marks

Everyone likes to score maximum points in each subject. It’s what the final public examinations in our country are set up for – to see who can get ‘full marks’!

Do you detect a cynical tone in my voice?  I love learning it’s true – but I also love learning and teaching to include an understanding of the online world that our students will be living and working in when they leave school.  So as the next round of marks are about to come out in NSW I wonder what these marks will tell us about the flexible and agile minds of our students and their potential to succeed in a world wrapped in new media.  New media? Social Media?  Is it really relevant? Do teachers need to know any more than the basics?  Perhaps it’s Business Studies that should take the most note of the shifts taking place, while other subjects should incorporate social media more into the whole learning process. Why?  Because from what I’m reading below – it’s driving a lot of change in the workplace and in marketing.

2009 was surely a banner year for new and social media. Fueled in large part by the impressive growth of Twitter and Facebook and the adoption of both by major brands and recognizable individuals, it’s safe to say that social new media truly went ‘mainstream’ this year.

The Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth recently conducted a new in-depth and statistically significant study on the usage of social media in fast-growing corporations. This new study revisits the Center’s study of Inc. 500 social media usage for the third consecutive year, making it a valuable and rare longitudinal study of corporate use of these new technologies. Questions probed respondents about their familiarity with six prominent social media (blogging, podcasting, online video, social networking, message boards and wikis) tools. This included the popular microblogging service Twitter and other popular social networking sites like Linkedin, Facebook, and MySpace.

Adoption and awareness continue to trend upward, with 91% of firms using at least one social media tool in 2009 and three-quarters describing themselves as “very familiar” with social networking. Social networking and blogging have seen the most growth in adoption, while other technologies have flattened or even declined in use, including wikis and online video. Twitter usage, of course, has caught on quickly—more than one-half of businesses reported tweeting in 2009. This was the first year respondents were polled about Twitter.

One impressive change over time was in the percentage of Inc. 500 companies that did not use any form of social media. It dropped precipitously from 43% in 2007 to just 9% in 2009.

The Internet has provided us with the platform of information sharing. In the Web2.0 era of social media marketing and information – so much is FREE!!

Item Price Supplier
Courses & Tutorials FREE Youtube, Blogs …
Global Client Database FREE Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter …
Market Insight & Trends FREE Twitter, Google Wave …
Customer Feedback FREE Facebook, Twitter, SurveyMonkey …
Global Talent Pool FREE LinkedIn …
Viral Marketing FREE All of the Above …
Infinite knowledge FREE All of the Above and more …

It’s like fishing where the fish are. Social media is where our consumers are at the moment. There’s no better way to amplify your message…..

…according to Michael Donnelly whose role in Coca-Cola’s global interactive marketing group is to help increase the understanding, testing, adoption and use of digital marketing and emerging media among the company’s marketers.

Coke used crowdsourcing to enable all of their consumers to vote on which team will travel the world for a year in search of what makes people happy. It’s a program that will be completely socially enabled. The team will blog, shoot video, conduct interviews and participate in events. Voting concluded and the three-person team of “Happiness Ambassadors” was announced online on November 16. The trip begins in January 2010.

Oh my!!  I feel as if we have a bit to learn don’t you think?

So I thought this study presented at Harvard University by the “Society For New Communications Research” (SNCR) in November 2009, was  a rather interesting read.

Amongst the findings that caught my eye (which should have relevance to educators) were:

Professional decision-making is becoming more social,  traditional influence cycles are being disrupted by Social Media as decision makers utilize social networks to inform and validate decisions.

The big three have emerged as leading professional networks: LinkedIn, Facebook & Twitter.

The average professional belongs to 3-5 online networks for business use, and LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are among the top used.

The convergence of Internet, mobile, and social media has taken significant shape as professionals rely on anywhere access to information, relationships and networks.

Reliance on web-based professional networks and online communities has increased significantly over the past 3 years.

Social Media use patterns are not pre-determined by age or organizational affiliation with younger (20-35) and older professionals (55+) are more active users of social tools than middle aged professionals.

There are more people collaborating outside their company wall than within their organizational intranet.

Connecting And Collaborating Are Key Drivers For Professional Use of Social Media.

So how are you as a teacher or teacher librarian using social media to help your students ‘score full marks’??

Mobilise your education planning

Right now I am in the run-up to the first exams of the year for my students. They’re getting nervous and I am too, while I gather my information, think about reports, and wonder how much information I can muster for the chats to parents that are coming up on Sunday.

Sitting at my desk with dreamy eyes I wondered when I would be able to more effectively streamline my information gathering, my classroom tracking, and various elements of the administrivia of teaching that must be done to support great learning.  I was on the verge of setting up something vaguely flexible for myself, using something online (google docs?), so that I could develop this information in class (on a netbook?) and access it at my desk or at home.

I had not worked out what to do!  Bingo – I don’t need to.

A read of my RSS news told me that a new product that will launch on the iPhone just might be a great place to start with all this.

Educate: The Ultimate iPhone and iTouch App for Teachers.   Plan lessons; monitor student attendance; with teaching and e-learning goodies too!

Teachers done and dusted?

A meeting today reminded me of the chasm surrounding general understanding of what is going on in the new media world of our youth.  Here we are with teachers still ‘learning’ how to do basic things, while the kids have stampeded right on into the 21st century.

Tipping Point Labs has some interesting insights into Tumblr, Twitter and The Tweeters,Tumblrists and Technogeeks using them. Tumblr  is seen as being a more sophisticated version of Twitter with much more room for valuable content and interaction between users.

Now I don’t know about you – but these are old tools of trade for me and many of those in my personal learning network.  Definitly not tools of trade for the majority of those I work with and interact with on a daily basis.

I dropped by the Facebook profile of my very sociable teenage niece.  What I saw was a breadcrumb trail to some new shifts in what her friendship groups were up to. Seems the kids are starting to ‘swarm’ to places like twitter and tumblr. Facebook, Myspace, Beebo and MSN are no longer enough.

This backs up the odd comments I got at school today from some random kids – “you’re not on twitter are you miss?”

I exchanged a few messages with her – and then she actually discovered who I was!

She described my presence as ‘awkward’ – naturally!  I promptly bid my farewells and assured her that I would not ‘follow’ her on Twitter.

Have you checked out lately what your students are doing online?

Empathy and Meaning

Once again I’ve had a wonderful time participating in live blogging A Whole New Mind with students from Arapahoe High School. I wish I had time to do more – it’s an amazing experience.

This year I joined up for two classes, discussing chapters in the book by Daniel Pink. Using MeBeam, we could hear the students adding depth to their personal ideas, and challenging each other to think more deeply about the implications of each of the chapters for their schooling, their lives and society.

Karl Fisch set this up again this year at  the A Whole New Mind 09 wiki. It’s the beginning of the year for me, so it’s not easy to help out much – this year two sessions had to be my limit. But the last class on the ‘roster’ happens to be at 6:15 am, so I can make it and still get to school. You can read more about the fishbowl discussion technique.  Drop over to the CoverItLite replay of the blogging discussions.

My chapters for involvement this time were Empathy (where I caught up with Julie Lindsay, wonderful aussie who is head of Information Technology at Qatar Academy in Doha.) and Meaning.

I loved saying hi! to the students. Their efforts were very impressive – wonderful thoughtful discussions. Likewise, the students blogging, who were also listening to the conversation, were extending their thinking in a number of ways, responding to our feedback, throwing out questions to us, and holding their own once again in terms of highly valuable and reflective discussion.

It at wonderful way for me to start the year. It reminds me of the goals we are working towards at our school – embracing technology in immersive and interactive ways to promote 21st century learning of the best kind.

Karl is an inspiration to us downunder, providing concrete evidence of success in changing the way we manage our learning environment. Karl’s work helps me keep my focus.

Special thanks to the students who shared their thoughts with their external visitors.  Next year when the call for people to be involved goes out I highly recommend that you consider joining in. It’s easy, and a great way to see 21st century learning in action.

“Google” books in your pocket

They’re all talking about it, and being a Teacher Librarian, I have to take notice!

For the last four years, Google has been digitizing millions of books, including many covered by copyright, from the collections of major research libraries, and making the texts searchable online. There are lots of wonderful resources available at Google Books. Robert Darton wrote a compelling reflection on  Google and the Future of Books – what the impact of all this digitisation might be (apart from settled lawsuits), including ways in which  libraries might more readily their literature and  knowledge repositories with a global audience.

According to Google writing about the Future of Google Book Search and their agreement with authors and publishers,

Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. Today, together with the authors, publishers, and libraries, we have been able to make a great leap in this endeavor,” said Sergey Brin, co-founder & president of technology at Google. “While this agreement is a real win-win for all of us, the real victors are all the readers. The tremendous wealth of knowledge that lies within the books of the world will now be at their fingertips.

What I do know is that we have to keep our boys connected with reading, research, knowledge, authoritative resources, and more and they need to know the best ways to have this at their fingertips. I have eReader and Stanza on my iPhone. There are many more! What is different about Google Books is the ease of being able to search and pull down material from such a vast collection.

So in a school like mine, where many boys have an iTouch or an iPhone (even without program calling for these tools) the arrival of readily accessible classic literature on their devices is something to take note of.

As TechCrunch explains:

If you ever get a craving for classic literature while on the go, Google’s just given you the ability to check out your favorite literary works via an iPhone or Android phone. Google’s Book Search currently features 1.5 million public domain books, which have all been optimized to fit a mobile screen. Unfortunately, Blackberrys and other non-Android operating system phones are out of luck in accessing this feature.

Google is using an extraction technology called Optical Character Recognition (OCR), that captures and formats the text from the page so that it can be easily viewed on a mobile browser.

Circulate this information to your English staff!

The Fastest Search on the Planet?

An impressive performance indeed! The interface is nice, the results seem good, and the way this works is the best way I have seen of demonstrating to students to the value of choosing good search terms.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “The Fastest Search on the Planet?“, posted with vodpod
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I miss my friends, my conversations

New job, new challenges! Yikes!

My post Core knowledge and creativity for learning 2.0 has generated a bit of discussion – amongst my old friends with whom it is easy to have robust pedagogical conversations about learning in a Web 2.0 world. Read those conversations and you can see how we changed in a couple of years in our own thinking and our own classroom practice. Our students have been the winners.

Michael suggests that I am ‘biting my tongue’. 🙂 You might be right about that! Michael, like all my professional friends and colleagues in the Parramatta Diocese, knows how passionate I am about changing the learning opportunities for our students – bringing our classroom practice in alignment with their Web 2.0 world.

So now I miss my teaching friends a lot – because I have no-one with me yet with whom I can have these challenging pedagogical discussions. You know how it is – back to base one, only it’s worse when you have learnt so much with your friends, and you KNOW that things have to change, and change significantly.

At the end of the day, though, it’s deep knowledge and deep thinking that drives learning – Web 2.0 or otherwise. Engagement, even the engagement of Web 2.0, is only relevant where it promotes and commits our students to being reflective, critical thinkers, able to find and use information effectively and ethically, and able to absorb common and core knowledge in order to build and contribute to human knowledge and understanding. You engage learners in a Web 2.0 world by recognizing their multimodal way of thinking and being – not for the sake of the Web 2.0 gimmick but for the sake of attracting and absorbing the interest of our young learners. Deep thinking has always been around – from Socrates to the 21st century. It’s how we get to encourage deep thinking that has radically changed in our multimedia/multimodal world

Stay with me my old friends, as we continue our fantastic transformation as teachers in a 2.0 world. Come with me my new friends, join me on a glorious journey of rediscovery – because I think that’s what it is…rediscovering deep learning, connected learning, reflective learning, and much more – so much more!

It’s not just about the HSC any more. It’s about powering our students into their global futures in ways that none of us teachers ever experienced as learners. These kids, they’re so lucky – if only we’ll let them fly!

Let’s not forget – we talk about Web 2.0 as if its still something new. These kids – they ARE Web 2.0.

Photos: Valentine’s Day Sucks, Even though things could be better, Our schools are flat

Google for newbie Web 2.0 teachers

I like to point out obvious tools to teachers to discover – and challenge their thinking about Web platform tools. So here’s a little reminder to keep an eye out for good Google tools.

Too many teachers know about ‘googling‘, but don’t know enough about what else is worth using for Google tools.

googlemore.jpgSo remember, when you go to do a Google search, look up at the top left-hand corner and discover a few other tools – the magic one to follow is the little word “more“.

Most teachers are already know about images, maps, Gmal…but more?

Yes, there are a few other very useful goodies. But then what about “even more“?

That’s a page that all smart 21C teachers should visit and come to grips with! Not necessarily to use them…but to be aware of what these represent..the required pervasiveness of Web 2.0 tools in our daily educational practice.

Check out Google Notebook, and Google Scholar – if you haven’t already done so. There are many Google tools that deserve attention and discussion. How could we use them? What other ‘brand’ tools might be a better choice? What are the tips for good pedagogical integration?

What you’ll also notice on the full listing page is that sometimes a new tool appears with the label New! right next to it. Google Notebook has that right now.

Did you know that this doesn’t really mean ‘totally new‘ but rather that the tool is no longer in beta phase?


Google Labs are the place where the up-and-coming tools can be found. Checking out Google Labs is a great way for teachers to find out about some of the future trends.

I wanted to highlight this information about Google because Google is everywhere – especially where teachers haven’t moved beyond the “go and do some research on the internet” phase of online instruction.

Google is more than a search tool or email facility. Know what else Google actually is, and then develop a good sense of discernment – so that you can determine whether a Google tool or another tool is the best for your particular learning and teaching need!

That’s a fun series of PD sessions for you to try out?

Hmmm, might do that myself later in the year too 🙂