Archive for July, 2007

Will Richardson Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts,… Today I finished Will Richardson’s book Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms. I have always appreciated Will’s viewpoints on his blog, and I like the straightforward, easy to understand approach he presents in his book. Having used many of these tools in my classroom for over a year now, I was familiar with much of what Will shares, but I had many “I should have tried that moments!!!” Now, I am in a new position (district level educational technology specialist) with a new audience (educators) and the book proved valuable in giving me ideas and ways that I can share these tools with teachers.

Teachers themselves will benefit from reading this book (Get it ASAP!), and I believe it would serve as an excellent textbook for in-service training and for use in teacher preparation programs. Even a seasoned Web 2.0 teacher (Can there be such a thing in such a short period of time!?! 🙂 will pick up new ideas or ways of using these tools that they hadn’t thought of before! As with any text that concerns the web the reader will encounter shared links that have since moved on in such a short time since the book was published; nevertheless, I could easily search the name of a particular person or topic mentioned and find the new location of the information on the web. (Maybe Will could add a page to his blog with updates or create a wiki page where readers could help update links.)

The book, to me, is written for the now, and it is intended to jump start educators and students into using the many Web 2.0 tools that exist today. I know Will has much more to say concerning these tools and the future of integrating technology to facilitate collaboration, critical thinking, and self-directed learning, and I feel his blog serves as a continuation and expansion of the text. One of Will’s main points in his book is to recognize the “teachers” that are and information that is out there, on the web, ready to fill your RSS feed reader! His text is really a staging area for the journey that he invites the reader to take in using these powerful web tools in the classroom, and I think it is a good place to start and to take ownership of your own learning.

I have put together a presentation concerning digital citizenship based on information from a workshop I attended at the Building Learning Communities Conference 2007 given by Sue Loubser Director of Technology Hebrew Learning Academy of Atlanta.  I believe this presentation highlights the issues we must address with our students, their parents, and the community in today’s digital world.

Students & Computers A key component to successful integration of technology in schools is digital citizenship, and this ties directly with acceptable use that I mentioned in an earlier post. The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) recently updated and released new national standards, and digital citizenship reigns as one of the main six areas (see National Educational Technology Standards for Students: The Next Generation). This is a standard that must be taught and practiced if we want our students to become responsible digital citizens. Any social skills training can easily incorporate digital citizenship into its curriculum if it isn’t already a part of it, but this training is vital in our digital world. I also feel it is paramount that parents/guardians are part of this process to help them understand what their children face each day, especially on the internet, and to provide information that can be used to transfer these digital citizenship skills at school, at home, and anywhere our children may go.

Another area of focus in the ISTE national standards is creativity and innovation. As Dr. Tim Tyson mentioned in his keynote speech at the recent Building Learning Communities Conference: we should ask our students, “What do you have to say?” What a powerful question! The key is to then enable our students by allowing them to utilize new technologies to “say” what they have on their minds and to share their ideas and products with a global audience. This gives meaning to what they have to say and lets students contribute to our society as a whole. Allow students to use blogs, wikis, podcasts, videos, etc. as a medium to share their thoughts, creations, and let them figure out new ways to tell their stories: innovation. However, teach students to be safe in this digital world and to think critically about the information they are exposed to while fostering creativity and innovation. The connection is important, but you already knew that!

There are so many issues to deal with in order to implement and integrate Web 2.0 technologies in the classroom. Acceptable Use Policies that were created by districts in the past no longer address the explosion of collaboration tools that exist in today’s world. I have spent part of my last few days, since attending the Building Learning Communities Conference, thinking about, researching, and defining/redefining acceptable use in my district.

What it comes down to is building a foundation and being proactive as I anticipate the use of blogging, wikis, podcasts, vidcasts, etc. It is part of being responsible and accountable for the learning and safety of our students, and I believe acceptable use must be addressed before immersing these technologies into our instruction.

Some resources I have come up with so far include (mostly from Will Richardson’s book Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms):

http://www.eschoolnews.com/eti/2005/06/000877.php

http://www.budtheteacher.com/wiki/index.php?title=Blogging_letter

http://static.hcrhs.k12.nj.us/gems/centralISP/uses.doc

I would appreciate other ideas from the instructional technology and education community. Please share in the comments section. Thank you!

I first saw this humorous video clip at EduTechie.com, who got it from the Cool Cat Teacher blog, and then Wes Fryer has shared it from Karen Montgomery and the list could go on!  Isn’t the web great!  Enjoy!

I am not trying to promote Cisco by any means by sharing this video, but I think the message ties well with the digital age that we live in and the connections that people, especially students, are able to make in the world today. Watch this video and let me know if you agree.

While attending the Building Learning Communities Conference in Boston, Mass. I had the opportunity to see and hear and learn from Dr. Mitchel Resnick an Associate Professor at the MIT Media Laboratory.  In his Thursday morning keynote speech he shared Scratch (See video below!):

“Scratch is a new programming language that makes it easy to create your own interactive stories, animations, games, music, and art — and share your creations on the web.

Scratch is designed to help young people (ages 8 and up) develop 21st century learning skills. As they create Scratch projects, young people learn important mathematical and computational ideas, while also gaining a deeper understanding of the process of design.”

When I got home I showed the Scratch web site to my six year old son, and he was ready to download immediately!!!  Once installed, Nicholas and I played around for a few minutes to get our bearings; then, I turned Nicholas loose to program at will.  He did!!!  There are many possibilities in applying this application, and I especially like that young people can upload and share their creations with a global audience.  It is FREE, and can also be run on the web.  Try it, you’ll like it!

My superintendent shared the “Pay Attention” video with me today, and it directs our thinking as educators toward what we should be focusing on and trying to tap into with our digital students.  If you have viewed this before watch it again to remind yourself and to help you pay attention!  Enjoy!

I have been viewing presentations on SlideShare for the past few weeks and thought I should try it out myself. It is very easy to use and a handy way to store presentations that you may need to use in far and distant places. This would be a great place to share student presentations and products with a global audience. My first trial run exists below!

While at the Building Learning Communities 2007 Conference I had the opportunity to attend a couple of workshops by Will Richardson.  I have been reading Will’s blog for quite some time, and I finally purchased his book:  Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms.  I am a few pages into this text, and I am already considering this as a resource for professional development in my school district.  I believe it is a must read for educators in today’s schools, and an excellent, practical “how to” guide to using these web tools in the “classroom.”

I am back from Alan November’s Building Learning Communities 2007 Conference!  What an incredible journey, and I am excited to return to work tomorrow to organize my notes (I got so enthralled in the workshops my computer note taking at my PBwiki was lacking to say the least.  My apologies to those following along, but go back for a better review!).  Now, I am looking for resources to help explain and show all that I saw, heard, and learned.  I came across the following wiki video that explains the process of this tool quite well:  “Wikis in Plain English.”  Enjoy!

Boston We have arrived at the final day of Alan November’s Building Learning Communities Conference. There are a few sessions left to attend before I head for the airport around 1 p.m. Eastern. This has been a wonderful experience for me personally and on a professional level. I have had the opportunity to hear, see, and meet many of the bloggers that I read each day. I have had my beliefs and practices validated by other professionals in my field, and I feel strength from that support. Now it is time to do, to act. My team will travel back to our district not only to relay the information that we have gained but to influence real change. This is the challenging part of this process, but it is also rewarding. It will be interesting to come back, maybe next year, to see where we are at that point: we have to be further along. We will!

My PBwiki with notes from the November Learning Conference.

Samual Adams

(Alternative Title:  Another “American” Educational Revolution – My apologies to a world-wide audience and to my Mother from the UK!)

My career in education, officially, is in its meager 14th year. 13 years as a classroom teacher and now I am in my first year as an educational technology coordinator. Obviously education has been a part of my entire life: life is ultimately a learning experience. However, I focus and reflect on my past years as an educator and my experience working with students and colleagues in bringing about change. Since I first stepped into my first classroom there has been a revolution in education of one sort or another. Change is revolution, be it good or bad, and it seems it is always an experiment. That is not a bad thing, but oftentimes it is challenging and scary. Fear usually prevents change, and revolutions fail.

New technologies, blogs, wikis, RSS, and podcasts, are changing the game. These tools, among others, are revolutionary and provide an opportunity and an audience for learners to share what they know, what they are learning, and what they are doing with the world. The fear factor steps in once again for many who are digital immigrants. It is a fear of the unknown.

Bill Bagshaw, an educational leader from Topeka, Kansas, yesterday said: “Don’t be afraid!” He meant it, and I believe it! We always challenge our students to take risks in their learning. Many times we teach them about things they don’t know, and this elicits fear; however, once we learn things we feel better, at ease, the fear goes away until the next new thing!

I know we are in another educational revolution, but I think that this time it is different. There are tools that are appearing on a daily basis that are driving this change. To an extent it is like Samual Adams and the Sons of Liberty. At first there were rumblings in the colonies with talk of revolution, and people like Samual Adams began to get more “organized.” Other began to post their thoughts and ideas in pamphlets that were distributed around the countryside. The revolutionary ideas began to build and grow, and conversations, events, and action began to take place. As people took these ideas to heart and acted upon them, the revolution gained enough momentum and could no longer be ignored. It was not going away, it was not a fad, and it created fear.

The tools educators have access to today have gained momentum and cannot be ignored any longer. If we remain loyal to our practices of the past we will miss or ignore the shift that has and is happening today. This revolution is different as the Sons of Liberty are the children, kids who access rich media on a daily basis transmitted in the blink of an eye. For the most part they have the basic ‘R’s,” and they are taking this knowledge to new heights. The challenge is preparing ourselves as educators to go along for the ride that is real, scary, and revolutionary. Don’t be afraid!

PBwiki link for those who are following my attendence at the November Learning Conference!

I am sitting in my second presentation by Will Richardson at the November Learning Conference. He is sharing RSS ideas and skills, but I am still thinking about his last presentation! The other day Will posted on his blog “Why is it so Hard for Educators to Focus on Their Own Learning?” and he touched on this in the earlier presenation I attended. To me the suggestion is that we, as educators, need to take responsibility for our own learning. As we accept this responsibility we model behaviors to our students that I think we intend for them to have, but we often fail to transfer that or those examples when we don’t take the time to focus on our own learning.

Now I want to take this a step further with policy makers. I keep hearing my colleagues bring up the following questions: How do I get my staff to do this? How do I get my principal or educational leader to buy into this? How do I get IT to stop blocking various internet tools (YouTube, blogs, etc.). Will suggests not worrying about that and taking charge of our own learning. “Get your house in order” is a phrase that comes to mind here. I agree.

Now, I experienced an epiphany in the middle of all this!!! I also agree with the questions I share above, especially the desicion making process of our policy makers. Then it dawned on me (Which will seem weird as I continue to share here!): I am now one of those policy makers. As a brand new educational technology director I can help my staff learn about, try, and hopefully use technology as a tool in the learning process; I already have “bought” into new technologies and want to help facilitate their use in classrooms throughout my district (However, there is so much I continue to learn each day!); I can influence the unblocking of internet features that our students use in their lives each day; and I have some experience in taking charge of my own learning which brought me to my current position today! Oftentimes I felt powerless as a teacher (the past 13 years), but now I am in a position to empower my new colleagues. Taking charge of our own learning is powerful, but it becomes stronger as it builds and gains support from those around us. While I nuture my own learning, I can also help empower my colleagues in my new position, especially by sharing my passion.

I will keep reflecting upon this as more continues to seep in! 🙂

After an eventful trip I am now sitting in an early bird workshop with Bill Bagshaw called “Friday Night Skype.” Once again, I will be keeping notes at my PBwiki where you can get the details of what I am learning. More to come…