Monthly Archives: September 2008

Literacy for our age.

John Connell has written an excellent post, Literacy, Postliteracy, Modes of Expression….and a real Guitar Hero! that you really should read. In it, he muses over the notion of literacy and how it can be defined in our changing landscape. His post struck a chord with me; literacy, and our definition of it, was a frequent topic of discussion at Learning 2.008.

John writes so well it is daunting to even think of leaving a comment! But leave one I did, and here is my 2 cents worth;

This was a topic under frequent discussion at Learning 2.008 John. Doug Johnson calls it postliteracy, others call it digital literacy or 21st Century literacy. Clarence Fisher and others were asking the question, is it not just literacy? Sure, it’s different from our print based focus of the past, but it’s where we are today. I’m a Teacher-Librarian and I recognise that my students respond to visual media today far more than they do print based and I am trying to find ways to integrate the visual medium into my library space. I find myself charged by the visual medium and avail myself of stimuli off YouTube to spark my students’ interest in curriculum offerings. I have been moved by their digital creations that express meaning so eloquently without words, but through pictures that create a metaphor. It seems to me that as we deal with a highly visual world we will find our definition of literacy changing. When it becomes normative practice in our understanding of how we function we will become accepting that this is the literacy of our age.

I encourage you to visit John’s blog and read his post. While there, do yourself a favour and take a stroll through some of his other entries. I guarantee you’ll come away enriched by the experience.

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Printer Share – interesting concept.

Now I’ve downloaded this but haven’t used it as yet so can’t report whether or not it works. It’s called PrinterShare, and according to the site you can print your documents on any printer anywhere, or you can share your printer with other people connected to the internet and enable them to print documents to your printer.  Here’s what they say;

With PrinterShare® you can print documents and photos on other people’s printers as easily as on the local one connected to your machine. No special technical knowledge is required from both – printer owner and user. It just works!

With our software you can print directly from your application such as Microsoft Word, Outlook, Photo Editor or any other program you work with to a printer connected to another computer next door or ten thousand miles away (anywhere!).

It sounds kind of amazing to me that you’d be able to do this, and like I said, I haven’t yet given it a go. I can imagine some possibilities however. You could be collaborating with a teacher in another location who has documents they want you to access. Presumably you could share the printer you have access to and enable them to print the document at your end. You could also just get them to send it to you, or better still, have them upload it to Google Docs so that you can both edit the document in real time.

Can you imagine if kids got a hold of this and got their friends to do all their printing through your school network computers? Budgets could go through the roof even quicker than they already do.

Sounds like an interesting idea and one I’ll have to try out. Be interested in hearing if anyone has used it and found that it works. Thanks very much to Jane Hart for alerting me to this.

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100+ (E-)Learning Professionals to follow on Twitter

Do you ever have days when you waiver? Days when you wonder if the time you are investing is worth it. Days when you wonder where you are going in life.  Days when you think that maybe it’s just not worth it.

These days cross my path every now and then. What I have found is that when I feel like this, invariably something happens that strengthens my resolve and keeps me ploughing onwards.

Today was one of those days. When you spend a considerable amount of time learning about how we transform learning with the use of new tools you find yourself online a lot. Most of this effort happens outside of my working day which impacts on sleep, family time and time spent with friends. It’s the same for all of us I suspect. I was contemplating this today when Alec Couras put up a link on Twitter to 100+ELearning Professionals to follow on Twitter.  

Scrolling through the list I could see names of people I follow. People like Alec, John Connell, Britt Watwood, Judy O’Connell, Sheryl Nussbaum Beach, Joe Dale, Sue Waters, Doug Belshaw, Jeff Utecht, Lee Lefever and quite a few others. No. 50 on the list was me!! Me. Gotta tell you this was unexpected. Don’t know how it came about but it has stopped me wavering. 

  

If you’re not familiar with Twitter you should be. It’s a fantastic tool for networking and learning about others who have an interest in educational technology. You find yourself discovering new things all the time. But it’s not just that. It’s also about the human face of the network. Just the other day Andy Carvin put out a tweet about how he and his wife were heading to the hospital for the birth of their second child. The next day he posted the link to the Flickr photos of the birth of Sean Carvin. Andy Carvin doesn’t know me from Adam, but I’m happy to share with his good news and pass on my congratulations. You find yourself connecting on many levels, not just professionally but personally as well. And that’s what makes it work – it’s the human network forming once again with humanity linking us.  

There are people who are not on that list who should be. People like Julie Lindsay, Kim CofinoChris Betcher, Tom Barrett, Dean GroomChrissy Hellyer, Jo McLeay and Sue Tapp and many others. So that’s my next job. Time to send an email recommending others for inclusion on the list so that we all can benefit from the human network.

*I hope this doesn’t sound like a ‘Look at me’ post. I know it could be interpreted that way. I am genuinely surprised at my inclusion on that list.

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School’s out Friday

Regular readers will have noticed that last week marked the first time I hadn’t posted School’s out Friday. And why not? I was out on the streets of Shanghai with Jabiz Raisdana and Brian Lockwood, soaking up all that life had to offer.

This week’s School’s out Friday highlights someone who soaks up all life has to offer. Matt Harding says this about himself on his website;

Matt is a 31-year-old deadbeat from Connecticut who used to think that all he ever wanted to do in life was make and play videogames. Matt achieved this goal pretty early and enjoyed it for a while, but eventually realized there might be other stuff he was missing out on. In February of 2003, he quit his job in Brisbane, Australia and used the money he’d saved to wander around Asia until it ran out. He made this site so he could keep his family and friends updated about where he is.

A few months into his trip, a travel buddy gave Matt an idea. They were standing around taking pictures in Hanoi, and his friend said “Hey, why don’t you stand over there and do that dance. I’ll record it.” He was referring to a particular dance Matt does. It’s actually the only dance Matt does. He does it badly. Anyway, this turned out to be a very good idea.

A couple years later, someone found the video online and passed it to someone else, who passed it to someone else, and so on. Now Matt is quasi-famous as “That guy who dances on the internet. No, not that guy. The other one. No, not him either. I’ll send you the link. It’s funny.”

The response to the first video brought Matt to the attention of the nice people at Stride gum. They asked Matt if he’d be interested in taking another trip around the world to make a new video. Matt asked if they’d be paying for it. They said yes. Matt thought this sounded like another very good idea.

I’m with Matt. If someone was going to pay me to fly around the world and record myself dancing in major cities and famous locations I think I’d take up the offer. The video above is Matt’s latest effort and involves others dancing with him, his earlier vids just involved him. I love the spirited sense of community that shines through this – people are people and dancing, laughter and good fun cross cultural boundaries.

Check out Garr Reynold’s post about Matt. That’s where I discovered him. Thirty million + people found him before me on YouTube. As the kid from Clarence Fisher’s class said; “You don’t have to be a rich old guy from New York to have a voice anymore”.

Hope you have a great weekend. I intend to!

 

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Learning 2.008- pics!

Thought you might like to see some pics from my time at Learning 2.008. Anyone who knows me well knows my history with cameras is not a good one. Last year on a trip to China I lost two! My own and the camera of the teacher I went with. Expensive exercise that one.  This time I didn’t lose the camera, but I did forget to take it with me while I was out on the Bund at night. Missed those brilliant photo opportunities showcasing Shanghai when it looks at its best – at night when the lights are stunning and pollution pales. Quite a few of these pics are ones taking by others at the conference and posted on Flickr with the tag learn2cn.  That’s the beauty of Flickr – if you miss something you can bet someone else hasn’t. 

This is me talking about my experiences at Edubloggercon. Adrian Bruce was watching on ustream and said I had a ‘boy look’. This was because I had no luggage and no access to the hair straightener!!

Edublogger table table viewed from on high.

 Jeff Utecht explaining Twitter at the opening of the Conference.

The Conference Courtyard – Macs all round. My pc looked pretty lame.

 Clarence Fisher and a slide with a quote from one of his students. So true.

The tent that was used for breakfast, lunch and opening night dinner. Note the astroturf playing field it is situated on. 

SCIS -Shanghai Community International School (I think I’ve got that right) They hosted the Conference. Great facilities.

View of Shanghai from the JinMao Tower. This was at 11.00am. Gives you some idea of the issues they have with pollution. It was hard to determine if it was fog and pollution or just pollution. 

The family from my school who met up with me in Shanghai. Thanks Paul, Lucia, Christina and Michael for a great day.

I’m still trying to get my thoughts together about the Conference. Already I’m talking with a teacher in Singapore about some collaborative project work. That’s the beauty of making face to face connection – the collaborative opportunities present themselves more naturally when you can get a sense of the person you will be working with. Hope the pics give you a sense of what things were like in Shanghai.

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No idea – a post to read

Lately, largely thanks to dy/dan, I've been coming across blogs of young teachers who are expressing what they are doing in their classrooms and the anxiety they feel about the profession. Todd Seal is one of these young teachers who I have added to my Google reader. He has written a post called 'No idea' and begins it with these lines;
 

"I have no idea what I’m doing. No idea.

When I close that door, I’m on my own. I’ve got fifty-three minutes with a group of thirty kids who want entertainment if they want anything. I need to take those kids wherever they are and help them improve by the time they walk out the door. I need to give them at least one new idea today and one reason to come back tomorrow.

I have no idea what I’m doing."

You must read this post. I think he articulates what a lot of teachers feel but don't express. In teaching, it seems, there's always the pressure of having to be the expert and not admit how you feel when you are up against it. Here is my reply that I left in the comment thread;

"What you’ve articulated is what I think on a daily basis and I’ve been teaching for over 20 years. And you know what, I think thinking these thoughts makes me a better teacher and I bet it does for you too. I knew long ago I was not the world’s best expert in my subject matter and it used to make me feel not up to the task. Like you I searched for new ideas, the best material, innovation, etc etc. I still do that, but I’ve learnt something else along the way. I’ve learnt that it’s the climate I establish in the classroom, the tone, the respect I extend to my students, the interest I take in them as people, that is fundamental in my success as a teacher. We still do the work, we still push ourselves and learn but we do that together. They recognise that in large part I am learning with them too. Never a day goes by when I don’t take something away that I have learnt from a student. Teachers like you who actually question what it is they are doing are the teachers who need to stay in classrooms."
 
I'm loving discovering new young voices sharing their thoughts about teaching. Take a look at Todd's blog.

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Learning 2.008 – my take

 

Well. The conference is over. Time to reflect.

 

Sorry I didn’t post over the last two days. It’s like Chris Betcher said in a post recently, you have to participate in life. If I’d worried about writing posts to update everyone back home I’d never have been able to fully participate and take from the conference what I needed.

 

What am I taking away?

 

I went out to dinner with Brian Lockwood and Jabiz Raisdana last night. First up, how great to be able to meet these two and spend some time over dinner having a spirited discussion about our conference experiences. I think we were all surprised at what we didn’t learn. We all felt that we knew quite a lot and that the discussions the conference generated were representative of what we have been immersed in in our personal learning networks. The consensus was that we were able to add to the discussions in a meaningful way but we weren’t necessarily learning anything that wasn’t already on our radar. Now don’t get me wrong, that’s not a criticism, it’s actually confirming for us that we are benefiting so much from the time we spend interacting with others and sharing our thoughts and opinions online.  

 

I got to meet some great people. It was terrific to be able to meet Julie Lindsay who I admire so much for all the work she has done with Vicki Davis and the Flat Classroom project. In my opinion, Julie should have been delivering a Ted like talk on the opening night of the conference. She has done amazing work and models her practice so well. Lack of female voice on that opening night was glaring to me. Sheryl Nussbaum Beach couldn’t attend due to illness so there was supposed to be representation, but why Julie wasn’t asked to step on up is a mystery to me. Sheryl did record her own Ted talk which appears on the ning site (and you should go there and watch it) but it wasn’t broadcast publicly at the conference. Note to conference organisers – address the balance.

 

Kim Cofino delivered a few sessions. I attended one about global collaborative projects and it was excellent. Kim had put a lot of effort into the presentation and used principles inspired by Garr Reynold’s Presentation Zen to get the message across. And do that she did. I’m sure she would have uploaded the presentations to slideshare so you should go there to check them out. Do a search for Kim Cofino and see what turns up.

 

Clarence Fisher presented really well. He’s real; you get such a sense of the classroom teacher who is modelling and sharing. I thoroughly enjoyed any session I attended that he was involved with because I felt the genuine nature of Clarence shone through and this enabled a connection to be made. He discussed how using Web 2.0 tools had enabled his small community (less that 800 in his whole town) to reach out and level their playing fields. His students don’t feel isolated from the world. He also discussed how he teaches information literacy skills constantly as students engage with this medium. They need to behave ethically as digital citizens, they need to know how to filter the vast array of information available, they need to write. Literacy, and how this medium encourages it, was a point Clarence was making. There was discussion about whether or not it needed to be defined as digital literacy or just literacy. There’s no doubt students are honing digital skills, but do we need to classify it as digital literacy? As practice becomes normative with these tools this will just become literacy as we know it.

 

An unconference session occured with Teacher-Librarians. This was great. There were 17 in attendance and it gave us all a chance to discuss what we are doing with Web 2.0 in our schools and professional life. We established a space for ourselves on the ning and will hopefully stay in contact and find ways to work together.  

 

Just having an opportunity to meet some like minded interesting people was wonderful. People like Jeff Utecht, Simon May (both of whom did an amazing job getting the conference organised), Dave Navis, Brian Lockwood, Simon PowerNZ Chrissy, Tod Baker, Dennis Harter, Ann Krembs, Matt Greenway, Jabiz Raisdana, Mike Romard and our own wonderful Anne Mirschtin and Jess McCulloch. Some were from my Personal Learning Network and others weren’t.  The world of international schools and teaching was another eye opener. I had no idea there was such a huge community out there. The majority of the conference attendees were from international schools and some of the tales they told me about their lifestyles made me wonder why I’d never considered it before.

 

There’s no doubt that blogging has been my entrance point into this world; it has altered my perspective on teaching and shown me how we can do things differently for the students we teach. It has made my voice heard further than I ever thought possible. You probably don’t really need to attend a conference like this one if you are active and self direct your own learning through the very mediums we are trying to see accepted in our school communities. These mediums help us to stay abreast of current thinking. You do need to attend a conference like this if you are not immersed, but are interested and want to know more. If you know nothing, you absolutely should be attending a conference like this to open your mind to new thinking.

 

If you are immersed, you do need to attend a conference like this if you want to further the relationships you establish online. And that’s important. We are part of this human network and as such, face to face human connection matters.

 

Speaking of this, today represented an example of the connections we make with our students and parent community. Here I am in Shanghai receiving a phone call from the parents of a child in my class. They are also in Shanghai on a working holiday and wanted to know if I’d like to catch up with them. We spent time together viewing a very foggy/smoggy Shanghai from the Hyatt Observation deck and enjoyed lunch at the Bund, before heading off to haggle at the markets. Thanks Paul, Lucia, Christina and Michael. I really enjoyed the time spent with you.  

 

And thanks Shanghai Learning 2.008. In many ways a transformative time. 

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