Well, my TEDxMelbourne talk is up. See, there it is, right above these words.
My husband and I just watched it through and I was doing that involuntary shaking thing while I viewed myself talking. It’s a tad confronting seeing yourself onscreen, exposing your thinking for others to judge. It’s 21 minutes long, so I’ve gone way over my 18 minute time limit. I kind of suspected that was the case, largely because it was more difficult maintaining my train of thought in front of a live audience than it was in my lounge-room. Regardless, I’m happy with the outcome. I said everything I wanted to say, and I think the message I was intending to impart came across quite well.
I’ll let you be the judge of that. That’s the reality of formats like this – you give yourself and your opinions up for others to make of it what they will. And there’s beauty in that. Part of that beauty is what I was trying to convey in this talk – that we have mediums for expression now that can allow us to find our voices and our purpose. We need a teaching profession that understands this and allows for it to happen for students through learning experiences within our education systems. We can’t lose sight of the importance of teachers in this equation. It’s networked teachers who have real world experiences with connected learning that enable them to see possibilities and look beyond the tools, to see how you design learning experiences for students that help them become mindful digital citizens who make the most of what the web can offer them.
Time to let it go and see what’s said about it. That, in itself, will be an interesting experience. Part of my journey as a mindful digital citizen.
Over the weekend, I wrote a post on the Voices from the Learning Revolution blog called ‘TED in My Classroom‘, with a focus on TED Ed, their latest initiative. I’m still pondering how I might offer something to the project, but I’ll have to mull over it a little more. What they’re looking for is the following:
TED-Ed’s mission is to capture and amplify the voices of great educators around the world. We do this by pairing extraordinary educators with talented animators to produce a new library of curiosity-igniting videos.
I don’t know if I’m one of the extraordinary educators they’re looking for, but I do think there might be something in my bag of educational tricks that might be worth sharing!
What’s in Shawn Achor’s bag of tricks is well worth your time. He’s a very engaging speaker, talking about what he calls ‘the happiness advantage‘; the effect of positive psychology on our productivity and attitude to life. Here’s some text from the transcript of his talk;
But the real problem is our brains work in the opposite order. If you can raise somebody’s level of positivity in the present, then their brain experiences what we now call a happiness advantage, which is your brain at positive performs significantly better than it does at negative, neutral or stressed. Your intelligence rises, your creativity rises, your energy levels rise. In fact, what we’ve found is that every single business outcome improves. Your brain at positive is 31 percent more productive than your brain at negative, neutral or stressed. You’re 37 percent better at sales. Doctors are 19 percent faster, more accurate at coming up with the correct diagnosis when positive instead of negative, neutral or stressed. Which means we can reverse the formula. If we can find a way of becoming positive in the present, then our brains work even more successfully as we’re able to work harder, faster and more intelligently.
Just imagine if our focus in schools was on this instead of Naplan tests and My School comparisons? I’d like to see schools value this kind of research and invest time and effort in helping our students understand how their state of mind can effect their performance.
I’m happy and positive after watching this. In my view, 12 minutes well spent in any classroom you teach in. Think about sharing it around.
At the AIS ICT Integration Conference, Jeff Utecht had audience members participating in a variety of ways, using Twitter, Google Docs and a chatroom. In the 3 minute discussion breaks, he checked in on what was being posted on these spaces and was able to determine if there was anything that he needed to address further. It got me thinking.
I’ve listened to many speakers talk about feedback this year and I’ve sat through sessions where people are using clicker systems to gauge audience reaction. Personally, I don’t like clickers. I find them impersonal and responding to set questions isn’t my idea of providing quality feedback. I’ve thought quite a bit about how I give feedback in my classroom. I work very hard at creating a classroom environment where students feel comfortable sharing their ideas and I try to encourage input from everyone. We spend a lot of time discussing concepts and I think I’m pretty good at encouraging participation and making my students feel that their opinions are valued. But you know, you can always do better. Jeff’s session made me contemplate using some new ideas to assist with feedback.
An opportunity presented itself last week. We were watching a video debate about the wearing of the Burqa. I set up a Chatzy room and shared the link via email with my students. They logged in and as we listened to the debate, they typed in what they were thinking. To be honest with you, I didn’t think it was going to be worthwhile. I thought the kids might not take it seriously and just post silly chit chat. I was very pleasantly surprised when I checked the chat and saw them posting their opinions and questioning one another. It helped guide the discussion after we’d finished listening and provided some students with more of a voice in the classroom. It certainly made me think that this is something I would do again.
Two days later I was home sick and had to leave work for the class. I thought it might be an ideal opportunity to see how I could use Chatzy to provide students with help even though I wasn’t physically there. I set the room up and emailed the students with the link and let them know I’d be in the room during the duration of the lesson. Some of them logged in and asked questions and I was able to provide clarification.
It was worth doing. I kept in touch with what was happening in class and the students knew that I was interested in what they were doing despite me not being physically present. My voice had left me and that’s why I wasn’t there. If I was suffering from something like the flu I wouldn’t be doing something like this, but I was incapacitated in a way that made it possible for me to still participate. I don’t expect to see teachers drop everything for their students when they are sick, but I can see this being really useful if you have to run a virtual school situation due to inclement weather or something like that.
Food for thought. I do think we need to be open to new ideas, to find ways to connect with our students in ways that might encourage those who don’t share so readily to find ways to participate. I need to be open to new ways of providing feedback to make me more effective at what I do. Teaching isn’t a static profession; it’s dynamic, constantly evolving as we respond to societal change and students who perhaps function differently and are adept at new methods of communication. If you can, give something like this a try. I’m going to be adding it to my repertoire of practice and tap into some thinking on the fly!
All teachers should watch Chris Anderson (the guy who heads up TED ideas worth spreading) talk about crowd accelerated innovation, and the impact this IS having and WILL HAVE on how people educate themselves through web based mediums like online video. At one point in the video Chris talks of how TED presenters like Jill Bolte Taylor really raised the bar with her TED talk, literally forcing others to step up. Will it be online video education providers like Salman Khan who do the same for education?
Methinks it’s time to step up.
I’m figuring those of you reading this now are a few rungs up the ladder already. It’s time to introduce a few people who are at the bottom of their ladder of understanding to 18.53 minutes of Chris Anderson speaking to them, and we just might see them take the first step.
Barack Obama addressed the students of America yesterday as they returned for the start of their school year. His message was about responsibility. The responsibility students have to their own learning, to themselves.
Today in my Yr 9 English class we watched part of Obama’s speech and looked at some of the text. I asked my students if they thought it should have been required viewing in all American classrooms. Pretty much all of them thought yes. They were very surprised to hear that there were some American schools that did not allow the broadcast to be shown. Take a look at some of the comments posted on the YouTube video from students about that.
Our discussion then moved to why some schools would hold that position. They talked about political influence, party politics and propaganda. We also talked about the effectiveness of Brarack Obama’s delivery and the genuineness some felt was evident in his speech. It was all very appropriate for an English class, but more importantly it was vital for them as citizens of our world. Quite a bit of our discussion focused on the importance of being well informed about world events. Which of course, brought us back to Obama’s speech and his message about responsibility for your own learning.
If you haven’t seen the video, take the time to watch it. Personally, I thought the message was an important one. It was about resilience and making the most of opportunities presented to you. A message that crosses borders and is as valid in this country as it is in the United States.
I’ve been using SlideRocket, an online presentation tool, for the past year for presentations I have given at conferences. To start with, I badgered them for an invite to use the product before it’s release. To my surprise, they obliged. I then moved over to the free version when it had general release, but felt it was limited so had to sign up for the premium version. Around that time SlideRocket sent me a survey asking my opinion about pricing for K-12 education. My response was that they needed to make it affordable, under $500.00 for a site licence. To be honest with you I didn’t think it was anywhere near possible as I’d just had my school sign up for the one user premium package at a price of $240.00 a year.
I was surprised last week to get an email from SlideRocket letting me know that they were going to be announcing pricing for education. When I looked at what they were offering I was very pleasantly surprised. Here it is;
Schools with less then one hundred and fifty students will pay $249 per year, schools with less than one thousand students will pay $449 per year and schools with over one thousand students will pay $999 per year. All pricing is per school allowing every member of the school community – teachers and students alike – to create his or her own SlideRocket login and gain access to SlideRocket’s premium features.
In my opinion, that pricing is pretty good given the features SlideRocket offers. I found my last couple of presentations pretty easy to put together. I was able to access flickr creative commons attribution only pictures from within the SlideRocket application and load them easily into my presentation. I could create a library of my slides so that I can use them easily in new presentations should I need them. My presentations are stored online so I could access them from any computer anywhere provided I had an internet connection. They also allow you to download an offline player allowing you to cache your presentation should internet access be a problem.
There are other features I’ve yet to explore that hold real potential in educational settings. You can work collaboratively on a presentation and access a shared library of resources with the SlideRocket community. The pricing is wonderful for a school my size (under 1000). $449 US dollars converts to $568 Australian dollars. Less than one dollar each for students and staff for use of a premium package is pretty good value.
Now, to lobby for it to go into next year’s budget…..
(If you want to see Sliderocket in action visit my wikispaces site where my presentations are embedded.)
I love Ning. I really do.
I’m just not all that happy with them right now.
Those of you who follow this blog will know that I started a Ning for our Yr 9 English classes in February this year. It’s been fantastic. A true learning community has formed and it’s become embedded into the fabric of our Yr 9 curriculum. I’m loving the engagement that is possible and the way I can connect with students who aren’t in my actual class. Just tonight I was showing it to parents at our Parent Teacher night. All were impressed and could see the benefits to student learning that this environment promoted. I asked Ning to remove the ads before the students had even joined and they were happy to oblige.
I also help to run Working together 2 make a difference, a Ning site that encourages educators to come together to share their experiences with service learning projects. Once again, I asked Ning to remove the ads and once again, they were happy to oblige.
Last week I had a moment to savour. Yr 9 students who actively engage in our English Ning came to see me to see if I could help them set up a Ning for their Sleepout 4 Schools initiative. They’d figured out that Ning was the best platform for them to engage the wider community in what they are doing. Sleepout 4 Schools is a school project involving our Yr 9 students; they are holding a fundraiser for our school community on May 22nd in an attempt to raise some money for Daraja Academy and the Bal Ashram in India. The students are working very hard to plan an evening where we will sleepover at school, have fun, skype with Mark Lukach hopefully and raise some money that will help to make a difference.
We set the Ning up. They are working as administrators of the Ning as well and are excited about the possibilities. They are trying to engage other surrounding schools in this service learning and are using the Ning as a tool for connecting. I asked Ning to take the ads off.
They didn’t oblige.
And so began the email process of me asking (begging really) and them denying. Our most recent email correspondance saw me ask this;
Dear Ning team,
Sorry to continue to dispute this, but it is a direct part of our program and is a vital ingredient in the teaching of our students. We are endeavouring to have our students create positive digital footprints for themselves in safe and ethical ways. Having ads that display free video chats for girls is not what I feel is a good advertisement encouraging safe and ethical use. If you look at the domain names of the members they are all students from our school. We are trying to encourage global involvement with other schools to have them participate as well.
Can I please ask you to reconsider once again.
Reply from Ning was this;
Thanks for the follow-up. Once again, while we definitely respect what you’re doing, this simply isn’t covered by what our program is offering. You’re still welcome to purchase the Go Ad-Free premium service, and you can find more details here:
Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m finding it hard to understand how Sleepout for Schools differs from the intentions of the Yr 9 English Ning and Working together 2 make a difference. It’s a school project, set up by and for students. It’s about EDUCATION.
Wikispaces and other Wiki creation companies are friendly to K – 12 education. You don’t have to request that ads be removed; they trust that if you tick that box saying it’s for K – 12 use it will be and a Wiki is provided ad free.
Ning is offering an amazing platform that can be utilised so well in education. Please, those of you making decisions at Ning, think about offering a service for education that will encourage users to explore its potential. We need an ad free service; one that won’t expose students to inappropriate ads that make it hard for us to justify the use of what is an excellent resource in school settings.