Tag Archives: Jeff Utecht

Instant feedback with Chatzy

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!

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Learning with the New South Welshmen (and women) at the AIS ICT Technology Integration Conference

My mind has been buzzing after attending the AIS Technology Integration Conference 2010 last week. The conference had around 200 participants; a really nice number. There are opportunities for discussions and connections to be made when you aren’t overwhelmed by huge numbers. Maybe it felt good to me because my Keynote was over early (great relief!) and was received well. If I’d tanked maybe I’d have been less positive!!

What I was impressed with most of all was the energy that was palpable amongst the educators present. It felt quite similar at the Leading a Digital School Conference here in Melbourne recently. It just might be that there’s a growing acceptance that we really do need to accept that new technologies are becoming ingrained in the way we and our students lead our lives, and we need to respond by integrating new ideas into the way we teach.

Some useful takeaways. If you’re a music teacher, you must take a look at the work being done by Samuel Wright. He writes a blog called Wright-stuff music, and it’s a plethora of resources that any music teacher or student would find useful I’m figuring. I attended a session run by Samuel where he took us through some of the resources on his blog. I was so impressed by his passion for what he does; if a child of mine was in a class run by Samuel I’d be a very happy parent indeed. Do yourself a favour and visit to see what Samuel is up to.

Therese Kenny ran a really informative session about Overdrive, a download solution for Audiobook and ebook content that is used widely in public libraries. Loreto Normanhurst are the first Australian school to take it on board, and Therese and the team have done us all a favour by potentially ironing out some of the problems so that any of us who run school libraries might be able to embark on the journey with more confidence. Overdrive is something that I am seriously looking at for the 2011 school year. I don’t know if it’s the solution I think is possible, but right now it represents what is available. I think we need to explore it. I don’t want to embark on something that potentially might not be the way to go, but I do want to see how students will react to downloading files and using them on their own devices. I don’t think the solution to ebooks lies in purchasing multiple kindles or iPads for borrowing. It lies in being able to lend out encrypted files that will disappear off a device after a set borrowing period. Overdrive does this. Until we are able to download files as a matter of course from publishers, we are going to have to do it through hosted sites like Overdrive. Therese has very kindly allowed me to embed her slideshare presentation here. It’s very thorough; an enormous help to all Australian Teacher Librarians who are contemplating what to do. Thank you so much Therese and Loreto Normanhurst for your generosity in sharing with us all.

June Wall presented a session about embedding digital literacy in the curriculum. She outlined the process her team at St Ignatius Riverview has gone through to determine a model that they feel will enable them to make technology integration meaningful in their curriculum. It’s something my library staff and I are working through as well at the moment. I was interested in some ideas being shared by Martin Levins. Martin was discussing the SAMR model, the process of the Substitution, Augmentation, Modification and Redefinition method of evaulating learning experiences. A Google Doc was worked on in a Sandpit session on the Thursday. It’s worth looking at. It models how we can look at existing curriculum and reshape it to integrate technology, and make the learning more interesting and challenging for the students we teach. This is something we are going to be looking at for next year. This is challenging work for many of us, not necessarily because we don’t know how to do it, but because we need to move people along with us who may be uncomfortable with change. (Thanks Martin for sharing this work; I was running a Twitter session for teachers new to the idea of it and was unable to attend the session. I have found the Google Doc and your SAMR page on the wiki very helpful)

Jeff Utecht delivered an inspiring Keynote on the second day. Jeff moves around and his enthusiasm is infectious. He had us working on Google Docs, in a backchannel chat, sourcing pics from flickr and tweeting out through Twitter. He demonstrated how you can use these tools in your classroom to focus kids and ensure detailed archives of sessions are kept. Jeff also had us stopping at intervals for chat time, so that we could process some of the ideas being presented with the people around us. You can access the audio of his presentation from his page on the wiki. Do so. (I have to admit to getting a real kick to be able to be on the same bill as Jeff as a Keynoter. Jeff really inspired me in my early days of blogging when I would tune into SOS Podcast for inspiration.)

The Sandpit sessions on the second day meant that people could immerse themselves in something that interested them and get a handle on it in the hope that it will become something they could take back to their schools. Take a look at some of the pages created by participants. You can see the learning that was taking place. As I said earlier, I ran a session for some teachers who wanted to understand Twitter. I hope to see them become active contributors and participants in that vital network.

John Clear, Melanie Hughes, Pauline Lewis and members of the organising committee did a wonderful job of bringing this conference together and ensuring it ran smoothly. I so enjoyed getting to catch up with Chris Betcher and June Wall, and to finally meet Mira Danon-Baird,  Carmel Galvin, and Henrietta Miller. Thanks go to Colin who got me to the conference each morning!

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School’s out Friday

I’ve never seen anything about Google Me here in Australia, but it appears to have been released in the United States last April. Jim Killeen Googled his name and discovered a number of people who shared his name in the search results. He then decided to make it his mission to make contact with the people who would agree to meet and be interviewed. I have to say it appeals to my inner geek. (and I can’t believe I’ve just written that, because I shy away from the geek description so commonly applied to anyone who uses a computer for any length of time. I think I have to come to terms with the fact that it probably does apply to me!) What I find interesting from this trailer is how Jim Killeen found that some of the other Jim Killeens didn’t want to be interviewed. There is no doubt privacy and anonymity is foremost in some people’s minds; those of us who find so many benefits that come from transparency and connectedness need to be mindful of the desires of others who prefer a lifestyle hidden from view.

We’ve been discussing Googling your name in my English class. There are some students with common names who can find nothing about themselves in search results because there are so many who share their name, and some of those people obviously have a much larger digital profile than they do. Some of them find this concerning; recruiters who may be Googling their names probably won’t find anything potentially damaging to their careers about them, but they probably won’t find any of the potentially great stuff that might be advantageous to their career either. I have to admit to feeling a little sorry for the other Jenny Luca’s out there in the world. It’s not a common name; I can only find two who seem to have some digital traces, but my footprint is making it hard for them to be heard.

Busy weekend of work ahead for me. I’m delivering a Keynote Address at the AIS ICT Integration Conference next week and need to refine my presentation. I’ve presented to audiences many times, but this is my first keynote. Jeff Utecht is delivering the keynote on the second day, and I’m very much looking forward to hearing him speak, and touching base with members of my Twitter network, quite a few whom I’ve never met. The conference sessions on day one all look very interesting and the second day promises to be invigorating as conference participants are encouraged to be active participants, and work in teams of like minded people to explore how ICT can be used to enrich the teaching and learning experience.

Enjoy your weekend. The sun will be shining in Melbourne, and that makes me happy. : )

 

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Learning 2.008 – I’m so excited (to quote the Pointer Sisters!)

Wow.

 I. am. actually. going. to. this. conference.   

Can you even begin to imagine how excited I am about this? It is such a great opportunity to connect with people I have worked with and talked to in my online network of connected friends who teach me so much. It’s an opportunity to meet with many who I haven’t yet had opportunity to connect with. Just being at a conference with so many like minds is going to be so exciting and such a learning experience.

I can’t wait to hear the thoughts of people like David Warlick, David Jakes, Ewan McIntosh, Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach and Marco Torres. People who will be presenting include Clay Burell, Kim Cofino  and Jeff Utecht - more minds I want to tap into!! I’m particularly looking forward to finally meeting Clay who has had such an impact on my life this year. I’m also looking forward to meeting Simon Power, an Australian teaching in Shanghai.

I’m actually catching up with Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach in Melbourne next week. I’ve been working with Sheryl to get an Australian arm of the global cohort for Powerful Learning Practice formed. The cohort’s pretty much come together now. It’s really exciting and we should be kicking this off on September the 8th. I see this as a way to move my school forward. It’s been wonderful getting to know Sheryl online and I’m looking forward to our face to face meeting next week.   

Would I have thought this is where I’d be when I started blogging in January? No way. Just goes to show you what can be achieved with determination and persistance (and a very supportive school behind you who appreciate what you are doing - I am so very grateful). To retweet @thebuddha;

 All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become. 

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Personal Learning Networks – finding the right balance

I’ve posted recently about how I’m finding it difficult to achieve the right balance between my online activities and my real world life. I think things have exacerbated for me because it’s been school holidays and I’ve had more time to expand my Personal Learning Network. I’ve been more active on Twitter and have been able to access networks at different times of the day, rather than the couple of hours a night that is the norm for me during the school working week. There have been others posting about the same thing – it seems there is too much to learn and too little time.

David Warlick wrote about needing a zipper for his PLN so that he could control it and allow himself time to do things like play his guitar and veg in front of the TV. Jeff Utecht picked up on this and has written a very useful post where he outlines the stages of Personal Learning Network adoption. I love the diagram he has produced to explain these stages and hope he doesn’t mind that I insert it here (notice that he has given it a creative commons licence so everything should be fine!);

      

I’m definitely at stage 3 but think I’m starting to move into stage 4. No doubt this has been prompted by members of my family using the words ‘internet addiction’ and the fact that my kids are over my blog and sick of seeing me with my computer at all times of the day and night. I’m also just so tired – the school holidays are nearing an end and I don’t feel rested at all. I’m in an almost constant state of thinking about how we apply these ideas into our educational settings; I toss ideas around and try to make sense of the vast amount of knowledge that I’ve been exposed to. I’m loving it but realise that balance is important - roll on stage 5!

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We need some support!

 Anne Mirtschin, a teacher at Hawkesdale P12 College, in country western Victoria, Australia, has just posted about another Australian Blog closure. It seems that an early childhood centre blog has been asked to close due to photographic content being in the public domain. This comes a week or so after Al Upton’s mini-legends were shut down in Adelaide. Anne makes some very apt comments re our responsibities as educators to have our students learn to become effective digital citizens;

“will we continue to ’see the world through the eyes of predators and other minority unsavoury characters’ and force our students to learn independently the traps that may be out there waiting for them, or will we stand up and fight for our children and students, and teach them how to live in a rich and rewarding global world giving, them the knowlegde and ‘know-how’  for avoiding, protecting from and dealing with such ill-characters, should the need arise. Many of our students are already using these web2.0 tools at home and we must prepare and instruct them for this world that they live in and for future digital citizenship that they will all experience in the future.”

I agree with your sentiments entirely Anne. I teach in the secondary sector and there is no doubt that our students are actively engaged and already have an online presence. Isn’t it better that we guide our students and help them learn to navigate this digital climate in a safe and responsible manner? I can, however, understand concerns parents and teaching bodies have about the use of student images and full names online, particularly in the pre-teen years.

This is why I think it would be great to be supported by our State Governments and teaching associations. Perhaps it is now obvious that the need has arisen for policy statements that schools could have access to to support them in their endeavours to create these type of rich learning experiences for our students. I think that’s what’s needed – support from higher bodies that would then give schools and individual teachers the confidence to move forward with teaching strategies reflective of our 21st century world.

What’s really interesting is how international schools address blogging. I’ve been in talks with a teacher from Shanghai – at their school no parent permission forms for blogging exist. According to the teacher I’ve been talking to, the parents see the value of blogging from how their children interact with their blogs and they enjoy being able to have access and insight into what their children are doing. This was a recent discussion point on SOS podcast with Jeff Utecht who works at the Shanghai school I’ve referred to. Hopefully here in Australia we will start to hear more of the success stories with no more closures. 

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You a Teacher-Librarian or Ed Tech facilitator ? – then read this

Kim Cofino is a 21st Century Literacy Specialist at the International School of Bangkok. She wrote a really interesting post last week that was mentioned on Jeff Utecht’s SOS podcast about Teacher-Librarians and their connection with Educational Technology facilitators and vice-versa. It was called  Libraries & EdTech: Like Peanut Butter and Jelly! Kim attended the ECIS Librarian’s Conference in Berlin and was obviously impressed by what she saw and heard. I’ve been following Kim on Twitter, and noticed many updates during her time at the conference, with her musing on the ideas being presented. One of the presenters was Ross Todd. TLs in Australia will know Ross as will many others in countries around the world as he is an international presenter. Last year he addressed a Victorian SLAV conference and presented fabulous ideas to help us promote guided inquiry in our libraries and classrooms. I particularly like the way he used the term ‘zones of intervention’ to describe how TLs should be thinking of teaching information literacy in our schools. It resonated with how I see our role – rather than trying to structure information literacy into classrooms or having students come to the library to learn how to ‘do stuff’, we should be targeting specific zones of intervention that present themselves as students work on projects in differing curriculum areas. It is this point of need teaching that has the most impact – when you need to know something you go about learning how to do it – we can all apply this to our own learning so why don’t we try and target information literacy teaching the same way. Don’t believe that in any way I’m having massive success in my school achieving this – like anything, it requires relationship building with teachers so that you can work together on curriculum initiatives.  Chip, chip, chip away!

I suppose the article held appeal because I feel like my role is merging between being a TL and an Ed Tech facilitator. Sometimes I feel like I’m in a tug of war and I don’t know which side is going to win out! Kim took a different view and one that I like. She made the peanut butter and jelly analogy for the following reasons;

  • both peanut butter and jelly are fabulous on their own, but wow, when you put the two together, you get something extra special.
  • peanut butter and jelly both have distinct qualities – they are definitely different, and both are definitely valuable outside of the time they spend together (jelly on toast, peanut butter with chocolate, etc).
  • a pb&j sandwich is really at is best when enveloped by some exceptionally good bread, in this case, I’m thinking the bread is the curriculum – the foundation of the sandwich.

The ideal is to have a TL with a working knowledge of Web 2.0 – this is where information is heading and a head in the sand approach just isn’t going to cut it I’m afraid. If schools had the budgets to appoint Ed Tech facilitators this would be an added bonus. Not happening where I work at the moment. International schools seem streets ahead of us on this front. Better yet, let’s seriously look at something that Jeff UTecht broached in a document he wrote that I posted two months ago. He called the role the Literacy/Media Specialist in a document called ‘Planning for 21st Century Technologies.’

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As a profession, Teacher-Librarians need to seriously look at what is happening in relation to the way our students interact with the internet to find, create and collaborate when learning. We need to skill ourselves well to embrace the future and we need to be working very closely with Ed Tech facilitators. If they’re not in our schools then maybe it’s us who need to take the reins and guide our teachers and students forward. To my way of thinking, this is how we keep our profession relevant and it’s the best kind of advocacy we can present to convince our school administrations of the need for qualified TL’s in School Libraries.  Take a read of Kim’s post and see what you think. 

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Skype to the rescue.

Launch day for Project Global Cooling.

Was I nervous?

Yes.

Did I fear a breakdown of Technology?

Yes.  

Was all the worry warranted?

No!

Pleased to report all was successful. Bill Farren’s video ‘Did you ever wonder?‘ set the scene and got our student’s thinking. Our Skype calls worked, a bit of break up but nothing drastic. Chris, a teacher from Lindsea’s school Skyped in as well on a webcam – the kids loved seeing him – you could see they were impressed with what was happening. Clay Burell joined us along with Patrick from his school. Lindsea then joined us with a webcam and you could sense the instant recognition from our students – they connected with her Skyping from her bedroom. Some students asked questions – Lindsea could see them thanks to my fantastic AV guy who went out of his way today to make all of this work. Thought we might be losing them towards the end but was surprised by the interest coming my way from the kids who can’t make our follow up meeting tomorrow. 

Left today feeling energised and positive about tomorrow. Can’t wait to see where the meeting will take us. Our kids were expressing their frustration today with adults who talk about making changes to improve sustainability but then nothing happens. Today we’ve given them an opportunity to make change – I hope they rise to the challenge. 

Just finished listening to and participating in the backchannel of Jeff Utecht’s SOS podcast (even if I couldn’t figure out how to change my Ustream number to my name, despite another listener trying to help me. I am still new to all this stuff!).  Really interesting discussion about how we connect. Recommend that you listen to the podcast when he posts it. 

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World Wide Telescope – Science teachers take note

This is from TED talks and has just been posted. It’s the first view of the World Wide telescope, a product of Microsoft, that is going to be available as a free download at the website worldwidetelescope.org in the Northern Spring of this year. Very interesting that Microsoft is offering it as a free download – this is why according to their FAQ page;

“Microsoft Research is dedicating WorldWide Telescope to the memory of Jim Gray and is releasing WWT as a free resource to the astronomy and education communities with the hope that it will inspire and empower people to explore and understand the universe as never before.”

Roy Gould, a researcher at the Harvard Centre for Astrophysics, thinks it’s truly transformative, enabling you to experience and tour the universe. You can create your own tours of the universe and share them with friends and they’re interactive- imagine all the possibilities this presents for classrooms and learning about astronomy – why wasn’t this around when I was a kid? I may have been an astronomer now if it had have been. I’ve always been fascinated by the night sky – I love to lose myself in it and contemplate my place in the world. This is going to be wonderful and I can’t wait to play and share it with my kids. Thanks to Jeff Utecht for the heads up to this from a Twitter post. 

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SOS Podcast – make sure you tune in next week.

SOS 

I’ve just finished listening to Jeff Utecht’s SOS podcast. You can access it Thursday nights at 7.00pm Shanghai time. (10.00pm Australian time) It’s kind of nice to hear the voices to the names you’ve been reading. I came in late but gained something out of their conversation about shifting teachers with new technology. It’s a great vehicle for transferring knowledge. Next week’s topic of discussion is ‘How to Connect’ and Kim Cofino is going to be joining Jeff.

Some good things happened today. We made a start in our planning to join Project Global Cooling and are hoping to have Lindsea join us via Skype for our launch. It’s going to be a bit of work but what great work it will be – the kind of empowering work that energises you and doesn’t deflate you.  Remind me I wrote this in a few weeks time!

 The other good thing was that I introduced a group of students to VoiceThread today. I’ve been hearing about it a lot and thought I better check it out. According to the VoiceThread site, this is what a VoiceThread is;

“A VoiceThread is an online media album that can hold essentially any type of media (images, documents and videos) and allows people to make comments in 5 different ways – using voice (with a microphone or telephone), text, audio file, or video (with a webcam) – and share them with anyone they wish. A VoiceThread allows group conversations to be collected and shared in one place, from anywhere in the world.”

This is a class I take just once a week where I introduce them to new web tools. We looked at some examples and they then had a go at creating one. They really liked the idea that you can draw in the image you are talking about and they could suggest classroom uses for Voicethread. It was the kind of conversation you wish other teachers were listening to. Here was a group of students who could see uses for it in Science, Art, Humanities etc. I’m going to use it with my Year 7 class – I’m going to get them to upload a photo of themself as a young child and have their family members record their memories of that moment. Should be a good test of how it works.  VoiceThread have just launched a new web-based collaborative network called Ed.VoiceThread. They promote it as being simple, powerful and safe. Check out the blog on their site and watch their explanatory VoiceThread – it looks good. This community is specifically designed for K-12 educators and students. I’m going to talk to the Elibrarian I work with about subscribing our school tomorrow. This should help our teachers feel comfortable about using it as a learning tool. 

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