Tag Archives: John Connell

Edublog Awards 2010 – my nominations

Nominations for the Edublog awards close tomorrow, so I thought I better get my act into gear and nominate some of the wonderful people out there who make learning happen for me. Not only for me, but  for countless others out there who find that the best professional development they receive these days comes from the people who are willing to be transparent about their thinking, and willing to share the resources they find that make them better at what they do.

It’s not easy. There are far too many great blogs, tweeters, and resource sharing sites out there, but I’ll give it a go. There are a ton more that deserve mentioning- wish I had the time to name them all.

Best individual blogJohn Connell: The Blog.   John always make me think. Especially when he’s fired up about something. I’ve been reading John for as long as I’ve been involved in the edublogosphere, and his quality posts that appear on a consistent basis, are one of my always go to places on the web.
Best individual tweeterAlec Couras.   Whenever I see a tweet from Alec appear in my Twitter stream, I take pause to read it. Alec shares some wonderful links, as well as giving us insight into the way he goes about his work, and how he lives his life.
Best new blogLiv to Dance. OK. I teach Liv, so I’ll be up front and admit bias. But I love Liv’s enthusiasm and how she’s working at building audience as she writes about dancing, her passion.

Best student blogStyle Rookie I don’t know if this qualifies as a student blog, but I’m guessing it does. Tavi is still at school, is blogging about what she loves, and making a reasonable dent in the universe while doing it. She impresses me, and she impresses my students also.
Best resource sharing blogPhil Bradley’s weblog. Phil finds the new stuff that’s out there and lets us all know if it’s worth looking at. If Phil thinks it’s good, then I’m sure to be checking it out.

Best teacher blogBrave New World.  Tania Sheko’s blog is well worth reading. Sometimes resource sharing, sometimes reflections on the need for change in education, and always how she is trying to make this happen. Quality writing too.
Best librarian / library blogBright Ideas I just love what SLAV and Judith Way are doing for Australian Teacher-Librarians, and Librarians the world over. Bright ideas is a place where Teacher Librarians can post what they’re doing in their own schools. It a vehicle for many who don’t have a web presence to get their great work out there for all to see and learn from.  It’s also a great resource sharing blog.
Best school administrator blogDarcy Moore’s Blog. Darcy is a Deputy Principal in New South Wales, and he pushes my thinking. I love that a Deputy Principal sees the value in blogging and wants to be part of the change process. Darcy is one of our great role models who the NSW Department of Education better hang onto!
Best educational podcastEd Tech Crew. Tony and Darrell do a great job of interviewing people who are exploring new ways of doing things. They share some great resources along the way too.

Best educational use of a social network –  Instructional Rounds – Best Teacher practice – The E5 Model PLN.  Nina Davis and Jenni Byass have set this up to support their teacher professional leave project, but along the way they’ve managed to attract school administrators and teachers from many parts of the world. Updated regularly and a supportive environment.
Lifetime achievementBill Ferriter. I’ve been to the United States twice this year and unfortunately did not get to meet Bill. His blog ‘The Tempered Radical’, is that really nice blend of a teacher modeling really good classroom practice, ideas for using new technologies for meaningful learning, and gutsy posts that get to the heart of current issues facing educators the world over. Bill is @plugusin on Twitter, and to me, he’s a real human being, sharing what matters. I don’t know how long Bill’s been at it, but he gets my vote anyway.

Voting ends Tuesday 14th of December.

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School’s out Friday

John Connell referred to this TED Talk in his keynote address today athe Digital Fair run by the Australian College of Educators. I’ll post more about that later tonight hopefully.

On the TED site it says this about the talk by Stuart Brown;

A pioneer in research on play, Dr. Stuart Brown says humor, games, roughhousing, flirtation and fantasy are more than just fun. Plenty of play in childhood makes for happy, smart adults — and keeping it up can make us smarter at any age.

There are some wonderful scenes involving a polar bear and and a tethered husky. I’m sure you’ll be moved.

Enjoy your weekend. I certainly intend to! Last one before a return to work on Monday.

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The Future of Libraries.

John Connell has written an excellent post about Cloud computing and the future of education and the web. He muses;

Since 2002, I have been boring anyone willing to listen to me that this would be the case one day – and the core idea behind Glow in Scotland is based on this fundamental premise – that the world of knowledge is shifting inexorably onto the Web.

John has written a very interesting and thought provoking post. I urge you to visit his blog and read it.

I posted a comment because the post spoke to thoughts I have been mulling over regarding the future of libraries. Here’s what I said;

I have been grappling with this idea for some time now and you have articulated what I have been trying to put together in my mind. I’ve been trying to picture the future of libraries. If knowledge is everywhere and accessible to everyone then what is the point of some central location. There isn’t one. What the point of libraries will be, I think, is as a meeting place for humanity to share ideas. A bit like Ancient Greece where the Sophists would meet up together to share ideas. What keeps coming to me with all of this change is that we still need human interaction and the formation of meaningful relationships to sustain us. I feel that I have found a friend in you John through this PLN, but meeting you probably cemented the friendship. I look at the school library I run and what is happening with the students at my school. Their reliance on print material has lessened greatly with their shift to the web. We may as well ditch non-fiction altogether. And yet our Library is thriving. Why? A welcoming environment. We have couches, cushions, kids can eat in there and use their phones and listen to ipods. We listen to them and we like them. We don’t force feed them books but they like the connectedness they feel there. The knowledge will be everywhere and easily accessible, but the need for human connection will be constant.

John’s post was speaking to eduation as a whole rather than the specific nature of Libraries, but I think we can draw parallels. There will still be a need for schools and teachers. I don’t think we will become obsolete. I do think the nature of learning will change; we will need to encourage and foster self directed learners and this is what I see the function of teachers will be in the future. We will need to guide and mentor our students; explicit teaching of some skills will still be necessary, but empowering our students with the ability to discover and learn off their own steam will be the essential life skills. What will be a vital role of schools and teachers will be what has been vital all along. The space where students can form relationships, the space where they can articulate ideas and glean advice and encouragement, the space where the human network forms and where they can find ways to make it grow.  

I’d love to know what others think. Is this the future, has it always been this way, or is the future something else altogether?   

   

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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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“…we have to work globally to stop the accreditation tail wagging the learning dog” – now that’s a quote to use and an idea to ponder.

John Connell is a Scottish blogger who I consider to be a mentor of mine. He thinks deeply about education and the direction we are headed in. I always feel  enriched after reading his blog; he writes well about important issues facing education. He was kind enough to leave a comment on my previous post which I think is worth highlighting in full. Once again he’s made me think; 

The core issue is as you describe:

“……in the light of the stringent exam structure that exists in our senior years of high school. The argument that was presented suggested that our parent community wanted high enter scores. Our job at those year levels was to get our students through the curriculum and prepare them for 700 word essays, and it wasn’t helping them to have them learn how to collaborate with students from around the world. ”

I believe that such arguments, while inevitable, need to be tested to destruction. I have found over the years I have worked in education that the estimation of parental views held by too many teachers is, at the very least, stereotypical, and too often, rather patronising. I just wonder what would be the outcome if you (ie Toorak College) were able to find a way to test the depth and nuance of parental views on these issues.

Of course, parents want the best for their children, and they want to ensure that they have the greatest chance possible to make progress in life. I know from our chat over dinner a few weeks ago that you want the same for your own kids as my wife and I want for ours.

BUT – I am equally sure that most thoughtful parents are far more aware than is generally recognized in education of the need to find a reasonable balance between the demands of accreditation and entry to higher education, and the demands that life in all its complexity will place on our kids as they face the future. Too many teachers prefer to see parental views as one-dimensional and reductive in nature – I would challenge them to prove that their view is genuinely reflective of the actual views of the parent body.

So, I just wonder what the outcome would be if you could find a way – through straight talking and honest communication – to explain the logic and the humanity behind the kinds of messages we are trying so hard to build into the education systems for today and tomorrow. I am willing to bet that many more parents would express agreement with such views (while still wanting their kids to get what they need to go where they want to go) than the more patronising teachers realise.

Ultimately, I think that teachers and parents face the same dilemmas to an extent that we often fail to recognize. Why not test it? We might find that we can move forward together – teachers, parents, students – to find the ways and means to give our kids access to both realities.

Beyond that, of course, we have to work globally to stop the accreditation tail wagging the learning dog – but that is in the long term. In the short term, why not work towards finding a joint understanding between teachers and parents of the very real issues impinging on schooling, and impinging on the lives of our kids.

I am one of the parents at my school. My daughter began Yr Seven this year. What do I want for her? For me, it’s not about the highest possible entry score to get into University; it’s about development of the whole person and preparing her for the world she is going to be entering as an adult. Perhaps we do need to ‘test to destruction’ our assumption that parents are focused on university entrance scores and seek their clarification about what they want for their children? Perhaps they are unaware of the changing nature of the workforce and the types of skills that will be valued by employers of the future? There’s no doubt parent education is going to be necessary to assist them in understanding our motivations, but perhaps they get it already and we’re just underestimating them? 

Thanks for visiting John - I value your input and your ability to provoke further thinking.

(and don’t you just love that line, ‘we have to work globally to stop the accreditation tail wagging the learning dog’. Going to have to use that some time!!) 

 

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Dinner with John and Jan

I was really fortunate Tuesday night to catch up with John Connell and his lovely wife Jan who were visiting Australia with Cisco, the company John works for. His job is Education Business Development Manager for the Emerging Markets – covering South America, the Caribbean, Africa, Middle East, Eastern Europe and Russia. John has been an encouraging mentor for me as I’ve traversed the edublogosphere. I first met John at the ASLA conference in Adelaide last year where I presented about Digital Storytelling. John was a keynote speaker along with Stephen Abrams. Both spoke about the need to transform education in response to our changing technological landscape and both mentioned that they wrote blogs. I spoke to John in the tea break and told him of my desire to get involved in the transformation and he told me that he could see that I would. An empowering statement from him that helped put the fire in my belly to get involved. I started reading his and Stephen’s blogs (along with Will Richardson’s) and started my exponential learning curve that has led to this blog and all that has come with it.

John has been a reader of my blog and has made the encouraging comment or two along the way. These have certainly inspired me as I hold him in high esteem. John’s blog is insightful and he ponders the difficult questions that arise as we all tread carefully through new territory. When he knew he was visiting Melbourne he emailed to ask if we could meet up. I was thrilled. Those of you who operate in this online world will know that it’s exciting to meet someone face to face who you know only through their words. As it turns out, I crashed a dinner that was already organised – John was obliging enough to ask if I could attend! 

I had a lovely time meeting John and Jan and am very pleased to report that we had a lot to talk about and not all of it was centred around blogging and education. It really is wonderful when you meet someone and you find that they are just like you sensed them to be from their online presence.

Thanks John and Jan. Hope to meet up with you again some day.

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NECC – trying to keep up in the echo chamber.

I tried to stay up late last night to catch the happenings in Texas at NECC but by 1.00am my eyes were not cooperating. Urgently needed sleep so listened to my body and obeyed. Always wise!

Managed to catch a keynote live this morning Melbourne time. Wasn’t even aware they had scheduled a keynote for what would have been evening in the US.  Derral Garrison had set up a ustream of James Surowiecki delivering his presentation based on his book, ‘The Wisdom of Crowds’.  I discovered the link late so started watching halfway through the presentation. This is his understanding of what makes a wise crowd (from Wikipedia)

Four elements required to form a wise crowd

Not all crowds (groups) are wise. Consider, for example, mobs or crazed investors in a stock market bubble. Refer to Failures of crowd intelligence (below) for more examples of unwise crowds. According to Surowiecki, these key criteria separate wise crowds from irrational ones:

Diversity of opinion
Each person should have private information even if it’s just an eccentric interpretation of the known facts.
Independence
People’s opinions aren’t determined by the opinions of those around them.
Decentralization
People are able to specialize and draw on local knowledge.
Aggregation
Some mechanism exists for turning private judgments into a collective decision.

When I came in he was discussing the problems of existing in an echo chamber – the idea that we function in conversations with like minded people and as a result we reinforce each other’s beliefs. He stated the importance of having people who act as devil’s advocates -people who challenge ideas and get us evaluating  our ideas and thinking through concepts with an open mind. When he started talking about the echo chamber my ears pricked up. When I started blogging John Connell wrote a comment welcoming me as a new voice to the conversations – he said something to the effect that it is always nice to have a new blogger enter the fray as it brings new ideas to the table and helps broaden the echo chamber that is the edublogger world. While I was watching from the fringes (hate the word lurking- horrible connatations and not a fair description in my opinion) I had assumed the edublogger world was huge and that I would never gain a voice. I don’t think my voice is terribly significant, but I’ve found I do have one and the edublogger world is not as huge as I imagined.

One of the things I’m noticing in blog posts I’ve read about the conference is the number of ‘names’ (read influential bloggers) who are bemoaning the fact that there are more parties in the discussion now and it’s getting harder to have the kind of in depth discussions like they had at edubloggercon last year. Isn’t this just an indication of exactly what they have been expousing about the adoption of technology for connective purposes. As people switch on to the transformative power of making connections we are going to see more people enter the conversations. We need to embrace the ideas coming from these new entrants and welcome them, not make them feel like newcomers on the block- it may well be that they can serve as devil’s advocates, challenge the thinking and lead us in new directions.

Vicki Davis was using Cover it live to feed observations out from the keynote -worth reading as a reply on her blog  . You can catch the keynote in replay (I think) by visiting the NECC site.

I’d recommend you all having a read of Silvia Tolisano’s recent post, ‘Who would listen’. She talks a bit about the types of things that are synonomous with the idea of an echo chamber. It was a thought provoking post. I should have left a comment because it’s been in my mind for awhile now. Another one to have a read of would be Steve Dembo’s post ‘When does average Joe become Joe expert?’ Both of these posts reflect on names in the blogosphere and our tendancy to listen to what they have to say because they have established a name for themselves. 

I saw a comment after the keynote from someone who said it wasn’t relevant to education. I think it is really relevant. We have to be aware that when we immerse ourselves with like minded people we can lose perspective. My comment in the ustream chat was that many of us work in schools where we are the one of the few voices suggesting change and the only place we find like minded people in in our PLNs. If we spend a lot of time online we run some risk? of seeing things through the rose coloured glasses we don.

Food for thought anyway.    

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