Spreading the good word on the 7.30 Report

My colleague, Sue Miles and I, and a couple of students from Toorak College, had the opportunity to be interviewed by the ABC’s  7.30 Report last week on the issue of bullying in Australian schools. We were approached as a result of our school’s involvement in the Cybersafety and Wellbeing initiative of The Allanah and Madeline Foundation. I was very pleased to be asked, as it gave our school the opportunity to discuss our use of emerging technologies in our curriculum, and explain how exposure to sites like Ning can help teach our students how to behave safely and ethically on the Web.

I  think we managed to successfully convey that message. The interview was obviously cut down to meet the time constraints of the program, but I’m pleased that it was a balanced representation of the issues facing schools today. I really do believe that one of the most effective ways to convey to our students how to conduct themselves in Web environments, is to use the Web in classroom instruction and reinforce the behaviours that are going to keep them safe online.

Take a look and see if you think we’ve done good!

School’s out Friday

Funny, but informative too. (Thanks Nina for posting this in your instructional rounds ning.) I used Leadership Lessons from Dancing Guy at the start of a presentation about Virtual Learning Communities using Ning, at the ACEC Digital Diversity Conference that’s been held here in Melbourne these last three days. I think there are lessons here that can be applied to the formation of learning communities and the importance of followers to make these communities work.

It’s interesting when you start a presentation with  a video running as participants enter. It establishes the climate and draws their attention; plenty of teachers could apply this kind of thing to their classroom practice to shape a lesson. Why not try it next week everyone?

This week has been HUGE for me. Three presentations in three days at the ACEC Conference, and an interview with the 7.30 Report about Cybersafety. I’ll post about these over the weekend. Pretty tuckered out right now.

A sleep in is in order for me tomorrow. Then I better get stuck into cleaning this house because it’s back to work next Monday for teachers in Victoria.

Have a great weekend. Make the most of it. : )

Student’s 2.0- what’s it all about, Jenny?

On January 1st 2010, I wrote a post called ‘The era of the everyman – but you better be good’. In it was this paragraph;

I’m a little disappointed that the elective I proposed for this school year, Learning U, didn’t get enough interest from our student body to warrant a class running. (It was renamed ‘ICT’ in the elective handbook – don’t think that helped it any : (  ) The idea of the course was that students would explore their passion and use the tools of social media to connect and learn from others who also share a similar passion. I think it would have helped guide some students to understand how it is you can produce quality content that will help you rise to the top. So, how will I convey this understanding without the forum I was hoping for? I’m not quite sure yet, but I know I’ll be doing my best to help the students at my school to understand that you can use the available tools, and the connections that are possible with these tools, to your advantage. But they’ll need to remember, quality counts while you’re at it.

Last November, I went to a dinner with Steve Hargadon, John Pearce and Jenny Ashby. While there, I talked about the Learning U idea. Steve was interested and we’ve continued to talk since about how it could be realised. The result of those discussions is Students 2.0. Here’s what it’s about;

Students 2.0 is a network for learners to connect independently with other students and with mentors–to shape your own educational paths and experiences outside of traditional institutions. It’s a place to explore passionate interests, find people to help you, and build professional competencies. Soon you’ll be forming your own virtual “Personal Learning Network” (PLN)!

I’m going to be running a series of ‘classes’ helping students to learn how to use the tools of social media. The times for these are detailed on the home page. I’m doing this not because I think learning online is all about the tools, but because I think an understanding of these tools will assist them to understand how they can use them to shape their learning experiences. I want to see students find a way to explore what it is that interests them, something our school curriculum might not be doing. It doesn’t have to be a purely academic pursuit, there are kids out there who want to be pro skaters. The fact is, whether you want to discover the cure for aids or become a pro basketballer, you would find some benefit in understanding how you use social media to connect with people who share your interests and learn how you can make your voice heard.

The network is up and running and we have seen a number of teachers join. The challenge will be developing the student community. I suppose we will be working on the ‘if you build it, they will come’ concept. Effectively, this will mean relying on teachers to inform students about its existence and leave it up to the students to decide if they join or not. The fact is, students are under pressure themselves with the expectations of school, sport, family and their social lives. This network is not going to appeal to everyone, but there are kids out there I suspect who are looking for something like this. If we can help some of these kids realise their potential in a field that interests them, then it will be a job well done.

That’s my take on Students 2.0 anyway. It’s kind of strange to read my words from January the 1st, and be contemplating at the start of April what might be possible now. Hopefully, it will evolve into a useful resource supported by teacher mentors and experts in areas of interest to the students. It’s somewhat of an experiment, and the hope is that it will prove beneficial. It may even provide a teaching model that schools can tap into. We’ll see what evolves.

School’s out Friday

Yesterday was April Fool’s Day. And yes, I fell prey to Paul Bogush’s tweet about Twitter accounts being charged for from August, and my clever daughter who had the foresight to purchase fake scratchies, that when scratched, said we’d won $10,000. My son ran around the house in a state of frenzied excitement anticipating all manner of things he could buy, until faced with the realisation that it was all an April Fool’s Day joke.

It made me think of one of the first uses of mass media to pull off a great April Fool’s Day prank. Above is the original video of the Panorama program’s Spaghetti tree segment, that led to thousands of British viewers phoning the BBC asking how they could grow their own spaghetti tree. Their reply, ‘Place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best’. (You’ll have to visit the link to the video on YouTube – they’ve disabled embedding. Thanks Darcy Moore for alerting me to this. : ) )

It’s Good Friday today. Enjoy a Hot Cross Bun or two and spend some quality time with family and friends. The weekend ahead will see me working on presentations for the ACEC Conference, adding my thoughts to Students 2.0 and hosting family for Easter celebrations on Sunday. Sounds a tad busy really!