Learning happens

I’ve spent the last eight school days participating in a ‘camp’ program at my school called Creative Communication. I’ve had the pleasure of working with 21 very special girls who have all made an effort to extend their thinking and contemplate how we communicate in today’s world. They’ve been exposed to actors like Brian Nankervis (or Raymond J Bartholomuez to those of you who remember one of his stage names) and playright Joanna Murray Smith (a former old girl from Toorak College). They’ve listened to me rabbit on about social media and how it can make a difference to their lives, and we’ve skyped with Karl Fisch to discuss the origins of ‘Did you know? – Shift happens‘, and Garr Reynolds, who helped them to understand the value of communicating effectively when presenting your ideas. (I may elaborate on Karl and Garr’s sessions over the weekend). It’s been full on, and culminated in them working on a project idea that would reflect some of their thinking.

The above video, made by Kate, was a link featured in Passionfruit, a magazine published by one group using ISSUU.

I hope you visit their publication, and appreciate that they got this together in just over a day. They were originally thinking of doing a print publication, but decided to go with an online version knowing that it had the potential to reach an audience much wider in scope than just the school community. Another group produced a great video about the effect of technology on student lives, and will be posting to YouTube. I’ll definitely feature it here when it goes up. Others started blogs about things they are passionate about, and most said they think they will try and sustain them.

I do hope that this experience has helped them to understand the significance of sharing their work publicly. Yesterday we watched Chris Anderson discuss Crowd Accelerated Innovation in his TED Talk, and I tried very hard to get them to understand that these ideas apply to them. They don’t have to wait until they finish their university degree to get themselves noticed. As Garr Reynolds told them, we can all make a dent in the universe if we go about it the right way.

(By the way,  thanks to Derek Wenmoth, I’ve just been scanning the latest Horizon Report focused on Australia and New Zealand. Reading this confirms my belief that helping my students understand the value of sharing their work in online spaces, and making connections with experts and others interested in their passions, is what I need to to be doing. Stuffing content down their throats might help them pass an exam, but it won’t teach them the skills they need to be successful in today’s world.)

Thanks girls, it was a pleasure sharing this time with you. Hope you felt the same way. : )

Did you know 4.0 – Convergence

The latest update,  in the tradition of Did You Know, from Karl Fisch, Scott McLeod, XPLANE, The Economist and Laura Bestler. This video takes things one step further, looking at our changing reading habits and the shift occuring with advertising and where we go to find information. It was created to support The Media Convergence Forum in New York City in October. Somebody buy me a ticket and send me there!!

If you haven’t read Karl Fisch’s post detailing the origins of Did You Know, then you must. You can find an explanation on a wiki devoted to Shift Happens here.   Then you need to send it to your staff and direct them to this video.

In his recent post about this new video, Karl harks back to the original powerpoint presentation he created, and makes some important points we in education all need to consider;  

I think the fact that a simple little PowerPoint (some folks would say simplistic and they would be right – it was meant to be the start of a conversation, not the entire conversation) can be viewed by so many folks and start so many conversations means that we live in a fundamentally different world than the one I (and most of you reading this) grew up in.

I know some folks would dispute that, and that’s an interesting conversation in and of itself, but if you buy that – if you buy that on so many levels the world is a fundamentally different place – then it just begs us to ask the question of whether schools have similarly transformed from when we grew up. If your answer to that question is no, as I think it probably is for a large majority of you, and if you see a problem with that, then what should we do? What is my responsibility, and your responsibility, for making the changes we believe are necessary? What are you willing to step up and do?

Questions we all need to consider. We owe it to our students.

Virtually there – Learning 2.0, a Colorado conversation.

This morning, at 3.30 am, I got up to attend Karl Fisch and Bud Hunt’s  Learning 2.0 – A Colorado Conversation. Was I in Colorado? No, I was sitting in my lounge chair at home,  but able to participate because Karl and his organising committee had crafted a detailed wiki outlining session details and had organised elluminate rooms for people who wanted to participate virtually.

When I started exploring this networked world a year ago I stumbled on this conference and expressed an interest in attending in a virtual capacity. This year they were extremely well organised and had everything organised well before the start date. I wanted to hear  Anne Smith and Kristin Leclaire’s presentation, ‘Shifting literacies, a learning conversation’, but the ustream accompanying the elluminate room was patchy. On Karl’s blog, The Fischbowl, he often speaks of Anne and the work she is involoved in at Arapahoe High School. Instead I attended Scott Elias’ ’21st Century School Leadership’ session. The ustream was clear and it was great catching up with some familiar names and ‘friends’ from my online world.

The second session I attended was ‘How to teach a remix generation’ led by Alison Saylor, Dan Watkins and Janni Black. This session looked at the issues related to student use of music and images and their abilty to create  new understandings – their transformative use. Once again, discussion in the backchannel was engaging and I was able to form connections to educators I previously did not know.

It was well worth the early start and I’d like to thank Karl and Bud for providing opportunities for virtual participation.  This is the changing face of professional development. I didn’t have to get on a plane and fly halfway around the world. I just had to work out time zones and ensure that I got up at the right time to turn my computer on. How cool is that!

Now, how do I convince the Victorian Institute of Education to recognise my attendance and have it count towards the professional development requirements I must meet to ensure accreditation?? These are new developments I’m sure our professional organsiations have not even contemplated. I know that I am engaged in my own professional learning every day just interacting in my PLN. Effectively, my school needn’t fork out a cent on my professional development. This term alone, I am attending three conferences but am presenting at every one of them. Only one of them requires the school to make payment of some kind because it extends over three days.  The biggest outlay is the personal one- the time I invest outside of school hours to keep myself informed.

I so admire Karl Fisch, an educator who created ‘Did you know’ for an after school meeting for his staff. He would have had no idea at the time of the viral nature of this presentation once it was taken from his original
PowerPoint presentation and set to music and uploaded to YouTube. If you haven’t seen it take a look at its latest incarnation below.  

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YouTube and copyright – the dilemma for educators

I love YouTube. I love the way it enables the everyman to generate content and connect with an audience. Just look at the remarkable things that can happen when a YouTube video goes viral. ‘Did you know?’ is a classic example. There’s unassuming Karl Fisch creating a PowerPoint presentation for a staff meeting and what happens – his slides are uploaded to YouTube in a video with music and are watched approx. 4 million times or so. Amazing.  

My students know the power of YouTube. Last year we set our Yr 8 students the task of creating a trailer (like something you’d see at the movies) for a novel they’d read as a literature circle study. One group read ‘The Hitchhikers Guide to the Universe’ and created a great video that they uploaded to YouTube. They’ve had 347 views and love checking their stats. YouTube gives our students an authentic audience – they’re looking to attract an audience rather than just present work for the one person -the teacher. That’s pretty empowering stuff.

The students I teach love it when we begin a class with a video from YouTube. I love the ‘hook’ effect they have; because a large number of them are less than five minutes they are the great way to begin a lesson. Students are focused and they often prompt wonderful class discussion. Yesterday I visited Coburg Senior Secondary College to look at their learning spaces and curriculum offerings. A Year 10 class I observed watched this video to evoke some reaction to the issue of climate change;

They were hooked watching this – no doubt – and it prompted interesting discussion. There weren’t any bandwith problems at Coburg so the streaming from YouTube was pretty much instantaneous. Not so where I teach. It’s a 1:1 wireless environment but streaming from YouTube is a drawn out process. If you want to watch a YouTube video you need to load it prior to the class and have it ready to replay. One option is to use a a video conversion site like Keepvid to cache the video from YouTube for use in class. This way you have guaranteed success with one catch- it goes against the copyright laws of this country. 

I’m wondering about the future of copyright and what may happen now that user generated content is really taking off. Will we see a backlash against copyright regulations? Will we see users post their content and stipulate that it can be used and reformatted so that educators can employ it in classrooms to convey important messages? Will more people use creative commons licences to allow their work to be used easily in educational settings? Will the copyright council be able to stem the flow of infringements to the law as more and more educators realise the potential benefits of YouTube to provide useful content for classroom instruction?    

 

Mr. Fisch, I salute you!

In my last post I made reference to the Fischbowl, a blog site written by Karl Fisch. I first heard reference to this site last year when I attended a conference at which Chris Poole was a keynote speaker. He began his speech by showing us ‘Did you know?’, a thought provoking video that had us all hooked. I remember seeing the end credits and seeing the word Fischbowl. I thought this must represent some ‘think tank’ operating out of the U.S. As I started reading more in later months I discovered that Karl Fisch is not some ‘suit’ heading up a ‘think tank’, he’s a teacher at Arapahoe High School in Colorado.  Here’s a bit of what he says on the ‘About this blog’ page;  

The Fischbowl was then conceived as a blog to support our staff development effort. I am the principal “author” of the blog. I’m the Director of Technology at Arapahoe High School(fancy title, but basically means I’m the technology coordinator for the building). In the beginning, the blog was simply a place to “continue the conversations” we had in staff development every two to three weeks, to extend the discussions beyond the time we had face to face. As the year progressed, I started to post more to the blog about relevant educational issues, new technologies, and whatever else I thought might be related and thought-provoking for our teachers, even if it didn’t directly relate to what we had just talked about in staff development.

I’m in awe of what Karl Fisch has managed to achieve and would recommend that you check out The Fischbowl. Karl’s ‘Did you know’ video has been widely circulated and has become what is referred to as a ‘viral video’ because of it’s spread. Below is an updated version of the video that was inspired by Karl’s initial powerpoint video he created for a staff professional development session at the start of the school year.

Another great video to watch that Karl has developed is ‘2020 Vision’. In this video his slides reflect on the graduating class of the year 2020 and how they have been affected by changes in technology.  Obviously it’s a lot of prediction, but I couldn’t stop but think, ‘Yeah, that just might be possible.’ It’s reasonably long (16 mins or so) but definitely worth watching.

  Once again Mr. Fisch, I salute you!

Innovation with the world in mind.

I saw this YouTube video on Karl Fisch’s Fischbowl site. It’s a brilliant design – a bike that stores water and filters it while the rider pedals to their destination. As is explained in the video, many people in underdeveloped communities have to walk long distances to water sources.The Aquaduct: Mobile Filtration Vehicle would save many people from back breaking work and enable them to store their water in a secure device avoiding the possibility of contamination. This bike was the winner in the ‘Innovate or Die Pedal Powered Machine Contest’ sponsored by Specialised and Google.  102 entries were received in this contest, all with the aim of ‘cooling the planet and bettering lives’.  Humanities/Sose teachers could use the video as a prompt for discussion at the start of the school year. It would also be a good teaching tool for design classes. I’d use it in an English class as a writing prompt for a journal entry.The best use of all would be if some philanthropist out there (or some mega-rich company like Google who sponsored the competition!) got behind this idea and manufactured these vehicles for deserving communities. Now wouldn’t that be something!