The Horizon Report: 2009 K-12 Edition

Educause and the New Media Consortium have just released the K – 12 Edition of The Horizon Report. Horizon Reports always make for interesting reading, as they predict the time to adoption of many of the emerging technologies finding their way into the fabric of our teaching. Horizon reports usually have as their focus higher education institutions. This report has K – 12 education as its focus so their evaluation of likely adoption in Primary and Secondary education is especially interesting.

One of the very interesting observations they make in the findings is that assesment and filtering impact on the degree to which some technologies can be adopted in school settings. It’s the old story of assessment driving curriculum and affecting adoption of new ways of doing things. There is no doubt it is difficult assessing someone’s efforts commenting on blog posts or their participation in ning networks. And yet these are valid pursuits that can lead to real engagement in learning. Filtering is another issue; the unfortunate fact is that impressive tools like Voicethread and Ning are often classified as ‘social networks’ or ‘chatrooms’ and filtering software prevents them loading in some schools. I’ve had to go to my network administrators to have blocks removed and I’ve heard the same story from many other educators.  

So, what are the findings, what are the trends to watch?

Time to adoption – One year or less

  • Collaborative Environments
  • Online Communication Tools

Time to Adoption – Two to three years

Time to Adoption – Four to five years

I don’t know if I totally agree with their findings. I’d find it surprising to see Nings become mainstream in the next year within school settings, given that most of the educators I know stare at you blankly when you mention the word. Unless we some some major investment from Government to support  Professional Development for teachers in the field of new technologies, I just can’t see mainstream adoption in such a short time frame.

Take a read for yourself. It’s well worth downloading and showing to your school administration. Congratulations go to Judy O’Connell who served on the advisory board of the project.  

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Twitter’s going mainstream

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...
Image via CrunchBase

It seems like I keep hearing about Twitter in the mainstream media all the time of late. Celebrities are using Twitter, radio personalities like Dave Hughes here in Australia are talking about it and journalists like Mia Freedman are joining and writing about their experiences. My friends, who have been perplexed by my use of Twitter over the last year, are now interested and fill others in about what it’s used for, based on the ear bashing they’ve been exposed to from me!    

I’ve seen my followers grow considerably since December last year. Quite a number of them came to me from a post written by Richard Byrne (from Maine in the USA), recommending people to follow on Twitter.  But what I’ve also noticed is the amount of people following me who are using Twitter for their financial gain. I can understand this. I use it as a means of connecting to like minded educators whose ideas and recommendations lead me to new learning, but I’ve no doubt there’s money to be made by promoting a service to others and publicising what you can do.

Today, my list of new followers appeared in my email with a couple of surprises. My cousin’s wife has started following me; they are using Twitter to promote a business they run. But the really interesting one was a new follower who I suspected might be a student from my school. When I checked out her profile I discovered I was right. She was in the audience last Friday when we skyped in Mark Lukach from San Francisco who talked to our students about Daraja Academy, a free girl’s school in Kenya that opened its doors last week. We are thinking about trying to support Daraja Academy in some way and the focus group for this is our Year 9 group of students. Her first tweet said, ‘I am researching the Daraja academy’. The second tweet was;

I was apart of the year nine students you talked to the other day via skype on wekbcam at TC. i want to be more involved. how can i be?           

and her third looked like this;moniques_tweet

I just love the evolution in her thought processes that you can see from these three tweets. First she’s researching, then she tries to make contact but hasn’t directed her message to anyone in particular. By the third tweet she’s discovered Mark Lukach is on Twitter and has realised you need to put the @ symbol at the front of his Twitter name in order for the message to reach him. Fantastic stuff, and amazingly proactive. Can’t wait to catch up with her at school tomorrow to see what she wants to do because I suspect she could be a powerhouse to get support for Daraja going.

I wonder how other professionals are using Twitter. I’m sure it’s very similar to the way educators (particularly those interested in Educational Technology and how it’s utilised in school systems) have adopted it. It’s a means of disseminating information quickly and forming reciprocal connections that prove beneficial. It’s certainly much more than the trifling treatment it received in the article by Mia Freedman, ‘Tweet Tweet nothings’  that appeared in last weekend’s ‘The Age’ here in Melbourne. I think you can see that in the above example. It’s not all mindless drivel; it can be an incredibly powerful means of communication, and all in 140 characters at a time. 

By the way, I’m jennyluca on Twitter if you’re not there yet and wanted to find someone to follow!

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Ning – why would you use it?

Image representing Ning as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase

Why?

Because a ning helps build community amongst your students. And a community that is supportive of one another and where students feel comfortable sharing is one where learning can thrive.

So what does it need to achieve this? It needs motivated and interested leaders who can prompt discussion and help foster it. It needs buy in.

It’s what I’m trying to develop this year with  the Year 9 English students and staff at my school. I posted this comment on our International PLP ning in reference to it;

 I launched a ning this week for our Yr 9 English students- approx 80 students in all. More than half the yr level have already joined and some are posting comments over the weekend. One student even signed up at 10.55pm tonight! When I introduced it I made it clear that at this stage it was for our school community, but explained that we may invite classrooms from beyond our school in or eventually make it open. Right now, I’m interested in seeing how community forms amongst the yr level inside the ning. I’m pretty sure my colleagues will be supportive and will encourage their students to participate.

The sheer fact that kids have been participating without prompting has me excited. Now we have the platform to showcase what they can do. I hope to get them working on some digital tasks that they can upload and share with their peers. Linking our classrooms is the first step. Next step, the world! 

One of the things I think I’ve observed over the past year is that there are many people in our networks who participate but don’t do. I think I ‘do’ or at least try to. We have to start thinking about the tools we can use that are going to extend the thinking of our students and help them make some connection to the idea that they can make use of these tools for their educational benefit. When I launched this with the students I asked them did they belong to any social networks. They didn’t know what I was talking about – the language was unfamiliar to them. When I mentioned myspace and facebook at least 95% raised their hands. I’m hopeful they will start to see the connection between what they are doing socially and what they are going to be doing educationally. Then they may see how it is they can create a very positive digital profile for themselves that will serve them well as they make their way through life.

I’ll keep you posted as to how our community forms and what kind of buy in we have. And I promise I’ll be honest about it. If it’s not succeeding I’ll let you know, and if if it’s thriving, I’ll be doubly sure to let you know!!    

 

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