Crowd accelerated innovation – time to step up.

All teachers should watch Chris Anderson (the guy who heads up TED ideas worth spreading) talk about crowd accelerated innovation, and the impact this IS having and WILL HAVE on how people educate themselves through web based mediums like online video. At one point in the video Chris talks of how TED presenters like Jill Bolte Taylor really raised the bar with her TED talk, literally forcing others to step up. Will it be online video education providers like Salman Khan who do the same for education?

Methinks it’s time to step up.

I’m figuring those of you reading this now are a few rungs up the ladder already. It’s time to introduce a few people who are at the bottom of their ladder of understanding to 18.53 minutes of Chris Anderson speaking to them, and we just might see them take the first step.

The quiet revolution

Here’s Sir Ken Robinson delivering the TED talk that occurred in February, but has just been released on the TED site. Please watch it, not just once, but two or three times, and internalise the message. Ken asks for a revolution in our schools. A revolution that allows our students to explore what they are passionate about. A revolution that will require a rethink of curriculum structures that bind us to an industrial model of teaching. A revolution that needs teachers who understand new technologies and how we can use these tools to assist our students in pursuing their passions. Sounds like the ethos underlying Students 2.0 really.

In my own workplace, I’m trying to do my bit to force the revolution. I feel like I’m making a dent in recent times. In the early days, I was evangelistic in my mission, and it didn’t do me any favours. Now, I’m quieter in my intent, and I’ve probably been assisted not so much by my own efforts, but more from the shift in society. The fact that people accept Twitter as an acceptable medium now, and more people are aware that options exist with online applications like Google Docs, makes it easier for me to be heard and sought out.

We are currently working on a thematic study of Romance and Relationships in our Year 9 study of English. Part of our assessment is a task requiring the students to use technology to put together a creative response. I’ve spent time in classes showing our students tools like PreziGlogster, Voicethread, Wikis, Blogs, podcast tools and a site called 60 Second Recap. We’ve tried to encourage our students to think about sharing their presentations with a wider audience than just their classroom, and have tried to make them realise that, in doing so, they can help to create a positive digital profile for themselves.

Today, was a good day. It was a good day because yesterday I spent time in classes outlining how these tools work, and this morning I walked into work and a student excitedly showed me what she had achieved with Prezi last night after getting inspired seeing what it was. This is a student who doesn’t get all that excited about English assignments. She told me she spent four hours working out how to use it and missed all of her TV programs! I tell you, I was smiling all day just thinking about the effect this had had on her. And she wasn’t the only one; another student had gone home and worked out how to use it and had already created a presentation for something she does out of school hours.

These experiences make me hopeful that we will see inroads made. Maybe it’s not the revolution that Sir Ken hopes for (and me too!), but a quiet transformation that just might help to make our students realise that they can direct their own learning, and make others realise that change is in the air.

School’s out Friday

This is the poet, Rives, speculating on the mysterious hour of four in the morning. It’s worth hanging in there for the entire 8 minutes of his performance, just to appreciate the effort that’s gone into sourcing the material for this clever and very amusing TED Talk. Wouldn’t this make a great investigative activity for a group of students, who just might find that they could immerse themselves in the hunt for appropriate examples. It’s a task I’d find fun. It could even be a really useful team building exercise for staff on a Professional Development day. Imagine groups coming back to deliver their findings on the mysteries of different hours of the morning!

Long weekend ahead for Australians as we commemorate ANZAC Day. I hope your weekend treats you well.

Enjoy. : )

School’s out Friday

I tried to catch some of the TEDxOntarioEd event last weekend, but got there just as they were going off air. What was playing was this TED Talk, recorded at TEDIndia in December 2009. It’s Alexis Ohanian, who co-founded Reddit, a social-voting news website. This is the story of Mr. Splashy Pants, and how the Reddit community helped to make him a Greenpeace marketing asset. It’s a wonderful, fast paced and funny insight into how social media works. I defy you not to smile as you’re watching.

Enjoy your weekend. I’ll be contemplating the future of my Ning networks (!) and thinking about the classes that begin in Students 2.0 next Wednesday evening. I’ll also be planning for the SLAV Shared Learning Conference at Etihad Stadium next Monday where I’ll be delivering a presentation about Cybersafety.

Rest up.

School’s out Friday

You have to watch this.

This is a TED Talk from Jonathon Zittrain, a social theorist who proposes in his talk that the world is not becoming less friendly. In fact, we are seeing the opposite, and this is demonstrated through the way people have made use of the internet . The way we readily share and distribute information, the way we act as nodes in a network, the way we  support others through this medium means that we are seeing morality and humanity come to the fore in our interactions with one another.

He uses some great examples. Wikipedia gets a mention. Jonathon states that we are always 45 minutes away from chaos on Wikipedia with spambots trying to embed ads and people trying to deliberately mess with pages. What saves Wikipedia are the Wikipedians; the thin geeky line who ensure it remains useable for the rest of us.  He refers to the Star Wars kid and the page on Wikipedia devoted to that ongoing episode. Wikipedians debated whether or not they should include the young boy’s name on the page and ultimately decided not to. This was due to the fact that the boy in question suffered psychologically from the exposure that video drew to him. Here is the information on the page indicating to contributors the conditions for any additions;

This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. Please help by adding reliable sources. Contentious material about living persons that is unsourced or poorly sourced must be removed immediately, especially if potentially libelous or harmful. (January 2009)

This will be a great video to use in media literacy classes. In fact, any class where you are discussing the impact of new media on our lives.

Have a great weekend. My pick for the Grand Final here in Melbourne tomorrow. St.Kilda all the way!!

Intrinsic motivation – the new killer app in all of us

For quite some time I’ve been marvelling at the ability of intrinsic motivation to produce great results.  I watched my students last year make a concert happen in six weeks when we joined Project Global Cooling and we had a set time frame to work towards. It wasn’t part of the curriculum, it wasn’t assessed, and yet they worked themselves into the ground to pull it off  because they believed in what they were doing. I saw a similar thing happen this year with the Sleepout 4 Schools initiative our Yr 9 students ran.

I’ve experienced it first hand. Writing this blog is fuelled by intrinsic motivation. I don’t get paid for it, I don’t even know who is reading it half the time, and yet I plough on because there is personal satisfaction in doing it. I’m intrinsically motivated and there is no doubt my workplace is at an advantage because of this. I take what I learn back there.  

Dan Pink presented a TED talk in July talking about the results that businesses can achieve when workers are intrinsically motivated. It’s fascinating and will form the basis of a new book he is releasing in December this year.  Drive: the surprising truth about what motivates us. Garr Reynolds has written a post about this  – it led me to Dan’s TED talk.

Unfortunately the ROWE (results only work environment) idea that Dan refers to isn’t going to apply to teaching anytime soon. I’d love to see Google’s approach applied though in school settings. Right now I need the 20% ‘Google time’ to discover new ideas that can be applied to education.  If I were still paid my wage, but given the equivalent of a day to mine my personal learning network for ideas applicable to teaching and learning, then I think that’s a good investment made. This constant working 24/7 approach is wearing thin but intrinsic motivation keeps me going!

Watch. Learn. Find your intrinsic motivation.

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.