Tuesday, September 04, 2012

The Largest Movement in the World

Have you read Blessed Unrest by Paul Hawken? Subtitled "How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being and Why No One Saw It Coming" it kind of explains itself. It was recommended to me a little while ago, although it's been out for some years. I was pretty impressed and also inspired. Paul started Wiserearth, a group that exists to catalog the movement, give it visibility, and to better enable groups to find each other and work together online. This video below is a speech that Paul gave explaining what he calls the "world's largest movement, the hundreds of thousands of grassroots organizations that address social and environmental justice." At the end of the video is an invitation: "If you were inspired by this video, you can get involved on WiserEarth - the global online community founded by Paul Hawken to connect the people and organizations working on indigenous culture, social justice and environmental movements. Recently I responded to this invitation and I hope you do too.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Evaluating the 365 photo project

It is time for a reflection on the 365 photo project. Last year I wrote about my third attempt at this project which I called a "challenge" and predictably I was derailed as on the previous two attempts. In 2011 I reached day 55 which was on March 6th and then I stopped until day 325 on November 22nd. That's a lot of days not blogged. Strangely this is a post that a lot of people have been reading as more people start or restart the project.

Not sure why but I am trying again. I really do love the project for all the reasons so many have blogged about and which are encapsulated in the photos and discussions here. So for whatever reason, I am going again on at 365 Countdown. Hope to see some of you there. Here is today's photo: Bee Food

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Revisiting BYOD

Just listening to this great podcast on the Edtech Crew. Tony and Darryl have brought together 10 passionate educators to discuss this issue of schools allowing students to bring and use their own devices to school to learn with. It is so interesting to hear such thoughtful people looking at the pros and cons and seeing the implications for schools and for pedagogy.

The point that really interested me was that of relationships and the way these are enabled (or not) by allowing students to use the devices from home. Discussions of equity and democracy enlivened the debate. Listen to the whole program to stimulate your thinking.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Effective 1:1 programs

Today I went to visit a primary school in the western suburbs of Melbourne where the principal is launching her seniors (grades 4 to 6) into a 1 to 1 program. It is interesting in that the students having their own laptops is optional, but over 50% do have them at this stage. The school has some computers for the use of the students who do not bring their own to school.

The teachers who will be teaching in the senior school are all confident and accomplished in using ICT to facilitate learning, and I was really impressed with the principal's approach to the use of ICT. We went on a tour of the school and met some of the students to observe their work. I felt that this school was on the verge of some major breakthrough with regard to the learning of students. The interesting part is that next year their will be an open plan learning area in the part of the school that will be 1:1 and the principal has some interesting ideas about how the space can be used.

What I liked about this was the comprehensive and integrated vision of the principal, incorporating teacher professional learning, the hardware and infrastructure and the attention paid to the use of space and an expansion of the paradigm of what teaching and learning is. She actually mentioned that teachers and students would all be learners together. The students I met would make that prospect a really engaging one and I look forward to working more with this school and spending more time there.

Some interesting posts about preparing to introduce 1 to 1 programs in schools are these: PD in a one to one environment by Nick Sauers and 1 to 1 learning from the Queensland education department. I would love to know of other resources that would help schools who are about to embark on a 1 to 1 program in the near future. What have you found helpful?

Image attribution: Image: 'five' by woodleywonderworks

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Visits to students on work experience

Today I had the pleasure on visiting two students on work experience. VITTA, where I work, runs a program called ICT Achievers, which up to 20 students in Year 11 can apply for. They are matched with a mentor organisation while the students does three weeks at the workplace in some field relating to ICT. During this time the students keep a blog to reflect on what they are learning and at the end of the program there is a celebration of all they have achieved.

Today I met Bethany who has now finished her placement in the State Library of Victoria and was involved with some projects that the education manager is looking to implement. I was very impressed with this type of learning as the student is given room for a fair amount of initiative and creativity and the workplace benefits from the students' enthusiasm and creativity. Bethany was working on using QR codes within the library as way for visitors to the library to have access to interesting historical and other material about the library.

This is an interesting blog post about some ways that QR codes are being used in libraries.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Some interesting tools found on the journey

Scrible : allows you to mark up web pages in your browser and manage and collaborate on them online. Having set up an account - free- I started using it. You can highlight, color, bold, underline text, add sticky notes, categorise your annotations (this is a great idea, especially in collaborations) and export them, save and share, organise and search your findings from the internet. I found it easy to use (with a bookmarklet similar to diigo's and I have thought that I will try this alongside Diigo for a different set of tags. It's in public beta and worth a look.

Simple CC Flickr search : By Dan Coulter. It really is a simple search. This tool searches Flickr’s database of CC licensed images and alongside the photo you choose it gives you either an embed code for easy attribution or an image stamp that puts the attribution directly on the photo.What a great tool to teach students about Creative Commons licensing and copyright

Jinni : A taste engine for film. As the creators say: We look at film through the lens of what makes you love or hate anything you watch. With a Taste Engine, you don't search by what you're looking for, you search by what you like. And recommendations are based on analyzing your preferences, not statistics." I wish there was one for books. Maybe there is and you can let me know in the comments.

Curatr : A great concept. First the idea of a curator of content who "define(s) the topic, add(s) the first content and create(s) the levels and gateways required to play the game. Second the focus on social gaming and encouraging learners to create and share their learning journeys. I love it. It uses the metaphor of a museum as "places of learning, bringing together a wide-range of learning objects to tell stories and create experiences that both fascinate and educate".  This is definitely a tool that has great potential and I am following it up and exploring further.

Learnfizz is a new curation tool that enables you to find and organise the myriad of free learning resources on the web, to help you and your colleagues learn whatever you need to. It too uses a metaphor of building an academy around your favourite topic. It is still in private beta, but you can apply to be one of the first to try it out. I first heard about it on twitter in the context of the recent Online Educa Berlin Conference and this blog post does a good recap of the way it was presented.

Hope you enjoy some or all of these.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Some fabulous teacher blogs

I would just like to give a plug to the best teacher blog awards for 2011. This is an awesome awareness raising exercise bring new blogs to the attention of teachers and stakeholders everywhere. This is just one category. There are 18 categories in 2011 and the nominations in each of the categories is well worth a look. It is run by Edublogs (since 2004) and aims to promote and demonstrate the educational value of social media, and the archives "create a fabulous resourcefor educators to use for ideas on how social media is used in different contexts, with a range of different learners.... Voting is open until 11:59 PM US Eastern Standard Time on Tuesday, December the 13th – and the winners will be announced at the Edublog Awards ceremony on the 14th at 7pm EST."

Having been an on-and-off blogger myself for many years (and even a nominee one year) I know how much time and effort goes into these great blogs. And having been a reader of some of these nominated blogs also for years, I know just how much I have learnt from them. Do yourself a favour - go on over and have a read.

I was happy to see the category of best twitter hashtag and even more happy to see  #pencilchat as a nominee. This hastag has inspired a number of blog posts and a newspaper article. There were even lesson ideas that came out of the shared experience on twitter over several hours.