Coming of Age: An introduction to the new worldwide web
Coming of Age... The Audio Version
Blogging: shift of control
January 21, 2007 08:24 PM PST
By Alan November
Blogging represents one of many tools that pioneering teachers are using to empower students to take more responsibility of managing their own work and adding value to the world. Educators are typically not neutral about blogging. There are fierce defenders and fierce critics. Each has an important voice. As Will Richardson points out, “One of the reasons we fear these technologies is because we as teachers don’t yet understand them or use them. But the reality is that our students already do. It’s imperative that we be able to teach our kids how to use the tools effectively and appropriately because right now they have no models to follow.”
One year later, Chris has replaced these misgivings with sheer determination for publishing a blog that features student work for authentic review. It is an understatement to say she has changed her mind. She now gives her own workshops for teachers who are willing to learn more about the power of this medium.
“Blogging is now central to student motivation and the whole process of students taking more responsibility for the quality of their work. I have never had students who are so excited about writing. For the first time in my career, I have students who are submitting their writing to me without an assignment, just so they can have their work published for review by an authentic global audience. We have had the author of one of our books, Chris Crowe who wrote the very powerful Mississippi Trial 1955, reply to our blog. “I’m especially pleased by your students’ reaction to my characters; I tried to make the fictional people as complicated and interesting as people are in real life. The students’ insight into the issues and characters are right on, and it’s clear they’re doing careful reading and thinking. I’m looking forward to talking to everyone in a week or two.”
Chris goes on to explain, “Perhaps what surprised me the most is that when the school year finished I had students who continued to reflect on their writing during our summer vacation. It is very validating to me to have a student come back to school to share how they visited the class blog during their vacation to see if there were any comments from around the world. I hope that my students that I have in class this year will be just as enthusiastic about publishing on the blog. One can only hope.”
How often have your students reflected on their writing portfolio during summer vacation?
Shift of Control
Effective e-Learning through collaboration
January 13, 2007 09:29 PM PST
By Steve Lee & Miles Berry
The benefits of e-Learning
It’s hard to miss the fact that e-Learning provides learning resources in interesting electronic media and makes them available ‘anywhere, anytime’. Such media provides enhanced impact, improved accessibility, can be re-purposed for new uses and also help improve differentiation. However the required media production skills can be beyond teachers’ experience, and often publication is by commercial publishers, or a specialist media or web unit. This can have the effect of de-professionalising teachers, who lose control of the materials they use with their learners.
Even where teachers do remain in control of learning materials, a commonplace approach to e-Learning is to simply publish resources appropriate to the learning. Such content may be ‘interactive’ or describe activities to be performed but is otherwise passively consumed by the students. This can alienate learners, who feel reduced to the level of recipients of content rather than participants in learning. Other methods are used by many teachers to more fully engage students, for example Tim Rylands’ (http://timrylands.com/) use of the Myst computer games in literacy classes, resulting in impressive improvements in descriptive writing, especially from boys. Teachers in the creative arts often use collaboration and group work around technology to create works in media such as music technology, videos or animations.
Learning in the classroom
Many students find that their learning is most effective when they actively construct knowledge during group social interaction and collaboration. Characteristics of such approaches also include: an awareness of multiple perspectives, provision of realistic contexts, a sense of ownership and voice, learning as a social experience, an acknowledgement of multiple modes of representation and a sense of self-awareness (metacognition, or learning about learning). These approaches are variously called social constructivism, social learning, collaborative learning or aggregated learning. The theories of social constructivist (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_constructivism) epistemology and Vygotsky’s ‘zone of proximal development’ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lev_Vygotsky) provide a rigorous underpinning for such pedagogies.
Evolution of the web
Virtual Support via the Blogosphere
November 26, 2006 10:52 PM PST
By Mechelle De Craene
Introduction: blogs in the classroom
Blogs and special needs students
Surprisingly, within our Information Age, pedagogical blogging was new to my school. Many of my peers had never heard of blogs before and much of the research on blogs comes from the U.K. When I explained to my fellow teachers, some expressed concerns about potential legal issues.
I still wanted to explore the use of blogs in the classroom, and selected a small group of 8th grade students (i.e. age 14). To start with, the girls and I had a “refresher” discussion on internet safety. Each of the girls picked a pen name for confidentiality.
Acceptable Use Policies
Currently there are no official laws, rules, or guidelines for blogging in U.S. classrooms. Therefore, we came up with some classroom guidelines. “Preparing students to be responsible users of the internet also involves helping them learn what is safe and appropriate behaviour” (Grabe & Grabe, 2001). Each school year, I ask my students for input on the classroom rules and wanted us to share in cultivating the cyber climate as well.
Our rules included safety guidelines such as not to reveal students’ and/or teachers’ names, addresses, phone numbers, or the name of our school. Hence, we all had varied and somewhat creative pen names. Interestingly, when I asked the girls for suggestions regarding the classroom blog guidelines, I noticed a pattern among their comments. I placed these comments into the following main categories: (1) confidentiality (2) authenticity (3) respect, and (4) teamwork. Much of the discourse pertaining to blog rules took place online between the students.
The purpose of our blog
I asked the girls which topics they would like to discuss on the blog and the following were their suggestions: (1) music (2) hobbies (3) self-esteem (4) parents (5) boyfriends (6) sex (7) drugs, and (8) education. The girls then voted on which topic they wanted to discuss. The topic of self-esteem was chosen. Many of the girls said they chose self-esteem because they believed that the other topics were all interconnected with self-esteem.
Prior to discussing self-esteem online we read a chapter titled Self-Image and Self-Improvement in th
Blogs you must read!
November 12, 2006 10:55 PM PST
If you would like to expand your blog-reading horizons, there is no better way than to find a few bloggers whose writing you like, and then check their blogrolls – the list of blogs to which they subscribe – in order to see which blogs they are reading.
If they are listed in Bloglines (http://www.bloglines.com) you can see who else subscribes to their blog – and then explore the blogs of those subscribers!
Below are just a few of my own favourites which you might like to explore.
However, here is something to ponder.
Everyone knows that finding good information on the internet is like finding a needle in a haystack, right? In fact, it's worse than that because when you find a needle at least you know it's a needle, as opposed to something masquerading as a needle; you don't have to go looking for objective proof that it's a needle.
So why do so many “edubloggers” think that the concept of blogrolls, which are lists of blogs that subscribers to a blog subscribe to, and similar devices (such as, in effect, shared favorites) are so wonderful?
I can see the (superficial) attraction of having many more potential sources of information, but if finding good information is like finding a needle in a haystack, what is the point of increasing the size of the haystack?
• David Warlick’s 2 cents’-worth: http://davidwarlick.com/2cents/
• But She’s a Girl: http://www.rousette.org.uk/blog
• The E-Learning Queen: http://elearnqueen.blogspot.com/
• Mark Berthelemy’s Connections: http://www.berthelemy-family.org.uk/blogs/index.php?blog=5
• Stephen Downes’ OLDaily: http://www.downes.ca/news/OLDaily.htm
• Teach42: http://www.teach42.com/
• Weblogg-ed News: http://www.weblogg-ed.com/
• Xplanazine: http://www.xplanazine.com/
• Technology & Learning: http://www.techlearning.com/blog/main/
• David Jakes: http://www.jakesonline.org/
• Miguel Guhlin: http://www.edsupport.cc/mguhlin/
• Wes Fryer: http://www.wesfryer.com/default.htmThe international Edublog Awards 2005
November 12, 2006 10:24 PM PST
By Josie Fraser
Fear of blogging
And it isn’t just obviously recreational sites that are being blocked on school networks. Although educators, learners and researchers have been using blogs constructively for over five years now, educational web logs – edublogs – are currently being blocked at district level by school authorities (see http://incsub.org/blog/2005/edublogs-being-blocked). In effect, this means that despite the recognition by multiple governments of the value of e-learning (to individuals and economies), and despite an emerging body of research and numerous examples of great educational practice, web logs – which provide a simple way for educators and students to create and participate in collaborative, conversational and distributed learning communities – are being excluded from the day-to-day business of education.
The Edublog Awards
Most innovative edublogging project, service or programme.
The full list, descriptive paragraphs, and links to all the finalists can be found at the Edublog Awards site at http://www.incsub.org/awards/ – providing a powerful example of how educators are harnessing the potential of weblog technology, and a rich snapshot of the methods and practices of the learners and educators at the forefront of educational technology today.
The event is designed to achieve four things:
You can find the full list, descriptive paragra
Factoring Web logs to their Fundamentals
September 30, 2006 05:34 PM PDT
by David Warlick
The birth of Blogmeister
Almost immediately, I began to receive e-mails from teachers saying things like, “I can’t believe that my students are begging me to let them write.” Just yesterday, I received a message from a teacher from the Outer Banks including some quotes from her students – “This is so cool!” and “I don’t want class to end!”
Writing is often taught as a technology – a tool that we invented to enable us to communicate across time and space. We teach it as a set of rules and procedures to be followed precisely, as students are given contrived prompts and formulas to write to. The difference that students see in blogging is that it is much less about writing as a set of rules, and much more about communicating.
This is a deliciously potent lever, with which to help students develop better writing skills. Rather than a task to be performed, students are communicating. Their success appears not only from their grade, but from the interactions that they participate in, where the quality of their writing becomes either brilliantly or brutally apparent.Diary of a Potential Podcasting Junkie
September 17, 2006 12:57 PM PDT
By Chris Smith
My first technical challenge (easy) was to upgrade my version of iTunes, the free software from Apple, running on my Windows XP laptop. This version of iTunes now also works as a podcast aggregator and organises all the programmes downloaded from the internet before they are sucked into the iPod.
Finding good podcasts
Some users are suggesting that podcasting is simply a resurrection of the ideas of the old ‘ham’ or ‘short wave’ radio hobbyists. I’m inclined to agree with them but with the caveat that the ‘broadcasts’ can now be portable in a device in your pocket to be listened to when you wanted to rather than when transmitted. I suddenly have this mental image of all the students on the school bus all plugging in their Japanese earrings (headphones) and listening to homework assignments on the way home from their portable players, I bet the driver would appreciate that – but I digress.
The first podcast I found, using the Directory at Yahoo http://podcasts.yahoo.com/,was TWiT (This Week in Technology), a sixty minute informal roundtable discussion of the latest trends in digital technology from a group of USA ICT innovators; this is audio, not video. The informal style was a little disconcerting at first but each programme has resulted in gems that are relevant to my work in ICT in Education and has forced me to keep a notebook and pen close by to make notes as I listen. (there is still a place for the old technology!)
This subscription was quickly followed by others to, for example,’ Learning and Teaching in Scotland’, ‘IT Conversations’, Naace, ‘Daily SearchCast’ and Comedy365... but all audio. With no video yet in sight I needed to find something to look at on my 4x6cm screen in order to justify my original expenditure.
Using a number of different podcast directories, I searched and subscribed to podcasts (VideoBlogs) offering video, which included TILT, DL.TV and Diggnation.
Probably my most valuable introduction to multimedia education podcast opportunities was TILT, (Teaching Improving Learning with Technology), produced by Danny Mass out of the USA. There are not many programmes available and the quality is variable but what Danny does illustrate are some of the ways that this media could be used in teaching and learning: he is somewhat of an trailblazer for which I’m appreciative.
This is, of course, only half of the story: I’ve been looking at being the passive recipient of podcasts..... but the contribution to learning is almost certainly strongest when students are producing their own podcasts. There are several examples in the lists below: don’t miss the ESL Students’
Photo-sharing and clip-art
September 09, 2006 10:40 AM PDT
By Terry Freedman
Do-it-yourself “clip art”
The answer is a cautious “yes”. Why cautious? Because one of the things we should be teaching children is that there's no point in reinventing wheels just for the sake of it. If a piece of clip art is just right for the purpose, then why not use it? The problem is, many teachers seem to go no further than telling kids where the clip art menu item is. In the words of the standard school report, they could do better.
One way is to create their own photographic clip art with a digital camera. Storage is no longer a problem if a class Flickr account is opened: it's free. What's more, there are thousands of photos on Flickr which have been uploaded by other users, many of which can be used free of charge under certain conditions. Most of these pictures are as unique as the people who took them.
There is another outcome of going around taking photos: you start to notice things more. Here's an example: when I went around taking pictures according to a theme of “numbers”, I noticed for the first time ever that London buses have three numbers: the licence plate or registration number, the bus number itself, of course, and also, inexplicably, another number displayed in the driver's windscreen.
That outing also made me start to notice that some shops advertise goods at 50% off while others advertise goods at half price. Does that make a difference to people's perceptions? I have no idea, but I do know that once I'd got going I started to notice numbers all over the place – and I noticed even more numbers in some of the pictures when I looked at them afterwards on my computer screen.
What better way to fire up a young person's interest in numbers and in their environment?
My most recent venture was to take pictures of patterns in the street: it's astonishing what you notice once you really look. Some are very nice indeed. And there would have been even more of them had I remembered to charge up the camera battery and the spare battery before leaving home!
1. It's good practice to tag photos, and discussing with children the most appropriate words and phrases to use is a worthwhile exercise. Part of the information & communication technology (ICT) curriculum in the UK is concerned with finding things out, so pupils need to know that the use of appropriate tags makes this process a whole lot easier.
2. You will need to exercise the same sort of attention to what pupils search for as you would for any internet search. Although I haven't found anything explicitly pornographic on Flickr, there are pictures with ample amounts of flesh on display. I'm not sure if they would be blocked by an ordinary filtering system. Clicking on a link to Yahoo image searching resulted in my being transferred to Yahoo with the safe searching option on by default.
3. Remember that people own the copyright in their pictures, so you can't use them without permission. Flickr makes available 6 different kinds of copyright licence and explains what each one means in terms of what people can do
Giving Students a Second Listen
August 30, 2006 08:30 PM PDT
By Shawn Wheeler
One of the first sites I encountered was http://www.podcast.net. I picked a Genre, (Learning & Instruction – what else?), and began listening to a few shows. To be honest, I was not impressed with what I heard. However, the concept intrigued me. Could this work in our classrooms?
Podcasting in education
With this revelation, I found myself quickly immersed in the Adventure in Podcasting. Reading everything I could find on the web about podcasting and related tools, my excitement grew and I wanted to share this with the world. Okay, that is a bit much, but I certainly wanted to share this with the teachers in my school district.
On November 25th, I published my first podcast and its corresponding web page titled Adventures in Podcasting . The focus of the show is an audio archive of the process involved in bringing Podcasting to my school district. I share with the listeners the triumphs, challenges and disappointments I encounter along the way. With any luck, those listening to the show will learn from my experiences and embark on their own adventure while implementing a positive change in the education of our children.
My first non-believer
Foot note from Terry - I am assured by my American colleagues that this means that the topics cited are obvious candidates for podcasting. Thanks to Peggy George and Shawn Wheeler for explaining it!
I began reading the descriptions and listening to various podcasts beginning with Dan’s Math Cast… Mathematics for the Masses. Even with my Math skills, I was able to close my eyes and visualize the example questions being solved as he described the process in his podcast. His show also included a Math Problem of the Week as well as a Math Jo
Podcasting and wikis By Ewan McIntosh
August 15, 2006 10:42 PM PDT
- Podcasting for an audience
- Why are social technologies such a Big Deal?
Yes, there are only 30 million public blogs, the same again in private ones and a tiny proportion of internet users have a Flickr photo-sharing account. But there’s a new blog every minute and many more are reading them and looking at the pictures. These are the early days at the beginning of the renaissance. In fifty years I hope that our kids wonder what all the fuss was about – these tools will be just another part of the daily toolkit, and might even be obsolete.
- A changing-changed social world
So where are we getting our social input? The answer: learners are getting our social input on mobile phone messaging, MSN chat, on multiplayer games (World of Warcraft http://www.worldofwarcraft.com/lowbw.html), on blogs (and on leaving comments on Fl
The main objectives of the publication are first to inspire teachers to want to try some of these "new tools" for themselves and with their classes, and then to provide practical advice and guidance on how to do so.
Coming of age: an introduction to the new world's Friends
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