Posts Tagged ‘SMiELT2008’

EVO 2008 ends and the new year begins

Posted: February 23, 2008 in EVO, SMiELT2008
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The end of this year’s EVO session is in sight, with it officially ending tomorrow. It is always an interesting time for me. I am enthusiastic about incorporating new tools in my teaching, but there is always the challenge of actually doing something.

I know that I have learned a lot in this EVO session. I have learned about Drupal — well, a little bit at least. I have gotten more comfortable with Twitter and the 43 Trio. I have explored wikis a bit more and am more committed than ever to blogging.

I long for a community, a f2f community, that values these things, but that will have to wait. Maybe someday…

The latest in Educase’s series 7 Things You Should Know About… series is about Flickr.  It can be downloaded here.

I like these because they are short introductions of the topic.  Even nicer, I think, is the fact that each document in the series gives an academic scenario in which the tool could be used.  If you aren’t familiar with these documents, I suggest you check them out.

Tools vs. networks

Posted: February 13, 2008 in education, SMiELT2008
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Reading the feeds in my Bloglines account this morning, I was interested to see this post by Will Richardson. He is talking about the need to change the culture of education. He says

There are lots of good things happening in the education space around these technologies, no doubt. Lots of teachers and students doing creative, imaginative, connective things, most of which bubble up into my Twitter or RSS readers with more and more regularity. We’re not there yet, but it’s feeling like more people in the room are coming to understand that this isn’t about tools but about networks and learning and leveraging connections…

What Will wants to see, and I don’t think many of us would disagree, are not isolated teachers getting students to intereact and connect with technology but whole schools that promote learning and collaboration and creativity. He acknowledges that many teachers are connected to others around the world (like we are in SMiELT), but that isn’t enough for him. He wants us to connect with the other teachers and with the administration where we work each day. He says

That effective local culture is created when we look at teachers as professional learners and encourage them to collaborate and co-create. And that if we can build a culture of learning and care that is supported by the connections we can make with technology, we can in many ways prepare our students for whatever global connections they might require or avail themselves as they pursue their life’s work.

Makes sense, doesn’t it? We don’t really want to prepare students to use tools that may be gone in 10 months or even ten years; we want to prepare them for whatever tools they choose to use throughout their lives. There is a subtle difference. And that difference, I think, grows out of our approach to the tools we use with our students. It also grows out of this culture that Richardson is talking about. He concludes the post with this:

So, it comes back to what is to me at least, the big question these days. Not how do we help teachers get their brains around these tools in terms of their own personal learning practice (which is still hugely important), but how do we help schools and districts to begin to reshape their culture around learning in more collaborative, connected environments? How do we get to the point where we’re not just seeing individual teachers and classrooms make the shift, but where we are seeing schools as a whole beginning to shift as well?

This is how we change education. Using Twitter won’t do it. Neither will blogging or wikis. Changing education requires a shift in both personal and institutional thinking. It probably requires lots of shifts in thinking. But it isn’t going to happen until we take the interactions we have here, the community we have here in SMiELT and elsewhere online and move it into our schools. That’s one thing I want to think about these last two weeks of this session. How can I do that?  How can I at least help to begin to do that?

An observation

Posted: February 9, 2008 in SMiELT2008, Social Media
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I have to admit that I am enjoying playing with the social tools we are looking at as part of SMiELT. It is interesting to me that I, at least, need some time to become really familiar with a site before I can see the value in it. Because I have blogged for three years now, it is easy for me to see the potential there. Now that I have used a wiki with my students and participated in a wiki as a professional, I can see great potential there. I have used Flickr as a source of Creative Commons-licensed photos to use with students, so exploring the site more to think about how I could have my students use it wasn’t difficult either. But Twitter? The 43 Trio? It will take more time, I think, before I am comfortable with them. Once I am, though, I will probably begin to see ways I can use them with my students.

This is the reason I don’t want to miss participating in EVO sessions each year. They move me out of my comfort zone, expose me to things that I would probably never investigate on my own. Sometimes I can almost immediately embrace the new tools, as was the case with blogging, and other times it takes a few years. (This is my second year of not getting the 43 Trio. But I am starting to see a glimmer of hope there.) Either way, though, I am learning, stretching, and growing. And that is, as the commercials say, Priceless!

Playing on Flickr

Posted: February 8, 2008 in Flickr, SMiELT2008
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Between sneezes I have been looking at Flickr more.  I was interested by a question in the Dekita group discussion area about why a picture didn’t show up on the map.  So I decided to work to see what I could discover.  And the answer was…  NOTHING.

I was able to locate my photos on the map.  When I check the map on my page, the locations show up.  But, as Karen noticed, they do not show up on a Dekita page.  It must be a Dekita group setting or something.

I can see the map part of Flickr being something that a teacher could exploit.  Geotagging in general, I guess.  And I guess this could work together with a site like 43 Places.  If I were to ask students to learn about another part of the world or to find pictures and information about their own countries, these sites could be good sources to check out.

I wonder if students could be asked to find pictures from their own countries and then use them to accompany something they write about their homes.  I suppose that there would be other logical uses of Flickr, too.   I will have to continue exploring.

A great chat

Posted: February 3, 2008 in SMiELT2008, student blogging
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We just had a great chat on the SMiELT site. Sorry not everyone could make it.

Chats like that one are difficult because there are many participants, and we all like to “talk”. It can be hard to follow, to know who is saying what in response to whom. But the feeling of community is definitely strong.

Would you want to use chats with students? As I student, I have participated in chats that were not required for the course. These were quite helpful. They cleared up questions we had about the topic, clarified assignments and served as a chance to get to know each other. But that was in a totally online class. Would you use chats with students you saw every day or every week?

Darren has a chat on his class blogs. (They’re in the sidebar at the bottom.) While there is obviously some abuse, it can also be a handy way for the students to communicate with each other about class assignments and such. I can see the value in it. What about you?

I just read this post Today in Twitterville on The Moss-Free Stone. He mentions things he learned through a morning’s tweets while doing other work.

Now that I am spending more time on Twitter, I have to admit that I am starting to like it. I would never have thought it.