A Vision for Teacher-librarianship

April 3, 2009

Here’s “21st Century Teacher-librarian”  created in MovieMaker.

This work is submitted as a final assignment for partial credit in my University of Alberta Teacher-Librarianship Distance Learning course: Information Technologies for Learning with Joanne de Groot.

How I chose to illustrate my vision was up to me, with ANIMOTO or another mash-up suggested as a possibility.

At first I thought it would be far too difficult to encapsulate something this highly conceptual using ANIMOTO, so decided to do a MovieMaker video instead. I could narrate what I wanted to say, and I had a lot of learning from my course to convey, plus I couldn’t figure out how to incorporate a reference list or give proper credit using ANIMOTO.  Yet after assembling all the images I needed for my MovieMaker video, I thought that perhaps the images could convey the message on their own, so decided to use ANIMOTO as an experiment.

I copy and pasted the draft script I used to narrate the MovieMaker version to Wordle and was very pleased with the resulting visual synthesis as a word cloud. I included it in both presentations. I also like the image mashup I made using Mosaic Maker from fd’s Flickr Toys.

Getting the right image to illustrate a specific concept turned out to be the hardest part.  I had to choose photos with permission from students and staff, or cleared with creative commons licensing, or for non-commercial educational use.  I e-mailed and Twittered for permission where permission wasn’t clearly granted. I have a stack of permission e-mails and photo release forms that I’m not sure what to do with, or how long I need to keep them- sigh . . .

I’ve decided to add the ANIMOTO version to my school library page and blog  because of it’s 21st century look and feel.  It’s edgier, more engaging, and fun to watch.

I’m not sure which presentation is the most effective. What do you think?

Here are the images and sources list that may have been too blurry to view:

planning1

retrieving

processing

creating

sharing

evaluating

reflecting

Sources List:

Alberta Learning, Alberta, Canada. (2004). Focus on Inquiry: A Teacher’s Guide to Implementing Inquiry Learning. Retrieved March 12, 2009, from Alberta Education: http://education.alberta.ca/media/313361/focusoninquiry.pdf

American Association of School Librarians. (2007). Standards for the 21st-Century Learner. Retrieved March 29, 2009, from AASL Learning Standards: http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/aasl/guidelinesandstandards/learningstandards/AASL_LearningStandards.pdf

Asselin, M., & Doiron, R. (2008, July). Towards a Transformative Pedagogy for School Libraries 2.0. Retrieved March 28, 2009, from School Libraries Worldwide: http://asselindoiron.pbwiki.com/SLW14%3A2+AsselinDoiron

Canadian Association for School Libraries. (2005). techbroche.pdf. Retrieved March 10, 2009, from Canadian Association for School Libraries Website: http://www.cla.ca/casl/techbroche.pdf

CAST: Center for Applied Special Technology. (1999-2008). Retrieved March 12, 2009, from What is Universal Design for Learning?: http://www.cast.org/research/udl/index.html

Davis, V. (2008, January 17). It is about Educational Networking NOT Social Networking . Retrieved March 25, 2009, from Cool Cat Blog: http://coolcatteacher.blogspot.com/2008/01/it-is-about-educational-networking-not.html

Doyle, S., & Trousdell, L. (2007, November 15). The Library is a Mashup. Retrieved March 28, 2009, from Animoto: http://animoto.com/play/5b84f59869b8cbf7c6ab7426548e957e

Gasser, U., & Palfrey, J. (2009, March). Mastering Multitasking. Educational Leadership , pp. 15-19.

King, J. Getting In Deep Online Image From Now On: The Educational Technology Journal. http://www.fno.org/feb06/febcartoon.html.

Literacy with ICT Across the Curriculum. (2004-2008). Retrieved March 12, 2009, from Manitoba Education, Citizenship & Youth: http://www.edu.gov.mb.ca/k12/tech/lict/show_me/continuum.html

Mullen, R., & Wedwick, L. (2008, November/December). Avoiding the Digital Abyss: Getting Started in the Classroom with YouTube, Digital Stories, and Blogs. Clearing House: A Journal of Educational Strategies, Issues and Ideas , pp. 66-69.

Palfrey, J., & Gasser, U. (2008). Born Digital. New York: Basic Books.

Plair, S. K. (2008, Nov – Dec). Revamping Professional Development for Technology Integration and Fluency. Retrieved March 30, 2009, from Clearing House: A Journal of Educational Strategies, Issues and Ideas: http://eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/custom/portlets/recordDetails/detailmini.jsp?_nfpb=true&_&ERICExtSearch_SearchValue_0=EJ816794&ERICExtSearch_SearchType_0=no&accno=EJ816794

Ransom, S. Leaving Digital Footprints that Count Online Image ransomtech>Digital Footprints. http://ransomtech.wikispaces.com/Digital+Footprints

Rossini (Composer). Barber of Seville. On Frequency Orch. Rossini Selections: http://www.freeplaymusic.com.

The International Society for Technology in Education. (2007). The ISTE Technology Standards and Performance Indicators (NETS-S) for Students. Retrieved March 28, 2009, from ISTE: http://www.iste.org/Content/NavigationMenu/NETS/ForStudents/2007Standards/NETS_for_Students_2007_Standards.pdf

The International Society for Technology in Education. (2008). The ISTE Technology Standards and Performance Indicators (NETS-T) for Teachers. Retrieved March 28, 2009, from ISTE: http://www.iste.org/Content/NavigationMenu/NETS/ForTeachers/2008Standards/NETS_T_Standards_Final.pdf

Valenza, J. +. (2009). You know you’re a 21st century librarian if . . . Retrieved March 10, 2009, from Information Fluence: http://informationfluency.wikispaces.com/You+know+you%27re+a+21st+century+librarian+if+.+.+.


What is Effective Technology Integration?

March 22, 2009

The Technology Integration page at Edutopia.org provides a good explanation:

Effective Technology Instruction is when its use supports curricular goals. It must support four key components of learning:

  1. active engagement
  2. participation in groups
  3. frequent interaction and feedback
  4. connection to real-world experts

This site also has some excellent exemplary videos and descriptions of effective technology integration in different schools. Keri Hem’s TeacherTube video is another exemplary video: Effective Technology Integration.  Keri  stresses  that the focus be on the learning, not the technology, and that the learning activity needs to be difficult or impossible without the technology.

WAIT! Don’t click the back button yet This is a good starting point to help answer the question, but far from a complete answer.

Effective technology integration also requires a solid understanding of good pedagogy well grounded in solid educational learning theory and principles, such as the supporting principles for Manitoba Education’s Literacy with ICT developmental continuum:

• inquiry
• constructivist learning
• higher-level critical and creative thinking
• reaching deeper understanding
• gradual release of responsibility
• digital citizenship
• multiple literacies for the 21st century

In Avoiding the Digital Abyss: Getting Started in the Classroom with YouTube, Digital Stories, and Blogs – Mullen & Wedwick (2008) wisely recommend that when using digital storytelling, it is important for students to focus on the story first and the digital medium second, otherwise the stories can be weak and overpowered by the technology” (p.68) A similar message is delivered by Jason Ohler inthe March 2009 issue of  Educational Leadership in Orchestrating the Media Collage: “Focus on expression first and technology second and everything will fall into place”.  He also recommends teachers “be the guide on the side rather than the technician magician” (p. 13).

Yet the transformative changes required to allow that shift from “sage on the stage” to “guide on the side” have shown to cause confusion and conflict in teacher belief systems as outlined by Chao-Hsiu Chen in Why do teachers not practice what they believe regarding technology integration? “Educational reform may encourage teachers to integrate technology to engage students in activities of problem-solving, critical thinking and collaborative learning, but a culture emphasizing competition and a high-stakes assessment system can strongly discourage teachers from undertaking such innovative initiatives.” (p. 73)

Perhaps this  helps  explain why of the 55  industry sectors recently ranked by their level of IT intensiveness, education was ranked 55:

This suggests that intensive technology integration is not going to happen due to the efforts of a few innovative school leaders. This is going to take extensive education reform and  include all the stakeholders: parents, students, educators, administrators, school board members, ministry and elected officials.

Has this reformation begun? Yes. Some schools would even report that it’s already happened. In my school I see the beginnings of some crucial components coming together, including division and school administrator support. Shifts are being made in how we assess students and how we work together in a school-wide and global culture of collaboration and inquiry.

And many resources are available for those ready to make the shift. In All Aboard and School-wide Technology Integration a focus on collaborative planning between teachers, teacher-librarian and other school specialists to plan and implement 21st century skill adoption is demonstrated and explained.

Resource lists like those available at www.futurekids.org & Technology Integration Made Easy have some good tips, but do little to move towards the transformative changes needed to fully integrate the 20th century skills and attitudes.  One excellent resource and example to fully integrate those skills and attitudes is laid out in the grade 4, 8 & 12 21st century skills Map by Dave Nagel, Partnership for 21st Century Skills Debuts ’21st Century Skills and English Map, from T.H.E. Journal ( November 2008).

Can the efforts of a few  innovative school leaders make a difference? Yes! Teacher-librarians and IT specialists are in a  unique position to work with others in the learning community and all the educators in a school towards a common vision grounded in good pedagogy.

img_06241img_06231

Rhonda Morrissette, Mike Friesen, Jo-Anne Gibson and Heather Eby sharing ideas for integrating Web 2.0 tools at a recent Manitoba School Library Association Literacy and Information Technology Forum

I’ve jotted down a few ideas below that I either have or would like to demonstrate how technology will assist student learning in all stages of the inquiry process:

Planning

  • Concept mapping
  • create assessment criteria using a spreadsheet or desktop publisher

Retrieving

  • Best searching strategies including paid subscription sites and newspaper, magazine and journal databases
  • Social bookmarking & RSS feeds
  • iTunes podcasts
  • Collecting Primary Data  using digital cameras, e-mail, videoconferencing, GPS, online surveys and online artifacts.

Processing

Creating

  • wikis to gather information, collaborate & demonstrate learning & synthesize
  • create reports, maps, spreadsheets & charts
  • presentation software like PowerPoint/Slideshare
  • multimedia software like MovieMaker or PhotoStory
  • web pages
  • blog – analysis, reflection and exchanging views
  • Citation software/tools – Citation Maker/Reference Tools in Microsoft Office 2007

Sharing

  • demonstrate learning in a wiki, podcast, videocast, website,
  • mashup, movie, blog, animation, comic book format (using Comic Life software), or essay

Evaluating

  • Blog comments
  • Flow chart

And all the while with teachers assessing, and students reflecting on the process using blogs, electronic journals, e-mail, podcasts, video or digital photograph portfolios. (Focus on Inquiry: Alberta Learning, Alberta, Canada, 2004 & Manitoba Education’s Literacy with ICT developmental continuum).

So what makes effective technology integration? The important thing to know is that no educator is alone in this. To integrate technology effectively requires a full team effort. It recognizes and honours the strengths and gifts that each student, staff and community member can bring to student learning. It allows students to learn and  demonstrate understanding of their learning using the best tools and resources available.

More on this next week . . . . .


Should provincial Ministries of Education create web filtering standards for schools?

January 25, 2009

YES! (with a twist)

Ministries of Education should provide guidelines for internet filtering, ensuring the safety and integrity of school networks, and here’s the twist . . . as long as it doesn’t interfere with teachers and students achieving the outcomes which are also directed by Ministries.

It’s naive to suggest that there should be no filtering of school networks.  In Manitoba, Manitoba Education Research & Learning Information Networks (MERLIN) provides Provincial Technology Standards including hardware and software infrastructures. My understanding is that the most vile, malicious threats and illegal websites are first filtered by MERLIN to maintain the integrity and safety of school networks.

School divisions/schools are then allowed to assign further filtering and security measures, and this in my current understanding, is where the biggest problems begin. I believe the Ministry should provide clear direction that restricts  further attempts to filter the web.

Ministries of Education provide curriculum guides and standards documents for integrating technology in education including this one implemented in Manitoba:

literacywithict

The framework is based on the inquiry process, which is also emphasized in subject curriculum documents.

The continuum also provides examples of some of the tools that student could use to achieve the outcomes  such as blogs, wikis, threaded discussions, video and podcasts.

One of the Student outcomes listed on the continuum is students are expected to apply “guidelines for ethical and responsible use of ICT”.

Ministries of Education create curriculum and support documents like the one above, and they should also set the filtering standards that will ensure the suggested  activities are do-able in schools.

Let’s take a look at some of the problems that can and do fester in schools caused by local control of filtering:

  • Information Systems personnel and technicians are often left to decide what will and will not be blocked instead of educators.
  • There is a tendency to become over-reactive to situations in the news involving cyberbullying or internet predators, resulting in ever-increasing tightening of security on networks.
  • Some sites that are accessible one day become inaccessible the next without warning or explanation.
  • Resources available on YouTube like The Swiss Spaghetti Harvest , recommended for lessons on media literacy on the Manitoba Education Literacy with ICT Blog, are unavailable for many students. (insufficient bandwidth has been cited for the reason – but I thought I’d just throw this one out there because I suspect some will continue to block YouTube for other reasons even after bandwidth to schools increases.)
  • Exemplary educational tools like VoiceThread or PicLits that require students to upload images are blocked for student use, and teachers only realize this after the students are already seated at computers and ready to work. Already-overburdened-teachers throw up their hands and stop using the internet in their practice altogether.
  • Social networking sites and the new collaborative web 2.0 tools are almost always blocked because it’s impossible to block the possibility that students will either create or come across inappropriate content.
  • Educational technology staff in each division spend valuable time to set up alternative division-sponsored and monitored blogs, wikis, on-line educational games, discussion forums and even social networking sites which may not be as authentic, desirable or engaging. These measures also lead to inequity of access for students between school divisions depending on the size and expertise of the educational technology staffs.
  • Students attempting to research their carefully planned, deep-thinking inquiry projects are continually frustrated by blocked content – especially if their topic involves controversial topics like drug use or teenage pregnancy, which are often the nature of topics that they’re most interested in learning more about.
  • Teachers of young students may feel it’s okay to leave students unsupervised online, or feel it’s not necessary to  guide the student’s choice of on-line activity because they think the filter is going to filter out all inappropriate material anyway (even though we know this is not possible!)

And the scariest part is that overly-restrictive filters in schools are paradoxically unsafe and dangerous. Because inappropriate websites and social networking are blocked at school, teachers don’t feel the need, urgency, and more importantly, have the authentic real-life learning situations in which to teach and reinforce the strategies needed to participate ethically, responsibly and safely online.

Who will guide our young and youth when they’re out of class and online? Some parents may know how to do this, but what about the parents and their children who don’t know the dangers and risks or strategies to deal with them effectively?

Local control over filtering has resulted in issues of freedom of access, intellectual freedom, censorship and equity. The IFLA/UNESCO Internet Manifesto Guidelines identify filtering as a barrier, and that “the use of filtering software on public access Internet terminals is a clear obstruction of users’ freedom of access to online information” (p. 20) and that “intellectual freedom is the right of every individual both to hold and express opinions and to seek and receive information; it is the basis of democracy; and it is at the core of library service” (p. 14).

Ministries of Education should maintain the least restrictive filtering measures and at the same time:

  • Provide direction that is much more enlightening, pro-active and protective of student’s rights to access to information and equity.
  • Provide direction to make sure that each school not only creates Acceptable Use Policies that students and parents sign, but make sure they’re taught and reviewed at least twice a year in an age-appropriate way.
  • Recommend and provide training using resources such as the Media Awareness Network Resources for Teachers or the  “Kids in the Know” safety program.
  • Make sure students know how to recognize and respond to instances of cyberbullying. Recommend teachers follow: http://twitter.com/nocyberbullies for trends and solutions.
  • Make sure students know how to recognize the common lures and lines used by internet predators and what to do if confronted with them.
  • Make sure students understand the difference between what kinds of images and information are appropriate in an educational setting, and know how to respond when encountered with inappropriate images and information.
  • Make sure students can recognize the difference between bias and bigotry online, and the most appropriate way to respond to it. What better way to do this than to examine the insidiously racist website: http://www.martinlutherking.org and examine the techniques used to lure followers?  Yet this site is most often blocked for student examination at school. Will they just assume its a reliable site when they come across it out-of-school?

I’m a concerned Teacher-librarian, and I know all teachers don’t agree with me. I suspect many parents don’t agree either. I don’t know what’s being said in principal and superintendent councils, or at the Ministries of Education on this topic, but I’d love to know.

If our Ministries of Education don’t provide clear direction so that necessary resources are available to teachers and students to achieve mandated student outcomes, or the platform to ensure the safe, ethical and responsible use of technology be taught and reinforced, then who will?

My intent is to create opportunity for continued discussion, clarification and understanding.  Do you think Ministries of Education should create least restrictive web filtering standards for schools and why or why not?


Digital Natives, Immigrants and Pioneers

January 25, 2009

I’m a Digital Immigrant according to Marc Prensky’s description. I wasn’t born into a digital world and none of my early school experiences included the use of technology. However, I’ve been a public school teacher for over 23 years with a deeply entrenched belief in social constructivism; the belief that students learn by connecting new knowledge to previous knowledge as well as by discussion and interaction with teachers, mentors and peers. So just knowing  my students’ interest and engagement with technology, plus my own interest, made me want to explore using technology as a teaching tool. I followed the work of digital pioneers like Kathy Schrock (who defined the term digital pioneer) and Jamie McKenzie for over 15 years and that allowed me to understand how by using good questioning and inquiry learning strategies , students can develop critical thinking skills while improving both  skill and ethical use of technology.

A deluge of books and information has become available on our new generation of students, dubbed “Digital Natives” by Marc Prensky. The ubiquitous nature of today’s technology and our students’ continuous use have resulted in today’s students thinking and learning differently.  Here’s TeacherTube’s Top 100 Video – Pay Attention which explains the nature of the digital immigrant in a school setting. Chances are you’ve already seen it.

TeacherTube’s Top 100 Video – Pay Attention:

and here’s a glimpse into how Marc Prensky thinks including some insights into how teachers and students can partner to teach each other.

Marc Prensky@ Handheld Learning 2008

In Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants Prensky calls for radical changes to education; a “major translation and change of methodology” to meet the needs of today’s students.

Most recently I’ve become aware of the work of many, many other digital pioneers in the education world developing new insights and understandings of what is important for today’s students. Examples of this work are found in exemplary standards defined in the ISTE National Educational Technology Standards and Performance Indicators for Students and  Teachers . I’m now also following the work of  Web 2.0 digital pioneers like Joyce Valenza, Vicki Davis and Darren Kuropatwa who are able to demonstrate that their students are meeting ALL the ISTE Indicators for Students AND that their students are also engaged, interested and having fun!

I couldn’t be more thrilled with the recent release of the AASL Standards for the 21st-Century Learner. One look at the common beliefs and I’m hooked:

  • reading
  • inquiry
  • ethical behaviour needs to be taught
  • technology skills are crucial
  • equitable access

So why are changes happening so slowly in education? One obvious answer in my situation in an adult high school is that not all our students are Digital Natives. Some of the students are older than me. I also found insight into these questions in the 2008 publication of Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives by John Palfrey and Urs Gasser.

born-digital

What I like best about Palfrey and Gasser’s discussion on learning in the digital world is that they dismiss the debate about whether technology is creating a dumber generation by stating there is “no definitive evidence that Digital Natives are smarter or dumber than other generations, they are simply coping with more information” (p. 244).

The authors also assert that the radical transformative changes advocated by Marc Prensky and others to meet the needs of Digital Natives are not necessarily wise. Rather learning and teaching have enduring qualities that have nothing to do with technology, such as students learning by dialog, questioning and exchanging views. The authors emphasize that it is the “participation gap” that educators need to pay the most attention. This includes those students with the least access to technology outside of school that need to somehow gain the technological skills needed to participate in today’s society.

This prompted me to reflect on the students in my unique setting. As Christine Greenhow asserts in “Who Are Today’s Learners?” [Learning and Leading with Technology, Sept/Oct 2008 ] it’s important to know our students out-of-school access to technology. Just two years ago I conducted a survey with the students attending my school and one of the indisputable findings was the varying levels of access to internet accessed computers by the students in our different programs. These are the results when comparing out-of-school access from least to most:

  1. English as Additional Language Program
  2. Basic Ed. program (gr. 1 – 8 )
  3. Intro and Advanced Courses (gr. 9-11)
  4. Grade 12 Courses

The implications for me and my school staff seem clear. We need to provide more opportunities for students with the least amount of access to technology outside school.

I can plan and make changes in my own library program:

  • I’m happy to report students will be able to access the internet on their own laptops by the start of next semester, which should free up more of our school networked computer workstations for those students without their own laptops.
  • I can continue to advocate for  increased access to computers in the library.
  • I need to continue to help promote rich and meaningful opportunities for online research as well as provide students with the means to verify information.
  • I need to begin helping students better learn to organize the increasing amounts of information coming their way by using RSS feeds and social bookmarking.

I can appreciate why many advocates for educational reform are calling for dramatic and radical changes. Today’s students don’t freeze in time while their teacher’s take the time to discuss today’s changing needs. I also appreciate that care and balance is necessary for educators to learn and plan how best to meet students’ needs.

For now I take inspiration from Palfrey and Gasser in Born Digital:

“There’s never been a greater need for reference librarians than there is today, when Digital Natives are relying so heavily on Google, Wikipedia, and the places to which those sites point them.” (p. 252)

and

“The role of libraries is increasing, not decreasing.” (p. 253)


Library 2.0 – The Time is Now: Make it So!

January 17, 2009

“Education is a social process; education is growth; education is not a preparation for life but is life itself.” John Dewey (1859 – 1952)

Joyce Valenza’s collaboratively-created Manifesto for 21st century Teacher-librarians provides not only direction, but inspiration and hope for teacher-librarians to continue to be integral to the life and learning in a school. It makes me wonder, what are the paradigm shifts that allow 21st century literacies and web 2.0 learning flourish, and more importantly, how does this connect with my own philosophy of education.

I’ve always tried to be well grounded in my learning theory and able to explain why I teach the way I teach. I make known my fierce belief in social constructivism by adding the above quote to the bottom of my signature on my school e-mails.

Social constructivists believe that learning is intensely social and collaborative and constructed by students based on their unique understanding of their worlds. We must meet our students where they are – which is squarely in the 21st century including social networking, gaming and a lot of other highly social, high level thinking and interactive technological activities.

Having grown up in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s I understand clearly that as Marshall McLuhan states “The Medium is the Message”. Educators need to make sure they understand the different media available at any given point in time, and how each media may or may not be the most effective in conveying their student’s unique messages.

Contemporary transformative learning theorist Stephanie Pace Marshall states in her book:power-to-transform The Power to Transform: Leadership that Brings Learning and Schooling to Life :

To educate our children wisely requires that we create generative learning communities, by design. Such learning communities have their roots in meaning, not memory; engagement, not transmission; inquiry, not compliance; exploration, not acquisition; personalization, not uniformity; interdependence, not individualist; collaboration, not competition; and trust, not fear.

The learning community Marshall describes is the one in which I want to live and learn and teach.

And as a Teacher-librarian I am in the privileged position to help lead. As Dr. Ross J. Todd explains in Youth and their Virtual Networked Worlds: Research Findings and Implications for School Libraries (p.31), Teacher-librarians have a “golden opportunity” to demonstrate leadership by illustrating how engaging and powerful the new collaborative technologies are.

I need to make sure I’m a Teacher-librarian that:

  • has the information to pass on when asked “what is the best software or tool to use to get my message out and how do I get started?”
  • understands the new tools and their potential pitfalls so I know how to guide students to take advantage of them wisely.
  • early adoptors, innovative and risk-taking teachers in the school come for support.
  • teaches students how to locate and organize information most effectively, including how to use RSS feeds and social bookmarking sites
  • teaches critical and media literacy.
  • demonstrates how powerful and positively collaborative a school/classroom/library blog or wiki can be.
  • can find a specific CBC interview podcast at the principal’s request and post it on the school blog for all staff and students to access easily.
  • invites discussion for creating a shared school vision for integrating technology in a meaningful way.
  • teachers come to discuss how to incorporate e-books and audio-books into regular instruction using student and school Mp3 players.
  • advocates for least restrictive filtering practices so students can take advantage of the new technologies in meaningful ways, while also learning responsible and ethical use of the internet.
  • help students know the value their own positive digital footprint.
  • responds to student’s requests to access the internet on their own laptops in the library by calling for a policy review on this issue instead of citing existing policy.

Joyce Valenza’s Manifesto for the 21st century Teacher-librarian continues to evolve as a wiki, which I believe is the absolute most appropriate medium for this message. As I examine the last few lines as they appear today I am inspired to reflect whether I:

  • see the big picture and let others see [me] seeing it. It’s about learning and teaching. It’s about engagement. If [I am] seen only as the one who closes up for inventory, as the book chaser, and NOT as the CIO, the inventor, the creative force, [I] won’t be seen as a big picture person?
  • continue to retool and learn?
  • represent our brand as a 21st century information professional?

I’m filled with hope that students of today are moving humanity toward a better, social and more thoughtful future. If I can continue to help guide this in a good way, then I can rest assured that I’ve done my life’s work as a teacher and a mentor.

The Lost Generation: If you start viewing this video, watch it all the way to the surprise ending.


Down the Rabbit Hole

December 7, 2008
down-the-rabbit-hole-melanie
Down the Rabbit Hole by Stephen and Melanie
AttributionNo Derivative Works
“I felt like I had fallen down the rabbit hole.”
– Darren Kuropatwa in Interview with Margaux Watt, “Up to Speed” November 28, 2008. 

That’s how I feel! I feel like I’ve stumbled into an alternate universe populated with enthusiastic educators engaging students in meaningful learning. Here are a few things I’ve learned in my exploration of the Read/Reflect/Write/Participate Web so far:

  • Blogging isn’t easy! I’ve never written for any audience other than students, colleagues and teachers so learning how to begin a conversation with an online audience is quite a struggle.
  • I’m going to change my mind more often now than ever before. For example, between last week and this week I’ve changed my mind about which tool I should introduce to colleagues first. I might follow Chris Rabeck’s suggestion of November 27 – Awakening Possibilities -” If there is only one thing you do after tonight, make it be that you join Twitter“. I would also  follow Vicki Davis’ suggestion – “The first step is to get connected to other educators and keep up with the latest developments.” She suggests a RSS aggregator is the place to start. (“Time to Grow” by Vicki Davis and Julie Lindsay, k12online 08, October 27, 2008) I feel invigorated in my new and expanding professional learning network, and would like my colleagues to share this feeling of “connectiveness”.
  • artwork2My hand-me-down iPod does more than play music – It’s a valuable and powerful Professional Development tool. I’ve turned down offers for rides home because I’m looking forward to listening to a Web 2.0 in Education podcast on my bus-ride home.
  • Keep a notebook handy to write down quotes, inspirations, new ideas and to keep a To Do list – Here are just a few things on my current To Do List:
    • Make an avatar and join Second Life!
    • Try out RuneScape
    • Try out authorSTREAM for for storing, sharing, and presenting PowerPoints
    • Try out Slideshare
    • Learn more about uStream
    • Find out what Moodle is all about
  • People give you a funny look or try to read what you’re writing when you take notes on the bus – Since I’ve started listening to podcasts on my ride to and from school I’ve had to write down a great quote or idea from time to time , which appears to be a great curiosity to the people around me.
  • Be Honest – Don’t misquote, misrepresent, plagiarize or “fudge the truth”. The Web 2.0 world has built-in and authentic accountability measures. Moderators use e-mail notifications and RSS feeds to monitor the content of their wikis and blogs. People are using vanity feeds to monitor what is written about them, and they will keep you accountable.
  • Like Bud Hunt,  I’m Fascinated with the intersection of the private and personal” ( “The Lie of Community: The True Nature of the Network” k12online 08 Audio channel, October 31, 2008) I love Twitter. It’s not only entertaining and lighthearted, it’s helped me network, keep up with what’s new, get inspiration and almost immediate suggestions for my inquiries.
  • I’d rather make mistakes and learn along with my students than lose touch with the reality of their world.
  • There is nothing like the awesome feeling one gets after receiving a comment from someone far away: For example, I took pictures on a field trip to the petroforms in Whiteshell Provincial Park and I posted some of them to Flickr. The next day I noticed my very first RSS feed from my Flickr uploads:

“Hello, I very much like your petriforms from turtle in de snow pictures , and I like to ask permision to use your pictures on a non-profit forum in Holland/Belgium. This forum is about information on turtle/tortoise in general, here is a link www.schildpaddenforum.net (written in Dutch) If you like I can give you credit,
Kind regards
Hans Meijer”

I started an e-mail conversation with Hans Meijer and shared it with the students who were naturally thrilled to learn about this exchange of ideas.

  • “The NeverEndingSearch” is much more than the name of Joyce Valenza’s blog – it’s a way of life. 
down-the-rabbit-hole-magenta1Image by Waking MagentaAttributionNo Derivative Works
And down the Rabbit Hole I Go . . . .

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Bridging the Chasm between Fantasy and Reality

November 30, 2008

Last week I concluded my blog with the following ambitious statement:

“Some of the best professional development comes from in-school sharing and collaboration. That’s where I see myself teaching in the read/write web – to break out of the “echo chamber” that is web 2.0 and to bridge the chasm between what some may see as fantasy to reality.”

Today I attempt to answer the question “Where do I begin to bridge the chasm?

The biggest challenge to introducing the power of Web 2.0 tools into every classroom is the time it takes to learn. In Anne Davies blog “Thinking about change – Nov. 7, 2008 , Anne eloquently states:

I think a big part of why educators are not out of their own networks is that their day is filled with other priorities that the teacher has to accomplish. I wish schools would make reflection and learning time for teachers a priority that nothing could interrupt. Students need the same. I agree that educators need to blog, use wikis, del.icio.ous and the like but until the educators’ learning and growth is truly made a priority within our schools, I don’t think we will make the progress we need to achieve. We need leaders that make this happen. A reflective culture of learning and growing must be nurtured in our schools.

As Bridget McCrea reports in The Journal – Karl Fisch: Creating Lifelong Learners, Karl Fisch of Arapahoe High School, frustrated with the pace of technology integration into classroom practice, secured grant funding to provide significant release time for teachers to learn and apply the latest technology tools.

This is a professional development (PD) model in which I would love to participate. When the time is right, I will definitely be there to collaborate with teachers to delve deeply into the power of blogging and the interrelated world of Web 2.0 for education. But that will take time to work with school leadership and setting up as a possible school priority and I want to start right now. Again I ask myself, “Where do I begin?”

podango-sound1 Click Here To Learn Which Web 2.0 Tool I’ll Begin With and Why

(The background music is called “Outdoor Ambience” and was downloaded from Soundzabound Royalty Free Music for Schools and the “ptwiiing” effect is available as a freeware download courtesy of Chris from Flashkit.com.)

Why Podcast?

Wesley Fryer makes outlines a rationale for podcasting in education in his “Why Podcast?” ppt linked below

whypodcast:
Check out a fuller description here .

In Manitoba podcasting is one of the suggested ways for students to “Show Understanding” of their Literacy with ICT Inquiry Projects as seen in this Developmental Continuum:
literacywithict.

What is Educational Podcasting?

Here’s Tony Vincent’s comprehensive site for Finding and Subscribing to Podcasts.

One of the sites on Tony’s list: The Education Podcast Network (EPN) “is an effort to bring together into one place, the wide range of podcast programming that may be helpful to teachers looking for content to teach with and about, and to explore issues of teaching and learning in the 21st century.”

My advice would be to find and sample the podcast series you’d like to follow in EPN, then subscribe in iTunes. This list is great to illustrate the abundance and wide range of educational podcasts available, even though it is incomplete. The podcast series that is noticeable absent from this list is the cutting edge k12online08 Audio Channel , so that would be a good one to demonstrate subscribing to through iTunes. EdTechTalk is listed, but the full breadth of the podcast would be worthy of demonstrating as well, in particular the Women of the Web 2.0 podcast series.

How to Podcast?

Wes Fryer includes an extensive list of resources for getting started with educational podcasting on his Podcasting Wiki here.

One of the resources listed on this wiki is Tony Vincent’s Excellent Podcasting for Teachers & Students Click on the image below to view the full .pdf file.

tonyvincent
I followed Tony’s guide to create my own first podcast, from installing and using Audacity and Levelator Software to labelling and importing my podcast into iTunes complete with original artwork. This guide even details how schools can create and promote their own podcast series.

An important part of planning to podcast with students is exploring, then discussing what makes a good podcast. Here are 3 possible assessment rubrics to help guide students in their learning linked below:

podcasting1podcasting2podcasting3

Educators will also want to familiarize themselves with the Podcasting Legal Guide for Canada (also linked to the image below):

podcastinglegalguideforcanada3

“Why Copyright?”, due November 2008, is another resource educators will want to watch for:
Why Copyright? Canadian Voices on Copyright Law – Trailer

When Do I Find Time with My Colleagues?

If time is such an issue in introducing Web 2.0 tools to teachers, when will I introduce podcasting? I’m happy to report that I’ve already started! Students in a grade 12 Psychology class asked their teacher to help them edit a .mp3 file that they wanted to include in their multi-media presentation to demonstrate their understanding and learning of their inquiry project “Effects of the Menstrual Cycle on Women’s Mental and Emotional Health”. I was invited into the classroom and arrived in a flash! I demonstrated how to edit .mp3 files using Audacity, then how to search for more podcasts on their topic through iTunes (yes there were more podcasts on this topic), add their own dialog to the podcast and generally hooked a whole group of students, plus their teacher, on podcasting. This is what I meant when I wrote “Some of the best professional development comes from in-school sharing and collaboration. That’s where I see myself teaching in the read/write web”. – in authentic learning situations. I’m just waiting now for the interest and enthusiasm for podcasting to “catch on” in other classrooms.

A teacher of beginning English as Additional Language students asked for a demonstration of how to locate on the web and burn podcasts to a CD for her to play in the classroom. We set up a time to do this and after that I asked “Would you like to learn how to make your own podcast?” hoping that she would jump at the chance – and she did! She was surprised at how easy it was and that I would post the files on the school blog for her students so they could practice speaking English outside of the classroom in the comfort of their homes or at a library – at absolutely no cost to the school!

A few weeks ago I posted a podcasting test on the division-sponsored blog entitled How I Made This Podcast. The reason I did that was to demonstrate that podcasts can be uploaded and embedded directly into my school division WordPress.org blogs, but need to be linked from a podcast hosting service into this WordPress.com blog. Well, it turned out that my podcast was a “hit around the office” with the division’s Educational Technology Folks. After I expressed my initial embarrassment at this, I was asked to share what I’ve learned about podcasting with the Senior Years Educational Technology Mentor’s Group. This is my plan:

December session:

  • record the entire session using the podcast kit prepared by the ed. tech. folks and available for loan to schools
  • edit and share bits of the session as “minutes” on the 9-12 Mentor’s blog (giving my word processor a break for a change!)

January Session:

  • familiarize participants with the resources listed above
  • demonstrate and walk participants through making and posting a podcast on our mentor’s blog

I’ll also highlight this CBC podcast featuring Darren Kuropatwa following his Web 2.0 PD session at our Manitoba Special Area Groups Conference on Nov. 28, 2008.

The time is right for the “just in time learning” of podcasting in my little educational enclave and fortunately I’m ready!

Which Web 2.0 tool would you begin with?

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