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Digital Citizenship & Flow

Darcy Moore's Blog - 27 July, 2014 - 19:56

What percentage of students in Australian schools are explicitly taught digital citizenship skills? There are plenty of government sponsored projects that provide resources but how many kids are truly learning at school how to succeed in an online world?  How many teachers have the skills to teach them? I do not know. There’s no data.

It is certainly the case that students are better at representing themselves visually online and also, pleasingly for a deputy principal, I am dealing with less incidents of poor digital citizenship at school (or occurring outside of school for that matter). There are many challenges, as there is for all citizens in any community but clearly students are growing up online and learning skills as a result. Having said that, it is still evident that many students and teachers have limited skills and knowledge in many important areas.

Year 8 are currently doing a digital citizenship course at school and it is clear that many perceive ‘being polite online’ as what such a course would be about. Our school has had clear guidelines and policies that are actually implemented regarding behaviour so there are good reasons why they would have this perception. We are very positive about technology and the online world. We do use the School Police Liaison Officer (who is very good) when students need to understand the legal implications of what they have done. It is a positive experience but this course will broaden student understanding of what is meant by digital citizenship.

In general conversation I am often surprised at how little teachers, parents and students know about many important aspects of the online world. I shouldn’t be, as there’s much to learn but is clear that independent, ongoing learning in a world that changes so rapidly, will required rather than a few lessons, or a course. Many of us were very enthusiastic about creating and sharing in Personal Learning Networks (PLNs) or, if you like, establishing awesome Personal Learning Environments (PLEs) over almost a decade (can you believe it has been that long?). It still seems conceptually the way to think about learning using technology to help us connect with others.

I have often written at this blog over the last 7-8 years about digital citizenshipconnectivismmy own online toolsPLNs and BYODMy English Method pre-service teachers are formally encouraged to employ a variety of tools that will assist them to this end but I suspect this is as rare in the tertiary education sector as it in school. The only way to stay relevant is to have a network of people and sound use of technology.

Flow

What interests me is how we teach students to manage information effectively by improving their daily routines, their habits of mind, their flow. I do wonder how much some access the web outside of Facebook and Youtube. Many students use Snapchat and AskFM too but outside of gaming, mostly using PS3/4 or Xbox, there seems to be surprisingly little variety for many. If we think about actively using the web for learning, many cannot articulate how they do that.

There are many tools but I would argue that curation (and creation) are the key skills. There are some essentials imho. I employ Feedly for RSS and Diigo for social bookmarking every day, without fail. These tools help me curate and manage information quickly. It is pure habituation that allows me to skim, scan and find what information I need. Many new ideas flood through my life that would not, except for these tools that allow me to see, daily, the best of what I need for the topics that interest.

So my question, why do so few students and teachers employ these tools? They do not need them or do not know they need them? What do you think?

FEATURED IMAGE: creative commons licensed (BY-NC-ND) flickr photo by Adam Foster | Codefor: http://flickr.com/photos/paperpariah/3530726567

The post Digital Citizenship & Flow appeared first on Darcy Moore's Blog.

Categories: Planet

Our Kids

The Principal of Change George Couros - 26 July, 2014 - 00:06

Last Friday night, I sent out the following tweet:

If you could take two minutes and comment on this kid’s blog, I am sure it would make her day: http://t.co/e0PUu4d5eH #comments4kids

— George Couros (@gcouros) July 19, 2014

With many people sharing the tweet, and taking the time to comment on a Friday night (she received 21 comments…not bad for her second blog post!), it really reminded me how much teachers care for kids.  And when I say “kids”, I am not talking about kids in their class, but kids anywhere.  Naomi received comments from all over North America, and even Australia.  Can you imagine what this does for her to help her keep writing and learning, even over the summer months?  Every person that took the time to write, even if it was only for a few seconds, made a difference.  (Side note…I have never shared a blog to #comments4kids hashtag that William Chamberlain hasn’t commented on.  What a great guy for always taking the time to do that.)

Yet when I see how a lot of schools are set up, we seem to be in competition with other schools, districts, and sometimes people in the same building.  Why is that?  When you became a teacher, was it to help kids, or to only help the specific kids you in your class?  I know that with the majority of teachers that I have connected with, any student that is placed in front of them is a kid that teacher will do everything for to help them become better.  What happens when we look at all students as “our kids”?  The imperative share becomes much greater.

So this is why sharing has become so important in our work today.  Every little bit we share with one another, helps a kid somewhere.  Whether it is taken in its exact form, or it is remixed to meet the needs of our class, that “share” does something for kids.  Does it matter if they are across the hall or even across the globe?  I became an educator to help kids. It doesn’t matter where they are from.

Paraphrasing Dean Shareski, it is our moral obligation to share with one another in the field of education.  I believe that the more I go into classrooms and see what teachers do all of the time.  I always think of the “obvious to you, amazing to others” video, and the humble nature of teachers who often think that what they do is not that significant.  You never know the impact of what you share could have on a kid somewhere.  If it makes an impact on one teacher or one kid, somewhere else, isn’t that enough?

We sometimes do not see the impact of our sharing on others, but that is not reason enough to not do it.  I saw the following quote today and it really struck me:

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.” John Quincy Adams

The “sharing” that we do often does all of the things listed above, and if it helps kids, no matter where they are, it is definitely worth it.

P.S. If you want to see a great video on the power of “sharing”, I loved the one below:

Categories: Planet

Geeks Pick Nits Even On Jokes

I posted this following image on my Facebook page.

Comments came immediately. First one was something like “only one step?” Another said the method should be called inside a loop. Another suggested a more involved loop.

while (stamina > 0)
{
step++;
stamina--;
}

.csharpcode, .csharpcode pre
{
font-size: small;
color: black;
font-family: consolas, "Courier New", courier, monospace;
background-color: #ffffff;
/*white-space: pre;*/
}
.csharpcode pre { margin: 0em; }
.csharpcode .rem { color: #008000; }
.csharpcode .kwrd { color: #0000ff; }
.csharpcode .str { color: #006080; }
.csharpcode .op { color: #0000c0; }
.csharpcode .preproc { color: #cc6633; }
.csharpcode .asp { background-color: #ffff00; }
.csharpcode .html { color: #800000; }
.csharpcode .attr { color: #ff0000; }
.csharpcode .alt
{
background-color: #f4f4f4;
width: 100%;
margin: 0em;
}
.csharpcode .lnum { color: #606060; }We could probably go on and on. I just find it amusing that coders just can’t look at the joke and see it at face value. They do, I think, see it funny at face value but they also want to make it better for some definition of better.


Categories: Planet

Whack A Mole Project

I’ve done variations in Whack A Mole over the years. I did a Whack Something Game for Windows Phone 7 some years ago for example. But somehow I put it aside and didn’t think about it when I was teaching the last year and a half. This week as the National CS Principles Summit this project came up in one of the presentations. This struck me as a particularly good idea for me to bring back into my own practice. So obviously I started coding. I came up with this.

What I have decided I want to do is use this for is to teach objects and classes. I created a MoleHole class. I may have to revisit that name before I go to students though. Suggestions are welcome. The reason for creating a class is that I could allow the class itself to handle showing and hiding the moles. My hope is that students will understand that having the object take care of itself will make things much easier.
The first think I did was to create  (using Paint) a couple of images – one to show a “mole” and the other an empty “hole.”
Nothing fancy and I may ask students to create their own. So many of them are much more artistic than I am. Doubtless one of them will use a picture of me if history is any indication.
Then I created a new User Control. I’m using Visual Studio and C# for this sample by the way. Once created I added the images to the project as resources and loaded the empty hole image as the initial image for the object background.
I have very little code in  the class. The constructor just sets the initial value of the Tag property which I could have avoided by putting that in the properties when I added the initial background image. The one method I wrote changes the background image and Tag value.
public void Swap()
{
if ((string)Tag == "Empty")
{
BackgroundImage = global::WhackAMole.Properties.Resources.Mole;
Tag = "Full";
}
else
{
BackgroundImage = global::WhackAMole.Properties.Resources.NoMole;
Tag = "Empty";
}
}
Very simple. I add the objects to the form dynamically and included in that is setting the event handler for the click event. The code for the event handler checks to see if there is a mole showing and if there is it increments the score and swaps out the image by asking the object to do it.

private void Whack(object sender, EventArgs e)
{
MoleHole hit = (MoleHole)sender;
if ((string)hit.Tag == "Full")
{
hit.Swap();
score++;
ScoreLabel.Text = score.ToString();
}
}
The mole appears or disappears based on a timer firing. It randomly picks a mole hole object and switches its image and tag, again, by asking the object to do it.


private void timer1_Tick(object sender, EventArgs e)
{
MH[r.Next(MH.Length)].Swap();
}


.csharpcode, .csharpcode pre
{
font-size: small;
color: black;
font-family: consolas, "Courier New", courier, monospace;
background-color: #ffffff;
/*white-space: pre;*/
}
.csharpcode pre { margin: 0em; }
.csharpcode .rem { color: #008000; }
.csharpcode .kwrd { color: #0000ff; }
.csharpcode .str { color: #006080; }
.csharpcode .op { color: #0000c0; }
.csharpcode .preproc { color: #cc6633; }
.csharpcode .asp { background-color: #ffff00; }
.csharpcode .html { color: #800000; }
.csharpcode .attr { color: #ff0000; }
.csharpcode .alt
{
background-color: #f4f4f4;
width: 100%;
margin: 0em;
}
.csharpcode .lnum { color: #606060; }Overall, including dynamically creating and loading the mole holes there are something around 30 lines of code. I think I can get students to manage this. And then I’ll want them to make it better, fancier, more interesting. We’ll see how it goes.
Categories: Planet

Starting and Sustaining a Blog for Global Understanding

Image source

Starting and Sustaining a Blog for Global Understanding can provide an understanding of your classroom, community, country, culture, ideals, experiences and learning within and beyond the classroom. Before I connect with others, I want to know more about them – are they genuine, who are they, what are they about, do I want to maintain contact etc?  Therefore, I look for their blog or other online space for more information. This becomes important as we become more globally connected.

Blogging is an essential, user friendly, online space that teachers and classrooms should use as it offers a rich learning space and enables ongoing conversations through comments. It enables customized learning. Starting and Sustaining a Blog for Global Understanding was one of my workshops for “Supporting the Challenge” at the recent Flat Connections Conference in Sydney. See the actual presentation below and read further for my notes on this presentation. A resources document has been set up. Please add to it, if you have suggestions.

Starting and sustaining a blog for global understanding from murcha

Some of the popular blogging platforms include edublogs, wordpress, blogger, kidblog. My personal preference is for edublogs (the pro version or a campus) as they provide ready advice, offer some great support materials and online resources and enable the use of multi-media which is essential for global understanding when language differences may be a challenge. Edublogs pro also allow movies and podcasts to be directly uploaded without the need to embed code from eg youtube, vimeo etc.

To get started a blogger will need to understand the nature of posts, pages, links, widgets, hyperlinks, categories tags and the necessity for an “about me or us” page (an essential ‘handshake’ to foster initial interest and encourage ongoing connections and reading)

Comments

Comments enable ongoing conversations, provide a base for discussion and enable ongoing learning. Readers can ask questions, seek clarification and share their own knowledge and resources. A blogger needs to know what ‘good’ comments look like and how to moderate them.

Media

Embed media including sound, images and videos wherever possible to supplement or replace text. Images ‘speak 1000 words’ and where languages may not be the same, will show and share so much to provide for global understanding. Stories can be shared in images, videos, sound stories and animated slideshows. Youtube and vimeo videos can be embedded to reflect where you live and learn or links to videos provided.

Widgets for global understanding

Following are some widgts that could be added to theblog  sidebar

  • Clustrmaps, flagcounters to motivate and show the location of readers. They can be used to also teach statistics, the location of countries and the flags of different countries
  • Clocks – eg clocklink provides learning re time zones, days and dates. A countdown clock eg Countdown  or Create a Countdown will alert to upcoming cultural and religious festivals, school holidays etc. A time convertor eg world time buddy will help with the ever challenging time zone differences.
  • Weather – eg willy weather or weather add gadget provide a  global perspective on weather conditions
  • Translate widgets – google, bing to allow posts to be interpreted across languages. Learn how to translate blogs even when widgets are not present
  • Flickr – eg flickr slidr will show the latest photos shared on flickr on the sidebar showing what it looks like in your classroom, community or country
  • A blogroll can share blogs that your classroom might be connected to or that might be of interest from global classrooms, communities or teachers
  • Twitter – enables a feed of tweets to be shared
  • World news widgets eg reuters

Some advanced features

  • Embed the code from powerpoint presentations that have been uploaded to slideshare.
  • Vokis – can be used to introduce yourself in your native language
  • Embed google maps complete with pins that share global collaborations, images and explanations in text. See Skippy’s blog post (manouvre it till you see her pins)

Consider the following:

  • The use of mobile apps for blogging on the ‘fly’ or quickly sharing images, podcasts and videos
  • Choosing a theme that suits mobile reading
  • Taking part in the student blogging challengeJoining a quadblogging group
  • Some countries may block blogging sites

Tips:

  • Post regularly
  • Read other blogs
  • Comment on others’ blog posts
  • Share new posts on social media eg twitter, facebook etc Use global hashtags eg #globalclassroom #globaled etc
  • Let your blog take direction over time

Useful resources from Edublogs

What suggestions might you have to add to this topic? Please add as a comment below this post.


Categories: Planet

Can we keep making small “tweaks”?

The Principal of Change George Couros - 24 July, 2014 - 07:17
#168318090 / gettyimages.com

I can’t remember where I saw it, but I recently read an article about the interruption  that bell causes with many schools when it destroys the flow of learning for a teacher.  I have said something similar before and have not been in a school as an administrator where bells signified the end of a class.  The idea was always that if a kid was deep into learning that the bells would stop that deep learning that was happening in the classroom.

Then I started to think my time in high school and how the bell was a reprieve from the boredom that I was experiencing in any given class.  Yes, there were times where I wanted class to go on, but I would honestly say that as a student, those experiences were in the minority.  How many times did you hear things such as, “The bell doesn’t dismiss you; I dismiss you.”  You might have even said it a few times as a teacher. I know I have.

So as I thought about it, that one or two minutes that you might go deeper into a conversation could be great, but if we are set up on the same scheduling that we have been traditionally in high schools, do we ever really get deep enough into learning that students don’t want to leave?  Are they trading “waiting for a bell” for “watching a clock”?  Although I believe that bells are annoying and aren’t really helping anything in school other than create a Pavlovian effect for our students, is this small change creating a major  difference in the way that we teach and learn?

When I went to visit Ann Michaelsen in Norway this past January, she told me how their high school had got rid of several classes in a day for high school students, and went with one class per day.  For example, you might have English on Monday, Mathematics on Tuesday, and so on.  What she had shared was that this created a significant shift in the way educators taught their classes.  As I watched the teachers in action, it looked more like a workshop model in every classroom, with students doing a lot of hands on work, and the teacher becoming almost like an academic advisor, working with individual students throughout the day and seeing where they were in their studies.  The amount of time that each teacher had with the students had really made an impact on changing teacher practice and mindset towards the way kids were learning throughout the day.  It would be tough to lecture for five or six hours in a day; the students would have to become more involved in their learning.

I am not sure how effective this type of day would be for a student or a teacher at the high school level, because I have never experienced it (although this was a standard practice for myself as an elementary teacher), but I will tell you that it looked pretty amazing.  We still have to work within the confines of a system and although there are many people that would like to start from scratch, it is not a reality for many schools.

That being said, are there times when we have to think less about the little “tweaks” we can make to the existing structure of school, and think more about some of the major changes we can make in our school?  For example, many see a SmartBoard as a glorified chalkboard; a great improvement on what we have used before but not necessarily going to make a major difference on the way we teach and learn in the long run.  Many would point to something like going “1 to 1” being a major change in many schools, but that would be only if was followed up with proper professional development.  In a lot of schools the technology is being used to simply write notes and “google stuff”, or even simply collecting dust.

When do we move from “tweaking” the system to making some major shifts in what we do?  There are a lot of innovative things that we can do within the system, but when do we start really pushing the boundaries?

Categories: Planet

Scalable Programming Projects

One of the things I look for in a project is that it is extensible. That means that a reasonable and simple version can be done but that students who want to do more or who want to challenge themselves can make a very special version that is really them. One such project that I have used in a small way is a slot machine program. One of my co-workers came up with a fairly simple assignment of this type.

1. Slot Machine – Create a slot machine with 3 “slots” (containing pictures or colors). For each round, clear the slots until the user clicks on it (or a button below the picture), and then assign a random color/picture. Allow the user to place a bet and keep track of money won or lost depending on the outcome of the spin.

Beginning students create some fairly simple applications to solve this project. Many of them look something like the following.

I have seen student projects that involve a number of simple variables  and a long series of if statements. I am too lazy to do it that way myself and incorporated some arrays and loops in my sample program. By adding arrays and loops the door is opened to a wife range of more complicated features. The sample below incorporates 9 different “rows” with a total of 27 different possible winning values. 

It also includes scatter prizes and a bonus game for some conditions. Obviously it has more visual elements as well. Conceptually though is it just an extension and enhancement of the first program.

One of the ideas I am working on it helping students from the simple to the more complicated. By showing them how the addition of arrays and looks I hope to show them how to plan for enhancement, extension and addition of more features to an initially simple program. We’ll see how it works.

Categories: Planet

Enterprising schools

Bluyonder Greg Whitby - 23 July, 2014 - 14:39

Harvard Professor, Richard Elmore once asked ‘is it possible that schools can continue to operate in the 19th century while the rest of society moves into the 21st century?’ The simple answer is no – although the adversarial position historically adopted by unions suggests otherwise.

NSW and ACT Catholic employers are currently in the process of discussions with staff and the union on a new enterprise agreement that we believe reflects the need to create contemporary working conditions relevant to a twenty first century model of schooling.  This conversation is not limited to teaching profession, it is happening in most professional organisations around the world.  Federal education minister Christopher Pyne recently said that education is one of the last bastions in the working world where length of service is still rewarded.  Length of service in any profession does not guarantee that you are the best you can be.  It simply means you lasted the distance.

We want all teachers no matter what stage of their career to develop high level skills and knowledge in their work.  I know the majority of teachers want greater control of their working lives.  As John Hattie states ‘schools need to collaborate to build a team working together to solve the dilemmas in learning, to collectively share and critique the nature and quality of evidence that shows our impact on student learning, and to cooperate in planning etc.’

This calls for a new professional maturity that provides teachers with greater autonomy but acknowledges the need for all teachers to adopt a rigorous and intellectual approach to improving teacher practice. In 2018, Australia will have a new national teachers standard administered by AITSL.  This is one of the foundations of the new Catholic schools enterprise agreement. The standards are imminent and non-negotiable.

What is negotiable under a new enterprise agreement is how each local school community structures and shapes learning and teaching.  For more than a century the working lives of teachers have been controlled by bells, timetables and externally imposed agenda. Do we continue to defend an industrial model of schooling in the face of the irrefutable and overwhelming impact of a knowledge age or do we embrace the opportunities for teachers to chart new waters?

Enterprise is defined in the dictionary as a ‘readiness to embark on adventures with boldness and energy.’  Educational expert Yong Zhao believes the time has come for schools to be enterprising, for students to be entrepreneurial and for teachers to be bold in re-shaping the educational agenda.  This is what the new enterprise agreement is about.  It challenges teachers to think about new ways of working together to improve the quality of learning and teaching in schools.

We don’t just want teachers to last the distance, we want them to shape their profession and to continually raise the bar of excellence for themselves, the school communities and most of all, the students they teach.

If twenty first century schools are enterprising schools, then we need a contemporary enterprise agreement which reflects a 21st century teaching profession.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The proposal for an enterprise agreement stems from a recognition that a new century requires new ways of working in schools.  It aims to increase collaboration at a local level by supporting leaders but most of all, it aims to bring alignment in the standards

 

 

 

 

Enterprising schools need enterprise agreements.  It’s time for educators to be bold and to lead the way with imagination and initiative on how we want to work.

 

 


Categories: Planet

One semi colon away from disaster

At a recent workshop Alexander Repenning said that sometimes teaching programming is “one semi colon away from disaster.” How true that is. Minor syntax issues, especially when dealing with beginners, can make a program look like a complete disaster.

Last school year I had more than a few students come close to panic when a compiler reported dozes, scores or even hundreds of errors. Typically adding a semi colon or a curly brace in the right place made most of the errors “go away.” The words “in the right place” are bold for a reason. At times is seems as though beginners start putting in semi colons or curly braces closely to random locations in hopes of making the errors go away. Sometimes the syntax errors go away but create interesting logic errors. Since too often students associate compiling and running with success the results are not happy for grading purposes.

I’ve been thinking about decorations for my computer lab. I’m starting to think that a couple of signs might be useful. One would say “Don’t panic” and another one just say “Think” like the old IBM signs used to say. And maybe “slow down to make faster progress.”

Panic is bad as it prevents sound thinking. And speed without thought seldom seems to get people where they want to know.

Returning to semi colons, yes we have to, they are one of the reasons so many people like to use block programming languages. Or other forms of drag and drop programming. They do help with talking about concepts and helping students to achieve some success with programming. But do they help when it is time to move on to “real” or traditional programming languages. It seems like a big jump and research seems to be light on the subject.

I had a conversation at the CSTA Annual Conference and found that there are others who are skeptical of the transference from block languages to traditional ones. We could use some more research on this. Does it work? How can we make it work better? What is the best way to help students with the progression? A lot of questions but in the mean time there are days when we still walk one semi colon from disaster.

Late edit but it belongs here:

Categories: Planet

Interesting Links 21 July 2014

What a week I had last week. The CSTA Annual Conference, the National CS Principles Summit and then the CSTA Board meeting. I need a rest. I tweeted a lot from the first two events. Not from the board meeting though because that information properly comes through the Board Chair and Executive Director. It took me a while to scan though things but I believe I have some good links to share. I hope you find some value here.
I find it interesting that this is happening. Business schools are realizing that even if you are not a programmer it is valuable to be able to share some common vocabulary and experience with programmers. B-Schools Finally Acknowledge: Companies Want MBAs Who Can Code via Business Week @BW
Delphi for fun - looks like some interesting projects thanks to Peter Beens @pbeens for the link.
One of the events of last week was the National Computer Science Principles Summit. I tweeted about it a lot but you can get a lot of the resources and videos at the CS Principles Summit web site.

Link to Rich Kick's resources for Computer Science Principles
An Office Mix presentation on using Code Hunt A good way to get a quick introduction to what Code Hunt is all about.
Interested in learning more about App Inventor? Follow the link for an online course. http://bit.ly/1jJgUA6
HTML5 Canvas Basics handouts http://www.missblomeyer.com/csta2014 from the CSTA Conference.
Teachers new to programming, nice resource for getting started especially with CS Principles.
Resources from computational thinking through game design workshop at the CSTA annual conference.
Categories: Planet

Information ecology at the heart of knowledge

HeyJude Judy O'Connell - 19 July, 2014 - 23:42

While technology is changing the information environment (including information places and spaces), the transactional nature of information interactions and knowledge flow underpins learning. Information can comprise both physical and virtual parts for operation and interaction.

I see that a  major challenge for education is to enable and facilitate the generation of new knowledge via an appropriate information environment, to facilitate integration of new concepts within each person’s existing knowledge structure.

Information ecology presents the contexts of information behavior by analogy with ecological habitats and niches, identifying behaviours in biological terms such as ‘foraging’ (Bawden & Robinson, 2012. p.199). In this context of adaptive and responsive co-construction of knowledge, we can facilitate a viable praxis in digital environments, influenced by concepts of rhisomatic learning. Seen as a model for the construction of knowledge, rhizomatic processes hint at the interconnectedness of ideas as well as boundless exploration across many fronts from many different starting points. (Sharples, et al. 2012 p.33).

By creating curriculum and subject delivery which can be reshaped and reconstructed in a dynamic manner in response to changing environmental conditions or the personal professional needs of students, a digital information ecology provides the opportunity to work with information in the construction of knowledge in more dynamic ways, connecting learning experiences across the contexts of location, time, devices and platforms.

Researching how digital technologies may be used to create a more responsive learning ecology both in use of online tools and assessment practices can provide a valid way of examining effectiveness if the link between the use and the learning is explicit. Research to date rarely makes this link explicit and evaluations appear to be based on researcher beliefs about learning which are either not expressed or vague (Starkey 2011, p20.)

Starkey (2011) provides an excellent summary of the key concepts of critical thinking skills, knowledge creation and learning through connections that epitomizes 21st century learning. Technology can be used to evaluate learning, though the link between digital technologies and student performance is complex. Yet the digital age students, who can think critically, learn through connections, create knowledge and understand concepts should be able to connect and collaborate with others beyond a constrained physical environment; understand that knowledge is created through a range of media and created through networks, connections and collaborations; be able to think critically and evaluate processes and emerging ideas. The ability to evaluate the validity and value of information accessed is essential.

In such a context and information ecology, enabling learning involves the creation of assessments and environments for knowledge building to enhance collaborative efforts to create and continually improve ideas. This approach to knowledge building exploits the potential of collaborative knowledge work by situating ideas in a communal workspace where others can criticize or contribute to their improvement (Scardamalia 2012 p.238 ).

A communal workspace, a collaborative and formative framework for assessments, and research into the impact of all this on learning futures – now that would be grand to see!

Rhizomatic learning new to you?  You might like this fireside presentation from Dave Cormier about embracing uncertainty.

References

Bawden, D. & Robinson, L. (2012). Information behaviour. In Introduction to information science (pp. 187-210). London : Facet.
Scardamalia, M., Bransford, J., Kozma, B., & Quellmalz, E. (2012). New assessments and environments for knowledge building. In Assessment and teaching of 21st century skills (pp. 231-300). Springer Netherlands.
Sharples, M., McAndrew, P., Weller, M., Ferguson, R., FitzGerald, E., Hirst, T., & Whitelock, D. (2012). Innovating Pedagogy 2012: Open University Innovation Report 1. Milton Keynes: The Open University.
Starkey, L. (2011). Evaluating learning in the 21st century: A digital age learning matrix. Technology, Pedagogy and Education, 20(1), 19-39.

Image: Learning (Photo credit: Anne Davis 773)

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Filed under: Connectivism, Innovation & Creativity, Knowledge networks, Learning and Teaching Tagged: Information ecology, Pedagogy, Praxis
Categories: Planet

A Different Perspective?

The Principal of Change George Couros - 19 July, 2014 - 05:04
#459991855 / gettyimages.com

Summer is a great time for reflection and throwing ideas around, so here is something that has been floating around in my brain.

The other night on the ESPY Awards, when Stuart Scott was awarded the “Jimmy V Perseverance” award (an amazing speech that you really should watch) for his fight against cancer, his friend Robin Roberts came up to the stage and talked about a new initiative in the hopes to cure cancer.  Although she mentioned it very briefly, my interest was piqued considerably when she talked about the idea of bringing in people outside of the profession to give new ideas to think about curing cancer.  My interest was piqued considerably at the idea that people outside of a profession look at solving a problem.  In education, many of us have spent many years looking at the same problems that the system we are in created; a different perspective on things could be helpful.

I will admit that one of my biggest pet peeves is hearing people say that people outside of education shouldn’t speak at education conferences because they do not know what it is like to be in the classroom.  The same “growth mindset” that many of us preach seems pretty closed when we hear sentiments like this.  I myself have been guilty of saying, “what would they know, they’ve never had to teach”, yet still love when hearing a student’s perspective about school, when they also have never taught.  We can learn from anyone about anything, and what is important is that we learn to make connections to what we do in the education system.  If you go to many conferences, many of the same ideas shared by educators are ones that are often reiterated from others but with a different perspective or “twist” to the story.  Many people are wanting some vastly different ideas.

Now there is a difference between having a non-educator talk about how to solve problems in the classroom, as opposed to hearing someone’s story from outside of the education realm.  A doctor doesn’t know what it is like to have 30 kids in a classroom, no more than I know what it is like to remove someone’s appendix.  It is important to understand that in any profession we respect that experience often trumps research.  I am not looking for Bill Gates to give me ideas on how to run a school.  I would however be interested to know what Bill Gates has done in his own work to create change and make what he does better.  I would also like to know about the changes that have happened in the music industry, and how people in that field have created an environment where they thrive.  How did Uber come about and what are traditional taxi services doing to change the way they do business? The Edmonton Humane Society has totally changed my perspective on how an animal shelter should look like (it is an amazingly beautiful place and looks a lot different from the small cage that I got my first dog Kobe from), and their outreach to the community through their Twitter account has been engaging and powerful.  How did they get to that point and why did they change?

The thing that education has in common with many other fields is that change has been thrust upon them because of the ease of access to information and the easy ability to connect with one another.  Schools aren’t the only organization that is having to look at drastic change.  Many industries are facing similar challenges. What can we learn from them about what they have done and how can we make it applicable to the challenges we are facing?  Creating those connections to both ideas and people could be extremely valuable to the field of education.

So the idea that has been floating around in my head has been hosting an “innovator summit”. This would have people from different fields that are looking at creating, and have created change in their respective fields.  How did they do it?  What worked? What didn’t?  What could we learn from each other?  This would also include people from the field of education who have been successful in creating valuable changes in their own organizations.  There is a lot that different industries could learn from us and apply to their own work.  Truthfully, if anyone should look at hosting a conference where we can learn from one another, shouldn’t it be the field of education?

I have been tossing this idea around in my head.  Perhaps having an “Ignite” style day with short talks, but with the opportunity for conversations with other people.  Maybe even an “Edcamp” type conference.  The idea is definitely in its infancy.  The one thing that I know I would NOT want is people from different fields coming in to tell educators how schools should be.  I have seen that before and it has been a lot of “how to” on getting students to do better at tests, and behaving, etc.  Are we focusing on “doing things better”, or “doing better things”?  Those are two uniquely different ideas and my hope is that we are moving to the latter.

Maybe this has been done before.  Maybe it hasn’t.  It is pretty hard to have an original idea in today’s world but I would sure love some feedback and thoughts on what this could look like or if this is even something that would be beneficial in our work to help our students.

Thoughts?

Categories: Planet

Global Connectedness

At the recent Flat Connections conference in Sydney, the program included a several “Supporting the Challenge” bootcamps which allowed participants to choose the topics that were of high interest to them. “Global Connectedness” was the theme of one of my offered workshops (bootcamps).

In this session, the following questions and topics were shared and discussed.

  • What is a global community?
  • Some examples of global communities.
  • Where can educators start to connect with the world?
  • What are some of the most popular networking tools to build a community?
  • How can a global community be successfully maintained.
  • Tips for sustaining a global community.
  • Challenges

View the presentation:-


Categories: Planet

Save The Date for the 2015 CSTA Annual Conference

Yes, we just finished the Computer Science Teachers Association conference. And it was a great one. You can get copies of many of the presentation decks at http://csta.acm.org/ProfessionalDevelopment/sub/CSTA14/Presentations.html and video of many of them will be available soon. But it is not too soon to save the date for net year’s conference.

The 2015 CSTA Annual Conference will be held July 13th and July 14th at the Hilton DFW Lakes Executive Conference Center in Grapevine Texas. Yes! CSTA is coming to Texas. More information will be coming out in the coming months but you can put the date in your calendar.

Categories: Planet

I won an academic award!

HeyJude Judy O'Connell - 16 July, 2014 - 17:29

Who could have thought five years ago that in 2014 I would be a recipient of a Faculty of Education Award, from Charles Sturt University?  Not me!

Today saw the official announcement of the 2014 awards, and yes – my name was there.

I have to thank all my colleagues past and present who have made this possible. This is a little special for me, as it encourages me to keep doing what I have been doing to support learning, teaching and innovation in schools and beyond.

Thank you!

Image: Thank you CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 by hellojenuine.

 


Filed under: Higher Education Tagged: Award, Charles Sturt University
Categories: Planet

Launching Designing Spaces for Learning – our new subject!

HeyJude Judy O'Connell - 16 July, 2014 - 17:03

Our newest program/course/degree (terminology depends on the part of the world you are in) has been keeping me very busy.  Here at Charles Sturt University I  launched the Master of Education (Knowledge Networks and Digital Innovation) in March 2014.  We have just completed some of the subjects, and I will have to share the outcomes.

But before I do share this, I want to welcome my good friend Ewan McIntosh of NoTosh fame,  to CSU as a newly minted Adjunct lecturer – all ready and engaging as of this week with a new clutch of students. We have people from all around the world, who will be pulling and teasing ideas around with Ewan in the first iteration of the grand new subject.

Ewan said:

When most people find out that they are in line to create a new physical or virtual environment for their school, few have really driven deep into what the research says, and how it might pan out in practice. And, with deadlines in place, and architects producing their “masterplans” based on what they have been able to squeeze out of school communities, the clock is ticking too fast in most cases to begin that learning journey in a timely fashion.

School principals, deputies, librarians and innovator educators can base multi-million dollar decisions on hearsay, gurus’ say-so, and what the Joneses have done with their school. For the initial cohort of students on our inaugural Masters subject on Designing Spaces for Learning at CSU (Charles Sturt University), the story will be very different.

Do visit his blog post Launching a new Masters: Designing Spaces for Learning #INF536. and check out his wonderful welcome video.  Visit the course Facebook Page too!

Perhaps you would like to join our course and his subject in 2015?


Filed under: Design thinking, Future Directions, Innovation & Creativity, Productivity Tagged: Charles Sturt University, Ewan McIntosh
Categories: Planet

Track those new Horizons!

HeyJude Judy O'Connell - 16 July, 2014 - 16:46

While it was published a little while ago, I am still pleased to share the NMC Horizon Report 2014 edition, in case you’ve missed it.

Launched in 2009, the NMC Horizon Report > K-12 Edition broadened the reach of the NMC Horizon Report series to include primary, middle, and high schools. The K-12 Edition explores the key trends accelerating educational technology adoption in schools, the significant challenges impeding it, and emerging technologies poised to impact teaching, learning, and creative inquiry.

I’ve been along for the journey in every K-12 edition as a member of the K-12 Expert Panel, which has been amazing! Now we have this amazing collection that tells an extraordinary story of change, development and innovation in education as part of the mapping of new horizons.  It is fantastic to be involved at this level in education – I love it :-)

> Download the NMC Horizon Report > 2014 K-12 Edition

Check out the trends, challenges and technology forecast in the report. Look for the opportunities where you can contribute to your school’s development, especially in ways that technology can be embedded into the curriculum programs.


Filed under: Digital Media, Future Directions, Innovation & Creativity, Learning and Teaching, Professional Learning
Categories: Planet

Where’s the evidence?

The Principal of Change George Couros - 16 July, 2014 - 04:39
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This is one of those posts where I might just ramble on but I am trying to clarify some thoughts in my head…

When talking about new and innovative ways to teach students, a question that I constantly get is “where is the evidence that this works?”  The problem with trying something new, there is rarely evidence to support it because it is new.  That being said, I am seeing many educators be the “guinea pigs” themselves and trying out new strategies for learning on themselves and with staff.  If there engagement and learning is improving from their own experience, it is more likely to make an impact on students.  We have often believed that teachers should be experts on “teaching” when the reality is that they should be experts on “learning” first.  Immersing themselves into learning opportunities will help them get closer to that standard than simply reading about teaching techniques.

As I have started to think about the “where is the evidence” question, I am wondering if it should be asked right back.  Where is the evidence that what we used to do was knocking it out of the park for all of our kids?  When I went to school, many students struggled then in school and it wasn’t the utopia that so many people have made it out to be.  Are grades the measure?  If they are, do we look at factors such as socio-economic status and their impact on test scores?  Do we believe that any one thing is a direct result to improved grades?  If you look at any school division that has improved, do they usually only have one initiative that they can directly correlate to a numerical improvement, or are there multiple factors?  Does critical thinking improve learning? Does helping students make healthy choices improve learning?  Or would a combination of both have an impact?  Or would one make an impact on one student, while the focus on another might be the different for another student?  It is tough to make standardized assessments on individuals; each person is unique and needs different things.

This brings me back to a conversation this morning that I had with one educator who had mentioned that her admin “didn’t think that kids would do well with this type of learning”.  What I told her is that we should never limit a kid to what we, as adults, think that they can or can’t do.  There is a saying that “whether you think you can or you can’t, you are usually right.”  It is one thing to have this mindset for ourselves, but when we decide our kids “can’t” before giving them a chance or showing a belief in them, their opportunities to grow and achieve something great are limited.

So I guess the next time when I am asked, “Where is the evidence that this works?”, my response might be that nothing works for all people. It never has and it never will.  Some kids will do better with pen and paper, and some adults will do better with a laptop; we have to be able to provide options that work for our students, not just ourselves.  I also believe that sometimes our faith in our kids could be as important (if not more) as some of the evidence we collect.  If we believe we can help our students do amazing things, continuously grow, and make the world better, isn’t it more likely to happen?

Categories: Planet

CSTA 2014 Day Two

CSTA like so many great conferences is as much about learning from face to face informal conversations as it is about formal sessions. I’ve been able to talk with a bunch of CS teachers about a bunch of topics. The picture on the right is me, Mike Smith (who I met for the first time) and Laura Blankenship who is one of my favorite CS bloggers.

My first session of the day was about the CS Principles course. Several teachers who were part of the official pilot talked a out how they implemented in their schools. Since it was a pilot course there was a lot of mid course corrections as things that worked well in theory turned out not to work so well in practice. These pilot teachers have done a lot of work that will contribute to a good course as things are finalized before it becomes an actual APCS course.

My third session of the day was also about CS Principles (sense a thread?) during which the team from CODE.ORG talked about the CS Principles curriculum that they are developing.

My second session of the day? Peli de Halleux from Microsoft Research talking about Code Hunt. He showed us how to create our own puzzles and how to integrate Code Hunt into interactive presentations using Office Mix. This combination shows a huge amount of potential. I hope to use it to help students get more coding practice as well and honing their problem solving skills.

The fourth session for me was about just in time programming. It focused around the question “why can’t you write this program?” And dealing with the most common answers?

The end of the day was a keynote by Michael Kölling which was awesome.  He showed a brief demo of some work they are doing with Greenfoot that is a mix of keyboard and graphical programming. I believe it was recorded and when the video is available I will link to it because I don’t think I can do his talk justice.

Overall a great conference and I am really glad I was here. I’m already looking forward to next year’s conference.

Categories: Planet
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