Sunday, December 30, 2007

'Tis the Season

It has been an exciting holiday week:

  • My mother was ecstatic about her iPod Nano-video. I felt cheap for not getting her the touch screen!

  • My mother-in-law was not. She wasn't sure it was compatible with her wmv books on tape and didn't want to take the time for me to show her how to import. It did take her over a year to take her new computer out of the box. . .
  • My husband is home from Saudi. We've been together for 10 straight days with another week to come!

  • Mom's house is wireless. One trip to Best Buy, and my husband and I are emailing URL's for "you gotta see this" things

  • I bonded with my 16 mo. old nephew. He cuddles with me, and sits on my lap for fingerplay songs.

  • One niece added me to her facebook account. Two others accepted my request. We're planning a girls' weekend in NYC for 2008.

  • I'm increasingly aware of what an integrated part of our lives modern technology and the internet are. What prohibits it from being an embedded part of curriculum design, teaching, and learning?
I also wonder what goals I should set for the next year. A pep talk from a brother-in-law focused me toward Plato's Republic; I turned him toward Moore's Utopia. I only want to make the world a better place.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

A New Educational Life in Second Life

Wow. I finally gained access to second life by reverting back to my Windows XP system and gaming computer with the ATI video card recommended. Irony is that my husband bought this 17" computer for me to play The Sims2 when my older laptop was ready for the rubbish.

I browsed around the University of Cincinnati site, as my Professor shared that my soon-t0-be Alma Mater was developing a "presence" there.

I was led to an open-source research sharing by Boise State University. This led me to sloodle and a wealth of information about building "social persistence" in virtual learning communities.

Now I'm at the in-laws, basking in holiday glow, and anxious to explore more. Did I mention my nieces and I are planning our trip to NYC via facebook? In a six hour visit, I walked through their world of youtube videos, xbox, Wii, and art - so different from the holidays of my youth where batteries are replaced with SD disks and the college novice brags about her prowess in getting required courses by pre-saving registration online.
And I'm proud that I use my blog to track information I may want at a later date. At least I'll know where my links are, if I can't keep up with the nieces and nephews. At least they needed me to help assemble the airhockey table that held their interest for two full games. . .

How do I return the gift of virtual knowledge to a friend who shares so freely?

"Pass it on," the voice echoes in my mind.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Reflections on Teaching and Learning in a Networked Classroom

What started as a substitution course turned into a new way of viewing the possibilities of the web in instruction. Enjoying the embedding of technology doesn’t begin to scratch the surface. I’m living in a different world which will is rapidly becoming the only reality current students know. My mind swims, I can’t keep up with my RSS feeds, answering a question usually leaves me with ten windows or tabs open forgetting the original source of inquiry. In this world, we still expect students to sit in desks, listening to lectures and doing writing assignments? Do we expect teachers and staff members to do the same as we train them to think as students think?

The possibilities, even in professional development for educators are endless. Podcasts, Second Life, Wikis are just a few of the tools available. It was most meaningful in this course not to just learn about them, but to be responsible for creating them. The most difficult was reading about these possibilities. At least I’ve discovered that what used to be ADD is now just connected learning.

My regret was not assuming a more regular pace through the course. The typical final cramming didn’t afford the best understanding of blogs. For instance, during the last week, I discovered ways to edit code that would have customized my blogger template. Had I done the challenging podcasting assignment earlier, I would have – scratch that - might have come across the tutorial blog that links to customizing other features. I say might, because one thing this course has reinforced is how difficult it can be to retrace research steps. That is the value of a blog – linking to the pages at the time of thought so that they’re only a few clicks away.

As I was writing my blog on Wikis, I thought it might have been fun to collaborate with classmates on a project, but my timing probably would have been the weakest link. It was clever to begin the course by becoming course editors through the WetPaint wiki; at least I understand how it works. Setting it up for others will be a larger challenge.

I'm pumped that my Senior Partner extended an invitation to discuss ideas for the coming year. He has demonstrated a desire not only to keep apace with Web 2.0, but to revolutionize the way we do business. I would enjoy using these tools to teach teachers, to facilitate discussions about learning, and incorporate it into the processes attached to mapping.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

One to One Learning Environments

I have the fondest memories of both of my grandfathers. With each, I was afforded the opportunity for meaningful time alone with them. Every animal, every radio program, every person that walked past the porch became a lesson, usually based on a life experience to help me avoid some of the crueler pitfalls in life. I cherish our one on one time. It had to be the most meaningful lessons, immersed in our mutual love for eachother.

What does this have to do with one laptop per child, or other one-to-one learning environments? Let me play a paternal grandfather role and share a story:
When I was in Grade 8 in the Detroit Public School system, we had to share books with a partner during class. Taking them home for continued reading or further investigation involved a rather tedioius check out process that meant precious time away from the seven minutes allotted to see friends and to make it on time to the next class. I shared a microscope with eight other lab table partners and they came out so rarely, there wasn't a direct connection to labs and science.

When I transferred to the suburbs, the first thing I received was a stack of books - checked out to me for the entire year. I was assigned a microscope and my own personal lab station. We were always cutting things, picking things and looking at them in microscopes, and, when the teacher wasn't looking, creating our own little science experiments. We worked in diads and triads in our home ec kitchenettes complete with its own fridge, stove, and cupboard space. All of a sudden, there was a value placed on education by what was available to each individual, and I started taking it seriously. I was "tracked" as a low performing student upon arrival, but by the time I was in the ninth grade, my Biology teacher pulled me into the hall and shared that someone had made an awful mistake putting me in her class and that she would make sure that I was "in the right classes" by the new quarter.

One-to-one supplies. One-teacher to one-student communication. Why should it be any different for the tools of modern education? What message do we send students when there aren't enough computers (or labs) to do the projects or research needed?

Virtual Learning Environments from Blackboards to SMARTboards

Online learning is an interesting phenomena. As I've learned of endless possibilities of teaching and learning through this course and good old blackboard now seems so stilted and artificial. There is no interaction and it takes a series of clicks to find resources related to projects or activities. In spite of being version 7.0, it is very Web 1.0 - ish (I often wonder if people think the same of other internet software platforms that I know well).

A meaningful virtual learning environment puts the learner in control. Rather than going through a series of prescribed activities, chats that are graded based on "asking meaningful questions", inserting a certain number of quotes from the reading, or writing at a graduate level, why not turn the course loose to exploration and discovery through networked communities that share common interests? Why keep students limited to one course over a prescribed time period rather than letting them jump about as their desires to discover and learn grow? Instead of a facilitator lurking in the shadows just to add a grade to discovery, why not ask leading questions that will help the learner reach his/her learning goals?

When teachers and administrators have the luxury of learning this way, leaving behind the ivory tower of inaccesible kings and queens, the classrooms and schools they lead will become dynamic, personalized networks of learning. Instead of dividing learning by catgorized subjects, these inspired educational leaders will integrate inquiry-based learning, answering and asking questions the same inquisitive way that started and fed a Renaissance in Europe. Students will not have to choose between music and athletics; rather they will see both as integral parts of their lives and cultural traditions that define their learning goals.

And while I'm dreaming, I fit into a size six dress this morning as well You'll notice that the Santa made of condoms underwent a virtual diet as well). The beauty of dreams is that they only require action-based faith - that work that is motivated as if the dream has already come true.

Interstingly, Mohamed Amine Chatti doesn't percieve a need for a top-down integrated system, rather that users understand how to blend the various resources out their for their own use. Works for me! It starts with a 3-tabbed home pages, one which is iGoogle, in Internet Explorer; it broadens to a different homepage in firefox to distinguish between personal and work-based projects. A day end ususally finds at least 5 different windows with any range of tabs in each; a track record of a schiozphrenic working and learning pattern.

David Delgado uses this visual representation to show his virtual learning environment, joined by Elgg:

I hope I have the unrelenting courage to speak to this need with my colleagues. We are in a position that approximates the influence of an educational institution. Time to put the end user/learner in the driver's seat and help them discover the tools that keep them intrigued.

No Fear of Flying

I began my teaching career in the bush of Alaska. The North Slope Borough School District is the northernmost district in the US, above the arctic circle, above any semblance of the city life I had known. However, living there for two years, you think I would have come prepared for a visit to the water-networked village.

It had been too long.

I had to borrow a pair of fishing boots from the partner of one of the teachers in the big city - Bethel. Someone only showed up with her patent leather flats and pumps. . . what WAS she thinking? Good thing my friend's partner is a man's man who subsistence fishes: there are no sidewalks - only boards above the marshy tundra.

I took the shortest ever flight - 14 minutes from door closing to door opening, wobbling a fearful 1/4 mile above the tundra. Had a chance to see a truck that had tried to cross on the ice nine years ago, but didn't make it. It sits there, in the marsh, rusting. Too bad the camera was in the cargo holder - also known as the tail of the plane and the back seat.

The all time best response when I inquired about a restaurant or store for dinner was, "You have to go to the village on the other side". That meant swimming across freezing waters. NOT going to happen. Fortunately, two zealous teachers invited me over for hamburgers and Kraft Mac & Cheese. They were right out of college - could you tell?

Water taxis aren't only in Venice! I did get a wonderful hour-long taxi ride to the next site. Yes, all that luggage is mine, including the sleeping bag that I wrote off as a lodging expense, considering I had to use it for sleep in the Principal's office and on mats of the gym floor.

The beauty of this trip? By using an internet-based tool, we are able to connect teachers in remote villages to collaborate with and communicate about their instruction and kids' learning. While they might only see central office staff through distance learning courses, they have at their fingertips the district prescribed and researched best practicies in education, working to ensure that each child in each village is exposed to the same curricular opportunities. Some are more keen to use the internet (computer) than others, but at least the tool is at their disposal!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Virtual Learning Environments

Here's a news flash: I work for a company that supports virtual learning environments. On the surface, I would question this. We manage curriculum. But we also support learners, adult learners, in the process of managing their curriculum. How much and to what extent depends on the desire of the learners.

Wonderfully, I have the opportunity to learn of other associations that are providing these tools to educators. For instance, the ever (in)f amous College Board of AP course fame has an incredible system called SpringBoard through which teachers receive curricululm, instructional strategies correlated to that curriculum, can design tests, and have those tests graded. On one hand, I wish I had known about it during my teaching days, even though it targests the "core" subjects. On the other hand, I enjoyed the creativity of designing my own learning environment and adding the virtual aspects to it.

Virtual learning environments aren't restricted to the internet. Some are site-managed, for commercial reasons. Immediately, I think of Sylvan learning centers and test preparation centers. I appreciate how the tests are sensitive to areas of digitally perceived weaknesses and the tests/exercises modified to lower or raise the bar according to the responsiveness of the student. Isn't this what strong educators do instinctively?

The most important factor of a real-time or virtual learning environment is that a student learns under the facilitation of a qualified and knowledgable educator. As George Siemens says, "Our tools are extensions of ourselves. We desire to extend our competence by creating tools that cover our weaker attributes" (Knowing Knowledge, pg. 110). Embedded technology then should be an extension of a teacher who realizes s/he doesn't have all the knowledge, but a key competency is understanding what teaching and learning is all about.

What is admirable about the SpringBoard program is that they piloted with school districts in real need, took their suggestions and implementations under strong consideration and merged it with their years of knowledge through data collected on various tests. The result is a virtual learning environment built on best practices from people in the field. It uses technology as a tool for both teacher and student learning, but not as the focal point of instruction or learning.

I hope that others who have been working with Atlas Rubicon feel the same way, because I can see a similar behind-the-scenes process, but have lost the perspective from in the field.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Media Sharing

A former music teacher sees infinite possibilities of media sharing over the web. How much simpler to upload sound files for auditions or competitions rather than sending tapes (yes, that was the 2003 expectation!) or CD's.

I love the thought of my former grade 6 video project being off of the school server and onto the net where distant families can download it (rather than 60+ people asking one teacher for a copy).

However, the most significant use of media sharing came from leaving my family in Michigan after Thanksgiving. You won't know these faces, but I am grateful for what Picasa enabled me to do: to send them reminders a week later, of how blessed we are to be the family we are. I was able to send a link to family that didn't fly in, and to relive learning "Soulja Boy" from my nieces. Too bad I didn't reset my camera's clock after putting in the new battery! (Yes, Jeff, this is the camera you picked out for us in Jeddah - Andy has the new one!)

Solja Boy is a recording company 2.0 story - a young man who wanted to make his own dance, produced it using just FL Studio, put it out on YouTube, and had his album released 10/2/2007. It made #1 on Billboard and the top of the charts in other countries. I think that's Ludacris making a cameo.

The School of Tomorrow

The most comforting aspect of the school of tomorrow, School 2.0, was in the upper right hand corner.

Amid the excitement and cartoon bubble text reflecting our classrooms without walls was a web of advice to:

Parents, Teachers, Students, Administrators, Community Members, Technologists

Even policymakers were included. The one group I wanted to see listed was Educator Training Facilities. I don't doubt that Professors are in fact teachers and included in the encouragement to see "the world is your classroom - know that you don't have to have all the answers". My experience with college, particularly at a university, is one of self-teaching and discovery learning (mostly through texts and journals). However, for meaningful and lasting progress to take place in the mindset of educators, it must begin prior to their induction, as they're learning the theories and history of their craft.

There is no doubt that meaningful professional development can and does occur on site, in learning communities, and naturally, through online conferencing and continuing education. It is also fortunate that novice teachers leaving the universities are digital natives familiar if not intimate with the technologies availble for teaching and learning.

My concern is: if educators are being trained for instruction in classrooms with tables and chairs and (hopefully) integration of technology, when will they learn the pedagogy of embedded technology that can differentiate across multiple learning styles and intelligences. When will trained administrators be prepared for positions that do not support basic computer skills, rather have the expectation of innovative uses to improve teaching and learning.

I look forward to seeing University 2.0, not about financial planning, not about internal systems, but about teacher preparation, very soon.

Friday, November 30, 2007


Um. This process took me back to the old VSBASIC days - if , then - trying to adjust html for feeders.

Click on the title "Podcasting". It'll take you to my podcast in an internet link. Or you can click here. I was feeling like a beatnik - or maybe that's a deadbeat? In the process of uploading, I did find a place for copyright free music, because that . . . rap needs something to spice it up.

Next step, learn to imbed it!

Where should I begin to list the possibilities for podcasting in my profession? We're primarily instructors - imagine a short weekly brief on best practices? Conversation starters for team meetings? Analytical tools and how to dig into data to honestly assess whether or not teachers are meeting students' needs (not vice versa).

What about a virtual professional learning community where educators can submit podcasts of their instruction, linked to their lesson plans which are embedded in their living curriculum for feedback from a group of like-minded professionals? The possibilities are only limited by . . .the lack of a 27-hour clock.

At least you can enjoy a professional slam poet.

Ladies and gentlemen, my inspiration warning us of the dangers of spell-check (or "The Impotence of Proofreading"): Taylor Mali!

Online Conferencing for ADD-OS

Thanks Debbie Silver, for helping me understand my randomness. She tagged herself: Attention Deficit Disord . . .ooh! sparklies!(ADD-O!S!) and nothing better describes me.

I love the generation of students we're teaching. They keep up, they follow those random trains of thought that come out of nowhere and aren't necessarily connected.

David Warlick is helping us to understand how to think like our students.

He doesn't expect us to log-on to his keynote and just listen, no more than teachers or presenters should expect students to come in and just listen. He suggests:

  • As you watch the video, during the first 24 to 48 hours, go to the session chat, register, and post questions, comments, and additions, as they occur to you.
  • If you use Twitter, then post comments, while watching, that would be of value to your followers.
  • If you blog or podcast about the session, tag your posts with k12online07 and k12online07pc.
  • I am writing an article about the three converging conditions. The outline is currently on a wiki page. It would be useful to me if you could go and insert any elements of the address or concept that resonated especially well with you.
I have a hard time ingesting the concept of a world of free agents. Where, besides the need to eat, will be the accountability and incentives for excellence? If in our "traditional" jobs, even (cosmetic) medicine, people are willing to perform on any level below medicrity just to collect a paycheck, what networks will form so that we know the free agents we're using suit our needs?

I lived the free agent thing as a performing artist. I loved what I was doing and that passion spurred me, but I worried about an accident outside of my car (health care), and couldn't always do my best because a large portion of my time was devoted to finding the next "gig". I made good money, lived a normal middle class life, but there was no safety net for unplanned illnesses. No work = no pay.

How do we prepare our students for that territory? Who will draw the borders?

Best features?
  • Pausing to multitask
  • Reflecting on how this translates to teaching teachers
  • multitasking
  • wanting to share this link with folks who might like to hear it.
I'll admit. I prefer the "occasional podcasts" that last about 2 - 5 minutes far beyond a 40 minute one. I couldn't sit still in elementary school. I still can't.

Pour yourself a coffee and give it a listen:

Second Death in Vista

Honesty is the best policy, even if it's embarassing . . .

I graduated in the *gulp* eighties. I played "Pong" on TV screens. I remember before Pac-Man met Ms. Pac-Man and how space invaders were shot down by 8 pixel missiles.

One of my former students called me "boring" because I enjoyed the static-esque Sims 2 (with all the add-ons, of course) and had not yet experienced the power of Wii (although the siblings bounced around the idea of getting it for the folks - true gamers themselves. My brother said the boxing was a true workout, and their TV room is much larger than his).

My first glimpse of the ISTE Second Life and the images on the log-in screen took me back to familiar turf. I know how to navigate these games - I even approached carpal tunnel from racing my husband around Simpsonland on our Xbox Generation 2 during "20 hour" Alaskan winter nights.

However. I gave my gaming computer back to my husband and found a new shell in my "up to date" Vista/Office 2007 think pad. Why would an international educational consultant need a serious video card to project internet images?

Because we're moving forward, anxious to facilitate the conversations that will revolutionize teaching and learning, and I'm excited to have an excuse to approach our IT specialist about an upgrade.

Wow. Something else to do during those long layovers!

Better bring chocolate.

My Computer is my Fingerprint

It takes patience to have a transcontinential marriage. Computers help. . . and hinder.

I was excited when my husband wanted to reclaim the 17" Inspiron he had given me as a "gift" the previous year. It's not that he's computer phobic - our Alaskan home was decorated by ebay, travelocity plans our vacations, and he's introduced me and both our families to cheap communication through Skype.

The truth is, he's always buying me "gifts" and I was glad he was asking for something for himself.

I didn't think this exchange through fully. Sure, I backed everything up to an external drive. I had endless downloads, cookies to remember passwords, bookmarks, files, pictures, and other personal artifacts. I just didn't make the time to ensure that everything had copied over.

I'm feeling as though I need a crime scene investigator to help me find that missing part of my life. My laptop was an extension of myself. Of course I miss my husband more, but there's a definite sigh when I realize that a file didn't make it to the external hard drive.

So what is it that we do to hormonally volitile students when we make rules such as "no ipods or mp3's in school" or restrict lab access during their free time?
If a laptop is a defining characteristic of one who can remember the birth of the home computer, the green screens and huge floppy disks, how significant are the gadgets preteens and teenagers use?

Hi. My name is Alicia. I am my laptop.

How can we deny students defining their identity access to the tools of their age. I understand the need for order and discipline, but let's think it through first. Let the math POW center around % of time students spend w/headphones on. Have the morning freewrite focus on the latest and greatest thing heard on an mp3 player. Lead the advisory group in discussion about what happens when the bass kicks in and the drum break rolls around.
Technological evolution is happening. Our students are walking upright, if not flying. We need to let them soar not chain them to our own understanding.

Enjoy the "evolution" of "In the Air Tonight" by Phil Collins.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Social Networking

"It" finally happened.

So many invitations to join in the past. I just didn't want to make the time to click and login and confirm and - and - and.

Myspace dot what? And Why?

Now that "it" happened, and I'm "socially" networked, others know can know who my friends are, how we are acquainted, what they've sent me and so forth. I'm still uncertain how public I want to be, especially with former students, but I was prepared by twits who can follow who I follow.

I've enjoyed my twitbin which allows me an asynchronous peek into the lives of my compatriots in China.

I can't remember exactly what made me take the plunge into social networking beyond 2x daily Skype chats with my trans-continental husband.

All I know is that in less than 48 hours:
  • I was connected to a HS senior who had been my kindergarten student my kindergarten year of k-12 teaching.
  • I found out what is going on with my former students from Saudi Arabia.
  • My ace-boon-coon #1 buddy added me a day later and shared the stories of her heart I missed hearing
  • And my partner in practical jokes from Alaska sent me Thanksgiving wishes and brought me up to speed on those victims (yes, the current president and a whoopee cushion right after a speech!) lost but not forgotten.
What are the implications in education? I'd love to have a social network based on our similar interest in curriculum and internet professional learning communities of best practices. Am I ready to "pitch" it? How does one "tweak" it for a competitive environment?

Finally, what about networking on a professional level? Can I "write it forward" and find ways to connect the dots to other purposes? I'm watching a colleague take flight by including every contact in his social networks as he does his globetrotting sharing. As part of a company instead of being an independent contractor, I wonder how an associate (me!) would manage this volume of communication. I can tell there is a strong need for this sort of insta-link in our professional community, but when do I phase that into the high demands already faced? Remembering my life as a performing artist, I'm not quite ready for that transition to free agent.

Right now, I'm glad to be networked. I love life and love what I'm learning right where I am. However, the ride is much sweeter with old friends just a click away.

Connectivism in Educational Leadership

George Siemens asserts that connectivism is beyond learners creating"knowledge as they attempt to understand their experiences". It is rather deriving "our competence from forming connections . . . other people’s experiences, and hence other people, become the surrogate for knowledge."

How does this translate for 21st Century teachers, particularly international teachers, who must provide instruction to children from cultures they've never experienced? How do they form their competence in instruction when working with children who are third-culture? How to instruct a multitude of teachers from a multitude of backgrounds instructing this multitude of diversity?

Siemens lists a few principles of connectivisms to help:

Learning and knowledge rests in diversity of opinions.

Each educator has a significant contribution to make in both small and large groups. A strong educational leaders facilitates even and unbiased dialog without merely favoring the squeaky wheel.

Learning is a process of connecting specialized nodes or information sources.
Technology should be embedded into staff gatherings. An internet-ready computer with projector is but a staple for teacher collaboration and learning.

Learning may reside in non-human appliances.

I dare you to have a virtual staff meeting - in an online community. What happens when a group of educators have a quarterly meeting in Second life and learn from other educators around the world in the process? Might that carry into classroom instruction and innovate ways of finding knowledge wherever it is available?
Why shouldn't educational leaders strive to make meetings fun and engaging? It's not only k-12 students who need to construct their own learning.

Capacity to know more is more critical than what is currently known
Most stagnating phrase: "We've always done it this way". Once we know it all, we fail to know what we don't know.

Nurturing and maintaining connections is needed to facilitate continual learning.
As Barbara Striesand sang so beautifully: "People. People who need people . . . are the luckiest people in the world. . . "

Ability to see connections between fields, ideas, and concepts is a core skill.
Wow. Connect the digital age to Bloom's taxonomy. Then interpret that for adults constantly learning best practices.
Currency (accurate, up-to-date knowledge) is the intent of all connectivist learning activities. . . . and knowledge is constantly shifting. Especially when one considers learning about learning.

Decision-making is itself a learning process. Choosing what to learn and the meaning of incoming information is seen through the lens of a shifting reality. While there is a right answer now, it may be wrong tomorrow due to alterations in the information climate affecting the decision.

New intiatives should be weighed heavily, and seldom undertaken at the cost of meaningful professional learning communities.

A very important part of connectivism is permitting the time to connect to others. Whether in digital space or real time, educational leaders must facilitate the dialog about teaching and learning. This allows educators to derive their competence from the confidence that they are doing what is best for children.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Rome Wasn't Built in a Day

I feel like a mouse in a labyrinth of new knowledge and ideas!

The change from the classroom to consulting after 12 years in the classroom is a true paradigm shift. Fortunately, this is hastened by courses in leadership which constantly asks for reflections on practices in my school.

I am blessed to now have thousands of schools/educators from which to learn. I know their histories and aspirations as I work with them and gain institutional knowledge from new and savvy colleagues.

We are internet based. This is nothing knew for meaningful curriculum mapping . If not familiar with it, learn about it now rather than at the latter part of your teaching career as I did, to avoid that "where have you been all of my career" feeling.

What attracted me to the firm first as a client and then as a career path is that we don't merely fly in, "consult and leave"; we learn from our clients and their needs to better education world-wide.

So what does this mean for in a climate of growing Technology and Learning for educators?

Thank goodness our development team is keyed in to the latest and greatest and embraces the firm's philosophy of growth. Thank goodness they know and are keen to know more about what tools teachers are using and could be using in the classroom.

But useful tools take time to build and generations to evolve. After all, the touchscreen ipod wasn't built in a day.

What to do in the interim?

Keep learning.
But to quote a friend and mentor, the cutting edge thinkers hurt my brain.

How do you let ambitious teachers/clients know you hear their needs?

And wait. But there is so much at stake. Mostly, the quality learning of children.
Isn't it better to focus on teaching them how to be lifelong learners rather than feeding them facts and skills?

To steal the lyrics from Morcheeba:
One fine day, we'll fly away. Don't you know Rome wasn't built in a day?

Enjoy the music and dancing. Music always soothes my savage intellectual beasts when my brain is hurting. . .

(images hyperlinked to sources)

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Assessment in a Networked Classroom

At least I've discovered my mental block.

cash advance I've left the classroom for a different job. Assessment has a different meaning, as I'm not thinking of assessing learning, but more assessing suitability, adaptation, listening to hear and consult about problems.

What if assessment in a new networked classroom was more consulting than testing? More for the teacher than the student?

And then I read about a blog ranking system.

Genius? Shouldn't I be creating instead of responding?

Can one trust a rating system from a parent page takes me to a review of movies? Not to mention an embedding that adds a link to a credit application. **Eek** Commercialism!

My Critic's Rant:

Without getting into a rating system reminiscent of comparing SAT or ACT scores while in the workforce (i.e., after it's relevant to most employers except for Google), I bet it just examines sentence complexity and a runs an search (sql? xml?) for million $$ words.

Save for inappropriate words or themes, should an instructor restrict blog reading because of its "reading level"? That's like taking Gulliver's Travels out of the hands of a pre-teen because "he'll never understand the historical themes". Or for a less anachronistic reference, telling an elementary student to choose a book other than one of the Harry Potter series because it's too thick.

What is it in our nature that compels us to be ranked - much less when invited to embed the link that rated us? Who cares what # I was in my graduating class? What have I done lately!

I was tempted. Until I realized it would only serve ego, not dialog.

Hope my sentence fragments don't negatively impact this blog's rating.

Don't assess me. Just help me continue to learn.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Teaching Teachers in a New Networked Classroom

One of the joys of my job is the opportunity to meet instructors all over the world. Sometimes I'm meeting old friends in new schools; others, making new friends in old schools. Whether those educators are using our software tools or considering the possiblities, I get to connect with them, virtually and in real time, about teaching and learning.

One teacher I met had over ninety links and documents he wanted to embed into his unit map. He uses BBC video feeds, you tube, teacher tube, podcasts, and anything he can find on the internet or create digitally to capture his students attention.

Other teachers ask what "refresh" means or how to link.

Still, no matter where the teacher falls on the spectrum of using the internet, the most critical factor is the accessibility students have to using the web during instruction. In connectivism and constructivism, the greatest contribution to meaningful understanding lies in the students' ability to manipulate information to make connections between those subjects we still divide to instruct.

Based on my experience in early childhood, teaching in a new networked classroom means providing consistent and meaningful hands-on experiences in the "network" under the guidance of a learning educator.

My favorite moments in teaching are those when the students and I would make discoveries together while trying to answer a question I couldn't.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Blogging is connecting

I feel connected to a teenager I've never met. I've only experienced a glimpse of his creativity, through a blog , fed through ASCD. I felt a connection to another who viewed his video and recognized the talent it took for "the guy who actually CAME UP with the idea, worked out the entire order of words to make it work, and figured out the movements to put it all together which require[d] a very creative mind that alone deserves attention".

I'm envisioning how this video will connect people all around the world. There will be conversations, similar to the quick conversations about a poor teenage beauty contestant who couldn't gather her thoughts, we'll continue our daily activities, and wait for the next connection. Longevity is no longer a criterion in making connections - it has more immediacy.

I feel connected to Ian Falconer - I owe him an apology for assuming that a mere reference to his creative magnets would be sufficient to pass along his mental property. On the other hand, the potentially nameless owner of these hands will propel a movement, probably farther reaching than the Macarena, improve the sales of mp3's of this song as others want to show friends that they can recreate his creativity.

George Siemens provides several different tangents from connectivism, putting it succinctly in context with better known learning theories using his espace articulate presentation than I found in his traditional book. At least he incorporates learning 2.0 with offers of customization of the text to suit specific needs.

Take a moment to connect with an upbeat message - pun intended. Click play below.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

A Diva Without a Stage?

The Kite Runner, a very moving journey where a man explains "I became what I am at the age of twelve". This poignant book-club read of the Ladies of Yanbu International School 2005 by Khaled Hosseini was the connecting thread that took the conversation from mapping a language arts curriculum to a more personal level. Jill was kind enough to give me the next book A Thousand Splendid Suns which had been given to her by a student, as long as I promised to pass it on. I knew it must be a good book, as I had been similarly inspired by The Red Tent.

I can't keep my promise.

I haven't read it yet. Since June. Not a page.

This reminds me of the journey to Web 2.0. The tools are there, but can be easily tucked away on a shelf - just not opened, not used.

I am on the computer constantly - I work for a consulting service which specializes in internet-based tools - php easy-to-use software for educators. Memories of Web 1.0 code start to trickle back into my mind from my 1997 introduction to "Assistant Webmastering" just at the entry point of WYSWIG html writing.

It is so easy to post a blog. Online photo galleries offer an awesome way to keep up with growing nieces and nephews. I experienced sales through the internet. Heck, I can even send bridal and wedding gifts without getting out of my pajamas.

So why is it a challenge to stay on top of my assignments in a class designed to teach me to teach Web 2.0?

The book is on the shelf. I haven't cracked the cover to read the pages and take the words into my life. It's a matter of using these tools to simplify my life.

Soon. So I can keep my promise, and pass it on.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Ohmigosh! It's real!

Why is it that the phrase "have to" becomes our incentive to try something new? Creating my own blog has been on my "want to" list for over two years, yet it is not until I'm forced to do this for a class that I take the initiative to do so. Regretfully, this is unbelievable simple, and the pain of missed opportunities floods my guilt sensors.

The next step will be to see if I can make something useful of this page, avoiding the temptation to type over 90 words a minute of endless streams of thought without purpose or direction.

If ancient civilizations could build such wonders as these, hands on stone without cranes or jackhammers, what is the fear factor that stops us from exploring new possibilities? Is it only when we can stand back and admire our handiwork that we see there is nothing to fear but fear itself?