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.