Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Can playing video games make you more productive?

What do you think of this Ted talk?

"Can playing video games make you more productive? Gabe Zichermann shows how games are making kids better problem-solvers, and will make us better at everything from driving to multi-tasking."

He speaks very fast but what he says is thought provoking. He is visioning a different future and making educators think about the implications of the world that our students currently inhabit on schools. I found Jane McGonigal's Ted talk on Gaming making a better world also excellent, and it is interesting that the school systems seem to be so very far behind in neglecting gamification in their curriculum design. But is that true? What is your experience? Maybe your students use games to learn, maybe your school sees the points that these two speakers are making and are redesigning students' school experiences. I'd love to hear what you think. Please comment or let me know of discussions on your own blogs on this topic.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

K12 online conference 2011 is on now

The K-12 online conference is on again for 2011. At midnight tonight EDST in Australia, the session by Jess McCulloch on The Black Line Mystery – a story about the most complicated Chinese character known to mankind and its community – will be published.

Already published are several presentations from the first day (yesterday), including one by Anne Mirtschin on The world is my classroom. So great to see the Aussies here. The conference goes through to Tuesday 13 December at 1:00 PM EDST in Australia when there will be a live event, a discussion hosted in Blackboard Collaborate (formerly “Elluminate Live”) including conference keynote speakers and presenters.

What a great service this is as all the presentations are archived for viewing in the comfort of your own lounge room, from 2006 until the present.
Thanks so much to the conference organisers for this:

2011 Conference Organizers

I love the fact that the goal and core values for the conference are articulated, includes aspects such as Archiving, Non-commercial, Accessibility, Participation and Open Source and Free Tools.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Klout and education

I have never known what to think about Klout. I check it but almost shamefacedly as if I was doing something I shouldn't (some people feel this way about doing a so-called vanity search - looking themselves up on Google - but I think that's important and necessary).

What is klout? According to their website the Klout Score "measures influence based on your ability to drive action. Every time you create content or engage you influence others. The Klout Score uses data from social networks in order to measure: true reach (how many people you influence), amplification (how much you influence them) and network impact (the influence of your network).

Bon Stewart writes in Salon that Klout is bad for your soul. Stewart sees that social media platforms are changing: "We are gradually being directed away from sociality and toward businesslike behaviors by the business interests that design and profit from the platforms we use." She suggests knowing when to take its metrics with a grain of salt: "Klout is good for letting you know whether you’re succeeding in your efforts to improve: It is not and cannot be a measure of success."

David Truss
hits the nail on the head when he says: "TRUE influence comes with the delivery of good content, which adds value and is shared generously". He also shares this diagram:

Image via

For another point of view which speaks highly of Klout have a look at The innovations Lab blog by Will deBock.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

My links for today (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Are more teachers using Facebook with their students now?

There I was browsing my diigo network links and I found something that caught my eye:
10 Beneficial Facebook Pages For Educators To Check Out, written by K. Walsh. While reading the list of some of the "many Facebook pages that have been created as a resource to collect, share, and disseminate information about education and education technologies" it triggered a thought about Vicki Davis' views on teachers using Facebook with their students. While this post does not advocate teachers using FB with their students (it is more of a list of resources for teachers' life long learning, K. Walsh does discuss this elsewhere.

I went over to the Cool Cat Teacher blogpost on the topic. Similar to my issue in yesterday's post it seems that there are respected educators on both sides of the debate. Vicki has thought and investigated many aspects of teachers using FB in their classrooms and the argument for the other side is that students are using this site anyway and why not add relevance to your classes by using a tool that they are familiar with. I won't repeat Vicki's thoroughly thought through arguments - please read the post at her site (or reread it), but it is worth thinking through the arguments of those who espouse using Facebook with students in secondary school.

Millie Watts in a recent article for school and college leaders says that for her Facebook is valuable as a teaching and learning for these three reasons: speed and ease of use, Facebook connectivity which enables her to post articles she finds to Facebook page without leaving the site she is reading, and community interaction as past students remain connected and interact with present students.

I always steered clear of using Facebook with my students but I do wonder if things are changing now. For a collection of links about social media and education I would recommend John Larkin's post which may make us think again whichever side of the debate you have come down on. I would love to hear about your experiences.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Bring Your Own Device

eye phone
This new post by Andrew Churches (who has done a lot of work on digital citizenship) is an optimistic and hopeful take on the notion of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) which students are doing anyway, even as some schools try to ban them.

He says: "I love the concept of BYOD (Bring your own device) on a number of levels. We have a successful BYOD program at the senior school and it works." He goes on to say that trust and strong education in digital citizenship is important in a school that has a BYOD policy. I think that this is the wrong way round.

Given that students will often flout the ban on personal devices anyway and that they are using them outside of school, isn't it important to be teaching them " a strong ethical and moral approach to the use of technology" anyway and what better way to do this than in the context of students using these devices in a place where adults' wisdom can guide the student. To do otherwise seems to me to be an abrogation of educators' responsibilities.

ReadWriteWeb reports on a survey of students
"The two major obstacles that students say they face at school (to their learning - my emphasis): filters that stop them from accessing the websites they need for homework and bans on using their own mobile devices (namely cellphones) at school."
A BYOD policy would help with this.

But not only that:
"The majority of parents surveyed - 67% - said that they were willing to buy their children a mobile device for school if the schools allowed it, and parents seemed particularly interested in their children using these devices in order to access online textbooks."

But there are nay-sayers. Gary Stager is looking at the issue in a different way:
Believing that expecting students to bring their own device from home "diminishes the otherwise enormous potential of educational computing to the weakest “device” in the room... Kids need a personal computer capable of doing anything you imagine they should be able to do, plus leave plenty of room for growth and childlike ingenuity," Stager believes that schools should provide those computers and not rely on the inequities caused by expecting parents to bear the full cost.

However, it seems that many schools are implementing or thinking of implementing a BYOD policy. The next two educational bloggers have been thinking about what would make such a policy truly effective on an educational level. Read what they have to say and join in the conversation on their blogs or on this one. Leave a comment if you are moved to do so. We need critical thoughtful voices and the voices of experience to move to the next level, whatever that is.

Doug Peterson says:
"So, while BYOD has all kinds of possibilities when working on projects and assignments, I think that a personal planner takes it one step further. If that device becomes a cornerstone to everything that a student is doing academically, it gets us closer to a vision of a connected student, firing on all cylinders."

Darren Kuropatwa goes further and makes over 10 practical suggestions and concludes:
"My class will teach the world what they learn with me. Everything will be accessible online and on a mobile device."

That sounds good to me.

Image attribution: Eye Phone by Jeff Meyer

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Curation with Themeefy

Today I learned about Themeefy via Judy O'Connell. It is a presentation tool that lets you create a magazine out of weblinks, photos, notes and embedded videos on a topic. The resulting magazine can then be shared or embedded on a blog or wiki. I like it and think it would be a great way for students to demonstrate their knowledge on a topic. Each magazine has a front cover, table of contents, description and then several pages of content and bibliography. There is also a library several Themeefy magazine on various topics in different subject areas.

Joyce Valenza sees it as part of teaching student to curate information. Curating is an exciting way for learners to discover how to manage their learning by consciously selecting and aggregating a variety of media and resources, and Themeefy could be one tool among many to do just that.

It would also be as well to teach students about copyright at the same time as from a quick look at some of the examples uploaded in the library it would be easy to break copyright by not attributing the photos (at the end of each magazine published is a disclaimer by Themeefy with a statement that "The curator has compiled the content provided in this Magazine and is completely responsible for any copyright violations.") A great opportunity I would think.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

More professional learning

Today I joined a session on Tech Talk Tuesdays on what is needed to bring eLearning to the next level. There were interesting discussions both in the chat and via the microphone and I bookmarked some links to look at later. It was interesting to see a wiki from a kindergarten in Hong Kong which has been set up to show off the work that they have each been doing this year and to tell us how fantastic their school is.  

I also saved a link on Ideas for Linking Preservice Teachers Across the Globe which may be useful for others. 

The second experience I had today was that of following a link by Roland Gesthuizen to this video on thought leadership. There I was happy to see Mark Richardson, Helen Otway and Ray Nashar as well as others speak on the topic. After defining thought leadership there was a great discussion on how to advance this. Later Ray tweeted out a list of resources that he has found useful. I am particularly keen to look at the "the four-level approach to selecting, using, and evaluating technology in education that underlies Maine's "Roadmap to the 21st Century Classroom" and the TPCK and SAMR (the four level approach mentioned above) Models to Enhance Technology Integration. So much to learn.

Image from

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Global Education Collaborative

At the end of last week I was privileged to be able to attend a few sessions of The Global Education Collaborative, an online and free conference facilitated by Lucy Gray and Steve Hargadon. The aim of the conference was to "significantly increase opportunities for globally-connecting education activities and initiatives." (from the conference wiki). Sessions took place in multiple time zones and multiple languages over five days. I dropped in and out as pressures of work allowed and sometimes was so hooked I stayed late into the night.

It was great to meet a number of people I have worked with and shared conversation with on line and IRL. The sessions and schedule page worked really well with descriptions of each session, the presenters, the link to the webconference page and importantly the time for your time zone.

Fortunately there was a twitter hash tag which meant that I usually knew when a session I wanted to attend was coming up. It was great to meet Vicki Davis and Anne Mirtschin, both good friends presenting at different times. Luckily if you missed any of the sessions or did not know the conference was on you can still catch the recordings here.

Some sessions that I want to catch up with are Gayle Berthiaume on Connecting Kids Around the World, Gail Casey, Web2Where: Online Social and Participatory Media for the Global Classroom, Sharon Peters, Project Purpose: Students Making a Difference in Mozambique and Ewan McIntosh The Problem Finders: how design thinking is releasing learning.

And on Friday I went briefly to the Big Fat Edtech Tweetup at a bar near Federation Square.

I got to meet Joyce Seitzinger, Stephen Heppell, Steve Wheeler, John Pearce, Mark Smithers, Linda Ruff, Lois Smethurst, Jenny Ashby, and Shelley Gibb. So nice to meet up with them. I had an interesting conversation with Steve Wheeler (love his description of himself as a disruptive activist) where he discussed his experiment with twitter and identity which he has blogged about.

I was interested because I felt I recently had to take on another twitter identity to deal with my burgeoning interest in permaculture and beekeeping. I didn't want to bore people who have followed me out of an interest in educational technology with stuff about my other interest and so I have had to split myself in half. I don't think this is a bad thing, just interesting. It is a very new identity so I have to be humble in my new space and learn the ropes in another community. It feels like a bit of an experiment and a definite learning opportunity. Thanks for the discussion Steve and I hope you learn a lot from your experiment although it is different from mine. I will look forward to reading more of Steve's writing and I'm glad I had the opportunity to meet you.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

My links for today (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.