Category Archives: web 2.0

Whither censorship?

I have begun to follow a few people in Twitter and they inevitably say interesting things or point me to interesting reading/listening.  Clarence posted a Tweet, is that “Tweeted” highlighting a podcast from CBC radio about a mother and a school division and their discussions on appropriate site blocking in the elementary school.  Censorship of the internet always makes me take a second look.  I dislike having to ask for reasonable sites to be ‘unblocked’ during the day to day work of school.  It isn’t difficult but it is tiresome.  I know Vicki et al are working on this.  My own school practice is so far from an integrate web 2.0 environment as to make the discussion purely academic but I don’t have any personal net nanny for my own children at home.  So I wonder, what is reasonable?

In this particular case, mom found her twelve year old up in the middle of the night on their office computer.  Using her own personal expertise, the mom had run some checks on her daughter’s practice and was aghast.  The daughter was using the internet at home and at school to talk in chat rooms and go to porn sites.  She took measures in her own home to eliminate her daughter’s access to the internet.  She wanted the school division to have similar measures in place.  The division had temporarily suspended student access to Facebook and some other social software in resp9onse to the incident and was reviewing policy.   The mother thought this was not enough given that Yahoo and other such sites and engines can give students access to similar chat spaces.  Her thought was that there was no educational reason for students to have access to social software at school. She believed that these tools would be better taught and learned about from home.

I believe this story illustrates  why schools need to teach about social software and teach its use rather than the teaching about the need for this access to eliminated in schools.  It is clear to me from this case that the home is not necessarily teaching children what they need to know.  Children need to learn how to make good choices on the internet and they will not learn that by not using the software and sites which are available nor will they learn it in an unsupervised environment.

I set all kinds of limits in my own home to protect my children from negative influences.  My children only watch videos which we borrow from the library.  Usually we preview them before they see them.  My children only go on to the internet accompanied by one of their parents.  So far we have no need for a net minder on our computer because we are with them.  I believe it is the relationship I am building with them which will help to keep them safe as they grow.  They are not testing their wings much beyond my home yet.  They are both younger than ten, what will I want from the school as they grow?  I want them to have access to the tools which they need to develop a critical and creative outlook.  I want them to be able to experiment and play as they learn.  I want them to learn to make choices about which things they want to see and which they do not.  I do not trust a filter to provide a safe environment, I expect the teacher to provide a safe environment.

How do we prevent what happened with this women and her daughter?  I sure do not want a Canadian version of COPA.  I think we need strong divisional policies and well-educated teachers.  I think we need a vision of grade appropriate access to the internet.  I think we need small enough class sizes that teacher supervision of child activity is possible.  I think it is appropriate to be able to track student activity, just as we track employee activity.  They need to know they are working on computers which are not theirs in an environment which is not theirs and is not private.

What do you think?

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Filed under education, safety, web 2.0

Getting Ready

I’m preparing for a classroom with a web 2.0 component and I spent some time tonight getting it ready.  I now have a classroom blog address, a classroom del.icio.us account and a classroom flickr account.  Nothing fancy in any of these links yet but it is a start.  I’m just wondering how to keep all of the login and passwords straight.  Come on Open ID but of course I’d have to know how that worked!

My next steps are getting the students used to it.  Getting parental permission for a variety of the items that might get posted and getting a school blog up and running.  My wonderful principal is keen on it all and would like to get blogging.

On another note, I’ve been thinking that it would be fun to do a min – Pecha Kucha for Meet the Teacher night. One slide per teacher 20 sec to introduce yourself.  It would kind of go with the Four Slide Intro I did for my students on the first day.  I think my principal would go for it.  It will depend on the energy of my staff but it is early in the year.  🙂

fourslidesintro.ppt

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Filed under classroom, education, Flickr, personal, web 2.0

New Things

I’ve been trying out some of the applications that I heard about in the last year and didn’t have time to play with during the writing, reading, class taking of the academic year.  I must admit I haven’t a deep knowledge of the finer uses for these tools but I have had a chance to make a first impression which I thought I’d record here for my own reference later.  If you happen to be reading along, you are welcome to share with me your experiences.  I’d be happy to expand my understanding, without the involved hours of playtime.

Zoho Notebook 

This is a totally cool application.  It reminds me of a wiki page but I think the interface may be even easier.  You can share a whole notebook of pages, a single page or a single object in a page.  I can see the collaboration value of having a shared notebook as a classroom while working on a theme.  I have typically had my walls covered with chart paper brainstorms, the results of experiments and the vocabulary but imagine a shared notebook page containing a diagram of the lab set up, a Flickr pic with notes showing the vocabulary and student comments on the content.  Cool.

Gliffy

Sorry guys, not as impressive.  Ok that tool itself may well be impressive but as far as I can tell  I only get 5 documents in the trial version and I can’t figure out how I get out of trial if I want a free version with more documents to play with.  It wasn’t otherwise hard to use but if I have to pay, it’s not happening for school.  It’s an online tool which makes it possibly more accessible on the school network.  I haven’t had much of a chance to check out the limitations of the system in my new school.

Grokker

Very interesting search tool.  Seems to have a free version.  I love the mapping tool.  I have a standard search on spiders that I do when I can’t think of anything else.  I was pleased with the ‘meta’ functions.  At least that’s what I want to call it when it does the categorization for me and maps it out.  It only searches with Yahoo and Wikipedia in the free version which is a little disappointing.  Good for a quick and dirty search if you are in a hurry.

Bubbl.us  

This is a pretty simple looking tool.  I like the possibilities for mindmapping with younger children.  It would have limitations for more advanced uses I think.  I wish I could change the bubble shape but it can change the colours.  I think it might be a good starter tool for kids just new to things.  Simple interface.

Mindomo 

I didn’t spend much time here but I like the look of this tool.  I looked at the demo documents and I like the variety of options for bubble shapes, lines and organization.  It would be helpful as a sharing tool to be web-based which is where it would be an improvement on Inspiration.  It has a free basic version.  Seems worth trying. I think I would try this over Gliffy and as a step up from Bubbl.us.

Amazing things to speculate on using.  School is just around the corner.  Whee!

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Filed under education, edutech, tools, web 2.0

Trouble with Liveblogging

I tried to live blog today. For some reason when I went to save my post it was lost. I don’t know if it was a server problem or a connection problem or an error on my part. It is frustrating though. I think I would probably just open up in word next time and at least have a digital form or my notes. But I can’t directly copy from Word into WordPress, a small but understandable frustration with the difficulty translating between applications and clearly a problem with being a ‘slave’ to business controlled apps. I am not savvy enough as yet to navigate the world of open source and find a solution to my problem should it exist. But it is something to consider in the educational forum.

I don’t personally want to figure out coding from all the possible angles but on the other hand, I hate being strung up by the limitations of not coding for myself. For instance with my website – which I created with Dreamweaver. I don’t know enough code to add and take away things without doing it from the University where I have access to Dreamweaver software and in fact, I don’t know if I even can get at the code which was created with Dreamweaver from ‘outside’. More reasons to know more. I wish I had a handy-dandy thirteen year old at my disposal. Maybe my son will turn into one of those kind of thirteen year olds. Only 7 years to go!

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Filed under edutech, personal, web 2.0

Over-Underwhelmed – TLit – 2007

I have received some offline comments about this post and I’m stewing about them. I have thought about whether I should pull it but I’m going to try and make some adjustments to make myself more clearly understood. The adjustments will be in italics.

I had three days of conferencing this week. I can tell I have spent my year not working to a clock. As a student, I have been able to work my day around the rhythm of my children’s school day. I am a regimented sort so it hasn’t been very loose as schedules go. But it hasn’t been 9-5 daily. Three days inside from 8-4 or 8am-10pm and I am overwhelmed, mostly by the quantity of the information and interaction. I think I may now have a slight understanding of the autistic experience.

I was very pleased to meet some of my online colleagues – Donna, Kelly and Doug were the highlights of my three days. In talking with Kelly, I realized why the content of the three days was a little underwhelming. I have seen and heard this conversation here in the blogosphere. A conference is behind the wave. The question is behind the wave for whom? Behind the wave for the less than 10% of the teaching community online. The conferences were both still very much in front of the wave for most of the school and teaching community and on top of the wave for others. It’s good for F2F but it doesn’t teach you the latest and greatest and most practical. That’s what I’m here for. PD for me is changing, no it has changed. I’m not going to expect a conference to be the highlight of my year anymore.

One of my TL colleagues was overwhelmed by Donna’s overview of TL 2.0. She said, I do not want to spend an hour a day on the internet looking at blogs. I understand the response because she doesn’t know yet what she is missing and it does take time to get into the swing of things. This is a feeling I understand. I look ahead to when I’m back in the real swing of things and I wonder how I will balance the need to have things ready for tomorrow with the need to know the latest and greatest. I have blogged about this in a different vein in the past. How do we know which technologies, which tools to pour heart and soul and time into and which to let pass us by? Right now I’m missing the Second Life thing. Doug Noon has helped me to get a little perspective on this.

After awhile reading feeds and blogging doesn’t take much time and the time is so enjoyable and worthwhile it doesn’t seem to matter. But it takes time to get there and who in the field can manage it on top of the rest of what is being done when what is being done is also important. Ian Jakes talked about what he calls, TWWHADI (The way we have always done it) and it’s influence on culture overall and schools in particular and our need to change. After his presentation, I was talking to some TL colleagues and trying to convey some of the need to hang on to things from the past in schools, as portrayed by Neil Postman and summarized in this review (thanks again Doug N). She said something to the effect but were too stuck and that is exactly the push and pull. Not enough change, yet which changes. Doug Johnson mentioned some of these challenges in his presentation at the SSLA conference. In some ways what he said was captured for me in one of his observations about the difference between TLs and IT people – IT people say “Cool, I want one of those”, TLs say “What’s it good for and how will it benefit things?” I think we need both of those. Some teachers saying – “Cool” and jumping in and others saying, “For what?” and holding back. The question is where is the current balance in our schools?

No looking back  Note for readers:  I had a chance to chat with the TL who said, ‘Who has time?” and felt overwhelmed.  She has set up a start page and is reading some feeds.  She is excited about the potential AND she is planning to do some podcasting with her students.  Overwhelmed but not lacking in courage and perseverance wouldn’t you say!  I hope I can have the same response when I get back to the messy real world!

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Filed under blogging, education, edutech, learning, personal, teacher training, web 2.0

Why Teach ICT?

Rob Darrow at California Dreamin’ had this video up to share. I want to remember I have it expect it will be better here than in my del.icio.us. Thanks to Aaron as well. Where in the world is Aaron Schmidt? Canada, I think. Enjoyed my first trip to his site.

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Filed under education, edutech, web 2.0, YouTube

Dangers and Opportunities

Dangers and Opportunites

Doug Johnson gave a talk on the dangers and opportunities facing libraries in the 21st Century.  He highlights three dangers and seven opportunites – he’s an optomistic sort.  It is an entertaining and humourous read.    Very quickly, the dangers are

1 – growing digitization and portability of information.  As ipods and handhelds become more pervasive, the need for paper books from libraries and book stores will decrease.  It is cheaper and easier to publish and transmit. It fits the lifestyle and tendencies of the current society.   

2 – fundamental changes in the nature and sources of information.  Information production is becoming more distributed (Wikipedia, blogs).  Free sources are more likely to be used than sources which cost money.  More persons can change and interpret the information.  We need to rethink authority.  

3- changing needs of society in a global economy.  The job market is changing.  The job market, particularly in industrialized, ‘first’ world countries, demands higher level thinking skills associated with the ability to design,  persuade and synthesize information. 

Opportunites – how can libraries change to be relevant in the face of these ‘dangers’?

1- improve facilities (if you aren’t a welcoming place, why should I leave home to be there?)

2 – give learning opportunites (to meet the changing societal need, opprotunites to design, synthesize and intepret, persuade…)

3- be information ‘experts’ (teach the use of the new tools)

4 – be a team player (support the work of your organization, school, city…)

5- get out there (let your community know where you are @)

6 – diversify (libraries are a knowledge and learning business, find your niche)

7 – bridge the divide (teach adults, reach out to teens)

Doug‘s talk was for an Australian librarian group, but it has clear implications for school libraries in Canada.   What would I do, if I had my own school library?

I would be interested in finding ways to have the school library open after school.  I think that the lunch hour and the hour after school particularly are times when students adn community members should be able to make use of the library and have access to the teacher librarian. 

I would like to make sure that the school computer lab and the library were located side by side.  We are teaching critical and creative thinking and information skills in the library.  The computers need to be accessible to the teacher librarian and to the students as they research.

Liaison – I would want to make connections with students and parents and staff to find out what they need to know more about and then offer workshops to serve those needs.

 Connect to the public library in virtual and real ways.  I think I would like to have an ongoing relationship with the local public library staff and facilitate the connection for students between the services offered at school and the services offered at the public library.  We have a tremendous resource of open access databases through a multitype library agreement in Saskatchewan.  We have the opportunity then to teach students and community members about these sources so that they can use them both while they are at school and in the school off hours but also as they grow up and need to find these sources as adults.

 I think much of what teaching comes down to is relationship and story.  Libraries are places to create both of these crucial pieces. 

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Filed under library, web 2.0