NCCE2015

Ideas swimming around in my head after attending #NCCE2015

 

Goals:

  1. Put in for funding to upgrade our version of Photoshop so students can design for the 3D printer
  2. Make another Infographic with Illustrator
  3. Purchase Sphero balls for Makerspace
  4. Plan out initial ideas for start-up incubator space
  5. Share Joe Dockery’s iPad Arts and Creation website with staff  http://ipadography.weebly.com/
  6. Investigate Intel K-12 Blueprint toolkit resources – especially Active Learning Spaces http://www.k12blueprint.com/
  7. Participate in monthly #NCCE2015 Twitter chats
  8. Screencast some tutorials for Adobe Voice, Adobe Clip, Snapsneed, Trello
  9. Get a new stylus for sketchnotes!

Educate .. don’t create hysteria

In light of the recent swine flu epidemic, I think teachers must be the voice of reason and use this opportunity as a “teachable moment” to discuss disease prevention but also how the media can cause mass hysteria.

Technology is great for having the most up-to-date information but it can also over feed the news frenzy.  Here are a few resources that I am using to educate my students about disease prevention and the swine flu.

For students:

CDC YouTube channel.  “Put your hands together” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZlDqcmY_EV8

swine_fluQuestions & Answers from CDC:  H1N1 Flu (Swine Flu) and You http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/swineflu_you.htm

HealthMap – Map of Global Disease alerts http://www.healthmap.org/

Slideshow:  Top Hot Spots for Germs http://life.familyeducation.com/slideshow/hygiene/61567.html

Good advice:

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hands cleaners are also effective.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread that way.
  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  • Influenza is thought to spread mainly person-to-person through coughing or sneezing of infected people.
  • If you get sick, CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.

Media Hysteria:

Student editorial

CNN commentary:  Its time to end flu hysteria http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/05/01/navarrette.biden.flu/

Swine flu hysteria spreads faster than virus http://www.prisonplanet.com/swine-flu-hysteria-spreads-faster-than-actual-virus.html

For schools:

Information from CDC about school’s response to swine flu http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/k12_dismissal.htm

School District (K-12) Pandemic Influenza Planning Checklist http://www.pandemicflu.gov/plan/school/schoolchecklist.html

If this is the future of technology .. I want in!

Watch this video from TED about Sixth Sense – being developed by MIT

Sixth Sense is a mini-projector coupled with a camera and a cellphone—which acts as the computer and your connection to the Cloud, all the information stored on the web. Sixth Sense can also obey hand gestures, like in the movie Minority Report.

If this is the future of technology …  I want in!!!

Citizen Journalists

us_airwaysLast week I had a teachable moment when the news of the US Airways plane crashed into the Hudson river.  I had just saw a re-tweet from Andy Carvin’s post on Twitter about the plane crash about an half hour after it happened.  He had just re-posted the photo from @jkrum showing the plane floating in the Hudson river with all the people standing on the wings.

My high school journalism class just walked into the room and I gathered the students around and showed them this example of citizens breaking the news before the mainstream media could even report it.  Students were amazed by the photos and I briefly showed them how I found the information on Twitter.  A few kids reported that they had used their cell phones to take photos of events outside of school but most had not considered themselves to be “citizen journalists” (yet!).

In this day of participatory media – everyone can report the news.  In Will Richardson’s demo of Prezi, he demonstrates the unfolding of this event that started with Twitter, Flickr and NPR news.  I am planning on showing this to my journalism class to show them the power of the network today.

Connect Article published

logoI’m thrilled that Saint Mary’s Press asked me to write an article about technology in Catholic Schools for their January edition of CONNECT: A free newsletter for high school religion teacher, campus ministers and principals.

In this issue of Connect, Colette Cassinelli, of Valley Catholic Middle and High School in Beaverton, Oregon, introduces some manageable ways to use technology that can significantly enhance the learning experiences of our students. In doing so, she illustrates that it is possible to take steps into the world of education and technology without being completely overwhelmed by the possibilities that seem to multiply every day. Our own use of technology for learning can model to our students how they can use technology in responsible and useful ways.

In the feature article, Colette introduces the National Educational Technology Standards for Students (NETS) and gives examples of ways to make these standards come alive. In “Making It Happen,” she gives more in-depth descriptions of using technology in the high school classroom.

Feature Article | Making It Happen | Resources | From Saint Mary’s Press

Catholic Educators and Twenty-first-Century Learning
by Colette Cassinelli

Everywhere around us the world is changing. Business, politics, and journalism are being transformed by rapid changes in technology, and education is slowly seeing technology’s potential. Catholic educators today must embrace a new pedagogy and embed collaborative technologies for a new society of learners.

Students in our classrooms today differ from those who came before them. Educational theorist Marc Prensky calls these students “digital natives.” They are well versed in the uses of computers, cell phones, digital cameras, and text messaging. They think and process information in a fundamentally different way than previous generations. The Pew Internet and American Life Project (2007) found that 64 percent of online teenagers (ages 12-17) engaged in at least one type of Web content creation, such as blogs and photo and media sharing. These students are creative, smart, and most of all, networked, and they want their education to be and feel meaningful, worthwhile, and relevant to the future.

Educational consultant Ian Jakes states, “The primary task of the educational system must be to give learners the right tools and provide them with a critical mind so that they can ask the right questions and make the right connections. The problem is that the world is not the stable, static place it once was. The world has changed and continues to change.”

How can we as Catholic educators adopt these new tools and contemplate ways the interactive Web can enhance our own practices and student learning? How can we encourage students to be lifelong learners and discover the power of self-learning? How do we rethink our curriculum and embed twenty-first-century skills into our teaching to create authentic learning tasks?

It is an overwhelming undertaking, and many of us educators who did not grow up with technology (Marc Prensky calls us “Digital Immigrants”) are hesitant to change and have no clear road map for how to begin.

National Technology Standards for Students (NETS)
An excellent place to start is with the newly refreshed National Technology Standards for Students (2007) outlined by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). The new NETS provide a framework for educators to use as they transition schools from Industrial Age to Digital Age places of learning. These new standards focus on skills and knowledge that students need to learn effectively and live productively in an increasingly digital society. They focus on cognitive skills, as netsswell as creativity and innovation. These are the six standard areas:

  1. creativity and innovation
  2. communication and collaboration
  3. research and information fluency
  4. critical thinking, problem solving, and decision making
  5. digital citizenship
  6. technology operations and concepts

All educators want their students to be creative and innovative. We embrace collaboration among our students because sharing knowledge enhances student learning. We provide opportunities for our students not only to be able to access information efficiently but also to be able to evaluate sources and synthesize the content. We desire to challenge our students to think critically and understand all aspects of a problem before making decisions. We insist that our students be responsible and ethical citizens of a digital world and leave behind “digital footprints” that represent moral and upright citizens. We hope that our students will be technologically prepared for a job in the future that we can’t even imagine yet.

Each of the standards outlined by ISTE contains simple and easy to implement technology skills. First, begin by examining your curriculum and identifying areas where you want your students to demonstrate understanding. Focus on student learning rather than on your teaching practice. Look for opportunities where students can embrace creative expression and share ideas digitally through written or multimedia formats. Start small–you do not need to embrace everything at once! Find a network of other teacher-learners like the online forum found at Classroom 2.0 (http://www.classroom20.com) and explore new technology tools together. (This Web site does a good job explaining that we have experienced the “Web 1.0” as a one-way means of getting information. “Web 2.0” is a new phase in Internet usage, allowing a two-way exchange of information, meaning that all of us can post material on the Internet and shape its content.)

Creativity and innovation. The proliferation of free Web 2.0 tools on the Internet provides educators with ample opportunity for students to be engaged in creative and unique ways. Digital storytelling is now easier than ever with free downloadable software like Microsoft’s PhotoStory 3 or by visiting Web-based programs like http://www.VoiceThread.com. These tools allow students to upload images, audio, and narration for personal narratives, to demonstrate understanding of a skill presented in class, or to share stories from school events. VoiceThread projects take it a step further and allow classmates to comment and create conversations around digital images–either in a private or public forum.

Communication and collaboration. Another great way to encourage collaboration among students is to use a wiki for classroom instruction. A wiki is a simple, easy-to-use Web page that anyone can edit. Students can document the steps of a science experiment, participate in collaborative story writing, or list Web sites used for a research paper. The power of a wiki is the collaborative nature of the technology, and any student can add her changes to the document. The revision history is automatically saved so it can easily be reverted back to a previous version if necessary. Many wiki Web sites, like Wikispaces, will give educators free access with no ads.

Technology integration. One place to start with technology integration is among professional activities for your faculty and staff. With Google Apps for Education, schools can set up e-mail, a calendar, and collaboration tools right from the browser. Administrators and educators can work together on documents uploaded to shared “Google Docs and Spreadsheets” and assign editing rights to facilitate synchronous writing. Google Apps for Education is free, with no advertising, and is easy to manage because there is no hardware or software to maintain. You can even customize your search page with your school name and resources you want made available to your school community (calendar, news feeds, announcements, etc.). After staff members see the power of sharing documents among themselves, then teachers can embrace this same type of collaboration with their students.

Digital citizenship. When implementing any type of technology into the curriculum, it is critical to simultaneously teach and demonstrate appropriate digital citizenship. We want our students to be safe online, so it is best to have students and parents sign “acceptable use” agreements before allowing students to use Web 2.0 sites (note that some sites require students to be thirteen). Students should use only first names, no identifying descriptions such as age or school name, and consider using avatars (a computer user’s self-representation as a two-dimensional icon or a three-dimensional model) or icons instead of real photos. Along with digital literacy, teachers can also address serious topics such as cyberbullying and online safety when using social-networking sites.
Digital Fluency
Most of all, we want our students to be digitally fluent inside and outside the classroom. We want them to see learning as a lifelong goal, not something that only happens inside a classroom. Learning is an active process with the learner at its center. Technology can provide unprecedented opportunities to explore new areas and can actively engage students in a wider range of projects than have ever been possible before. As Thomas Friedman states in his book, The World Is Flat, “the most important ability you can develop in a flat world is the ability to ‘learn how to learn’–to constantly absorb, and teach yourself, new ways of doing old things or new ways of doing new things” (page 302). As Catholic educators, we can use technology to excite and inspire these “digital natives” and lead them down a road to developing their own passion and curiosity.


Expanding the Uses of Technology
by Colette Cassinelli

Computer class is not just about learning how to format Word documents, write formulas in Excel, or make a PowerPoint anymore. It’s about using creativity and communication tools to challenge students to dig deeper and further student learning with real-world lessons. While I may teach students how to use various technological tools in the ways I describe, they can be applied across the curriculum.

Students learn best when they are fully engaged in classroom activities. I believe that as Catholic educators we must ensure that materials we use in class are relevant to our students’ lives and emphasize ways that learning can be applied in real-life situations. I like to present students in my computer classes with tasks that are authentic, built on life experiences, and use real-world technology tools. My desire is to have activities that provoke the curiosity of students but at the same time produce relevant, high-quality digital products.

Long-Distance Interviewing via Skype
Chad Lehman, a K-5 library media specialist from Wisconsin, posted a plea on the Classroom 2.0 online forum looking for teachers from other states to collaborate on a state project he was doing with his fourth graders. As part of their research on the fifty states, he wanted each fourth grader to interview someone about what it’s like to live in that state and what they like best about living there. I replied to Mr. Lehman that my seventh grade students would love to participate. I downloaded a program called Skype onto one of the lab computers and brought my webcam from home. Skype is a software program that allows you to make video phone calls over the Internet. We arranged the time of the interview and the class waited excitedly for the big day. Two students were chosen to speak for our class and answer the questions. We projected the Webcam image of the interview onto a large screen so everyone could watch. Mr. Lehman and a fourth-grade boy interviewed our class. All of my students were 100 percent engaged in the interview. If our two representatives didn’t know the answer to a question, the other twenty-eight kids scrambled to see who could find the answer first on Google. The interview went off without a hitch, and my students begged to do it again. These relatively easy-to-implement technology projects made me realize that my students were eager to communicate with students outside our school. I decided to next try a longer, more in-depth project.

Blogging to Make the World a Better Place
Using the quote from Gandhi, “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” I challenged my middle and high school computer students to brainstorm how we could use the digital tools of today to “be the change.” Students used Inspiration (a dichangegital graphic organizer) to map out ideas of how they could accomplish this and went to work researching a topic of their choosing. I wanted to make sure the parents understood the project and sent home a letter detailing our proposal, including an explanation of how we were going to use a blog for our publishing platform. (A blog is like an online diary where the students could write posts about their topic and share resources.) I set up individual student blogs at http://www.21classes.com. This Web site allows each student to customize their own blog but still be connected to the larger class.

Students posted their first entry explaining their chosen topic and how they hoped to change the world. The topics ranged from encouraging people to give blood, protecting the environment, teenage depression, animal abuse, recycling, and more. They designed original Web banners for their site and research facts to give their blog credibility. To encourage students to read each other’s posting, I set up learning circles of four to five students who read and commented on one another’s blogs. We discussed appropriate commenting, how to encourage further discussion, writing in a manner that was professional, using accurate facts, and citing resources. This activity gave a real-world experience to everything I taught in my earlier digital citizenship unit. We used only first names, did not use identifying photos, and did not reveal our school name.

In addition to discussing their topic and writing personal reflections, students also embedded other forms of media such as digital comic strips and educational public service announcement videos. The students enjoyed receiving comments from their classmates but were eager for a larger audience. I located a group of teachers online who were also blogging with their students and invited them to read our blogs. My students participated in a “comment challenge” to read and post on other classroom blogs. Soon my students were discussing their topics with elementary and high school students from around the US and Canada and as far away as Australia. As a teacher I was able to review and approve all comments before they were posted. The overall reaction to the blogging activity was positive and encouraging. Many students worked on their blogs from home and were always excited to receive new comments.

Additional Ideas
Giving my students an authentic audience raised the level of student engagement and quality of work in my classroom. Other classes have also made videos for Peace Day, evaluated the nutritional content of school lunches by using Excel spreadsheets, mass produced letters to local representatives about legislation, interviewed locals for career VoiceThread projects, and more. Next year I plan on incorporating additional interaction with other schools by having the students create original digital postcards and embed them into a Google map. We will send the URL of the Google map to the other schools and encourage them to visit our map and add their images and research.

Our teens are social creatures as we know. Allowing them to communicate with other students around the country and the world can help them learn about important topics in a way that is real, immediate, and personal, enabling them to expand their worldviews and ask more critical questions about any topic under discussion.

View all the Connect articles at http://www.smp.org/Connect/January-2009.cfm

Differentiated tech camp

My educational schooling has taught me that differentiating instruction means “creating multiple paths so that students of different abilities, interest or learning needs experience equally appropriate ways to absorb, use, develop and present concepts as a part of the daily learning process.”

Never before have I experienced this type of instruction than I have during this week at flash animation tech camp. The week-long daycamp is for 10-15 years olds – and we know how every parent stretches that a bit. The youngest boy is starting 4th grade and the oldest will be sophomore in high school – but most are around 12. Do you know the maturity difference between a 4th grader and a sophomore (ok, ok .. at times – not much) but ** WOW ** there’s a huge difference.

The students are all eager to learn flash animation – so that helps – but each comes with a different set of skills, ability to pay attention, willingness to put forth effort and unique personality. Each day I am presenting an animation that teaches a new technique and the students follow along and modify the flash project to their own liking. There is a still plenty of time for individual projects and interests. Each student is placing their flash movies on a webpage to showcase the week’s work.

At the end of the day today, the entire group went around from computer to computer to view the projects so far. The amazing thing was that they were all pretty good. Yes, some students were more artistic than others and some had mastered more advanced technical skills, but we were all able to applaud each other’s work. I believed it even sparked some new interest in some advanced techniques.

So even though maturity will always be a factor when you place groups of kids together – a common interest, like making and watching animated movies, will level the playing field and connect people of all ages.

View sample Flash Movie

Teaching for understanding

I am encouraged once again to see the discussion in the blogosphere about making sure we use Web 2.0 tools to support learning and a new pedagogy in the classroom. Chris Lehmann writes about using the Understanding by Design (UbD) framework by Wiggins and McTighe. We need to make sure we are not doing “activities” just for the sake of their newness or cool factor. With such limited time during the day, each of our assignments must be focused on student understanding and our goals and objectives. Lehmann writes:

Understanding by Design… we owe it to ourselves and our kids to step back and ask ourselves questions like:

  • How does the use of this tool contribute to a students’ understanding of the unit / project / class.
  • How does the use of the tool enhance a students’ ability to communicate their ideas / refine their presentation skills?
  • Does the tool change the frame or lens with with students can view their learning process?
  • Does the tool powerfully expand or change students’ learning network?
  • Is the tool more fun than useful? (Not that fun is bad, I like fun, but let’s also acknowledge that, in schools, our learning should be “serious fun.”)

The underlying theme is that we must design our lessons purposefully and thoughfully. I admit it – I am guilty of incorporating a new gadget or tool, or “fun” activity into my lessons just for the sake of the activity – with no real goal or purpose in mind. But after reading UbD, I see now how I could have still used those same tools – but redesigned the lesson in a way that using the tool led to learning and a better understanding of the goal in mind – AND- the students too would know WHY they were doing the activity – a key point that too often we assume they know why (ask them!).

With the school year looming a month away – it’s time for me to pull out my Understanding by Design book and reread sections so my frame of mind is properly set for lesson planning.

You might also want to check out the UbD wiki where you can post your UbD curriculum units.

It’s all about the learning

Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach made an important statement about Web 2.0 tools and learning:

It’s All about the Learning

Teachers like tangibles. I think the reason there is so much focus on the tools, rather than how to use the tools to support learning is because when we are learning something new we want something concrete to manipulate. Web 2.0 tools like blogs, wikis and podcasts give us that concrete fix. Teachers, like their students, need time to explore the tools before getting on with the learning. However, at some point in a PD 2.0 workshop the focus needs to switch from the tool itself to making the tool a seamless medium for mastery of standards-based objectives and 21st Century life skills.

I have been blogging about my favorite tools lately and I don’t want anyone to get the idea that it’s all about the tools – it’s not – it’s about how the tools support learning. I think Sheryl is right when she states that teachers like students want some time to play around with tools. My concern is always if the the learning stops when the tool is mastered -OR- does the ease of the tool now allow the focus to be whether this new tool will actually support or enhance learning or not.

Learning.Learning is social. Web 2.0 tools are social and collaborative in nature. The tools embrace the read/write/reflect nature of learning. It is critical for teachers to utilize blogs, wikis, podcasting, and other mash-up tools themselves before they bring these technologies to their classrooms. Once they have experienced this powerful medium that gives them a voice and an audience who reads, responds and reflects upon what they have said – then they will understand how this can be powerful for their own students.

Because quite frankly, their students are probably already doing it at home and if a teacher doesn’t immerse themselves into this digital world, they will most likely attempt to use Web 2.0 in a instructivist teacher-centered mode. What a shame it will then be when the teacher complains that “these tools” don’t work and throw them out.

It’s not just about the tools. It’s about embracing a student-centered environment where students have choice … are given opportunities to have their voice heard … are encouraged to be creative … and take ownership of their own learning.

Our students want this type of learning. Are we providing it?

(Note: Motivational poster made at fd’s Flickr Toys)

Pay it forward

I spent last week as a Graduate Assistant for the Pepperdine Master’s of Arts in Educational Technology [online] program in Malibu (yes, Malibu!) California. VirtCamp is a chance for the new cadre members to meet face to face and learn the communication tools for their online year ahead. The excitement in the air was contagious and as I sat there and reflected about my 13-month journey through OMET – I was struck about how much I learned this year and how my community taught me most of what I now know.

Pay it forwardI admit – I had to hold myself back from gushing all kinds of advice like: You’ve got to learn about del.icio.us and other social bookmarking sites. If you work on multiple computers like I do you will love having all your bookmarks in one place (plus it’s fun to snoop through other people’s bookmarks!). Wikis? I love wikis. I use them all the time. Whenever my cadremates and I were discussing a situation I was always to first to suggest, “Let’s add a link to our wiki and add our ideas there”. Wikis are so great for collaboration and giving each person a voice. Oh … and you must post all of your pics on flickr and play around with flickr toys! I found myself proclaiming the wonders of blogging – even though before this program I could barely keep a diary for more than a week. Now I find that I have so much swimming around in my head that I have to write it down so I can digest it slowly, let it mull around in my brain for awhile and then come back to the idea later on and discuss the idea some more.

I was so busy during the week that I didn’t have time for much blogging and realized how much I missed it. Now that I am finally reflecting on what happened I am realizing that blogging is so much more about the process of my thinking and actions – and less about “what happened”. I definitely missed a golden opportunity – oh well – next time.

During the course of VirtCamp, class members are thrown into social learning activities where they share how they learned what they know and are asked to complete activities in groups where they are given little direction of how to complete the project. It is basically organized chaos. Some people love the open-endedness and interactions and others crave some written directions. There is no better way to reflect on your preferred learning style than to be thrown into a situation where you are challenged to grow and be a learner again. Most of the people in the program are K-12, Higher Ed or corporate trainers and I am sure they are used to being the experts and “knowing how to do it all”. Being placed back in a position of a learner is good for educators. I think it is critical to experience and remember the feelings of nervousness, fear, frustration, exhilaration, and sense of accomplishment. It will make each of use more sensitive to the learners in our environment.

My main role was to assist the new students when they needed help with communication tools, setting up blogs, designing websites or answering basic questions. The students were eager to learn and there was A LOT to learn in a short amount of time. After teaching someone how to set up a template in Dreamweaver or how to add tags to a blog entry I found myself saying to them, OK now, pay it forward. Teach this skill to at least one other class member”. I am happy to say that after two or three days I observed many new Dreamweaver templates, lots of interesting blogs and many new skills being shared with classmates.

Just think. Individually we know a lot – but what if each of us really takes on the theme of “Pay it forward”. Collectively we know so much more and we can accomplish a great deal together. The OMET program embraces social learning at it’s best. Educators can learn a great deal from each other if we take the time to share best practices and be open to learning.

Pay it forward!

Sharing Web 2.0 tools – wikis

I’ve been sharing some of my favorite Web 2.0 tools lately and I’ve been reflecting how my learning has changed during the past year because of these communication tools. Before I start my list I want to share about the SEOmoz Web 2.0 Awards. The site gives you the best of the best of Web 2.0 tools as voted on by 25 knowledgable users. I have to say that for the tools that I am familiar with – I mostly agree but I also learned a ton of new tools to check out. These posts will discuss the various tools I use and why. Simply put, a wiki is a very simple web page.

Wiki – I like wikispaces. It’s free for teachers and simple to use. It doesn’t have a lot of formatting features but it gets the job done. I heard a presentation given by Adam Frey (the founder of wikispaces) at NECC on EdTechLive. It’s great to hear how wikispaces is trying to meet the needs of teachers and improve their product.You use wikis for any type of document that you want several people to access and edit. I have used them with my students when groups are planning and organizing projects – that way everyone can add their comments or easily participate. Here is a simple video from The Common Craft Show that will explain the basics of how wikis work.

Wikis aren’t just for planning. They can be the platform for classroom projects too. Let’s say that each student has chosen a specific topic in class. An easy way to share information is to place each project on a wiki and have every student’s project linked on the side navigation bar. This will encourage students to view each other’s work and even add comments if the pages are open for editing (peer review). I’ve heard of other teachers using wikis for cross-class collaboration – like the Flat Classroom project.

Wikis are great for staff development. By encouraging teachers to share their knowledge by using a wiki – you are helping to foster a community of practice where sharing is the standard and knowledge management is well organized and expected. Don’t just place a lot of links – document class/school procedures, share tips, collaborate on curriculum planning, plan staff parties, outlinefor staff development and more!

Some other great wiki tools:

“You learn from the company you keep”

The book of learning and forgettingFrank Smith writes in his book “The Book of Learning and Forgetting” that we learn from those around us and those with whom we identify ourselves with. Simply put, you learn from the company you keep. This type of learning is natural and long-term. We learn continuously and without noticeable effort.

Any of us who have observed students learning a new video game or how to upload music to their iPod understand that today’s students are natural learners – and it all seems so effortless. They are interested, motivated, and they know who are the experts – their friends. To watch one teenager teach another how to do something is amazing – they seem to be able to explain it in a way that others understand and without much fuss.

I think that we educators can learn a lot from watching students learn in this “classic view” of learning. Our main job is to create an environment where this type of learning is encouraged and expressed – not repressed. Student-centered learning means that the focus is on the learner – not the teacher and how the material is presented. The emphasis is on how the student is learning, the choices they have for expressing their learning, and how the teacher comes to understand that the student is learning.

Technology has long been an integral component of a learner-centered environment. It’s not the “tool” of the computer that makes it work – it the communication and the authenticity of the work that makes it real. Students who use Web 2.0 tools like social networking sites, IM and video/podcasts can share their original thoughts and ideas with the world and gather real feedback and responses from interested individuals. The conversations that get started are interesting and the students are eager and motivated to respond back – it seems effortless – Smith would call it learning.

When our students look forward to communicating with their peers about what they are learning and are given opportunities to construct meaningful knowledge (that has nothing to do with answers on a standardized test) – we can be assured that this type of learning will be long-term because the learner has identified himself/herself as a learner.

EduBloggerWorld.com

It’s exciting to join the world of edtech bloggers – especially when new sites like EduBloggerWorld was created by Steve Hargadon and friends. I look forward to participating and having conversations with my fellow bloggers.

Welcome to www.EduBloggerWorld.com, an international network for educational bloggers and friends. A meeting place, as well as a coordinating location for live face-to-face and virtual events.

EduBloggerWorld.com

If you would like to join go to http://edubloggerworld.com/ and invite me to be your friend!

Web 2.0 and Learning

Will Richardson reflects in his blog about the nature of School 2.0 and the “arrival” of Web 2.0 tools. He asks the question

Through teaching them to use these tools to publish, are we also teaching them how to use these tools to continue the learning once that project is over? Can they continue to explore and reflect on the ideas that those artifacts represent regardless of who is teaching the next class? Can they connect with that audience not simply in the ways that books connect to readers (read but no write) but in the ways that allow them to engage and explore more deeply with an ongoing, growing community of learners? Isn’t that the real literacy here?

He goes on to state the the Read/Write web really is the Read/Write/Connect/Reflect Web and we need to continue the discussion not so much about the tools – but how knowledge is about connections through individuals.

I appreciate his reflection on using Web 2.0 tools and learning. Many educators get excited about learning new tools and immediately want to integrate them into their curriculum. What I hear Will saying is that we need to stop and think why we are doing this and does this really represent learning (as oppose to just doing). Frank Smith said in “The Book of Learning and Forgetting” that you learn from the company you keep. Educators everywhere need to create a student-centered environment where learners have opportunities to create, interact, discuss, reflect, build, etc … and if that involves Web 2.0 tools – great. But if educators are only using Web 2.0 tools as an digital version of a worksheet or because it is the latest and greatest thing to hit Education 2.0 – then they are missing the mark.