Friday, February 29, 2008

Star Wars in my Feeds

This week was unique in a number of ways, but one common thread that connected diverse dots, was Star Wars. Although the series began over 30 years ago, it remains a pop culture staple. As evidence, here is where I encountered Star Wars this week:

1] The cutie-patootie 3 year old summarizing Episode 4: A New Hope (actually the first film) went viral on YouTube:

2] Every week, I see, but rarely take a close look at, Clay Burell's blog icon.

3] My son is hooked on both the new and the old episodes, this week, I did my computer work with Episode 2: Attack of the Clones (actually the 5th movie) in the background.

4] In talking with teachers about e-learning, one of the participants share the site 'Wookie-pedia'. The site is a wiki encyclopedia where fans of the Star Wars universe can share everything and I mean everything about the saga.

5] I couldn't resist revisiting Chad Vader, a serial version of Darth's younger brother working as a day shift manager at a grocery store:

I couldn't resist doing a podcast with selected audio from these experiences.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

A Pink Fischbowl

Thanks to Will Richardson's tweet, I was able to attend the latter half of Daniel Pink's video-conference with Grade 9 students at Arapahoe High School in Colorado. While I thought I'd be missing out due to a previously scheduled meeting, it was my great fortune upon arrival home for lunch, to discover via Twitter, that the 8:30 a.m. (PST) meeting was still taking place upon my return... at 11:30 a.m. Eastern Standard Time!

The full story of the event including a number of related links and the live-blog of the event, are available on Karl Fisch's blog: The Fischbowl

The technology allowed an international audience to eavesdrop, but very quickly the event went from being about the technology, to being about the interactions between Pink and his highly engaged teen audience. It's amazing what can happen when right-brained educators are supported in their risk-taking!

Coupled with Clay Burell's story just twelve hours earlier, the idea of live video conferences, and the broadcast of these events, has me thinking this might soon become a normal experience for teacher and students. If you're interested in my immediate audio response to the event, I scrambled together a 5 minute Teacher 2.0 podcast over the lunch break.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Transparent Technology

If you have a few minutes to see a supply teacher coached via Skype; followed by a tech-savvy teacher giving directions from 'home' to his students, check out Clay Burell's latest blog post.

Clay currently teaches at a 1:1 laptop school in Seoul, and the short video he's embedded in his post is compelling on a few levels. While the technology is captivating initially, allowing teacher to interact with supply teacher and students, in short order the technology becomes transparent and Clay's relationship with his students takes centre stage (even as he prepares for a wedding!).

Excessive Computer Use Harms Learning!?

My breakfast is rarely accompanied by members of my immediate family, but almost always allows me to catch up on hometown news. The routine is pretty simple, open my web browser, click the folder that says 'daily' on my menu bar, and wait for the 12 tabs to open up.

Among a number of feeds, my daily reading includes my hometown paper, the Windsor Star, which today, had my full attention with a front page headline:"E-Learning Debate Rages". Later, I found the Montreal Gazette also ran with a catchy headline: "Cmputrs in skools make u stoopidr".

Themes in both stories can be highlighted with a few select quotes from Michael Zwaagstra the author of the 'research report':

"Excessive computer use can harm learning..." and "...students shouldn't use computers in a classroom more than once every two weeks."

Fearful that the report would be supported by select parents or worse yet, teachers looking for another excuse to abandon tools of the present in order to "get back to basics", I was pleasantly surprised at the thoughtful responses of selected school board representatives, and was happy to read in Doug Peterson's blog:

"With computers, we enable students to have access to more information, think deeper and more analytically, and view problems in ways never imagined in a traditional classroom. The challenge for us is to prove that it’s money well invested."

Following a link to the Frontier Centre for Public Policy report (thanks Doug!), I discovered that the real story of the report was missed! The study actually refers to the need for technological literacy on the part of educators:

"Computer technology is simply a tool and is only useful if teachers know how to use it effectively. Not all teachers are equally computer literate...

...School divisions need to spend more time ensuring that staff members are fully computer literate before purchasing expensive computer systems for their students."

Unfortunately both the Windsor Star and The Montreal Gazette ran with inflammatory storylines, with the Windsor Star actually gathering and publishing school board hardware budgets. Maybe next time, these newspapers might craft headlines that are in the best interests of teachers and students alike, something like:

"Teachers need to make more effective use of present day learning technologies!"

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Heir or Err? It's Air vs. Air!

I'm not sure whether or not these two new 'Air' products are representative of competing views, but each is staking a claim on how hardware and software will interact in coming years.

The most recent 'Air' product to the party, is Adobe Air, a software technology that promises:

"... an exciting new way to engage customers with innovative, branded desktop applications, without requiring changes to existing technology, people, or processes."

While the World Wide Web seems more and more to be a place where applications reside, Adobe Air is swimming against the tide in bringing apps back to the desktop. The technology allows a wide range of companies, to develop their own applications that can interact with remote data, without being embedded in a web browser. Will folks want to download Air to keep their 'favourite' apps offline? I'm not sure... I guess we'll have to see what compelling apps get developed.

The highest profile 'Air' product in recent weeks, has to be the MacBook Air. Although other manufacturers have since begun advertising computers in mailing envelopes, Apple is the first to forego what many believe to be essential computer guts in creating their lean machine.

While many scoffed at the iMacs lack of a floppy disk drive... the machine was ahead of it's time in recognizing that the media was changing to CDs and DVDs. Will the absence of a disk drive herald a broader change in the rest of the computing world? No doubt it will; but "How many years it will take before monster-memory thumb drives and wireless file access replace the need for CDs and DVDs?"

Who will be the heir? Will the strategy of remote computing trump local applications? Will developers using Adobe's new tool deliver 'must have' applications? Maybe both will err? Regardless, I'm glad to see creative thinking is alive and well... There is definitely change in the air!

Monday, February 25, 2008

It's Time to Differentiate Support for Educators

Why don't we embrace the philosophy of differentiation in providing Internet and communications technology support to educators?

At the turn of the century (9 years ago!), I spent a lot of time learning about differentiation, specifically in attempts to develop suitable programming for the gifted students in my board. The past few years, the language of differentiation has made its way into all schools in our district. Even the ministry of education is on this tack both in professional development initiatives and in recently released policy and program documents. Maybe it's time we consider differentiating the support we provide to teachers...

Many teachers in North America are turned off of using the Internet, precisely because they find the web filters engaged by their boards to be too stringent. I know that in my board, this blog continues to be unavailable to the very educators I'd love to engage in dialogue. A differentiated approach to the filtering of the World Wide Web, where authentication of a user would grant varying permissions, is I think a logical step. Wesley Fryer sees injustice in the fact that teachers and kindergartners often have to play with the same filter rules:

"If school districts insist on blocking access to sites like YouTube, PBwiki, Wikispaces and Blogger, in my view they should NOT block that access for teachers."

With increasing numbers of forward thinking educators attempting to leverage read/write tools of the Web, school administrators face challenging times. As Will Richardson writes:

"We’re in the “Networking as a Second Language” point in teaching, this messy transition phase that is slowly gaining traction where we are beginning to understand what this means but not quite sure yet what to do about it."

A differentiated approach to teacher professional development may be part of the solution. According to a March 2007 article on, the Lester B. Pearson School Board in Montreal allocated significant funding to train teachers in making effective use of modern teaching tools:

"Ped-tech leaders were identified at each school - teachers who were willing to work with technology - and they are being used as the basis for the project. These 180 teachers have each been given laptop computers, a projector and a smart board to really crank up their efficiency. In turn, they will be expected to bring other teachers into the fold and help them become more familiar with and more comfortable with using technology in the classroom."

Teachers have diverse needs when it comes supporting the use of technology in the classroom. My fingers are crossed that some day soon, district school boards will realize that "Differentiation is an effective way to meet the needs of all types of learners... including teachers."

Teacher 2.0 Podcast: "Differentiation: for Teachers" now online.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Sticky Wikis & PLCs

When it comes to professional development for teachers, more presentations need to model the value of read/write web technologies including the importance of informal professional learning networks. Even if we don't have time to develop and deliver workshops on how to use blogs, wikis, podcasts, or steaming video, we can raise the profile of these tools by leveraging them in our presentations.

Even if board presenters elect to use traditional 'sage on the stage' models for sharing knowledge in training sessions, school districts can engage teachers in the conversation. Using the read/write tools at our disposal, leaders can provide pre and post-workshop information; can receive feedback from attendees; and can engage educators in ongoing dialogue about the big ideas shared in a given workshop.

My personal view is that every workshop should be supported by the use of a wiki. At the very least, the wiki can provide direct access to hyperlinks, handouts, and presentation materials. At best, the wiki will be open to contributions from visitors. and will include threaded discussions that extend the conversation. I contend that such workshop sites will be sticky, leading to collective sharing and community thinking on a wide range of topics. Informal networks of teachers may well spring from the regular use of wikis, and might further develop into lasting professional learning communities.

The spin-off benefit, beyond the support for current training initiatives, might include teachers who will begin to think about how they can leverage similar tools in their own classrooms. Knowing that it is so easy to contribute to a wiki, a teacher might write her first web page by using a wiki connect with parents, students and fellow teachers. Indeed, when curriculum leaders teach teachers through the use of read/write tools like these, they teach more than they realize!

Unsure about how wikis work? Visit the Teacher 2.0 Sticky Wiki episode , or check out the video below. In the interest of full disclosure: I like WetPaint for my wikis and I think Common Craft does a great job explaining things.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Think Outside of the Rubber Band

Robert Scoble shared the story of Entrepreneurship Week at Stanford University, and I think this project is a microcosm for the type of creative thinking that needs to be brought to 21st century classrooms.

This high quality video link provides an overview of the importance of imagination and provides and introduction to the project that launched in 2007 with the post-it note.

The Scobleizer couldn't resist a quick interview with the producer of the documentary "Imagine it":

The idea of creating value from an everyday object is something that might just help us to revolutionize our classrooms... let's start with allowing and encouraging students to think creatively; and for an encore we can start re-imagining the chalkboard!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

My Virtual Health

Even as flash drives with increasing capacities are becoming ubiquitous, it's obvious to me that files, photos, contacts and even ideas are gravitating more and more to web servers in lieu of local hard disk drives. Is a remote computer the best place to store our personal information?

When it comes to photos and videos, more and more folks seem pretty comfortable with services like Flickr and YouTube;
When it comes to email, the majority of users seem content with Gmail and other web-based email;
When it comes to banking information, a great number of adults are comfortable with online banking, and with the sharing of digital data to make online purchases;
When it comes to health information, we may very soon be asked to consider consolidating our health records with Google Health!

The New York Times story about the behind-the-scenes development of Google Health, has me considering a number of questions related to the collection and remote safe-keeping of such data:

My pharmacy already maintains my personal prescription data... How secure is this information? Will my doctor and the hospitals I visit in the future save time in learning about me? Can accurate online data make my life easier? What might be the ramifications of errors in the recording of data? Will my email account soon be home to ads for a customized selection of medications?

Are we moving closer to the day when all personal information will be centralized? Will computers such as cell phones and other palm technologies become the tools we use to access global computers? Will legal battles be fought to maintain the privacy of such information?

It seems to me that any one tool that efficiently manages my email; my web content; my personal media; my banking information; my health information; my personal feeds; my entertainment... will be guaranteed long term access to my eyes and the eyes of my family members.

Should we be worried about the hosting of all this personal information online? I'm not sure, but it seems that we've become more and more comfortable with someone else storing and securing an expanding range of our personal information. The potential uses/misuses of this information are due some careful consideration.

Why it should matter to educators is discussed on the Teacher 2.0 podcast...

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Bum in the Seat?

Recently, in a small group e-learning workshop, a colleague of mine was reinforcing the need for teachers to use what she called "bum in the seat" assessment. The intent of this 'pictorial' cue was to reinforce for teachers the fact that in evaluating student learning, we must be sure that students are demonstrating knowledge & understanding, thinking, communication, and application in the presence of the teacher.

My problem with the term "bum in the seat", is that it leads educators to envision the student meeting curriculum expectations independently, while sitting at a desk. Exacerbating the problem is the fact that educators predominantly rely upon the written word as the valid way for students to demonstrate their learning, in spite of the fact that modern curriculum documents require that teachers assess expectations that point to skills like demonstrate, collect, identify, predict, compare, interpret, create, express, generate, publish, establish...

Curriculum documents in Ontario also ask teachers to engage community resources and to provide authentic audiences for student work. Students, thinking both logically and creatively; and producing content in written, oral and multimedia forms, are required to produce wide variety of cross-curricular products. Undertaking such a wide range of prescribed learning experiences is not possible with students sitting in desks.

As educators, let's get in the habit of assessing what students DO, instead of what students WRITE. Take time to observe with a critical eye, and to document what students accomplish against established standards. It would help if provincial assessments undertaken by the Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) in Ontario, would harness something other than written tests in assessing reading; but don't let it stop you from modeling the types of assessment practices that are clearly stated in the front matter within our curriculum documents.

Note: This image is a model of a desk designed and constructed at school by students as part of a rich performance task. You can't demonstrate this type of thinking and learning by writing a test!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Obsolete Academic Skills

Recently David Pogue shared the story about how a reader took him up on his suggestion to buy the domain ''.

While skills to control once popular tools such as the rotary phone, the slide rule, and the 8 track tape player bring knowing nods and smiles, this train of thought got me thinking about a number of academic skills that are no longer relevant. Many of the skills we currently ask students to demonstrate, are more suitable for the past than for the present (let alone the future!).

Being able to search the card catalogue may be unnecessary, but there are related skills that do need to be taught: finding and validating the information found online for example. What other activities that should be abandoned/replaced? I'd love to see your ideas added to the Obsolete Academic Skills page on the Let's Ban Chalk Wiki.

Note: A new Teacher 2.0 podcast with reference to the Beloit Mindset list has just been posted.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

A Tipping Point?

I've been following a conversation that started innocently enough, but that may herald the genesis of a major shift in the way teachers and students learn. Will Richardson in Toronto queried:

"So yesterday here in balmy Toronto, I got asked the question directly: even though we can’t be certain about what the future looks like in terms of preparing our kids for it, what, generally speaking, do we know? What general characteristics can we assume in terms of rethinking our curriculum and our practice?"

The discussion that's been percolating in the edu-blogosphere the past many months is in need of a catalyst to focus the ideas the network. In order to facilitate this group thinking and following on David Warlick's suggestion, I've opened my wiki site "Let's Ban Chalk: We've Got New Tools To Explore", to host new skills pages for teachers and students.

Reference the "What to We Know About Kids Futures?"discussion at, and then contribute your ideas.

The 'tipping point' that many have been speaking about can only arrive with many people choosing to learn more. To facilitate this, I've also begun a list of Recommended Edu-Blogs. If you add to this list, please provide some suggestion as to the nature of the topics being discussed on each blog.

As a network we can compile lists of e-Learning resources to scaffold the continuing education of teachers. An Electronic Portfolio page is currently under construction; please add a comment to this post if you have ideas for new pages. Your contribution to the existing wiki resource lists can be a model of professional collaboration.

We can harness the power of the Read/Write web in modeling the type of 21st century learning that can engage all types of learners...

Participate in the discussion, won't you?!

A late edit: I've recently posted a related Podcast:
3 Wishes and a Wiki Workshop

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Will Richardson Interview

Ross Isenegger has shared links to an interview of Will Richardson taken this past week's Making Gains conference in Toronto. While the cold and snow kept bodies numb, Will's words warmed the hearts and minds of attendees.

This 17 minute video covers many of the key issues currently being discussed in the edu-blogosphere:

Friday, February 15, 2008

The Lord of the Flies: The Real-life Internet Version

If the survey results released today from 3000 tweens are valid, we have much to be concerned about. This morning's London Free Press article highlights the fact that 95% of grade 6, 7 and 8 students surveyed, believe they know more about the Internet than their parents.

Whether or not the students have accurately gauged their parents web savvy-ness, the belief that they are much more knowledgeable than adults, leads young people to believe erringly, that they know the world of the Web as well as anyone. While that might be true for a few limited technologies (instant chat, social networking, managing music and media files), the teachers and parents in their lives should have at least a basic understanding of the importance of maintaining personal privacy.

Scary summation #1
"Early results indicated more than half of kids surveyed admitted giving personal information to a stranger online, including their full name, address or phone number."

Scary summation #2 should cause parents to rethink where computers are located in their homes:
"One-third admitted getting up in the night to use the Internet, most without their parents knowing."

Certainly there are a great number of safe and productive ways the Web is being used by young people. But with the students being the ones using the tools, and playing by their own rules - much like the boys in the Lord of the Flies - there is the very great possibility, that things will go wrong. Students can act unsafely, without knowing they are doing so, and they are unlikely to admit to adults, the need for assistance in dealing with the problems they encounter.

It's time for a wake-up call for parents and teachers alike: We need to be proactive in learning about, using, and teaching about the tools of the evolving web. Only when we can demonstrate our competence to young people, will our guiding words about 'Internet Island' be received as valid.

For more: Tune in to today's Teacher 2.0 podcast.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

70 Years Ago... are we there yet?

A few weeks back, a colleague shared his mother's report card with me. From Nova Scotia in the 1937-38 school year, the introduction on the report demonstrates much wisdom. With thanks to Vince and his mother, I invite you to click the image for the enlarged view; I'll let these 70 year old words serve my purpose today.

An interesting aside to this report, is that the teacher and the student have continued to maintain a collegial friendship that still endures! Though an anecdote, this type of relationship speaks to powerfully of the qualitative learning experience.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Networking Journey Continues

Will Richardson blogs:

"There is some irony, however, in the fact that teachers are connecting more and more outside their spaces but, it appears at least, not so much inside their own districts and communities. And that may be a misreading on my part; obviously, local connections are less transparent to the outside world. On some level, it’s not surprising; early adopters in their districts most likely have to turn outside to find kindred spirits or collaborators."

This conclusion is very much in line with my thinking....
You may one day come to realize that by leading more and more educators to make connections... even outside of their own districts, you are turning up the volume on voices that would otherwise be silent.  As these voices join the online discussion, more and more local connections are being made.  Kindred spirits are finding one another, and learning that there are many others with similar skills, interests, and passions.

The sad reality for many of these educators, is that those most ready and able to teach local peers about the power of networking, are rarely given the opportunity to address an audience of educators (even more rarely can they address 'titled' board leaders) other than when they do so on their own time (Educon!).   Why is it that innovation is seldom recognized locally?   Is this true everywhere?

Blogged with Flock

Smart Mobs and a More Cooperative Future

Thanks to Robin Good's nudge, I've taken some time to explore Howard Rheingold's inquiry about cooperation. Understanding that the most effective evolving web 2.0 tools relies on cooperative participation, "A New Story About the Way Humans Get Things Done" has many ramifications for education.

I agree with Howard Rheingold's contention that the dynamics of social/collective action can be multiplied by the use of communications technologies... like cell phones. His 2002 book: Smart Mobs, set the stage for the recently released TED Talk he gave three years ago. It's 18 minutes of information that is of great importance to those actively creating the future of education.

In a more complete screencast, Howard uses images and voice to teach about cooperative strategies. If you have the time, see how the work of "smart mobs" are creating the potential for a more collaborative and less competitive future. The Cooperation Commons seeks to model this work in sharing research and resources on this topic. Key quote: "The most important new technologies will not be hardware or software, but social practices."

Monday, February 11, 2008

Stuck on Photos

I've been looking for a reason to share some ideas about the use of online photos in the classroom and although there are indeed educators making use of photography in their classrooms, few of them leverage the best of the free image resources of the day.

Why not help those creative writers by providing inspirational 'characters' to write about? Consider projecting some of these amazing 365 Portraits for starters.

Invite participation to categorize, sort and add meaning to once forgotten images in the Library of Congress Pilot Project.

Why not create a library of welcoming 'school/community guidebook' photos for families new to the community. Students can add explanatory audio notes via VoiceThread. Maybe you can even put those cell-phone cameras to use?

Highlight the power of photos when combined with words and music... easily worth more than 1000 Words.

How about teaching students to take advantage of terrific free public photos rather than ignoring fair use by grabbing the work of others that just happens to reside on the web. Free Digital Photos or or are good starting points, but there are many others.

Consider teaching students that they can actually license their photos (and other creative works) for various uses vie Creative Commons licensing? For a generous example, some put their photos into the public domain a la Robert Scoble

Don't we owe it to students to point out how their world will be very different from ours? Showcase Photosynth in the video below, and ask students to contemplate the consequences: Are students being prepared for this future... for the jobs in such a world... for the yet-unwritten rules of the coming decades? Is it exciting, scary or both?

Review the dilemmas posed by those who 'sanitize' or 'satanize' with photo editing... Consider photo-ethics by consider sharing any of a number of Photo-Ethics resources.

Teach about Photo-editing via site resources like Luxa or teach the use of an online editor like Splashup. No doubt you'll want to share the often linked Dove commercial to expose some advertising secrets:

For those who may be interested, I maintain many more terrific links on my Delicious pages.

The Networked Teacher - Take 2

This video uses pod-friendly music from DJ Delores: 'Oslodum2 2004', and a layered voice overlay to give more dimensional structure to the Networked Teacher graphic I shared a few days ago. Both documents exist under Creative Commons 'share-alike' licenses. For now, viewing requires the Quicktime plugin (the compressed Flash version just didn't make the cut)and runs just under 3 minutes.

Friday, February 8, 2008

The Networked Teacher

One of my e-learning colleagues pointed me to this image that speaks to much of what I've been writing and podcasting about. It was posted quite a while ago, but many teachers would still be unable to relate to many of the terms on this diagram. Certainly such an images speaks to the job requirement "Teacher must be a Lifelong Learner".

As Stephen Downes points out, the document is very similar to Scott Wilson's image post of a Future Personal Learning Environment.

Each of these images (circa 2006) is licensed for sharing and creative remixing by Creative Commons licensing. Does anyone know of any recent adaptations/modifications to these images?

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Which changed first? My Brain or the Book?

Has anyone else noticed that books are changing?

Chapters have become strings of bullet points rather than paragraphs. Paragraphs have been condensed to simple-to-read sound-bites on paper. Many books of today provide multiple headings supported by short paragraphs and are page-turners more for their white space and graphic nature than for their engaging content.

Is it because readers don't have the time? Do we fear missing out on something being written or said elsewhere? Amidst the sea of information, I find my eyes continually scanning for keywords and ideas rather than taking time to allow the full of an idea to wash over my brain. Things are changing both in the content and in the way I process the information.

I now scan e-news summaries clicking only the occasional full article; and when reading the full article, settle for the topic sentences rather than giving myself over to the full story. The advertisers think it's a limited attention span, serving up micro-commercials in comparison to the 60 or 90 second ads of my youth. But amidst a world giving itself over to text messages and Twitter, I think something different is going on here. Human beings are processing information differently!

Dare we teach this type of reading? Maybe Father Guido Sarducci's University is closer than we think?

Tuesday, February 5, 2008


It's a verb! You won't find the word 'Netpodwikiblogmarking' in any curriculum documents, but Teacher 2.0 will be harnessing a full range of Web 2.0 applications including networking, podcasting, collaborative wiki development, blogging, and social bookmarking. These tools are so very closely connected, that we may one day need such a multipurpose moniker.

Networked learning has never been more simple or more complex. Simple, in that those familiar with the tools, quickly come to realize that they are very user-friendly; Complex, in that there are so many choices to make in how/when/why to use any particular tool. With evolving Web 2.0 tools, educators can only truly understand their power by making productive use of them in their own personal learning.

Realizing that that these tools are tightly interconnected, and that educators have varying levels of expertise, the differentiated guide below invites you to start anyplace you like discovering the world of 'Netpodwikiblogmarking':

Option 1: It's about producing creative products. Try creating lessons in new media, then invite students to do the same. Create a podcast for your class, teaching them something by means of a self-produced audio recording. It doesn't have to be long; it doesn't have to be great. Be ready to accept criticism from your audience and invite your students to demonstrate their learning by producing their own pieces. Then make a bold step and consider posting student work online for a global audience. The same model can work for creating a webpage, a digital poster, a newsletter, an electronic portfolio... Just be sure to do it yourself first, so you can anticipate the challenges that your students will face. A great Blog to follow if you'd like to pursue novel products with e-tools is Wesley Fryer's 'Moving at the Speed of Creativity'.

Option 2: It's about collaboration. If you'd like to make meaningful connections with other teacher-learners, begin learning about tools that allow you to collaborate with others. Post to existing Wikis. (Yes, you can edit Wikipedia if you like!) Edit documents collaboratively with peers via Google Documents. Start your own Wiki page to support your own learning. A voice that seeks to provide avenues for sharing the voices of students and teachers alike is David Warlick's '2 Cents Worth'.

Option 3: It's about learning. Read Blogs. Comment on Blogs. Write Blogs. The topic doesn't matter (except that it has to be something you care about). What matters is that you become engaged in some kind of passionate discourse on the web. This public thinking will lead you to new resources be they people, websites or ideas. Explore your passions in the blogosphere. For a sample voice that challenges as much as it affirms, check out Gary Stager's 'Stager-to-Go'.

Option 4: It's about sharing the good stuff!
You need to get yourself a social bookmarking space and to subscribe to some good 'gatherers' of resource links. The Clever Sheep maintains bookmarks at For more details, you can revisit my post about how you can use Social Bookmarking in the Classroom. In no time you'll be exposed to a plethora of rich resources. In differentiating for the advanced tool-user, I recommend you keep ahead on the learning curve by following Robin Good's Latest News.

Option 5: It's about networking. Through the activities above, you're bound to build relationships with others. Take time to follow like-minded folks via Twitter or Facebook and subscribe to a manageable collection of blogs. Take time to participate in the discussion by posting replies to posts that move you. To harness the power of your personal network, you can't do much better than tapping into Will Richardson's 'Weblogg-ed'.

Carve your niche! While I really believe that changing the chalkboard is the quickest way to impact education, there are many voices out there to be read/heard. Don't be shy about joining in the discussion; after all, it's what we ask of our students every day. What are you waiting for?

"Let's get Netpodwikiblokmarking!"

Monday, February 4, 2008

'Erase' the Chalkboard

Like David Warlick, let's go far beyond PowerPoint in making use of the data projector:

"I’m trying something different today in my Web 2.0 workshop. I’m going PowerPoint’less. No don’t get me wrong. This is not an indictment of PowerPoint. I do not believe that PowerPoint is evil. This is something that Stephen Heppell taught me the other day, and he used it so masterfully, that I thought I’d give it a try. I’ll explain in more detail — if it works ;-)"

This leap to using the data projector for something far more dynamic than the traditional PowerPoint presentation is a jump that is foreign to too many educators. I agree that PowerPoint can be a useful learning tool if it is used well... but it usually employs a very static "look at what I have to say" learning strategy.

We can approach the goal of 'erasing the chalkboard' once teachers learn to use the projector as a teaching tool for:

a] thinking interactively with applications like 'Smart Ideas' or 'Inspiration';
b] exploring the world with web applications like Google Earth;
c] viewing today's front page news via Newseum(see what issues are important around the world);
d] experiencing artwork on a large scale from the Louvre (or other museums and galleries);
e] evesdropping on animals or visiting remote locations via live web cameras around the world;
f] participating in live (or recorded) video-conferences (Skype, UStream, Adobe Connect...);
g] collaborating with others via the read/write web (writing/blogging/wiki development)
h] engaging social learning networks via Flickr, Twitter, YouTube
i] creating/critiquing media en masse (e.g., critically assessing/editing your class newsletter/website/podcast)
j] following global news live (the Olympics; science expeditions; tragedies...)

The coloured slide strategy may be better than chalk, but it fails to harness the potential of the technology. Use the data projector for richer purposes, and we will nurture authentic interactive relationships with people and ideas from around the globe!

Kudos to David for trying a new trick... Here's hoping that other workshop presenters will encourage teachers to do the same by modeling other uses of this transformative tool. Let's be 'smart' about our 'boards': You can still use your prepared PowerPoint presentation, but don't do so at the exclusion of the world beyond your classroom.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Giants & Groundhogs: Archiving Our Time

The Giants Win! The Groundhog sees his Shadow!

While the headlines of the day may be forgotten in a few weeks, today's stories are destined for a long shelf-life courtesy of the World Wide Web. Although the footage of the first SuperBowl was actually erased, today's sports stories will likely be saved for all time as archive footage and will exist on the Web.

A few of my favourite Archives:

The Internet Archive: Did you know that web pages can be views 'as they existed' in past years? Check out the Wayback Machine

Newseum: Front page stories as they appear in the papers of the world. Check out the way major events have been highlighted by visiting the archives. If you like news archives, check out or as well.

Virtual Library Museums: Visit museums and art galleries around the world... virtually! Chris Witcombe's Art History Links are also terrific.

My current favourite archive resource has to be the Prelinger Archives:

Check it out by visiting Middleton Family Goes to the New York World's Fair courtesy of the Prelinger Archives, or listen to today's Teacher 2.0 Podcast.

Oh, I almost forgot... Canadians may be interested in seeing the SuperBowl commercials that were hijacked north of the border, these too are archived on MySpace/SuperBowlAds.

Google Linking Social Networks

Robert Scoble highlights the reality that one day soon, social networks will form a single 'web' is taking big steps towards becoming a reality!

More on the Social Graph API:

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