Tag: collaboration (page 1 of 2)

Towards a learning standard for Web Literacy: (1) Introduction.

Update: For the latest information on the Web Literacy standard work, head to http://mzl.la/weblitstd


TL;DR version: Mozilla wants to work with the community to create a new learning standard around Web Literacy. There’s an online gathering to kick-off work in this area at 11am EST on Thursday 7th February 2013 to which everyone’s invited.


Posts in this series:

  1. Introduction
  2. What? Why?
  3. Who?
  4. How?

I’m delighted to announce that Mozilla intends to work with the community on defining a learning standard for web literacy.* This builds on the work that Michelle Levesque started, and I have continued, since joining the Mozilla Foundation in July 2012. It’s part of our wider mission to create a generation of Webmakers.

Anyone interested in helping define and maintain the standard is invited to a kick-off online gathering on Thursday 7th February 2013 at 11am EST (what time is that for me?). There’s no need to book, but signing up via either Eventbrite (below) means you’ll get reminders and be able to add it to your calendar. It’s also listed on Lanyrd.


Sign up here


From the overview wiki page:

The Mozilla Foundation has a vision of a web literate planet. We’ve built some tools to help with this and now we’re asking the question: What are the skills, competencies and literacies necessary to read, write and participate in the Web – now and in the future? We’ve already started the thinking but we want to go further and develop a web literacy standard that we can all align with and teach to. And we need your help.

We want to reach people at web scale, and that means lots of different individuals and organizations teaching various skills and competencies – many of you are doing this already – but we need a way for it to roll up to something bigger.

We need a way to ensure we’re teaching the right things, to connect various options and help learners discover pathways, and of course, to find ways for us all to track our impact. That’s where the standard comes in – we can build consensus around the overall learning map and then each chart our course against it. So, let’s develop the standard and do this together.

We’re convening an online gathering to kick-start work towards a learning standard for web literacy and build upon the work we’ve done so far in this area (and with badges). Be sure to to discuss where we want to go and find out ways for you or your organization to get involved. Make a point to get involved; we’re counting on you!

There’s a new Google Group for discussion/debate which you should introduce yourself to ASAP and the hashtag to use on social networks is #weblitstd. Note that http://mzl.la/weblitstd takes you to an overview page on the Mozilla wiki which should always have the latest information from Mozilla and the community in this new area.

Please do join us for the kick-off meeting, we’re excited! :-)


*You’ll notice that I’m using ‘literacy’ in the singular form here. This is for mainly for communication purposes as we’ve found that talking about ‘literacies’ straight off the bat tends to confuse people. The substance of what I’ve been working on remains the same!

Image CC BY-NC-SA Daniel*1977

Collaboration, perception, and context.

a Zed and two Noughts

One thing you can never really know is how people perceive you. This is especially true at a distance with people you’ve never met face-to-face. Whether face-to-face or at a distance, however, each situation depends heavily upon the ‘history’ you share with others. There are only a few people, for example, that I’ve known online since 2004 (when I started teaching) that I haven’t met face-to-face. Context changes things.

As I explained in On the glorious weirdness of connecting with people online (2009) I’m careful about the impression I give to people when meeting them for the first time. This first impression is often the one that lasts, or at least colours all future interactions. It’s been interesting, for example, to see how people I’ve known for years have reacted to my co-kickstarting the Purpos/ed debate (overwhelmingly positive) compared to the reactions of a small minority who have assumed that it’s some sort of Ponzi scheme.

The differing reactions, of course, demonstrate that at least some people think I’ve got form in collaborative and co-operative ventures:

2004 – Set up a Grouper-powered network to help members of the Schoolhistory.co.uk forum share educational resources.

2006 – Demise of Grouper led to establishment of HistoryShareForum.com.

2007 – Inspired by EdTechTalk, started EdTechRoundUp to enable UK-focused weekly discussion and debate of issues relating to educational technology.

2008 – Created elearnr.org to host guides relating to social media and educational technology.

2009 – Started a Twitter hashtag called #movemeon to provide advice for newly-qualified teachers (now collated into a book!). Shared strategy and plans relating to Director of E-Learning position, spurring others to do likewise.

2011 – Co-kickstarted Purpos/ed with Andy Stewart to provide a non-partisan, location-independent platform for discussion and debate about the purpose(s) of education.

I’m not being disingenuous when I say that over-and-above an income that provides for my family I’m not particularly interested in money. It’s a means to an end. What I am interested in is connecting and collaborating with people, attempting to inspire them, and working to make the world a little better than I found it.

Purpos/edThere’s a lot of cynicism, jockeying and false promising in western societies. My aim for Purpos/ed (and any future projects I help establish) is to provide something of an antidote to this world-weariness I see around me. It’s taken me a while, but I’ve finally realised: you don’t have to ask permission to be the change you want to see in the world.

If you feel likewise, and have an interest in education, why not come along to the Purpos/ed Summit for Instigators on 30th April in Sheffield? We’re trying to make the world a better place by debate and discussion leading to action. Why not join us?

Image CC BY-NC-SA Naccarato

Feed me! Feed me NOW!

I used to get overwhelmed by RSS feed-reading and declared bankruptcy almost every New Year. The trouble is, I’d just go and do the same again, building up my number of subscribed-to feeds to overwhelming levels: I just love being exposed to new ideas and perspectives!

Since I’ve been using Feedly, however, it provides a magazine-like front-end to Google Reader. This means I can merrily subscribe to as many feeds as I wish. It’s so much easier to manage. In fact…

I want more.

It’s a little-known fact that you can share lists of RSS feeds easily in a format called OPML. I want you to send me yours! I’ll collate them and share back the über-OPML file. I can’t wait to read what you’re reading!

Win/win.

Here’s how to do it (assuming that everyone’s using Google Reader…):

  1. Sign in to Google Reader
  2. Click on Manage Subscriptions at the bottom-left of your screen
  3. Click on Import/Export
  4. Click the link Export your subscriptions as an OPML file and save the file somewhere you’ll remember
  5. Go to http://dropitto.me/dajbelshaw (password = opml) and upload your OPML file

Questions/comments? Add them below!

Literaci.es: Reflecting on New Literacies

Literaci.es

There’s not a lot to see there yet, and I’ve a whole thesis on the matter to complete, but I’ve started a new place to collate thinking and resources about New Literacies.

You can find it at http://literaci.es

I’d love for it to become a collaborative resource along the lines of Smart Mobs, so if you’ve got something to share, a post you’d like to write, or a desire to become a regular contributor, please do get in touch!

Google Apps Marketplace: apps worth installing

I’m currently sorting out Google Apps Education Edition for internal communication and collaboration at work. Things have changed a bit since I set it up at the Academy last year: there’s a new admin interface and (most importantly) Google Apps Marketplace, amongst other things.

Google Apps Marketplace allows third-parties to integrate their products and services – usually by single sign-on – with Google Apps. Some are paid-for, some free and all have separate terms and conditions to the core Google Apps offering.

I’ve been through all of the third-party products and services currently available (August 2010) and created a Google Doc of those that meet the following criteria:

1. Free (not just free trial)
2. Education or productivity-focused

The document (embedded below) is editable by anyone with the link. Please do have a look and make any additions/alterations if you can! 🙂

Google Apps (Education Edition) vs. Microsoft [email protected]

Today I’m presenting on the benefits of Google Apps as a collaborative platform for people who work together often, but aren’t physically co-located. It’s not easy to separate fact from myth when comparing Microsoft’s hosted services (e.g. [email protected], Office Live) with Google Apps.

Microsoft have, very helpfully, concocted a Fact Based Comparison of Hosted Services (16 May 2010). Unfortunately, it’s rather selective with those facts. Most of them revolve around ‘can you do the same stuff with Google Apps as you can with Microsoft Outlook?’ That’s a flawed question for two reasons:

  1. You don’t necessarily want to do the same things with Google Apps.
  2. You can use Outlook to connect to Google Apps anyway.

To me, after reading several articles (available at my Delicious account) the choice seems to be between:

  • Cloud storage (Microsoft [email protected]/Office Live)
  • Cloud collaboration (Google Apps)

Whilst Microsoft’s offerings allow near real-time collaboration with Excel and OneNote, pages are locked for editing if someone else is using a Word document or PowerPoint presentation. By way of comparison, you can collaborate and edit all of Google Docs’ offerings in real-time.

Lifehacker, a website I’ve used for the last few years, published How Does Office Web Apps Compare to Google Docs? on 16 June 2010. I quote Kevin Purdy, the author of the article:

In terms of real-time collaboration, Google wins hands-down, because Office offers none.

And again:

Google’s Docs offerings have been on the market a good four years now, so they’ve had more time to learn what users want and need in an online suite. It shows in the design and function of Docs for day-to-day users.

I toyed with the idea of producing a point-by-point checklist here to compare Microsoft and Google’s offerings, but I don’t really think there’s any need. It’s a question of attitude and focus. For example, Microsoft drags its heels insisting on Silverlight installation whilst Google looks to the future with HTML5, an emerging web standard.

So, if you always use the same device, deal in only Microsoft-produced documents and are convinced Outlook is God’s gift to email users, then you’ll love [email protected] and Office Live.

But if, on the other hand, you like to be able to get various kinds of documents in and out of your systems easily, if you need to collaborate (in real-time) with colleagues not physically co-located, and if you want to be able to access everything on whatever device and browser you prefer using, then you’ll love Google Apps.

You can probably tell by the tone of this article which one I prefer. And I make no apology for that. Rome was not built on ‘functional specifications’ but on passion, enthusiasm and dedication. :-p

#GTAUK: Google Earth wiki & ebook

I’m delighted to have been chosen as a ‘Lead Learner’ for the first-ever UK Google Teacher Academy on 29-30 July 2010. I’ve been asked to run the sessions on Google Earth and am very aware that whilst I’m certainly an enthusiast with some advanced knowledge, I’m certainly not an ‘expert’.
Read more →

Google Wave: now with added usefulness.

Background

Remember the hype just before and during the launch of Google Wave on 30 September 2009? It was going to be revolutionary, change the way we work forever, and oh! to have an invite…

And then reality hit home. What can you actually do with it?

It was all a bit… meh. 🙁

Growing maturity

Google certainly does love the ‘release early, release often’ mantra. That means, of course, that its offerings tend to get better as time goes on. And this is certainly true of Google Wave.

As you can see from the screenshot above, when you go to create a new wave you are given 6 templates from which to choose. Below is the ‘Task tracking’ option:

When you throw the extensions into the mix, you’ve got a very powerful collaborative tool. The iFrame gadget, in particular, is an extremely valuable option. I can imagine, for example, distributed teams using Google Wave for meetings. They’d use the meeting or brainstorm template, add the ‘Yes/No/Maybe’ gadget and the ‘Map’ gadget to organise a face-to-face meetup. There’s also several gadgets to turn Google Wave into the liveblogging app to end all liveblogging apps:

I’m going to be recommending Google Wave for meetings, project management and more over the next few weeks/months – both at work and for ‘extra-curricular’ activities. I’ll also be purchasing The Complete Guide to Google Wave by Gina Trapani’s, of Lifehacker fame. The book’s also freely available to read online – probably for a limited period only. 😀

Are YOU using Google Wave? What for?

#eduhivefive (a suggestion).

This follows on a previous post r.e. the problem with (non-OSS) free stuff.

Image: ‘Bees

I’ll keep this short.

Lifehacker has a great regular thing called Hive Five for software/productivity recommendations. It goes like this:

  1. Question asked: ‘What’s the best x for y?’
  2. People respond.
  3. Five most mentioned in a positive way become ‘recommended’.

We should totally do this for education. I’ve created a wiki at http://eduhivefive.wikispaces.com in anticipation. :-p

Perhaps, given the demise of Etherpad, we could kick off with: “What’s the best online tool for collaborative writing?” and use #eduhivefive and #writing as hashtags?

Research supporting collaborative, enquiry-based learning.

Model of Learning - Tools for TeachingOne of the great things of studying in the Education Library at Durham University (instead of at home, in my study) is the books I randomly stumble across. For example, I pulled Models of Learning – Tools for Teaching off the shelf today and it fell open at Chapter 7, entitled ‘Learning through cooperative disciplined inquiry.’

This is perfect for me. One of my Performance Management targets for this year – the one focused on my own classroom practices – is about piloting enquiry-based learning with one of my Year 7 History classes. In addition, I’ll (hopefully) be presenting with Nick Dennis at the SHP Conference in July 2010 on this very topic – including the way technology can help! :-p

It’s always good to have some scholarly research to back up one’s actions, so if you’re planning to do something similar here’s some quotations to help you!

The most stunning thing about teaching people to help kids learn cooperatively is that people don’t know how to do it as a consequence of their own schools and life in this society. And, if anything is genetically driven, it’s a social instinct. If it weren’t for each other, we wouldn’t even know who we are. (Herbert Thelen to Bruce Joyce, circa 1964) p.95

The chapter is based on case studies across the age range, but also contains this nugget on p.98-9:

The assumptions that underlie the development of cooperative learning communities are straightforward:

  1. The synergy generated in cooperative settings generates more motivation than do individualistic, competitive environments. Integrative social groups are, in effect, more than the sume of their parts. The feelings of connectedness produce positive energy.
  2. The members of cooperative groups learn from one another. Each learner has more helping hands than in a structure that generates isolation.
  3. Interacting with one another produces cognitive as well as social complexity, creating more intellectual activity that increases learning when contrasted with solitary study.
  4. Cooperation increases positive feelings towards one another, reduces alienation and loneliness, builds relationships, and provides affirmative views of other people.
  5. Cooperation increases self-esteem not only through increased learning but through the feeling of being respected and cared for by others in the environment.
  6. Students can respond to experience in tasks requiring cooperation by increasing their capacity to work together productively. In other words, the more children are given the opportunity to work together, the better they get at it, with benefit to their general social skills.
  7. Students, including primary school children, can learn from training to increase their ability to work together.

The authors go on to summarise the evidence about improved learning through collaboration on p.99:

Classrooms where students work in pairs and larger groups… are characterized by greater mastery of material than the common individual-study/recitation pattern. Also, the shared responsibility and interaction produce more positive feelings toward tasks… In other words, the results generally affirm the assumptions that underlie the use of cooperative learning methods.

It’s not hard to get started with cooperative learning (p.100):

[A]n endearing feature is that it is so very easy to organize students into pairs and triads. And it gets effects immediately. The combination of social support and the increase in cognitive complexity caused by the social interaction have mild but rapid effects on the learning of content and skills.

The authors dismiss claims from some teachers that ‘gifted students prefer to work alone’ as the evidence does not back this up (Joyce 1991; Slavin 1991). They believe it may rest on a misunderstanding of the relationship between individual and cooperative study; partnership still requires individual effort. There’s no need to be concerned about students’ ability to work together (p.101):

In fact, partnership s over simple tasks are not very demanding of social skills. Most students are quite capable of cooperating when they are clear about what has been asked of them.

The Teacher's ToolkitI’ll not go into them here, but the authors mention a number of ways in which teachers can foster ‘positive interdependence’. They also suggest the ‘division of labour’ into specializations. Instead of learning only a part of what every is supposed to be learning, they have found, ‘jigsaw’ activities and the like lead to more learning across the spectrum. Many of the activities they suggest are, in fact, featured alongside others in one of my favourite education-related books, The Teacher’s Toolkit.

The teacher’s role in cooperative learning moves from that of instructor to ‘counsellor, consultant and friendly critic.’ (p.107) The authors note that this ‘is a very difficult and sensitive’ role ‘because the essence of inquiry is student activity’. Teachers need to:

  • facilitate the group process
  • intervene in the group to channel its energy into potentially educative activities, and
  • supervise these educative activities so that personal meaning comes from the experience

The upshot of this is that ‘intervention by the teacher should be minimal unless the group bogs down seriously’ (p.107).

The authors suggest a 6-phase process for cooperative learning:

Phase 1 – Students encounter puzzling situation (planned or unplanned).

Phase 2 – Students explore reactions to the situation.

Phase 3 – Students formulate study task and organize for study (problem definition, role, assignments, etc.)

Phase 4 – Independent and group study.

Phase 5 – Students analyse progress and process.

Phase 6 – Recycle activity.

In conclusion, the authors note how universally cooperative group investigation can be used (p.111-2):

Group investigation is a highly versatile and comprehensive model of learning and teaching: it blends the goals of academic inquiry, social integration and social process learning. It can be used in all subject areas, and with all age levels, when the teacher desires to emphasize the formulation and problem-solving aspects of knowledge rather than the intake of preorganized, predetermined information.

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