Tag: Tom Barrett (page 1 of 2)

#runningtunes

Tom Barrett and I have set up a collaborative Spotify playlist for ‘music to run to’. It’s called #runningtunes and is accessible here:

Please do contribute, no matter what music you’re into and feel free to use the image above on your own blog post/sidebar!

I’ve been using the playlist with Spotify Premium on my iPhone and putting it on random for my last few runs. Great stuff! 🙂

One week until #GTAUK

This time next week the first-ever Google Teacher Academy in the UK (#GTAUK) will be drawing to a close. I’m honoured to be one of the UK-based Lead Learners (along with Tom Barrett and Zoe Ross).

I’ll be running the session on Google Earth, one of my favourite tools for learning and teaching. I’ve set up a wiki in an attempt to not only provide resources for delegates, but for the wider community. You can access and contribute to it at:

http://sites.google.com/site/gtaukge

(short URL: http://bit.ly/gtaukge)

#blogsilike

CC-BY-SA mrhayata

I’ve banged on long enough about my opposition to the Edublog Awards. So I’m turning a negative into a positive. Here’s how it goes:

  1. Consider the blogs you’ve come across in 2009 that you like.
  2. Write about why you like them on your blog.
  3. Tag your blog post blogsilike and publish it.
  4. Link to your blog post on Twitter using the hashtag #blogsilike

Here’s my contribution:

  • I really like Harold Jarche’s blog (http://www.jarche.com) and his work on the Sackville Commons. Inspirational stuff.
  • I’ve been impressed at the way Tom Barrett moved effortlessly into his new home at http://edte.ch and has set up a really engaging blog. He’s also adapted his blog writing style to be even more relevant and collaborative. 🙂
  • After reading Seth Godin’s book Tribes I subscribed to his blog (http://sethgodin.typepad.com) via email. He is full of good ideas, that man!
  • Some people who attend EdTechRoundUp regularly have begun to blog – people like Zoe Ross (http://www.zoeross.com), Nick Dennis (http://nickdennis.com/blog)and Kerry Turner (http://kerryjturner.com). Not have these three begun to blog to reflect on their own practice as educators, but are self-hosting their (WordPress-powered) blogs. Great stuff! If you want to do likewise, I highly recommend Bluehost to make it a simple, one-click process!

Why not help this become a meme and contribute your own? 😀

Best of Belshaw (2009)

Last year I simply listed the ‘top’ 25 posts on this blog from the previous year in Top 25: the Best of Belshaw 2008. This year, I’ve gone one step further: I’ve created a book!

It’s available as a free download as an e-book or to purchase (as cost price) as a physical book from Lulu.com:

Best of Belshaw (2009)

And yes, it’s uncopyrighted as well. 🙂

Free copies

I’ve ordered 10 copies and am going to be giving them away for free to the following (UK-based) people who have helped and inspired me this year (in alphabetical order):

  1. Dai Barnes (for his help with EdTechRoundUp)
  2. Lisa Stevens (for being a cheerful, caring sort of person)
  3. Nick Dennis (for being my partner-in-crime on various projects)
  4. Stuart Ridout (for his help with the upcoming #movemeon book)
  5. Tom Barrett (for being a truly inspirational educator and collaborator)

Over and above these I’ll be giving some to members of my family, so I’ll have 2 spare to give away. If you’d like one of these, please leave a comment below explaining why!  Thanks to those who requested a copy in the comments below – the two that were up for grabs are going to Daniel Dainty & Julian Wood! :-p

3 ways Google Wave could be used in the classroom.

Google Wave logo

So you’re an educator who’s managed to score an invitation to Google Wave. You’ve had a play and it’s all very nice, but how could it be used in education?

Before I go any further, read these:

Google Wave conversation

Here are 3 ways I think Google Wave could be used by students for actual learning rather than just playing with something because it’s cool.

1. Empowering learners

There was a great presentation at the TeachMeet that accompanied the Scottish Learning Festival this year. Fearghal Kelly talked about his experiments with giving one of his classes more ownership over their learning. He ran them through the learning objectives and the content they would need to cover and then the student co-created and collaborated on planning what exactly they wanted to do.

Google Wave would be great for this as it allows wiki-like editing but is more threaded and conversation-like. The whole wave can also be ‘replayed’ to see how the thinking of the group evolved over time. It’s something I’d definitely be trying if I had a GCSE or AS/A2-level class… :-p

2. Student feedback

The most powerful learning experiences are those where students have ownership of their learning. That’s been dealt with above. But that’s of no use if students don’t know how to get better in a particular subject or discipline!

That’s why I think Google Wave could be used as an Assessment for Learning tool. Learning as a conversation could be shown in practice through having an individual wave for each student/teacher relationship. Alternatively, these could be small group and ability based to enable peer learning.

I can imagine waves being used for ongoing learning conversations once Google Wave becomes a feature of Google Apps for Education. I’ll certainly be experimenting with it for that purpose! 😀

3. Flattening the walls of the classroom

One of the really exciting things about Google Wave is the ‘bots’ you can add to automate processes. One of these bots allows for the automatic translation of text entered in one language into that of the recipient.

Whilst language teachers may be up in arms about the idea of ‘not needing’ to learn another’s language, I think it could be fantastic for removing barriers for worldwide collaboration. Imagine the power of students having the digital and wave-equivalent of ‘penpals’ in various classrooms around the world.

Now that really would ‘flatten the walls‘ of the classroom. 🙂

What excites YOU about Google Wave’s potential for education?

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A Week of Divesting: Reflections

If you haven’t read the posts which precede this one, you might want to take a moment to do so:

Two equestrian riders, girls on horseback, in low tide reflections. Serene

Image based on an original (under CC-license) by mikebaird @ Flickr

Overview

The aim of this week was to ‘divest’ myself of unnecessary things. It wasn’t so much a move to live more cheaply or simply, but to establish a flow. Let me explain.

Take, for example, books. I tend to buy quite a few, usually when I see them on offer or at a second-hand bookshop. I’ve a huge number of books I’m yet to read, but what of those that I have read and don’t love enough to buy in hardback? Previously, the languished on my shelves, taking up space just in case I ever wanted to read them again.

Now I’ve got a flow. Books come in as they did before. Those that I love are bought in hardback. But those that previously languished now move on. To be sure, there will some that I’ll re-buy. But that’s worth freeing up a large amount of space for!

Now that we’re back in Northumberland I’m closer to Barter Books in Alnwick. They have a ‘two carrier bag per week’ limit on taking books for which you can gain credit. I took about half of the ones I want to get rid of the other day and managed to gain enough credit to get a rather nice three-volume boxed set of the Domesday Book (yes, that one – I’m a History teacher!)

Books on shelf

I’ve kept about 15 DVDs. Most of those I haven’t seen, with only a few that I’m likely to want to keep on watching on a regular basis – North By Northwest, Monty Python & The Holy Grail to name buy two. I’ve decided to get rid of all of my CDs. Even the limited edition ones. The future is in services such as Spotify almost every track under the sun to wireless devices. I shall be investing the proceeds of my CD collection in buying a year’s Premium membership of Spotify.

Non-media stuff

I’m delighted that I’m now running almost all Open Source and free software on my Macbook Pro – I’ve no pirated stuff on there at all. I’m not checking email for the first hour after waking up and not looking at screens for the hour before sleeping. That’s going quite well. The expected revolt over my change in blog design hasn’t happened, thankfully. 🙂

Competition winners

Last but not least is the small matter of the competition winners of the domains http://edte.ch and http://elearnr.org. I’ll no doubt get accused of bias, especially given Richie Laurence’s impressive entry, but I’ve decided to go for the following:

  • edte.ch – Tom Barrett
  • elearnr.org – Dave Stacey

Why? Because I know the domains will be used in a fantastic way. Whilst I was very tempted to name Richie as the winner of edte.ch, Tom’s been talking about moving his site away from Edublogs for so long that I thought he needed some stimulus to do so! 😉

Many thanks to those who entered and for the kind comments about the existing content at http://elearnr.org. Additional thanks to those who have joined me on my journey this week. That word – ‘journey’ – is used all too often these days to make things sound more interesting than they are. Perhaps that’s the case here! But for me, this has been a truly important week in my life. A time when decisions were made, stuck to and carried through to their logical conclusion.

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Interesting ways to use Twitter in the classroom

After a suggestion received, quite fittingly, from another Twitter user, Tom Barrett is weaving his magic again. This time, after getting educators to collaborate on ways in which Interactive Whiteboards, Google Earth, Google Docs, and Pocket Video Cameras can be used in education he’s turned his (and his network’s) sights on Twitter:

I got involved straight away – in fact mine’s the first tip on there! Get involved by contacting Tom (@tombarrett) 🙂

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Productivity, Organization & #tweetmeet

I’ve spent this afternoon and early evening at a ‘tweetmeet’. These are also known as ‘tweetups’ and are when people who have previously only met, or usually communicate, through the microblogging service Twitter meet up face-to-face. I’d actually met all of the people from the small tweetmeet we had today in Nottingham.* :-p

Such ‘unorganized’ meetings of people – TeachMeet is a similar, slightly more structured example – are the subject of this blog post. What prompted my thinking about organization was part of the discussion we had, foolowed up by listening to a Radio 4 podcast on the way home called Thinking Allowed. I suggest that you listen to it right now!

The whole point of organizations is to achieve something. These may be set in stone and known by all participants in the organizations, or there may be many (and possibly conflicting) objectives framed by participants. All organizations, therefore, have different degrees of productivity, both globally (as an organization) and, depending on their size, on a more micro-scale.

I say this because we discussed at the tweetmeet – which was itself a kind of exemplar – the concept of an ‘unconference’. This is defined by Wikipedia (as I write, anyway…) as ‘a facilitated, participant-driven conference centered around a theme or purpose.’ Our purpose, I suppose, was to discuss things face-to-face that we’d previously discussed online, and to get to know each other a little better. Then, on the way home, listening the Thinking Allowed podcast (above) it got me thinking more generally about organizational structures.

Michael Thompson, author of Organising and Disorganising, talked about going on a expedition to climb the South face of Mount Everest. He explained how there were two separate groups – ‘Team A’ and ‘Team B’ – with the leader and middle managers (as it were) in the former group and the rest in the latter. He explained how this rigid hierarchical structure led to those in Team B, despite being experienced and highly-motivated mountaineers, adopting a chaotic, somewhat anti-organizational structure.

The important thing, however, was that order in fact came out of this structure; order that depended on those involved. This is the thing that is missing in organizational planning these days: the role of individuality. Because, actually, someone who fulfils a role in an organization cannot simply be swapped-out for another person. The whole organizational structure depends on the talents, personality and individual attributes of that person. Change one part of the organization and the whole thing shifts. It may be a small amount in some cases – imperceptible to some – but a rearrangement and alteration does take place.

This helps to explain why organizations seemingly consisting of brilliant minds that should be amazingly productive and innovative fail to be so. An effective organizational structure is one that removes barriers and enables individuals within an organization to reach his or her potential. This, of course, cannot be at the expense of another, otherwise it is a futile exercise. One such way of going about organization, therefore, is to unorganize things, to mix things up a little.

So I’d encourage you, as Tom did me today, to once you’ve attended an unconference, to think about organizing (or un-organizing…) one of your own. You can’t really state in advance the specific things you’re likely to learn, but that’s part of the fun! I’ll leave you with a couple of things. The first is a Twitter message from @hrheingold which sums up in a far more eloquent way than I could ever manage the benefits of letting a little (controlled) chaos into organization:

The second is a link I came across, shared by Vicki Davis (@coolcatteacher), whilst writing this post. It’s called 8 Tips on How to Run Your Own UnConference. I hope that and this post change your thinking a bit and encourage you to think a little differently about organization, or the lack of it, and how it could impact the productivity of any organization of which you are part! 😀

* I knew Lisa Stevens originally from last year’s TeachMeet at BETT, Jose Picardo from an Open Source Schools event, and Tom Barrett from some work we did for a Becta-funded project into Web 2.0 in the classroom at Nottingham University a few months back. The reason it says #tweetmeet in the title is because on Twitter you can add tags by prefacing words with hash symbols. These then can be tracked by websites such as Twemes.com. You can see this in action on the front page of the tweetmeet.eu website!

Image credits: iPhone Matrix App -MoPhaic & Podcamp West, both from Flickr

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Interesting Ways to use Netbooks in the Classroom

I’ve been inspired by Tom Barrett‘s excellent use of Google Presentations to get educators collaborating on ways to use Google Earth and Interactive Whiteboards. Having recently purchased six Asus Eee 1000 Netbooks for my school, I thought I’d try something similar:

Whilst there have been many blog posts and wiki pages dedicated to the ways in which laptops and Netbooks can be used in a 1-to-1 environment, it’s less obvious what you can do when you only have a few in your classroom. This presentation, as an ongoing project, should hopefully remedy that!

If you’d like to collaborate, here’s what to do:

  1. Look at the presentation above to see what tips have already been added.
  2. Send a message on Twitter to @dajbelshaw, or use the contact form on this site in order to request to be added as a collaborator.
  3. Add a slide in a similar fashion to the ones already there, making sure you credit any Creative Commons-license images used.
  4. Change the number of tips now included in the presentation on the first slide, and add your name as being a collaborator.

I’m looking forward to your contributions! 😀

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How to use Google Earth more effectively.

Google Earth is a fantastic, FREE, tool for teaching and learning. There are many, many different ways of using it. It’s almost as if the whole world is a canvas!

As befits Google Earth, the following are some ideas from educators around the world as to how to use the program effectively.

Tom Barrett has created a Google Presentation to which other educators have contributed. Check it out here:

 

Further Links:

Know any other useful links not in the guide or above? Please share them! 🙂

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