Tag: edublogosphere

edte.ch barnraising: get involved in forming a community!

The edublogosphere is a wonderful place. It’s a place that’s grown almost exponentially since I joined it 3 years ago, making it a wonderfully diverse arena for discourse. ๐Ÿ™‚

However, sometimes it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and lost. How do you get in touch and interact with those facing similar situations and challenges as yourself? In addition to a network, there’s a need for groups.

Enter edte.ch. As I’ve already discussed, edte.ch is to be a place for educational technology professionals and students. I’ve no financial interest in the project: I’m acting as domain name owner, facilitator, and contributor. ๐Ÿ˜€

I want it to be a grassroots community, a place for postgraduate students to find people to bounce ideas off, an arena for instructional technologists to discuss barriers and opportunities. But I need YOUR help to get this off the ground.

  1. If you’re an educational technology professional or student, imagine the type of community to which you’d like to belong.
  2. Imagine how you’d interact with that community.
  3. Contribute your ideas to the barnraising section of edte.ch
  4. (optional) Share links to good stuff at http://friendfeed.com/rooms/edtech
  5. (optional) Get involved in a synchronous chat towards the end of the week (to be organized) about the future of edte.ch

Although I’ve obviously got my own ideas, I don’t want to be overly-prescriptive. I’m a great believer in the ability of people to organise themselves on a grassroots level. I’ve already been contacted by a great number of people who would seem to be in need of something like this. I know I am – let’s make it work! :-p

*Wondering what I mean by ‘barnraising’? It’s a predominantly Amish practice and a two-day event where the community comes together to build a barn. I first came across this in the film Witness.

I am Spart-arthus!

OK, so I’m not reallyArthus Erea‘ the poster boy of the Student 2.0 ‘movement’. I considered pretenting to be though. :-p Apparently he’s going to launch a new blog as ‘a teacher’:

Here’s 3 reasons I don’t think 14 15 (whoops!) year-olds have a full part to play in the edublogosphere:

  1. They haven’t had much life experience. In the same way that you wouldn’t appoint a newly-qualified teacher to run a school, teenagers haven’t got the experience to make fully informed comments on education. They only see one side of the picture.
  2. The transparency that we almost demand in the edublogosphere – even the simple ‘what’s your name and where do you come from’ – cannot be provided by these youngsters due to child protection issues. The edublogosphere therefore just becomes another anonymous forum to them.
  3. They tend to be ships without a rudder, speeding off in one direction and then another. Yes, they need interactions with more mature people to give them this ‘rudder’, but I would argue that they learn by imitation. The best place for this is offline – especially given point 2!

It’s not up to me who you follow on Twitter or whose blogs you read, but I see teenagers as having the same role in the edublogosphere as student councils do in schools. That is informing professionals.

Finally, I just find it all a bit unhealthy that we treat a 14 year-old as a fully paid-up member of adult discussions. It’s a bit like me interacting with students on Facebook, MySpace or Bebo. As a teacher, I just don’t do it.

I’d love to hear some proper justifications of why I should that aren’t platitudes or crowd-pleasing posturing… ๐Ÿ˜‰

Introducing TweetMeet

TweetMeet

Twitter‘s great. It allows you to not only network in semi-realtime, but also to have access to a network of experts and engage in borderless conversations. Usually, these are people with which you share something major in common. In my case, almost all of my Twitter friends are educators.

That’s all well-and-good, but there’s really nothing like meeting up face-to-face to discuss things. That’s why conferences still thrive in this Web 2.0 world. To facilitate Twitter meet-ups – or ‘TweetMeets’ – I’ve set up a new website:

http://tweetmeet.eu

Why .eu? Well, the domain name was cheap… ๐Ÿ˜‰ (feel free to use it worldwide!)

Head on over! I’m not allowing just anyone to edit the whole thing as I don’t want it taken over by non-educators. If you’d like a login to be able to organize TweetMeets, send me your email address via direct message on Twitter. (d dajbelshaw Hi…)

If you want to discuss TweetMeet, can I suggest that you use the global hashtag #tweetmeet please? (# is ALT-3 on UK Mac keyboards) You can then track the conversations at Twemes.com ๐Ÿ™‚

Edit: Inugural TweetMeet planned for Saturday in August – either 2nd or 9th. Tweet @dajbelshaw with your preferences for meeting up in the Peak District, England! ๐Ÿ˜€

“Toto, I have a feeling we are not in Kansas anymore!” (or, How to get started in the Edublogosphere…)

Wizard of Oz

I’ve been contacted by four different postgraduate researchers in the last two weeks. It’s getting to the stage where I’m considering setting up a new website/discussion space! A couple of them just wanted permission to use some of my stuff in their theses, one is already a member of the Edublogosphere, but one asked a very pertinent question:

My stumbling across some of your postings last night was my first trip in the edublogosphere. What else is going on out there?

As you can imagine, I hardly knew where to start! As I like to reply to emails ASAP, I replied thus:

  • Find some blogs to read. My Google Reader shared items might be a good place to start. Also try the big names in the edublogosphere – search for Stephen Downes, Will Richardson, Vicki Davis, Ewan McIntosh, and Dave Warlick. ๐Ÿ™‚
  • Get yourself a Google account and use Google Reader to subscribe to the RSS feeds of blogs (don’t know how? click here)
  • Start using Twitter. At first you’ll think “What on earth…?”. After a while you’ll find it indispensible.
  • Start blogging yourself. Doesn’t matter what, but start making links with people. It’s the conversation that counts! Try edublogs to get you started. ๐Ÿ˜€

There’s a Hebrew proverb that I’m sure almost every educator will have heard before: “Do not confine your children to your learning, for they were born in a different time.” The same could be said of the Edublogosphere. I can hardly recommend that people start by using the same tools I did when things have moved on so much in the last 3-4 years! What would YOU recommend?

This Sunday, EdTechRoundup will be discussing just this issue – how to get started in the Edublogosphere – from 7.45pm onwards. Please do join us and give your input. The session will be recorded and go out as a podcast.

If you can’t make it, or just want to get the conversation going before then, please add your comment below! :-p

Help me write my job spec. for next year!


(The response I hope not to get come September…)

I’ve mentioned this in passing in a couple of blog posts previous to this one: from next academic year I shall be E-Learning Tutor at my school. This new post (solicited by me, it has to be said) involves me spending 50% of my time (15 periods of 50 mins) per week teaching History and a bit of ICT. The other 50% will count towards the E-Learning Tutor role.

I’ve a meeting next week with my Head to flesh out my actual role. He mentioned today that I’ll have to do some “mundane” stuff, but that I will be free to push a few aspects of my choosing and accelerate perhaps one thing I’m really interested in. As you can imagine, with my Ed.D. thesis exploring the ‘Digital Literacy’, that’s the latter taken care of. ๐Ÿ™‚

I’m expecting the mudane activities I shall have to undertake to be things like:

  • Interactive Whiteboard training (the really basic aspects)
  • How to use the new VLE (Virtual Learning Environment)
  • Using the internal Microsoft Outlook web-based email system
  • Ways to use Powerpoint and other presentation tools in the classroom
  • How to transfer digital video from digital cameras/camcorders to staff laptops

Whereas what I really want to be pushing are things such as:

  • Creating a blog to make resources available outside the classroom (I’ve already run a couple of staff workshops on this, with some success)
  • Basic podcasting and digital storytelling for non-written assessment, leading to e-portfolios for students.
  • Communicating with other educators worldwide (i.e. getting staff initiated in the edublogosphere – perhaps through the K12 Online Conference?)
  • Giving staff the confidence to take students into the ICT suites more often to use the Internet as a publishing tool.
  • Transferring schemes of work and programmes of study into an electronic format (perhaps in a wiki-like format using Google Sites within Google Apps Team Edition or the new VLE?)

Some context to help you understand where we’re at: my school has a plethora of RM One machines, Interactive Whiteboards in almost every classroom, and relatively unrestricted access (we can access Twitter, del.icio.us, Google Video, etc. but not YouTube, Facebook or games websites, for example). There’s a real mix of what I would call ‘digital literacy’ amongst staff. We range from those, like me, who use educational technology in some way in every lesson, to those who only use their laptop to help them write reports, and who certainly haven’t turned on their Interactive Whiteboard yet… ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

What else should I be looking to include in my responsibilities? How should my success and impact be measured, given that it’s a 1-year trial role? Suggestions in the comments section please! :-p

Image credits: Hugh McLeod @ gapingvoid.com (top one censored by me…)

Are you an ‘Edupunk’? I’m not.

Apparently, “the concept of Edupunk has totally caught wind, spreading through the blogosphere like wildfire” according to Stephen Downes. I must have been too busy with Twitter and FriendFeed to notice.*

This may show my ignorance, but I’ve never heard of Jim Groom. Please forgive me if I’ve committed a heinous crime by saying that, but in four years of reading (lots and lots) of posts in the edublogosphere, I can’t remember him being mentioned once. Which is not to say that he’s not to be listened to or that he doesn’t have good ideas – of course not! He’s probably never heard of me. I’m just sayin’… ๐Ÿ˜‰

Here’s what Jim has to say about the concept of ‘edupunk’. His context is Blackboard‘s aims to try and trademark and sue everyone else out of existence:

I donโ€™t believe in technology, I believe in people. And thatโ€™s why I donโ€™t think our struggle is over the future of technology, it is over the struggle for the future of our culture that is assailed from all corners by the vultures of capital. Corporations are selling us back our ideas, innovations, and visions for an exorbitant price. I want them all back, and I want them now!

Enter stage left: EDUPUNK!

My next series of posts will be about what I think EDUPUNK is and the necessity for a communal vision of EdTech to fight capitalโ€™s will to power at the expense of community. I hope others will join me.

Sorry Jim, I’m not going to be joining you. Despite the fact that I’ve set out my stall saying that the edublogosphere is (in some ways) changing for the worse, an ‘Edupunk’ movement is not the answer. Why?

  1. It’s a group, not a network – i.e. 1.0 not 2.0 (OK, so I know you reject labels…)
  2. It harks back to a time when either I wasn’t born or was very, very young. I have no meaningful connection with the metaphor you’re trying to use.
  3. It makes any members of the movement sound vaguely violent. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ
  4. It seems to have the assumption behind it that we (either individually or collectively) have the answers, when actually we’re learners like everyone else.
  5. Most Web 2.0 apps are free, and I’m at liberty to pick and choose them at will and use them how I want.

I’m all for being counter-cultural, anti-capitalist and bold towards authority, but I don’t think the right essence has been captured with ‘Edupunk’. Sorry. Perhaps I’m not ‘of a certain age’… ๐Ÿ™

Further reading:

*That’s not a flippant comment, by the way; it’s almost impossible to keep up with the number of decent-quality blogs in the edublogosphere these days, so I prefer ‘almost’ real-time interactions to get at what people are currently thinking. Blogs are still great. :-p

Serendipity, living in an echo chamber, and Learning to Change.

A few months back I bought a book entitled World Changing: A User’s Guide for the 21st Century. I managed to get it for the bargain price of ยฃ3 from a discount bookshop. I even haggled for money off as the cardboard sleeve had a small tear in it. What can I say? I’m a skinflint… ๐Ÿ˜‰

But I’m drifting off my point. I began reading the Editor’s introduction this morning, which includes the paragraph:

Because the planet seems so large to each of us as individuals, it’s easy to forget how many of us there are (over six billion and counting) and how much stress we collectively put on the earth. Though it’s not always east to see it as we go about our days, our current way of life is unsustainable, and that which is not sustainable does not continue. We are using up the planet, one person, one day, one decision at a time; we’re not considering the consequences.

And then, just now, going through my feed reader, I come across the following blog post from CommonCraft team kindly shared by Richard Platts:

We work from home. We make videos, we put them on the Web, people watch them. We track our views, our Technorati links, our mentions in Twitter, our blog comments. A good percentage of people we see in social situations in Seattle are aware of our work. Most of the email we receive is about the videos and of course, it dominates our discussions at home. This is all misleading and a bit unhealthy.

It’s too easy to start making assumptions – assumptions about general awareness, about the number of people who really know what’s happening in “our” online world. Viewed from the comfort of our living room, bookmarked pages and social circles, the Web looks pretty small and awareness looks pretty big. It’s too easy to assume that people have heard about the tools and sites we use everyday.

But they haven’t. In real terms, no one has. I look at Las Vegas as a cross section of the US. At any moment there are people from every state and many countries. They are the General Public in a lot of ways. I sat back and asked myself – forgetting Common Craft – do these people know about Twitter? Has Flickr become part of their world? What about wikis, do they care? Are they using RSS readers? My completely anecdotal evidence says the answer is no. In our own little online world, it’s too easy to assume they do.

Richard Platts shared the above with this note:

It’s easy to assume a change is happening in the world of education because we see more and more people joining the edublogosphere. But in terms of the number of educators the world over, it’s just a drop in the ocean.

What are we doing to get the message out about the way young people should be taught in the 21st century? Are we just preaching to the choir?

I hope not. Next year, I’ll be E-Learning Staff Tutor at my school. In practice, that means half a timetable of teaching, and the rest of the time working with members of staff, encouraging them to use educational technology, team-teaching, researching and developing, and so on. One of the first things I’m going to show them all together is the following:

Thanks again to Richard Platts for the link. OK, so it might be slightly biased, but it’s a great conversation starter.

What are YOU planning to do next academic year to get the message out?

Seminal blog posts

World mapIn the (large!) comments section of a recent post entitled The Map Is Not The Territory: the changing face of the edublogosphere it was suggested that we need a repository of seminal blog posts for those new (and not so new!) to the edublogosphere.

These are the posts that have provoked thinking and discussion in the edublogosphere – either in the comment section directly below the post and/or more widely on other blogs.

Professor Doctor JP Scott McLeod, a.k.a. all-round nice guy and fantastic blogger at Dangerously Irrelevant, has kindly put together a wiki page to collate the blog posts and articles that those new to the edublogosphere should have as required reading!

You can find the wiki page at:

http://movingforward.wikispaces.com/Blog+posts

Seminal blog posts wiki page

After Scott added the initial links, I’ve spent some time dating the posts and arranging them in reverse chronological order. If this idea takes off, I’d like to run a competition to design a blog sidebar badge for people to link to this page.

I don’t want to be dictatorial, but if you could please follow the following 3 simple guidelines, it will make life easier for all:

  • Don’t spam the wiki by adding lots of links to your own blog. That’s not cool at all.
  • If you don’t think a blog post should be included, use the strikethrough formatting feature and explain why.
  • Include only those that talk about pedagogically-oriented concepts and ideas, not just those that talk about cool ways to use Web 2.0 tools.

It would be great if some of the people who kindly left comments on the previous post could get involved in rectifying the situation! ๐Ÿ˜€

What do you think? Good idea or not?

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