Monday, November 28, 2011

Reaching out to the Network

I just watched two keynote presentations from this year's K12 Online Conference: Playing in Public   by George Couros and The World’s Craziest Educational Videos Featuring ds106 by Jim Groom and Tom Woodward. One thing that struck me about both was that they reached out to their networks to help tell their stories. Each is part of a network of learners and they are prepared to do their learning in public.

Jim and Tom describe their experience teaching and learning with DS106, an open course that has participation from people both enrolled in the course and not. People share their work, comment on and help each other and even set assignments which anyone can choose to do. All those who contributed, spoke of this as a life-changing experience. In some classrooms, where peer-editing and conferencing is encouraged, some of this goes on. In DS106, educators are experiencing the "learning in public" that they expect of their students. I'm intrigued, but not yet ready to jump in. I've been part of the Flickr education groups and just keeping up with my own photography and writing in my photo blog,  as well as commenting on my contacts' work is time-consuming. I am not yet ready to commit more time.

George Couros' talks about putting learning "out there" - to connect and create ideas with others. Here is his blog post where he asked for feedback. He muses on play being about engagement (and isn't that what we want for our students). He pointed to educators who are posting their learning online and who are modelling what it is to be a lifelong learner. In the video, Dean Shareski points out that teachers have to be learning experts, not just teaching experts. Teachers need to model that learning, to show students that it is not about having the answers, but knowing how to find them, whether through books, the Internet or through our connections.

We have to play together, to connect with others and share our learning. And we have to make sure our students have the same opportunities to connect to learn in the larger community.

Howard Gardner at the Global Education Conference

I had the privilege to hear Howard Gardner interviewed by his son, Andrew Gardner, at the Global Education Conference. I did not have to go to the conference; it came to me through Blackboard / Collaborate.
I was aware of Gardner’s work on Multiple Intelligences. I was not aware of all the work he has done on ethical issues. He is part of  Project Zero at Harvard.  Two projects, Good Work and Good Play were of particular interest.
“The GoodWork™ Project is a large scale effort to identify individuals and institutions that exemplify good work – work that is excellent in quality, socially responsible, and meaningful to its practitioners – and to determine how best to increase the incidence of good work in our society.”
He talked about the three "E's" – technically Excellent, personally Engaging and carried out in an Ethical way. This is very pertinent in today's society.
Out of this project came their Good Play project which looked at people participating in new media. The five aspects they looked at are
  • What does it mean to have a sense of identity in an online world
  • What happens to a sense of privacy
  • Ownership and authorship
  • Trustworthiness and credibility
  • What does it mean in the digital era to participate in a community
This project led to a digital ethics curriculum aimed at high school students: Our Space: Being a Responsible Citizen of the Digital World. The book is available to be downloaded in pdf form under a Creative Commons license.
It looks at the issues listed above through moral dilemmas.
From the introduction
"Our Space is inspired by the belief that young people need to think habitually about online life in
ethical terms.
In this casebook, we define ethical thinking as the capacity to think about one’s roles and
responsibilities in the communities in which one participates, offline and online. Such thinking requires the capacity to think abstractly about one’s roles; to do so in a nonpartisan, disinterested way; and to consider the impact of one’s actions beyond the self and on a larger collective—such as one’s school, community, state, nation, and world. Research conducted by the GoodPlay Project suggests that young people rarely think in ethical ways about their online activities
Part of the problem is that young people have had little mentoring in living in the digital world. In the Our Space Curriculum, there are suggestions to teachers as to how to use the dilemmas and guide discussions. It is not enough to tell students that things are wrong; the discussions around these dilemmas will help students to see the multi-dimensional aspects of these issues. I think this will be a valuable asset to teachers.
You can watch and listen to the session here. will be asked to download an app which will then give you the recorded session in Blackboard Collaborate
Some of Dr. Gardner's books include:
Frames of Mind (1993)
Five Minds for the Future (2006)
Good Work: When Excellence and Ethics Meet (2001) with Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and William Damon
Truth, Beauty and Goodness Reframed: Educating for the Virtues in the Twenty-First Century (2011)
He has written many more.
Links to all archived sessions from the 2011 Global Education Conference

Learning any time anywhere

Monday, October 31, 2011

One Day on Earth

As the seven billionth child has been born to this planet I've been thinking a lot about the Earth and the state of people on it. While I sit in a warm and comfortable home, there are many whose lives are very difficult. Studies have shown that happiness has nothing to do with affluence. We need an attitude shift in the developed world to see that acquisition is not the road to happiness.  I know that we will all have to simplify our lives so that the constant consuming does not drain the world of the resources and so that we limit the pollution spewing into our atmosphere. While we downsize others around the world are "upsizing" - gaining access to goods that were once out of reach. We need to even out the divides.

This year for the second time everyone has the opportunity to participate in One Day on Earth.

From their web site:
"On November 11th, 11.11.11, across the planet, documentary filmmakers, students, and other inspired citizens will record the human experience over a 24-hour period and contribute their voice to the second annual global day of media creation called One Day on Earth. Together, we will create a shared archive and a film."

I would love to see students take up this challenge and share their voices. And then - follow up by viewing and discussing the stories told by others around the world. Another way to help our students become global citizens, sharing and learning from others. They need to see the view from other parts of the world and in many cases, other parts of their own country.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Learning 24/7

 Cross Posted from LEARN

As money gets scarcer, it becomes harder to get to conferences and other professional development events. In the twenty-first century, this is not a reason to miss out on professional development.  There are more and more alternatives both synchronous (you meet in a virtual space at a specified time) or asynchronous (the session is recorded and may be watched / listened to at any time). Each has advantages. All the virtual conferences listed below are free – and in this case the price does not reflect the value. Top educators from around the world have contributed to these conferences.

Preconference Keynote: November 21
Week 1 sessions: November 28 – December 2
Week 2 sessions: December 5 – 9
For the past five years, I have been participating in the K12 Online Conference. I have learned so much from the many educators who have freely shared their practice.  Most of the sessions are asynchronous – not more than 20 minutes long. All sessions have been archived from 2006 to the present. You can watch at your leisure, learning from teachers and other educators from around the world. You can download them or watch online. It’s great to watch some sessions with fellow educators to spark discussion. This year the sessions will be posted, starting with the keynote on November 21. The following two weeks will feature 4 new presentations each week day with sessions aimed at every level of technology user. The thrust is pedagogy and education in general and how technology can help provide powerful learning situations. (Disclaimer – this is the second year that I have been on the organizing committee).
 November 14 – 18
The Global Education Conference will be held for the second year between November 14 – 18 in Blackboard (a kind of virtual classroom).  Sessions are synchronous, but all are archived so they can be watched later, but, or course, you would not be able to participate in the chat room to ask questions. From their site “ Sessions will take place in multiple time zones and multiple languages over the five days. The 2010 Global Education Conference had 15,028 unique logins and presentations from 62 countries.” I managed to attend some sessions last year and they were of very high quality. The chat room also gives you the opportunity to interact with other educators and perhaps, find partners for projects. Last year’s archive is still available.

November 2 – 3
A new conference this year is the Library 2.011, taking place on November 2 and 3. It is sponsored by the School of Library and Information Science at San Jose State University. Although it is not aimed specifically at K12 Education, I am sure there will be many sessions of interest to school librarians. The schedule should be available shortly.
LEARNING 2.0: The Future of Education January 2012
A new conference is on the horizon, spearheaded by Steve Hargadon. It will be held in January. I’ll keep you posted as I learn more. Steve Hargadon hosts a series of interviews with educational leaders. You can learn about upcoming interviews and  listen to the archives of past shows here.
 Classroom 2.0 Live is not a conference, but a weekly show (though it is on hiatus for the month of October). Each week there is a guest educator who shares classroom practice often around the use of technology. All shows are archived as well as all the resources the guests provide. I know there are some Quebec educators who have participated (I’ve met them when I have been there) and whose students have profited from what their teachers have learned.
Learning can now take place any time, anywhere. It can be done in small increments (20 minutes for a K12 Online session) so you don’t get overloaded. You can watch a session more than once if you missed something or just need a refresher. I know I have watched a few several times as I have either needed a refresher, a boost, inspiration or wanted to share with a colleague. You can pick and choose the sessions that are of interest to you and watch them at a time convenient to you.
One teacher in Shanghai held a LAN (local area network) party, inviting his colleagues to watch sessions together along with food and drinks. It was a great way for colleagues to learn together in an informal atmosphere and to have discussions about education and about changes they wanted to see in their own schools. I have used his model and invited colleagues – it resulted in some great conversations. We want to help our students become lifelong learners. What better way to show them that learning doesn’t stop when you leave school, than to model it ourselves.
Have you taken part in an online session – synchronously or asynchronously? How did it contribute to your learning? Please recommend some sessions you have watched.
Susan van Gelder

Terry Fox Run: Interview with Debbie Laurie

 Cross posted from LEARN

I just read a blog post which talked about 21st century skills for teachers and students. One of the aspects mentioned was the importance of community involvement. I had the opportunity to interview Debbie Laurie, a teacher in Port Cartier who has lived this for 30 years by getting involved and involving her students in the Terry Fox Run.

Debbie LaurieWhy did you get involved in the Terry Fox Run?
My dad died of lung cancer at the age of 43 in March 1976. When I turned on the news on April 12, 1980, and watched a young amputee dip his leg in the waters of St. John’s Harbour before undertaking a marathon to run across Canada to raise money for cancer research, I knew right then that I was witnessing something that was special. I followed his progress all summer and when, on September 1st, I heard that lung cancer had forced him to abandon his run, I cried along with millions of Canadians and knew that, if needed, I would do my part to help him succeed.
How have you involved your students?
Every year our school has participated in the Terry Fox Community Run held on the third Sunday of September. Since 2005, we have joined forces with the two French elementary schools in Port-Cartier, and we all walk together on National School Run Day held at the end of September during school hours. I also read Eric Walters’ novel RUN with my class at the start of the school year (learn more about the book here). He has combined Terry’s story with that of a fictional troubled teen, and the kids learn all about the Marathon of Hope and Terry Fox in a well-written book!
What do you think it has done for your students?
I hope it has made them realize that anything is possible if you dare to dream and have the courage and perseverance to pursue that dream. I believe it has also helped sensitize them to what cancer patients go through and how important ongoing medical research is. It’s all about educating and passing the message on to future generations.
How do the parents feel about yours and your students’ participation?
They support me and have since the beginning. Many came out to walk in the community runs, and some even come out to walk with us on National School Run Day. They help their kids get sponsors as well, often at their workplace. Many of the French kids in the town call me Madame Terry Fox.
You have been doing this for many years, have any of your graduates kept involved?
Every year when September rolls around, I begin to mobilize my resources. Facebook has helped me connect with so many, and some have written to tell me they will never forget that first run we did in 1980, and how proud they are to have been part of it. Some participate in their own area…quite a few are kind enough to sponsor me…usually online. One student comes to work annually at the Terry Fox Centre in Ottawa for a week in February.
Why do you continue to participate?
I made a commitment when I organized the first run in 1980 that I would continue to do it every year for as long as I had breath in me. Terry had a dream, I took it up when he was unable to see it through, and I believe in the same things as he did. “Somewhere the hurting must stop…”
Why do you feel it is important for students to get involved in causes?
As global citizens, they must realize that we must all work together for the common good. There is not one of them whose family has not been touched by cancer. They can also relate to the fact that he was Canadian, young, athletic, and determined. I want them to have a dream and reach for it with all they have. I also want them to realize that they are not alone in this world and that they are part of a global community. As such, they have responsibilities towards their fellow human beings on this journey we call life.
I would like to add that because of my ongoing involvement with the Terry Fox Run, I was selected by Coca-Cola to carry the Olympic Torch in the Torch Relay for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games. On November 10, 2009, in Sept-Iles, QC, I became a part of Olympic history, and it was the greatest night of my life!!
Debbie’s involvement in the Terry Fox Run has impacted on her students. Have you involved your students in fundraising for causes? How has that affected your students? How have you integrated this activity into your teaching? Do you have students who have initiated these efforts? Share your stories.
Susan van Gelder
Educational Consultant

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

No Excuse

I will be adding my notes for the ISTE Conference - but I've been sidetracked with other things. In the meantime

You didn't get funded to go to a conference? This is not an excuse for missing PD opportunities.

Watch the keynotes from the November Learning 2010 Conference
You can watch this year's keynotes live.

From ISTE 2011
Watch John Medina's Keynote
Watch Chris Lehmann's closing keynote

or go to TED talks
Here is a sampling from the education talks

More to come...

Monday, June 27, 2011

ISTE 2011

This blog has been dormant for quite some time, but conferences always push me to share what I am learning. It is great to be back at ISTE, to meet people I only know online, having met them through flickr, through my photo blog, through edtech talk and through the K12 Online Conference Echos. And then there are all the new people I am meeting - exchanging ideas, hearing what is happening in other places and sharing frustrations. Years ago I was given the advice that when at a conference, walk the halls and indeed those conversations that start with other delegates that really get me thinking.

I know these old and new connections will continue to nourish me after the conference. This is not to say that there is nothing to be learned from the sessions. In some cases sessions just reaffirm what you already know (especially for those of us who have been in the field a long time). In some sessions you pick up gems - ideas to mull over, applications which make a difference for students, pedagogical tricks and inspiration to see how some teachers are making a difference.

I have yet to tackle the exhibit area - a daunting place the size of a few football fields. As it is, I am sure I am getting my 10000 steps each day going from session to session. What will follow are my notes from some sessions, impressions of the conference and musings.