Soon to Come on Women of Web 2.0 Webcasts

Our Women of Web 2.0 webcasts have been on hiatus for the last few weeks, but we have been busy lining up guests for the next few months. Take a look at who we have joining us for our weekly conversations (chatroom and live stream):

August 21 (that’s tonight!) – we have a special back-to-school show with teachers as the guests! It will be a revolving door type show with much interaction and participation expected from our chatroom. Kristen Hokansan (Maine) and Anne Lawton (Québec) will be featured as teachers who are stopping by to share their vision for the upcoming school year.

August 28 – Dr. Mary Friend Shepherd (researcher on e-folios) and Dr. Robert McLaughlin (chair, ISTE SIG on Digital Equality)

September 4 – Administrator 2.0 Supershow – Part 2 of Men and Women from Administration – Miguel Guhlin, Scott McLeod, Barbara Barreda and Chris Lehmann will be joining us!

September 11 – Weebly

September 18 – Non-traditional professional development – Dean Meyer, Darren Draper, Steve Hargadon, Julie Lindsay

September 25 – Bud Hunt

October 2 – Diane Hammond – http://iss07.yesican-science.ca

October 9 – David Jakes and Ewan McIntosh

October 16 – Anniversary Show – David Warlick

October 23 – highlights from K-12 Online Conference

October 30 – Vinnie Vrotny

November 6 – Melina Miller – the Podcasting Principal

November 13 – Beth Kanter – Blogging in Cambodia

How is this for a terrific line-up of shows? Please be sure to join us for some great conversations!

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Recollections from Literacy and Learning in the 21st Century

David Warlick in Fredericton NB

After battling a virus I picked up somewhere on my travels last week, it is good to get back in the driver’s seat and recollect my thoughts on last week’s conference in Fredericton, New Brunswick – Literacy and Learning in the 21st Century – designed for teachers who are heading into the classroom soon in a 1:1 laptop environment. This initiative is province-sponsored and one of the growing numbers of schools who are moving in that direction.

Dave Warlick was the keynote speaker and it was exciting to see him presenting to a group of educators who are going out to the front lines of education very soon. I have heard David speak many times before (via podcast and videos), have had conversations with him on a few occasions, but had not actually ever seen him present live. He is so well-organized and sensitive to time issues! This was his second visit to New Brunswick – he had been quite a catalyst for change for many teachers during his last visit back in March. I was fairly familiar with most of the tools and environments he shows off – but even so I am a very small minority in an audience of teachers. He was very kind to use my blog as an example during one of his presentations. I realized then how difficult it was to find the rss link on my new blog layout….. gotta change that!

Dave was experimenting with chatcasting during his presentations and while only a few of the teachers chimed in, some very good ideas and thoughts were expressed and new conversations started. Dave later adds his own comments to those posted in the chatcast which further continues the conversation. I like this idea and hope he (and others) will continue to explore the use of backchanneling in such lecture-style deliveries – it challenges participants to become active, not passive, participants. We have so much to learn from each other – in this situation, we are all professionals with our own sets of valid experiences and seasoned wisdom. Let’s harness the tools we have at our disposal and get them to work for us to share, collaborate and learn from each other.

Vince Jansen
also presented on the topic of virtual school environments. I caught only a few minutes of his presentation, but certainly saw most of it morph from a collection of various ideas and concepts to a well laid out set of concept maps of virtual environments for groups and personal learning environments for individuals. We have had many conversations about web 2.0 tools and spaces in the last number of months and it has been astonishing to watch how quickly he has grasped the significance of these tools for the education landscape. He has been working with technology in education for dozens of years and was very ready to make this move to the new transparency and facility of web 2.0.

I made my own presentation about online international collaborative projects (wiki) and have built on some of my previous ideas. Along the way, I included a description of how each of my own three kids uses the Internet – on their own, apart from educational uses. None of my kids would call themselves geeky; they very naturally use the Internet to find new friends, socialize, share their thoughts (and poetry writing!), and collaborate to accomplish goals (online gaming). This is typical of most teenagers today, I am convinced.

Dave Warlick pointed out the need for an appreciation of this new literacy for the 21st century. He even went so far as to say we should redefine literacy and that we should stop integrating technology and start integrating literacy. I agree entirely! I would like to completely avoid the “T” word, as I call it. The laptop (or such tool) should be invisible and ubiquitous. Our students are not asking themselves what technology they are going to use today – they just pick the most convenient method of communicating and socializing with their peers. They also have discovered that they can be producers of content and long for an audience. Facebook’s popularity is a perfect example of this.

During the conference, I witnessed a good deal of apprehension about what to do about Facebook. Some expressed interest in getting an account, others felt it should be left to the kids, others wondered how to get students to represent themselves appropriately while they were using such social networking sites. While I don’t have much time to maintain my Facebook account, with two daughters using the site, I have decided to be there at least as a presence. I even have a few friends! To me, it points out the pressing need for educators to be using social networking sites in an educational context so that these issues of appropriate representation can come up very naturally.

A special thanks to Jeff Whipple for being a fantastic host and for his invitation to come along to this conference.

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21st Century Learning in New Brunswick – Report 1

Today is the first day of the Literacy and Learning in the 21st Century Conference in Fredericton, New Brunswick and I have already been quite impressed with the high calibre of the presenters and teachers who are here. While there has been much progressive change initiated by the ministry of education of the province, there has been a recent leadership change in government which has been a source of concern for many of the teachers here. All of the public school teachers have been given laptops to teach with in the last several years and now many of the schools are moving to a 1:1 laptop environment. However, the new ministry leadership has recently made the decision forbidding students to take their laptops home at the end of the day. What an ill-considered and foolish decision! How are students going to continue work on their projects, study their notes, and communicate and collaborate with their peers after they leave school? To me, my laptop is my personal knowledge management tool that connects me to my peers and to my online shared spaces. I need access to it at my convenience as my doorway to the world Hopefully, as the academic year begins and progresses, parents and teachers will vocally express their disapproval of this decision.

Dr. Michael Fox presented results from research on the 1:1 laptop pilot projects and several key themes emerged: students were more engaged in learning, differentiated learning approaches were better fostered and ongoing professional development for the teachers was a critical factor in success. My own experience teaching in a 1:1 laptop environment resonated with these results.

I also attended a session by Rick Hayward and Joey Savoy – Cruise Control on the Information Highway and was pleasantly surprised by their openness and awareness of how students are using Internet tools and environments. They highlighted the “Derek’s Couch” youtube phenomenon, which I hadn’t yet seen, and also looked at free resources for teachers available on iTunes. Rick and Joey also discussed the popularity of Club Penguin and Facebook and have spent a lot of time talking with students about online personal representation. They even recommend to students to google their own names to check out what people are posting about them. Blogs were presented as a great way for students to keep in touch with their teachers. The Canada Virtual Science Fair was also highlighted. We had a frank discussion as a group of teachers discussing the issues of online representation and about the deeper issues of how this has affected public behaviour in general. It was a fast-paced session covering many trends in online interactivity.

The highlight of my day, admittedly, was receiving an email from David Warlick (the keynote speaker here) who asked me to translate some text into French for him so that he could begin his session speaking a few words of French to his Canadian audience here in Fredericton. This became a bit of a sticking point for me. Yes, I live in Montréal, but what David did not realize was that I am not bilingual. So I took the text and did the quickest, most efficient thing I could do to translate. Yes, I used BabelFish. It just didn’t look right. So I checked it using a REAL French-English dictionary and discovered that what had started out as “I am honoured to be invited back to your beautiful province” had been changed to “I am honoured to be fired by your beautiful province”!! I found a better translation, checked it with a few experts online and emailed it back to Dave’s cell phone. David did do his best at the beginning of his session to say the phrase and I commend him for his courage in addressing his audience in their strange language.

Dave said that he was informed by Jennifer James, cultural anthropologist, who discusses the necessity of being able to tell a story – these are the type of people who will change our education system. Dave described the current converging conditions – we are preparing our children for an unpredictable future, we are preparing a rich information experience, (the importance of networking!! our students know how to find their own experts to help them out), great to hear Dave talk appropriate language for the context (I have been saying this for years!), we are preparing our students for a new information landscape, all of which lend themselves to creating classrooms as learning engines. Interesting metaphor! Fundamentally, Dave thinks we should redefine literacy. Fortunately, I see the new Quebec Education Programme as being progressive in this area and I am pleased about that.

Richard Florida – The Rise of the Creative Class – his ideas seem to be very like Daniel Pink’s – write about the need to be preparing our children to be designers, creators, and innovators. DW argues that our children are not shopping for technology – they are shopping for the story. I would say they are investing in an experience (through story-telling). Walls don’t mean anything to kids anymore – I would say time and distance also don’t mean very much as well. They have “tentacles” through their cell phones and mobile technologies. Our students have an intrinsic need to work with responsive environments, communicate, share personal experience and identity, ask questions, accomplish, form community, invest myself, safely make mistakes, have audience and attention (sounds like my 3 kids!).

I am looking forward to more engaging discussion at the sessions tomorrow.

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Global Projects begin with Globally-Minded Educators

Or does it??

That thought just came to me as I was putting together a presentation for teachers in New Brunswick next week. I had been at it for hours – collating way too much material for a one-hour session. How can one share the rationale, the experiences, the opportunities, the tools, … the great benefits of global projects in just one hour?? How can I adequately describe my daily experiences with global educators through the tools of the web? On a day-to-day basis, it is quite typical for me to communicate with an average of 10 other teachers or educators from around the world. I just realized this the other day. In my world, this is the new normal – most of my online peeps would probably say about the same. Is this an echo chamber? I don’t think so. I am meeting new teachers (often very enthusiastic about these emerging technologies) every week and it is encouraging to see new faces and hear new voices.

It has been suggested that the global projects might come from the students. In fact, I was going to show my audience next week, how my three children use online environments and tools to communicate with friends from around the world. What do you think??

This past week provided a feast of experiences for me as I communicated, collaborated, shared and socialized with other educators from around the world – all from my backyard patio, where I sit now, writing by candlelight on a beautiful summer’s evening.

First of all, it was just plain wonderful to catch up on my blog reading this week. Since NECC and BLC, I have come across some bloggers who have shared solid insights and chewed on issues that I have often wrestled with – or offer new ones. It has been a particular treat for me to read Dean Shareski‘s blogs. I kick myself later, many times, for not leaving comments on the blogs I read – I should teach myself to do it right then, because I never seem to get back to it.

While the blogs have been stimulating, it has been twitter that has been the highlight of most of my days. While others scratch their heads over twitter, I try to point out that it is not the tool, it is the QUALITY of the network of users that makes this work. The educators that I have linked with in twitter are exceptional, dedicated, innovative thinkers who freely share resources, offer feedback, provide emotional and intellectual support, pose thoughtful questions, stimulate interesting discussion, and, very importantly, often make me laugh. We are an inclusive community.

The real treat for me this week, though, was participating in the chatcasts to augment Darren Kuropatwa’s conference sessions in Denver, CO for a group of public school teachers. Darren was introducing the tools and pedagogies of web 2.0. He invited other educators (open invitation on his blog and twitter) to come along for the ride by participating in a skype conference chat during his presentation. Many of us had “backchanneled” like this at the Building Learning Communities Conference earlier this summer (where I had the pleasure of meeting Darren). I was unable to listen to Darren’s live presentation, but I did participate in the chatcast which he later posted on his wiki to the presentation. Once again, the chat was lively, interesting, relevant, supportive, reflective, and helpful, I hope, to the educators who were present there watching the chat emerge live on a projected screen. Talk about being risk-taking by a presenter!

Yet here was another example of globally-minded educators sharing, engaging in discourse, supporting, and collaborating with their peers – what a wonderful example for our students! What a privilege it is to hang with such innovative, boundary-pushing, articulate and creative educators (who are still learning)!

On the topic of backchanneling, I mentioned to Terry Freedman that my own daughter had used that technique a bit during her grade 12 math and science classes last year (even backchanneling her own father for help with math!), and he requested an interview with her which she granted. Her 18th birthday was celebrated just a few days ago and I am very proud of her articulate and intelligent responses to Terry’s badgering….. I mean… interview techniques. Just kidding, Terry! You and Elaine were very good interviewers!

Dr. Cheri Toledo and I had a skype conversation earlier this week which turned to this subject of backchanneling (instant-messaging during a lecture or presentation) as well. We decided it was a topic worthy of academic research and will start soon collecting data about it, possibly for publication in an academic journal. So many of us see some value in exploring this technique with our students – even in K-12 education. Unlike Miss Manners, I think it is not boorish behaviour second only to heckling. Please certainly add your comments to this discussion. Worthy of academic practice and study… or opening a Pandora’s box?

I have also been in contact, this week, with Noble Kelly, of Teachers Without Borders Canada, and hope to be able to provide some global partnerships to classes in Canada and South Africa. As well, I am trying to find partnership opportunities for some teachers who are looking for global collaborative opportunities in the upcoming academic year. If you are interested, or know of some opportunities, please contact me!

Eight Random Things Meme Tag

It’s happened again…. blog tagging is back. I was tagged by Charlene Chausis, who I met at NECC earlier this summer. Congrats, again, Charlene on your award!

Here are the Rules:

  • Post these rules before you give your facts
  • List 8 random facts about yourself
  • At the end of your post, choose (tag) 8 people and list their names, linking to them
  • Leave a comment on their blog, letting them know they’ve been tagged.

Random Facts About Me:

  1. I used instant messaging as early as 1987 when I worked at a computer centre on a university campus.
  2. My husband asked me out on our first date over email…. in 1987.
  3. My dream car would have standard transmission, not automatic.
  4. I love peanut butter and chocolate ice cream.
  5. My favourite number is 7 (and does not appear in any of my passwords! ;-)
  6. I like to read murder mystery novels as brain candy.
  7. My 60 GB ipod has only 175 songs on it (my kids are disgusted with me!).
  8. In spite of being a proud Canadian, I really don’t like winter.

Phew! There!

And now, for eight poor blogging souls, I choose Reuven Werber, Chris Betcher, Graham Wegner
, Cheryl Oakes, Vince Jansen, Jeff Whipple and Meg Peters (is it considered cheating when you use your own daughter??).

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