Friday, 28 September 2007

Social learning tools - help, hype or time guzzler?

To end this week, I have spent some time reflecting on this question. I'll start with the oft repeated comment: "Teachers are busy people!"

Sure, learning new skills takes time, social networking and learning takes time. Setting up the tools takes time. If seen as a professional learning opportunity, then perhaps the time taken can be justified by most. The only thoughts, I honestly have about time, are "It's about time!"

In fact, time may be running out for educators who are not at least a little informed about the classroom teaching and learning potential of social learning software. You can rest assured, students will soon start to wonder why so little is being done to capitalise on their knowledge and skills with these technologies and applications. Teachers could be facilitating this learning to motivate and engage all students in their learning.

After this reflection, I put this problem aside, remembered the power of positive thinking and I got straight back to my cyberhaunts to follow up the social learning links provided my google reader and RSSMicro alert informtion. I happily receive these updates each day in my mail box. I still enjoy email. No plans yet to abandon that tool.

I have also looked at the Voicethread application and saved the most useful threads. This is a fascinating tool with potential for high impact. Why not explore this tool and brainstorm its potential with friends. Happy web 2.0 learning!

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Mark Pesce at web directions conference

Read his article "Welcome to the 24/7 online world, dudes" on my wiki or online at the SMH newspaper site. He has a lot to say that is relevant to teaching and learning NOW.

Literacy and learning 2.0 need our full attention.
What do we know about web 2.0 learning?
What should we know?
How can we play "catch up" if we need to?
Who can contribute to our web 2.0 learning curve?

Follow some of my and slideshare links to get some insights into the many opportunities!

Monday, 24 September 2007

google again - new shared stuff application

Just a short note about google shared stuff. It's a new tool that enables social bookmarking, email and sharing. Looks pretty useful. I might start with using it as a bookmark for my most successful learning 2.0 sites. Follow my my shared stuff trail and let's see where it leads!

Friday, 21 September 2007

Social learning - the story so far ...

I have been exploring web 2.0 applications for about ten weeks. Still, as far as opportunities go, there is no end in sight. I have signed up to around 20 of the best known social networking and bookmarking sites accessible at my workplace. So I have got the feel of what Facebook, MySpace and YouTube offer without subscribing. It is clear to me that the potential for high impact on teacher and student learning outcomes is very great! All this without the need for a great deal of imagination or high level ICT skills. Time to learn the basics is the key issue.

A brief history of the main stages of my web 2.0, social software for learning journey goes something like this.

Part 1. I heard about at a principal's meeting and when I continued to hear this word, I then noticed the little icon on webpages and knew it was time to sign-up. I have never looked back. This tool is very valuable and can be used in many ways to support learning. The tagging concept these tools use is becoming more and more visible on the web.

I also signed up to and still use on occasions: digg, reddit, blinklist, stumbleupon. In a later episode, I could talk about some of their unique features.

Part 2. Making an igoogle page and exploring the huge number of widgets and apps. available has been a real eye-opener. Google is upgrading its offering on a daily basis. I also set up a pageflakes page and plan to try to maintain this too. First, I need to assess whether I can access the same functions on igoogle and decide if I have the time.

Part 3. Signing up to ning a social network that offers privacy. I have since joined a number of ning groups for educators across the world. My ning page has not progressed as well as I had hoped. It's the time factor and which tool is of most immediate use.

Part 4 Signing up to slideshare. This application is fabulous! I have set up my own group as you can see. There are now around 15 members and I have worked daily to locate over 100 slideshows relevant to my group name. Google Reader has been my main source. I also have a favourites list for other specific learning area slideshows.

Part 5. Creating and maintaining this blog.

Part 6. Creating and maintaining my wiki. My wiki work has been the most labour and learning intensive. It is most definitely not beyond "under construction", but maybe that is the whole intention!

I have dipped into many other interesting poll, quiz and writing tools on the way!

Part 2 next time.

Happy web 2.0 learning!

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Big questions about web 2.0 in education

Big questions about web 2.0 in education

Tuesday, September 04, 2007. Posted by Steve Hargadon
At the Office 2.0 Conference in San Francisco, there will be a panel discussion on "Classroom 2.0" and the use of Web 2.0 software in education. A wiki with more information is here.

As preparation for the panel, an Office 2.0 Conference group in our Classroom 2.0 social network has been formed to allow for the discussion of ten possible panel topics. We will be encouraging attendees to join the group and participate in the discussions during and after the conference. We believe that some in the edublogosphere will be interested and hope you will contribute your wisdom!
Here are big questions to the forum discussions in that group. Follow the title link above to find the linked questions.

1. Is Web 2.0 a good fit for education?
2. Is Web 2.0 significant to future student achievement, workplace skills, information literacy, and digital citizenship?
3. Do we need to start teaching "digital citizenship?"
4. Are the formal structure of education changing because of online learning, and what roles can Web 2.0 software play in those changes?
5. Technology decision-making in schools: The divide between IT and the classroom, and why is it so hard to implement new technologies in education?
6. How much commercialization should be allowed in the classroom and in the school?
7. The conflict between school security issues and the innovative technologies of Web 2.0
8. Publicly shared lives: how transparent should students lives be, and is it appropriate for students to be "clickable?"
9. The training gap: professional development and rapid technological change. How do we train a huge workforce in skills that are just being understood?
10. How important is equitable access to technology, and do the tools of Web 2.0 change that?

Monday, 17 September 2007

Videos for learning

My cybersifting has enabled me to identify a number of useful tools for locating and viewing videos. My searching has been focussed on learning more bout web 2.0 applications. This site, vodpod enables you to search topics and save useful videos into a pod. At this link, you can access my collection, join up or follow others.

By saving to vodpod, you can access many youtube and google videos of educational value that would otherwise be blocked because the main site is understandably not accessible in schools.

I have a range of videos that complement what I have collected through slideshare.

Thursday, 13 September 2007

Blog and wiki wisdom

I have collected some useful opinion and position statements from social software early adopters, who have gained reputations in educational technology over the last decade. These are worth noting since inevitably they bring a practical perspective to the use of new applications in teaching.

Most days, I spend up to an hour using google reader to identify new developments especially new uploads to slideshare.

I have set up a favourites list and a dedicated group, named "web 2.0 tools in effective learning". The number of relevant slideshows expands each day with educators and enterprising types around the world sharing their work. No real need to develop anything new for presentations any more.

Browse to see the possibilities:

It's more about learning 2.0 than the tools.

I read a great article this morning on this topic. It's worth reading in full.

Jeff Utecht wrote in his blog - It's not about Web 2.0 it's about learning! He writes: "I was invited in to give a lesson on how knowledge is changing in the 21st century. My first thought was "How do I tell students knowledge has changed, when they already know that?"I set up 3 Skype [...]"

When exploring web 2.0 social software, the deliberations, discussion and reflection must be on how to best use the many applications to ensure high impact on student motivation, engagement and learning.

My task now will be to continue to deepen my knowledge and skills to use the tools effectively but mostly to explore High Impact Teaching Strategies (HITS)for use of the tools.

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Blogger and blogging - observations and issues

I have concentrated today on getting my two main applications - my blog and my wiki looking as I want them to. I have more to do and I have yet to look at content organisation with the wiki

I undertand now that it is almost time to make decisions about which tools I will continue to use regularly and which I will have to let go.

For instance,I ask myself how many social bookmarking sites can I reasonably manage?

Also,I ask myself how many social networking sites can I reasonably manage?

For each social network site the opportunity exists to join other groups managed by people with similar interests. This further enhances the learning, is great fun, but there is only so much time.

I always spend some time each day reading mails, blogs and looking for new slideshows. This is about keeping up to date. Each time I'm out there searching, I seem to find at least one new interesting application. Today it was:

I set up one set with relative ease. What a great little tool!

Reflecting and evaluating web 2.0 learning journey

I am back now to blog a little about my web 2.0 learning journey. As I indicated in my start up "learning how-to" posts, I have been concentrating on finding out about particular types of social software. Absolutely fascinating is the least I could say. I have been exploring a number of issues including:
*ease of sign in
*ease of use
*time needed to learn how to use
*possible applications to teacher professional learning
*possible applications to student learning
*time needed to maximise value of use for above
*issues of privacy and security

and many other matters not yet identified. I'll add to this list.

The opportunities for learning are vast.