Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself. ~ John Dewey

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flipboardOK…so let me clarify that title. I honestly think textbooks are on their way out…or at least I hope they are. Really it should read “Flipboard as core curation artifact for classrooms” but that wouldn’t have you here reading now would it. πŸ™‚

I’m in love with Flipboard. I have been for awhile now….it’s one of the first apps that gets downloaded on all devices. But lately as I’ve been thinking about the death of textbooks and what might replace them I have started to dig deeper into Flipboard and really think it has a ton of potential to be that core curation body of knowledge for teachers and students.

Why Flipboard:

  • Can be installed on all devices! I mean all devices. Windows, Mac, iDevices, Android. That by itself gives it a top marks!
  • Beautiful layout: Design matters…and Flipboard knows that. Every time I show Flipboard to a teacher or student they instantly love it…what’s not to love. Big pictures, magazine flare, beautiful transitions.
  • Connected: You can connect Flipboard to a ton of different accounts and at the same time connect it to hashtag conversations giving you all kinds of different ways to bring information together in one space.

Flipboard Magazines:

This really is the game changer. Flipboard rolled out magazines a while a go. Allowing a user to create a magazine and “Flip” things into it. Others can subscribe to your magazine and see what you find interesting. You can check out my magazine here ——————————————————->

So basically a teacher would have a flipboard account….set up a magazine for thier class and then “flip” all the articles, resources, etc they want students to access into the magazine. The students subscribe to the magaizne and have all that content dispalyed beautifully on their screen….no matter what that screen is.

Class as Content Curators:

Of course….that would work but I think we can go farther. I don’t want the teacher finding all the content for the course. I want students to have the ability to add content to their “textbook” as well. Content that we can discuss in the classroom, that can spark conversation…the real reason we come together..to be social. What if we could have all the students in a class adding to the “textbook” have them find things that interest them on a given topic and allow them to “flip” that into our “textbook” as well. Flipboard allows that too…where you can invite others to add to your Flipboard magazine. Game changer!!!!

But Wait There’s More!

Because ever student is going to need a Flipboard account to make this work they also will be able to create their own boards around content they enjoy. The class magazine (aka textbook) becomes part of that but so does other things that interest them. Also…..because you can search a twitter hashtag and add that to your Flipboard. A class hashtag now becomes part of the conversation. Where kids can tweet something, hashtag it with something like #engp1ju (English Period 1 Jeff Utecht) and have all that content in their new “textbook” as well.

Social and Academic

I talk a lot about breaking down the barriers of social and academic. That this is the world we live in where we work and are social at the same time. A Flipboard account would allow students to have both. A student could have a Flipboard account that had:

  • Class Magazine (textbook)
  • Class Twitter hashtag
  • School Twitter hashtag
  • Their Instagram account
  • Their Facebook account
  • Google+ Account (School or/and personal)
  • Their own Twitter feed
  • News from things that interest them
  • Their Tumblr account

[box] Bonus: Check out the Flipboard tutorials here to get started![/box]

Easy Sharing

Then there is the sharing component. I read something in my Tumblr stream that applies to what we’re talking about in class and I can…with two clicks….add that to our class textbook.

Every student is using Chrome of course (they are right?) so we add the Flipboard extension to Chrome and again in two clicks students can add any website they are on, any article they find to the class textbook.

Or we share it to the class twitter hashtag. Or we share it to our personal account. Our personal and academic lives overlap and what we have is……just life.

If you know of a class…or your class is doing this…please let me know. Cause I think this has HUGE potential to bring everything together. I’m even starting to wonder if it would be worth pursuing for COETAIL? To show teachers who we can create a “textbook” based on the latest things people are reading, tweeting, finding, and sharing. Kim and I might need to have a conversation. πŸ™‚

I’m a few hours away from calling a taxi and starting the 17 hour trip to Portland, Oregon (via Seattle of course) for the ITSC11 Conference e. I’ll be doing three sessions. Blended Classrooms, Blogs as E-Portfolios, and 10 Digital Tools for Digital Educators.

It’s this last session that I always have the hardest time with. What 10 digitals tools should educators know about? There are so many and depending on the attendees, you never know what people really want. That’s why this session usually ends up being a great discussion starting with “What do you want to know about?” and off we go.

As I’ve been thinking about the session I keep coming back to how important RSS is to the web. What seems like a such a simple piece of the larger web, this little bit of technology pushes and pulls information around the web behind the sense so gracefully that you probably use it in one form or another everyday without realizing it. Yet, if you can understand it, it becomes a very powerful way to push and pull information around the web where you want it to go. 

Apple, iTunes and Podcasters have made a living off of RSS. Ever wonder why most podcasts are on a blog? Because blogs come with RSS technology built in and iTunes Podcasts run off of RSS feeds. When you “Subscribe” to a podcast in iTunes you’re just subscribing to that podcasts RSS feed. iTunes simply delivers the content to your computer. 

RSS is a push and pull technology. It allows you to push and pull content around the web with ease. Many people don’t use RSS Readers anymore with them being replaced by Twitter streams, yet the use of RSS goes beyond just pulling content to you.

Here are some ways that I’m using RSS at my school and in my professional life to make things easier and to tie things together. 

COETAIL:

COETAIL is a 5 graduate class certificate program that Kim and I run here in Asia (more on the explosion of this program soon). For each cohort we run we set up a blog such as this one I set up for the cohort in Taipei. Part of the problem I was having was when I found content to share with the participants I needed a way to push that information to this blog without going there, logging in and writing a blog post. Using the FeedWordPress Plugin that takes the content in an RSS feed and turns it into a post I now have a way to pull information I share on the web to the site.

Next was finding an RSS feed that was simple and quick and didn’t take much time to use. I decided to use Tumblr as a way to quickly gather web clipping I wanted to save all in one spot. Next I came up with a tagging system. Most blogging systems and even social bookmarking sites have an RSS feed for every tag. Tumblr does and it also has a fantastic Chrome Browser (one of the 10 tools) extension that works great. Now I have a quick way to get information to the different cohorts. Once I find something I want to share I click the Tumblr extension which automatically grabs the URL and the title of the webpage I’m on. I quickly add a description, click on the advance button and add my tags. If I want the information to go to the Taipei site I use the tag coetail@tas. If I want the information to got to the ISB site I use coetail@isb. If I want it to go to all the coetail blogs I simply use the tag coetail. 

Within seconds I can push this content out to the web on Tumblr and then pull it back into different blogs based on tags. 

ISB Blogs:

Using this same idea, students have to write a reflection about their GCW Trips (Global Citizen’s Week) that we went on last week. The trip leaders don’t have all the student blog addresses and we want the students to own the reflection, we want it to become part of their learning/eporfolio here at ISB. Using the FeedWordPress Plugin on our WordPress MultiSite install I created a tag for each trip. Students write their reflection on their blog and tag the blog post with the specific tag for their trip. I then set up a blog for each trip, grabbed the RSS feed for that specific trip tag and pulled all the blog posts into one blog that teachers can easily read and grade.

Here’s the idea:

URL to sitewide tag: http://blogs.isb.ac.th/blog/tag/gcwmekok/

The Feed for the tag: http://blogs.isb.ac.th/blog/tag/gcwmekok/feed

Where all these posts end up: http://blogs.isb.ac.th/gcw-mekok-village/

One great feature of the FeedWordPress Plugin is you can have the link to the post send you back to the original source. So if you want to leave a comment on a student blog post click on the title and it will take you to that student’s blog where you can leave the comment. Again keeping the student in control of their content.

This setup could be used in a number of ways. You could create a class blog that basically acts like an RSS reader. Students blog about your class, tag their blogs for your class with a specific term and you and the rest of the world get all the information in one spot, yet the students retains ownership of the content.

How about this….every tag in Diigo has an RSS feed: http://www.diigo.com/rss/user/Jutecht/qrcodes

You could connect your Diigo account to your Twitter account so that every time you share a link on Twitter it pushes that link to Diigo where it’s bookmarked (directions here). Once there you can push the RSS feed of the specific tag you use where ever you want it. In a Moodle, on a Blog, a Google Site…..anything that reads an RSS feed could then display this information. Think about this for a second…..one click to Twitter and you push content to Diigo which pushes it out to a blog. One click….three sites get the information and you share with others across networks. 

I’m sure you can think of countless other ways to use this in the classroom….it really is a technology worth learning and is a basis for many things on the web today.

reduce clicks
Some rights reserved by ntr23

Many of you that follow me on Twitter might wonder why I’ve been using a hashtag on every tweet I share with links to websites I find interesting. The simple answer is I’m lazy…..I always look for ways to reduce my clicks.

I use to bookmark the websites I found, then I blogged about them now I Twitter them. The problem is, the sites were easy to find on both Diigo and Delicious and on my own blog. But now I share my links on Twitter and trying to go back and find links I know I’ve shared is hard. Thanks to Packrati.us now I have one less step in saving websites I like.

Head over to Packrati.us and sign in with your twitter account. You can then sign into your Delicious or Diigo account or both, depending on what you use, and you’re all set. Now any time you tweet or retweet a link that has a hashtag in it, Packrati sends that link to your social-bookmarking site of choice and turns those hashtags into real tags on the site.

I connected my Diigo account to Packrati because I already have my Diigo account forwarding all my bookmarks there to Delicious as a back up. So now one tweet and my information goes to three places. Twitter, Diigo, Delicious. 

I’m always trying to find ways to reduce my clicks on the web and this little trick just saved me about 3. 

I find myself sitting here in Kota Kinabaul, Malaysisa reflecting on what has been a 5 country, I don’t know how many presentation, month. From Bahrain to Iowa with Asia and Australia in between, it’s been an amazing month of travel and I find myself thinking and reflecting on all I’ve been talking about and learning along the way.

So here’s my brain dump of themes that keep emerging for me:

The future is mobile

Whether in the heartland of America, or the deserts of the Middle East and Africa, moble phones are the future of connectivity. We’re also seeing this with Apple’s iPad and the ability to connect to a 3G connection. My guess….every mobile device in 3 years will have the built in ability to connect via a celluar network. We’re already doing this, but it will just become part of the hardware of every mobile device. What this will do to/for places like Africa and a large part of the developing word I can only imagine…….but it excites me.

Society expects us to be connected

I’ve been preaching this everywhere this month as it came out of the TED Talk I did back in September. i think we need to stop making excuses for all of us spending to much time connected and just realize this is now the world we live in. Once we own this fact then we can start having some deep discussions around how do we teach in this new society, how do we communicate, and how do we live in a world that is constantly connected? We continue to have conversations about being “balanced” and I agree that we need to find ways to get off the computer and get reconnected with nature. But balance in the term of 50/50 is not going to happen and it hasn’t been that way for a long time. TVs are in our homes, gaming systems have been around now for 30 years, and we all have a cell phone or soon will. We are now in a time where being connected is the norm and being disconnected is not. We need to make this shift in our thinking. We need to consiously think about disconnecting, taking trips with no connective devices, which goes again societies rules right now and that’s what makes it difficult. A goal of every family should be to take 1 trip a year with no connective device. The only screen that should be allowed is a GPS. Everything else stays at home. I’m not talking just about the kids I’m talking the whole family which is where parents start shaking their heads. They think kids should do this but not them…….and that is not setting the example we need. Disconnecting is good, it’s healthy, and we need to model that.

Standards are past their prime

Here comes the tomatos! This recent post by Clarence Fisher just drives home the point for me. Standards can’t keep up in a constantly changing landscape that no one can predict what the content is students will need in the future. When content is free and open we need to focus on skills, concepts and dispositions. Content based outcomes after 2nd grade are useless and continue to change faster than the curriculum review cycles of our schools. I don’t know how many times in the past 5 years I’ve heard “We’ll fix that in our next curriculum review cycle” meanwhile for 3, 4, or 5 years, depending on your review cycle, we’re teaching stuff we don’t believe in or know is not relavent to students in a digital, always on socieity.

Using my school as an example….I beleive the only outcomes we need for any lesson are these factors that my school has agreed upon:

Learning is the primary focus of our school and we recognize learning as a life-long adventure. We value meaningful learning where students construct enduring understanding by developing and applying knowledge, skills, and attitudes. Increased understanding is evidenced by students who:

– Explain its relevance

– Describe how it connects to or conflicts with prior learning

– Communicate it effectively to others

– Generalize and apply it effectively to new situations

– Reflect critically on their own and other’s learning

– Ask questions to extend learning

– Create meaningful solutions

If every lesson, everything we did with kids focused on this, we’d be much better off and we’d return true power of teaching back to teachers.

Socially Connected World

We live in a socailly connected word. Whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, or the next thing that comes along there is no turning back. As social-networks become part of our culture they are affecting the way we do bussiness (foursquare) the way we look for jobs and employees (92% of empolyers now use or plan to use social-networks) and how we communitcate with our friends and relatives. We know that learning is social, we know kids are going to need to understand how to get into college, or get a job being part of a social-network. So let’s start using them rather than continute to make excuses for not. FYI “We MIGHT get sued.” is an excuse.

Conferences Handouts are Changing

I use to use my own wiki for handouts. This year I haven’t had to use it once. Each conference I’ve gone to has had their own wiki, or site to put digital material one….well all except this admin conference I’m at now. But even I’m finding the wiki hard to keep up on, so I’ve moved to just creating a tag or using a tag I already have in Diigo and just giving that as the link to resources. For example, my talk on why we should be teaching students Facebook (read that as social-networking) in schools tomorrow is just using my Diigo tag of Facebook. Easy to update and I can update the list as the presentation is going on. I think this also shows a difference in my presentation style where I’m being much more convesation based and less giving of content. You can view the content when you want/have time. I only have you for 60 minutes and we need to have a discussion on why you aren’t doing these things, or what your fears are.

Social Media Community Manager

In many of the conversations I’ve been having someone also brings up “Who’s job is it to monitor all this stuff? I mean the schools Facebook Page, the Wikipedia entry, the Twitter account, the YouTube account, etc, etc.?

This a great question and my response is, and will be tomorrow to admin here in Asia, that we need a new position in our schools. We need Social Media Community Managers. A quick Google Search brought up some great job discriptions that any school could use to get started. I might write my own for schools when I get a change. This isn’t a new position in the business world, but is a new concept to education. I do think it’s time that we hire people or put someone in charge of managing our online school communities. Someone who has deep knowledge of social-networks and can get the most value out of them for schools.

Well…that’s what has been on my mind this last month…..feel better actually writing it down so I don’t forget. There might be more, but I can feel the jet lag settling in and I’ve gotta talk about Facebook and Twitter tomorrow with administartors……we’re gonna have some fun!

Back in Bangkok and still making sense of what happened last week. Two conferences with a total of 13 presentations and a 102.8F fever in between.

The one idea that keeps running through my head is this:

What is the reason we gather Face to Face?

There is a reason we like going to conference, there is a reason why students like coming to school (and it’s not to be by oneself) there is a reason we want students in a class. What is that reason?

What is the reason we gather face to face when content can be found 24/7/365?

What is the reason when research can be done outside face to face time?

What is the reason when reading/listening/gathering/analyzing content can be done outside of school?

What are we doing with face to face time to maximize the learning potential for students?

If we are worried that students are just “skimming the web” for information then what is the face to face time in our classes for?

If we are worried that kids won’t have an opportunity to go deep with knowledge, that things come to easy and to fast. What are we doing with the time we have them in front of us?

If I have every student find the 5 best articles they can on a given topic and bookmark them using Diigo or Delicious, when we get together face to face, what do we do? What is my role as a teacher facilitator?

There is a reason we get together, there is something that online courses, Skype, and all of it can not replace. What is that? And how do we change our classrooms so that is what we are focusing the majority of our time on.

How do we maximize face to face time with students? What is technologies role? What is the teacher’s role?

As usual I come back from conferences with more questions than answers….and that’s a good thing. πŸ™‚

I use to look over people’s blogs that had del.icio.us post linking to all the things they bookmarked that day. I use to think that this was a waste of my time, that those links are just links.

Then I actually started reading some.

Which lead to clicking on some.

Which now has me waiting for people like Dean and Tim to post their next round.

The great part is I know I don’t have to read them everyday. I wait until I have five or six days worth of links from Dean and Tim and then I go at it clicking and opening tabs.

Basically I’m using Dean and Tim to be my search engine of great educational and technology links. I let them do the leg work and I just sit back and reap the benefits of two guys who love to bookmark sites they find…thanks guys!

Of course I do it as well using Diigo. You can find my daily links (many of them the same…but not always) on my U Tech Tips blog. In fact, you could sign up for the newsletter there and each Friday find all my great links for the week in a newsletter in your e-mail box…or grab the RSS. It’s up to you!

So that leads me to my first gem of the day from Tim.

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It’s called Simple CC flickr Search (Thanks Tim for the link). Basically it searches flickr for Creative Commons photos. But the cool part comes when you click on a photo. It gives you the embed code with the appropriate Creative Commons attribution. So the above photo looks like this with a simple copy and paste.


Photo by phitar
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License

Now that’s pretty cool! It will even left or right align it for you and you can choose a small or large picture. You never have to worry about attributions again! (On flickr photos anyway πŸ˜‰ )

The Second gem comes from a good friend, Alicia Lewis, who I worked with in Saudi Arabia and is now a consultant for Rubicon Atlas. My last three school’s all used Rubicon and now they have a podcast. Might be helpful if you are implementing curriculum mapping and Rubicon Atlas in your school.

And finally from Will’s blog comes this must watch TED video about the next 5000 days. Use it all by itself as a PD session. Think about this….invite teachers to a PD session. Watch the 20 minute video then excuse them. Say nothing, hint nothing, just let them walk way thinking to themselves what all this means for them, and for their students.

We had a great planning meeting last night looking at the latest numbers for the conference. Not a good sign when we have more presentations then people registered for the conference. πŸ™

I’m not to worried at this point, but then again I’m not the one in charge of the money. πŸ™‚ This is why there aren’t many educational conferences in September. The timing just isn’t good. Schools are just now really looking at finances for next year and many teachers are not sure what their PD funds will look like until they get back in August. That, with the fact that in the International system we have so many people changing schools every year that their heads aren’t on the conference, but on moving. Last year we saw some 300 people sign up for the conference in August. I just hope we see that again this year.

So those of you in the Asia region. Talk to your school heads and let’s get signed up!

Also I’m proud to announce that this year we will be running an EduBloggerCon. It will take place Thursday September 18th at 9am. Matt at Catshanghai and Amanda at From the Outside Looking In will be helping with the planning.

We’ll start at 9am and we’ll go until we’re done or until we need to leave to head over to the conference at about 4:30pm. What a great opportunity to meet other bloggers, talk Web 2.0 and just hang out in Shanghai. So come join us!

Also last night the group came up with a great idea to create a Diigo bookmarking group for the conference. This will allow people to share links to great resources before, during and after the conference as well as expose them to social bookmarking.

Last night we also took some time to play with Twitterlight. A Twitter application that runs on Microsoft Silverlight and looks really sweet (FYI…I’m sure we’ll play with this at NECC as well). SCIS where we will be holding the conference this year has 42 and 50 inch LCD TVs in every classroom and through out the school in hallways and common areas. Are plan is to have the conference twitter feed playing on these TVs throughout the conference!

The conference schedule is also coming together nicely. Two full days of intense learning…that’s what we want. We had the people at Chinesepod.com stop by last night and have a look around to help us create high quality podcasts of all the sessions (ChinesePod is one of the top downloaded podcasts on iTunes). Our plan is to release all sessions under a CC 3.0 license as well as Ustream four channels at the conference (depending on bandwidth).

The conference will kick off Thursday night with in a TED type style. Where our 8 invited presenters will have 5-7 minutes to motivate and excite the audience. Our hope is that it will push our presenters to come up with something new and different…get your point across in 5 minutes. Motivate and excite people in 5 minutes. It should be an interesting experiment for all of us.

Excited? I hope…now go register!