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

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Web 2.0

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Zoho - Work. Online A couple weeks ago I found a post by Tim Lauer where he described some web forms that he was creating using Zoho. It’s been a while since I played with Zoho and I have to say they’ve done some gerat improvements from the last time I was on the site. I played around the other night with Zoho Creator. I love the way you can customize a web form. I tried creating a web form for tech help where a teacher could fill out the form and when the ticket was active the teacher would receive an e-mail stating that the ticket was now active and the name of the technician that was working on the problem. Then when the ticket was closed by the technician it would again e-mail the teacher stating the ticket was not closed and what the outcome was. Now if only I could get it to translate from English to Chinese and back I’d be in business. 🙂

[tags]Zoho, Web 2.0[/tags]

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Today I had the pleasure of doing a short presentation for our IB Theory of Knowledge class. 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 accounts for students to login to and keep notes on. I did not want to only talk about how knowledge is changing I wanted them to experience it. To feel the power of collective note taking, the power of multiple perspectives on a subject or theory. The 3 Skype accounts where for 17 students making them anonymous. I figured that if they were  anonymous that the students would fell free to write more about what they were thinking, willing to take a risk and stretch their thinking.

In the end the laptops didn’t have Skype installed (it’s part of our image but these were Science laptops and didn’t have the new image on them). But I did at the same time podcast the conversation (to be posted later) telling students that in this new world of knowledge, not only do you acquire it, but you then publish it for others to use as an information nod as well.

I used George Siemens Connectivism Theory as a starting point and we went from there. I put together a little Wiki page for the students so as they do their homework assignment tonight they have the links that we talked about today.

So here I was in the middle of teaching students about how knowledge has changed. How it is the connections that the Internet allows us to make that is changing knowledge and information acquisition, and at the same time thinking about the conversation that has been sparked by a recent techlearning post of mine.

If you’re out of the loop on the conversation here’s a recap:

1. Fear Factor
2. Teachers & Technology – a rant!
3. Why teachers Don’t Use Web 2.0 – an historical perspective
4. Why teachers Use Web 2.0
5. Stager, Logo and Web 2.0
6. Web 2 is Like Logo?

And now this post.

There are a lot of great quotes that I could take from all of these posts and they have all made me think.

First off….logo? Seriously…I know the program was popular but I never saw it in school. I never knew it was made to be an educational program and I have no experience with it. Now, Stager takes me on a little history of educational technology and what a great lesson, but at the end of the day, like most teachers. I really don’t care. What I want to know is how is this going to affect my teaching and student learning today?

Warlick makes an interesting observation in his Web 2 is Like Logo? post where he finds that neither I nor himself used the phrase Web 2.0 in our posts and it wasn’t until Stager’s post that the conversation shifted to a Web 2.0 focus.

In my original post I talk about tools, tools that I feel could be using in education. They are not educational tools, but then again neither are Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, but they seem to be used in education a lot. We loaded these tools because if teachers were open to exploring them, we wanted them to feel free to explore, to use, and to change the way teaching happens and knowledge is acquired. Today I was excited to show a teacher just how Skype could be used (or any IM application for that matter). Instant Messaging is not Web 2.0…in fact I think it would pretty much fall under the Web 1.0 heading. But neither is the point. My real point is that this is a tool that students use, that students know, and that I believe if used properly in the classroom could have and impact on student learning…or at the very least student note taking.

Downes writes:

When I speak to teachers these days, I don’t tell them how to improve the way they teach their students. I talk to them about how they can improve the way they teach themselves.

I think this is where we need to begin. After giving my little talk today to the 11th graders I helped them sign up with our Moodle installation for the class. It was interesting to watch them learn. To watch them help each other out and watch them teach themselves and each other. This came through in Warlick’s Rant as well. You can not introduce these new connectivist tools and not change the way you teach. By connectivist tools I mean a computer with an Internet connection.

It’s not about Web 2.0 it’s about learning! It’s about changing the way we all learn and then as good teachers do take those skills and teach others. If our teachers are still learning in traditional ways they will continue to teach in traditional ways. However if you’ve ever been with a teacher that has learned these new literacy skills, who has embraced them and seen their power like all of us, then they teach them to their students.

We are finishing up our third week of school and the 5th grade teachers who I worked closely with last year have already set all their students up with blogs, are starting to teach RSS and are planning a unit on having their students create blog grading rubrics. Why? Because they see how these new literacies change teaching and learning. They are excited about it and in return the students are too. Some students have blogged every day so far even though they’ve only been given one blogging assignment…and it’s not about blogging…it about writing at this point. One student has written 3 chapters of a story on his blog…that is writing done outside of class, on his own.

We need to understand how connecting to this wider and deeper body of knowledge changes our classrooms. It’s not about Web 2.0. It’s not about where we were in education, nothing has ever been accomplished by looking backwards. We need to focus on teaching teachers these new literacy skills so they can in turn teach students.

You can not teach that which you do not know! The kids are ready…today after reading Siemen’s Connectivism Theory paper I asked the 11th graders what they thought. One student blurted out “I agree!”

They’re ready…we need to get over our fears, get messy, and get with it or like everyone I’ve quoted here says: School will become irrelevant. And that should be our biggest fear of all.

[tags]David Warlick, Gary Stager, Stephen Downes, Miguel Guhlin, Web 2.0, education[/tags]

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(Cross posted at Techlearning.com)

I’ve learned a valuable lesson this week. One that shows the importance of teaching our students that the connections the web creates and the content you put on the web becomes a part of you.

Last year, I was reading a lot about digital stories in the blogosphere. I saw some good examples of how they could be used in education and decided that I should try this whole digital story thing out for myself. At about the same time, YouTube was becoming more popular and I was intrigued by the power of this new social site. So I downloaded a free trial of Camtasia and set out to create my first digital story.

I was still trying to wrap my head around Web 2.0 at the time and decided that a digital story on Web 2.0 would be a good start. So I went to Wikipedia, printed off the Web 2.0 article, did some editing to make it flow a little better, and used it for my script. I then went to the web and found pictures that matched what I was talking about and made, I thought at the time, a decent first attempt at a digital story. I created myself a YouTube account and shared it with the world.

The video had received very little attention, only being viewed just over 1000 times in the last 14 months. That is until Michael Wesch of Kansas State University decided to post this video as a video response to my Web 2.0 video. I received an e-mail when he posted it and went to have a look. Like many others, I found the video to be very well done. I linked to it on The Thinking Stick to share with others and then didn’t give it another thought…until the next morning when I checked my e-mail to find 20 new people had subscribed to my Web 2.0 video.

In the past week and a half, I’ve seen my first attempt of a digital story go from being a little unknown corner of YouTube to having over 48,000 views. Now my poor little attempt at creating a digital story is getting knocked around with comments. Michael’s video has surpassed 1 million views, but because his video is connected to my video, I’m getting visitors as well.

We often forget about the power of connections on the web and how one good connection can propel you or your video into a whole new world. My Web 2.0 video, from what I have been told, is connected to Wikipedia (I can’t access Wikipedia in China due to the filter so I have no way to confirm this for myself).

An interesting component of this whole ‘power of connections’ has been the comments left on my video. Nobody besides the readers of this blog know the story behind my video, yet the comments are as if I should have been a real movie producer. Some are downright mean, others just nonsense, and a few are thought provoking. What ever happened to “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all?”

This whole experience has me thinking about our students and the content they produce on the web. Everything from the videos my students have on YouTube to their personal Myspace accounts. It’s a great lesson that content can lay dormant for a long time, and it only takes one connection to bring it to life. I think about our high schoolers today who are putting things on the web that today seem harmless, but tomorrow could cost them their job, or impact a family member or friend’s career. There is a lesson here that connections are constantly being formed; everything and anything you put on the web can be connected too. Our students, no matter what their grade, are creating their digital profiles, a profile that is clickable, connectable, and tells a story of who they are. Now, I wish I would have read over my script a few more times before actually posting the video, cleaned up the images, and made it a little less boring (as most of the comments state) but at the time I wasn’t thinking it was going to be viewed by 48,000 people. I was practicing; learning a new skill, and trying something new…and now the world has a hold of it.

[tags]Web 2.0, connections[/tags]

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