Edu 2.0

Edu. 2.0  is an incredible free resource centre for teaching, learning and has a 10,000 plus bank of educational resources.   It provides networking and collaboration in a secure online community.    Teachers can contribute lessons, keep track of assignments, grades, participate in groups and forums.  Plus:

  • Students can create porfolio’s of their best work
  • Conduct surveys with your students
  • Create blogs
  • Games and quizzes
  • Create and share lesson plans
  • Create custom feeds for classes

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Switching off

Social networking is great for professional interaction and keeping up with friends and family. There was a time when these facilities were not available and despite adding enrichment to our lives, it is, as with everything, a question of balance.  That means ensuring that we don’t neglect other important areas of our lives.  There have been stories of people becoming addicted to internet games and never spending time with their family because they are always on the computer.    Trying to manage keeping up with it all can seem an overwhelming task (especially if you belong to several networks, blog, twitter, subscribe to RSS and have an interest in technology!)    Some people seem to be able to do which is truly inspiring but it can also add a sense of anxiety that there is still so much to learn.   

Everyone seems to be strapped for time these days yet we are constantly available via SMS, mobile phones, emails and so on.   Employers expect more than 9-5pm hours and everyone has a laptop so they can ‘catch up’ at home.  We take home work, and spend evenings and weekends on the computer.  Additionally, technology tools make it so we can be tuned in 24/7 with ipods and other portable devices.

How dependant we have become on all the tools we have available.  This Saturday my city is having an ‘energy conserving’ hour from 8pm-9pm.  I wonder how many people will experience withdrawal symtoms from turning off their phones and their appliances. 

I love this quote Vick Davis, Cool Cat Teacher, posted to her blog:

Beware the things you try to master lest you become the servant and it becomes the master!

What a great reminder to keep things in balance!  Switching off and taking time out are what we all need on a regular basis to remain healthy, caring and productive in all areas of our lives. 

Employers check out Facebook

Employers are not just accepting prospective applicants’ resumes, they are checking out their social networking forums.   In too much information, the authors discuss how people will post just about anything on social networking sites.  They warn that it is becoming routine for prospective employers to scour applicants profiles via  Facebook or MySpace to find out more about the person than what is stated in their resume.   Prospective applicants have lost job opportunities when their Facebook profile exposes them in a non-favourable light.

There is also the question of safety.  Many people will accept Facebook’s request to be a friend without even knowing who they are linking with.  They reveal personal details which could be used for identity theft.

Educating young people to build profiles which identify their talents and strengths via blogs and e-portfolios will enable them to present a positive image for their future job prospects.  Awareness of stranger-danger online will safeguard their identity.  Web 2.0 tools are great, but they need to be used with awareness.

Meme: Passion Quilt – Guiding Hands

Learning

I felt honoured to be tagged by Anne Mirtschin  for inclusion in the Passion Quilt initiated by Miguel Gulhin  where teachers are invited to share their passion for teaching symbolised by a picture and a synopsis of their passion. I have always had a passion for instilling a love of learning in students and since my induction into Web 2.0 tools I have been hooked on the potential that they offer for learning.   The enthusiasm that I experience via my online network is infectious and motivating.   It inspires my passion to share this knowledge with today’s learners.

The picture (by Rayparnava) shows the guiding hands of the teacher along with the student.  When the student becomes confident and  has mastered the steps, she will no longer need those guiding hands.  This encapsulates my passion for guiding and nurturing learners, to become their own masters of new skills and knowledge.  To give them the tools to be confident in this information age.  Confident that whatever they turn their hand to, there will always be a guiding hand to support them on their way (and how to access that support!).  It also depicts my experience with my professional network – there is always a guiding hand.

The rules for the Passion Quilt are:

  1. Think about what you are passionate about teaching your students.
  2. Post a picture from a source like Flickr or Flickr Creative Commons or make/take your own that captures what YOU are most passionate about for kids to learn about and give your picture a short title.
  3. Title your blog post Meme: Passion Quilt and link back to this blog entry.
  4. Include links to 5 folks in your professional learning network or whom you follow on Twitter/Pownce.

I look forward to seeing the images of Melanie, Richard, Kate and Kelly.

Free technology resources for teachers

Centralised locations for resources saves teachers time and energy in locating suitable material for specific subject areas.  Another innovation for k-12 educators initiated by Richard Byrne  is his proposed FreeTech4Teachers site. If you go to the site you can register your interest in its launch.  Richard’s blog Free Technology for Teachers hosts a rich supply of k-12 resources and ideas for integrating them into education and will form the basis for the new site.    Additionally, it proposes to host a multi-media sharing component similar to “teacher tube” but with file sharing options.

Edutagger

Edutagger (created by Mark Schumann) is a new kid on the social bookmarking block for K-12 learners and educators for the storing and sharing of web links.  Del.icio.us works for many educators and there is talk of creating an import facility from it into edutagger.     Once you register to become an edutagger, you will have access to submit links.      Users will be able to tag links.  The most popular tags will reside on the front page.  The aim of edutagger is to provide a means for learners and educators to benefit from the many quality resources in a central location.

Blogging for learning

Blogging offers so many opportunites for learners of all ages.  After reading Anne Mirtschin’s 20 reasons why students should blog any educator would be convinced to introduce it into the classroom.  It improves literacy skills,  develops deeper thinking and because it has a wider audience than the traditional teacher-student exchange, promotes self-esteem and confidence plus a whole host of other learning.    Hopefully more and more schools will take it on board across the curriculum.

Ipods for Learning

Ipods are the new learning tool in higher education: downloaded lectures, storing files, learning languages and a whole array of other uses are described in Ipods for learning and teaching.

I read an article which described how a teacher downloaded lesson files to help students of lesser abilities to prepare for tests. The students felt less self-conscious listening to their lessons on ipods and their test scores increased considerably.

This brings up the issue of digital divide: not all students own an ipod.  Who provides the ipods for educational purposes? Whereas most higher education students are likely to own an ipod, this is not the case with all school students.   Similarly, some students will have computers at home and others will not.  This imbalance is an issue that needs to be addressed for equity of learning.

21st Century Learning

Those teachers who are passionate about Web 2.0 tools for teaching and learning have a reason for their passion.  They can see the potential for increased learning.

What about students?  In From Their Perspective, Ryan Bretag has identified amongst his students:

  • students use technology when it adds value to their life not just for the sake of using it.  Therefore tools that help them collaborate, manage their time, experience more were valued.
  • students don’t know everything about technology but they are more open-minded compared to older generations.
  • students want a learning space that moves with them rather than remaining static.
  • students were excited about connecting locally, regionally and globally.

Although on a small scale, the above is probably indicative of students’ views of Web 2.0 tools.

Making Changes

I recently came across an article by Dale Spender “What’s a good education” (about embracing technology in schools).  Although this article was written in 2002, it refers to bringing education up to 21st century standards.   Why are some schools lagging behind 21st century standards and others embracing it?  I think the answer is that where school leadership is strong and supportive and where teachers are embracing change themselves, it will spread through the school.

Consider  the ICT culture in your school.  What is the attitude towards ICT integration – is it supportive or reticent?  If ICT is to be successful in schools there needs to be a strong commitment in the values, beliefs and norms towards it.  There is no denying the way that computers are transforming the work and lifestyles of people in society today.     In order to fully integrate ICT in schools, this may require some major mindset changes towards learning and teaching.    A key factor to promote change is a strong culture supporting the necessary implementation and changes it will bring about.  Without this, changes in the classroom will not occur.    However, despite external government policy expectations, in reality, is ICT being fully embraced?   

Despite an overall belief by teachers that ICT is beneficial for learning, there remains a degree of uncertainty (in its application) which can only be diffused by teachers being given the opportunity to realise the potential it has for enhancing learning and obstacles related to implementation minimised.  In order for practice to meet policy, change includes a paradigm shift in learning and teaching practices; teaching via ICT is not suited to the traditional didactic form of delivery.     A pedagogical overhaul is required to facilitate ICT integration; school policies need to reflect new demands of learning. 

Today’s Generation X and Y communicate, learn, access information differently (to previous generations) and multi task (listen to music, surfing the net and doing their homework!).   Without school-based changes, ICT will not be fully embraced or utilised.  The school curriculum needs to drive the technology, not that technology is used as an add-on to existing curricula.  Across the board new changes need to include learning outcomes reflecting ICT integration and ICT competencies need to be linked to educational outcomes.    If primary measuring tools remain unchanged, teachers will resist ICT.   To not adapt to change, is inhibiting the potential of learners today and not fully equipping them for the future society.  

We are faced with living in a continuously changing society and just like other areas of our lives have been revolutionised by technology, education needs to be at the forefront of change to enable schools to deliver the highest possible standards to the knowledge generation.   Change in schools will not occur overnight but overcoming the culture shock is a step in the right direction.  Hooray to all those teachers who are already blogging, wiki-ing and twittering!