Monthly Archives: April 2010

Week 1: take a photo that represents you

I’ve given a snapshot of Week 1 of the Flickr project, Through global lenses. This has been cross-posted from the blog Through global lenses.

Post by post I intend to give an overview of what was posted: students’ contributions to the project  – photos, descriptive writing, comments and conversation – one week at a time.

The first week’s assignment was:

Take a photo that represents you as a person, and write about yourself.

I’ve selected a few examples of students’ contributions as examples. For a first assigment it was deceptively difficult; not only were they to find a photo which captured who they were, but they also had to think about representation and unpack the concept. I think they did very well, and the examples here show what all the students have in common, as well as their diversity.

My football boots are a strong representation of who i  am as a person. I have  been playing Australian  rules football since I was  5 years old and it has  become a big part of my  life. Australian rules  football has taught me  many valuable life skills  such as: respect,  teamwork, courage, bravery and to aspire for greater things in life. I will carry these memories and skills throughout the rest of my life. I think of football as so much more than just a sport, it has helped me develop so much as a person physically and mentally. I do not see football as a stressful or time consuming chore, football for me, is in many ways my release time.

In this picture, the figurine or “toy” represents Chinese New Year, I chose this because Chinese New Year plays an important role in our Tradition of a new “beginning”.

Most of you may be thinking why is there a hammer in my picture, it is there because it symbolises my interest in fixing thing or construct something. Also it reminds me to stay strong in myself.

The drum sticks represent my musical talent. I have played the drums for a while. It’s always been fun and gives me a feeling that all is free when I play. The set up of the iPod and the drum sticks is messy and the background of rocks shows not everything is clean and smooth but bumpy and sometimes you might need to clean up some mess before moving on.

Comment:

I really like your metaphor on the rocks and everything is not clean and that before moving on you need to clean up your own mess. I thought that was very interesting!

In my picture I have included a cook book. I have an Italian background so I love to eat and I love to cook as well. I can cook many things and I like to help out in the kitchen. I can cook things like risottos and casseroles and things like that.

Comment:

I find it interesting that you included a cook book to represent you. What’s your favorite meal? What’s the one thing you enjoy preparing the most?

The Australian flag represents my country which I have never left and don’t plan on leaving. The tennis ball is for my love of tennis, it is a great sport which I am always happy to play. The shoes depict my enjoyment of all sports. The scarf is for my footy team, North Melbourne/Kangaroos. I have put these items on my bed to say how I love to sleep.

Comment:

I’m honestly not sure on what footy team means but it must be something good ! :)

Although the students are from different parts of the world, a love of music, sport and family seem to be common ground. I’m surprised that the boys (aged 16 on average), expressed themselves so openly. The assignment provided the opportunity for them to evaluate who they were and how their passions represented them. I like the way they looked at their own identity before getting to know others in the group.

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Thinking about evaluation

Contributed by Darren Kuropatwa in Flickr Group Great quotes about learning and change (pool).

I’ve been collaborating with Marie Coleman (Florida) and Sinikka Laakio-Whybrow (Finland) through Flickr to bring our students together in a photo-journal project. Yesterday I interviewed some of the students for feedback and, once I figure out how to edit these avi files, I’ll be sharing these very interesting interviews here.

This has been cross-posted from Through global lenses.

Our Flickr project has come to an end, and I haven’t even been able to keep up with what’s been happening.

Nevertheless!

I’m not going to let the opportunity for reflection, evaluation and showcasing escape. It will be done – eventually.

This week I hope to start asking students and teachers for feedback. This will take the form of questioning on the ning, as well as recording interviews which I hope to start today.

Here are some questions for student evaluation:

1. What did you enjoy the most about the Flickr project?

2. What, in your opinion, didn’t work for you?

3. How could this project have been improved or done differently?

4. What sorts of things have you learned?

5. What was the most valuable thing you learned?

6. What do you enjoy about connecting with students from other countries?

7. How important is the photo in the writing assignment?

8. What did you enjoy about other people’s photos?

9. What did you learn about taking photos?

10. What was your favourite/What were your favourite weekly theme(s)?

11. What was the most interesting thing you learned from another student?

12. What have you learned about other cultures?

13. What sorts of things do you have in common with students of other cultures?

14. What do you think are the main differences between you and students of other cultures?

15. Would you like to visit/live in the USA or Finland? How has the project influenced your answer?

Some questions to ask teachers:

1. Did you enjoy the project? What were the highlights?

2. What did you expect from the project at the outset?

3. Did the project meet/exceed your expectations? In what ways?

4. How did you find the collaboration? online/global aspect; time differences; school term differences, etc.

5. What difficulties did you experience during the project? What worked and what didn’t?

6. How would you do the project differently if you did it again?

7. What do you think students gained from the project?

8. In your opinion, how important a role did the photo play in the writing?

9. Was this project an enhancement for students? Which ones in particular (were there any surprises)?

I’ll be responding to these questions myself because I think that an evaluation is the only way to truly learn from something. Some of these things are only half-formulated in my mind, so this exercise should help me think more deeply and define what I think.

So what does the quote – If all your kids do is learn to read and write, they won’t be literate – mean to me?

There’s a bigger answer to this, but for now I’ll give the smaller answer, the answer relevant to the objectives and outcomes of this project.

The learning that has taken place here has been learning with and from other people – students who share interests and passions with each other regardless of their geographical location.

Instead of learning from a book, a fact sheet or article provided by the teacher, our students have learned from each other.

Their learning has been sparked by curiosity, a desire to connect with peers, natural dialogue, and an opportunity to share and be creative within a stuctured but relaxed framework.

They have learned by asking, by reading each others’ contributions – within an online community.

They have done this with respect for each other and through positive comments. This is much more than just ‘reading and writing’.

More about this later….

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Please keep Ning free in education!

Jason Chmura on Change.org has written a letter to Marc Andreesen (Co-founder and Chairman of the Board, Ning.com) and Jason Rosenthal (CEO, Ning.com) with a petition to keep Ning free for educational purposes.

We, the nonprofit and educational community, urge you to make an exception in your plans to discontinue free Ning services. Since your founding in early 2007, we have been avid supporters of Ning.com and embraced your services as a critical component in accomplishing our missions. We’ve used Ning.com to unite diverse populations, inform individuals, confront difficult issues, and bring hope to those who need it most. For many of us, Ning.com has helped to bridge the communication gap between our organization and those we serve.

We understand that times like these often necessitate making tough decisions, and appreciate the situation that you’re in. However, we hope that you will consider the important role that Ning.com plays in the nonprofit and educational communities and allow us to continue using your free service to provide for those in need.

At a time when funding is scarce and organizations are fighting to keep their doors open, it is critical that these online support communities be allowed to continue without additional financial burdens. Please, be exceptional, and help the nonprofit and educational community at a time when we need it most.

The response to Ning’s free service phase-out is continuing through social media such as Twitter. I received the petition link through a comment in my previous post – it’s also included in the crowd-sourced alternatives to Ning Google doc – , and I’m assuming that, with 172 signatures at the time of writing this post, the link has not been widespread. That’s hard to believe, considering the massive Twitter response.

Checking the #ning updates on Twitter, I noticed the international response with all the non-English tweets (luckily I can read French and German and guess Spanish). Responses vary – some expressing disbelief and others accepting that services such as Ning could not, realistically, remain free. As for me, I assumed (naively?) that if so many educators were using Ning across the globe, then an organisation wouldn’t tick so many people off at the risk of turning them away and seeking other Web 2.0 educational platforms.

Despite the bad news, I’m reassured by the collective strength and wisdom of educators globally. The power of the network prevails.

So, where to from here? I’m going to look at how to export my ning data before it disappears or transfer it to another service.

What about you?

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What the! Ning isn’t free anymore?

This morning I read on Twitter that Ning would no longer be free anymore. Blink.

Can this be true?

TechCrunch announced the news.

Steve Hargadon was quick to send off a post; I was grateful.

Twitter has contributed various links, including a place to go to share how people are using nings in education. A Google document has been created for a collaborative space – already the number of participants is impressive (where’s Australia though? )Posterous has committed to building a ning blog importer. Somebody has thought of a way to save ning. Ideas are cropping up everywhere.

People are realising how valuable some of the networks are:

@RobertTalbert I agree and don’t care about my own Ning, but I am member of several large, wonderful networks (eg. English Companion) #Ning

As disastrous as this is, one thing is clear. Ning means a lot to many, many people. If you feel upset, you are not alone. This is a collective, global problem, and it will continue to receive a collective, global response and – dare I hope – solution.

Here’s a tiny part of the #ning Twitter stream:

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ACEC2010 My slant

How is it that a conference about technology, namely the ACEC 2010, the national biennial conference of the Australian Council for Computers in Education, wasn’t chiefly about technology?

That’s a good thing in case you’re wondering.

So, for me, at least, the conference was about the opportunities to meet new people, share ideas and make connections. Some of these people I hadn’t previously met, others I knew online and was happy to finally meet face to face. And the program wasn’t too bad either.

I attended one day in body and the other days virtually. Either way, I was there thanks to the gracious collaboration of participants on Twitter #acec2010 and other great places to be when you’re not there.

The theme of the conference expresses the essence of the program:

Digital Diversity conference explores interactive and creative approaches to ICT in education. Addressing diversity in styles of learning and thinking offers us new pathways for building the right knowledge and skills to adapt to constant change.

Yes, the theme of the conference is ICT, but the words ‘interactive’, ‘creative’, ‘diversity’, thinking’, ‘building’ and ‘adapt to change’ express the real focus.

The sharing has been amazing. For example, @ackygirl tweeted a link to the Twitter transcript.

Here are ACEC2010 Delicious links.

Alan November‘s plenary and workshop sessions were a highlight for me on the Wednesday.

Amongst other things, Alan spoke about authentic learning projects based in the real world, for example,  the teacher and students who built their own Wikipedia page. Listen to these students describe themselves as historians in the most serious way.

A huge thankyou to organisers of this very successful conference. Hope to see everyone again next year.

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Social media for lawyers (and regular people)

@ggrosseck shares some excellent links on Twitter and this is one of them.

I agree with @jennyluca who commented that this presentation is just as relevant to educators. The humour doesn’t detract from the truths expressed; I think it’s very effective. I like the way it addresses people’s attitudes to social media and in a light-hearted way before going on to all the benefits.

It also asks important questions such as Do I really want to be in a community? and supplies altruistic and selfish reasons. There’s a lot more depth to the coverage and more specific information than is often included in write ups about social media.

For a person who is trying to make sense of social media, it’s very helpful. For example, in explaining the social bookmarking site Delicious, it informs that

clicking on a link will show all the people who recommended it and under what categories (tags).

and provides a snapshot of a Delicious user’s page.

The most effective aspect of this presentation is the fact that it addresses the whys, eg. Why bother blogging?

A range of social media is covered, including Twitter, blogs, wikis, Delicious, RSS feeds and more. It really gives a good overview as well as answering specific questions people may have, finishing off with ‘So what does all this mean?’ and a list of links to further information .

I’m impressed by the depth of this presentation and would like to collaborate with somebody in producing a similar one for educators. Any takers?

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