Tag Archives: flickr

Learning: that’s how we live

Learning is not something that can be captured, predicted or assumed. It doesn’t fit neatly in a table, it’s not defined accurately in a chart, a survey, it doesn’t happen the same way for you as it does for me.

We try to prove that we understand it, control it by conducting research, analysing results, following assessment rubrics, but we should just keep our eyes open and watch. It’s happening around us, at breakfast, in the classroom, the playground, during the holidays, on the bus, and even as we sleep.

Sometimes, as educators, we think that we haven’t influenced the learning process in any of our students (or even our colleagues). We may have been too impatient, too hasty in making that assumption. Evidence of learning can surprise you at the most unexpected times.

I have to admit I wasn’t thrilled to return to school after many weeks of holiday, but it had to happen. Last year I was very happy to join forces with a dear friend, teacher of English, who was brave enough to weather the uncertainties and hazards of ning learning. We tested the Web 2.0 waters together, and made learning interactive with real-life connections and conversation for our students. It seemed that this kind of teaching and learning was not going to catch on fast.

In the first couple of days at school this year, to my delight, several teachers have approached me to help them create a ning, blog or wiki for their class. I’m stoked. I hope that this year will be as fulfilling for them and their students as it has been for me in my own participation in learning communities online: learning from each other wherever we are.

One (or even two) of our classes will be participating in a photo blog project with Marie Coleman in Florida, USA, and Sinikka Laakio-Whybrow. Inspired by our own experiences in the Flickr 365 day photo challenge (and similar projects) – and this is how we met – we wanted to try this out in the classroom. With a weekly theme for photos, we hope that students will enjoy learning from each other,, and that literacy development will naturally spring from curiosity and an exchange of cultures.

A seemingly simple task, posting a photo and writing about it, can actually be a higher order exercise. Marie’s and Sinikka’s posts attest to the depth of thought which can be achieved.

Sinikka’s post:

Today’s Daily Shoot also became the theme of my 365 photo:

“Let’s have some fun on a Friday. Make a photo that goes with the title (or lyrics) of a song. Interpret away!”

Another ordinary day at school, in the familiar red-brick environment. I am thinking what is the state and purpose of education today. I’m sure many students would still sign Pink Floyd’s message of not needing any education from back in 1979. At least not the same old, numbing and repetitive, factory style.

Aren’t schools still too often working like the meat grinder in the brilliant Gerald Scarfe animation of the song where kids are dropped only to spew out uniform minced meat at the other end? Is there any space for individual thinking, learning methods and goals, or chances for each individual to realize their full potential? Why does it seem that the spark, the passion, the joy and creativity are all buried and forgotten inside these walls? Can our students, in their bright pink and red coats, be themselves, and not just other bricks in the wall?

By the way, there is a Finnish expression ‘counting the ends of bricks’, meaning to serve a prison sentence. Sometimes, for me as a teacher, the brick school seems prison-like, too. There are too many outside pressures, constrictions, national assessments and rigid attitudes, which tie my hands.

Marie’s post:

While keeping an eye out for right angles (today’s @dailyshoot assignment), it became apparent that there were a large number of examples in ‘man-made’ structures. On the other hand, there were fewer (or perhaps less obvious) instances in nature and humankind.

Though there is an expectation of support from the angled structures, this cobweb’s network may exemplify the ‘real world’ much more accurately! It certainly reflects the ‘hyperlinked’ nature of today’s youth in their learning and in the interconnectivity of the Internet and all of its tendrils. The web is also much more appealing to the eye, but where would it be without the support and structure of the foundational right angles – guess we need the synergistic relationship of both!

I think these examples illustrate the depth of thinking and fluency of writing which can result from a single image selected to address criteria which still allows choice.

One more thing…

The learning that springs from passion is a wonderful thing. My elder son, who has never studied photography or even art (as an elective) at school, has recently discovered a love of photography, and is learning on the fly. He has joined Flickr groups, and has challenged himself to a daily photo blog. Just last week, he was approached by Zulya and the Children of the Underground for a photo shoot for their next album!

I’m holding onto these examples of learning in the hope of making a difference to student engagement with learning, not for grades, but for life.

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Filed under 21st century learning, learning, networking, photos, teachers, teaching, technology, Web 2.0

How do we learn from people? Do we trust people? What do people know?

Photo courtesy of Okinawa Soba on Flickr

If I’m going to convince others about the whole point of Web 2.0 technologies, not just teach them how to use the technologies (what for? being the pivotal question), then I’m going to have to sort through for myself what it means to learn from and with other people (as opposed to the traditional learning from books, teachers).

Here’s an example. I’ve been reading the photo blogs which are part of a 2010 flickr challenge. Many of the blogs I follow are written by those living in the northern hemisphere. It’s interesting observing opposite weather patterns, for example, of those celebrating Christmas and the new year in snowy winter while I’m experiencing sweltering heat with temperatures in the high 30s in Melbourne today. Not only is the blog reading informative but the conversation is satisfying, and underpins the joy of learning from people who are real, who have a sense of humour and can answer your questions.

I’ve been enjoying sinikka’s blog. Sinikka writes from Finland so, for example, I learned about Finnish Christmas and post-Christmas customs. Not only that, but I could tell her about our Russian customs. Again, learning through conversation. Not static, dynamic learning.

Some blogs are very specialised. The library history buff blog is very impressive in its range and detail of information about the history of American libraries. You’d be surprised how esoteric some blogs are.

Photo from Library History Buff Blog.

Recently I’ve been mesmorised by the Flickr photostream of priest Maxim Massalitin who shares photos and information about Russian Orthodox churches. He’s from Kiev, and currently lives in France. He seems to have done his research about the churches and monasteries he photographs. In this way, writing blogs and posting photos on Flickr becomes a learning experience for the author too; information is retrieved and provided at point of need. It’s a great way to learn for me, like virtual travel. This photostream contains beautiful iconography, and I love the Byzantine tradition. It’s interesting to see so many different churches and monasteries and to read about their history.

Photo courtesy of H.Maxim on Flickr

I think it’s good to think about what learning means. Does it only happen at school? Obviously not. But we may not realise how much of it happens outside of traditional environments. Think back to when you finished school or university – did you think the main part of your learning had been completed? Well, sure you didn’t. But did you realise that you’d barely begun?

Maybe we don’t think that way but kids sure do – at least younger teens. If you don’t give them a written assignment to complete and hand in for correction, they don’t consider themselves working. Spend the lesson having a discussion which peels away at layers of understanding, and you’ll still be the only one considering this work. The kids won’t think they’ve learned much unless it’s on paper and with a percentage or grade.

My elder son has recently discovered a passion for photography. Now that he’s on University holidays, he has been able to spend a lot of time taking photos, learning how to play around with them, and reading books and manuals about photography. He has spent many, many hours of his time voluntarily researching and learning. And he is loving it.  The best example of out-of-school learning. I note that it takes time, and unlimited, but focused learning can be very, very productive. He also commits to daily posts in a blog celebrating his final year as a teenager. Self-initiated and passion-based learning.

Photo courtesy of phillipsandwich on flickr

Every day I learn so much that is interesting from people online – people who share their expertise and special interests, and who are willing to communicate with others. So much more engaging than learning facts from a static page. We can learn a lot from each other.

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Filed under 21st century learning, learning, Web 2.0

threesixtyfivephotos – daily photo challenge

This year I decided to take up the challenge of posting at least one photo a day as part of a Flickr group challenge. I ended up creating the blog, threesixtyfivephotos, so that the daily photos and small amount of written description would have somewhere to live. Now that I’ve almost finished, I realise that this exercise has proved to be surprisingly more than I expected.

Here are some of the themes:

My stuff, what I love and why Day 29 Toys     Day 232 Stuff

My garden and its seasonal transformation, how it responds to extremes in temperature in the summer (fellow bloggers in North America have documented how their natural surroundings have responded to extremes in temperature in the winter – interesting for me since we don’t have snow) Day 31 Heat damage in the garden  Day 242 First blossom   Day 225 Winter garden  Day 269  Rain rain  Day 256 The whole blooming lot

Good friends Day 13 Getting together with friends

Odd things around the place Day 20 The burning giraffe

Favourite Routines Day 17 Victoria Market

Traditions   Day 6 Christmas eve  Day 358  Christmas eve   Day 109  Orthodox Easter

Family Dramas     Day 5 Sasha doesn’t get his year 12 results  Day234  19th birthday saga  Day 302 Fencing

My City of Melbourne   Day 178 Federation Square  Day 164 Royal Arcade  Day 339  City sights

Food preparation   Day 212 Guest Photographer makes tarts  Day 348  Christmas baking

School events   Day 210  School Gala

Overseas visitors   Day 206  PLP and bloggers’ dinner at Southbank

Milestones and triumphs     Day 197  16th birthday  Day 187  He has wheels  Day 238  Namesday  Day 264 Day of Triumph  Day 246  Still smiling about yesterday  Day 338  Last day of school

Holidays   Day 185  Heaven  Day 318 Back to Barwon Heads

Special occasions    Day 312  Anna and Pat’s wedding   Babies Day 172 Baby’s first communion  Engagement Day 297

Self-fulfilling prophesies   Day 265 Once upon a time and Day 266 Lalo Symphony Espagnole

Special things    Day 288 Russian carving

The photoblog has been a surprisingly rich journey without even trying to be. It’s like a time capsule of sorts. And best of all, it’s connected me in a personal way with people I would otherwise not communicate with.

This could work as an individual student or collaborative class project. Definitely. Just one photo and minimal written description a day.

Why don’t you try it?

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Filed under flickr, Uncategorized, writing

More great quotes about learning and change

Originally uploaded by colemama

I’m spending more and more time on Flickr. It’s a rich resource in terms of creativity and content. I wanted to remind you about the Group Great quotes about learning and change.  I’ve mentioned it before, so forgive me, but I think it’s worth featuring again.

greatquotes

 Contributors to this group add photos with quotations about 21st century education. I like the succinct way quotations express multiple ideas and concepts, but coupled with an apt image they are even more effective. These can be used as posters to stimulate thinking, to promote discussion or even to remind yourself daily of what’s worth thinking about.

Top contributors currently are Dean Shareski, Scott McLeod, Darren Kuropatwa, Langwitches and Darren Draper.

There are other people who are using images for conceptual purposes on flickr. I stumbled across a few today. Amongst these was Costel Mago who uses beautiful photos to support his insights.

Here’s one of his that resounds with me:

All happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast.

pidgeons

Personally, I find that I’m turning to images more and more for a powerful and succinct way to express ideas. Flickr is a well of shared thoughts and ideas, as well as images. Dont’ underestimate what you will find there. Find the message in the picture.

I’ve been finding so much that’s valuable to my personal and educational life on Flickr lately; I think I’ll write another post about what I’ve found for learning and teaching in Art. See you next post.

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Filed under 21st century learning, flickr, networking, photos, Web 2.0

Random facts I learned from Flickr today

They may be random, but I’m still learning.

Flickr is fun to browse, but more and more, I’m discovering Flickr to be an interesting way to learn. The photos take me into places I’ve never been, to things I normally wouldn’t see, often providing interesting background information.

Here are a few random things I learned from Flickr photos today

This photo was taken in Russia by seriykotik1970

russianbuilding

An art nouveau building near my office that was gutted by fire last week. Sadly it’ll now probably be demolished and ‘rebuilt’. In Moscow fires of this sort are often started deliberately by unscrupulous developers.
Designed by Lev Kekushev in about 1910.
Photographed in 2007

Turkish roosters are very colourful

turkishcock1

turkishcock2

Smarthistory is a group on Flickr which complements the website smarthistory.org. The purpose of this website and Flickr group is to enhance or replace the traditional art history textbook.

For example, you can learn about Matisse’s Red Studio from a short video using Flickr pictures of art collected by group members. 

Redstudiomatisse

If you read About Smarthistory, you will understand the motive behind the creation of this website and Flickr group:  

We are dissatisfied with the large expensive art history textbook. We find that they are difficult for many students, contain too many images, and just are not particularly engaging. In addition, we find the web resources developed by publishers to be woefully uncreative. We had developed quite a bit of content for our online Western art history courses and we had also created many podcasts, and a few screencasts for our Smarthistory blog. So, it finally occurred to us, why not use the personal voice that we use when we teach online, along with the multimedia we had already created for our blog and for our courses, to create a more engaging “web-book” that could be used in conjunction with art history survey courses. We also realized that this content would be useful to museum visitors and other informal learners. We are committed to joining the growing number of teachers who make their content freely available on the web.

Smarthistory is an excellent example of what can be done to create high-quality, free educational resources through collaboration. You’ll understand the scope of this project when you look at the site map which provides a hyperlinked timeline of art history. I also like to check out the discussion in groups.

The best thing about learning on Flickr is that you don’t expect to.  That’s why it’s so enjoyable.

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Filed under 21st century learning, art, flickr, learning, networking, photos, Web 2.0

Great quotes about learning and change – Flickr group

collconnections

Yes, another post about Flickr. This time, I’ve discovered the Group Great quotes about learning and change. The image/quote above has been added by canesinthecup. If you look at the rest of canesinthecup’s photostream, you’ll find more quotable quotes, such as this one:

teachersfailing

 This Schopenhauer quote is a favourite of mine and was added by colemama:

extraordinary

Darren Kuropatwa, an educator I’ve known since my involvement with Powerful Learning Practice Program, and who is a mentor to me, used a powerful Seth Godin quote for this slide:

educationgodin

I like his choice of Jared Klett’s image – very apt. Darren took the quote from a blog post by Seth Godin which has resonated with him.

It was actually Darren who initiated a collaborative slideshow within the PLP cohort. Darren selected the theme Teaching well for the slideshow. PLP cohort members were invited to sign up on a Google Document for a slide. 

We will collaboratively create a 20 slide presentation (not counting the title slide) called “Teaching Well”. 20 slides in 10 pairs of contrasts: “Teaching well is more like < slide 1 > than it is like < slide 2 >.” or however else you want to create contrast.

Each day one slide is added to the deck that builds on those that came before. The final 4-6 slides must bring the presentation to some sort of close.

The final product demonstrated, in its collaborative opportunity, that we are much more than the sum of our parts. It was fun to browse Flickr  in search of an image which would best illustrate the idea expressed. I still hope to do this with a class.

Darren included a few instructional slideshows. One of them is Brain Rules for Presenters. Another is Dodging Bullets in Presentations. And also Taking Your Slidedeck to the Next Level. All excellent guides to visual accompaniment to a conceptual presentation.

In a PLP discussion, Darren recommended his friend lynetter‘s  Digital changes everything on Flickr. She has 3 sets. One of them is Interesting Snippets which she explains is

my personal dumping ground for various cool quotes, the odd stat, as slides to talk around when describing how things are changing online and in media & communications generally.

It’s a great collection of visually supported quotations.

lynetter

So much to be discovered on Flickr. It really is more than just a bunch of pictures.

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Filed under 21st century learning, creativity, Education, flickr, networking, technology, Web 2.0

The story of the button demonstrates the power of social networking

Looking through my Flickr contacts’ photostreams, I noticed some photos of a button. Intrigued, I read a lengthy explanation, a short, true story, which I wanted to share. This is bigsumo‘s story.

A man sent an email via Facebook on a Monday morning in August. He was not sure if the email was being sent to the right people. He mentioned that whilst mowing his lawn in Corinda, Brisbane he uncovered a button. He notice some writing imprinted into the button. He decided out of curiosity to google it. He discovered that ‘TJ Moles Charters Towers’ referred to a man who was a tailor in Charters Towers. This was obviously his branded button to advertise his wares.

The man also discovered an old forum request on the family history site Rootsweb, from a couple looking for information on this person. Unfortunately, their listed email was no longer valid. He tried searching Facebook and discovered some names matching the description and within the hour sent a querying email looking for a connection.

An hour later that email from Facebook was answered by me. My wife and I were the couple looking for information on TJ Moles as he was the father of our adopted grandmother (that’s a whole other story) who herself was born in 1898 in Charters Towers.

I responded with great suprise at such an out of left field email. I explained our connection to the button’s owner and was very greatful to take him up on his offer to mail the button to us on the Sunshine Coast. To which he replied that he would pop it in the post on his way to work. The next day, Tuesday I was suprised to see, delivered to me at work, an envelope containing a button stamped with TJ Moles Charters Towers.

This button has travel long, somehow winding its way from north Queensland to Brisbane to be found late in 2009. It potentially started it journey somewhere between 1880 – 1940 (when TJ Moles passed away) when he ran his tailor shop (best guess).

More amazing is the very fast journey this button has been on in the last 24 hours, thanks to google and social networking! This button, though small is our only physical connection with our adopted family from that time. It’ll take pride of place in our family history collection!

What a great story! How else could you have discovered the button’s story without the online connections and collaboration? Another example of the power of Flickr.

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Filed under flickr, Interesting, internet, networking, photos, technology, Web 2.0