Tag Archives: Will Richardson

Power of the network

The last couple of days have been very interesting. I’d like to share what I have learned since I shared on this blog a discussion about favouring an external blog to an internal one.

Above all, I learned that I could depend on the people in my network. Who are these people? Some of them I’ve met face to face; some I’ve come to know through my involvement in online networks; a few I’ve only just met in the course of this blog issue.

Amazingly,  over 200 people read my last blog post. Much as I’d like to convince you otherwise, I don’t normally record such a readership. How did I receive such a response?

After writing out my response to the Computer Systems Manager, then posting this with my response to him, I sent a link to the post out on Twitter, asking for people to enter into the discussion. I wanted to generate discussion, and to collect people’s views and perspectives. Discussion is a healthy and powerful thing. It’s a good idea to find out what others think even if they don’t agree with you, and in some cases, particularly when they don’t agree with you, since it pushes your thinking.

Apart from clarifying my own thinking with regard to the value of Web 2.0 technologies and their role in learning and teaching, in writing out this issue I gained valuable insights from others using the Web 2.0 platforms. Herein lies the power of these technologies – not in the technology itself, but in the powerful connections with people, people with unique backgrounds, experiences, qualifications, talents, and ideas.

The people who commented my post were educators or involved in education in some way. They responded quickly, and they came from around Australia (Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Canberra and Perth) and overseas (Hong Kong and USA).  Click on their names next to the comments and read their profiles and their blogs to make their acquaintance.

My online networks are full of professionals whose reading and links, ideas and talents, I follow. If I need an idea, advice, professional reading, teaching material, and more, I go to this network. And I try to be helpful in return. Anyone who has experienced the collective wisdom of online networks will tell you the same. It is not about the technology.

Our students will go into the world needing support and continued learning. If we help them understand and navigate appropriate networks, we will be laying the foundations for support systems. We should allow them to learn within supervised online environments, teaching them how to write and interact appropriately and in a safe way, to share ideas and solve problems with relevant groups of people, etc.

As educators, our view of what is essential for student learning needs to change. Our students’ world will be fast-paced and changeable, requiring adaptability and resourcefulness. Our students will need to know how to find what they need, and who to trust. They will hopefully be able to discern who to follow and how to behave.

Change is never easy. One of my mentors, and co-founder (with Will Richardson) of the Powerful Learning Practice model, Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach, has just written a blog post about change, which she prefaces with the following quotations:

 “It’s not that some people have willpower and some don’t. It’s that some people are ready to change and others are not.”  James Gordon, M.D.

“Change has a considerable psychological impact on the human mind. To the fearful it is threatening because it means that things may get worse. To the hopeful it is encouraging because things may get better. To the confident it is inspiring because the challenge exists to make things better.” King Whitney Jr.

Sheryl uses the metaphor of her recent house renovation to deconstruct the journey towards building change, towards the creation of something new. She documents this process insightfully, and I recommend you read the entire post.   I thought I’d pull out some of the phrases that resonated with me in Sheryl’s post.  She talked about the challenge of

keeping the momentum and the dream of the transformation alive

She also said:

There are times I wanted to throw in the towel and thought as outdated as the home was at least there was peace and comfort.

 things will look worse before they get better

Fear is a big part of it too

Trust is another issue. Do the experts I have hired to make these changes a reality have the know how and wisdom to make it all happen

I’d like to end my post with another one of Sheryl’s quotes:

 For change to take hold and redefine people and the places they live and grow there needs to be a time of inquiry, reflection, and visioning.

I’m grateful that I have people with whom to share my inquiry, reflection and visioning.

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Filed under 21st century learning, blogging, debate, learning, network literacy, networking, teachers, teaching, technology, Web 2.0, writing

Houston,we have conversation!

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A couple of posts ago I wrote about Thinking and writing about biology, and featured a NING called ‘Principles of biology: bringing life and living things into focus’ created by Sean Nash.  I wanted to show off Sean’s NING because I love the way he teaches biology, incorporating Web 2.0 technologies, critical thinking, creativity, reflection and even poetry. The NING, of course, is perfect for collaborative learning, and brilliant for discussion.

It was a thrill to have Sean comment on my blog, not just as a polite hi, but sharing information about his students and his teaching. It’s worth going back to the post and reading what he says.

What I found most interesting was our little conversation. I had pointed out that Sean’s teaching combined literacy with science.  He commented back:

Science and literacy had certainly better go together. We are in a heap of trouble as a species as it is. We can’t afford to continue to create a scientifically-illiterate populace. Where science and literacy are separate, science is but mystery and mythology to even our brightest.

What happened next really made my day. Two students left comments for me here on my blog.  These comments blew me away; they revealed a love for their learning experiences in Sean’s classes and NING, and an ability to reflect and analyse that our teachers would kill for.

I wanted to post these comments in full because I think they’re worth reading.

Here is what Tori Scott wrote (the bold type is my emphasis)

This is my classes website! I’ve always loved science, but this year was a whole new experience for me. In our class Mr. Nash gives us multiple ways too look at science. There are so many new things to learn that it’s truly fun to experience it in different ways. I came into this class thinking it was going to be him lecturing and us taking notes. This year was the first year that it’s all been so hands on.

This class really makes us think. Mr. Nash will just give us something, for instances a visual, and ask us to write about it. Like what we think it represents and our thoughts and opinions on it. I really enjoy doing this. It allows us as students to share what were thinking. That’s one of my favorite things about the website. Were able discuss and blog about the things we do in class. We each get to share as individuals, which is pretty amazing because each one of us think differently. This also allows us to learn on a completely different level.

I’d have to say that if there is one thing i’ve learned this year would be that science is not black and white. Thats a big misconception i’ve had. Through the year though i’ve began to learn and realize that there is always a gray area. The site gives us the opportunity to talk about it and understand more.

Rachel Huntsman wrote:

I am a student in the dual-credit biology class that uses the blog you have been discussing. I just wanted to let you know my thoughts on our use of the blog.

I really think it is a beneficial way of learning, and would recommend it to any teacher in order to get their students to actually think about learning.

I will admit I was one of the students who took the class just to get this major required science class out of the way before college. However, this coming from a person who really doesn’t enjoy science at all, I have found that I enjoy this class. I feel like I can analyze what I learn and discuss things with other students rather than simply fill out a work sheet and answer test questions.

I honestly think I will retain things from taking this class, and I can say I have benefited a great deal from it.

I also like the idea that other people, such as yourselves, are actually reading this blog and looking at what we are learning and how we are learning. It makes me think about what I will post because I know someone from the other side of the world might read it.

Now, you might have noticed that I’ve recently heard Will Richardson talking about network literacy, passion-based learning, and an authentic readership. Well here it is – an inspiring example of the best kind of learning. It makes a difference when it’s real writing to real people, not just writing what you think your teacher wants and what will get a good mark. As Rachel says, analysing, discussing, learning collectively – not filling out worksheets.

I wish more educators, parents and students could see  how good this kind of learning is. Thankyou Tori and Rachel for sharing and inspiring us.

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Filed under 21st century learning, Education, learning, network literacy, Web 2.0

Powerful Learning Day

Today was the second face-to-face get-together of the Australian teams involved in Powerful Learning Practice. We had so much fun listening to Will Richardson, connecting with Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach, skyping Dean Shareski, having powerful conversations, problem-solving, making connections, deepening friendships.

Thanks so much to Will for being there, leading and inspiring us, and to Jenny for creating this opportunity, then organising everything. We are starting to make a difference.

You’ll find a few more photos here.

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Filed under 21st century learning, technology, Web 2.0

Will Richardson speaks in Melbourne

willnetwork

 Will  Richardson’s networks

I’m guessing there will be several blog posts about the SLAV conference, Perspectives on learning V2 today. I have considered whether to leave it to others, but a post always deconstructs my own thinking, and creates an archive for later reference.

Will Richardson was the keynote speaker, and he spoke about Network literacy: leveraging the potential of a hyperconnected world. There were concurrent sessions by Jenny Luca (Now you know Web 2.0, what next?), Adrian Camm (Why create a virtual learning community), and John Pearce (Projecting passionately with Web 2.0). The Plenary session was presented by Kerry Rowett and Judith Way (Web 2.0 and resources for you), who write the SLAV blog, Bright ideas.

SLAV is to be congratulated on providing cutting edge professional development, and also on providing links to the presentations on their Bright Ideas blog.

What I’m not going to do is summarise the talks. The slide presentations will give clues, and the podcasts to follow will provide the detail. What I’m going to do is pull out of Will’s keynote speech some of the main points that resonated with me.

Firstly, anyone who has read Will’s blog or looked through his Delicious tags, will know that network literacy is a leitmotif throughout his writings. If you compare the idea of network literacy with our traditional concept of literacy (at its most basic, reading and writing), then you have an idea of how Will stretches the idea of literacy, and also where his focus is. The hyperconnected world he speaks of is a connectedness which is made  possible by technology, but which is not focused on technology itself, but on a connectedness with people and people networks. And these networks are the source of information for Will. He doesn’t Google when he needs information, he goes to his Twitter or Delicious communities. When he wants to know what ‘s going on in the world, he doesn’t just read newspapers, he prefers to go to his personally designed sources in his Google Reader (RSS feeds), or to his favourite bloggers when he wants deep conversation. He connects with people who share his passions, with experts far and wide, and he urges us to do the same.

And so we shouldn’t be surprised when Will speaks of schools as places which need to change. He quotes Clay Shirky (Here comes everybody) who says we have to get outside of our physical spaces which define our schools and learning, and connect with people and networks globally. He reminds us that our students have already made it out to networked activity through social media sites like Facebook and MySpace. He pre-empts our concerns that Facebook is trivial and uneducational by pointing out that kids are already moving beyond the superficial and using social media to form interest-based groups, where their interaction is based purely on passion and transcends physical space, time zones and cultures. We are impressed when we realise that these experiences place kids in a position of being teachers as well as learners. We really get the point when we hear that this all happens outside of school, when it hits home that self-organised learning and teaching activities driven by pure passion are taking place outside of our learning institutions. While we have the problem of increasing disengagement in our classes. The point hits home with some discomfort.

Here are some points that came out of Will’s talk:

  • learning is an ongoing process, not something that fits neatly within a measured time frame
  • blogging allows us to rethink what it means to read and write; it becomes a connection, a conversation with an authentic audience
  • literacy is malleable and will evolve further in the next few years
  • multimedia texts expand literacy to include critical thinking and analysis
  • we need to create and navigate our own personal learning network, and teach our students to do the same
  • network literacy cannot be taught as a one-off course
  • we need to help our kids create a digital footprint, so that they have positive results when googled

Listen to the podcast when it comes onto the SLAV website for the rest of the talk.

Jenny Luca’s talk was a passionate account detailing her journey from Web 2.0 to making a difference to the lives of many people with the help of individuals and communities around the world. Amongst other projects, she spoke about Working together to make a difference which she is most proud of, since it is testimony to the best of people’s collabortive efforts.

I could go on; all the talks I attended were extremely interesting and relevant to educators. It’s the kind of resource and ideas list that could keep you going for a very long time. I’m already using most of the Web 2.o tools and applications that were mentioned, but I’m trying to integrate them into relevant and creative learning and teaching. What I have learned from hearing people like Will and Jenny speak, has not centred on new tools, but shifted me into a different direction, provided me with a new perspective.

What I’d love to find out now is how the audience received these talks, how people felt, what they thought, what resolutions, if any, did they make as they walked out of that conference. Did it make a difference? Please leave your honest comments here, and perhaps we can have a conversation. Did the talks effect a shift in your perspective and teaching direction, or did it just make you shift uncomfortably in your seat?

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Filed under 21st century learning, Education, media, network literacy, technology, Web 2.0

Own the info, keep the info, hide the info

bottled-coins

 

I was reading Will Richardson’s article Get. Off. Paper. where he talks about people’s dependence on paper, and the reluctance to let go of owning information in hard copy. I’ve also just read what Joi Ito, CEO of Creative Commons, has to say about sharing photos of ourselves. It’s made me reflect on the nature of owning and sharing information, and how that has changed dramatically in the last few years.

When I was at school and university, information was power. If you wanted to be successful and get good marks, you needed information.

I remember how scarce information was. I had to work hard to get it, and I had to work hard to get it before others did, or get it from places others wouldn’t know about.

Sound strange? Think about it. An assignment is set, and the class goes to the library, but there are only a few books about the single subject that needs researching. Once I was jumped from behind by another student who clawed me until I dropped the book she wanted. Sound unbelievable? Believe it; it’s true. That experience shocked me and I’m not about to forget it. I’ve wondered since then, how important is this information, that someone would behave in such a manner? Admittedly, this is extreme behaviour, but think about this. In those days, my assignments were based on the location of content. If I owned that content, I would regurgitate it and present it attractively. Would I be in a hurry to share this information? Well, that would mean that someone else would have the same information as me. Why would I share it? Did we ever do anything with that information? Analyse it, evaluate it, modify it, create from it? No. That information was what my mark was based on.

Will Richardson talks about a paperless society. What I remember most about university, was the time I spent photocopying chapers in the library. Not complete chapters, of course, just the legal percentage of what was permissable. I focussed on collecting bags full of coins so that I would be able to photocopy pages from all the books I’d found that were even remotely relevant to my topics of study. I needed those copies, I felt empowered with all that paper, all that information that I may need during my research. When I was finished, I kept that paper. I couldn’t bring myself to throw it out. I might need it. I think I still have it.

It’s a relief but also kind of strange to be functioning now in the potentially almost paperless world. I turn to people for my links to information, and I share freely, as well as receive in abundance.  My networks are not mean. They are made of people who are smart, connected, varied, informed, interesting and willing to share ideas and knowledge. I’m happy that I’m still learning so that I can turn my back on the old ways.

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Filed under 21st century learning, Education, internet, Web 2.0

Captain Planet and Powerful Learning Practice

Did you ever watch Captain PlanetMy older son, now 18, used to love the show, and for some reason I’ve had an image in my mind of our PLP team as Planeteers. This Monday a small team from our school will be embarking on the Powerful Learning Practice journey led by Will Richardson and Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach from USA, and within our own sphere, Jenny Luca. I can see our only male member, Kevin,  as Captain Planet and the rest of us as Earth, Fire, Wind, Water, Heart. We will join rings and sing in unison (or polyphonically), only one of us will have to rewrite the words so that they cleverly express some kind of transcendentally splendid PLP message. Any suggestions? 
 
Why am I raving? I suppose I see this as a mission of sorts – a mission I have some idea about but also many questions; a journey that equips us with new understanding and skills for 21st century learning and teaching which we will pass on to the rest of the school community.  What’s important to remember is that behind the small team is the larger team – the rest of the staff: talented, hard-working, and committed people. Although we, the Planeteers, are excited about meeting the rest of the cohort, and taking part in the program on the first level, we are not doing it for ourselves, but will return to the larger team with our new learning, making a difference to the whole school. You see why Captain Planet comes to mind? We’re on a mission – hopefully not as pushy, holier-than-thou converts, but people who are priveleged to draw from the experience of others and eager to share with our colleagues. As the good captain says: by YOUR powers combined, I am Captain Planet!
Now excuse me while I find my lycra superhero vest.

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Filed under 21st century learning, Education, learning

#18 Grow knowledge


388px-Franz_Marc_028

Originally uploaded by tsheko

I’ve planted my wiki seeds and I’m waiting for them to grow. I know it’s winter so I’ll have to be patient. Once the exams and report writing are over, I’m hoping to see the miraculous organism taking shape and increasing in size. My art wiki is in its formative stage. I’ve started the growing process by adding pages within topics and raising questions for discussion, I’ve emailed art teachers within and without my school, added a couple of artists and brilliantly creative people for a bit of spice, and it’s just a matter of time before the living organism I call my wiki starts to mutate. My wiki will be a classroom without a room, a global community of critical readers, bravely discerning correctness and relevance of information, sculpting information into knowledge. It’s just a matter of time…

In his book Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms, Will Richardson imagines the possibilities of the wiki in the classroom – students could create book report wikis, what-I-did-this-summer wikis, brainstorming wikis, poetry wikis, notes-from-class wikis, year six wikis, history-of-the-school or community wikis, formula wikis, wikis for individual countries they might be studying, political party wikis, exercise wikis… and so on. As Richardson says, wikis are ideal for ‘whatever topic might lend itself to the collaborative collection of content relating to its study’.

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