Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Teachers use of social networking sites

Following @twowhizzy's tweet last Saturday with a link to an article from Australia regarding legislation being considered to curtail and or dissuade teachers from using social networking sites, I must admit I have been waiting the opportunity to blog post about the issue.I am sure that I am not alone when I say that teachers should not be using these sites to interact with pupils - these are social not school networking sites and for me it is a big NO to blur the two.There are many reasons why this route is unwise no matter what age of pupils we are talking about. There is the vast difficulty of breaching the pupil/teacher relationship

'More than 30 Queensland teachers have had their registration cancelled for unprofessional relationships with pupils over the past three years.

Eight cases involving inappropriate behaviour of a teacher contacting students via electronic equipment were heard by the Queensland College of Teachers' disciplinary committee last financial year. '

Hey even my own kids refused to be my 'friend' on Facebook for ages, and I can't say I blame them, it's just not cool. If we as teachers rightly want to use the advantages of web 2.0 technology with pupils then we should use tools which look similar and do the similar things but are not-Facebook or Bebo such as a protected invite only Ning or Edmodo installations or of course the trusty wiki ( wikispaces, wetpaint and many more...). So please, please do not think that those of us who propose the use of web 2.0 tools in the classroom condone this activity - I for one do not neither do many others I am sure.

Apologies for the quality of this post it is being typed on the small G1 keypad following a long 8am to 7pm day in work and I couldn't bring myself to fire up a pc or a laptop!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Here comes the 'G Wave' let's surf!

Sitting in my Gmail inbox today was the above invite from our friends at Google with the message:

Once you've signed in:
  • Check out the videos and example waves
  • Invite others to join you

Happy waving!
The Google Wave Team
I presume that others amongst 'The Cloud Gang' will also have received their invites. My plan is to fully test out how useful this is in our workplace where we are running meeting and collaborations in a global setting. It will also be good to see how the IM and file sharing elements of 'Wave' begin to make inroads into sites such as Twitter and Edmodo.
I am personally quite excited in seeing how this works in tandom with Google Docs and Spreadsheets, also to see if this finally gives the joined up thinking that so many of us have been calling for over the past few years. Personally I am looking forward at last to having joint discussion where you are able to look back at a discussion threads using the history to give you a run down of activity within a thread over time ( Yay!). I still have my concerns over the complexity of the environment however I believe the 'GoogleGang' will have looked particularly closely at user interface and the ease of operability - however this is what we have to fully test out in the 'real world'

If you are still in the dark about 'Wave'...... where have you been? Go get your 'board and get into the surf. As you wax up your 'board catch up with the introduction of 'Wave' at IO09 in May of this year - intro and under the hood.

As you can see in the screenshot from my wave the surf is relatively low at the moment let's churn the water up and see how 'Wave' shapes up for educators globally. I am looking also to see how the community now grows up around the new product.

On a Google related day I also have to say that my G1 received its latest 1.6 update yesterday ( unfortunately when I was in the middle of a good tweet discussion regarding teachers use of their pupils social networking space.... more on this later. The G1 update unfortunately it killed my battery and I found that at 11.30am following an overnight charge I was out! Once I had returned home from Leeds ( I was at Leeds Trinity Uni College at the time of the update...bad timing!) I got a chance to try out some of the updates - they have certainly worked on the camera which now has good auto focus and even a new range of effects ( Warhol, fisheye, polaroid, pixel, sepia print etc) The User interface on many products looks great. I presume that the new Donut upgrade for Andorid platforms such as HTC Hero also came through yesterday to coincide with this latest and possibly last G1 update ( we cannot get Donut as the processor is not up to the task....... 6 months of my £40 per month contract to go!!!!)

I beg forgiveness for this apparently entirely Google focused post, however hopefully it is no less relevant for that.

I am about to dip my toe into the surf with my 'board and very much look forward to shooting the waves with many of my contacts in work and beyond.
[cue The Beachboys]

See full size image

** Having just signed into Twitter mentioned earlier in the post I see that they are beginning the fight back with Twitter Team Lists ( see below)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Sorry for // says Berners-Lee

The father of the world wide web has apologised for those pesky //'s that appear in all url's apparently according to an interview in The Times today Tim has said a light hearted sorry as they are apparently unnecessary - Oh Tim!!!

'Sir Tim ruefully explained that when he started devising the network almost 30 years ago he could not have predicted the hassle that has been caused by his small error in thinking about the way a web address is written.

“Boy, now people on the radio are calling it ‘backslash backslash’,” Sir Tim told his audience, even though he knows they are, in fact, forward slashes.'

reported on BBC Technology News 14th October 2009

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Thoughts on #HHL09

#HHL09 is the hash tag that was used last week for 'twitterers' at HandHeld Learning 2009 now that I have had some time to reflect on the conference and its standout sessions and my 'take aways' here are my thoughts.
One main thought is that HandHeld Learning was a bit of a misnomer this year as it was the uses that technology is put to that was and is more important. This is in my mind of a greater importance than the technology used. However the conference does deliver on the cutting edge technologies that can and should be used in education today, and long may it do so. Conferences like this are very useful and much more focused on educational issues than is say BETT which is really just a very big trade show with seminars tagged on. ( as an aside I believe that BETT should move to the model of ISTE's NECC conferences -where a large trade show is balanced with presentations similar in quality toHHL).
My second thought is that even though this was only my second HHL conference I noticed that the same theme - a need for a step change in education policy to affect the changes being 'showcased'. My fear would be that even with the high profile examples of excellent practice shown at HHL and with input from BECTA and others that this message is simply not yet getting through ( I refer back to my previous post on the PGCE students who were in attendance on the Monday who are even now unable to submit their assignments using basic web2.0 technologies )........will the step change ever come, this does seriously concern me.

These issues aside back to the 'standouts'and 'take aways':
Tuesday 6th morning session 'Reflections on Learning' Malcolm McLaren was excellently off beat with his take on the need for formal education ( as soon as the hopefully uncut video of this session is released I will post it). Malcolm's rather radical views were balanced by Zena Atkins and Yvonne Roberts however I still felt as if we had neen teased but without getting to the meat of the issues.
Tuesday 6th afternoon session 'Creativity and Innovation' for me Tim Rylands would have been the draw to pull me to HHL09 in his own right having with his Myst work which I found inspirational and used in my own classroom. Mr Rylands definitely lived up to the billing as a 'doer' and was for me the standout of the day if not the conference as a whole.

Wednesday 7th morning session 'Inclusion' I sadly missed the start of Niel McLean (BECTA) and his input on home access to ICT for poorer families however I did manage to hear Helen Milner from UK Online Centres. All of the inclusion opportunities were extremely inspiring apart from an 'exclusion' moment when I realised that these wonderful schemes are only on offer in England - my task now to lobby the WAG to check on projects like this being developed for families in Wales......nothing yet? I rather think that I didn't put my corresponding questions to the right people in the Q&A session on this topic.
The 'standout' of the morning session for me was Sir Tim Brighouse whose insight into the use of technology in education was very interesting,however he has had difficulties gettingthese views adopted by government in the past.
Wednesday 7th afternoon session was towered over by the technology colossus that is Ray Kurzweil, he did not disappoint in his wide ranging look at the exponential growth of all types of technology which he percieves will go inexorably into the future and how technology will change us all.
As you can see this conference actually managed to range across a wide variety of topics each of which would have made for a good stand alone event in their own right - fortunately they can find a place here in HandHeld Learning which is very much TED for Educational Technologists ( now there's a thought Graham?).... long may it continue as a showcase for practitioners, pupils and cutting edge thinkers.
I hope to be at HHL2010?

Monday, October 05, 2009

MirandaMod Session at #hhl09

My first session at this year's Handheld Learning Conference 2009 (link) was the MirandaNet MirandaMod discussion led by Christina Preston and John Cuthell where some interesting questions were posed about the use of ubiquitous technologies in education:
  • Cant these technologies make learning for professionals, teachers and students more personal and relevant?
  • How can we reconceptualise assessment, so that it better reflects the ways in which knowledge is developed collaboratively? Or should give upon the nostrum of online learning?
  • What is the value of the learning experience balanced against the expense and the risk?
MirandaNet founded in 1992 is a free to join e-learning communityof educators offering the chance for members to contribute to the debate regarding ICT in education.

The debate was fascinating as it included a wide range of experiences from a group of new PGCE students who have just begun their education path to experienced teachers and academics from the UK and Australia. Trying to synthesize the discussion would be futile as it covered a wide range of policy issues to the use of ICT in a classroom so find and join the debate on the MindMeister mind map for this presentation.
One point that I took from the discussion is that sadly the formal teacher education system still may not be giving our new teachers the knowledge of the wider uses of ICT which can enhance education -it is a worry that these technologically switched on young people may be being untaught about the flexible uses of ICT in the classroom, which is quite ironic. Admittedly this group were media students and as such possibly more used to creative technology -it would have been interesting to hear from students in other subjects -I suspect the story may be different?
It was also good to hear Leon Cych and others suggesting that it is still not the 'tech' but the person/teacher using it that really counts...... we don't all need an IWB to deliver an interactive lesson.
It was interesting to follow this with the Learners Y Factor where the presentations were driven by pupils between 6 and 16 explaining the impact that technology has had on their learning - this showed the reason why the MirandaMod debate needs to be won and the ideas from this conference still need to break into the mainstream of education for all.

More to come from (follow the tweets twitter hashtag #hhl09) tomorrow, where the highlights for pj23harry will be:
  • Malcolm McLaren ( yes that Malcolm McLaren!)
  • Tim Rylands (The Myst man! and innovator)
  • Henry Warren (
  • Mark Hardwick (
  • Jennifer Groff ( Fullbright scholar and Futurelab)

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Guest post from Educational Technology - ICT in Education

Web 2.0 Projects Book Deadline Extended
By Terry Freedman
Created on Thu, 1 Oct 2009, 15:26

open24hoursI've had a great response to my call for submissions to this ebook, which seeks to collate information about interesting projects involving the use of Web 2.0 applications in schools.

The original deadline was 30 September, but last night I received some news which has led me to extend it until the 31st October.

Diane Brooks, who writes the ICT in Education blog in New Zealand (no connection with this website) very kindly posted a message about the book on her blog. However, she informed me privately that schools in New Zealand are currently on holiday.

Also, and more importantly, many New Zealanders, including some of her colleagues and students, have family in Samoa. They will obviously have more pressing concerns than a book about Web 2.0, so it seemed only right and sensible to extend the deadline for everyone because of the troubles in Samoa, Indonesia and that general area of the world.

So what is the state of play so far? I've received over 60 new projects, and they all look really interesting. The applications used include e-portfolios, social networking, video Es and the 'usual suspects': blogs, wikis and a fresh-faced arrival, Twitter!

Many, if not most, of the ideas are as simple as they are exciting. For example (and it's hard to single out just one or two from this cornucopia), Nancy Raff says:

"We're creating a virtual ribbon of 6 pieces with a photo showing why a student loves the earth and a statement of why they love it and what they will do to protect it. Many schools have joined this project and people from 59 countries. Spans all grades."

Or take this one, from Tom Daccord:

"The "Great Debate of 2008" is a collaborative project providing 130+ students from 8 states with an opportunity to lead an exploration and discussion of issues and candidates surrounding the 2008 presidential election."

I think you'd agree that these ideas are not only simple but also scaleable in either direction. For example, the Great Debate wiki could be run with just one class, and the virtual ribbon project could be run with classes in the same school or neighbouring schools rather than across 59 countries.

That's the whole idea of this ebook: to share ideas, rather than to share 'best practice'. So if you have been running an educational project with Web 2.0 tools, no matter how humble you think it is, please share!

Just one thing, though: some of the URLs provided by people in their submissions are passworded, or are to a general website or blog rather than a specific post or area about the project concerned. In order to make the ebook as useful as possible to others, please provide a useful and pertinent URL. Ideally, if the site is passworded, perhaps you could provide a guest login. Alternatively, if that would be problematic in terms of e-safety concerns, send me a screenshot or two which will at least give people an idea of what's behind the firewall. Thanks for your co-operation in this!

The online form should take you only a few minutes to complete.

Thank you.

Terry Freedman