Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Going to try this idea tomorrow

As a result of an oz teachers post that mentioned a really cool little video on Youtube called Free Hugs, I decided that I would try to use the video as a way to have students think some more about the way the internet and Web 2.0 is changing the world-or is it?
So what I have done is downloaded the videos using a great little add on in Firefox called FLV download which enables the videos to be loaded onto my computer. (Youtube is blocked at school so I can't make a direct link) and then I'm going to use Sandy Thom's song, "I wish I was a punk rocker" to get them to think about the different ways that one person might change the world. I bought it the other day on Itunes so hopefully I'm fine with using it.
The question is Can one person change the world?
For these students I have been using a blog - Wedderburn 7/8 Blog to write up my lessons and here's the post. I find it's a good way to keep a record for myself and also hopefully gives kids a chance to think a little more about what they have to do.
I think the addition of music will also help. We generally have music going in the classroom when we are working anyway although I'm guessing some will love and others will hate the Punk Rocker song. I think I'll try to find the lyrics to the song as well as that will add another level of understanding.
will report back tomorrow on how it went.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Back to reality

Well I'm back in Wedderburn after a really hectic but exciting week with my new Intel friends who are now going to train Participant teachers back in their schools in the Intel Online thinking tools.
After school this afternoon we met for our staff meeting and I presented the Knowledge bank case study work that we had done.
We also discussed changes that our prinicipal has been informed of through his regular regional meetings. Changes and expectations of the way schools will be using the internet within the next two years. A rollout of a Victorian Ultranet that all schools will access and use as their online portal for all curriculum, assessment and communication needs. Very interesting and exciting but it would be good to think that the states are talking to each other because I was only just reading a post in oz teachers from Andrew Dalgliesh, Manager of The Learning Place Online Learning Operations Branch, Education Queensland.
His post referred to an ongoing discussion about the advent of Web 2.0 applications and their effect on schools and education in general.
From his point of view he was discussing at a system level, the type of thinking and planning that must go into the development of an 'in house' portal for schools.

He says:
as Web 2.0 means more and more content going into so-called "personal" spaces where it potentially sits alongside "dodgy content", I think this will raise the issue of much of it being filtered out by current technologies and policies. Maybe providers like YouTube will need to develop reliable rating schemes that apply to their users rather than items of content (eg "KidSafe Publisher Level 2"?) so that safe content doesn't get blocked along with the bathwater?

As for in house e-learning environments, you'll be glad to know we are planning to redevelop the Learning Place as far as possible along web 2.0 principles, including:

* better integration of different application environments (eg LMS and resource repository)
* single sign-on (within LP and eventually to all inhouse environments)
* brokerage of content beyond the LP environment using trust relationships
* the ability for users to customise and aggregate their own environments
* incorporating new content types and technologies into a mainstream environment
* integrated search for maximum discoverability of resources

As well as:

* more seamless integration with systemic environments (the MOE)
* better Help support on the site (which we've done - see below)
* content caching to alleviate some of the bandwidth issues facing many of our schools
* investigating how we can broker content and services with outside entities based on trust relationships, so that users can exchange with others outside the system without compromising student safety.

The student safety issue is one aspect, but other considerations include the need to manage digital rights appropriately, scaleability and managing the operationlising of emerging technologies (even if they are only "emerging" in the education space - eg VOIP). Web 2.0 tends to be easier to achieve when you are running a single application environment (eg Moodle) on its own, but when you are running several and have a lot of critical services dependent on those, redevelopment takes a bit longer, but we are working on it.

As a systemic solution we also need to be careful balancing the needs of those on the cutting edge with the need to make a difference for those who are yet to engage with simpler technologies and the role of good web and tool design to support that process. It also has to work in with the larger Departmental strategic agenda (Smart Classrooms) and of course any feedback will be welcome.

In the meantime, you'll be glad to know we've rebuilt our Help section to provide more supportive information that reflects not only the most common queries we get but also the integrated approach we take to our different environments. This is the first example of a move for us to divide up the experience, not so much by the tools you use, but by the things you are trying to do.

It seems to me that we are all in a sense trying to do the same thing-wouldn't it be great if the generosity of spirit that has grown around the advent of Web 2.0 extended to each Australian state education department.