Thursday, January 31, 2008

The FB/SNS discussion continues...

Michael Coghlan, our Manager and I had already made a time to meet this morning to fine tune the details on the e-Learning Professional Development we would be offering to staff this semester - however it seems appropriate to continue f2f the email and podomatic discussions about whether Facebook should be unblock for TAFE staff we had been having recently.

This discussion evolved around:
- what's so great about Social Networking (SN) anyway?
Well, it allows people to 'tap' into a wealth of knowledge - quickly and freely.

It's an emerging knowledge sharing process whereby people can link up with others beyond their physical surrounding and time zones.

People's Social Networking Sites (SNS) are always switched on - and it's probably quicker to get a response to an ICT issue from your SN then it is from contacting ICT Support.

Michael pointed out how organisation such as IBM are using SN to enhance their business practices.

- how would we ensure staff weren't doing more 'social' then 'networking'?
Michael highlighted the fact that the boundary between 'work' and 'play' in Social Networking sites (SNS) has blurred - and as Sue Waters and Vicki Davis quite rightly point out - it's about more about 'educational networking' than 'social networking' which educators are engaging in.

- how would we ensure staff and students used the space 'appropriately'?
If staff and students are encouraged to use SNS in an 'educational setting' then there will be opportunities to discuss what the 'social norms' are.

Anyway, aren't our staff 'professionals'? So shouldn't we treat them that way?

Surely they are 'accountable' for what they do - and if they choose to dabble in some SN at work - they'll only have to find another time to complete their many tasks - probably 'after hours' like the rest of us already do.

And why can't staff use 15 mins of their lunch break (if they get take on that is) to 'experiment' with SN?

- is it really the role of TAFE to 'educate' students about SNetiquettte (Social Networking Etiquette)?
As Michael once again pointed out - there's a mass of our adult student population who did not grow up in Generation MySpace, and therefore don't know how to operate on the Internet - so surely we have a 'responsibility' to train our students to be more 'employable' in the Knowledge Era!!

What did come out of today's discussions were that if staff are to help guide their students through the 'educational use' of SNS, then we as a team need to provide more professional development in this area. Surely, this is a step in the right SN direction?

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

To unblock Facebook or To not unblock Facebook?

I know the topic about whether "To unblock Facebook or To not unblock Facebook" is 'doing the rounds' - however, a recent email about whether Facebook should be unblocked for TAFE staff has created some healthy discussion about the 'Educational Benefits of using Social Networking Sites' for 'Vocational Education and Training' Staff and Students.

Michael Coghlan created a 'Podomatic' as his contribution to this discussion, called: Should TAFE be using Facebook.

Our Manager has contributed some very valid and interesting points to this discussion:
Interesting topic. One question is whether Facebook can offer any additional functionality to communicate with students off campus, above what we already have? Or is its purpose quite different from our current thinking about how ICT is used in an educational setting? In many cases the use of Facebook is for on campus students, so the initial question about its use may be shaky. Maybe we need to stop segregating students into on and off campus, it is not reflective of the more fluid approach to today's student body.

As with many social web 2 tools (in fact all ICT) just because it exits does not therefore follow that it is appropriate or necessary. Certainly one can always find an application for most of these products.
Another question is how many products are to be supported or endorsed in TAFE SA, often a particular product may be the personal like or dislike of individuals, this is not enough to endorse it, it must be based on its capacity to support learning or other student needs, and possibly to offer functions above what currently exists.
However there should be room to experiment and research which may then show how a product can be used before it is endorsed. It would appear that the use of Facebook may fill a need for the current generation in a setting like TAFE SA.

Facebook like many of these products primarily evolved with a social function and some evidence points to the fact that young learners do not want their education and social lives to be mixed, Allison Miller found this in her Inclusive E-Learning project, also this link below has some evidence of the same.

The misuse of such sites by some students as indicated in the extract .... (from initial email which started this debate) ... may lead to extra monitoring required in the use of such a product, whereas this may be less likely to happen in products that are hosted on our own systems. It appears that some young users of Web 2 tools have seen this as an area in which they are not accountable for their content, this is obviously not the case, but in "managed environments" this potential risk may be lessened. However this aside I come back to the point, what can Facebook or other WEB 2 products currently offer that most of our current ICT products can't? Maybe it is not directly linked to teaching but building a sense of community that our students are comfortable with, and is supportive in an educational setting.

There are considerations of the security and stability of content and systems over which we have no control. What happens if students post work and the host system (Facebook) fails?

What is it from a learning perspective are we trying to achieve should be asked first. There is some risk attached to experimenting broadly across an organisation without any empirical evidence as to the impact.

This has been shown previously where ICT was considered to be a solution from delivery perspective and the student body rejected the product and approach.

At this moment in time I think we are still really on the introduction of ICT and web technologies, which we must continue to watch and use, then test and evaluate.

Is there evidence that the students want particular tools used as part of their learning, or is it driven by teachers? It is very important that we as teachers continue to experiment with new technologies but with some ways to critique the effectiveness.

It may be worth checking but I think Facebook owns the data on its site, is this a problem?

Just some thoughts, really the question is not limited to Facebook but the application of emerging ICT in teaching and Learning and how do we keep pace and use with an informed approach.

More links, interestingly in the reading of these it seems the use of Facebook in educational settings is more for social communication, sharing, planning and discussion about learning more content, also they are often driven by the students once the space is created.

How data can be used from Facebook by marketers and entrepreneurs

Probably more questions than answers, but there is some excellent information on the use of Facebook in educational settings. I think Facebook needs to be seen in a different light to conventional ICT used to support the delivery of content.
He also responsed to my contribution to this discussion which I blogged about yesterday with:
I think this is also being discussed at a higher level, and this is where our ideas may be directed. Even some of our enlightened persons maybe hesitant about Facebook because in terms of data stored on it there are no safeguards.

Socially it has a place, educationally most of what is required and you describe can be done on our existing systems. The challenge is to work out what may benefit students, but maybe not necessarily encapsulate that in our systems where we have responsibilities.

What are our responsibilities to vocational / adults in this arena, we are not funded to provide education in the social responsibilities of using SNS's, perhaps this should be the domain of schools and parents.

Certainly our teachers may need a heads up on what is happening in SNS's however our primary function at the present moment and in the current political climate is to improve the effectiveness of VET delivery to areas of skills shortage etc

Sorry to be a cold hearted manager type :-)
So my reply to this was:

Thanks for your "cold hearted manager type" response - however - our staff and students are 'excited' about using this application - not sure I can say the same about some of the TAFE supported technologies - and this is where a lot of people are going to 'discover' what SN is all about. There's a lot to learn and gain from SNSs.

I think this 'email conversation' sounds a little like the one we had before edayz - ie about 'do we have an ethical responsibility' to wholistically educate our students - and not just what fits into the Training Package guidelines. And TAFE still has a 'social' side to its training responsibilities - not just to fill the skills gaps.

Love to debate with you further in the morning. Allison

Some questions to ponder from this discussion:

What are the POSITIVES of Social Networking? and what are the NEGATIVES of Social Networking?

Why do Educational Institutes 'shy away' from embracing 'Social Networking Sites' - and 'block' them?

How do we entice Educational Institutes to 'value' Social Networking?

Do Educational Institutes have an ethical responsibility to be 'guiding' their students through 'how to operate' in SNS?

How do we 'measure' and 'demonstrate' the educational value of SNSs?

How can we gather the data to show the 'ROI in terms of relationships' and 'ROI in terms of information and learning'?

thx @kerryank for responding to my 'tweets' on this topic - your responsiveness helped me formulate these questions?

I don't expect these questions will be answered in the short term, but will 'emerge' as more and more of our staff and students forge their own way into SNS, and demonstrate the benefits (and hazards) themselves.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Should Facebook be banned from Educational Institutes?

I received the following email today from a colleague:

Hi Everyone

I have been asked to do some research about the site as I understand it is currently blocked. I would like to seek the practitioners network views on the need for such a site to be unblocked. I believe the argument is so lecturers can have access to this site so they can communicate with students while studying off campus.

The questions that I would like a response to are?

1. What are the other educational uses of such a site?
2. Is this the best way to communicate with students who are studying off campus or are there better and more effective tools?
3. Your comments to the review below?

Facebook, an online facebook and social network service, is increasingly being used by school administrations and law enforcement agencies as a source of evidence against student users. The site, a popular online destination for college students, allows users to create profile pages with personal details. These pages can be viewed by other registered users from the same school which often include resident assistants and campus police who have signed-up for the service. Recent disciplinary actions against students based on information made available on Facebook has spurred debate over the legality and ethics of school administrators' harvesting such information. Facebook's Terms of Use specify that "the website is available for your personal, noncommercial use only," misleading some to believe that college administrators and police may not use the site for conducting investigations. However, Facebook spokes people have made clear that Facebook is a public forum and all information published on the site should be presumed available to the general public, school administrators included. Legal experts agree that public information sources such as Facebook can be legally used in criminal or other investigations.

Many thanks for your time on this.

And here is my response:

1. What are the other educational uses of such a site?

Social networking sites (SNS) like Facebook allow people to share information and create 'interest groups'.

SNS allow staff and students to 'network' with people beyond their local environment and their local time zone.

SNS are important to help our staff and students to learn how to 'communicate' in an online environment.

SNS allow students to create online 'portfolios' - which they can use to store their 'resume' and evidence of their work and what they are capable of. This can help them when applying for jobs or further education/training or applying for Recognition of Prior Learning/Skills Recognition.

2. Is this the best way to communicate with students who are studying off campus or are there better and more effective tools?

SNS are one of the many ways people are now communicating and sharing ideas and information. Whether it is the most effective could only be determined by the way it was being used. Ie if a class had a 'group' page - this would be a very effective way of communicating easily with a lot of people.

When people are 'friends' or 'follow' each other - it is very easy to monitor the progress of what others are doing. This allows you share and use what your 'friends' have already discovered or developed.

Depending on the need, the class could also 'invite' or include others (ie experts in an area) to contribute to their learning.

SNS also provide an excellent platform for collaborative learning.

3. Your comments to the review (below)?

We need to teach people about SNet-iquette (Social Network ettiquette), and the positive and negative effects of their online 'behaviour', and how they are creating an online 'digital foot print'.

I believe educational institutes should be 'leading the way' in educating people about these things. Therefore, by encouraging staff and students to use these sites as educational tools, we are encouraging the conversations necessary for people to work out what is, and what is not, appropriate in an online environment.

SNS are new to a lot of Lecturers and Administrators, as they might not necessarily use these sites themselves - so we should be providing them with some Professional Development - so they can lead their students into making the best decisions about how to use these sites.

I'm so pleased that this type of 'research' is starting to take place in educational institutions - let's hope the benefits of SNSs far out way the negatives - to allow sites like Facebook to be openly available.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Your blog's readability?

Is it possible for a website to tell you:

'What level of education is required to understand your blog?'

This is how this blog rated:

blog readability test

Sourced from Kate Olson's Kate 2.0 blog

Take "The Blog Readability Test" on your blog.

Now I'm wondering if this posting will lower or increase my rating (tongue in check)

Is too much Knowledge a Curse??

As I'm reading through all of the wonderous blog postings which are nicely feed into my 'Google Reader' - I'm always happy to watch the number of feeds slowly dwindle.

However, I've read for the second time this week of others in my Personal Learning Network (PLN) who have left their 'blog reading' for just a couple of days, and then they've returned to find more than 3,000 feeds in their RSS Aggregator. OMG!

Yes, they can simply hit the 'Mark all as read" or "Refresh"- but how many blogs are they subscribing to if it only takes a couple of days for their 'Reader' to hit the magically '3,000' mark? Hmmm - does this mean I have scope to subscribe to more than the 50 or so blogs I 'm currently subscribed to?

But is too much knowledge a curse???

"Here’s the great cruelty of the Curse of Knowledge: The better we get at generating great ideas—new insights and novel solutions—in our field of expertise, the more unnatural it becomes for us to communicate those ideas clearly. That’s why knowledge is a curse. But notice we said “unnatural,” not “impossible.” Experts just need to devote a little time to applying the basic principles of stickiness."
Written by the Heath Brothers, but sourced from Ideas & Thoughts

During my first year at Teachers' College (they used to call it that in my day) I didn't have a clue what my Economic Lecturer was ever saying - or whether he was even speaking English? I know this was Economics - but I really didn't understand a word he was saying.

After a one-on-one conversation with him I realised that I was never going to understand what he was saying. At the time I considered him to be 'eccentric'. But after considering the Heath Brothers' quote - perhaps he just had the "Curse of Knowledge" and wasn't practising the basic principles of knowing how to make an idea stick for others?

Balancing Act:
Photo 'Scales Group' by Christopher Proudlove,

So at what point do we 'tip the scales' of receiving too much information?

Is there such a point, when we have too much knowledge that we don't know how to effectively share it with others at a level which is catering for their needs?

What are the signs when the scales have been tipped too far?

even though it's great that we gather lots of 'knowledge' through our Personal Learning Networks - it's also really important that we understand the needs of our students/clients/audience - and pitch that knowledge at a level which enables them to 'make it stick'.

PS Received a lovely Pownce response to the question 'Is too much knowledge a Curse?' from Russel Montgomery

Friday, January 25, 2008

Why do you openly and freely share what you know?

Whilst discussing with my Manager today the ways I could ‘share’ the information I will gather at the Australian e-Portfolio Symposium in a couple of weeks, I mentioned that I would 'blog' what I'll learn (right here in fact) so other people, beyond my organisation, could learn from it.

This was much to my Manager's dismay, and he responded with - "Well, you'll never get rich if you give it all away".

I found this comment particularly funny, considering that everything I 'create', which is related to what I do as a 'government' employee (whether I create it in or out of work hours), technically, is 'owned by the Minister'.

So my reply was: "Well, if it's money you want - then you're certainly working for the wrong organisation".

Then later I read the following on one of George Siemens' blog postings:
"User created tutorials have come a long way ... Now, with YouTube, podcasts, blogs, and wikis, excellent help resources are often available. There is, of course, nothing formal about this ... just people helping each other. What's their motivation? Most likely, at some point, they similarly benefited from an online tutor (whether learning how to use a piece of software or coming to understand a concept better because someone shared it in a blog or wiki). The teacher is the learner is the teacher.”
So this got me thinking: "So, why do people openly and freely share what they know?"

There's are loads of example of 'free and open sharing' on the web. There are so many great tools that allow people to quickly and easily 'share what they know'. And although there are endless examples, here are but two:

One really great recent example is the OpenPD sessions being run by Darren Draper & Robin Ellis, who run FREE, three hour PD sessions, online, with the most recent one being on "
the inclusion of social software in one's curriculum and instruction"

And I'd be very remise if I did not mention one of the greatest online givers and mentors I've ever met: and that is Sue Waters - who regularly and readily shares all that she knows - and when she doesn't know it - will spend the time to 'source' the information for you.

So why do you openly and freely share what you know?

Is it:

- because you have potential to learn alot more? Icon_star_emptythx @blueverse

Or is it because:

- give a little, get a little back. Reciprocity? thx @skytrystsjoyIcon_star_empty

Well, for me it's about the 'giving of positive energy'. I find by passing on something 'positive', eventually something 'positive' comes back to me - not necessarily directly - but through lots of other means. This 'giving' also provides an excellent 'spring board' into building strong and trusting relationships.

I'm still very intrigued at the open, sharing-ness of the Twitter community. I love the way that Twitterers quickly open their 'hearts and minds' to their fellow Twitterers, and role-model the ideal open online learning community.

So please share: "Why do you openly and freely share what you know?"

Thursday, January 24, 2008

'The Tweet Scan Can'

Since attending one of Alan Levine's CogDogRoo workshop's last October I've really 'taken' by Twitter, to say the least. Over this last Summer break, I've spent A LOT of time in Twitter, building my Twitter networks, and learning lots and lots and lots.

At first, my husband was a 'little' concerned about my Twitter 'obsession', but he's since come around to the fact that it satisfies some of the things that I really love - 'being with people' and 'learning'.

But sadly to say - my summer holiday is coming to a 'screaming close', and I can't afford the luxury of spending hours and hours 'scouring' missed tweets - in fear that I'm missing all of that wonderfully useful information, as well as building up the understanding of how the 'peeps' in my Twitter network function.

So I've had to find more 'efficient' ways of getting my 'Twitter' fix.

I've tried getting tweets directed to my mobile phone whilst out and about, but I'm yet to receive my mobile phone bill to verify whether I'm charged to receive these international SMSs - especially since I received 75 tweets in one afternoon. I'll update you on this later.

I use Snitter to have all 'live' tweets 'flash' on my screen, whilst working on the Net. I was very 'stoked' yesterday when at my first day back at work (not just working from home) - I was able to download and install Snitter - probably very much against 'company policy' but I very valuable tool for keeping my social networks alive (and my Twitter addition satisfied :)).

I've started to feed the cool blog sites fellow Twitterers write and recommend - using Google Reader - and this is working
really well. I can read the blog postings at my leisure - instead of trying to 'squeeze' them all in whilst 'going over' my missed tweets.

And now I've discovered a 'shortcut' to making sure I don't miss any tweets Twittered especially to me @theother66. As I described in 'TweetScan is Twitter-sweet' I'm now using TweetScan to 'aggregate' any tweets with 'theother66' into my Google Reader. This means I'll also receive tweets from anyone - not just those I'm following!! So when I arose this morning, I was able to see who'd been tweeting me whilst I was playing with Mr Sandman:

By working out these less time consuming ways of using Twitter I've actually made time available to write this blog, all before breakfast and the kids waking up (big smiles all round).

Also read Sue Waters' "Getting More out of Twitter" post!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

TweetScan is Twitter-sweet

I know this has probably been blogged to death – but I’ve just discovered “TweetScan” - the ‘Real-Time Twitter Search’.

I had heard about TweetScan a little while back – but didn't really do anything with it except bookmark it onto however a ‘tweet’ came through just the other day about how "Sylvia" was starting an @teachablemoment account on Twitter – so “Teacher Twitters” could “help another teacher with a shoutout” and help them “inspire and create teachable moments for our students .".

However, in order for everyone who ‘follows’ @teachablemoment to see all of the other followees’ ‘shoutouts’ they would need to either – follow everyone who follows @teachablemoment or grab the RSS feed via TweetScan and put it into their RSS Aggregator (like Google Reade. r)

So I followed the instructions of how to do this .

And since then I’ve found another cool use for TweetScann. @tombarrett put out the following tweet:

So I was interested in who might respond to @tombarrett’s ‘shoutout’ – and immediately thought of TweetScan – and I could see:

In a short space of time, @tombarrett had over 15 Twitters saying ‘Hi’ to the group of School Leaders he was demonstrating Twitter to. I hope they were impressed. I am – as I’ve found another really cool Twitter tool to play with, along with:

Twitter Karma - view who you follow & who follows you - simply & easily

Tweeterboard - see how you 'rank' in the world of Twitterers

Twitter Board - see how other Twitters are linked to you through your tweets

Snitter - get 'live' Tweets

TwitterWhere - find a Twitterer by their location - there could be a Twitterer right next door!

Amongst a number of other Twittery sites I’ve been viewing.

From the use of TweetScan I was able to find and follow a Twitterer in New Zealand - who works at a 'Polytec' - so I'm hoping we might have some 'vocational training' things in common.

Happy Twittering!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Storing, Sharing, Reflecting, Learning using E-Portfolios

I’ve been interested in the concept of an e-Portfolio for a while now, and I feel that 2008 might be the ‘Year of e-Portfolios’ in the e-learning world in Oz (do I feel a ‘prediction’ coming on??).

The possibility of having a ‘space’ online where you can store all of your ‘digital assets’, and improve your personal and professional development through a reflective process, really appeals.

There are many uses of an e-Portfolio:

- As a personal digital diary
- As a lifelong learning organizer
- As a record of events or journeys
- As a CV/resume
- As a creative portfolio
- As a project management tool
- As an individual course diary
- As a class project organizer
- As an academic record
- As a student desktop

Source: Clint Smith, e-Works – Elluminate Presentation at the Learnscope SA Final State Workshop 16/11/07

So what does an e-Portfolio actually look like?

Well this blog is one example of an e-Portfolio – and the web offers bucket loads of free and open sourced ‘spaces’ to develop your e-Portfolio – LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace, Pageflakes, Protopage etc and these environments are being well utilized by people to ‘show’n’tell’, and a few less are using their ‘space’ to facilitate their personal/professional learning planning, and are otherwise known as a Personal Learning Environment (PLE).

Then there are the more ‘standardised’ or ‘institutionalised’ versions available, such at TAFE VC’s e-Portfolio (which uses the open sourced software Zorg) and Queensland University of Technology’s Student Portfolio - where templates are used, and either the Institute or Lecturer aids the development of the e-Portfolio.

So do ‘standarised’ e-Portfolios act in a similar role to a Learning Management System (like Moodle) – by providing a ‘structure’ and a ‘comfort zone’ for e-Portfolio ‘beginners’, which is supported by some “hand holding” through the ‘storing, sharing and reflecting’ process. Then once these ‘beginners’ feel more comfortable with this process – they can then ‘branch out’ and develop their own PLE???

Will ‘standardised/institutionalised’ e-Portfolios offer a sedge way for traditional educational institutes and industries to enter the e-Portfolio/Personal Learning Environment arena with their students and staff?

What are the benefits of a standardized e-Portfolio over a PLE?

Can e-Portfolios aid the Recognition of Prior Learning / Skills Recognition process – thereby creating a ‘proactive’ process of storing information about what you can do – rather than the ‘reactive’ process of chasing up this evidence?

I’m hoping to attend the Australian e-Portfolio Symposium & Showcase at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane in a couple of weeks – to learn how others are utilising e-Portfolios/PLEs.

Also see earlier ‘e-Portfolios for Staff Development’ posting

PS: this is a comment I received from Jacinta Gascoigne on Facebook

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Walking the Walk – not just Talking the Talk

There was a lot of talk amongst the decision makers at TAFE SA in 2007 about the implications of the “new skills reform agenda for South Australia”. This “Skills Reform” is being developed “to meet the challenges presented by the continuing growth in demand for skilled labour”.

This led me to ponder about what this will mean for the TAFE SA lecturing/teaching staff.

TAFE SA has been through a number of ‘reforms’ since its incision, and even though I’m relatively ‘new’ to the TAFE system I’ve noticed that our lecturing/teaching staff are very cynical about change - and this ‘reform’ is really going to “shake things up” and change the way TAFE SA does it core business - vocational education and training (VET) to support industry/business.

This will mean TAFE SA is going to be asked to do more for less – I know – this is not a new concept – but what it will mean is that our lecturing/teaching staff will HAVE TO offer more flexibility in their teaching approach.

I can hear you say ‘but this is a good thing’ – and I agree - but with a largely aging workforce, who’ve traditionally had all of their clients/students come to them, religiously, for weekly 3 hour lectures – spanning several weeks or months – flexible training options isn’t something which comes naturally to them.

Our staff development department, ‘Innovations in Teaching and Learning’, even offers its training in the same way – via 3 hour workshop (or series of workshops). So if a staff member can’t make a workshop – it’s just bad luck – they just miss out…..

So I came to thinking that: shouldn’t TAFE SA Teaching & Learning be ‘walking the walk’ if they’re doing all this ‘talking the talk’ about offering flexible training approaches? And, won’t there be a need for staff to learn about being more ‘flexible’ in their approach?

Cometh Idea # 1 – offer Online Mentored Moodle Training – where staff can continuously enrol – when it suits them – work through the training – at a pace which suits them – and be given the support they need either online or in a face to face situation – which ever suits them.

Basic Course Structure Proposal: start the course off with a f2f session, covering an intro to Moodle and networking; then position myself at regular intervals on different campuses where staff can come and get one on one or small group training as required – thereby allowing continuously enrolling staff to get their ‘intro’ session whenever they start.

Why Moodle? - easy to use, teaching staff have really ‘taken to it’, Program Area budgets have been seriously cut so photocopying and printing costs have been majorily reduced – ‘encouraging’ lots of Program Areas to put their resources online.

We're all in this together: So this is where YOU come in – I need YOUR help and would really value your INPUT – what should this “online mentored Moodle Training” look like? What should be included? What’s really important for our teaching staff to understand and adopt in their online environments???

So I’ve started an “Online Mentored Training” wiki at: - so please add ‘your 2 cents (or pence) worth’. All contributions are valued, and these Online Mentored Moodle Training Courses are open to the public at (under the Resources section – agree to Site License to enter as a guest), and for more details contact: me ( or calling/texting: 0400 732 270 or +61 400 732 270)

PS: Although it’s not been ‘actioned’ yet …. Cometh idea # 2: work with some of the other TAFE SA Teaching & Learning staff trainers and offer to make their ‘workshops’ more flexible too – wish me luck.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

“Legal responsibilities and web 2.0

A recent tweet on Twitter regarding a parent’s concern about introducing primary aged children to blogging got me thinking about an educator’s ‘legal’ responsibilities when using web 2.0 with students.

Do we consider:

copyright & creative commons?
defamation and libel?
cheating and plagiarism?
loco parentis (under 18s)?
breaking protection orders?
occupational health & safety?
the long term effects of developing a ‘digital foot print’?

when we are using web 2.0 tools with our students? Or, as in every other aspect of our teaching, are these very much at the forefront of our consciousness?

The Read Write web has captured our imaginations – and we often want to embrace very new web 2.0 and social networking tool into our ‘teaching and learning toolkit’, but do we take the time and effort to ensure that we have considered the legal responsibilities which these new tools carries with them?

Are there any other areas of legal responsibilities which educators should be aware of when they introduce their students to the world wide web?

Whose responsibility is it to be ‘in the know’ in this emerging area – the individual teacher or the Educational Institute?

Does your Educational Institute have a ‘Web 2.0 Code of Conduct’ – not just a ‘thou shalt not look at inappropriate sites’ Code of Conduct? But one which specifically deals with the realm of ‘user-created content’.

What should a ‘Web 2.0 Code of Conduct’ include?

In the midst of our excitement in ‘educating’ ours and other educators in the read write arena, how much of this education includes what our ‘legal responsibilities’ are in cyberspace?

Monday, January 14, 2008

To Social Network or Not to Social Network?

How easy is it to feel offended by others in an online environment – where lack of non verbal communications to ‘read’ the true meaning of things – doesn’t allow you to properly judge what others are saying??

Last week a friend, who is also a work colleague and fellow social networker, emailed me in Facebook to enquire whether something they’d sent me earlier in FB had offended me, as they’d seen some comments/questions I’d been posing in Twitter about whether there needs to be SNetiquette – “a social networking etiquette” in places like FB & Twitter?

I quickly responded – that in no way was I referring to them at all – and that I was really pondering about the legitimacy of having my Facebook account as my 'public online face', and wanted to know how people felt about FB.

Then today – a conversation occurred in Twitter which made me truly understand how my FB friend was feeling. I tweeted:

“Wondering if there's a computation to calculate the wealth of combined knowledge within a social network?”

This draw a response of realization that social networks are quickly creating ‘repetition’, ‘overlap’, ‘noise’ and becoming ‘babble’

Now I’m wondering if I’m using Twitter to ‘babble’ too much? Should I consider a little more carefully what tweets I make?

So like my FB friend – I’ve had to directly ask the true meaning of these comments – to draw out further clarification.

This has also led me to wonder:

What is a Social Network?

A means of communicating with others, sharing ideas, thoughts and opinions?

A means of conversing with people, with whom you might not necessarily have the opportunity to talk to due to time and distance?

A means of sourcing information?

A means of ‘staying in touch’ with what others are doing?

Or A means of ‘babbling’?

“Let's face it, 90% of all the things going on in social networks is just crap. Facebook is the worst I have experience so far - my front page is filled with junk.” Thomas Baekdal 12/01/08, "Linkin, Facebook, Hi5, Friendster, Orkut, Bebo etc… "

And more recently on Twitter:
Warlach @jjprojects I think Twitter etiquette requires one to act like oneself, if you dont like it, just don't follow

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Can I have some 'training' with that please...

At mLearn 2007, I was amazed at the great innovative teaching practices being adopted at Stow Heath Junior School, UK ("21st century assessment for 21st learners", by Gavin Hawkins, Sarah Corey, Lynn Ball"). One innovative practice at Stow Heath Junior School is the use of ‘Synchroneyes’ software. This software enables students to share work produced on their PDA's synchronously, via the classroom interactive whiteboard (IWB).

However, my excitement was quickly dampened by the thought that my son's public South Australian primary school didn't even have ONE IWB.

This saddening thought stayed with me, and about a week later, I 'bumped' into the ICT teacher/co-ordinator at my son's school. Our conversation started around how the boxes being stored in the Finance Officer's room were a new class set of Tobisha laptops, recently purchased by the School - wow, this sounded promising. So I couldn't help but ask about whether the School was considering purchasing an IWB ... and to my delight - his response was "yes - 7 of them"!!

Amongst a number of other questions, I enquired what training the staff might be receiving, and he proudly told me that the suppliers of the IWB would be doing the training during the summer holidays (and I might be able to join the group when it happens!!!). I left the school satisfied that my son's School might be finally moving into the 21st century.
This was also very pleasing, considering that the only IWB I'm aware of in TAFE SA, Adelaide North - is one in a 'Directorate Board Room' on one of the nine campuses. Seems like IWBs are good enough for use by our decision makers, but not so much for the lecturers and clients? and I'm not even sure how often this one has actually even been used....

So, over Christmas lunch I asked my Junior Primary teacher sister whether her school had any IWB, and she replied "that $30,000 would be spent in the next 12 months on IWBs" - but much to her disgust. She couldn't understand why that amount of money would be spent on IWB when:

- there was a greater need to fund Maths and Literacy resources and other learning programs?
- 'physically' her 5-7 year old students would not be able to 'write' on the IWBs if they're to be mounted on the wall, and
- what benefit an IWB would have to her current teaching practices?

I then enquired whether any of the $30,000 was going to be invested in training the teachers to use the IWBs or in creating networks with teachers in other schools who were already utilising IWBs and developing resources for them. Not surprising, she said she was not aware of any. She felt the School Principal was more concerned about the technology, then how the staff might actually learn how to utilise them.

So from these recent encounters about the use of IWB in South Australia, and from Times Online article "
Technophobe teachers wasting millions" (which was posted as a link by Ewan McIntosh via Twitter), I have some more questions to pose:

Why is it that as we near the end of the first decade of the 21st Century, that we still have technophobic teachers/trainers, who still do not understand how technology can enhance their teaching/training environments - let alone their own professional development?

If there is a Performance Management system in place within an educational institution, then what training should the 'manager' of the performance been given in area of staff development, especially in e-learning?

Why there is not a unit or two in every teaching/training qualification covering: "How to manage your own professional development" - as well as: "How to utilise technology to enhance your teaching practice and networks"?

How can educational decision makers and leaders help their teachers/trainers develop online/ICT skills, when they themselves don't understand the benefits of social networking and web 2.0, to lead their staff in this area?

And finally, when an educational institute is investing in new technology, what percentage of the investment should be allocated to training staff and allowing these staff time to develop resources and networks - to ensure the organisation is maximising their investment?
I think this all goes to show that an investment in pedagogy/methodology is as equally as important as an investment in the technology ... excellent teachers will provide excellent learning opportunities ... not the technology they're using
"only way to improve outcomes is to improve instruction"

10/1/08 since writing this post I've read Karl Fisch's 'Is it ok to a technologically illerate teacher'. Karl made the following statement

If a teacher today is not technologically literate - and is unwilling to make the effort to learn more - it's equivalent to a teacher 30 years ago who didn't know how to read and write."

I agree with Karl. What do you think?

Monday, January 7, 2008

You never know who's watching you on the Net...

Yesterday - for the first time ever - Nancy White responded to one of my Twitter posts (see Twitter Connects Once Again below). I was so excited I actually 'framed' the communications.

Today - Jimmy Wales (founder of Wikipedia) appeared in my "Twitter Timeline":

I was so amazed to see his posting that I shared it on Twitter:

Meanwhile, I'm happily surfing and find a "Jimmy Wales" Facebook friend request in my email inbox. I'm such a Facebook friend searcher, I thought it was Jimbo finally getting around to a 'friend request' I would've sent him at some point. I didn't even open the request - I deleted it, thinking there was no need to 'action' anything. If Jimbo's just confirming my request - his gorgeous moosh would automatically be sitting in my FB friends list. My Twitter comment:

However, unbeknown to me, Jimbo has seen my original Twitter posting, promoting the "1st Public Preview of Wikia Search Engine", and then he has actively gone out and FaceBook Friend Requested me!! - stating something along the lines of 'Saw your Twitter posting...'.

So it wasn't the other way around .... When I refreshed Facebook a little later in the day, I was so excited to not just see a new 'Friend Request', which I hadn't seen in ages, I was in shock that it was from Jimmy 'Wikipedia' Wales .. I quickly clicked 'confirm' - before I even thought about 'framing' this bit of social networking excitement with a 'screenshot'.

These two are amongst some of the biggest icons in the Web 2.0 arena... And I've connected with them both.... within 24 hours - Wow the power of social networking is infinite...

Ways to improve our learning....

Ewan McIntosh blogged that "the best school systems in the world: it's not (all) about the money"

He comments that:
"Success will go to those which are swift to adapt, slow to complain and open to change. There are three key points to getting this point of success:

1. Getting the right people to become teachers
2. Developing them into effective instructors
3. Ensuring that the system is able to offer the best possible instruction for every child

1. Getting the right people to become teachers
In an era of 'people shortages' in the labour market - how will educational institutes be able to 'afford' the right people - surely they will be 'head hunted' by private enterprise training?

2. Developing them into effective instructors
This means that educational institutes will need to 'value' their staff, have good educational leaders and mentors for their staff, and develop a strategic approach to their staff development. At this stage in Australia, public educational institutes are more worried about their budget then their 'core business' of education/training.

3. Ensuring that the system is able to offer the best possible instruction for every child
With improved teacher/trainer training - perhaps this will naturally occur however, at this point in time teachers/trainers are more focussed on getting their student to achieve the course 'outcomes' and not focussing on developing them as individuals - as they're forced to compare their students against National Standards and benchmarks.

Perhaps the answer may be in the question:
Is learning/education more highly valued in a society like Singapore?

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Rambling Questions and Thoughts too big for Twitter....

The beauty of human intelligence is that there will always be more questions than answers...

1. Why do teachers/lecturers/trainers automatically think that just because they've set their students a 'task' that the students will 'want' or be excited to produce their best work?

2. What role do our Local Communities (family, local groups, church etc) have in developing an 'educated' society? Or is it just the role of an educational institute (school, college, university)?

3. When new technologies like social networking sites, web 2.0, mp3s, Nintendo DS, mobile phones/PDAs etc become ubiquitous - will this mean it won't consider 'time wasting' to use them?

4. Why do people think that news produced by the 'Nightly News' television stations and mainstream newspapers holds more 'credence' than information shared via social networking and web 2.0 sites?? At least the Russians know they were being fed propagada during the Cold War!!

Learning requires a lot of time, good problem solving skills and good support - welcome Twitter - you're like no other.... here is an example

Even though I didn't produce this posting using cursive writing I did still enjoy creating it...

Twitter connects once again

Nancy White suggested that I should frame this Twitter comment - so I did!!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Wow - this is me - just to mention a few

In reply to MySpace posting I realised I've developed a lot of me on the net:

Skype: Allison Miller, Adelaide, Aust

Trying to connect in a connected world - trying to generate change through learning