Monthly Archives: July 2007

Phanfare

In talking with a colleague from Fessenden School, I learned about Phanfare – an online, photo-storage site that is free (yes, free) for schools.  Not only do they host photos, but also video – and the storage is UNLIMITED.  WOW.  It also provides RSS feeds that you can pull into your existing website.  Here are some more specs from the website:

Online Album Features

I’m checking it out further, but it seems like it could be quite useful for us as a storage solution.  Has anyone used this?

Will Richardson at WH

Will Richardson is here to speak to the entire conference this morning. His focus – how the world is changing. Coming to us from a parent, educator and blogger. I blogged during his presentation:

He has given us the link to his wiki.

Blogging has transformed his learning. He wouldn’t be here(speaking to us) if it weren’t for blogging. How many have seen Did You Know? Only a handful. Future for our kids is much different then current. schools are preparing kids for today (not future).

Obama site – shows how things are changing. It’s a social network – hundred thousands connecting through website – money raised. People are connecting now in ways that they could never do before. Every candidate on MySpace. First primary will be held on MySpace in January (no longer in NH). You Tube debates – NCLB video. Get kids to post comments, videos, etc.

Journalism – 70% internet traffic is file sharing. Most sites are becoming blogs (USA Today). Users can engage in the conversation by commenting. IBM has 26,000 blogs, 20,000 wikis – own social network (Wikinomics). Advertising is about the conversation – not marketing the product.

75% college kids have Facebook page – 5-7% of educators – real disconnect. A real shift is happening and we need to adjust. Technologies are changing – no more keyboards, social networks. Different levels of access – 1 out of 3 in Philly have not been on internet. Privacy is shifting.

Transformative time – we need to address these changes. Need to respond to these shifts.

Blogging – best part, responses to posts – clarify, push, engage in conversation around ideas. powerful. It has become his classroom – amount he’s learned in last 6 years of blogging far exceeds his formal education. Opportunity (problem) – kids are already getting it. Passion-based networks – fanfiction.net – interacting, feedback. Kids doing this beyond school.

Typically think of MySpace for social networking. negative to adults, but it is a network – connecting with others. Is anyone teaching MySpace in curriculum? One person. No wonder kids are using it this way. Authors, musicians, politicians are using MySpace to engage. Extremely important to learning – we need to understand it.

Nata village blog – Clarence Fisher – Hilary’s blog. comments from Africa. Authentic learning from experts.
Information and literacy is changing. 46645 – text message to google. Text a questions and it will ring you back the answer. Are we teaching kids how to access information? MIT open courseware – taking courses for free. How do you help yourself to learn? Content is changing – wikipedia – collaboration and openness. Literacy – m*rtinl*therk*ng.org. editors of information – huge challenge. Can they write in hypertext – to connect ideas.

Tapping into experts – Secret Life of Bees Blog. Flat Classroom Wiki Project, Radio Willow Web, Marco Torres – video.

People beginning to use the tools but the pedagogy is not changing. Need to take the next step into the conversations and connections that can be made. Educators need to understand the potential (networking, connections, conversations) themselves. Need to tap into the connections available to you on the internet. Then you can model these connections for the students.

It was a good presentation. He presented in a follow-up session later in the morning – the internet connection was down so I couldn’t blog it. But I came out of there (the whole day) with a few thoughts (Ok, more than a few…). Whipple Hill’s website can use some improvements. To get kids to use it more, we need to give them some more options like: let them comment on other kid’s profiles (a “wall”), let kids and teachers comment together, let kids upload content to their profile – pictures, homework, presentations.

Parents are another audience all together.  I’m still trying to envision how the website can best serve them.  Do they need a community or do they just want content?

These are just some quick ideas that came out of today. As I digest more of the day after my drive, I’ll post some more thoughts.

Liveblogging from WH UC

I am attending the Whipple Hill Users Conference in Manchester, NH. Travis Warren is giving the opening remarks this morning. The crowd is a mix of technology types and communication types (and a few others sprinkled in). He’s giving an overview of the happenings on the web and how it is affecting school communications – specifically social networks (myspace, facebook, etc) and wikipedia and YouTube, etc.

He definitely brings up important discussion points which I hope will continue throughout the conference. How will these tools change the way we do marketing/communications? More importantly (at least this conference), how will Whipple Hill adjust it’s software to incorporate these tools. I don’t see too many sessions that address these tools specifically but I hope the conversation will develop informally.

In a follow-up session with Travis, he began with Flickr.  He demonstrated tags, tag clouds, etc.  How does this relate to Whipple Hill?  Well, maybe the next version of the MML will be “Flickr”-like.  Wouldn’t that be great?  He mentions that if we can tag all of our content on our sites we can really customize our content depending on user login.  That certainly opens the doors for users loading content (especially photos).  Are we ready for this?  We may have a long way to go.

Great point – can our Alumni portal compete with Facebook?  I checked – there are 250+ members of our Facebook alumni page.  What can we provide that Facebook can’t?  Whipple Hill is considering trying to create a way to integrate some of Whipple Hill’s content into a Facebook page.

Vacation Time

lake viewI’m trying to get all my ducks in a row before I leave on vacation.  It always seems like more work getting ready for vacation.  But I’m looking forward to a week away, a week with my family and friends, and hopefully, a week of warm, sunny weather (is that too much to ask?).

When I return, I will be spending three days at the Whipple Hill Users Conference where Will Richardson will be on hand as the featured speaker.  This talk will be interesting because I think Whipple Hill has a ways to go to make their sites as RSS and web 2.0 friendly as I think they ought to be.  I am looking forward to listening to and perhaps meeting Will after following his blog for so long.

After that, it’s a sprint to the finish as it will be August and school preparations will be in full gear – ugh, why does summer seem to slip away?

Outta my shell

I got wind of the latest incarnation of the EduBloggerCon, EduBloggerWorld. It’s a Ning social network set up by Steve Hargadon to bring Edubloggers from all over the world together. As Steve says in his latest post:

The site is not meant to replace the engaged dialog of the blogosphere, but to complement it with personal connections.

I joined right up to help my cause as I begin my new initiative to actively blog (rather than just read) and to make connections and have conversations with people all over the edublogoshpere. I’ve been preaching about the value of these connections to the faculty at school for a while now and finally I have decided to practice what I preach. I’m still a little slow and a little short on words – it’s summertime after all – but I’m working on it. What’s next for me? Twitter? That’s for another day.

How to get the “Tipping Point”

Borrowing the phrase from Malcolm Gladwell, I am searching for ways to get to the tipping point with my teachers’ interest in technology.  Last school year, we, as faculty, agreed to work to get our students to take better care of their physical spaces at school.  We adopted the tipping point theory and worked with a group of kids (mavens) to spread this “green” fever throughout the school.  Overall, it was successful, though we have a ways to go, we did raise awareness that we can build on next school year.

Now I’m thinking how I can get to the tipping point with faculty and their use of read/write tools in their classes.  I’m mostly thinking about the faculty that has no interest in technology for whatever reason (no time, don’t see that it applies to the their class, see no need to change what they are doing after xx years).  I know there is no magic wand, no magic potions, or even magic professional development program.  I know that it ultimately has to come from the teacher – they have to want to learn it.  Even if they are exposed to the tools, they will have no interest in using them if they can’t see exactly how they would make them work.

Teachers that have some interest will attend optional workshops throughout the year and the summer.  I’ve offered those workshops and I get a core group of faculty who get really excited about the tools and can’t wait for September to use them (well, they can probably wait).  I have no problem reaching these teachers – we have great discussions, they can see real value in the tools, and they seem to just drink up whatever you give them.

It’s the other population that I have trouble reaching.  Every workshop they sit in, they pick apart the technology, focus on the negatives, claim they couldn’t possible use technology unless every student has a laptop (we are not 1-to-1), or they just can’t imagine why they would want to embrace these technologies when what they are doing is just fine.

So I need to work on reaching the tipping point.  A point at which these teachers will say, “Hmmm – maybe there is something to these technologies?”  I need to continue to work with the enthusiastic teachers (my “mavins”) in hopes that their energy will spillover to the other folks.  Of course I will still be there pushing from the other side, trying to show them the benefits of using these technologies – personally, professionally, and pedagogically.  And as Chris Lehman reminds me, I have to remain humble in my promotion of there tools.  I really like what Chris says in the last paragraph of his post:

I do think that the educators in my aggregator can change the world. But I think we all have to understand that a) change is slower than we’d want, and b) to change the world, we have to be as close to the ideal versions of ourselves as we can. We have to be passionate and dedicated and smart and inclusive and tireless and humble. We have to be better tomorrow at being who we are than we are today. Our ideas and work can change the world and make a difference, but only if we are willing to constantly change ourselves.

Yes, change is slow (some days it seems to go backwards), but we do have to remain passionate and energized through our conversations with one another.  I can’t imagine where our jobs would be without these tools.

Teachers 2.0

I just met with our Upper School Director regarding our in-service retreat in August. His focus is technology in support of good teaching (yeah!). He has come a long way in his use and thoughts about technology in the classroom. I worked with him on a wiki project this spring in his African Literature class. The shape of this retreat has evolved a lot since he first brought it up. We’ve gone from a skills-based approach to a near-web2.0 retreat. Here’s a peek at what we have so far:

Dialog I – What makes good teaching? (based around reading of Ken Bain’s book, What the Best College Teachers Do)

Presentation I – A demo of a “lesson study” – in depth conversation, step-by-step following the elements of a particular lesson

Dialog II – Technology and Good Teaching

(During these first 3 elements, the faculty will be broken into 3 groups of 10. Then during each session, the group will either be in the fishbowl having the active conversation, or live blogging/chat on the side – they will rotate through the rolls.)

Lunch

Dialog III – Reflections on the day – was this setup effective? can it be used in the classroom?

Presentation II – Next steps – snapshot of some technologies to get them started. preview to future workshops.

What do you think of this of this setup? How might you change things? I’m especially exciting for the live blog on the side after reading all the buzz at NECC. But I’m worried that there is not much info on technology in this. If the teachers don’t know what’s out there how can they come to the conclusion that good teaching should involve using it? After reading Ben Wilkoff’s post this morning, I’m wondering how set up “The Ripe Environment” for my teachers. I’m still digesting this and wondering what else I could inject – maybe to make “Presentation II” effective. I welcome your thoughts.

First camp-out

Last night, my 4 y.o. and I had our first camp-out (in the backyard, of course). Truly an exciting adventure for him (and me as we try to go to sleep when it is still light out). We tried a “family” camp-out but our 2 y.o. couldn’t manage to lie down – the tent was too much like a new toy. So the two of us got down to business reading several books. When that was done, he said he had to go to the bathroom (which of course means in the bushes because we are “camping”). Then he came running back to the tent and asked if he could have the flashlight and go through the “woods” (read: small patch of trees). I gave him the flashlight (it’s not yet dark out) and he took off to the “woods” looking for animals. He’s my nature guy. So he does this 2 or 3 times then comes back into the tent.

Now, it’s time to get into bed and sleep – he puts his head on his pillow and says “I’m not tired”. So we go grab a few more books and that seems to do the trick. A couple of books by flashlight and he is ready and falls right asleep. I wasn’t far behind him. We slept straight through – even though it got pretty cold. I even had to wake him this morning so I could get ready for work. Ahhh – yes – summertime.