Posts Tagged 'networking'

Know the feeling

Now I get it all -- all at once! Help!?!

Now I get it all -- all at once! Help!?!

I love this sentiment! It perfectly encapsulates the classroom teacher’s state of mind when faced with the full potential of the read/write web.

The quip belongs to Peter Lane, a California middle school reading and technology teacher.  I stole it from his profile in Classroom 2.0, an online professional network that, if you are a teacher even remotely curious about technology, you must visit!  In fact, Peter’s expression could serve as the tagline for the whole Classroom 2.0 site, which exists, in part, for those “beginners” who seek a “supportive community and a comfortable place to start being part of the digital dialog.”

For his part, Peter is engaging his students in the “digital dialog” using a mix of young adult literature, blogs, and wikis. Take a look at Mr. Lane’s Effective Reading Blog.


21st century mentoring

I just completed an independent inquiry on the implications of Web 2.0 on mentoring and induction of new and novice teachers. The project spanned two semesters, and I learned a lot.

I am posting the final report in PDF. I also have a companion wiki, which is still in development. Stop by for a visit and tell me what you think!

International Edubloggers Directory

The International Edubloggers Directory launched last month, and I am member #25! The site is intended as a way for educators to connect and share their blogs. It was created by Patricia Donaghy, an Irish educator and tech coordinator.
Edublogger’s Directory Badge
The directory is searchable by country, content area, and grade level (primary. k-12, secondary, etc.), or visitors can just browse the terrific tag cloud. The site includes links to other resources and educator networks as well as a cool live traffic feed in the sidebar, which allows you to see who is currently visiting the directory and from where. Scroll down to view the membership statistics which show the site is truly international in flavor, and, no surprise, male members outnumber female members by 2 to 1.

If you author an edublog, won’t you consider adding your name to the directory? Joining is easy. Just click on the “add” tab at the top of the homepage.

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How do blogs support online learning?

If you are still trying to wrap your brain around blogs and how they integrate with online learning and personalized learning networks (as am I), then read Will Richardson’s nice reflection on the issue. How can a highly personal and expressive medium such as a blog support meaningful, socially connected learning? Richardson writes:

Additionally, while I am absolutely “writing to be read” here, meaning that I am conscious and on some level hopeful that others will read and engage in these ideas, I’m not reflecting on these ideas with the direct purpose of advancing the the conversation among a group of others that are connected in our study of this topic. If no one responds or engages, that’s ok. More than anything, blogging, in essence writing is a way for me to cement my thoughts into my brain, a purely selfish act.

I absolutely see my blog as an essential node in my online learning network.

The challenge for me has less to do with making my blog relevant to others and cultivating an audience. While having an engaged and consistent readership would be lovely and motivating, my challenge as a teacher/learner is striking a balance between contributing to networks of learners, such as Classroom 2.0, and cultivating the habit of thoughtful, reflective posting.

What do you think?

Pardon my ethnocentrism!

I think it’s time to have my ethnocentrism surgically removed. It is getting in the way of my ability to communicate effectively!

Actually, I’ve recently had two pleasantly humbling experiences that serve to remind what it means to be a digital citizen in this postmodern world. My new virtual stomping grounds are truly global. (Click on the link for an explanation of the English idiom. You see, I’m learning!)

First, I experienced some confusion playing with the Tapped In calendar. (Tapped In is an international online community for learning and networking between educators and their students.) I had the calendar open in two windows in my browser, and for some inexplicable reason the same event appeared to be on two different days, depending on which window I viewed. So, I shot off an email to the event facilitator asking her to clarify the date. The facilitator explained that the date depended on where I lived. It is on Thursday for those who live in my time zone; it is on Friday for her, as she lives in Australia.

Lesson: always check to see if the time converter at the top of the Tapped In calendar is set to your time zone!

Along those same lines, my new favorite web gizmo is the time converter at, which is integrated into the K-12 Online Conference schedule. I love how each time I open the time converter to check on a conference event, a different international location appears in the drop-down menu — Lesotho; Bahia, Brazil; Novgorod, Russia; and so on. It’s fun to scroll through the menu looking for East Tennessee among all the world locales.

My next encounter occurred only yesterday when a new contact at the Ning in Education network asked me to clarify a reference I made to a friend in Georgia. You see, he is based in Istanbul and has friends in Georgia, Eastern Europe. To which “Georgia” was I referring?

Oh. My.

It’s good to be jolted out of my U.S-centered stupor! Now, on to learning all those pesky international spellings!

And that’s what I think.

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“Smart mobs” are great, except in school?

Cross-posted at Classroom 2.0

Today’s top story from eSchool News Online is “Smart mob” tech spurs student activism by Nora Carr. The article begins with the student protests in Jena, LA, and explores how blogs, RSS, text messaging, cell phones, and wireless technology are leveling the playing field and having a democratizing effect at all levels in educational institutions.

Carr cites the work of Howard Rheingold, who coined the term “smart mobs” in a 2001 2002 book by the same title. Rheingold envisioned both the disruptive and democratizing effects of global, pervasive, wireless computing.

I was really enjoying Carr’s balanced presentation of the issue. She even discusses how teachers in various academic areas might use recent events such as the Jena protests and the current presidential campaign to engage young people in a critique of these powerful technologies.

Then, oddly, she writes:

While most school leaders undoubtedly applaud anything that gets young people involved in civic affairs, most also would agree there’s an appropriate time and place for such actions–and that’s typically after school or on the weekends, and not on school grounds.

I am not sure how to interpret the above statement. Is it an endorsement, or is it simply a statement about the status quo? As a columnist, it’s certainly Carr’s prerogative to impose her viewpoint where appropriate, but in this case it just seems contradictory. How can she in one instance encourage teachers to capitalize on the “powerful learning opportunity” represented in cases like Jena and the democratic rebellion in Myanmar, and then suggest that the technologies that mobilize citizens for the greater good still have no place on school grounds or during school hours?

That just doesn’t compute (sorry for the stupid pun).

It would be nice to engage in a dialogue with Carr about her story. But eSchool News Online doesn’t provide any contact information for her, and the site doesn’t provide a means for users to comment on stories either. Apparently the site does host discussions on certain stories for users who register for TypeKey accounts. I registered for an account but couldn’t locate any threads or forums related to Carr’s article.


So, what do you think?

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Are you a good community member?

As part of my ongoing investigation into web-based tools to support teacher professional development, I recently moved into my free “office space” at Tapped In. Here it is:

Tapped In office

Tapped In is a virtual learning environment that is one part social network and one part collaborative conferencing tool with capabilities for real-time, text-based conversation (chat) as well as asynchronous discussion boards maintained by a sweeping array of public and private special interest groups. There are groups for alternative/correctional educators, math educators, and “cybrarians,” to name a few.

You can browse the calendar to get a sense of which groups are most active and vital.

SRI International launched Tapped In 10 years ago so school systems and other professional development providers could train teachers online at minimal cost. There are a number of “tenant” institutions, such as Pepperdine and the University of Memphis, that lease space on the Tapped In “campus” for purposes of supporting teacher education. (The site relies heavily on the campus metaphor to help users make sense of its elaborate interface.)

Individual membership is free to anyone over the age of 18 who is interested in education. Today there are more than 20,000 international members.

After completing a simple registration process, new members may join as many Tapped In groups as they want, and they may create two groups of their own. Other membership privileges include an editable professional profile viewable by all members as well as “office space.”

Jeff Cooper and David Weksler’s slide presentation about Tapped In, which they presented at the 2006 National Educational Computing Conference, answered many of my questions about Tapped In, including what is the purpose of the office. They recommend the office feature for individuals who do not already have a “virtual presence” on the Internet: “Hold office hours, meet with parents, peers, etc. ‘Decorate’ your office to reflect and express your professional self.”

Yet, with pages at Classroom 2.0 and School Matters as well as this blog to keep up, I was a little leery about setting up yet another virtual space to look after and keep tidy.

I edited my membership profile, uploaded a photo, participated in a virtual orientation of the interface, and joined in on a lively group discussion. All were positive and meaningful experiences, done without need for an office. So why bother creating one?

Tapped In veteran and community support representative BJ Berquist shed some light on that subject in a recent online encounter. She described editing the professional profile and setting up the office as minimal first steps for “taking ownership” of one’s Tapped In identity.

That phrase, “taking ownership,” really got me thinking.

I’ve spent some time in recent weeks trying to get a handle on the moderator’s role in these virtual learning communities. Some good discussion resulted at a Ning in Education forum, with moderator extraordinaire Steve Hargadon contributing some thoughts. And at the TechLearning Blog in a post titled Virtual Communities as a Canvas of Educational Reform, Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach offered some helpful guidelines for what she calls the “community organizer.”

But in my quest to define the moderator’s role, I had completely overlooked the minimal standards for individual membership. What are they?

And I don’t mean codes of conduct, netiquette, or guidelines for appropriate use. I am talking about minimal expectations for participation and attitude to ensure each user a meaningful learning experience within the network (in addition to a safe, ethical and responsible one).

Is it possible to articulate these expectations, perhaps building upon Berquist’s suggestion?

What do you think?

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Think on this:

"What if we just ignored the status of students in other countries? That wouldn’t be especially neighborly, but at least we wouldn’t be viewing the gains of children in other lands as a troubling development."

Alfie Kohn

"When I hear people say it's our job to create the 21st century workforce, it scares the hell out of me. Our job is to create 21st-century citizens. We need workers, yes, but we also need scholars, activists, parents -- compassionate, engaged people."

Chris Lehmann

Train of thought:

These are the communities where I network and cross-post. Come by for a visit!
Classroom 2.0
School Matters (East TN, USA)
Media Literacy