Category Archives: technology

Alright students, now remix!

knowledge-sharing
By Ansonlobo (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons
This week, we looked at open education and the culture of sharing. I have always thought of myself as a teacher that would share my content and will eagerly share the resources that I use and create with others that are looking for ideas, support, or a place to start. I will even admit when what I have is awful but at least a starting point for content (cue that one year I taught Science 5 for 2 months at the beginning of my career…I do not recommend ANYONE using what I created then!).

I have played with putting my course material online, I made a few flipped lessons last year, and I believe in using the internet to help support our students in their learning but, I realized as I was watching the videos assigned to us this week that I was more-so paying lip service to the idea of sharing openly than actually actively working toward contributing to open education. I felt a little bit guilty of feeling like I was contributing when I was still very much secluded in my own little world.

Creative commons license spectrum
By Creative commons (the original CC license symbols), the combined work by Shaddim and is hereby cc-by-4.0 licensed. [Public domain or CC BY 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Larry Lessig and his work on copyright and copyleft is something that I was aware of as I have previously taken a course from Alec, however, I was very intrigued by his idea that the internet is reviving creativity and the read-write culture. I resonated with his reference to how children and adolescents today are engaging in (re)creativity and how he is pushing for a change in how products are default licensed. To put this in a personal context, I would be a full supporter of copyleft, I encourage those I share my resources with to rework and adapt to their situation or to use “as-is”, whatever they choose. I encourage them to share with the next person down the line as well.

Oh, the possibilities that Ze Frank discussed in his TED talk, My Web Playroom! I think that when I decided to blog with my Social 9 class for my Learning Project, I was envisioning a final outcome that resembled some of the projects that he discusses but, after a few classes, I am not sure we will quite get there. (Maybe if I work with them on this until they graduate, we could make something really unique). The simple requests that he makes to the internet remind of the Post Secret project that was created by Frank Warren (maybe it has something to do with a common name…). Warren encouraged strangers to send him anonymous postcards and posts them on his website. He has published several books of secrets I have always been intrigued by Post Secret and see it fitting into Lessig’s definition of (re)creativity. The community around the project is very supportive (for the most part, darn trolls) and work together to decipher secrets that are submitted in other languages or in codes. I get the feeling of being a part of something bigger when I look at this project, connected to others around the world.

RIP: A Remixer’s Manifesto was a great watch, with some great music. In it, Brett Gaylor challenges the current definition and laws around copyright, gives a history of the intent of copyright and patents (which I was surprised to find out was created to encourage more production of ideas, not to monetize ideas), and there is even a hint that there the cure for many diseases may be just around the corner, but due to a patent, researchers’ hands are tied. He demonstrated that many songs by big musicians are already a remix of something they have heard elsewhere and that the songs his favourite artist, Girl Talk, creates are individual in their own rights.

So how does remixing play into our everyday lives as teachers? I think that Roberta summed it up in the most accurate manner: we ask our students to remix every day and we call it learning. Reading this caused me to pause and think about all of the assignments I give my students, and I couldn’t agree more. Teachers share information with students and, to ensure that their students comprehend, ask them to repeat, retell, and apply the knowledge to other situations. In fact, when looking at Bloom’s Taxonomy, the entire section labelled Synthesis could be renamed “Remix”.

This has left me with a lot to think about, much like Sapna, I like that online and open education supports learning as it tends to be accessible, affordable and flexible. I want to contribute but I need to stop just saying I am contributing and actually do something to help. Maybe that will be my next project….


Third Time’s the Charm

This past week I have been thinking about my learning project. I had asked Alec about creating an open-source textbook and how that would work into the project and spent some time mulling over how I would like it to work. The more I thought about it, the more I wasn’t so sure that it was what I wanted to do. Trash can for Idea #1.

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via GIPHY

I looked into different things I could learn. I asked my students, I asked my brother. Ideas of Spanish (we recently had three students who speak minimal English join our school, so it would be practical), sewing (similar to Shelby  and Ashley, I love Hallowe’en and enjoy make elaborate costumes so sewing could be a handy skill), and my brother was excited to suggest coding (being the electrical engineer that he is) and even offered me his Arduino to learn and practice with . And yet with all of these great ideas, my heart was just not into any of them. Trash can for Idea #2.

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AND THEN….our school became a little crazy. With newly added staffing of 0.5 FTE, new timetables for all grades 7-12 (and minor changes in PreK-6), and transitioning students to new teachers, my learning project took a rest in the back of my brain to simmer until the hectic was (mostly) over. After things had slowed down, I realized exactly what I wanted to do for my learning project, something I had wanted to do for a long time but had just never been able to get going properly: having my students blog as part of their course.

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Photo Credit: MarcelaPalma Flickr via Compfight cc

So social media and open education implementation it is! It may sound like this was a last resort, but to be honest, the more I think about it, the more I have been getting excited about it. I have decided that I will implement blogging with my Social 9 class. I have already decided that I would allow my students more choice in the societies we study this year, developing units as inquiry and independent learning tasks with various supported activities. Using blogs for students to share their learning and interact with the public world, seemed like an easy and authentic fit for blogging! Last step before starting down the planning stages: clear with my administration, which was received very well (and with some personal anecdotes of their experiences).

And so we begin! I am still looking for what platform I will use, I want to play around with a couple before starting, the biggest annoyance for me when integrating something new is not liking the platform or program I choose and finding one WAY better suited to my needs a couple days after I have rolled it out. This may still happen but I want to try to eliminate the majority of the disappointment of missing out on a great platform. I like using WordPress for my personal blog but I’m not sure if that is the best option to use with my students, I know some use Edublogs but I don’t have personal experience using that platform.

Goals for my project:

  • Set up individual student blogs
  • Teach my students about blogging, integrating images and videos, and commenting on others’ posts
  • Create a unit plan that requires blogging about their progress through the unit as well as reflection questions and requirements around embedding videos, linking to websites, and sharing their sources they use.
  • Encourage students to use Twitter to interact with experts. I’m not sure if this will be done through their personal Twitter accounts or if I will use my account to tweet on their behalf. If you have suggestions around this, please share!
  • Encourage parent interaction with their child’s blog so they can see what is going on in class.

My Idealistic Product

I would love for my students to Skype or instant message an expert in the field they are studying, or maybe even just someone who has been to one of the sites they will study but I am not positive that I will be able to make this happen. I am definitely going to try but don’t want to set the bar so high I will never attain it! (On a side note, the first societies we will look at are Egypt and Mesopotamia, if you know or are an expert, lets chat!)

On my way

The plotting…. I mean planning… begins. I have a bit of time as we have just started a unit that I would like to finish before implementing this project but the learning about blogging will likely start sooner than our actual unit of study.

Have you used blogs in your classroom? Where did you host them? Do you have any suggestions or know of any “experts”? Let me know in the comments!


Time for Social Media!

Another term, another course, and another dip into the vast world of educational technology. I am very excited for EC&I 831 as I have a love/hate relationship with Social Media. It intrigues me but at the same time, there are many days when I realize my Facebook addiction is a real issue and debate leaving my social media behind (and then I laugh at my weakness and find a quiz to determine what type of fairy wings I should have….)

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For our first post, we have been asked to start thinking about our major project topic. We have two options for our project: (a) integration/development of social media or open educational resources into our teaching/school or (b) learn something new and share our progress online through social media, videos, and our blog.

In looking at these options, I am torn. I have been looking for a great way to integrate social media into my classroom and connect with my students in a manner that is unique and relevant to their daily lives and, after our discussions in EC&I 834 about open education sources, I have been thinking about how I can create courses that are more openly available. I also really like the idea of using this course to encourage me to learn something that I may be putting off as I have not have had enough motivation to start (or finish) on my own. Ideas that I can think of on the top of my head including learning how to sew better (I can do some very basic things) or maybe to gain an understanding of a new language so that I can better connect with some of my new students in their native languages (we have 3 new students this year who speak primarily Spanish).

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Photo Credit: Jeremy Brooks Flickr via Compfight cc

What option are you choosing? What direction are you thinking of heading?

If I go with the first option, would you like to like to see open educational resources based on Social 9 or a math course (I’m thinking maybe Precalculus 30 or Workplace and Apprenticeship 10)?