Category Archives: Connectivism

Twitter – No thanks!

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Photo Credit: via www.pixabay.com

Since I’m using Twitter, other social media and tools like Flipboard for professional development and I’m experiencing the amazing benefits of it for my professional life I wish to use Twitter in school with/for students and the whole school community as well. Somebody said that the focus at school isn’t only content and concepts it’s more and more the fact that we are living in a connected world. Twitter, other social media, and so many other tools allow us to connect and collaborate with others in order to learn, to create, to invent, so solve problems, to support each other and a lot more.  Continue reading

How do my pipes look like?

The quote I read in Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age

The pipe is more important than the content within in the pipe.

sticks to my mind since I started to read about Connectivism.

How do my pipes look like?

I’m still amazed by the fact that we decide what to learn, where to learn, when to learn, how to learn, and from who to learn. Recently I attended several sessions and listened to keynotes at the Global Education Conference. It was totally my decision what information and knowledge I want to get. It took place all over the world and definitely enhanced my learning through the diversity of people who presented and shared something. It was also my decision how I want to learn. Depending on the topic I sometimes was just a listener but if possible I tried to contribute to the learning experience within that specific setting.
But the pipe always has two directions, right? While attending one session called Students as Creators or Makers: Tools to foster Higher-order Thinking Skills I thought, next year I could give it a try as well. I’m getting there …

19th Century emails

Photo Credit: cicciodylan via Compfight cc

The more familiar pipes for me are of course blogs, Twitter, Facebook and Google+. To many people I try to explain it and compare it to an old fashioned post box. You are interested in something; you subscribe it and the mailman brings the mail to you.

But: Too often it goes only one direction, right?

 

A great experience on Twitter was for me when I first time had a question and I got answers. Or there was a question and I could contribute to it. There is the flow in the other direction. Vivian (@chezVivian) describes on her blog a professional conversation about assessment on Twitter. The knowledge is flowing back and forth through the pipe therefore it’s a really good learning experience. #pypchat – I’ll join you very soon.

Flowing in both directions

Photo Credit: m4r00n3d via Compfight cc

Facebook more than Google+ but they are both platforms for me to get inspiring input and to share worth reading articles, blog posts or ideas.  Collaboration and creating together with other educators and experts doesn’t happen yet to the extent that I imagine it to happen. One idea would be to connect with other German teachers at international schools in Germany. Let’s get together.

The wish to collaborate and connect more with other teachers led me to the question: Did a job description change? How? What kind of teacher I would like to work with if I had the chance to hire somebody?

Inspired by Ceci’s blog post Ceci 2.0 as well as by the table in What Is Web 3.0 And How Will It Change Education I wondered how a job description for a teacher could look like. I haven’t seen any since my mind shift regarding education has started. I’m not in the position of hiring people but I asked myself what kind of teacher I would like to be and what kind of teacher I would like to work with. Experiences and knowledge are important but not the most important anymore. In my opinion, one very important part is how much somebody is connected to get the flow of knowledge and information in both directions and within the whole community of learners.

The following pictures (on thinglink.com) shows my first thinking about it. A colleague brought up the ISTE standards to add. Sure. What would you add?

Is it difficult to create an app?

Create your own app

App created by a 1st grade student

Beginning of March 2013 I set myself several goals regarding educational technology. I had started the Coetail Course beginning of February and realized that there is so much out there to explore. 2013 will be my year of getting into educational technology. So far I’m not disappointed at all. Opposite is the case: It’s learning without ending. It’s inspiring, exciting and enriching. Some things I already tried in school.

One goal from March was:

I played a little bit here and there with different Google Apps but I felt that is not enough to get an overview. Therefore I signed up for the Gafe Class – Google Apps For Education Online Course.

If you know Jeff you can imagine that he recommends us to use Chrome. I got introduced to Chrome couple of years ago. A friend (Ben @ombd – I highly appreciate his tips) of mine said: Nobody is using Firefox anymore. Chrome is the new browser, faster and securer. It seems to be a Battle of the best browsers: IE vs. Chrome vs. Firefox vs. Safari.

I discovered the Chrome Web Store a while ago and they are indeed awesome. You get any imaginable application which is integrated in Chrome and allows you a faster access as well as additional functionalities. The apps are also a never ending story. I can get lost in that store. Exciting and dangerous at the same time. Here just a quick overview what I use for my productivity online. Unfortunately I haven’t gotten a lot of chances to use Google Apps with my students yet. In future …

I am using so far:

  • Google Drive, Gmail, Gmail Offline
  • AdBlock – Blocks advertisements on all websites.
  • Evernote Web – Usually I use Evernote which is installed on my computer. Evernote Web is useful, but gives me only access to synchronized notebooks which makes sense.
  • Evernote Web Clipper – This app allows me to save a website (whole page, an article, just the URL or as pdf) directly into Evernote.
  • Tweetdeck – best tool to organize Twitter.
  • Feedly – RSS Reader – best tool to get all news of blogs and websites
  • Readium – Allows me to read eBooks (epub) in the browser.

With/for the students:

  • Timer – timer countdown, alarm clock, stopwatch
  • YouTube
  • iSpeech – For my students who have difficulties with reading. Text is read aloud for them.
  • Evernote Clearly – Converts articles on the web into a easy, readable and printable look.
  • Connected Mind – Tool to create a mind map. Haven’t had a chance with the students yet though.

Check out the Chrome Web Store! What apps are using using for teaching and learning! Thx.

The flow got me … Creating a revised AUP for Primary School

To be honest – at the beginning of course 2 I had no idea what an AUP (Acceptable User Policy) is. During the four years at a German School I never got in contact with something similar. Probably I signed an AUP for teachers when I started teaching at an international school. I thought the reason for not knowing about it might me the fact that I’m new in this international environment and struggle with all those acronyms anyways. Another reason might be the fact that I’m a single subject teacher. Homeroom teachers might have given it to the students at the beginning of the school year. And six weeks later with the help and collaboration of Vivian Chow, Donovan Hall, Mark Villaflor and Carlene Hamley  and all the wonderful resources out there on the Internet I revised and wrote remixed an AUP for the Primary School. How awesome is this! I even felt a flow of creating …

We were asked to collaborate with other cohort members. It reminded me of a blog post of Edna Sackson – What does collaboration look like? and what is the difference to working together? The main outcome for me is: If you collaborate you share a vision. She created a nice visualisation:

By Edna Sackson

My vision in this context is to make sure that the students get knowledgeable to be safe on the Internet and with the use of technology.

One person commented on the above mentioned post and asked: What about goals? Do we need to share goals as well? Do the individual goals of collaboration lead to more effect collaborating?
During the course collaboration took place in many different ways. Quite at the beginning of course 2 somebody created a hashtag called #CoetailAUP. I was lucky to find a great group quite easy. We had the chance to get to know each other through a Google Hangout. We shared existing AUPs on Google Drive, experiences and ideas. Giving a feedback and commenting on each other’s work was the easiest job with Google Docs. Vivian took the time and effort to summarize our Hangouts and she also wrote the first draft of an AUP, which I’m still very thankful for because my part of the AUP is based on her thinking and putting it in words. I also collaborated with colleagues at our school. From the beginning it was my goal to create something, which is meaningful for our Primary School. I had a lot of support of my ICT colleague and also a reception teacher. I believe that we are all sharing a similar vision but I realized that our personal goals were different. Nothing wrong with that I realized, because it enriched our collaboration. You get different knowledge, a lot of experiences, a huge a variety of skills, great motivation, backgrounds, different learning types, … thinking – what do I want to ask for more?

The experience let me think about group work/collaboration in my classroom as well and especially about grouping my students. I always have been torn how to group them. Is it more important that they choose the partner(s) they want to work with or do I as a teacher make up the groups with the knowledge of their prior knowledge, abilities, learning types, types of learning, etc. and why do I want them to collaborate? I feel like I have to think about it more in depth. Later.

The following AUP is created/remixed with the help of the resources on the Internet and through the collaboration with great educators. Thanks again for that.

I really liked the idea of the 4RsResources, Right, Respect, Responsibility. Hopefully it is a good way to promote the AUP within the whole school community as well as to develop a common language at school.

Three stakeholders will sign the AUP: the student – the parent – the teacher. We all share the responsibility to make sure we are safe on the Internet and when using technology for learning.

It is still a draft regarding the detailed layout (logo, pictures, etc). For me the wording was more important in a first row. The layout will come next with the heIp of my students (great idea Donovan & Carlene).

I have to admit that citing was a challenge. You work on something for weeks, you read about it on so many different websites, you speak to others and get the ideas – honestly, I lost track.

My goal is to get this AUP for the Primary School implemented. My colleague wants to create a Digital Citizenship Program combined with it. I’m excited to see what will happen in the next few weeks and after the summer vacation.

Link:
AUP for Primary School 

UPDATED VERSION

AUP all Year Groups

Co-dependency between Machines and Human Beings

During the last 3 month I realized that connections, connectedness (does this word really exist?), connectivity on the Internet are possible in endless ways. The main two streams though are:

  • connections through human beings
  • connections through machines
flower

Webgraph of www.coetail.com/vzimmer

Through Webpages as a graph (works only with Firefox) you get a visualisation of your website and in particular also of your hyperlinks. It looks beautiful!

The blue dots are actually the important ones because they show me the hyperlinks on the blog. To understand the graph fully you need to know at least a little bit of HTML which is the language to create webpages. That reminds me that I – maybe 7-8 years ago – created a website for a friend. Unfortunately it doesn’t exist anymore and also archive.org didn’t take a snapshot (probably I put the robot.txt to avoid spam – do I mix up something?). In this context I thought about how to optimize the search engine result and – here it comes – hyperlinks. Google obviously looks at both links – to and from your website. To have an impact on your page rank the links to your website are important. You can imagine, suddenly I was curious about my page rank. There are several ways to check and in the end the chrome apps are the most convient one. The app I really liked is PageRank Status. A screenshot of part of it says: Hmm, does it really means that I’m the first on the search results? How can this be? I’m sure that not that many people linked to my blog. The reason probably is the connection to the Coetail website itself. Please, other cohort follower, please correct me if I’m wrong. I try to understand.

Anyways, my point is if we make sure (somehow) that there are enough hyperlinks from other sides to our than the ranking goes up. We need to set the links but the machine does the rest.

There are other ways to connect on the Internet – again driven by human beings but the machines do the rest, f.e. by suggesting people we might know or suggesting website, groups or people to follow. Recently I intensified it by using f.e. various social website:

  • Google, Gmail, Google Drive, Google+, Google Hangouts
    All those tools gave me possibility to connect to other likeminded people from all over the world. It is exciting and inspiring and not frightening at all. Maybe Vivian is right that Coetail keeps us for the beginning in a bubble, but it also depends on us how much we put us out there. I’m enjoying the collaborative work by using Google Drive and meeting through Google Hangouts.
  • Twitter
    I am following more people now and I explored Tweetdeck wich helps me to orgnise the tweets, to have conversations with other people – to create my own Personal Learning Network. Sometimes I tweet something, ask a questions, comment on something,  … but I definitely still see room for improvement. Like so often – it takes time. I will.
  • Facebook
    Another tool to connect. Fortunately a lot of organisations I’m interested in are on Facebook. It is great to follow them (Still lurking? Well, I started to comment way more often.)
  • LinkedIn
    It is still a little bit neglected by me …
  • Blog
    Of course the blog is also a way to connect. People comment and I try to comment as much as possible. For the kids I really like the #comments4kids on twitter.

And, and, and … To be honest, I still wish to create and contribute more. This experience here with Coetail helps me to connect with other people and how to use the Internet in a less consuming way. Let’s create, contribute and share! It’s worth!