BLOG Response #5

Who's controlling your profile?

http://www.thethinkingstick.com/?p=650

Author= Jeff Utecht

Have you ever been giving a presentation or talking to someone and all of a sudden you say something that makes you stop and think. I do it quite often actually and most of the time these turn into blog posts as is this one. My last session at EARCOS I was all fired up with a standing room only crowd and I was talking about Facebook and having a social presence when this came flying out of my mouth.

"If you don't take control of your social presence, someone else will!"

I had some shocked looks in the room, some wiggles in the chairs, and after the session ended had three people come up to me and ask "How do I register my own domain name?" (I use godaddy.com BTW)

As educators I think it is even more important. Like it or not, your students are out there and they're talking about you! You can either allow them to create your social presence for you or you can take control of it.

I've talked about the power of your social presence before and it is a scary thing if you do not have a gage on what's out there. You can't control what others say about you, but you can try to control what Google and Facebook searches find and rank.

I've also been hard on schools lately who are not controlling their social presence in Facebook. If you are a teacher in a high school go search for your school and see what you find. Then ask yourself:

1) Is this what we want incoming students to know?
2) How could our school harness the power here?
3) What do we want students; Past, Present, Future to find and know about.

(BTW schools...blocking it does not make it go away!)

One school that is getting this, I think anyway, is the International School of Kuala Lumpur. When you do a search for ISKL at Facebook the first group that comes up is their alumni group with over 1300 members. I used this as an example in my presentation and the Alumni overseer of the group was at the conference heard that I had use the site and approached me. The site was started by two past students. The alumni association approached them and asked if they could make this the official site. The school's alumni association now works with the two college students to run the site, keep it updated, and makes sure it correctly represents the school.

Sure, there are other ISKL student ran groups on facebook and I'm sure like most schools they're not all positive, but when a student comes to facebook and searches for ISKL...this is where they start. They start at the alumni page, they join it, know that they can get answers, makes connections, all before heading out to other "sub-groups."

As teachers and schools we need to realize that our customers are in this space, and that if we are not going to take control of our information there, someone else will do it for you. Do you want to leave a high school student in control of your profile? How about a group of say 100 students?

Scary? Yeah....then do something about it!

We can't continue to pretend these spaces don't matter. Especially if you are like most International teachers and you're out looking for a job every 3,5,7 years or so (what's the stat...14 jobs before they're 37?). Because some where, some time, somebody is going to Google you or do a Facebook search for you and what are they going to find? Who are you allowing to represent you?

I also like to show this poll started in 2006 and still active at USA Today.

 

The only thing this poll shows is that we do not want a law telling us we can or can not search for someone and use that information against them.

We are in a time of change, a time of figuring out how to use this information and when it is appropriate to do so. Until there becomes some "social norms" around this type of employee searching, you need to control what employers might find.

Do you feel like I'm yelling at you? Feel like I'm getting up in your face about this? If so this post is for you. Do something about it, get connected, get social and start talking control of your online presence! Because if you don't.....some day some one else will.

 

My Response:

I totally agree with this blog that developing a social presence is important. This kind of technology is not going away and is only going to get larger. I think teachers need to realize that this is going to be an issue in high schools and colleges around the world. If teachers could grab a positive aspect of facebook this could lead the students into the right direction. Teachers being involved in facebook not only help their social presence, but could draw them closer to their students on a more personal level. Teachers could create groups on facebook and have their students' join them. These groups could be used as discussion sites, homework assignments, and any questions about the material being taught. If students know their teachers have facebook, it could limit the amount of talk or inappropriate behavior being passed across it. I know students will get around this but it is a start. I just feel that instead of throwing this kind of technology on the "back burner," there are more positive ways in using a website like facebook than the negatives. This gives teachers access to all their students and can let them "keep tabs" on how their social presence is as well. Very interesting topic and will definitely keep growing as time goes on.

-AJ

 

BLOG Response #4

The Embedded Practitioner

http://www.teachandlearn.ca/blog/2008/03/19/the-embedded-practitioner/

Author= Konrad Glogowski

My first entry on this blog, posted on February 22, 2005, marked the beginning of my doctoral research on blogging communities. I was interested in what happens when a group of grade eight students is given a place where they can engage as writers and move away from the "schooliness" of traditional class work. When I started, I really did not know what to expect. I had high hopes, but no preconceived notions or expectations.

And now, three years later, the research is done, and I am very happy to report that I have successfully defended my PhD thesis. It was a fascinating journey. I learned a lot about writing in online environments, about student interactions online, and about fostering student engagement in online spaces. However, one of the most personally relevant findings of my research was the impact that it had on me - the teacher-researcher.

During my defense, I focused on all the key findings of my research, but paid particular attention to my conclusions on teacher professional development. My research taught me a lot about the role of the teacher in an online class community of writers. At my defense, I used this painting by Caravaggio, the Italian Baroque master, to elaborate on what my research findings suggest about teacher professional development:


Caravaggio, The Taking of Christ

Before I explain why I chose this painting, let me first elaborate on Caravaggio as he himself is an important figure to consider, an important role model for 21st century teachers. Caravaggio's work was revolutionary. He was an innovator in his time who rejected established conventions. Instead of painting epic scenes with masses of people and religious symbolism (as was the established norm), he chose to focus on the personal struggles and experiences of his subjects. He chose to highlight the individual. The subjects he chose were mere mortals, representatives of the working class - the poor, humble, ordinary people of his time. The faith he depicted in his work was the faith of the simple, uneducated masses, not the faith of the grand Biblical narratives. Caravaggio focused on what he saw around him. His paintings feature wrinkled, aged faces, torn clothing, and unadorned, simple, often neglected interiors. Truth, in other words, truth as he saw it around him on a daily basis, was more important to him than conventions.

So, what does all of this have to do with teaching in the 21st century?

That painting by Caravaggio has became for me a metaphor that I like to use to explain the role of the teacher in a blogging community. Since I'm using it as a metaphor, I am interested only in its visual appeal - the placing of the subjects, the light that penetrates the scene, and the fact that the man carrying the lantern on the right side of the painting, the one who looks with interest over the heads of the two Roman soldiers, has been identified as Caravaggio's self-portrait. (Caravaggio is well-known for inserting his self-portrait, inserting himself, so to speak, into his paintings.). I believe that, much like Caravaggio in this painting, a teacher in a blogging community should enter the context that gives rise to his or her work. Caravaggio portrays himself as one of the characters. He becomes implicated in his painting. He is both subject and artist ... and that is why I think this painting is so relevant to my research and can help convey the redefined character of teacher presence in online communities. It makes visible some key implications of my study in the field of teacher professional development.

What this painting says to me is that we can gain a better understanding of our classrooms-as-communities if we immerse ourselves in them. In the manner of Caravaggio, teachers should weave their readerly, personal voices into the fabric of classrooms-as-communities. What my experiences illustrate, and what the painting metaphorically emphasizes, is that teacher professional development in the 21st century requires that we look closely at how to most effectively embed ourselves in our practice and in the experiences and interactions of our students. Professional development in the networked world requires that we look closely not only at what we do as educators but also at how we are embedded in educational contexts. Much like Caravaggio, we have to narrate ourselves into existence through participation in our classrooms in a way that is non-authoritarian, readerly, and conversational.

Much like Caravaggio in this painting, we need to be present in our classrooms as providers of light. Our guidance is needed and important. But, too often, our guidance becomes authoritarian and fails to take into account the voices of our students. We don't often peer questioningly over the shoulders of our students. Instead, we impose the content and pre-define the learning trajectories for our students. Why don't we take the time to just listen and observe once in a while? Those of us who give our students the freedom to define themselves through their work in classroom communities know how much we can learn by listening and observing. We should not be afraid to step down from behind the lectern and move to the edge of the community, where we can redefine our presence as that of a participant, as one of the voices, not as the voice that dominates, demands, and evaluates. What Caravaggio's painting reminds me of is that I can be just as helpful as a facilitator if I engage from the sidelines and do not dominate the community as its focal point. Let student voices remain in the centre, let them be the focal point of the community where they interact, engage, and learn.

This reconfigured approach requires a difficult shift in our understanding of classroom practice. It requires that we accept a new dethroned position and become embedded practitioners - embedded in the classroom interactions as readers and participants, not evaluators and overseers.

That brings me to another important point: What's Next?

My research has led me to some important and timely questions about teacher professional development - questions that I hope to be able to work on in the near future:

  1. How do we prepare teachers to teach 21st century learners whose lives are based on rich interactions in multiple online environments?
  2. How do we help new teachers move away from what Marshall McLuhan once called the "imposing of stencils" and adopt a practice of probing and exploration?
  3. How do we help new teachers acquire the courage to transform their classrooms into communities of learners and transform themselves into participants who can embed themselves in those communities?

My study and experience provide some answers, some of which I addressed on this blog in the past, but they are just starting points that will need further attention and elaboration. I believe that this process begins with opening ourselves up to the language of possibility and recognizing teachers whose work in the classroom can help us redefine not only our own classroom presence but also our notions of professional development. We need what Paulo Freire calls "curiosity as endless questioning." He describes it as

movement toward the revelation of something that is hidden, as a question verbalized or not, as search for clarity, as a moment of attention, suggestion, and vigilance ... there could be no creativity without the curiosity that moves us and sets us patiently impatient before a world that we did not make, to add to it something of our own making (Freire, 1998, pp.37-38).

In other words,

[...] there is no such thing as teaching without research and research without teaching. One inhabits the body of the other. As I teach, I continue to search and re-search. I teach because I search, because I question, and because I submit myself to questioning. I research because I notice things, take cognizance of them. And in so doing, I intervene. And intervening, I educate and educate myself. I do research so as to know what I do not yet know and to communicate and proclaim what I discover (Freire, 1998, pp.35).

Coda

Recently, Al Upton, an award-winning teacher from Adelaide, Australia whose work I've admired for a very long time, was forced to close his classroom community that has proven over the years to be of immense benefit to his students. He was forced to disable the classroom community by the Department of Education and Children's Services in South Australia despite the fact that he used it to teach his students about online safety and received parental permission to carry out his project. The Department of Education is worried that some material on his class blog may put the students at risk of being identified by outsiders.

Al and I never met and we never corresponded, but I've been following his work for years and have always found it innovative and inspiring. In my opinion, Al is an embedded practitioner, someone who listens, observes, and is constantly searching for and researching new ways to improve himself and bring greater educational value to his classroom practice. I hope that he will soon regain his freedom to bring the world into his classroom and the classroom out into the world.

Works Cited:
Freire, P. (1998). Pedagogy of freedom. Ethics, democracy, and civic courage. Rowman & Littlefield, New York.

 

 

My Response,

            This is a fantastic blog. The thought process going into the painting is amazing. I totally understand where you are coming from when using this painting as a metaphor. Teachers do need to "sit back" and almost let their students learn. Anymore these days, it seems as though we teach and we test. All memorization with minimal learning involved. That is not what a classroom should be like. When you ask students why they don't like school, most responses are "because it's boring." This needs to stop. Change needs to happen. New teachers coming into the field are the ones who can make change a real possibility. We need to give more freedom to the students. Let them think on their own, instead of being told what to do all the time. Make your classroom a safe environment where the students won't be afraid to express themselves. Let them know it is okay to be wrong, guessing and problem solving for an answer is how you learn best. Allow yourself to maybe "get off topic" for a while in class, most of the time when a teacher gets off topic there is more learning going on. Students can then feel free to ask questions about almost anything. Teachers are too worried about staying on task and getting through the material. I understand there needs to be a lesson plan and you eventually need to get through the subject matter, but try something new. Mix your classroom up and try something different every day. Bring up new topics or ideas just for plain old discussion, instead of "writing on the board for the whole class." I feel that the new teachers coming into the world need to step up and not be afraid to try something different. In the long run, I think it will be most beneficial.

 -AJ

 

BLOG Response #3

The Ultimate Conference Attendee   

http://weblogg-ed.com/2008/the-ultimate-conference-attendee/#comment-47264

Author= Will Richardson

I've been watching the flow of content coming out of Illinois, and it's obvious we have officially jumped the shark (my bad use of phrase) reached a tipping point in terms of distributing ideas once held only in ballroom walls to the rest of the world. Wondering what future conference organizer is going to get smart and only allow attendees who:

  • Have their own Ustream channels and broadcast live facial reactions of attendees as the session is in progress
  • Can Tweet out the best quotes, engage in lively back channel repartee, and live blog the session to their own sites at the same time
  • Create a VoiceThread story of the presentation within 10 minutes of finish by incorporating photos taken during the session and uploaded to Flickr, adding voice over narration to contextualize the event, and soliciting video comments from virtual attendees
  • Put together a wiki page for the session that collects dozens of various RSS feeds compiled from keyword and tag searches on the presenter's name, the general topic, del.icio.us bookmarks, YouTube videos and more
  • Create a Google Map that identifies where all of the virtual attendees live and helps them upload photos of themselves watching the UStreamed, Tweeted, VoiceThreaded, wikied presentation in progress.
  • Conduct a live Skype call with other experts who challenge the ideas being presented and scream out provocative and borderline insulting questions
  • Have their own conference space in Second Life where live video and audio of presentation is being streamed and where they have organized a post session social featuring virtual local microbrews and coffees

What am I missing?

 

My Response,

            I felt that this was an interesting blog because of the relevance it has for our class.  We have been using a class wiki consistently throughout the semester.  Everyone had to sign up for delicious and have watched some videos/speeches on youtube.  We also have registered for Skype and use it to contact with students outside of class.  I know I have found this technology very helpful to my classmates and myself.  The wiki gives us easy control on how to communicate with our peers for our group project.  Using Skype is a lot different than the wiki.  Skype is almost like an instant message program, like your basic msn or aim, but with an option to talk over the internet with anyone around the world.  With technology growing and growing these days, I am sure these programs with change and adapt to be even more productive in time.  I definitely think conferences will be a lot easier to conduct in the future.  Even now with using Skype, multiple people can be on the internet at the same time all communicating together.  With the use of webcams, you can even see everyone when conducting conference meetings.  I am sure this technology will make its way into high schools and elementary schools around the country.

-AJ

 

BLOG Response #2

What Happens When 10 Laptops Show Up

http://remoteaccess.typepad.com/remote_access/

Author=Clarence Fisher

When 10 laptops show up in your classroom, it changes things. Although this has been a slow blogging year for us (concentrating on other kinds of connections), when 10 laptops show up in your classroom, you have over 25 new posts in two days. When 10 laptops show up in your classroom, you have kids sitting beside each other helping each other out with a new interface and getting hooked up to wireless signals. Kids take renewed interest in their iGoogle accounts because now they have the time on a regular basis to read and look for new sources of information. When 10 laptops show up, the section of your wiki you have been working on (ancient Egypt) gets hammered with over a hundred edits in two school days.

Changes are still to come. We need to learn how to integrate them and make them a seamless part of our learning. But it is pretty cool to watch kids walk down the hallway with a small black box under their arm and look for a place with a strong wireless signal so they can best finish up a blog post.

My Response,

Technology is growing and growing.  I think there will be more and more computers in classrooms every year until every student has a laptop.  A day will come when all classes are taught through computers.  Each teacher could have there own website with links, homework, quizzes, etc.  I think this is a great idea and will definitely improve the education system.  Computers could allow students to work at their pace and work on what they need help on most.  I also feel that it will raise the interest levels in class.  It is cool for kids to walk down the hallway with their laptop looking for a place with a strong wireless signal.  This is just something schools are going to have to deal with and I think the time for these changes are getting closer every day.  Teachers, students, administrators, parents and schools as a whole will be effected by technology.

-AJ

 

BLOG Response #1

Doing IT Differently - H: What's Missing?

http://hent.blogspot.com/2008/01/doing-it-differently-h-whats-missing.html

What will be different at HC in 2008?
H: What's Missing?
Author=Roger Stack

In this series I've focused on changes in the Computing learning area. Of course there are also new initiatives in other learning areas and I hope to write about some of those over the next few weeks.

In the last post of this series I'd like to touch on a couple of things I think are still missing if we are to engage all learners in education that leads to purposeful futures.

The first is Social Foresight or Futures Studies. We need to empower students with the knowledge and tools to be able to predict likely futures and create preferred futures - both personal and societal. However we have done little in this area and it has not been a priority in current course development work. This must change.

In the Computing area there are several avenues for exploring possible and preferred futures:

  • Robotics
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Technological solutions for current local and global challenges

The emerging field of Integral Futures might provide a way for students to use 4 Quadrant Integral Theory as a framework (see F: Conceptual Frameworks) to map possibilities.

The second is Spirituality. Spirituality is recognized in state and national educational policy but progress in this area has been slow until recently. We need to look for opportunities to address:

  • students' sense of deeper meaning, connectedness, purpose and place
  • spiritual literacy and spiritual expression
  • inspiration and wisdom
  • mindfulness and stillness

Above Maslow's need for self-actualization is the need for self-transcendence - a need to be of service to humanity and the planet. Today's global challenges provide many opportunities for expression at this level.

My Response,

I really feel you hit the nail on top of the head here.  Technology is taking over everyone's lives.  The sky is the limit with technology and I hope we don't try to reach it too fast.  Robots and artificial intelligence are going impact people's lives at some point and time will only tell.  I just hope we keep our goals realistic, but flying cars are probably just around the corner.  Teachers need to find ways to get technology in the classrooms as well.  More times then not, it is easier to learn with and could be more fun for the students.  With touching on spirituality, that is a tough area and teachers need to be careful.  With the wide range of diversity between children nowadays, everyone needs to be accepting of others' beliefs.  I am not sure how much spirituality needs to be incorporated in the classroom but the teachers need to be aware of it.  I think that the students need to be able to think with a deeper meaning and by this they could use some of their feelings and emotions in their work in the classroom.  Children nowadays are our nation's future; we need to guide them in the classroom by incorporating technology and having an open mind about spirituality with the students.

-AJ

 
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