Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Give the Gift of yourself this Christmas

Give a gift of yourself

Wordless Wednesday

Thursday, December 11, 2008

100 Conversations - Part One

In true Web fashion - I have once again stumbled on inspirational blog posts that have encouraged my thinking and inspired another post.

100 Conversations is an initiative set up by Tony Karrer who maintains the eLearning Technology blog. Tony "is CEO/CTO of TechEmpower, a software, web and eLearning development firm based in Los Angeles, and is considered one of the top technologists in e-Learning. " (quote from Tony's blogger profile).

Within Tony's list of 100 Conversations - I believe there is a conversation for you. I have set up a draft post behind the scenes of the 25 of the 100 conversations that I feel inspired to participate in. This should keep me busy through the holidays. Thanks Tony for the ideas - it helps to keep me motivated.

The first conversation that seems relevant to me at present is number 31 on Tony's list of 100 Conversations. I address this for two reasons. One - it is relevant to my learning at present. Two - I hope to encourage other educators and students who are starting out in the blogging world or are wondering about their illusive audience.

31. How do I envision (envisage) my audience.

This has been an interesting revelation to me in recent weeks. Soon after my post "Generation C" on October 15th I began to feel very disillusioned about my image of my audience. Although I have a stat counter, I wasn't a very prolific observer of my stats nor did I really know how to explore my stats positively. As I belong to EntreCard - I envisaged my small audience to be EntreCard droppers (and I mean droppers not readers). I received minimum comments - and thus imagined I had no serious readers.

After blogging fairly noncommittally with little aim - on ICT in Early Learning - I was beginning to wonder what my motivations were for blogging and whether it was worth the space on the web. And then a light bulb moment encouraged by a conversation (a "verbal comment") I had with a member of the CORE Education team occurred. The CORE member had read my blog, enjoyed my blog and quoted my "C Generation" blog post in a recent job interview for CORE - a job she recently accepted. I was blown away and I was incredibly humbled. I had an audience I never envisaged. And what I had to say or highlight, was being noticed.

After this I decided to look more closely at my stats. I had recently loaded Feedjit widget to my site and when I explored this widget further - namely by clicking on the "Watch in Real Time" option - I began to take notice of who was looking at my blog, where they had arrived from, and what they were searching for. The thing I notice most was that there is a huge audience out there looking for information about technology and learning for young children. By observing readers search queries I have begun to target my post to address some of the queries educators have about technology in education.

I have realised that with the experience of introducing blogging to young children at Manaia Kindergarten, presenting with Tania Coutts at various conferences, and addressing queries that flow through our phone lines - Tania and I have some professional learning to offer on the world wide web as elearners and educators. And maybe this is something we need to take seriously and to post professionally as we become immersed in this ever growing global conversation.

I have also read that only approx 4% of readers ever comment. Thus one has to decide when beginning a blog, what is the purpose of the blog, what do I hope to achieve by blogging, and what do I want to get out of it. I have decided that although I LOVE COMMENTS - I will no longer write for comments. Now that I have some idea about who my audience really is, the aim of this blog is to advocate for young children, for their learning and elearning, their protection, and for their right to be considered competent contributors to everyday and global conversations and learning. The other aim is to encourage others to join this advocacy role.

So how do I envisage my audience now? Prehaps just the one, though I know of two others. And the rest? Well that is quite scary. I was the youngest in my family and my sisters had a lot to say at dinner table conversations. It took me until I was 21 before I realised that sometimes people listened to my contributions too. So I do worry that my contributions are sometimes that of the youngest sister and maybe not so well informed. Forgive me if that is the case. If blogging was truly an anonymous platform I'd feel better. However I want to be part of the conversation, to contribute, to learn, and to advocate.

I believe ones vision of ones audience does matter. It helps to get to know your audience through your stats if not your comments, and then to target your posts and provide a relevant message for those who really are your audience. And more importantly I believe the internet provides a platform we are privileged to have at our finger tips and to join the conversations as an educator and learner, either as a reader or blogger, is a privilege we should grab with both hands.

PS: Thanks Janine for being part of my audience. I have noticed and I do appreciate.

Do you have something to say about education? Can you contribute? Check out Technology for Teachers

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Who dares teach? - with Toondoo.com

I don't ever remember cartoons being used in my education as a valid form of learning. But as Techno Dys reminds us in their blog (technology and dyslexia) - "If a picture paints 1000 words, then a three picture cartoon must be a 3000 word essay." Toondoo is a fun (and addictive) online cartoon site. Characters, scenary, props can be dragged into cartoon strips and brought to life with written words. At Toondoo.com you can read many cartoons created by people all over the world. In schools this would be a great site for students learning new languages, to create and interpret succinctly their understanding of a lesson, a book, a subject, or to express their feelings/fears/celebrations. I have been hesitant to suggest this tool for the classroom setting or for early childhood as I have not explored the site fully and can see its potential for misuse - but thanks to Meera from toondoo.com who offers to assist anyone wanting to know more about toondoo and education - I have discovered that the site has a "Safe Search" feature. I have not explored this feature but encourage educators to give this online site a whirl. Never cease to learn!!


Sunday, December 7, 2008

Gever Tulley: 5 dangerous things you should let your kids do

Its been yet another day of bad tv, rain out doors and a bit of a tummy bug. So I turn to Ted Talks. Even the ones I have heard before are worth revisiting - and always there is something new to learn.

When considering children at your school or kindergarten... your children at home... it might be prudent to ask yourself... Do you want cotton-wool kids?

Then why not let them use power tools, sharpen knives, break copywrite laws, play with fire? Gever Tulley is founder of the Tinkering School, and this is his TED talk about 5 Dangerous things you SHOULD let your children do.

Having reheard Gever's ideas and been provoked about his ideas - I still can not help wondering if he has 'left out' some safety ideas... MMMmmmm what do you think?

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Thinking outside the square - Animation vs Animator

It's amazing what you discover when you follow up on comments left on your blog. It really does become a worldwide community of sharing and learning...

So from Shal who followed up on and added a great explanation on her blog about Toondoo.com (which she is planning to use with her students) - I also discovered a link to this great clip. Talk about thinking outside the square...

Animator vs. Animation by *alanbecker on deviantART

"A mind once stretched by new ideas NEVER regains its original dimensions"

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Technology for Teachers, Technology for Education

Oh my goodness my mind is buzzing. I have a number of Draft Copy posts hidden away behind this blog. My fingers and allocated time, can not keep up with my questioning, readings, thought provoking conversations, and observations. But today (tonight) I will share with you some thoughts sparked by my recent posts, my ict facilitator's provocations, and professional discussions I have had with colleagues.

I blogged last month about the Benefits of Technology in Education and Naketa (our fabulous ICT facilitator for the MOEs ECE ICT PL programme) left me a challenging question in the comments... "..You have outlined wonderful scenarios in which ICT has enhanced learning experiences for children. I wonder how ICT has impacted on your own learning - personally and professionally." As I posted last week about encouraging students by leaving comments - I thought I should be using the comments I receive more productively and began to ponder on Naketa's challenge. I take time to ponder - which is a good thing sometimes... I will try to summarise my thoughts later in this post...

This evening I had a phone call from a colleague. We don't actually work together in the same kindergarten, but we are both passionate ECE advocates and enjoy philosophical conversations about education in the early years and the more formal education of the school system.

As a result of some challenging situations my colleague has found herself in recently - namely working with others who do not share her philosophy - my colleague began to think more seriously about setting up her own childcare centre based on her ideas on education and on life in general. We talked about the practicalities of this and expected outcomes. We chatted about ideals and realities. We considered the future of education and if our ideas will ever really be embraced throughout the education system. We reflected on recent conferences we have attended and the 'change' foreseen in the future for education - when IS this future going to happen. We concluded that the future is not tomorrow - the future is today.

Today there are tools and resources that can benefit education in ways that has never been possible. There are tools and resources available for educators to use for advocacy, to promote the best of education and spread this to the world. If my colleague were to set up her own childcare centre (and it would be an awesome centre) and 'experiment' with her ideas and philosophies and run it as a model for future education - she would certainly have hurdles. For one she has to fit within current education regulations. Secondly what impact would she really have on the education system as a whole in New Zealand? What impact would her childcare centre of 10pupils have globally.

The future is now. Now teachers with the convictions such as my colleague, who are passionate about a new way forward, who have the skills, expertise and knowledge of the emergent curriculum, who can see classrooms beyond the four walls - have the freedom and audience right before them. And I believe we should all be taking advantage of this. I believe we should be sharing our professional ideas globally.

And to my original question - How has technology helped me personally and professionally?
I remember a time some 30yrs ago when my mother was cajoled into buying the Encyclopedia Britannica. Nothing wrong with that 30yrs ago but it was more than we could really afford at the time. I remember using this resource for my school projects. I also remember being very distracted by these numerous books (12 books, all different colours and themes) whilst doing my projects. I would find myself reading about things I 'wasn't supposed' to be reading because they would have nothing to do with the project at hand. However I would suddenly see the potential in the information provided in these books and whilst reading I would find out about things that I had often wondered about. Some years later my family moved overseas to live and 12 heavy Encyclopedia Britannica's didn't quite fit into the suitcase allowance. So they were left behind.

I'm not afraid to say I struggled at school. No not because I did not have the E.B. I just struggled. I struggled to get my ideas down on paper with my blotchy pens, my constant typos that my pen would make (lol) and the permanency of the marks my pen would make (copious amounts of crossing out or twink didn't cut it for assignments), and the lack of quick easy information, would trip me up continuously.

When I reached teachers college 10years after leaving school and the home computer was well established - my grades, my confidence and my learning took on a whole new life. With the advent of the internet my inquiring mind found a new source of energy. And with Web2.0 I have slowly (and perhaps less confidently) begun to find a voice. And with that - along with my colleagues and the children at Manaia Kindergarten who blog about their ECE experiences - I have inadvertently entered the world of advocacy. Together through Web2.0 we are advocating for Early Childhood, for the emergent curriculum, for the future of education (seeing the children in action in the kindergarten blog is much more convincing than reams of type as seen here - so check out their blog - www.manaiakindergarten.blogspot.com ).

Web2.0 is a tool that teachers who are passionate about education can use to promote their ideas, to advocate for education - not just to those teaching in the early years but to teachers in primary, secondary, tertiary - and heck - in business too. Early Childhood teachers, and teachers who believe in a new approach to education, can begin a dialog, join the conversations, promote their ideas.

What can technology do for you as a teacher? as a professional? It can enable you to advocate to a wider audience and - and bring the future of education closer.