Conflict of interest

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I accidentally posted this too soon, but here is the official version
of this idea (which is bound to change at some point).
 
What does it mean when you are faced with the following challenge:
 
The place that you work has given you the freedom to explore different
learning platforms, work with creative people, collaborate on process,
policy, and pedagogy, and the means to not have to say no too often.
 
The future you see for education is different than what is being planned.
 
The opportunities to branch out and create your own learning spaces
have never been more numerous or more engaging.
 
The community you actively engage in advocates for open communication
and documentation of every move forward that you make with your own
learning.
 
The boundaries on that communication have never been more clear: “Some
meetings are secret.”
 
The platforms for learning and support that you use are at odds with
“having someone on the other end of the line” when something goes
wrong.
 
So, what here is a conflict of interest. Can all of this coexist and
not create chaos, unrest or animosity between my job, my network, my
living, and my passion?
 
(Too vague? Give me a few months, and perhaps specifics will surface.)

Posted via email from olco5’s posterous

Twitter and Google Reader for Productivity

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(All quotations are not exact, but paraphrases of much better words that were in the mouths of the participants – These are notes, but I think that they might have benefit to others, so I am posting them on my blog as well)

I just wanted to use this space in order to make sure that we take note of all of our discussion surrounding how to use twitter and google reader for productivity.

“We don’t want to jump on the bandwagon with all new products. But, where does iGoogle, twitter, and blog feeds fit in our district’s overall vision.”

“Just because things are free, doesn’t mean we should be using them and promoting it.”

“Conceptually, the idea of everything coming to you is very inciting, but we need to look further at it from the Google Reader perspective and Twitter.”

“The real question is where do we spend our time? What is really of value?”

“Television news is too slow. I want to be able to know more about the things that I am interested in. I want it to be hyperlinked.”

“I don’t have enough time to consume things in a serial manner. I don’t want to know what happened yesterday before I know what happened today.”

“White papers are specific enough. I want relevancy and making sure that it is current.”

  1. Decide on your purpose for using feeds. What information would you like to be able to access that you can’t currently?
      • Topics to look at:
        • Stimulus and education
          • CDE does a good job of talking about the stimulus, but they don’t have a feed.
        • Broadband and education
        • Virtual Learning Environments
  2. Making your reading relevant: What are the topics that you would like to come to you?
    1. http://surfmind.com/lab/msn/opml/
    2. http://monitorthis.info/
    3. Google Reader Bundles
  3. How do you want information to come to you?

The On Button Archive

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While I was doing some searching over at Tweetgrid (my absolute favorite way of looking at twitter in real-time), I came across these notes from my Educon 2.1 Session, The On Button: Instant and Always on Collaboration.

I figure that now is as good a time as any to put up the archive of that presentation and to highlight just how good Live Blogging can be. Sarah, a teacher in “midcoast Maine”, did a wonderful job of capturing the questions and ideas from the conversation that we had at Educon.

I love the idea of being able to archive not only the video of a conversation, but also the conversation that happened about the conversation. Here is a list of links that also were talking about this session. I can’t wait to hear where else this session goes:

  1. List of Sessions
  2. Twitter Feed for the session
  3. The original Wiki page

What I am more interested in, though, is how are you aggregating the conversations that surround a learning event? How can we make sure that the supports for our sychcronous environments do not go by the wayside.

Anything that can be archived, should be.

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I was teaching yesterday using xtranormal (http://www.xtranormal.com/profile/horizon) and edmodo. I found myself trying to justify why I wanted to archive all of the learning going on in the room. As if somehow there were people watching and asking why I was doing what I was doing.
 
I waited, but no one asked the question.
 
In the end I want people to challenge my thinking. I want other teachers to ask what the virtue of chronicling all of the thoughts of students is. This is what I would have said, if anyone had put my pedagogy to the test:
 
Learning is not tangible. It isn’t something that all students just come to and recognize easily. It must be made visual and reflective. It must be made into an object to be manipulated. If we are not archiving everything for our students (or if they aren’t doing it themselves), how will they ever be able to say “I can use this.” If it we don’t save our students thinking, how can we ever know that it really happened? How can we know if they or we did a job woth doing?
 
Learning is not for a day or a class period. We need to stop treating it like it were.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Posted via email from olco5’s posterous

“Hope Online” Professional Development 11.14.08

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Do Not turn off your cell phones and laptops.
If you have them, use them.

(Throughout this workshop, you can ask questions via text message by texting hopeonline and your question to 41411. You can also add to our questions without a cell phone by going to http://www.textmarks.com/HOPEONLINE)

I am not here today in order to introduce to you a brand new initiative that will require extensive amounts of training and make your life busier before you see any real benefit. I am also not here today to say that there is any one tool or strategy for making the ways in which you work actually work.

Rather, I am here to ask you a lot of questions, mostly about what you are spending the most time with in your job. What are those things that take away from what you would rather be doing, the rewarding experiences of working with kids and other adults who are working with kids.

In order to do this, let’s get one thing straight. Information is infinite. Attention is finite.

You gather a seemingly insurmountable amount of information every single day from e-mails, voicemails, web sites, student data paperwork and many other sources. It can be even more daunting to think that there is more information out there about how to organize that information. With your attention stretched so thin, it is hard to think that there are ways of getting any of it back. We are still going to try, and for the most part, we are going to look at solutions that are already in your workflow.

Well, I would like to present you with a few possibilities for a different way of organizing information.

The first is I would like to use my voice to listen to my e-mail, create e-mail, put an event on my calendar, send myself a reminder, create a text, and post to my blog. While this service has a name, I would much rather you think about the strategies that I am using in order to create more time for other things. Because I am able to use my voice to do these things, I can make efficient use of my drive time (of which, there is a lot).

Dial2Do – A way to use your voice to get things done on your cell phone.

An example of using this strategy to create something.

I would like to next highlight the use of short messages to capture information. Many times, I need to be able to capture information from myself and others, but there is no time in order to send out an e-mail. I need to be able to capture it now. So I send a text message to a service that aggregates the information for me and for everyone else who I invite:

TextMarks – A way to both capture information and share information through SMS.

An example of using this strategy to create something.

I use e-mail a lot. Well, perhaps that is an understatement. I am available by e-mail about 20 hours of any given day. With that in mind, I would like to be able to use e-mail in order aggregate archive the most important things that I am sending out. I want to be able to attach anything I want and have the archive understand it.

Posterous – The e-mail blog that don’t even have to sign up for.

An example of using this strategy to create something.

Now, if I am on my computer and I want to capture information on a topic. I want to capture it as I am doing my research, not go back afterwards and document what is going on. I want to be able to simply highlight text and pictures and have them all simply show up in a webpage that I can e-mail to someone or share with somone for them to add to.

Google Notebook
– Collect text, pictures, and movies from webpages in order to be shared later with others.

An example of using this strategy to create something.

Well, what if I want to show others exactly where to go on a webpage using my voice. I would like to guide people through a series of webpages that I think are important. I want to do this in less than 5 mintues too.

FlowGram - Create a screencast of webpages and archive it to send to others.

An example of using this trategy to create something.

Now I would like you to figure out what you would like to be able to do in terms of aggregating and storing information. Brainstorm things that you don’t know are possible. Think about how you gather information now and how you would like to change that to be less attention heavy and more information heavy.

Now that we have all of our information gathered and stored, we will want to collaborate and talk about that information. The easiest way to do that is to meet face-to-face, but for much of the time, that requires significant driving and serious scheduling.

So, I want to come together with a few others to talk something out. I want to be able to see, hear, and write with them. I don’t want to have to set up log in to anything. I just want to hit a power button.

Tokbox – Always on Video Conferencing.

An example of using this strategy to create something.

I would like to work on the same spreadsheet with someone else so that I don’t have to send e-mails of the same document back and forth and get lost in the versioning. I would also like to be able to have information be entered into the spreadsheet via a form that others can fill out so that I don’t have to do as much data processing tasks.

Google Docs – A truly collaborative version of office

An example of using this strategy to create something.

NaNoWriMo(2)

Get your own at Scribd or explore others: Humor olco5

Finally, I really want all of this stuff to be accessible in one place. I would really like to not have to remember exactly what all of these sites are. I just want one place to go to where it makes sense to find all of these things. Almost like a well-maintained professional development environment for hope.

Our IQity classroom - A one stop shop for learning tools, collaboration, and further professional development.

Now I would like you to figure out what YOU want collaboration to look like at Hope. Brainstorm
things that you don’t know are possible. Think about how you collaborate now and how you would like to change that to be less
attention heavy and more information heavy.

The Ripe Environment: Backchannels exist.

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Whether we provide students or teachers with a backchannel, one will form. So long as there is more than one voice in a learning environment, the need to be heard will be undeniable.

Students may pass notes or they may text message in their pockets.

Teachers may point to a highlighted passage or simply make a face of disgust.

These things are not meant to stay in the background. They are essential, and as such, must be elevated to their rightful place in the classroom. The backchannel must influence the front-channel and must become the front-channel if the discussion and learning going on there is more important.

But, before I get too ahead of myself, let me set my definition of a backchannel:

A backchannel is the running commentary (critiques on, questions about, distractions from, references for, resources under) the dominant information stream. This dominant stream could be a lecture, discussion, video, or any other attention getting activity that would normally occupy the majority of the learners.

This may sound like quite a distraction. Why should we bring the note passers into the discussion? Why should we encourage distraction? Because it is how we learn.

Kelly Christopherson does a really great job of highlighting how a backchannel actually functions in a Ripe Environment, but I think the hardest thing to understand about a backchannel is balencing the two things that inherently have to go on within an classroom, but are not always so center stage. He says it this way:

Watching the crowd made me realize that we have a long way to go as educators. Many people in the room seemed to be having difficulty with the two things going on at once. Maybe that is why so many educators become frustrated with the use of cellphones or laptops in their classes; they don’t see how the two things can be going on at once.

The rapid fire writing down of resources, texts, or quotations is all well and good during a class or PD session, but what about questioning those things. When does that happen? If all learning is conversational and requires relationships, when are those relationships born and when do those conversations occur? They occur during the backchannel, if and only if one is set up and is relevant to those in the audience.

The experience that Kelly describes above is one that happens far too often. Those who do not find the backchannel relevant write it off as distracting, or worse, destructive. They want the front-channel to be the only channel, even though their brains and pens are commenting non-stopped on what is being said. We need to teach the value of commentary, fact-checking and questioning. We need to construct The Ripe Environment for the backchannel.

Observation with teacher.

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I had the pleasure of observing another teacher in my school today who teaches the 8th grade. We are creating a partnership of practice (or something with less alliteration) so that we can find out exactly what good teaching looks like from different personalities, in different classrooms, with different demographics. It is something that I really don’t feel like I do enough. I know what my own teaching looks like and I know what the teaching of teachers looks like. But, how connected am I to the practice of other teachers when I can’t be in their classrooms? I must constantly remind myself that the answer to the question that authentic learning presents should not always look like MY CLASSROOM. It is the approximation of an ideal, the learning environment as work-in-progress. Plus, it gives me so much more time to reflect upon what I do that it seems ludicrous that I don’t make more time for it. No matter what my future job description looks like, I always want to observe classrooms and be a part of this. It amazes me.

    • I really like the ways in which students immediately were proud of solving the puzzle. Does it approximate success?
    • I like the idea of a more relevant poem.
    • Is there a greater purpose for this kind of thinking/writing?
    • Do kids settle for just those answers when they are enumerated?
    • How can the bigger questions be answered in the student discussion as well as the teacher-led discussion?
    • The relevancy to student life is easy to see. Is there any way for students to be as critical of the lyrics as they are of the news article?
    • I love the modeling. What kind of modeling works the best (student created, teacher created, discussion created)?

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The Most Change For The Most Kids

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June 27, 2007 12:30PM

 

It is with some hesitation that I post this podcast. I am a teacher, and I will always be a teacher. However, I have been given the opportunity to do more. I have been recruited (although not formally given the position) for a Technology Integration Position in a nearby school district. This podcast is all about coming to terms with the idea of leaving the classroom so that I might create change and achieve School 2.0 in a larger way. At this point, I am very much interested in following my passion for finding solutions, and if this job provides solutions for more teachers and more students and also for my family, I don’t know that I can do anything other than pursue it. I am, however, still looking for others who have either made this transition or who have rejected it in favor of the classroom. Please e-mail me at benwilkoff@gmail.com if you have any questions or ideas.

Show Notes:

Play

links for 2007-11-24

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Why do I want to work here?

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itunes pic

Well, this is the official podcast about my interview with Littleton Public Schools. Although I was passionate and had a great experience in the interview, I was not offered the job. That made my decision to leave the classroom much easier. I still think that this podcast is relevant to anyone else who is thinking about leaving the classroom. I also outline the idea that passion and vision are the two elements that will allow you to progress professionally and personally. I think that I will continue to explore these ideas in the classroom next year, and I am extatic that I will have one more year to impliment all of the ideas from this podcast into my practice.

Show Notes: