Connected Pro-D


The Hub of My Final Project

Posted in ECI Final Project by tchcruiser on November 28, 2009
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Hub Cap

Originally uploaded by Heaven`s Gate (John)

Thanks to some comments and feedback and the chance to “think outloud” about what I really wanted for my project, I have decided to use a wiki format as the main hub for all my work, and then branch out from there to my blog for the reflective pieces, links to resources, etc. I am finding my time this weekend putting some meat to the site has been fairly easy going and wikispaces is quite easy to work with. However, with that said, I am finding it does have its limitations – namely that I am unable to find easy ways to move text and pictures around the page and have been frustrated at times with that. I think the only way around it is to select the alignment for the picture and text separately. Too bad they did not have text boxes that could then more easily wrap around images. 😦

Here is the link to what I have designed so far – http://connectedpro-d.wikispaces.com/

If any of you have a few minutes to provide some feedback as to what you think might be improved (other than getting some content onto most of the pages!) I would welcome any feedback. I set it for PUBLIC so that anyone is welcome to edit each page – please add any links or resources you know of that apply to each area and let me know what you think so far. It is a mammoth project, I am finding out, and clearly the first steps in a career-long endeavour. But you have to start somewhere, and it is in this project where I can see the benefits of SHARING and COLLABORATION as others come in, give a bit of what they know, and take also what they can.

If you know of any other similar sites that might be a resource for me to look at for formatting ideas, ways to display links, document files, etc, I would love to see them. My idea is to try and get not only static links, but also embed some media on as many of the pages as I can. This will be my ongoing work now, as it feels like it is set up roughly the way I want it for now…. until I see something better and get ideas from other places. I really wanted to add images to each page to help bring in some interest rather than just links, as that is boring. That took A LOT of time – much more than I thought it was going to. But I also am easily distracted by all the amazing art work out there!

Wish me luck!

Piecing My Final Project Together

Posted in ECI Final Project by tchcruiser on November 23, 2009
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When a Body catch a Body

Originally uploaded by ms_quarantine

I liked this image as a way to capture my current frustrations around my final project this week. I usually enjoy spending a ridiculous amount of time putting jig saw puzzles together and am finding that creating the space I want to build for my final project is feeling much like it does when you first dump the box of pieces on the table and start sorting. You have a really good idea about what the final end picture or product should look like, and what components and pieces you will need to achieve it. But what is still nebulous and challenging is finding out which of those pieces need to be connected, and how they should be connected, in order for the entire thing to come together. This is where I am at with my final project. Let me outline the basic premise and then perhaps you might provide some ideas and suggestions to help me select the best pieces for the best fit.

Project idea: continue to expand and build upon ECI 831 blog space for professional development personally and for my work as a consultant to help support other teachers who want to connect to professional development readings, links, discussions and other content.

Rationale: I have to read professionally and respond to books in book circles, PLC groups and other areas. I could record my reflections and thoughts about what I was reading in this space, and invite other teachers in my division and world audience to also respond and participate, lessening the need to drive long distances to still participate and feel part of the conversation and learning.

I also am asked to locate and share resource links and materials with teachers in my division. I would like to do this work once, and then store these links in a more permanent fashion with others more effeciently and easily than by one-one emails.

I would also like to share my collaborative efforts and professional growth (required formally in my PGP and informally because I am interested in recording this in a more public way) with others in a more transparent way. Telling someone else and knowing that others are watching for results is a powerful motivator for me to actually carry out my plans and goals for the year.

1. Use the blogspace already created to act as my “homepage” and make more pages/categories to extend the topics, subject specific curricular areas and professional growth areas of interest beyond ECI 831.
2. Connect to other sites that do a better job of housing links and media (such as a wiki site for links that others can contribute to) and youtube channels for videos, etc.

As I am working at this, I am wondering of I should not use a wiki as the home page instead and connect out to the blog, as Alec has modelled with our course. Although basic and not as fancy, it does seem to offer more flexibility for linking to so many other forms of social media. Maybe it is just the blog site I have chosen, but the more I try and get indepth with wordpress, the more it is not working for me. I am feeling flashbacks of working with Joomla- not at all intuitive. 😦 Does anyone else feel the same way or have ideas about how I might piece together my parts for reflection on professional readings, useful links to websites and resources, and connections with media in a neat, tidy and efficient manner?

The more I think about it, the more I like the idea of using a wikispace as the main hub, and branch out from there. It does allow others to add easily to the work in progress as they find things (kind of in keeping with the “find a penny, take a penny” container at the cashier…). I know I like to feel helpful and a contributor to someone else’s journey and not always be taking, taking, taking. That is the beauty of the wiki vs the blog. And am I right in thinking that not all parts of the wiki needs to be open to the world? That you can lock areas that you want to not be changed?? If so, then maybe this is the way forward?

Who has got the missing pieces of my puzzle? And if you have one, would you please share it?!

Block, Filter or Enhance Our Vision of Citizenship – Education’s Response to Media Literacy and Digital Identity

Posted in ECI 831 by tchcruiser on November 16, 2009
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Autumn Park Rflection in Sunglasses

Originally uploaded by www.stockforfood.com

I selected this image to capture my discussion about literacy and identity formation in schools. I think it is symbolic of education’s typical responses to these challenging and complex sets of skills. The glasses represent our tendancy to try and block or filter knowledge – especially web sites and digital media – from our students, rather than face head on the more important work of teaching how to find material, assess and evaluate for accuracy and relevance, how to create their own content that is worth sharing, how to create and manage their own identity and personality in a digital learning, work and social space and above all – to do all of this work as citizens of a digitally connected world with class, integrity, honesty and respect for themselves and others. I think that this is the most important and most left-out piece of the literacy and identity puzzle that is not being adequately addressed right now. We are still hung up on learning how to use the tools, rather than how to relate responsibly within the tools.

In Nov 11th’s Globe and Mail there was an article about protecting your digital identity. This is connected with another article/editorial I saw in this same publication last week from one of their columnists who was talking about how someone had created a Twitter account under her name (and it was not her). She came to realize that not only was this account set up, but that she had been tweeting for almost a year and had created quite a following because of her tweets. This made me wonder about this for my own sake- what would I think and what would I do if this had been done to me by a student or worse case scenario, a parent group looking to get rid of a teacher from a school….. it is scary to think what can be posted under the pretense of it being you, by someone who has created accounts in your name. A similar conversation and sense of wondering was brought to a discussion in a session at my convention last week around this same topic in reference to cyber-bullying. Are kids doing this to each other? What kind of pressure is there to establish a digital presence on the many social networking sites out there before someone takes it upon themselves to do it for you?

I also wonder about this in relation to famous people, politicians, etc tweeting and facebooking…. no one really expects that the actual people are sending out these transmissions and no doubt understand that paid communications experts are taking care of this kind of media exposure. And if this is the case, how much of it is genuine and can be trusted and taken seriously? As professionals, is this something we need to be thinking about more carefully? How much do we have to manage, supervise and protect our digital presence so that we are still taken seriously and maintain our dignity and integrity? I am hoping that I can work through this alongside colleagues and students.

I will be making efforts to remove the temptation to shield students and filter what they see and interact with in schools and will be a voice for teaching how to use it properly, as Dean Shareski and Bud the Teacher’s blog post suggest. Doing so will also require clear “big picture” vision knowing that the temptation is there to replace shields and filters with a rosy-tint of idealism – but I am willing to give it a go. Maybe Elton John has a pair suitable for the task?

Game Building and Playing In Education

Posted in ECI 831 by tchcruiser on November 11, 2009
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Flip-Flop Hop-Scotch

Originally uploaded by seebeew

I like what this picture says about games and education – namely, that kids want the play the games they build and make and find them more interesting than any built for them. Many children find the pots and pans in the bottom cupboard far more interesting than the expensive manufactured toys their parents bought for them. I think it might be because they have to experiment and make their own connections, conclusions and adaptations to the new objects and it is the unknowing and experimenting that is the fun part of the process.

Sylvia Martinez presented to our class a few weeks ago about gaming in education and suggested some reasons why it is ok to be critical and skeptical about using computer games in schools. Essentially, it is not the best use of resources if students are brought together in groups, only to be isolated at individual computers to essentially do drill and practice activities under the guise of it being a game. If it is a glorified worksheet or set of flashcards, then perhaps calling it a game is not being truthful and is not using gaming theory to bring out the best learning in our students. I would tend to agree with Sylvia and I think that we could and should be using our time together in classrooms to be thinking deeply about content and processes and working together in more collaborative ways to practice how to work together to solve larger more complex problems.

This is where games and computers have a positive place in schools, according to Sylvia. Done properly, games can support educational objectives, but it is not in the playing of games, but rather in the conceptualization, the building and design and the problem solving when working out the bugs that the real learning takes place. The content of the game, what once used to the most important thing to be learning, now no longer really is. Instead, we can be using game design as a teaching method that addresses many of our most pressing educational goals and objectives:
1. engagement in their learning: Tell me this girl above is not totally engaged in what she is doing! And she is because she holds the chalk, was able to decide how big the squares are, what order the numbers go, what pattern to make the board and what the rules will be to get to the end. It was not made for her, which invites instant passivity.
2. real life problem-solving: when this girl jumps through her game a few times, she will come to know very quickly what is working and what is not and will formulate some ideas about how to fix it so it plays better for her and others. If her feet don’t fit in the boxes, she will make them bigger.
3. Critical and Creative Thinking: by playing other people’s versions of hopscotch in the past, she has perhaps made some choices about aspects she would like to see in her own version to suit her tastes, but also to make it recognizable and inviting for others to play.
4. Collaborating: although not visible in this picture, it is likely that the game maker here worked alongside others, informing her design, clarifying the order of the numbers, giving opinion to the colors she should use, etc.
5. Teacher as facilitator: we do not see the teacher making the grid, but we can assume that the teacher/parent helped supply the materials, gave permission to use the space and possibly helped with the initial conception of the idea. From there, freedom was given to build and play through the experience, giving feedback where helpful and when asked. Presumably, the teacher may even learned something they did not know about hopscotch design by listening to and working alongside the students that day.

I wanted to use a common and relatively low-tech game analogy to think about my thoughts about gaming and education. Although out of the classroom this year, I had certainly used games as a method of allowing students to show what they learned, much as they would have a poster or pamhlet. I never did anything related to working with students on building an actual game in a digital way (other than the power point jeopardy review type activities) but now that I think about it a bit more, I can see how my pedagogical beliefs align with the use of this strategy. I don’t know the first thing about digital game building or design, nor do I think I have to…. but I do know that it would be very interesting to see history come alive for my students by layering it a game of some type. I can see a lot of rich potential, even if it is only in the design stages, to see how they might take a familiar format of a video game they know, and apply the historical time period and events into in in some way to show they understand the charachters, the time period, the settings, the actions and consequences of those actions…. or possible ones if not the actual. I also think there is powerful learning in layering this kind of understanding alongside other people, other nations, other cultures that may have been living and involved at the same time and to see how they might layer that within the game. There is much potential for meaningful collaboration, research, analysis, creativity…. and I would be right in there with them, as engaged in the process as this girl is.

Web 2.0 – Story Telling By the Flickr of the Global Campfire

Posted in ECI 831 by tchcruiser on November 11, 2009
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The magic of beautiful Spanish lake in this British Columbia summer landscape Explore

Originally uploaded by Jacques Daigneault

I chose this picture to frame my entry about digital story telling as it symbolizes to me what story telling is about – sharing experiences with others in a safe environment, with others around you willing to take in your story, and in turn having that story re-told and added onto around other “camp fires” or dining room tables or today – computer screens, with others totally unkown to you.

Story telling is a giving over of your lived experience to others to learn from and find connection to and then to pass it on. It is the ultimate and perhaps the oldest of “green” acts that encourages and demands a recycling of common and familiar settings, plot lines, characters, endings and lessons learned.

The fact that we now do this with computers makes it no more less so than in times past when it was done entirely by word of mouth and memory. In fact, digital story telling has shifted back into a necessity to re-mash and re-mix and share it again with an audience to keep it relevant, personal and connected with the context of the community it is being shared with. This has always been done in story telling – characters name change, the age changes, the location changes, the action taken slightly different to account for regional quirks, but it is done in a way to make it recongnizable to those hearing the larger human story that is woven into the details.

I think what makes web 2.0 tools and story telling different is that it now relies primarily on a visual form of telling the story. In the past, sitting around this fire, you would only have needed to hear the story being told to you, or read the words of the story as you sat in your deck chair…. but now, we are sharing stories with predominantly pictures and video as the main form of “words” and the story comes from being able to read what the images are saying about these common human themes. Visual story telling does have some benefits, however, even though you may not be able to do it by the warmth of this fire!

Visual stories, I feel, allow you tell longer, complex stories in perhaps less amounts of time than it would take to tell the story in written or oral form. I also think that it allows for more layering – adding in oral, written text, music, movement, etc which makes the message more compelling. Digital 2.0 forms of storytelling also allow for many times to replay and take it in – and each time you take in the story, you may get different things from it.

I also think that the potential size of the audience you are sharing your story with in a digital world also impacts the story. When you are sitting around a campfire such as this, you are intimatley connected with your audience – you can see their facial expressions and sense their emotional connection with your story. You can see and hear clearly if they are connecting with you and you can adjust your story telling style instantly as you get this feedback. I wonder if this makes a difference in the kind of story you tell and how you tell it when you are so close to the audience and do not have to wait for feedback – if you get any feedback at all. Sometimes, although published to a world-wide audience, your story may not even be “heard” by anyone, or at least anyone who cares enough about you to listen.

I also think about how the “distance” from your audience that a digital story teller has may have some positive benefits in the sense that if you are not as personally connected to the audience, it might allow you to feel more free to take risks in your story telling. I am guessing this may be the case and is why we see so many publishing and sharing their stories with the world via the internet today.

I think that the availability and ease of web 2.0 story telling tools makes everyone capable of telling stories and it is no longer exclusively for those who have good memories, know many languages or can read and write – as it once was. Although we spend less time sharing stories around a campire such as this, we are still sharing and telling stories, only now we are doing this increasingly by the glow of our screens and the flickr of images on the internet, rather than the more intimate settings invoked by this image.