EC&I 832


Yesterday I was fortunate enough to have a prep when Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach of the Powerful Learning Practice was hosting a session on “Evaluating Digital Resources.” Once again I fired up Elluminate and logged in for a session. There were a few people I recognized attending the online session including Alec Couros. Alec is one of my former professors at the University of Regina and introduced me to many of the online tools, groups and collaborators that I work with now.

The session was hosted by Nussbaum-Beach but the presenter was Ira Socol. Socol posed the question “How do we know something is true?” He then discussed news stories that have been published before the information has been checked and questioned. His example was the New York Times Airbus A380 story that was published but contradicted information from a story the Times had published two weeks earlier. Socol  discussed the old way of establish information: look at the author’s credentials, the publisher’s authority and whether the library or school distributed the text. The reason the old way is no longer as relevant is that by the time text is published there has already been changes in the information presented.

squidoo.com

Society now looks at information in a much different way. They don’t look for information authority but at perceived authority. Our students may look at an author’s reputation, what someone else recommends, if there is previous experience with the source, who the author and site are associated with and the findability of the information. Most of our students are most impressed by the findability of information or which information had the most hits on Google. The students are equating most hits with the best quality as a way to rate information.

Socol posed discussion questions;

How do your students “know” something is true?

Is it the same way the you (teachers) “know”?

Is it the same way your Board of Education “knows”?

What is true is that students don’t “know” what is true. My example is that earlier this week as my students were researching wonders of the world, one of my students showed me a picture of The Great Wall of China as a water slide. I questioned whether the picture was real or fake. The student hadn’t thought anything about it other than how cool that would be. I sent them back to check. As Socol states we need to teach our students to ask questions and train them in “information intelligence.” We want to ask our students to find the information in other places to verify it is reliable information. We want students to look through the site’s information and question whether the other things the source says are believable. Students also need to know what the author’s perspective is to understand if there is a bias behind the information. According to Socol the  most important technique we can use when we’re teaching our students to evaluate digital resources is to demand of our students “Show me why you think this is true.”

Last week I had my Tweetdeck open when I saw a tweet by Mrs. Durff which mentioned Sharon Peters discussing EBB (Education Beyond Borders) on Thursday night. Right away I became excited because I am going to be working with EBB this summer in Kenya. I had heard about EBB about two years ago when Sharon Peters had been a guest with Alec Couros for my EC&I 831 class and she discussed her interest in global education/collaboration. Then about five weeks ago Sharon had posted information on the Global Education Collaborative about applying to join EBB in Africa this summer. I spoke to my husband about the opportunity, emailed Noble Kelly, sent in my application, had a Skpe interview then found out last weekend that I will joining a team in Kenya.

I rsvp’d for the online interview and discussion then plugged in for my Elluminate session on Thursday night. The forum for the discussion was: The Future of Education: Charting the Course of Teaching and Learning in a Networked World. Welcome to the Future of Education interview series and discussion community.

I joined in to listen to Steve Hargadon talk with Sharon Peters and Noble Kelly about “Education Beyond Borders.”” Education Beyond Borders is a non-profit NGO devoted to closing the education divide through teacher professional development and community education. EBB is focused on advancing and supporting the movement for educators and advocates for education to do our part in supporting our colleagues and their students in disadvantaged regions here at home and around the world.”
I was fascinated to listen to Sharon talk about her experiences traveling to South Africa and Kenya to facilitate teacher workshops. Sharon and Noble both spoke about EBB’s mission of engaging, educating and empowering the educators of the countries that they work in. EBB is a collaborative group that base the workshops on the identified needs of the country. EBB projects are designed to build capacity with the project participants first as teachers then as facilitators. EBB focuses on building self-sustainability over a four-year series of workshops.
As Noble shared
“Education is a collaborative effort lasting a lifetime; our learning model is designed to connect global ‘best practices’ to those at the local level who can build their capacity and in doing so, change their communities and ours.”
In Kenya there is limited computer access and limited resources. One difficulty is that most schools lack electricity which makes it difficult to have computers. The model of instruction is very teacher centered and there is a lack of professional development. EBB works with the Ministry of Education and the local teachers to develop workshops that expand the teaching repertoire, introduce new methodologies and learning theories while working with the Kenyan curricula. EBB also assists the Kenyan teachers in developing their own professional learning communities (PLCs) to share knowledge. Nings have begun to be used for PLC communications. This year it’s expected that during the three weeks we will be in Kenya we work with approximately 190 primary and secondary teachers. We will also be working with 12 Kenyan facilitators and developing their skills.
There were 42 educators attending the Elluminate session. Some of the attendees were former or current team members like me while many other people were interested in the work that EBB is doing in Africa. The evening was a good start in my learning curve. During the presentation I wrote on the chat that I was at the bottom of a very steep learning curve and that is so true. I’ve got so much to learn and get organized in what seems like a short time but I can’t wait to get started!
For an archived recording of the session you can check out the following links:
Full Elluminate: https://sas.elluminate.com/p.jnlp?psid=2010-03-11.1450.M.9E9FE58134BE68C…
Portable Audio: http://audio.edtechlive.com/foe/peterskelly.mp3
Chat Log: http://audio.edtechlive.com/foe/peterskelly.rtf

Today’s readers become literate by learning to read the words and symbols of today’s world. They analyze multiple representations of a variety of texts, pictures, artwork, data and videos. Ultimately, 21st Century literacy is where aural, oral, visual and digital literacies merge. This new literacy gives students the ability to read and produce words, images, videos and new media. There is a profound shift in the way students express themselves and communicate with their peers. As educators we need to adapt to this new literacy or become irrelevant to our students. The students are operating in a multi-modal and multi-layer environment which is modular and portable. Students have moved into an interactive and collaborative arena that connects them to their world. When you consider this university class, EC&I 832, is a perfect example of the ability of students to convey information, create new content and work with new literacies. Our class relies on multi media, online web tools and our ability to communicate together. Our students are going to insist that we begin to create the same type of learning environments for them. Simply consider the deep understanding we are developing beyond a teacher instructing us. We are free to develop our own interests and delve as deep as we desire to. What would happen if our students were able to develop their interests and create content based on those interests?
Thoughts inspired by http://www.youtube.com/user/peakdavid

What role do multi-modal and print-based texts play in the life of the 21st century learner?

A tongue in cheek view of “New Literacies for a New Age”

Members of the research team at Project New Media Literacies discuss the social skills and cultural competencies needed to fully engage with today’s participatory culture. Featuring Henry Jenkins from MIT.

This morning I was checking my daily updates from one of my Diigo Groups and I was excited when I checked out this Myths and Legends Story Creator site. I can already imagine how I can use this with my students. In a myths and legends unit or integrate it into some project based learning this would be a fabulous way for the students to create stories. I can think about the discussions and planning that will happen then once the students start using the story creator their stories will come alive.

The site has free membership which is a bonus. Each year I create a class email account for my students to use for sites like this that allows me to create a class account on web sites. It’s so much easier if all of the students are using the same password. Occasionally this creates a problem if the site has difficulty managing so many users on the same account but then we adapt. I would want to see if we could embed the story on our blogs but if not we could probably using screen shots to post the story. I could also envision using the screen shot pictures and using iMovie to create a movie. I think I might be getting ahead of myself here. I’ll have to play around with the site then introduce it to my students. We could have used it for our Solar System unit to tell stories about the constellations, hmmm…maybe I can incorporate it into my current project “Oh, The Places You’ll Go.” I’ll let you know how it turns out.

I’m just beginning Block 6, Adventure # 2 ~ The Quicksand of Multiple Literacies ~ for my EC&I 832 master’s class. I read the Wikipedia definition of Multiple LiteraciesMultiliteracies is a term coined by the New London Group.[1] Because the way people communicate is changing due to new technologies, and shifts in the usage of the English language within different cultures, a new “literacy” must also be used and developed.” I then moved on to the Educase Article Connecting the Digital Dots: Literacy of the 21st Century which stated that “Perhaps literacy, and numeracy for that matter, have never really been optional for fully functioning members of society. In our 21st century society—accelerated, media-saturated, and automated—a new literacy is required, one more broadly defined than the ability to read and write.” Next on the list was Dr. Michael Wesch’s video Information R/evolution which “explores the changes in the way we find, store, create, critique, and share information. This video was created as a conversation starter, and works especially well when brainstorming with people about the near future and the skills needed in order to harness, evaluate, and create information effectively.” The readings and video made had me thinking about last year’s  Saskatchewan iT Summit where David Warlick was the key note speaker. Warlick challenges the way we are teaching and learning. During his presentations to teachers he wants to challenge them to expand their perceptions of teaching and learning and dare to consider our professional future with optimism and excitement.”

Mike Sansone CC

“Today, we are not just about Literacy,
But, “Learning Literacy,”

Not just about Literacy Skills,
But, “Literacy Habits,”

Not just about Lifelong Learning,
But, it is a “Learning Lifestyle.”


I went back and reread my blog post after listening to Warlick speak and found that what he said a year ago still resonates and challenges me.

Redefining Literacy with David Warlick March 24th, 2009

http://davidwarlick.com/wordpress/

How do we prepare students for a world and future we don’t know about. We need to stop integrating technology but integrate literacy. If students are literate “in terms of their information landscape” they will ask questions and challenge information. Students must be willing and encouraged to ask questions. In fact, we want students to become digital detectives; look for clues and evidence about where their information is coming from. We want literacy to go beyond reading text on paper and answering questions about the text. Students are reading in a global electronic highway where anyone can publish which means that the demands for literacy are changing. Today literacy means that students need to “expose what’s true: find, critically evaluate, organize and apply.”

We also need to teach students to communicate their ideas in a compelling way that moves beoynd text to videos, photos, digital storytelling, music and art.

Contemporary Literacy:

karindalziel CC

Exposing What’s True

Employing the Information

Expressing Ideas Compellingly

Do it all within an Ethical Context

Redefine Literacy, so that it reflects today’s information.

In more recent blog posts and presentations Warlick continues to challenge educators and  the literacies they are teaching for.

“I frequently talk about expanding our notions of literacy from the 3Rs to 4Es, expanding:

  • Reading to Exposing what’s true A range of skills going beyond simply reading to finding the information within a global network, evaluating the information to determine its value, organizing the information, and decoding the information.
  • Arithmetic to Employing the information An appreciation that all information is structured from numbers today, and the skills to work those numbers to add value to the information.
  • Writing to Expressing ideas compellingly When technical information doubles every 72 hours, information must compete for our attention.  To produce a message that will attract an audience, literacy includes the ability to communicate effectively with text, sound, images, video, and animation.
  • and adding in Ethics as a critical part of any definition of or conversation about literacy.”

With so much to think about I question whether I’m doing a good job acknowledging the different forms of literacy in the classroom. Am I doing what I can to help my students explore the various forms of literacy by giving them opportunities in the classroom? Every time I read articles, blogs or view videos I find myself reflecting and questioning my teaching practice which I guess is the whole point.

Cristóbal Cobo Romaní CC

I just finished viewing and reflecting on Steve Wheeler’s slide presentation on New Pedagogies for the Digital age. As Wheeler states “The future of education will be premised on what students need – and that will include creative solutions, flexible, personalisable tools, and device responsiveness that is culturally relevant. It’s going to be exciting and challenging!” It occurred to me that there is much discussion about what type of education students need and what pedagogy is best to prepare students for an unknown future.

In Rethinking Pedagogy for a Digital Age: Designing and Delivering E-learning Helen Beethem and Rona Sharpe argue that there is nothing new about using technologies for learning. From the beginning of time every tool that has been introduced to enhance learning and teaching has been a new invention. Beethem and Sharpe continue with “The networked digital computer and its more recent mobile and digital are just the latest outputs of human ingenuity that we have at our disposal.” Beethem and Sharpe contend “that these technologies represent a paradigm shift … on the theory of learning.” Beethem and Sharpe question how digital technologies constitute a new context for learning and explore this in their book.

In his paper How has pedagogy changed in a digital age? Hayat Al-Khatib concludes that “The full potential of ICT support should be explored in learner-centered strategies to shift pedagogic orientation to cater more for the role of the learner in the learning process, taking advantage of the resources and tools made available in the digital age.”

Our goal as educators should be to develope a curious, flexible and creative student who is able to work cooperatively in group situations. Whether that group is within that student’s classroom, school, city or even country depends on the student and teacher’s ability to connect to a learning network outside of the student’s building. The biggest change since I started teaching is that type of tools and technology available to me. I still remember learning how to use a gestetner machine and how exciting a photo copier in the school was. The difference now is that we live in a digital age and as educators, digital tools are what we have to use with our students. In Block 5 for my EC&I 832 class we’ve been exploring various web tools and questioning how they can help us in our teaching practice. If we consider the cartoon sites, movie makers, digital story telling and social networking applications as technological tools we can use them wisely to enhance learning in a digitally relevant way.

To filter or not to filter? That appears to be a big question for school divisions. My own opinion is that we don’t filter because I find it an insult that someone in an IT department is going to make teaching decisions for me. I think that my professional judgement and education should allow me some decision making power and the respect to know how to teach my students to be digitally responsible. If I don’t teach them who is going to?

Google Australia posted on their blog concerns about an Australian government proposal to implement filtering in all schools:
“Some limits, like child pornography, are obvious. No Australian wants that to be available – and we agree. Google, like many other Internet companies, has a global, all-product ban against child sexual abuse material and we filter out this content from our search results. But moving to a mandatory ISP filtering regime with a scope that goes well beyond such material is heavy handed and can raise genuine questions about restrictions on access to information. ”

Google Australia goes on to say “Our view is that online safety should focus on user education…” which are exactly my feelings. “The government has committed to important cybersafety education and engagement programs and yesterday announced additional measures that we welcome.”

On ConnectSafely’s blog Anne Collier states “Many young people are using ‘proxy servers’ to get round their schools’ internet security systems, ” the BBC reports, adding that students’ use of these free school-filtering workarounds is on the rise. “It sounds like an obscure, techy area of computing that only geeks would know about. But when we asked pupils in one secondary school classroom who had heard of proxy servers, every hand went up.” I started looking into proxy servers and found blog posts that instructed students how to bypass school filters and for a step by step  directions you only have to look as far as YouTube.

So, our school divisions set up all of these filters and students start a quest to find a way to work around them. It makes me wonder what exactly we’re teaching here. Collier goes on to say “Instead, schools should embrace and teach with these devices (cellphones etc.) and technologies so students can learn and practice wise use…That helps develop the 24/7 cognitive “filter” in their heads that improves with practice and is as flexible as their use of technology is…” And if all else fails you can insert images or graphics on your blogs and wikis to truly express how you feel.

On  Chris Matyszczyk’s blog Technically Incorrect he pokes fun at filters with this blog” School Web Filters Force Beaver into Hibernation.” Matyszczyk goes on to explain that the Canadian Natural History’s magazine “The Beaver” ,established in 1920, has
run into problems with school filters. “… web and spam filters, especially the robust ones employed by schools to keep their students from reading about naked bodies and manual exercise, are rejecting The Beaver’s hardy historical e-mails and other communications.” Now, doesn’t this seem silly?

On the blog Spotlight on Digital Media and Learning, Christine C. poses the question “Are school content filters keeping you and your students from learning and sharing information?” Christine discusses the problems that teachers and students are having when their access to social media is blocked. Christine also introduces ” Buffy Hamilton, a high school librarian in Canton, Ga., who argues that media specialists should try to overcome digital roadblocks by presenting reasoned and well-resourced arguments.” Hamilton shares her thoughts on Strategies for Fighting Internet Filtering on slideshare.

I think Will Richardson sums up my feelings about filtering in schools “It insults the profession to not at the very least provide desktop overrides for teachers when they bump up against a filtered site. Have a policy in place to deal with incidents where teachers make poor choices if that’s what the concern is.”

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