Archive for the 'Read/Write Web' Category

Will Richardson in Monterey

Saturday, December 1st, 2007

Will is talking about how the read/write web is changing everything… including journalism. He mentioned that we can take a picture, write a blog post, and put it online – all from our phone… so I was motivated to do just that. I used to do this more when attending conferences, but this week I’ve been playing with the Flip Video instead. The pictures are much better, but there’s an interesting side effect… I haven’t been making the time to write and post as I go… since I’ve been panning to edit the video later. I think I need to switch to the video equivalent of Flickr… perhaps YouTube, but is there an automatic blog posting feature like this?

More on Will and the CLMS conference soon. Meanwhile, watch twitter for updates.

UPDATE: During the break between sessions I set up a Flip -> iMovie -> YouTube workflow for myself. Click on the image to the left for a brief clip that shows the number of laptops in the audience and then Will explaining the point of his talk, which I tweeted earlier:

Will’s point is the opposite of others here… He’s saying “this is about you and how you learn” instead of just “let your students do it.”

My tweet generated several responses from other educators on Twitter, which may be worth sharing/archiving here:

Durff Durff @markwagner valid point-aren’t we the role models? it is about all the learners – us & them about 2 hours ago from web in reply to markwagner
John Pederson ijohnpederson @markwagner Reminds me of SNB’s “You can’t give away something you don’t own. Among my favorite posts ever. about 2 hours ago from twitterrific in reply to markwagner
jexplorer jexplorer @markwagner @mobileminded isn’t this really about mentorer learning vs creating an environment for individual learning? about 2 hours ago from web in reply to markwagner
Bud Hunt budtheteacher @markwagner: Yep. I say in presentations that we should never do something to or with students that we won ‘t do ourselves. about 2 hours ago from web in reply to markwagner
Brian C. Smith mobileminded @markwagner I’ve begun to understand that to be true more and more. Makes sense as the focus is on personal learning. Then students. about 2 hours ago from TwitBin in reply to markwagner

This post has turned into something of an experiment. It all worked, but embedding YouTube is a no go in WordPress and posting the linked image was an extra step. Too, the embedded tweets worked, but required manually editing code. I may be trying more posts like this in the future, and if any of you have ideas how I might improve my process of embedding video (or twitter), please let me know.

Passion and Professional Development (NECC Submission)

Monday, October 8th, 2007

Here is the fourth of five submissions I made for NECC 2008. This session is the biggest departure from past presentations and workshops I’ve lead, but it’s not entirely new – it’s based on an article I wrote for OnCUE last year. (I blogged the article back in December.) Also, of course, I try to put these ideas into practice with each workshop I do. If this is accepted, it will be the first time I lead a session focused on sharing these ideas. Incidentally, unlike the previous submission, this is a return to a focus on professional development for me – rather than focusing directly on teaching. But, I think the content would be appropriate for use in a k-12 or higher-ed classroom as well as in professional development situations. Let me know what you think.

Title:

Passion and Professional Development: Four Philosophies For Lead Learners

Description:

A passionate student is a learning student. The same is true for teachers. Engage participants emotionally and unleash their passions, even in a technology workshop.

Outline:

This session will begin with an interactive welcome activity. During this activity, participants will be asked to share what they like most about teaching… and about being a student. The presenter will facilitate a brief discussion around the participants’ passions related to teaching and learning. Then the presenter will introduce the four philosophies summarized above. Participants will then be asked to share an example of how they might put each philosophy into action in their next presentation or workshop. In the next segment of the workshop, participants will be introduced to two-way web technologies (such as blogs, various forms of online chat, social networking, social microblogging with twitter, and even Google Docs) can be used to support these four philosophies. Again, participants will be asked to share an example of how they might use a two-way web technology to support these four philosophies in their next presentation or workshop. Before concluding the session, the presenter will leave participants with a few final tips for how they can integrate these philosophies and technologies into their own presentations and workshops. Finally, an interactive reflection activity will close the session.

This session has the most face-to-face interaction built into it of any session I’ve ever submitted. Also, of course, I included the online interactivity of a Google preso, a wiki, and a potential webcast.

And again, in the interest of sharing – and in hopes of receiving feedback – I’ve made an archive of the complete submission available, too:

Passion and Professional Development (NECC 2008 Submission)

Please leave a comment below to leave any feedback you might have. :)

Two-Way Teaching (NECC Submission)

Friday, October 5th, 2007

Here is the third of five submissions I made for NECC 2008. My previous two submissions were really focused on helping teachers learn – rather than helping teachers to teach. This session, though, is my effort at a more teaching centered session. It combines elements of my three-hour Two-Way Teaching workshops from last year and the new 20 minute Blogs, Wikis, and Google Docs CUE Tips session I submitted last month for the 2008 CUE conference. I hope the combination works. Let me know what you think.

Title:

Two-way Teaching with the Two-Way Web: Blogs, Wikis, & Docs

Description:

Learn when to use blogs, wikis, or Google Docs with your students, parents, and community! Clear up your lingering confusion. Includes pedagogy, ethics, and safety.

Outline:

An interactive welcome activity will begin this session. An overview of the two-way teaching concept (in which teachers are learners and learners are teachers) will follow. The presenter will then briefly introduce participants to the two-way web and it’s effect on education. The specific tools of blogs, wikis, and Google Docs will be briefly introduced, compared and contrasted. This segment will focus on the unique features and limitations of teach tool, and on the ways in which these tools may overlap in function or be redundant. (A comparison chart will be included.) This will be followed by an overview of best practices using blogs in education, including many examples. Next, best practices using wikis in education will be shared, again including several examples. Also, best practices and examples will be shared for the use of Google Docs. Following these illustrations, the presenter will then share several “rules of thumb” for when to use a blog, when to use a wiki, and when to use Google Docs. Before concluding the session, issues related to the ethical and safe use of these tools will also be addressed. Finally, an interactive reflection activity will bring closure to the session.

I also included the interactive elements of a Google presentation, a wiki, and a possible webcast in this submission. And once again, in the interest of sharing – and in hopes of receiving feedback – I’ve made an archive of the complete submission available, too:

Two-Way Teaching (NECC 2008 Submission)

I look forward to any feedback you might leave in the comments.

Learning to Network & Networking to Learn (NECC Submission)

Thursday, October 4th, 2007

Here is the second of five submissions I made for NECC 2008. At first glance this session looks a lot like the one I shared yesterday, but I consider the focus and the audience to be different. In the case of yesterday’s session it’s focused on folks who actually want to “Be An Edublogger” so to speak. This one I see more as a focused on a skill that all teachers can benefit from. Too, the previous session was very much focused on the tools of the trade, whereas this session is all about looking beyond the tools to the life-long skills. Also, this session has more of an academic foundation in social constructivism.

In any case, I am indepted to a tweet from Steve Dembo in which he simply pronounced that it was no longer important to teach teachers how to use the tools, but rather we needed to teach them how to access a learning network – or something along those lines. (I’d link to the tweet, but that is no longer possible – at least this morning.) And again, I’d love to hear what any of you think of this.

Title:

Learning to Network & Networking to Learn: Beyond The Tools…

Description:

There’s always new web tools, but it’s more important to become part of an online learning network than to master any specific tool. Learn how.

Outline:

An interactive welcome activity will begin this session. The presenter will then provide a brief overview of social constructivist learning theory, including the concepts of socially negotiated meaning making and the zone of proximal development. This portion of the session will draw on work by constructivists such as Dewey, Piaget, Vygotsky, and Bruner – and on work by explicitly constructivist educational technologists such as Papert and Jonassen. It will conclude by connecting these theories to the recent work of read/write web enthusiasts such as Will Richardson and David Warlick. Then participants will be introduced to ways in which tools such as blogs, social networking, social microblogging, and instant messaging can support such learning. The presenter will share anecdotes from his personal experience as a teacher-turned-educational-technologist. The theme of these stories will switch the focus of the session to the overriding importance of making connections and making contributions, regardless of the tool being used. Finally, the presenter will share concrete ideas for how participants, too, can make connections and make contributions as they grow their own online learning network. The session will conclude with an interactive reflection activity.

In the interest of sharing – and in hopes of receiving feedback – I’ve made an archive of the complete submission available, too:

Learning to Network & Networking to Learn (NECC 2008 Submission)

If you check it out, you’ll notice I also included the same interactive elements as I mentioned yesterday: a Google Docs preso and a wiki with a possible webcast. :)

I hope you’ll feel free to leave me any comments, suggestions, or other feedback. Unlike the previous submission, I know I’ll get to give this one a few times. I’ve used a version of this idea for my upcoming keynotes at local CUE affiliates in the Cochella Valley this Saturday October 6th and in San Diego on November 3rd… so your feedback will have a chance to get used – and soon.

Be An Edublogger (NECC Submission)

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2007

Here is the first of five submissions I made for NECC 2008. As I shared earlier, for me this is an opportunity to dream it all up again and infuse new life into my repertoire of presentations and workshops. Like the other four submissions I made, this session is one I have never presented before. (I figure at this point, there are literally hundreds of people who can lead workshops on blogs, wikis, podcasting, RSS, and so forth.) In this case, though, I submitted something very similar for the 2008 CUE conference last month. With a few more weeks to chew on these ideas I think this has become an even better submission. I’m also aware that this could come off as most arrogant submission I’ve ever made – so I hope it’s seen as me just wanting to share with others what I’ve learned and what has worked to some degree in my experience. Teachers often ask me about this sort of thing, so I thought it might make a good session. Let me know what you think.

Title:

Be an Edublogger: Techniques for Joining a Global Learning Community

Description:

Read, write, reflect, and respond! Hundreds of educators around the world network and learn using online tools. Discover how you too can connect and contribute.

Outline:

An interactive welcome activity will begin this session. Then the presenter will briefly introduce participants to the read/write web, blogs, and the blogosphere. This will be followed by an overview of what makes edublogging, edubloggers, and the edublogosphere different. Participants will then learn about a combination of tools that they can use to become a member of the edublogging culture. A brief overview of blogging (using edublogs.org) will include a discussion of best practices and blogging ethics. Tips for commenting will be covered as well. A quick introduction to reading RSS feeds (using bloglines.com) will follow, complete with tips for organizing and processing the deluge of information. Then the participants will learn about a trio of social tools: social bookmarking (using del.icio.us), social networking (using ning.com), and social microblogging (using twitter.com); in each case they will see how the tool can be used to connect with other educators. Finally, a brief discussion of instant messaging and videochatting (using skype.com) will complete the list of tools. The session will conclude with a discussion of the edublogging process and key edublogging philosophies, such as the focus on making connections and making contributions. An interactive reflection activity will follow.

In the interest of sharing – and in hopes of receiving feedback – I’ve made an archive of the complete submission available, too:

Be An Edublogger (NECC 2008 Submission).

The thing I’m most excited about though is this bit I appended to the outline portion of the submission:

Interactive Elements: This was not submitted as a bring your own laptop session because a laptop is not necessary. However, participants with their own laptop will be able to take advantage of many interactive elements. Presentation of concepts and examples will take place using a Google Docs presentation and a wiki. Participants will be able to chat synchronously throughout the session using the Google presentation, and they will be able to post and share their own examples (and questions) on the wiki both during and after the session. In addition, the presentation and wiki urls will be posted to twitter (and at edtechlife.com) so that edubloggers from around the world (including those in attendance elsewhere in the conference) will be able to contribute their insights in the chat and on the wiki as well. If the network connection in the room permits, the audio (or video) of the session will also be webcast so that the virtual attendees can hear (and see) what is happening in the room. This session will model teaching and learning in a permeable classroom.

As usual, I’d be thrilled to get any feedback, suggestions, or comments on this idea. I know that the more I share with others about this session the better it will be by the time I get to present it (if I get to present it, that is). Please leave a comment with your thoughts.

k12OnlineConference 2007

Saturday, September 29th, 2007

This conference is already getting a lot of buzz from other edubloggers, but I’d like to do my part. If you are an educator interested in using new two-way web tools with students, this is a FREE and flexible online conference with world class speakers, content, and opportunities to interact.

Go explore the trailers (yes, they have teasers for the sessions) and then spread the word:

http://k12onlineconference.org

Then use the flyer below to spread the news via email or even by printing it out and posting it around your school:

k12OnlineConference Flyer (PDF)

How to Engage (and Write) A Good Blog

Friday, September 28th, 2007

This exchange of comments took place on one of my demo workshop posts and I thought it would be worth sharing here as a post in and of itself. I may share it with beginning bloggers in workshops in the future, and I’d love it if any other bloggers would leave any comments with their answers to Sally’s questions, too.

# Sally Says: September 26th, 2007 at 11:24 pm

I am new to blogging – I am interested in finding out more about how blogging is used for teaching and learning and also what the potential future is for this medium.
I have looked at a lot of blogs today, but often find that they are hard to engage with because of the chronological order of postings ? is this a common problem with blogs. What makes a great blog site ?
Appreciate any comments
Sally

# Mark Wagner Says: September 27th, 2007 at 10:56 am

Hi, Sally. Some teachers in my workshops do seem to be initially put off by the chronological nature of blogs. You might be sure to explore any links that say “about” or “welcome” or “bio” (or something like that) at the top of the page or in the side column. There are usually a few links to static pages that can introduce you to the blog and it’s author(s). Other than that, getting to know a blog is like joining a conversation – or getting to know a person; just read a few recent posts and then if you like what you see, check back (or subscribe) to see what that person writes about over time. Start leaving comments if you are engaged by what they are writing, especially if you’ve been reading for a while and are starting to get a sense for what that person is writing about.As for what makes a great blog site, there are lots of (differing) opinions on that. I’m in the camp that believes there are few rules, but that it needs to be more than an online journal of what happened when – or unsupported opinions. After a lot of exposure to edubloggers like Will Richardson, I like to say that blogging begins with reading or doing something, then reflecting on it, then writing about it, and finally receiving feedback on what you’ve written. (Of course, giving feedback to others is equally important). Also, I like to focus my efforts on two things: making a contribution (by posting original thinking – not necessarily profound or even unique, but from my perspective) and making connections (by including others in my blogging – by writing about them or for them, by linking to them, and by inviting comments). Beyond that, developing your own voice is as important (and natural) a part of blogging as it is with any kind of writing.

I hope this helps. And if you’ve got a blog going, let me know the address so I can follow along. :)

UPDATE: I just realized you included your blog address when you commented. Subscribing now… sadly, there’s no posts.

Google Docs Presenations: Limits, Benefits, and Questions

Thursday, September 27th, 2007

Over the past week I’ve had some really mind-stretching experiences with the new presentation feature in Google Docs. The best way I know to process these experiences is to reflect on them and write a post about it. I’ve also had many conversations via twitter with people I respect, and I hope this might lead to more.

My Experiences

My arewareness of Google’s new collaborative web-based presentation tool began last week when Vicki Davis posted an invitation on twitter for people to join her in a demo Google presentation. When a slideshow is presented online it includes a chat feature that allows the collaborators, the audience, and anyone else online to have a synchronous discussion. What happened was an eye opening experience for many of us who were in involved. Here’s the story in Vicki’s words. For my part, I participated in the chat and tried to ask some meaningful questions, but I didn’t throw myself into it to the degree where I was actually collaborating on editing the slides. I even wondered if when Vicki posted a tweet saying that some of the people involved didn’t understand collaboration she might have meant people like me. Regardless, it was amazing that so many people came together so quickly from all over the world to collaborate and learn together. In this case, though, there was no actual presentation going on. This was just a gathering of peers to play with a new tool. (Perhaps the coolest part was that the chat was archived in everyone’s gmail account. Sadly, this is no longer happening. I don’t have any archives of the subsequent chats mentioned below.)

A few days later I jumped on the opportunity to try this tool in a workshop for school administrators. I blogged about it right away because this turned out to be my favorite administrator training yet. Having David Jakes and Sharon Peters and others show up in the presentation when I posted an invite to twitter was thrilling, and the ease with which we brought the world into the workshop definitely had an impact on the participating administrators. But, the experience in the room and the experience that Dave, Sharon, and the others had were very different. In the room we were still running our usual morning welcome activities – and I merely interrupted from time to time to point out what Dave and Sharon were typing… ultimately, they shared far more than the attendees could process. And other than the thrill of doing something new, I’m not sure what Dave and Sharon got out of the experience.

The next day, I had a similar experience when I used Google Docs for an introduction to blogging workshop for a small group of 3rd through 6th grade teachers. They all had laptops, so I expected this to be an even better experience for them. However, all but two did not have Google accounts – with a short time frame and other goals at hand, I didn’t rush everyone through creating an account. The key was for them to get an introduction to blogging. What was required was for me to introduce the concepts and get them hands-on as soon as possible. Even so, they were impressed (and perhaps a bit overwhelmed) when David Jakes and Hall Davidson and Jennifer Jones and others popped in. I know Dave and Hall enjoyed catching up in the chat… and they all shared more resources than I could ever have shared with a group of beginning bloggers. In fact, one lady remarked (in the first few minutes of the workshop at this point), “how do you stay on top of all this?” Unfortunately, the overwhelming amount of information was not the first impression I wanted to have on this group of new bloggers. So I began wondering if this tool was really right for my audience. Also, Hall and the others were really missing what was happening in the room. They lamented the lack of audio, and they couldn’t see all the websites and examples that I was sharing with the participants – so I also wondered if the tool was right for our visitors.

Finally, I had an absolutely mind-blowing experience last night – on the other end of the equation again. This time, Kim Cofino was making a presentation to parents. Others posted links to the presentation on twitter and I popped in. I wish I could go back and review the chat transcript to see who all was there (and I hesitate to try to recall and leave people out), but I know we had folks from all over the world, Pennsylvania, Chicago, California, Australia, New Zealand, and more… and the presentation turned out to be in Bankok. Even more surprising (for me), Kim was presenting the Internet Awareness and Safety slides I created for the Laguna Beach USD! (These are shared under a Creative Commons license, so I was thrilled to see them used – I do wonder if attribution was given, though.) As Ted Lai said, the feeling was something like starting a rumor and having it come back to you. In any case, again I think the experience in the chat was very different from the experience of the attendees. Those of us in the chat were learning a lot about the nature of the tool, but we had no idea what Kim or her attendees were saying. We asked if there were ways we could contribute or questions we could answer. We discussed this a little bit amongst ourselves and David Jakes had a great idea that others then jumped off from… he suggested that each slide should include a question for the visitors. (I had in the earlier sessions addressed questions to the visitors in the chat box a couple of times – with good results.) Even if this were done only periodically rather than every slide, this could be effective… and it would be a bit like writing questions for a student response system except that the questions could be open ended. Then the presenter could share answers with the crowd. All of this, of course, would work best if the participants had computers themselves.

Incidentally, at the same time this was taking place, I had a technical issue with iCal. It’s a new issue; there was one other post about it on the Apple support forums – a few days old and with no answer. I posted my details and prepared to wait… days at least. I posted to twitter, too. In minutes Ted Lai solved the problem and posted the solution to the Apple forum. That’s the power of twitter.

I hope these stories communicate some of the experience I’ve had, but I also thought some summary might be called for. I’ve begun to see some of the limits and surprising benefits of this tool. More importantly, I’ve started to hone in on some clear questions…

The Limits

Here are some of the limits of Google Docs presentations that have become clear:

  • There is no audio. Visitors cannot hear the presenter via the web without use of a third party application like Skype.
  • Though the presenter can control the slides (and participants can also move around independently), this is not a screen sharing or screen casting tool. Participants who are not present face-to-face can’t see other applications or sites the presenter shows.
  • Participants all need computers in order to participate in the online chat feature.
  • Participants also need google accounts in order to participate in the online chat feature. (I wish the chat worked more like the chat feature on Thinkature… input a nickname and we’re off…)
  • There is no archive of the chat (or at least not any longer). This was killing me yesterday and last night when I wanted to review all the resources people had shared… and today as I wanted to review who was even there.
  • The chat feature is of limited relevance to presentation attendees.
  • The presentation feature is of limited relevance to online visitors.

The Benefits

Despite these limitations, I’ve discovered several benefits, some of which I didn’t initially expect:

  • Google presentations are best used for collaboratively creating a slide show, just as Google Docs and Spreadsheets are best used for collaborative authoring and editing. Ultimately, this tool is a shared web-based file storage that allows simultaneous editing. The chat feature is gravy.
  • Even so, it’s never been easier to model the power of a permeable classroom. In each of the instances above, experts from all over the world were brought into a situation that would’ve previously been limited to just the people in the room.
  • Because of this, there really was a transfer of power. As a presenter, some of my power went to the visitors, who were then sharing other resources and making other comments (and sharing in the participants’ focus). As someone said last night, the presenter is no longer the smartest person in the room (or in more specific terms, the presenter is no longer the only authority in the room). Also, when a few of the face-to-face participants did have computers, they too had the power to interact with others, including other experts, during the presentation. I see this as a benefit, even if it is difficult to adjust to. I’ve always struggled with the fact that I advocate teachers giving the power to their students without actually modeling that myself in many workshops, especially those that are a presentation format.
  • The most striking thing for me, though, was the way posting a link on twitter could create a sort of “flash chat” in minutes, a sort of virtual flash mob… with an educational purpose. The power and benefits of this will take some time to really sort out.

My Questions

Here are some of the questions I’ve been asking myself and others about these tools. I’d love to read any responses in the comments:

  • How can this tool best be used to benefit presentation attendees? (… if they have computers? … and if they don’t?)
  • How can it be used to benefit online visitors?
  • Is this really a presentation tool? (Or, is this really a chat tool? And is it really a backchannel chat, which a lot of edubloggers are excited about right now, if the presenter can see it?)
  • Is this the best way to “present” information? (In other words, does the chat function add to a “presentation”?)
  • Is it the best way to facilitate two-way teaching? (In other words, if we want participation, why a presentation to begin with?)
  • What sorts of new things can we do with this hybrid tool?
  • And, what does it mean for ordinary teachers and students that they could potentially tap into a network of global experts who could converge on their online presentation at any time of day or night on a moment’s notice?

So what did I miss, overlook, or exaggerate? Let me know in the comments. I look forward to hearing about others’ experiences in the comments below – and as time goes by. Imagine, by the time NECC rolls around this will merely be a tool.

My Favorite Administrator Training Yet

Wednesday, September 26th, 2007

Yesterday Ted Lai and I led an AB 430 Module 3 training, which is focused on developing school administrators’ technology proficiency. I started leading these sessions back in January 2005 (with Jackie Francoeur at the time – in the wake of Mike Lawrence’s departure to CUE). I inherited a curriculum that was only a few years old, but naturally already in need of revision and updating. Over the next six months or so the presentations evolved gradually and when it came time to resubmit the curriculum to the state I prepared a complete re-write based on the new material. Ted and I have continued to introduce incremental updates, but yesterday included the most exciting enhancements in well over a year – and it was by far the most exciting day of AB 430 training I’ve been involved with. (Though the participants were not a terribly excitable group themselves, they seemed to get a lot out of it and the evaluation responses were very positive.)

For me, the following enhancements really added to the day… by generating all new experiences for the participants, and for Ted and I.

A Google Docs Presentation

Google Docs only recently added the presentation element and even when Ted and I were planning last week we hadn’t yet thought of including it. However, this morning before the training I uploaded the AB 430 slides to Google Docs. The slides are very bare bones so this worked extremely well. I had any formating issues fixed in about two minutes. During the morning portion of the day the participants don’t have access to computers (it’s discussion driven), so we could really only demo the online nature of it, including the chat (which we did from two different laptops). The breakthrough came when I realized that even though the face-to-face audience couldn’t access the chat, others out in the world could… so I posted a simple invitation on Twitter.

I was thrilled when a few minutes later (as the participants introduced themselves and a technology success at their sites) David Jakes and Sharon Peters showed up. I asked what words of wisdom they might want to share with administrators learning about technology. Jakes talked about the importance of his online personal learning network, and Sharon promoted the Women of Web 2.0 talk that was to be happening that night. I could see lights go on for some of the participants when they experienced the world brought into their workshop – and several jotted down the WoW2 show info, so I wonder if any attended tonight. (I hear it was a great episode with Bud Hunt, who if I’m not mistaken also popped into our presentation chat for a minute, followed by Chris Craft some time later.)

It was an amazing experience (for me) to be able to apply this new tool in a teaching context so soon after discovering and becoming excited about it. I’m grateful to everyone who piped in.

A Thinkature Mindmap

We usually run an (Alan November inspired) exercise called “Worst Fears, Best Hopes” on a white board, chalk board, or chart paper (the participants have a handout, too). We’ve tried to move it into an electronic medium in the past, but Word and other tools have been awkward (the training labs usually don’t have Inspiration or anything like it). Today, though, we used Thinkature (a web based collaborative mindmapping application) for the first time, and it was a fantastic experience, for two reasons.

First, it was easy for the participants to use, and it just worked. At this point we had moved in the lab earlier than usual to complete this exercise. We’d already introduced the new wiki (see below), so participants clicked on the link for the mindmap… then all they had to do was input a nickname for themselves and they were in. There was no need for participants to create an account! Then as I lead the discussion from the front I could see the mindmap growing behind me… in fact it was growing out of control… the best hopes side filled up even as I was just beginning to lead the discussion on Worst fears.

This was the second reason it was so fantastic. Ted and I were modeling not only the new tool, but some risk taking as teachers. We’d never done the exercise that way before and it was ok that there were some unexpected results. More importantly, the power to lead the conversation more or less passed from me… to the participants. They were creating like mad, and I really didn’t need to say anything. When we reflected on the process I think they got at least as much out of that experience as the actual worst fears and best hopes. At least I know I did.

Ultimately, the process needed more structure. We allowed time to clean up the messy and redundant map and ended up with something somewhat functional… with connectors between fears and hopes that that they saw as different sides of the same coin. Ted also suggested using small groups (instead of a facilitator lead discussion) so that the groups could brainstorm and then post their more polished ideas on the class space. We’ll have to try something like that next time.

Incidentally, I posted the mindmap URL on twitter, it generated some questions from others and I believe some edubloggers may have popped in as well, though as near as I can tell no one added anything to the discussion.

Here’s a link to the worst fears, best hopes mindmap (note, many of the cards look like they were created by me, but I didn’t type any of them… I believe Ted completed much of the final clean up using my account).

A Wikispaces Wiki

Now, using a wiki is not nearly as new to me as using the tools above, but I had only just begun using wikis for workshops before I left the OCDE in June 2006, and we’d always continued using the official binders. Now, though, Ted has recently moved the binders online, so here was a new opportunity to use a wiki with the participants. The really new thing for me was somewhat accidental… since the use of the wiki wasn’t planned ahead of time, Ted and I created it as we went. Then anytime we, our guest speaker (Steve Glyer), or a participant mentioned any tool, resource, or book… we added it to the wiki and linked to it – as we went! This was a really great experience because the wiki became not an official curriculum, but rather notes for that particular day. I’ve added bits on the fly during workshops before (and had participants – and even visitors – add them, too, but this was very different). Part of me wants to archive this page by date (in the navigation to the left) and then recreate the experience in the future, at least to some degree. On the other hand, it would be nice to have all these references at the ready next time – and then to build upon them as with a normal workshop wiki.

We weren’t perfect note takers of course and thinking back on the day there were many things mentioned that still didn’t make the wiki. Next time I want to get the participants more involved from the start.

In any case, if you’re interested in what we talked about with site administrators for six hours today, check out the (unofficial) principals’ wiki and feel free to contribute other resources… like Lucy Gray did. ;)

Twitter

I’ve never experienced such a powerful (and effective) intersection of leading a workshop (my “teaching”) and tapping into experts in the field (my “learning”). There’s no question that this was facilitated by using twitter. The Google presentation was cool, but without visitors in the sidechat, it was really only a run of the mill presentation for the participants; and it was twitter that gave me synchronous access to a network of possible visitors (IMing a few individuals to demo on the fly has never worked as well). And though the participants really got to experience Thinkature themselves, the experience was definitely extended for me due to the interest on Twitter (I noticed Bernie Dodge was using it with his doc students tonight, too). And it was an added bonus that Lucy came over from twitter to check out (and join) the wiki. To boot I actually learned a bit about twitter today – from one of the folks I added last night, Sherry Crofut.

In any case, I haven’t written such a long post in a while. It’s safe to say this was my favorite administrator training yet (in almost three years)… there were many other small successes throughout the day in addition to these. Also, this just might be my favorite blog post of the new school year – so far. :)

It Really Is Really Simple (CUE Submission)

Friday, September 21st, 2007

This is the last of he Read/Write web submissions I made to CUE this year… and it’s the only one that is a repeat of something I offered last year. As always, of course, the workshop is continually updated. But in general I feel last year there were only a few people ready for RSS – this year I expect there will be far more. And while I think there will be a profusion of blogging workshops, I don’t yet expect very many RSS workshops. So, here it is… I’d be interested to know what any of you think of it. Is there an Application of RSS I’m missing? Or do you have a different perspective on the topic at all? Let me know in the comments.

Title:

It Really Is Really Simple: An Introduction to RSS in Education

Description:

Use Real Simple Syndication (RSS) to subscribe to blogs, podcasts, and other “feeds”
so the content comes to you. RSS can help manage student blogs and your own
professional development.

Abstract:

It Really Is Really Simple.pdf

UPDATE: The link above has been fixed.

UPDATE 2: Here’s a link to the It Really Is Really Simple wiki I created for the workshop last year. It needs to be updated of course. :)