Steve Wheeler, whose blog I always read, has kindly shared his recent conference presentation via slideshare.
My brief, to present at a Year 11 conference about online tools, has accentuated, in my mind, how far away we are from providing the Personal Learning Environment (PLE) at school students need in a networked society.
Your input, via comments at a previous blog post, twitter and yammer proved invaluable but also challenging, when one considers the realities for kids in our schools. Year 11 will have virtually no opportunity, in their day at school, to use a computer or the many tools available online. During this presentation, I acknowledged that the student delegates will just have to use all this stuff at home.
One kid pointed out, that even if they had DERNSW laptops, software could not be installed and many of the sites, especially social media and collaboration tools, would be blocked anyway.
I was surprised at how little they knew of the tools discussed. The students were unfamiliar with all the tools, except iGoogle.
The big question in my mind: will opportunities for innovative pedagogies and practice emerge from the Australian Curriculum?
This is the first presentation using Prezi I have ever completed; although I have started a few in the past 12 months before the pressure of being prepared for whatever conference led me to not finish (and use my blog or PowerPoint).
Prezi has turned out to be a fun tool - once you ‘get’ the concept - and I highly recommend it.
Critical comments – on form, style and content - (on this draft) are welcome. Be gentle though, this is my first time and I know my next prezi will be much sleeker. Prezi will not embed to WordPress.com blogs and the work around is to use Vodpod which looks a little dodgy. You might want to see it at the direct link hosted at Prezi.
Anyways, I suggest you click autoplay if you try the below version but it is a bit lame without the narration or music:
However, the process of drafting the presentation, for our Year 11 conference, has led to much reflection about the pedagogy possible in institutions and the need for reformation of our systems; especially assessment and reporting which drives education in our country.
You can read those reflections here.
Next week I facilitate a workshop designed to assist Year 11 students find some useful online tools to support their learning, especially research, collaboration, organisation, study and presentation.
There will be a very, very brief presentation and overview of each tool and then students will be free to experiment, exploring the tools of use/interest to them.
Do you mind checking out this list and suggesting some more tools?
Also, are any of the below best avoided by Year 11?
Here’s the list
Tame the web
Instapaper: a read later bookmarking service
Readability: remove the clutter around the webpage you’re reading
bit.ly: shorten your links
Sharing & Collaboration
Diigo: another social bookmarking tool
Google Docs: collaborate on documents with peers online at home
Creative Commons for Images and Sound
Creative Commons (Australia): understand licenses
Flickr: the largest photo sharing site
Flickr ‘The Commons’: search the great public photographic collections
Soundzabound: royalty free music for schools
mindmeister: free mindmapping tool
bubbl.us: organise brainstorms
Evernote: synch files with all your devices
Dropbox: free online storage
Netvibes: dashboard everything
iGoogle: customise your homepage with a variety of widgets
Wetpaint: free site where you create websites that mix all the best features of wikis, blogs, forums and social networks
Wordle: generate word clouds
GAPMINDER: unveils the beauty of statistics while revealing trends
Newsmap.jp - a mashup of headlines that shows new patterns
Research & Answers
Google Alerts: keep up to date with topics of interest
Wolfram Alpha: enter what you want to calculate
Project Gutenburg (Australia): free ebooks
bibme: a free automatic bibliography generator
Noodletools: guides you through the research process
BRAINFLIPS: online flashcards
Prezi: astonishing presentations
Readability is a simple tool that ‘makes reading on the Web more enjoyable by removing the clutter around’ what you’re reading.
Check out how it works:
Great, definitely a useful tool but what interests me is the opportunity it offers English teachers to explore how ‘Readability’ (and similar technologies) change the nature of the meaning of the text. I am sure Marshall McLuhan would have enjoyed this tool. We have been teaching students to analyse the structure of a text for a long time in classrooms; now we can play around with this idea online.
What examples can you find that illustrate this point?
Hat tip: Bud the Teacher
At great risk of appearing unneccesarily sycophantic, I need to say that Mark Pesce‘s post, Whatever Happened to the Book, is clever, unusually clever, even for Mark. Everything that currently intellectually interests (read obsesses me) about literature and our hyperconnected age is explored.
Please read it closely and tell your friends, especially if they are teachers still learning.
Here’s a taste, I particularly enjoyed the third section:So what of Aristotle? What does this mean for the narrative? It is easy to conceive of a world where non-fiction texts simply dissolve into the universal sea of texts. But what about stories? From time out of mind we have listened to stories told by the campfire. The Iliad, The Mahabharata, and Beowolf held listeners spellbound as the storyteller wove the tale. For hours at a time we maintained our attention and focus as the stories that told us who we are and our place in the world traveled down the generations. Will we lose all of this? Can narratives stand up against the centrifugal forces of hypertext? Authors and publishers both seem assured that whatever happens to non-fiction texts, the literary text will remain pure and untouched, even as it becomes a wholly electronic form. The lure of the literary text is that it takes you on a singular journey, from beginning to end, within the universe of the author’s mind. There are no distractions, no interruptions, unless the author has expressly put them there in order to add tension to the plot. A well-written literary text – and even a poorly-written but well-plotted ‘page-turner’ – has the capacity to hold the reader tight within the momentum of linearity. Something is a ‘page-turner’ precisely because its forward momentum effectively blocks the centrifugal force. We occasionally stay up all night reading a book that we ‘couldn’t put down’, precisely because of this momentum. It is easy to imagine that every literary text which doesn’t meet this higher standard of seduction will simply fail as an electronic book, unable to counter the overwhelming lure of the medium.
Below are a few unformulated reflections. I intend to write a ‘proper’ reflective piece about ‘the book’ and possible futures.
Perhaps, because this topic is obsessing me at the moment – colleagues and friends would have noted my reactionary but concerted efforts recently to read more books/novels/fiction - I feel, after reading this twice, I want to know what ‘will’ happen to the concept of the book even more.
Will the ‘literary text…remain pure and untouched, even as it becomes a wholly electronic form’ – one part of me desperately hopes this is the case, like painting or sculpture.
We all love hypertext and many of our ereaders take little or no advantage of the medium. It is true what Mark says about the ‘economic purposes of publishers’ meaning that they will want to publish ‘dead texts’ in the ‘light’ of their ereader platforms. However, one cannot agree with ‘it does not make the electronic book an intrinsically alluring object’. The Kindle, in spite of its limitations is ‘alluring’ to many readers for a host of reasons that Mark dismisses. Primarily the ubiquity, one can download quickly a new release and carry many texts around. I know, from chats with luddite colleagues that, bound in leather, it appeals to traditional lovers of literature but techie types respond well too. There are issues and our cultural publishing industries need to adapt, or even better, innovate quickly.
Ironically, or maybe sadly, I’d like Mark to answer in a 140 characters, ‘what happened’. There is something not quite right about the framing of the piece, as all this has not quite, ‘happened’, not quite, it is all in the process of becoming.
More later…after I have chatted, perhaps with you, readers of this blog.
I would not usually buy an anthology of ‘online’ writing as it just seems too silly, losing all the hyperlinks and hyperconnectivity, but felt happy to invest in this project when I read:
“This anthology is an experiment to see how this writing, these writers, stand up to the challenge of the page; or, to put in another way, to put them up in front of another audience which may be more page-loyal.”
I guess we’ll never know what percentage of people who read the book are ‘page-loyal’ and not really online readers of blogs but I suspect some will be drawn into the world as a result.
I encourage you to buy a copy of the anthology but if you are not so inclined, I’ll link to some of my favourite posts from the collection. All, ’stand up to the challenge of the page’.
The curious half-life of an ethically inadequate object is a piece of writing that any ‘reader’ would love to have written. The intelligence of the writer is what one finds really enjoyable and the subject matter, honesty, perception, Macbeth and Bill Clinton, is of interest to a very wide audience. I now have an RSS feed from the Solid Gold Creativity blog and would recommend it to all.
Some of the regulars who comment here already know Angela Meyer’s blog but please read and bookmark, Embracing the medium: what makes a successful cultural blog? as it is a significant addition to our understanding of bloggers and what they do.
My enjoyment of Penni Russon’s poem, Fragments from a fragmentary mind, which I had read previously at her blog, was definitely enhanced by having a sense of her and Martin from our twitter conversations.
Alan Baxter’s, ebooks are the future matches my perception of our reading world now too and it is interesting to hear that his sales on kindle are exceeding hard copies! Also, this post, not included in the book, really made me laugh
I mostly read teacher/education or political blogs and this collection has broadened the field for me significantly.