What my Tagging Habits have Taught me

I think I’m beginning to realize a few of the differences between the way I should be tagging and the way my mind is inclined to tag. Folksonomy to me has become as much about learning how my mind tends to organize information as it is about how I was taught and trained to use information as say it is organized at a library. I wonder what will the long term consequences be of letting students organize their own metadata versus those of us who are older and were taught the Dewey Decimal system of organizing. When I think about how my books or music were organized I tried several ways over the years. Once I organized my records alphabetically and that didn’t suit me for finding my current set of music. I’ve always tended to let a more organic approach dictate where something went for the physical objects around me. I tend to want what is current to be in the front and yet I like to periodically have surprises come before me. Somehow I’ve always cherished the idea of serendipity coming between me and the resources online. I’ve noticed with my delicious/Diigo accounts that I’ve created broad categories which only need to be reworked when they grow too large. Over time I do need to go back to redraw how bookmarks are organized. There is a dynamic way to organize and I’ve not gotten there yet. I like that my Diigo account  will tell me when I’ve already bookmarked a site so I don’t have duplicates at a glance. There are so many web sites being shared that I’ll bookmark something say during an Edtechtalk show and forget to go back to it at a later date. Typically I’ll end up with so many tabs open that I never want to reboot and close them unless I have too. Speaking of tagging, here’s my blog’s front page as a wordle, seems I’m always looking for a pretext to use it.

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Here Comes Everybody

Having been to NECC and Edubloggercon in San Antonio this year I had many varied experiences and connections. The first day for Edubloggercon I sat in on a discussion of the book Here Comes Everybody by Clay Shirky. A group of educators sat in a circle with Will Richardson facilitating the discussion. Many voices were heard in that short period of time and the most powerful ones were by educators I was not familiar with. Comments by those who were more well known were not as powerful as others. A large part of the discussion was addressing elements of the book and how it should impact our teaching and classrooms. The group who participated included many leaders in the implementation of 21st century tools. Many of them had laptops, cell phones and were well versed in all the vocabulary and experiences that Web 2.0 has to offer. Dean Shareski put together a compendium of video images composed of friends within his PLN from amongst those gathered. One interesting result of what Dean uploaded to Youtube was a repurposing of this home movie of friends as a foundation for a blog post by Mathew Tabor of why he doesn’t or wouldn’t go to the NECC. It was amazing and somewhat disturbing to see his argument by manipulating what was never intended as a documentary of the event but more of a home movie.

At NECC I even later saw a flash mob in the main area of the conference hall but did not understand what it was for at the time and although it was enjoyable to see a group suddenly freeze with my background in art history and performance art, I didn’t realize what it represented.

When you look at Shirky’s steps of building community from first sharing, to cooperation, to finally collective action. I would say the edtech community is built around sharing and the level of cooperation is what is seen as individuals and classrooms create temporary projects together but there is really no long term or sustained participation. When I think in terms of the edtech community, what do I really mean? Certainly someone such as Stephen Downes has well reasoned arguments for why there is no community per say. But could there ever be a point in which collective action could be possible. Why haven’t we heard of anyone out of such a vocal group that has created a community or new school outside of Chris Lehmann and the SLA?

Of some of the other points the book was making that caused me to reflect back on my PLN and my relationship to it would be the idea of “connectors.” These are the people who join together separate networks or groups. I think these are always the people I try to have as part of my network on twitter for example. I wonder though say on twitter if I look at TweetWheel if I can’t find visually find connectors within my own Tweetwheel group but also by following certain people begin intersecting networks myself.

Lastly, the idea that struck me in relation to students was that of failure and the “power law distribution.” When and how do we share this with students. How do we make them aware without taking away their motivation to challenge and change the status quo with their ideas? I thought of those individuals who can withstand continuous failure for an occasional success versus those awkward and uncertain students just learning to take risks and are sensitive to failure. Would one solution be to use the video game experience of repetition and relentlessness in order to achieve the next level in some game?

When I came home, I left a few days later for China and I decided I needed to read the text and see if it was as important for me as everyone talked about. I purchased the book and started to read it on my flight over to China. As I’ve slowly learned about the Chinese culture I’ve been amazed so far at the high level of organization with in the social groups that are formed around family and friends. Just as we’ve heard the discussion of our children maintaining connections even after individuals leave organizations such as high school, the same is true for most of the individuals I met in China. What I would like to understand better is what organizing principals or structure was in place before the wide spread distribution of the cell phone. This is most peoples primary tool to connect. As where now when someone in the US who is a savvy user has a problem they may first get online and try and search for a solution. For a well connected Chinese individual it is more a matter of making phone calls moving from the small network to a connector until a solution is found. With a lower standard of living most people cannot yet afford a computer so it will be interesting to see how social networks build up around cell phones.

When I sat in the train station to begin my journey home and was reading, I realized that not only is this mode of transportation quite common. It also to me represents a way of living that I experience so little of here in the US. I’ve ridden my share of public transportation while I lived in San Francisco and didn’t have a car. But these days by and large I am driving by myself or with my family and don’t have the direct experiences of others that I experience when I’m in China. It makes me wonder if my experience of my PLN has the same sort of separated or indirect experience of other as opposed to sitting on a train and having so much direct experience. I may ask of my Twitter network how to solve a problem, but for my wife she begins with calling close relationships and slowly if an answer is not found does she shift to more of a superficial connection. Is this natural way of connecting with others a better way to organize a social network?

If the majority of Chinese are coming with their cell phones, then what effect will this have on how Web 2.0 social networking sites develop. Certainly for those cites such as photography or music sharing they’ve had to spend a great deal of effort in trying to uphold copyright laws and distribution laws. There are no such restrictions in China, and people there are used to accessing music, movies, pictures for free, without any compunction. We have the luxury here of being able to afford the access to media. What will happen when more people participate that feel it is their right to have access whenever and wherever without giving thought to who should receive compensation. If in this time of micro-markets and the tiniest of margins a group doesn’t even participate in fair use. How will the issue of DRM and other failures of the media companies be dealt with in light of the large groups of users who only believe in free?

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ILC Day Two

For the second and last day I attended the ILC, or Innovative Learning Conference there were three very good presos.

The first very early session was with Chris Walsh who shared reasons why our and our student’s learning is moving from a temporary place driven context to a 24/7 environment. Or in other words, “learning extending beyond the classroom.” He shared numerous examples in which the student is shifting their focus into a multi-media, mash-up, mixing creation driven world. He ended by sharing his new venture Brightstorm which will be launching shortly.

The next session was done by Ted Lai, (here’s his blog post with links for the preso including slides). He shared many examples of very creative podcasts and iMovies in which the students showed their understanding of content through a means which is more natural to their learning. Ultimately, he also acknowledged that many of the sites that teacher’s work at are still organized along more traditional styles of teaching. His steps to be successful in creating a 21st century classroom were.

  1. Start small
  2. Be a partner in learning
  3. Add a twist of creativity
  4. Practice flexibility
  5. Publish the work to celebrate success

The last session in which I was able to focus was with Gary Stager. His fiery rhetoric made for an interesting explosion of ideas and the exhortation to change the classroom into a suitable and more effective learning environment for children. His focus was on ways to use a laptop in order to create such an environment.

Overall the level of presenters was good, and I hope the Innovative Learning Conference continues next year. As was my experience at the NECC it was just as much about the conversations outside of the presos as it was about the content being shared formally. It was great to meet Twitter friends again and some for the first time.

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Innovative Learning Conference 08

Yesterday was my first day of attending the ILC the Innovative Learning Conference in San Jose marking its first year of returning to Northern California.

The first session I was able to attend was Colette Cassinelli’s session on VoiceThread including her wiki with lots of great resources. She also gave access to her presentation slides on Google so that there was an open chat with people outside the conference participating. She did a great job of stepping the audience through the process of creating a Voicethread along with the resources necessary to use copyright free pictures to incorporate.

Next session I attended was by Aaron Sams a Colorado educator teaching High School AP courses using vodcasting. The model involves using previously recorded screencasts being accessible via the web and as DVDs that the students can take home.

The last session I went to was by Gail Lovely on using Web 2.0 tools with elementary age students. The wiki she created has some excellent links to various examples and tools. One tool that is a web version of a tool many of us use is an online version for Inspiration.

Similar to the NECC conference I attended in San Antonio this year it is as much about meeting educators from my PLN network as it is about listening to presenters. Overall the conference is smaller in scale than the CUE conference or NECC but the quality in level of presenters so far has been just as high.

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Goodbye Lee Baber

I’ve been determined to make the next time I wrote on my blog a reflection on Lee Baber and what she meant to my learning and feeling connected to my online experiences. Its hard to believe in the rush of time that she’s been gone a month. Ix-plane+rocks+...+%3B%29 first had a chance to interact with her through the Webcast Academy and watched her help in sharing knowledge on how to set up Apple computers for webcasting. She was a good person to help think through a problem, a type of teacher that I enjoyed doing think alouds with.  I hardly knew her and yet I feel as if a path that I could have taken in my life is gone. So much I could have benefited from, her experience in music, her use of computers with students, her P-21 Second Life project, all will be left to where she left them frozen, sitting on some server somewhere. Looking back I understand more of the little bits of information and things she shared when we talked always on Skype, its funny that I rarely used the chat function with her. Speaking was the most common way when I communicated with her, it was the timbre of her voice the inflections and accent which I enjoyed. Although I remember one time when she couldn’t talk and I had to use the Skype chat with her while I tried to walk through verbally what we were trying to do. Always I felt comfortable sharing and learning. Even up to our last few interactions she surprised me with her involvement and the breadth of her participation in the “edtech” community for lack of a better word. Even though we never met face to face, Goodbye Lee, my life will not be the same as what could have been, what should have been. You left too early and so many of us still had so much to benefit from your interactions with us.

Image source: Image: ‘maze
http://www.flickr.com/photos/73645804@N00/2786241330

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Edubloggercon08 in San Antonio (just one many stories)

I arrived at the Edubloggercon 08 session start late and the room was not quite what I had expected with many rows of chairs facingIMG_2495.JPG the riser area where Steve Hargadon was facilitating a discussion on which sessions would be presented based on the pollsterIMG_2493.JPG voting. There was also what looked like a professional video team whom I later found out were from Pearson and had posted on the NECC Ning their intentions to capture Edubloggercon with professional cameras and boom mikes as well, which added to the effect. I was a bit distracted as I was meeting people and trying to deal with my computer’s inability to access the wireless. I spent most of the morning recognizing and introducing myself to people who I have only met virtually.

I went to two sessions before lunch. The first break out session I saw was on social networks. It was great getting to hear the many voices from people who shared their varied thoughts and experiences. The second session by the time I reached it was discussing Here Comes Everybody and was very animated. It doesn’t seem to matter in some ways what the topic is because the discussions in trying to find the essential questions and problems begin analyzing road blocks to moving ours and other teacher’s classrooms into a collaborative student centered environment. I noticed several times partIMG_2503.JPGicipants and one instance in particular Chris Lehman standing up for teachers whenever a discussion was IMG_2501.JPGmoving towards accusing them of resisting and being unwilling to change. I have to agree because I don’t know any teacher who when asked whether they enjoy and embrace this age of testing and multiple choice state tests wouldn’t support change.

During lunch I met several more educators and took some pictures including my favorite of the day, Maria Knee who because she has done amazing work with Kindergarten students with such things as her classroom blog, holding up both her award for the Kay L. Bitter Vision Award but also balancing on her shoulder Trixster (hope I have that right) who has traveled to many different locations including several NECC conferences.

After lunch I was sitting working in the Blogger’s Cafe when several folks walked over and because of the participants I wanted to hear what was being said. After a certain point several things happened simultaneously, smart phones started being brought out and an open fun exploration of the technology occured and Bud Hunt started streaming on Mogolus. Because it has the ability to stream and capture several sources at once I quickly set up an account and sent him my permissions. What Will Richardson and Steve Dembo were asking people to share on the edstreamtv wiki which was what and when they were streaming and to be able to coordinate, IMG_2502.JPGBud was essentially doing in a spontaneous fashion. I think this is something I realized today that every time someone tries to organize and centralize some element of the edtech learning network that it sort of goes against what we are trying to do in the classroom whichPreview is to create more of a decentralized messy learning environment.

After the spontaneous gathering at the Blogger’s cafe I set up for some more streaming with Alice Mercer and the Edtech Talk show It’s Elementary. Unfortunately the wireless was cutting in and out and we couldn’t set up the simultaneous video Ustream, chat room projection, speaker, and Skype conference call. What a fun and amazing day and there are still many days to go including attending for the Constructivist Consortium tomorrow (bad news is there is no wireless where it is held).

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Earth Day Webcast

Earth Day is finished and it was a challenging but very rewarding experience for both my students and myself. The students all did a great job presenting and each group was allowed to choose the visual component that they felt best expressed their topic choices. Overall I think the most effective shttps://i0.wp.com/cephalopodcast.com/img/earthcast08.pngtudent presentations involved the use of slideshare while the students gave their oral component. One group did a VoiceThread, and a couple of groups even did podcasts although they are not uploaded. This first 24 hour Webcastathon will hopefully be the first of many to come. Overall the variety of presentations from other classrooms and teachers was amazing as well as the participation from several different countries.

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0.0

TEACHER 0.0 I'll have a large abrasiveness and two ice cream fizzwaters

STRANGER!
if you, passing, meet me, and desire to speak to me, why should you not
speak to me?    And why should I not speak to you? – Walt Whitman

If by chance we meet on a road. . .           along a path. . .                           or during an odyssey. . .
Me & Somayeh - Inside the RoadThis Way to NarniaOdyssey

Use the skills you know to communicate, because the Read Write Web is every teachers’ responsibility to know and help our students learn. . . learn to be creators and organizers of content=ideas not just passive consumers.

beyond the dots. . .
Holesdotsgreen dotsLadybug (FI-22993)Red + White BallThe Stronghold

beyond the dashes. . .
IMG_3453geeksIMG_3454Who needs a hybrid anyway?volvoSum blu cawr

Ones and Zeros first began with. . .
Morse code the 19th century and the transatlantic cable between NY and London that allowed for real time data and interaction.

And place no longer matters as learning is happening all over the world. Ideas from any one teacher everywhere can be available to everyone. A classroom project can be seen by everyone. This is what is called a flat world. . .

South Hall Office

And the data and information and knowledge to become a 21st Century teacher is not decided upon or settled by any one teacher or place in the world. . .

TODAY

stethoscope [closr]

come write, determine, participate, and share the knowledge with us

go all the way to Timbuktu

Djingareyber Mosque

chat speak listen respond write

Oak leaf cluster    Teacher X.0!

I was in the chat in Classroom 2.0 and Lisa Parisi made me think of the importance of beginnings, beginners and being open to learn, and I’ve always tried to abide by that feeling too. The first time I learned of someone believing in this was when a teacher of mine quoted Albert Einstein “He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed,” for a “conceptual design” department (this link is from Stephen Wilson, who has been a constant presence) class in my art department. So I remember creating a small box with a view hole, plastic baby, mirrors, and cotton and taping to the side a walkman playing over and over “retain the child within you,” and that’s when “childlike fascination and sense of wonder,” first came to form a phrase in my mind that I remember. Trying to find the A.E. quote I stumbled upon this page of artists reflecting on the word “wonder.”

Lately I refer and share in many instances when trying to show, how we should work together to learn Web 2.0 tools, Carolyn Foote’s Beginner’s Mind. I used this and chose for my playful application Moolvl for a presentation I made for my school district.

photo sources:
Image: ‘Roofie
http://www.flickr.com/photos/49503155549@N01/238573192
Image: ‘Peek-a-Boo
http://www.flickr.com/photos/57038667@N00/476731882
Image: ‘Tree path
http://www.flickr.com/photos/32863204@N00/241899410
Image: ‘Odysseus and Tiresias
http://www.flickr.com/photos/36021911@N00/75102722Image: ‘Holes
http://www.flickr.com/photos/31426589@N00/119131442Image: ‘dots
http://www.flickr.com/photos/76014095@N00/400696203
Image: ‘green dots
http://www.flickr.com/photos/50367113@N00/17828926
Image: ‘Ladybug (FI-22993)
http://www.flickr.com/photos/57267425@N00/140266515Image: ‘Red + White Ball
http://www.flickr.com/photos/12074797@N00/17952630
Image: ‘The Stronghold
http://www.flickr.com/photos/95492938@N00/219852893Image: ‘and who are you?
http://www.flickr.com/photos/77467550@N00/290274557
Image: ‘IMG_3453
http://www.flickr.com/photos/54087404@N00/155629109
Image: ‘geeks
http://www.flickr.com/photos/54903723@N00/20318677Image: ‘IMG_3454
http://www.flickr.com/photos/54087404@N00/155629110Image: ‘Who needs a hybrid anyway?
http://www.flickr.com/photos/90832828@N00/1675538078
Image: ‘volvo
http://www.flickr.com/photos/37996575334@N01/288095
Image: ‘Sum blu cawr
http://www.flickr.com/photos/15245443@N00/1300476032
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/5/51/Flatland_cover.jpg/200px-Flatland_cover.jpg
Image: ‘6569
http://www.flickr.com/photos/98572879@N00/276168731Image: ‘First Impressions
http://www.flickr.com/photos/15401080@N00/88760582
Image: ‘Djingareyber Mosque
http://www.flickr.com/photos/44124370103@N01/60323
Image: ‘Angel Oak MK3
http://www.flickr.com/photos/91178396@N00/470623754

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The Storm and Dangers that Took Down the Global Project

The ice storm took down the power grid for Scott Meech and his black out was nowhere in my radar of feeds or Ice stormmessages. Lucy Gray and myself exchanged a few chat messages and I played with Skype emoticons. Sundays are reserved for our ProTechT conference call on Skype. Later I thought about the fact that I don’t even have everyones’ cell numbers, addresses, etc. close at hand, but I assume it is accessible on the “net.” And in a way, our connections are as tenuous as the wind, fragile but determined, and yet we are as close as we can be. I say that for the moment from a stand point of each members’ abilities, and the fact that I can follow, if allowed, each members’ status on Skype. No this project does not have the staying power of an ARPANET, we are each joined in a highly personal way, on computers that each of us must maintain, different hardware and OS. We are not at a distance from each other however, in that my concern would surface should anything happen to any one of the participants. Participants have already been sick and earlier Scott also had a very close connection to NIU. It has something of the miracle about it, a project living and breathing with its members. I always hope for my students something of a sense of “groupness,” such as this.

And The bleeding edge of what we do doesn’t help maintain clear communication and has many dangers in power and lightterms of misinterpretations should messages be truncated or too few words not convey the real meaning with conversations interrupted as software crashes or fails. I think there is the element of half empty and half full in ones relationships with others that allows something to grow with these types of activities. Following up on more perspective on Wesley Fryer’s Ustream presentation  for ProTechT – The wireless started cutting out and a third of the class didn’t seem too bothered by it. They moved to the front of the room between the screen and my traditional science black countertop. They were following the chat as well as what audio they could as I kept reloading/refreshing the Ustream feed. The sound came back at the end of a period as if another class had been using up all the bandwidth, which unfortunately my school has a strong tie with iMovies, and was probably the case. There is no bandwidth management and some teachers still don’t have good wireless. For the last fifteen minutes the sound was fine, but students, as one would move progressively towards the back, were now holding conversations and they were not listening but were engaged and listening and speaking to each other. So I was let down somewhere in the delivery system, each part not quite correct, but also a future non-issue. I may gain here though the experience in knowledge that sometime shortly will be obsolete, but you have to enjoy in some way or tip the scales to favor the successes over failure and along with all of it the messiness.

image sources: http://www.flickr.com/photos/9147703@N03/2243954328
http://www.flickr.com/photos/38819451@N00/84401047

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Can an Evolutionist and a Creationist both be part of one’s personal learning network?

For myself I think there is still a disconnect in my relationship to others for whom I haven’t met face to face but interact with online only. Just the same as my students this week who had difficulty being quiet when Wes Fryer was sharing his thoughts on his Ustream presentation for the ProTechT project because he wasn’t a live speaker in our class. I feel a connection but also a certain distance to people I interact with on networks like Twitter, Second Life, and Ning.

I’ve enjoyed David Weinberger and many of his ideas on altering the hierarchical thinking of how we organize ideas and thoughts since I saw him for the first time giving the opening keynote presentation at the NECC in Philidelphia. He comes to mind because for his recent book he used the title Everything is Miscellaneous and for the most part I prefer listening to him speak of his ideas such as his presentation on the topic at places such as Google. During the New Hampshire primaries while the student Arthus was sharing his ideas on the political candidates via Ustream, the issue came up of one of my favorite edtech people being a Creationist, later on another of my favorite edtech bloggers took Arthus to task for not pressing the issue from an Evolutionist perspective and offered to take on the person in a debate. I myself don’t feel a need to debate someone who believes in the Creationist philosophy and wondered if that is a justifiable passiveness on my part or a disconnect from these virtual relationships. I don’t know of anyone in my circle of friends where I live as being a Creationist I do know that I have been emotional and very moved by direct messages and communication with people on Skype and Twitter that I haven’t met face to face. The thought that came to mind is “if everything is miscellaneous,” then is truth just another tag in the virtual universe with no more real meaning than the electrons it takes to create the text in displays? How can I as a science teacher not argue for further examination of the motivations of someone to side on one side of the argument which is in opposition to how I teach and believe in?

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