Saturday, August 16, 2014

EdcampCT, Simsbury, August 2014

EdCamp was held at the Ethel Walker school in upstate CT. It was wonderful to see the UNH ITDML students who attended the conference. It was a nice way to interact as a group.
After a much discussion about legendary POTATO CHIPS and MILKSHAKES, the organizers encouraged attendees to create sessions and to take part in sessions. 

For those who have not attended an unconferece like EdCamp, attendees can either present about a topic they are familiar with, lead a discussion about something they have interest in, or call a discussion about something they would like to know more about. Most sessions involve crowd participation. Participants are encouraged to follow the "Rule of Two Feet." If you find the session you are attending is not what you expected it to be, you are welcome to leave and go find another one.

Tim Flanagan, Josh Lambert and I put together a Google Presentation outline that discussed the ORMS Model. We chose to present at the first session. The link is below.
During the presentation we started a lively discussion about what teachers already do in their classroom. We then introduced the ORMS MOOC, Mozilla's Web Literacy Standards, and some of the other material we alluded to in our presentation.

For the second session, I saw there was a talk about the role of Technology Coaches, and was surprised and pleased that I had found Elizabeth's Ignite Talk. 
Other titles: Technology Integration Specialist, Digital Instruction Specialist, Literacy Media Technologist.
 - There was a principal in the classroom. It was fascinating getting his opinion about the role of the Tech Coach. He wanted to be sure that person was not seen as an extra IT fix-it person, but as an INSTRUCTIONAL coach - a CURRICULUM specialist with Technology, not a Tech specialist with curriculum. He was also wants to ensure that all students in his building have similar experiences across a grade,  and the "Technology Stars" in the building give their students a whole different (better was implied) experience. 
 There were also teachers who officially and unofficially hold that position in their schools. Most are overwhelmed by the sheer number of teachers who like the idea of using technology in the classroom, but don't have any idea where to begin... so they stick to the same routine.
Technologists who get a stipend never get enough time to do the job well.
If you want a Tech Coach in your district, collect what is happening in other districts and present it to the board of ed... preferably by students.
Use the argument, "You just gave us $800,000 worth of equipment, and if it isn't implemented correctly, school achievement could go down. Is it worth it?"
"Air Drop Technology" mostly fails. With out proper PD, the equipment is a distractor.

LUNCH: As promised, along with creative sandwiches, and a salad that included lettuce, watermelon, red onions, and Feta cheese, there were freshly made potato chips, brownies, and..... MILKSHAKES. It was also fun sitting at a table talking to fellow teachers from around the State.  Lunch was also longer than 20 minutes, a reminder that I have one more week of eating like a human...

Videos that suck less, third session:
Try: Sock puppet app, Use short (5 or less) minute clips with activities
Other things to check out:
Videoscribe, Explain Everything (iPad), GoAnimate, PowToons, EdPuzzle, Voki, Voicethread, Haikudeck, Tellagami, 30 Hands, 60 Second Recap.

I also wrote out a list of other sites to check out that were recommended in the Connected Learning session and at the closing:
International Dot Day
Voxer - like voice twitter
Rap Anything - Makes anything you record sound like rap
Adobe Voice - pix, soundtrack, voiceover
Chatterpix - make a photo "talk"
Google Chrome shortcuts: "Shift ?" gives a list of all the shortcuts. Memorize a few.

Want money?
CECA aweards $1000/year to 3 people. 
NEW John McCormick Award - you must be recommended, and it often involves a trip. Few people apply.

I chose to attend the happy hour after the conference. It was nice to sit and chat informally with teachers about school and life in genearal, exchange twitter handles, and talk about technology.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Connected Learning

I tried another Mind Mapping program, Inspiration Lite, to put Connected Learning in perspective. I like some aspects of the program. It is simple to add branches and intuitive about getting a cursor to pop up for typing. If you choose a template, you cannot eliminate branches in the FREE version. I ended up using a blank template. I liked adding only the branches I needed. It made more sense because I put the connections together from scratch. Erasing in Inspiration, in general, is more complicated then I prefer.

To summarize Connected Learning: it is multigenerational, social learning about an academic subject culminated by creating a product to be shared.

An area that is most familiar is "peer supported" learning. My son took professional guitar lessons at age 8. He didn't enjoy them, and he stopped. He took "Beginning Guitar" at school in 8th grade and loved it. There, he had buddies to learn from. They hung out an practiced for hours. In high school he took professional guitar lessons again (mostly to undo bad habits learned from his peers and from winging it!) and his skill grew exponentially. The same kind of thing happened in my backyard when I was growing up. We traded songs, gymnastics skills, and ice skating tips we had learned from others and we all grew and had tons of fun at the same time.

I also connected with the "production centered" learning. In order to create something meaningful, one must have knowledge, but also skills to make the knowledge meaningful to others. It is said that teaching is the best way to learn something. Creating a project to be shared is teaching, therefore a strong way to learn.

Monday, August 11, 2014

PLN's in the IT&DML program

I was confused about Learning Networks vs. Personal Learning Networks. In my blog post, "Learning Networks" in July, I asked, "How are PLNs and Learning Networks related? Do we have to share?"

Ian asked me, "From your you see any way that we can improve our look at PLNs through our work in the #ITDML  program?"

I thought I understood the basic idea of a PLN, but I didn't know how to keep all the information in one place. We don't talk about PLNs in my school system. While viewing the curating videos, I did some additional reading and discovered that curating could be done on a site like Pintrest, Delicious, or Pearltrees. I chose Pearltrees. I plan to use this to house the websites and artifacts for my PLN. Categorizing on that site is similar to the iPad, so I won't have a big learning curve.

Pearltrees offers notifications about others' collections that seem to be similar to my collection. I have found some websites and articles that I feel would be beneficial to my learning. Someone copied a website from my collection, and I found it flattering. I think I like the shared aspect of the site, as long as I keep it professional.

Some questions I have about PLN's:
- Is my Personal Learning Network PERSONAL? Or should it be available for PUBLIC viewing?
- Does it all need to be housed in one location? or is it just a bunch of places to check/participate in regularly?
- Can I have my very own, hidden PLN and something else (like a website?) for public viewing?

 If there is any way that ITDML could improve our look at PLN's, it might be to answer those questions, even if the answer is, "These are the options. Do whatever you are comfortable with."

This is also interesting. I think I get it now  Edu-Sketch: How to build a PLN
It's a mindset.

ED 7714 Digital Identity Reflection

We were asked to reflect on a classmate's Digital Identity plan, compare it to our own plan, and to reflect on what we published about our Digital Identinty a few weeks ago.

I looked at Cathy's Digital Identity plan when she first published it, mainly because hers seemed to have more words on it than the other diagrams. I appreciate the way she explains, right on the diagram, her reasoning for using (or not using) a tool or resource. She also used three categories: create, curate, and blogging.  My plan used categories that described where my information will come from: people, other neworks, and websites/documents. Under that, I branched specific groups of people, specific networks I had found and use, and specific websites and documents that I found and categorized in Pearltrees, my curation space. Nothing was explained on my diagram.

I also looked at Laurie's PLE. Hers has many branches and sub-branches, going from general to specific. At first glance, here "general"  categories seem quite specific. It is also very busy with connections through the different areas.  Personal pursuits are included in her network - family, friends, YouTube, etc. 

From looking at my PLE and comparing it to others' diagrams, I learned that I need to work out clearer connections.  I also missed some key resources that I rely on. I am an NPR listener and I get professional ideas and information from the broadcasts all the time. I have many teacher friends on Facebook and have learned and shared through there, but, because I don't think of it as "professional," I did not include it in my network. I use books as resources, and I did not include those. As for my diagram, I work very well with a paper and pencil.  I did not sit down and work out my plan in my favorite medium before trying to put it on an app.  The diagram I produced looks incomplete to me. Finally, I learned that I have not put much thought into a PLE or my digital identity in the past and what I put in the diagram is a very small portion of what I will really use.

I am glad I was asked to reflect on the PLE/Digital Identity that I posted. I learned more than I thought I would from the experience. 

Saturday, August 9, 2014

ED7714 Networked Learning Project video

The Weeping Angel Project
How to make anything look like a statue

I do networked learning projects year-round. This summer, my projects included making lined curtains and finding ways to use zucchini. The task that I chose for my official project occurred in the spring of 2014. I was in the IT&DML program last summer and watched as most of that cohort shared their new learning. When I found myself using multiple internet sources while creating a Weeping Angel for the Dr. Who themed room at Brookfield High School's graduation party, I documented the steps. It took longer than the 6 weeks allotted for the project. The details are in previous blog posts. This video is an overview of the process:

'Weeping Angel Project Video

Things I learned:
- Though it is not my preferred method of learning, I can use a video to learn a new skill.
- Making a statue-like object is not difficult and it can be done cost-effectively.
- Plan on multiple recordings when using free recording software. If you are interrupted, you must start over.
- Don't be too much of a perfectionist when using free apps.
- I would have preferred to do a new project over the summer rather than documenting the Weeping Angel.

I will definitely continue to learn new things using online sources. At a later date, I plan to write down the step-by-step directions, photos, and diagrams so someone like me (who prefers to learn that way) can put together their own Weeping Angel statue.

I will also likely re-use this new skill. My grad party team will be intact for two more years until the youngest child graduates. In 2013, I used internet sources to make the head for a larger-than-life Mario statue. There are directions online to make a Mario Pinata.  I adapted the skill for a "Silent," another Dr. Who character. Both are below.

It helps that we have two store dummies at the house to fuel my annual obsession...

Friday, August 8, 2014

My Digital Identity

I have been to a handful of library conferences. I am always impressed by the "experts," those who present workshops and such. When I attend sessions, I often say to myself, "I could do that," but there is a little voice inside me that stops me. I convince myself that I'm too busy or that there are so many others who know way more than I do. 

I have already begun piecing together my PLN. In Pearltrees, I am collecting the websites and work of those I see as having expertise in the school library field. I am also collecting information on the Common Core and ORMS and other practices that will have an impact on my working life. I have included the shared Google Docs of the (Danbury) area librarians from the LEA's who ask interesting questions like, "What do you think of genrefication?" (I don't) and "What do you think of maker spaces?" (I won't) Sometimes I take these questions as "over my expertise level" but when we sit down and talk, they have the same budget constraints, scheduling issues, and understaffing complaints as everyone else. They're just focusing on other things. 

I am a linear thinker, and Coggle was a bit... wiggly... for me. I made this mindmap using XMind, which may or may not work... I can do a link, but not a PDF.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Learning Networks

My reflections on Sloep & Berlenga (2011), Learning Networks, Network Learning

We have an organized system for teaching youth. Public school. Now that we are becoming a strong "information-based" society, we are starting to look at different ways to implement continuing education. Time, cost, and location constraints can make it difficult for adults to participate in new learning opportunities. Learning Networks can possibly fill in that void.

There are ways to set up learning networks. One type is self-sustaining. People join and read what others have recommended. There is a function called a "recommender" that participants can use to make suggestions. No one person or organization is in charge of this type of network.

Another learning networks involves an organization or specific group of people setting up a course, recruiting participants, and monitoring and evaluating the work that is done. Some of the courses we have taken through the IT&DML program were set up that way. The instructor set up the course outline, assigned participants to teach specific topics, and monitored and evaluated. A MOOC could also fit into this category.

Questions generated from the reading:
What PSYCHOLOGICAL effects are occurring because we are transforming from a manufacturing to an information-based society? (paragraph one of the introduction)
Do self-sustaining (informal) learning networks cause real learning to happen?
How are PLN's and Learning Networks related? Do we have to share?

Sunday, August 3, 2014

ED 7714 Curation

I cannot imagine being tethered to any device so much that I notice a world event before it hits the news. When Robert Scoble mentioned the earthquake in China in his YouTube video, sitting there with his headphones on and all of his electronic gadgets surrounding him, my first thought was, "Get a life."

The other video, Innovate: Curation with Steve Rosenbaum made curation sound more manageable. I understand the theory. There is too much information to filter through alone, so we need each other as human "thoughtful filters" to get the most out of the internet.

I needed to find additional articles to read about content curation online because, although I understood the basic concept on the YouTube video, I wasn't quite sure how and where to collect the information. A blog post by Aletha Tavares in "The Tacit Thinker" called "Content Curation: the Internet Curators" clearly explains who curates, where they curate, and why.
- Anyone can curate
- Curation is built around a topic of interest to the curator
- The curator builds a "brand" of curation, with their own spin

Jim Berkowitz, a marketer, posted an article about ten content curation apps that are worth considering. Both he and Ms. Tavares mentioned Pearltrees. I have a Pintrest account that I found to be frustrating, so I explored the features of Pearltrees and I like it. I loaded the app on my iPad.

Additional References:
Berkowitz, Jim. "Apps that will make you a content curator extraordinaire." Social Media Explorer. 4/25/13

Tavares, Aletha. "Content Curation, the Internet Curators." The Tacit Thinker. 11/5/11.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

ED7714 Connectivism

I'm trying to wrap my mind around Connectivism.
Here is a "Coggle" that describes Connectivism for me:

Visual learners can benefit from using a tool like Coggle. It is easy to see the connections between the categories. Like an outline, Coggle breaks concepts down into smaller parts.  Unlike an outline, it is possible to work on parts of the outline in random order, more like brainstorming.

Personally, I thoroughly enjoy learning in a web environment. My "network learning projects" over the years include the health benefits of Kombucha and Kefir, making professional-looking lined curtains, constructing a Super Mario pinata, and using a variety cooking techniques. I am just not sure how this fits into public education. I hope this year's coursework will help me through some of this. One of the reasons I chose the IT&DML 6th year was because I know the information is out there... and it is free... I just don't know where to begin. I need direction.

As a librarian, I know I can help students with research skills. I agree that it is often more important to know how to find something than it is to outright know something. I also think that it is important that students understand the validity/credibility of their sources either on the web or in print. I struggle with how to stress the importance of this in the brief time I get to meet with students.

The articles I read were written seven years ago and more. The second author, John Seeley Brown, was enamored with the fact that the youth with whom he worked seemed to multitask seamlessly. He was amazed and attributed it to rewiring of the brain. Current studies indicate that multitasking is inefficient, causes errors, and slows people down. ( example: ) It will be interesting to see where we go now that we are talking about "Connectivism" as a learning style.