Tomorrow’s Skills Today

My eldest daughter ( who is nearly 4) started her education this year in Pre-School. She may not leave formal school until it is 2030. 2030…Wow! I am just going to let that that sink in a little!

What will the world will be like in 2030? What jobs will be available?  Will there be supercomputers and zettascale computing ? Will Artificial Intelligence taken over our life? Will genetic editing be commonplace? 

What will the education systems be like? Yes, lets start there…Try this…

“What did you learn during your first twelve years of education that matters in your life today?” I love this quote from David Perkins book “Future Wise”. And how true it is. Technology is an amazing tool not just in education but in our everyday lives.

Perhaps it may help to think about other things that probably started off as strange new tools but now are inescapable parts of our daily environment, for example: the alphabet, books, electricity, running tap water, etc. These tools are behind everything that we do, they are part of the fabric of our lives.

Maybe Kim Cofino was right when she wrote about educators/adults look at technology as a tool, but our students look at it as an environment. 

Photo Credit: Thomas Hawk via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Thomas Hawk via Compfight cc

So why has the education system not changed because of this shift? Do we want a child spending a good part of his or her school career sitting in a classroom being trained to take tests rather than knowing how to come up with new ideas and critically solve problems that may not yet even exist.

Today’s world requires different skills than the world I grew up in. Graham Brown-Martin says it better;

We continue to use technology to reinforce 19th century teaching practice.

Freeing ourselves from these old fashioned traditional ways of teaching is a start.

But is it enough?  Is adding technology to previous lessons and unit plans the right way to go? Is integration (or as Jeff Utecht writes an add-on) of technology correct?Do we really want technology to substitute or augment ( SAMR Model)  from what was taught or learnt prior to technology? I don’t think it is.

Given the nature of global change, transforming education around the world is one of the deepest most urgent challenges we now face- Sir Ken Robinson

Technology needs to be integral to instruction, not something added in to check of the list. Technology should be redefining and modifying (SAMR model) what we are teaching and how we are teaching. After all what the educator does in teaching is to make it possible for the students to become themselves. But how do we do this?

In todays hyper-connected world there are two theories which will shape true education reform.

Photo Credit: wpverbeek via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: wpverbeek via Compfight cc

George Siemens explains through his theory of Connectivism that because of the internet a whole new world of knowledge and resources opens up to it’s users. As educators we need to rethink what and how we are teaching to children to incorporate these ideas. Let’s harness the power of connecting with other educators, experts, children across the world by connecting and integrate it into our teaching and learning. Allowing children to use various tools (such as Twitter and Skype) to  make real connections with others and the real world around them. What could be more powerful? 

Constructivism puts inquiry, collaborative and project based learning at the forefront of education and allows learners to take control of their learning. A conecptual way of learning motivates students to learnWhen students want to know more about an idea, a topic, or an entire discipline, they put more cognitive energy into classroom investigations and discussions and study more on their own. Technology if used correctly can do this.

So what is technology integration for me? Technology integration is about communicating, connecting, creating, and collaborating with others by doing new things in new ways.

And does it work? Well it in it’s current state I do not think it works effectively enough. There are moments when I am doing all of these things

  1. Dabbling with technology
  2. Doing Old things in Old Ways
  3. Doing Old things in New Ways
  4. Doing New things in New Ways

Obviously I would like to do more. I want to be Doing New things in New Ways all of the time but their are barriers along the way. But I am giving it a go.

What’s going on in the classroom?

C.C. J.Bevans
Photocredit :  J.Bevans C.C.

I am connecting my students with other class’s around the world using Twitter, Out of Eden Learn and via Skype. Children are sharing their learning via their BlogsTwitter, and Youtube. I am using my PLN to find answers to their questions and their wonderings. Just this week our Travelling Teddy Bear “Daisy” arrived from Texas, U.S.A (having previously spent time in Costa Rica, and Shanghai.)

As a grade we have spent time restructuring our 4 Units of Learning to a Concept Based model in which inquiry is central. This change has brought about ways to integrate technology into the teaching and learning in a more comfortable and seamless manner.  But it is just a start…

Summing up Alan November puts it brilliantly

The real problem is not adding technology to the current organisation of the classroom, but changing the teaching and learning.

I am giving it a go for the sake of my children and others because if we teach today as we taught yesterday we rob our children of tomorrow. 

Let’s teach tomorrow’s skills today. 

Messing around in Course 3 – Course 3 Final Project – Modern CV

Photo Credit: Ryan Dickey via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Ryan Dickey via Compfight cc

When creating my Course 3 Final Project my thoughts turned to the past. I have been working at the International School of Luxembourg for nearly 4 years (this is my first step into International Education.) Before that I was teaching in Central London.

In 4 years not only I have personally changed, but as a teacher too. Being part of International Education has allowed me to have so many opportunities – whether that be through Professional Development, through sports trips, making connections with other educators around the world, and of course COETAIL. I genuinely feel very lucky to have been given this opportunity to teach in a different country, alongside some amazing colleagues.

I have spruced up… so how about my CV?

Before this course on digital literacy my CV looked like any other document. Boring, plain…it did not tell a story into who I was.

Messing Around

I have messed around a lot during this course. Each week there were more tools to play around with, to experiment with, to create with.

Week 1 was learning about design and keeping things simple. I simplified my blog. Which I have subsequently changed again. Below are the 4 different designs that I have messed around with….

Future Wise 1
Future Wise 1
Future Wise 2
Future Wise 2
Future Wise 3
Future Wise 3
Future Wise 4
Future Wise 4

Week 2 was thinking about visuals. The power of using visuals in the classroom and in everyday life. I am constantly messing around with visuals in class. After all thinking visually comes more naturally to us than thinking verbally.

Week 3 was looking into Presentation Zen and the amazing different ways of presenting information for a specific audience. I found this so interesting finding out and messing around making a few different presentations using their methodologies.  I particularly enjoyed the Kawaskai Method and the Takahashi Method.

Week 4 was thinking about using visual literacy tools to tell a story. I loved messing around the huge variety of tools that are available to use today. I particularly enjoyed playing around with Adobe Voice, Adobe Slate, Vine, Storybird.  I even set a challenge to readers to tell their story.  Below is mine… Whats yours?

[youtube]https://youtu.be/AtWW8I7kpSA[/youtube]

Week 5 brought the world of infographics into my view. I really enjoyed the stats and facts that I discovered during my reading. You name it… you can get an infographic on it! I also loved messing around using a few tools such as Canva, Piktochart and Easly.

So that brings up to speed. As stated earlier, my CV needed a spruce up. So after messing around with some of these tools, throughout course 3 (such as Canva, Eas.ly and Piktochart). I decided to not use any of them! Jocelyn Sutherland had created a brilliant CV using Pages. I really liked the look of her CV and I had a little mess around with Pages to see what I could create. Here is my first attempt.

But I was not done there. I continued to mess around with Pages and after doing more research I found this CV, which I really like the look of, too. So I tried to merge the 2 ideas together to create my own remixed CV.

Here is the results of my messing around. 

I am really happy with how it looks. I think it has many elements of my learning that Course 3 has taught me. Perhaps more importantly it has allowed me to mess around with some amazing tools that I can now bring into my classroom and share with the children in my class.

Messing around…isn’t it great!

[youtube]https://youtu.be/iNe5npkid-s[/youtube]

Visually Wired

Every picture tells a story, as they say, but sometimes it takes a clever combination of words and pictures to tell a story quickly, concisely and in an entertaining fashion. We are all Visually Wired. 

Lets look at the facts ( after all that is what infographics deal with)

Created by J.Bevans using Canva. CC
Created by J.Bevans using Canva. CC

Sharing information with the use of visual imagery can help us process and understand information. In our data rich society we are swamped with data. On average we consume more than 34 gigabytes worth of information outside of work on an average day. The human race will create more data in the next 4 years than in the history of the world before that.We only have to look at What Happens in an Internet Minute? to see just how much is available online for humans to consume.

Technology can be so much fun but we can drown in technology. The fog of information can drown out knowledge.

Let’s not even mention the 129,864,880 different books that have been published in the world!

Infographics to the rescue!

Infographics counter this information overload because they’re more engaging.

Created by J.Bevans using Canva C.C.
Created by J.Bevans using Canva C.C.

Infographics are big business. Between 2011-2013 the search volume for infographics increased on Google’s search engine by 800%. Infographics are liked and shared on social media three times more than any other type of content.

You can get an infographic for almost anything: –

Sometimes the information is not always accurate. Amazingly 95% of infographics from unknown sources are full of distortions inserted by internet marketers. (Disclaimer – I have not made the facts up on the 2 infographics that I have shown you so far!)

An infographic is a story based on facts. There has to be 2 validated sources to 1 piece of information, which is then analysed. Probably the most important area of creating infographics is understanding that the finished product looks deceptively simple. Every decision, including font, shapes, colour scheme, and use of white space, will either contribute to or detract from the overall clarity of the message in the finished infographic.

Moving infographics or interactive infographics can even add more clarity. After all animated videos can increase interest by 20% to consumers. I particularly like this very simple, but highly effective, 30 years of the music industry in 30 seconds. 

30 years of the music industry in 30 seconds- C.C. https://www.geek.com/geek-cetera/30-years-of-the-music-industry-looks-like-in-30-seconds-1415243/

How can we use them in school?

I use a lot of visuals with the children in my class. But I have not really ventured into using infographics with these young learners yet. One of the main reason is that I thought a visual could be more powerful – show the children a picture and then use a thinking routine to help the children make connections with other learning. Another reason is that our first 2 units have been about Communication and more recently Structures and Materials.

We are, in the next week,  going to begin our new unit, Recycling and 5R’s. This will be a prefect time to use infographics with the class.

There are huge amount of great infographics in this area: –

The plan will be to share some of these with the children. So after a few exposures to basic infographics, we will study three very different infographics side by side. I will have general questions to ask the children about their infographic. Such as

  1. What is this telling us?
  2. What information do you remember?
  3. Which of these was the best infographic and why?
  4. Is the text or the visual design most important in each of these?
  5. How is font size used to emphasise certain facts?

When the children have taken part in this activity. We will discuss the features of an infographic including content but also purpose, design, and organisation. From here I think getting children using their sketchbook to draw infographics will be the starting point. Then as we collect raw data ( about recycling/zero waste in grade 1 )  try starting with a template which students can create their first infographic to share with other grades about the impact of recycling/waste at ISL. Having this purpose and audience will be vital to trim the content that will be included.

Some tools we could use to create these infographics are:-

We can take advantage of 200,000 years of human evolution and tell stories that cut right to the heart of human experience. We can play with emotion, colour, and movement.  We can communicate better through visual innovation.

We are Visually Wired.

Photo Credit: blogdroed via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: blogdroed via Compfight cc

What’s your story? I want to know…

In the end, folks, we ain’t nothing but a song…a story” Joe Lambert, Centre for Digital Storytelling

Creative Commons - From Flikr by Tim Hettler
Creative Commons – From Flikr by Tim Hettler

What’s your story? 

There are 7.4 billion stories in the world. No one story is the same. No one is like you. You are unique. Your life journey, your experiences, your achievements, your challenges are a series of footprints that have brought you to this very moment in time as you read these words.

How can we tell our story? 

Storytelling is not a new art. It has been happening since the time of cavemen. In these time stories were told by drawing symbols and pictures on a cave wall. Stories have evolved to more verbal communication. With stories being passed on from generation to generation by word of mouth. The first printing  press started in 1440 and so a love of books began.  But because most people were illiterate until the 19th Century change was slow. Now we are moving to a more pictographic form of communication with the use of 21st tools.

This change in how we tell our story is a good thing for our brain. After all

you’ve got a dial-up connection from the ear to the brain and broadband from the eye to the brain.

We are moving from people of the book to people of the screen ( A second Gutenburg shift).

But why the change? 

The simple reason is technology. Digital natives have been born into an innate “new culture” of the digital world. Technology advancements have meant that an emerging set of cheap tools is now making it easy to create digital video. We live in a time where  most popular Youtube videos are watched as many times as any blockbuster movie. Because the most powerful producer of visual imagery is the individual, its you.

What are these devices?

As technology firms continue to compete in the crowded hardware market it means that consumers can get more value for money.  Cheaper products are available such as: –

  • Digital cameras
  • Mobile phones,  
  • Flip Video cameras,
  • Tablets
  • Laptops

These products allow for the creation of more digital content. These images, audio, and video recorded on these devices are being fused together to create short movies ( typically with an emotive message).

What are the tools that we use to create and share our story?

There are so many tools out there to use it really depends on the purpose. There are tools that can help merge video snippets, voice, music, still images together so that you can create a finished film or movie.

Video editing and Creation

iMoviePixorial,, PowToon ,Wideo, Adobe Slate, WeVideoACMI Generator, Bubblr, Capzles, Animoto

There are tools that gives opportunities to mess around by creating online 3D pop up books, cartoons to tell a story, and sock puppets.

Messing around

Puppet pals, Sock puppets, Toontastic, 30handsstarter, zooburst, ComicMaster, Makebeliefscomix, Mapskip , Piclits, Slidestory, Smilebox, Storybird

There are tools that allow for instant sharing of our stories or messages.

Media messages

Vine, Snapchat, Instagram.

How does this effect the classroom? 

It depends on the story that you are telling.  Therefore choosing the right tools to tell your story is vital.

Creative Commons - J.Bevans
Messing around – Creative Commons – J.Bevans

This week I started the process of digital storytelling in the classroom. I gave the children the opportunity to mess around using bookcreator. I choose this specifically as the children now how to use it. I gave the children a task that in a pair they need to create a story using pictures already on the camera roll. They chose 6 pictures and on each page created audio to tell the story. Their story was complete by exporting as a video.

Then I gave them a blank canvas – create a story (any story ) you want in six boxes ( we were planning in analog to limit distractions.) There was real buzz about the room. everyone was on task excited to get their story down on paper. Here is that process.

Storyboard planning -Creative Commons -J.Bevans
Storyboard planning -Creative Commons -J.Bevans
A finished storyboard -Creative Commons- J.Bevans
A finished storyboard -Creative Commons- J.Bevans
Searching for images -Creative Commons -J.Bevans
Searching for images -Creative Commons -J.Bevans

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next a mini lesson about searching for Creative Commons pictures using Chrome and citing back to source. Powerful images will bring the story to life. The children are now in the process of  turning these into movies (this time using iMovie). Adding music, sound effects and creating images ( using small world equipment- including lego) will mean the children’s stories can be brought to life.

When they are complete I will share a few of them with you. Along with the answers to my story (via video of course!) 

This process of creating a story got me thinking about doing more of this. And it really could be adapted to anything. Instruction writing. Science Experiment. Persuasive writing. Field trips. You name it. But…

I want to know your story…

So, I’d love to ask you something, and I’m not asking a rhetorical question. You could write the answers, you could record a Vine, you could make an iMovie, you could send me a SnapChat. The point is there are so many mediums to use to tell your story. But I really want to know…

What is your story?

  • Who makes up your family?
  • When did a member of your family make you laugh?
  • Where do you live?

24-Hour Powerpoint…I’ve seen the light

 

Photo Credit: Potjie via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Potjie via Compfight cc

I don’t really use powerpoint all that much. Teaching 6 and 7 year olds in a concept driven, inquiry classroom does not really allow me to stand at the front of the class as the children are

  • lying on the floor
  • squabbling with each other
  • squirming 
  • annoying anyone in their vicinity
  • all of the above

So I reflected a little further back to my time at University and at Secondary school. And yes death by powerpoint… yep that rings a few bells.

How many of us have sat in a meeting or lecture theatre and had an excruciating time listening to someone read from the slides? It really does feel like death doesn’t it? Especially when you have no idea when it is going to end. Where is the light at the end of the tunnel?

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MjcO2ExtHso[/youtube]

Don’t get me wrong. Presenting is hard. It is not an easy skill. Many people try and many people fail. I am one of those people. I have been in the tunnel! But hopefully I am beginning to see the light at the end.

My long journey to (Presentation) Zen started in the summer of 2014. I was lucky enough to attend a technology course with Jeff Utecht at The Learning Institute, at America School London.  The 2 days (which was the key reason for me signing up for COETAIL – thanks Jeff!)  featured many areas of technology and education including Presentation Zen.

Over the course of the 2 days one of our tasks that Jeff gave us was to create a presentation, in a small group, about a particular topic. Our group picked the flipped classroom idea. We were asked to present in a Pecha Kucka style  Here is the end product.

Now the presentation is not perfect but it is an improvement on something like this. So what can I do with this Flipped Classroom presentation after this weeks readings? 

The Methods

Kawasaki Method

The Kawasaki Method always follow a “top-10” format — essentially ten slides and ten major ideas. His visuals, then, will consist of ten slides each with one key message spelled out. The 10-20-30 rule mean presentations

Below is an updated version of the flipped classroom presentation with the Kawasaki Method.

 

Takahashi Method

Huge text is the key feature to the Takahashi Method.  No images are used in the presentation.  Words are usually 10 characters or less for visual impact. Below is the flipped classroom presentation using this method.

The Lessig Method

The Lessig Method contains only a brief quote, a short sentence, or a photo with a caption is included in a presenters slide. Each slide lasts a few seconds.

Pecha Kucha

PechaKucha 20×20 is a simple presentation format where you show 20 images, each for 20 seconds. The images advance automatically and you talk along to the images.

The Godin Method

Godin, focuses mostly on the element of presentation slide design – particularly, how to select accompanying visuals to enhance messages appropriately.  Godin promotes the use of bold fonts, contrasting colours, and striking images.

The Monta Method

When using the Monta Method presenters are encouraged to use questions and answers on all their visuals.  When the question is posed to the audience, the answer is kept covered or hidden, only to be revealed once attendees have tried to “guess”.

There are many different paths to designing presentations and many paths to deliver a presentation. I suppose all of these different methods mean three things.

  • Communication is key
  • Present in different ways
  • There are no rules

You may want to do the same. Who knows, maybe by naming it, an actual movement of sorts will develop across the planet.

If there are no rules I am going to think of a new method. The Bevans Method. I’ll let you know when I’ve created it!

The Planning Process

Choosing your method is one thing. The light to spark the real interest in your presentation are six aptitudes.

  1. Design your presentation away from a computer. It allows for more creativity and away from distractions. 
  2. Story7 basic story plots in the world. Use one of them to aid your presentation.
  3. Symphonyin the “conceptual age” synthesis and the ability to take seemingly unrelated pieces and form and articulate the big picture
  4. Empathy–  It’s about putting yourself in the position of others. Steve Jobs was fantastic at this.
  5. Play – there has to be some fun element to presentations
  6. Meaningmaking a presentation is an opportunity to make a small difference in the world

How can I apply this thinking to the classroom?

Children have three things in abundance  freedom, naturalness, and spontaneity. What is missing too often from presentations is that human-to-human connection that exists where naturalness is allowed to breathe.

Photo Credit: axelsaffran via Compfight cc

I have dowloaded the app Haiku Deck on to the class iPads, I want the children to use this for the end of unit project when the children design and build their own structure.

When creating a presentation (about blogging)  for parents earlier in the year I used some of the principles from these methods.

But then this presentation shared with the rest of Early Years explaining what Grade 1 have been up to. This could do with a little work.

I think it’s a ongoing process… So I will end my thoughts with the great Frank Sinatra

If you want to get an audience with you, there’s only one way. You have to reach out to them with total honesty and humility.

I am beginning to see the light. How about you?

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eBdNOW7KKpw[/youtube]

Caveman Communication

The way we communicate is becoming more caveman.

The use of audio and visual messaging has become more commonplace with the soaring popularity of social media and instant messaging apps such as Instagram, Vine and Snapchat. In fact we are moving to a more pictographic form of communication with the increasing popularity of emoticons. Professor John Sutherland from University College London embellishes by adding

This harks back to a caveman form of communication where a single picture can convey a full range of messages and emotions.

But lets go back… how did this all start?

Photo Credit: quinn.anya via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: quinn.anya via Compfight cc

Cave painting was the first form of communication. Earliest men and women drew pictures on the caves to communicate and to tell stories. Cave paintings from 30,000 BC could easily be called the first infographics, depicting animals and other resources in the surrounding area. Later the Ancient Egyptians used infographics to tell stories of life, work and religion. Fast forward to 1066 and the Bayuex Tapestry ( The story of William the Conquer and Harold, Earl of Wessex, who led the Norman and Saxon armies to battle).

So humans have been communicating since the beginning of time. Visual communication is a natural way of communicating with one another. 

What about today?

We are exposed to anywhere between 300- 20,000 visual images everyday! So images are very important to us in our daily life. In fact we are incredible at remembering pictures. Hear a piece of information, and three days later you’ll remember 10% of it. Add a picture and you’ll remember 65%.

We are taught to read, write, create reports, write stories but are we taught to read images? 

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GwDXlA_6usI[/youtube]

Writers, directors and photographers direct your eyes to tell a story. Our roles as educators must be to help train the eyes of young people so they can interpret the imagery or film and then create their own images or films. That way children will be able to get their point across to a wider audience.

Everyone knows what literacy means–reading and writing words. Visual literacy is reading and writing images. The “reading” is that when you see an image, you understand what’s being communicated by that image. The “writing” is when you find appropriate, compelling images and put them into materials to communicate, teach, or learn.

The importance of including visual literacy instruction for our students in the classroom comes from the discovery that students gain a deeper understanding of a concept when they are encouraged and enabled to create a nonlinguistic representation of that concept.

So what can schools do?  

Technological advances in recent years have given educators a gleeful marriage between what’s right (teaching digital literacy) and technology. 

Photo Credit: “Caveman Chuck” Coker via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: “Caveman Chuck” Coker via Compfight cc

Children should be exposed to : –

However exposure is not enough and children need to inquire into the who’s, why’s and what’s. So that their thinking becomes deeper. Elizabeth Thoman states

At the heart of media literacy is the principle of inquiry

Therefore children need to be asked leading questions as they delve a little deeper and their conceptual understanding grows. With this greater understanding children should be creating content:-

  • Using tools such as Typorama or Skitch get children to write a statement using a photo to support it
  • Photograph a process using Paper 53 and write up the experiment
  • Using Bookcreator create a photo story
  • Create a slideshow using Haiku Deck of a field trip
  • Take a photograph and add filters or modify the photograph in Instagram or iPhoto

What is happening in my classroom?

We work a lot with visuals in the Early Years. Visuals are key. Visuals are part of the daily routine (calendar, what lessons are happening when.) We use visuals with adjectives, with key words to do with our Unit of Inquiry.

Photographs, paintings, films and music are all part of our weekly work but I will strive to add more to my weekly planning.

Being a First Grade teacher I use a lot of picture books in class. My favourite children’s author is Anthony Browne who with every book seems to delve into some aspects of visual literacy. I have used these books in my class at different times in the year.

But it is not only consuming. We are creating. Using: –

  • iMovies
  • Bookcreator
  • Skitch

When we have it we are sharing it with the wider world. Putting it on our Kidblog page. On top of this we are joining the Out of Eden Walk and are also going to be part of a global project involving a Travelling Teddy where we will be creating visual literacy for others. We are also preparing to start tweeting as a class. As a class we are learning that…

Visuals have so much power.

An educators role in this journey is to teach children skills because visual literacy does not just happen. We become visually literate by studying the techniques used to create images, learning the vocabulary of shapes and colours, identifying the characteristics of an image that gives it meaning, and developing the cognitive skills necessary to interpret or create the ideas that inform an image, be it a television show, photograph, painting, chart, graph, advertisement, Power Point slide, animated GIF, or monster movie”

But as our ancestors proved, thinking visually comes more naturally to us than thinking verbally.

 Caveman Communication.

Created with Typorama by J.Bevans 2015 CC

3-2-1 Bridge Remixed – Course 2 Final Project – Empowered User Agreement

3-2-1 Bridge. Remixed! Thats what this Course 2 Final Project feels like. Since going to a Project Zero Conference, Zeroing in on Learning, at the start of October I have been trying  many of their thinking routines. 3-2-1 Bridge is one of these. 3-2-1 bridge is a routine for activating prior knowledge and making connections.

Photo Credit: 30miller via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: 30miller via Compfight cc

For me this Course 2 Final Project felt like it was all about making connections, using my growing PLN (course 1 thinking). When these connections were made it was about applying knowledge of digital citizenship, remix and empowering children) (course 2 thinking)  together with Course 1 so that I could cross the bridge to access Course 3. Get it – 3-2-1 Bridge-  Remixed! Or 1-2-3 Bridge! 

So thanks to COETAIL I have just been part of my first truly global collaborative project spanning 17 time zones! Anthony, NickyChris and I came together nearly a month ago by chance, fortune and the power of PLN.

Here’s that story. I thought let’s put the power of COETAIL and my PLN to the test. So I sent a tweet out. Amazingly Thomas Hammerlund replied almost instantly. Thanks Thomas!

Then Pana Asavavatana joined the conservation. Thanks Pana!

After a few emails the group was formed. The next stage was deciding what we wanted to achieve. A google doc was created with ideas and brainstorms which formed the basis for most of our notes over the collaboration. It soon became clear that option 1 would suit our all of our needs.  A Google + group was formed and our first Google Hangout took place. I tweeted about it.

It was an amazing experience to speak to other like minded people across the world. I think I got the good end of the bargain. Being in the middle of Alaska, and Taiwan meant that I could talk at 5:30 pm compared to 7:30 am in Alaska and 12:30 am in Taiwan. Part 1 of 3-2-1 bridge complete. More notes and ideas were added to the google doc, a few messages in Google + and another conversation using google hangout (which is actually very reliable) took place a week later. We were moving forward. Finally a Google Sheet was created looking at common language from the resources that we had collated.

We decided on creating a positive RUA which included digital citizenship. We were working with the title of an Empowered User Policy (EUP).  We also agreed that:

  • It should be short
  • It should be in and around classrooms – accessible at all times and used and referenced to
  •  Both children and teachers need to access it ( no matter what age the children are)
  • Positive language should be used throughout

Another Google Hangout and a different document this time playing with the wording of the EUP.

In the end we settled for simplicity in 36 words:-  

As a digital citizen

I am EMPOWERED

To make HEALTHY CHOICES 

That allow me to grow as a LIFELONG learner

To CREATE, SHARE, and COLLABORATE

Digital information in a GLOBAL society

In SAFE and RESPECTFUL way.

We needed some visuals so that all children could really access it. At this point Anthony did his thing using Canva to finish our project. I think it sets out exactly what we wanted to achieve. Part 2 of 3-2-1 bridge complete.

So why an EUP?  Wikipedia defines an acceptable-use policy (AUP) as a collection of rules established by the owner or manager of a network, Web site, or computer system to restrict the ways in which it’s accessed and used. This sounds a little autocratic for my liking. What is our role in empowering children using technology? Is it to scare them so they are unwilling to take risks? Is it to bore them to death by giving them information overload? If so then let’s create another RUA ( Respectable User Agreement) or RUP( Responsible Use Policy) or an AUP that no one looks at. Why does no one look at them? Well it’s simple. Most RUA’s or RUP’s contain a lot of legalistic language. They contain a lot of negativity.

 Instead of saying NO, NO , NO all the time.Lets make a change. Lets create something harder, better, faster, stronger. [youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GDpmVUEjagg[/youtube] How about saying yes for a change ?How about an Empowered User Policy (EUP) ? How about an EUP which encompasses digital citizenship? How about an EUP which is accessible to all from pre-K to Grade 12? How about an infographic that users (adults or children) can understand no matter where they are in the world?

Well here it is our global collaboration to create an EUP for children and teachers aged 3 -18.   COETAIL EUP 2-2

I have already shared this with teaching colleagues, the principals at my school, the technology facilitator. But perhaps more importantly I have shared it with my class. I got some of the 6 year olds to read it to their friends. Heres one of them doing just that! Hopefully, I am now ready to cross the bridge to course 3.   

Finally I would like to thank Nicky, Chris and Anthony for their collaboration, creativity and open communication throughout the whole process. I would be happy to work them all again.

Empower-ED

As Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” One of the major tools that is accelerating this change is technology. It is our role as educators to empower students so that they can flourish and shape this hyper-connected, high tech-world. To guide children on their journey so they have the opportunity to make a change, to follow a dream, to create, to share and to connect to others. But what is this tool that has allowed children and adults to “change the world” for the better? It is the World Wide Web.

Photo Credit: alex_bergerr via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: alex_bergerr via Compfight cc

But how has the web given children this platform?   

Prior to the Web there was six degrees of separations in people’s every day lives. That means that “everybody on this planet is separated by only six other people.”  Or so argued social psychologist Stanley Milgram. The web has changed this indefinitely. It has made us more connected, it has made the impossible, possible. The Web has allowed us to have friendships and understandings with like minded people thousands of miles away. No longer does physical distance play a part to connect, to share, and to collaborate with like minded people.

What are the different ways children are empower-ED using the internet?

Children are already living and shaping the world they are growing up in. Popular culture is being directed by children as young as 9 years old! Caine was the subject to a documentary made by the filmmaker Nirvana Mullick called Caine’s Arcade. It is brilliant!

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=faIFNkdq96U[/youtube]

Caine created an arcade out of cardboard boxes and everyday objects. The film soon became a viral hit (after a flash-mob organised by the filmmaker.) Soon celebrities such as Jack Black were queuing round the block to play in Caine’s Arcade. The impact the film has had can be seen here. It is an amazing idea and shows how one video can become a movement. Schools across the world take part in Caine Arcades projects. Last year our students took part in 2 workshop mornings taking these values onboard and created some stunning inventions.

Photo Credit: partymonstrrrr via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: partymonstrrrr via Compfight cc

Martha Payne started blogging with the subtitle “One primary school pupil’s daily dose of school dinners” on her blog Never Seconds. Soon she was interesting celebrities such as Jamie Oliver and within 2 years had hits of over 10 million. Her blog brought about real change for her friends and other children in the region. Allowing all children access to unlimited servings of fruit, vegetables and bread. Amazing achievement from “just” one blog.

Robert Nay created “Bubble Ball” that became the number 1 selling App on the Apple App Store.

 A 17 year old created a twitter account to share all the positive things that his classmates were doing. Here was a student taking control of his digital footprint, sharing and connecting with the wider world.

The one factor that is constant across all these examples? The Web. 

How have educators empower-ED children? 

Teachers have to like students for students to like teachers. Without this there will be no learning taking place.  Whether it is online or offline…it is all the same. Teachers must believe in their students and really connect with them. Find out their interests, guide and model using technology in positive, inspiring manners so that they can feel empowered. Because every kid needs a champion.

Educators believe in what people can make possible and show children 21st Century skills so that they can create, innovate and cultivate curiosity.

What am I doing?

I am trying to give my students a head start by giving them 21st Century Skills so that they are empowered like Caine and Martha. Giving children skills that they will need later in life (life worthy skills) is a way of empowering the children in my class.

In fact I adapted a lesson from Jeff Utrecht’s Thinking Stick Blog and created some lessons teaching children how to be empowered when using the Web.

I know there is much more that I can do. It is only start, I would like to look into gaming in the classroom ( minecraft would fit perfectly into our current unit). I am interested in looking more at the flipped classroom model and how that could potentially fit into an elementary classroom. But

Innovation in education isn’t about the latest gadget or app, or about how adept a student is at using a smartphone to consume the latest Internet meme. It’s about how technological tools can empower students to become who they want to be, and who we need them to be — the kind of children and young people who ask, “What can I improve? How can I help? What can I build?”

Are we teaching life-worthy skills? Are we empowering our students for success? 

Let’s Empower-EDUCATION 

Online and Offline…it’s all the same.

There are over 7 billion people in the world. Over 3 billion people have access to the internet, which is more than 40% of the worlds population. 3 billion digital citizens connected to the WWW. Wow!

image from Flikr - cc. Nicolas Raymond
image from Flikr – creative commons. From Nicolas Raymond

But what is a digital citizen? Who’s job is it to educate children in digital citizenship skills ? When and where should we be talking with students about their role as a digital citizen? How does this affect what happens in the classroom? 

A digital citizen can be described as “those who use the Internet regularly and effectively“. Or digital citizenship could be described as “The quality of habits, actions, and consumption patterns that impact the ecology of digital content and communities.” Or put simply “the self-monitored habits that sustain and improve the digital communities you enjoy or depend on.”

So, if we dropped the word “digital” from “digital citizenship” then really we would be saying the same thing, whether it is online or in the real world. We expect people (citizens) to behave in a way that is good for the other people around us.

From Pixabay -Creative Commons -Copyright Free Pictures
From Pixabay -Creative Commons –Copyright Free Pictures

Tidying up after ourselves is a skill in the real world. It could be likened to to making sure we sign out  when working on a shared computer.  Sharing is a skill in the real world. It can be likened to using creative commons in the digital world. There are constant links to real life and our world online.

Anne Collier thinks that we should drop the word digital because we are simply teaching citizenship to children. I have to say I think I agree with her. Teaching the 2 skills seem ridiculous. The two go hand in hand, if you are a responsible citizen in the real world then you are going to be a responsible digital citizen.

A digital citizen must be proactive online. Not reactive. I like this article from Edutopia that has grouped proactive knowledge into 9 catergories:-

  1. Passwords
  2. Privacy
  3. Personal Information
  4. Photographs
  5. Property
  6. Permission
  7. Protection
  8. Professionalism
  9. Personal brand

Using these 9 areas we can teach children to become good digital citizens. But just teaching is not enough. Benjamin Franklin famously said

Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn

So teaching children is not enough for children to understand how to be a good digital citizen. Experiential knowledge is also needed. Getting children to become part of their learning by joining collaborative learning communities, going projects such as Out of Eden Learn can teach children how to operate using social media. After all children will need to use social media effectively is they are to get a job and if they do not want to be part of a witch hunt. Get children to comment on others work in class, making a connection with the work, talk about what they liked, what they could improve and get them to ask a question. Mirroring what we expect from a comment on a blog. Using images that through Creative Commons we can use legally. Some schools like to use platforms or websites to help them in this journey. Atlantis Remixed, commonsense.org and iKeepSafe offer some great teaching and learning moments.

To me it comes down to:-

Promote and model good uses of digital spaces in your classroom and school.

This is good practice to show children, even of 6-7 years old how to use technology responsibly. Digital Citizenship is a subject area that transcends ALL content areas, it is not an add on.

Another factor to think about is parents. Teachers and schools can only do so much. The road to becoming a good digital citizen is 3 ways between child, parents and school. I chuckled along when reading about Gregory’s iPhone Contract.

From Pixabay - Creative Commons - Darius Sankowski
From Pixabay – Creative Commons – Darius Sankowski

Explaining to a 13 year old boy about when and where he can use his iPhone was funny but unfortunately missed the boat with regards teaching him to be a valuable member to society as both a citizen and a digital citizen. Having regular conversations, talking about online behaviours, and the norms of respecting each other can benefit children’s pursuit to becoming a great citizen online and offline.

So how is it going in my class?

Well, we are beginning to talk about the what it means to be a digital citizen. The children have shared pieces of information with each other on their blogs. The children are now looking at these videos and making appropriate comments. They are making connections, they are saying what they like about the video, they are asking a question, finally they are re-reading their comment before posting. These skills about writing a comment, sharing information ( not the type of information that you want the world to know) etc are all skills that will help children understand what it means to be digital citizens in 2015 and beyond. After all these skills will last the children a lifetime.

Not only are we working with the children. Last week my fantastic colleagues Suzy Ramsden, Tanya Irene, and I hosted a Technology Workshop for Grade 1 Parents. I have shared the presentation below.

We spoke about all of these topics and ended the workshop with parents posting their own comment onto our class kidblog using a 3-2-1 bridge thinking routine. The parents were taking part. Not just being spoken too.

This is not a one way road to digital citizenship. As Kevin Honeycutt said

Our kids are growing up on a digital playground and no one is on recess duty

Lets be there to model the correct behaviours online and offline, to our students. Online and offline…it’s all the same .Lets be citizens, lets be digital citizens.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FdEXijFXfD8&list=PLvzOwE5lWqhRhUa0Zet5__9yfLX8NRvb3&index=2&feature=plpp_video[/youtube]