Category Archives: web2.0

Art Miles and Google Lit Trips

One of my favourite things to do with students is connect them globally with others around the world, and I’ve written about that here in earlier posts.   I’m starting to daydream about getting back to a school one day soon, and one of the things I’ve missed is participating in, not just suggesting, some of these awesome projects!

If you or your class are interested, consider signing up for the Art Miles Project in Japan this year.  The sign up deadline is May 31, 2014 and the English registration instructions are provided here.

Screen Shot 2014-05-25 at 11.39.01 AM



If you are looking for interesting ways to use Google Earth, check out Google Lit Trips where you can see how media can be embedded into placeholders in Google Earth tours.  This place-based storytelling helps to bring some of your favourite children’s literacy alive, using Google Earth.  You and your students could consider making your own tours after you check out some samples. Very Cool!

Screen Shot 2014-05-25 at 11.25.19 AM



OTRK12 and Google Summit Learning

My friends Donna Fry and Mark Carbone, co-creators of the #ossemooc  have put out a call for us to share our learning during this month of April and, as always, it takes me a little while to get my posts onto the blog!  Luckily for me, I had two great experiences last week,  one at the #otrk12 conference and one at the #gafesummit in Waterloo.   Starting with Stephen Hurley’s examples of passion-based learning at OTRK12 was wonderful and I enjoyed presenting to the e-learning teachers about creating dynamic virtual discussions and seeing Jaclyn Calder’s presentation about the Grader App for D2L with awesome options for providing differentiated and timely feedback to learners.   It’s wonderful to see what an amazing teacher like Jaclyn does with technology!


Mark Carbone Opening the #GAFESummit in Waterloo

While I could share all the tips and tricks that I learned at #otrk12 and the #gafesummit,  I think I’d rather share a few observations that I have mulling around and arising from these 2 great learning events.

A principal from my school board approached me at the Google Summit a little distraught that she had perhaps purchased the wrong technology this year. She has provided her teachers and students with a variety of tools like  ipads, laptops, desktops and Chromebooks.  She seemed a little worried that she had made a wrong choice and should have bought more Chromebooks.  I reminded her, that regardless of how ‘feel good and for the cause of all children and teachers everywhere’ this event undoubtedly was, it was also a Google event after all,  and their mission was to make her feel as though Google products were the bomb. Obviously – they succeeded!

I assured her that an effective technology ecology in her school would also include some higher-end media creation tools like her computers and her ipads, and that she’d want to remember that the ability to do some computing with computers is also a really important skill for our students today.  I remember when Nicholas Negroponte from MIT started to predict that ubiquity would be a game changer in our adoption of technology but that rather than getting simpler, as they should over time,  there was this interesting phenomenon with computers called ‘featuritis’ whereby software developers keep the software getting more complex and complicated (bloated and expensive) rather than cheaper.  Google seems to have figured that out.  Make the browser do most of the work, and the machine could remain inexpensive,  although not as robust.   Maybe robust is not what we are looking for in education anyway.  Easy (for teachers)  seems to be the preferred approach when it comes to technology.   I’m not in complete agreement with this, but I’m learning to accept it.   It is what it is.

People often ask me if I think things are suddenly changing, and while I’m hopeful,  I’m still cautious because I’m not sure it’s the technology that has been holding us back.   We’ve been able to connect our students around the world with blogs since about 2005 and with global projects using forums and list serves since the 1980s.  How many of us jumped on board?  We’ve had extremely rich sites sharing how-to’s of authentic learning and Project Based Learning for more than two decades.   Were we on board then?  We have had Ministry Licensed products that allow multimedia creation and assistive technology for our students for another decade or so.  Were we all making use of these?  When I tell people that my students and I were blogging with other classrooms across the world almost 10 years ago now, and we did this by taking turns all throughout the day on two desktop computers,  they sometimes look at me strangely – like they couldn’t imagine doing that without the Chromebook cart rolled down to the classroom or students 1:1 on their own devices.   They complain that there isn’t enough technology, and yet their classroom computer is often sitting silently in the corner reserved for teacher email.  What’s up with that?


Katina Papulkas’ excellent session on Google for Administrators

Despite my observations, and my confusion about slow progress in educational technology, I refuse to become cynical.  Instead, I’m telling myself that it’s the ubiquity and access that will make the difference this time around.  Now that educators can leap ahead with their own learning through connected networks, they are not bound any longer by the limits of their own school building or in-services for learning…they can connect with and  support each other and learn not only how to use these tools, but what effective use looks like.

I’m reminded that early adopters will always be willing to put in the countless hours that lead them to mastery of technology tools (and other things) if they feel that will  transform their classrooms – that hasn’t changed much since computers were first introduced into classrooms.

Now that we can share our success stories and connect more widely through social media and through networks like the #ossemooc there is no reason to ‘wait for the learning’ – we can just go out and get it!  It was exciting to see so many educators at OTRK12 and GAFE Summit finding their community and learning together!







Trusting in Student Awesomeness

For quite some time now I’ve been questioning our desire to have students who are critical thinkers.  Do we really want that?

What happens when these students that we’ve empowered to have wonderfully evaluative thinking skills decide that they need to make improvements to their learning environment?  Will you stand beside them and support them?  Will you empower them to seek and facilitate change?

Or, will you explain the rules of the ‘game’,  bogging them down with all the ‘ya but’ explanations that let them know you really weren’t serious about the development of their critical thinking skills.  Maybe you were okay with it during the the contrived classroom scenario but when it comes to something they really care about in ‘real life’ can you embrace this as part of your curriculum?

I worry that we need to get real with students and empower their dreams about taking action, while supporting them to think critically about how they might do that in order to have a real impact on their world, their future, and of course, ours as well.   I love the following video, where Scott McLeod challenges us to make the extra-curricular the curricular…to make taking action and personal passion a part of becoming a concerned citizen and a life long learner, and be more trusting of our awesome students!

Copyright Matters – Canada!

Screen Shot 2013-01-31 at 9.58.50 PM

Many of you will have already seen this, but you can now download the newly updated version of Copyright Matters.

Students and teachers now more freedom with images, music and other web-based works so it’s good news!

Check out page 12 which I found most relevant to my work in schools:

Diving Deeply: Networks or Communities

Originally Posted by on Apr 13, 2012 in Voices from the Learning Revolution, PLP Network

I’ve begun teaching an Additional Qualifications course for inservice teachers, about the integration of technology into their classroom practice. I’ve written about this new learning journey before, and I began revising and rethinking the course as soon as it got rolling the first time around. This is what I miss most about being a classroom teacher — the creative process involved in shaping learning environments that work!

In planning courses we continue to find that many of the resources we turn to for guidance are often traditional, text-based models of learning, especially in higher education. This doesn’t often sit right with me. My goal is to help teachers imagine new possibilities in their own classrooms as they begin to shift their practice.

In setting out to model some more innovative practices, I hope that by seeing a variety of options as learners first, teachers will understand the power of these new approaches and feel free to play with some of these new tools and then reflect on them with a critical eye. Most of the teachers who will join me in these courses are newly connected to social networks, and therefore my aim is to plan a meaningful experience that is not too overwhelming.

These newly connected educators often look for some advice about where to jump in: Twitter? Blogs? Facebook? Social networks for teachers? There are so many choices! As a result, I’ve surfaced some thoughts about the difference between the work I do with networks and communities and how I might advise teachers who are newly connected.

Virtual colleagues? Business as usual

In an earlier blog post I was asking this question:

“I’m gravitating towards more collaborative work that involves a different kind of connection than something like twitter — what should I be recommending to others just starting down this path?”

I’ve been thinking about where I’m finding my best support for my own learning these days. While I’ve been going to my twitter network and saving links, resources, and graphics to help me plan this course, I’ve found that it’s actually my community of inquiry within Powerful Learning Practice that has lead me to the deepest learning along this new journey. Only a handful of these people are actually in the realm of my f2f connections and none of them are people I see day-to-day. Working virtually with people from my online community is just becoming business as usual!

As I begin teaching this course, I think I owe it to my learners to help them understand that while twitter networks might lead them to incredible contacts and resources, our classroom community will be where they can get down and dirty with some really messy learning.

Let me share a recent example. I was extremely lucky to be taking Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach’s PLP e-course Teaching Online: Becoming a Connected Educator back while I was building the first rendition of my own course curriculum. It gave me a source of feedback and critical friends when I was first drafting, asking questions, and pondering my next moves. Even now, 6 months after the PLP e-course, I am still in contact with several of those folks who I know would help me with revisions. This potential for an extended conversation about my work would not often happen on twitter, and actually I don’t know that it’s ever happened to me in a f2f context, either!

A great discovery

Next, something Sheryl recently posted in the PLP Community Hub caught my eye. It was a document that Howard Rheingold had shared, inviting folks to work on collaboratively transforming a course about social media for high school students. I had been cocooning a bit, thinking through my plans, and while following some of Howard’s links I discovered — a visual syllabus!

This was great. I already had the very (19th century) text-based one I’d created from the traditional University model I had been given as an exemplar. And I had the video version that I had made for my students as a course introduction for the first week. However, the ‘good’ thing about video is also the ‘bad’ thing about video…you have to watch it! You can’t scan it well. So a graphic organizer was just the thing I needed to turn the syllabus into more of an infographic. I got busy creating and came up with a first draft:

I posted this to my community inside the PLP Ning space, where Howard’s course outline is also posted, knowing that I would likely get some feedback, suggestions, and perhaps even a discussion wherein more folks share what they are doing in this area – and then BINGO – we’d be building collective knowledge.

Sure enough, the sharing began to happen almost immediately. Suzie Nestico posted a reply that caused me to think more deeply about some of the requirements that will need to be in place before my students will be able to understand the difference between “knowledge sharing” and “knowledge building.” This will help direct some of my next steps in planning.

While I learn lots and connect well with Twitter and my other networks, it’s my community of inquiry (both f2f and online) that helps me to dive deeper, which is where I like to be!


Professional Learning, Teacher Librarians, and the 21st Century!

This gallery contains 1 photos.

This past week was a wonderful celebration of the work of over half (about 31) of our elementary teacher librarians who gathered to share the projects they’ve been working on since the fall.  I was lucky to be able to … Continue reading


Teaching and Learning in the 21st Century Conference

This gallery contains 1 photos.

Whew!  I’ve returned from a whirlwind of 3 days of learning at OTF’s latest conference: Teaching and Learning in the 21st Century and as usual, my brain is full of new learning, not only from the keynote presenters, Will Richardson … Continue reading