In case anyone is interested, I had the great pleasure of being interviewed by Darrel Branson and Tony Richards of the Ed Tech Crew in Australia last week, and they’ve posted the podcast on their site. Enjoy!
It was great fun to take part in a most excellent chat about School 2.0 last night on the WOW 2.0 podcast over at EdTechTalk. Here’s the link to the full hour mp3 which I’ll be listening to so I can hear what I said, and you can read the chat log as well. Looks like we might be doing an encore in a few months…
Another sign of things to come…
K-State plans to have all 6,000 class podcasts available to its students this year, making it by far the education realm’s largest podcasting implementation worldwide.
So does the classroom of the future, even in high school (maybe middle school) have the built in capability for teachers to record and post their lessons?
From today’s New York Times:
“The scale of N.C.L.B. testing requirements, competitive pressures in the testing industry, a shortage of testing experts, insufficient state resources, tight regulatory deadlines and a lack of meaningful oversight of the sprawling N.C.L.B. testing enterprise are undermining N.C.L.B.’s pursuit of higher academic standards,” he writes. And that is from a man who supports the federal law.
Sounds encouraging, huh?
So if this isn’t a perfect example of why teachers need to explore these technologies, I don’t know what is. Chris Kenniburg and Jamie Soltis at Long Elementary in Dearborn, MI have combined text, art and audio to create an “ongoing digital storytelling podcast.”
The idea behind the project is to get every grade level at an elementary school to add a new episode (Chapter in the Story) to the podcast by expanding on the previous story submission. The students write and illustrate the next chapter. They then turn to the technology to digitally express themselves creating voiceovers, titles, and animations. These elements are then exported as a ï¿½podcast readyï¿½ video file to be added to the story. This new ï¿½digital bookï¿½ concept is catching on and the next grade level has begun creating the next chapter in the story. At the end of the year we plan on combining all the video files to create a completed story.
You have got to look at these. Learn from these. Amazingly good work from the kids and the teachers. (Check out the way the pages look…awesome!) They’re just starting, but you can just already tell the type of work these kids are doing. They are writing, planning, collaborating, creating, publishing…all for a real, valuable purpose. To teach what they know and share it with an interested audience. I think if this community started giving out “Best Practice Awards” (hey…there’s an idea…) this would definitely get one.
This is another example of why it’s feeling like momentum is building here. I can only imagine what teachers and kids will do, given the chance…
The most interesting thing about yesterday’s MassCue Technology Leadership Symposium at least to me, was that two educators came up to me at different times of the day and said the same thing almost verbatim:
I have never seen a technology that has turned my students on more than podcasting.
Seriously…almost verbatim, and kind of out of the blue since I was talking about RSS (though I was hawking my book…I have no shame.) And to both of them I asked why they thought that was. The answer was basically the ease of it, the audience, the ability to hear themselves piping through the speakers wherever they were. And these teachers were downright giddy with the excitement of it all. Very cool.
I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t “get” podcasting at first, and to be honest, I’m not sure I do still. But that doesn’t much matter, does it? Kids get it, especially elementary kids. And even though it may not be the best tool for conversation (though a blog built around a podcast can help in that) it is a great tool for teaching writing, among other things. That’s the other thing I hear a lot. These kids are really motivated to write and think and prepare these podcasts because they know they are going to be published, that others will hear them. And it’s different strokes with these tools, isn’t it? You don’t like text (like I do) try audio, and if that doesn’t engage you, try video or screencasting or whatever. And there is more to come, don’t forget. We’re only just starting.
Isn’t it cool, however, that in some small measure, the little kids are leading the way???
So it seems the “why” conversation is spreading. I wish I’d seen Nancy McKeand’s post earlier, but as has been the case of late, I’m way behind on my reading and feeling the familiar nose above water feeling. She’s doing a workshop today and asked readers of her blog to chime in with why we use blogs in our classrooms. The answers (11 at this moment) make me feel pretty positive of where we’re at with this. They’re all about conversations and connections, about thinking and learning. And I was struck by how much of what the commenters highlighted was about reading which, as I’ve said many times before, is where blogging must start. That has me especially optimistic.
I’m getting the sense that we are, at last, at a turning point. David Warlick is talking about telling new stories. This morning, I must have spent an hour just wading through a whole bunch of edublogs that I never knew existed, and they all linked to others which linked to others. (BTW, there are a bunch of Australian edublogs that absolutely blew my mind…here’s a thread from just one of them.) In my presentations, people know what blogs are, and what they are really seeking now is pedagogy, not training. It feels like, finally, this is no longer a technology as it is another way to connect and communicate. It’s feeling like in some places, at least, blog thinking is becoming embedded.
Now I know there is still a great deal of blog angst out there. All that MySpace stuff. All the just a new way of doing old stuff, stuff. Heck, I have to admit that when I read that Dave Winer, who is about as close to Adam in the blog world as you’ll find, has given notice that he will soon give up blogging, I was a bit taken aback. Could I give up blogging? Could I just walk away, cold turkey? (This is, after all, some sort of addiction, let’s face it.) I’ve become so intertwined in this space that it’s hard to imagine. And to be clear, even though I have been fortunate to build a comparatively sizeable audience for my ideas through the blog, I still feel like this is my space (two words) to do my thinking and supposing and, ultimately, learning. This process of reading, thinking, writing is how I learn. Sometimes it’s reading, talking, thinking, writing, but it’s almost always learning. I can’t see that stopping at this point.
So maybe it is time to reinvent this conversation. Maybe we’re moving out of the how to and into the why. And when we get down that road a stretch, we’ll get back to the how again, only this time with an eye on best practice teaching and learning. Then it should get really, really fun.
Steve Dembo is noting another way the tools are pushing us to reinvention:
Some professors posting their lectures online as podcasts claim their seeing a rise in absenteeism. Professors are responding by having more pop quizzes or giving extra credit for attending class.
Am I missing something? What’s the problem here? If students can get all of the necessary information and pass the final exam just by listening to the podcasts, then A ) the student should get a cookie and B ) the professor do some serious thinking about how much value there is of hearing the information firsthand.
If the student could just as easily get all the information from a podcast, then isn’t the lecture period being completely wasted?
And then he asks this really big question:
When the lecture, presentation slides and notes can all be shared online, what SHOULD a higher education class look like?
To be honest, I have a secret wish that when my kids get old enough for college (in about 10 years), that they’ll have consumed all of the necessary consumables and just be showing up to classes that focus on actually taking an active role in the learning. What a concept…
But these are old habits. And we’ve got our fair share of ’em down here in K-12 land as well.
More molecules moving today…sat with a group of World Language teachers and talked and showed them what we could do with audio and podcasting and the like and there were suddenly lots of light bulbs going off. They’re already posting their own files for kids to listen to, but…
“So you mean we can just send the link to the audio file in an e-mail once we post it.” Yep.
“If we wanted to archive them, we can link them from our blogs, right?” Uh-huh.
“What if we wanted to have kids in other schools listen and respond in writing…could we do that?” No problem.
“Could our kids load these files onto their own MP3 players?” Yup.
“So I could have them do something like this on a regular basis, like my kids putting together shows in Spanish, say about our school, that the eighth grade teachers could play and have their kids listen to for the language piece and learn about high school at the same time, right?” Can you say podcasting?
“What if I wanted to have them really talk to someone from far away?” Let me tell you about Skype…
So today’s episode is with Doug Symington (blogger since 2002), an educational designer/technologist in Victoria, BC who responded to my offer last week to add some audio to the post about conferencing with Skype. We chat about Skype as a classroom tool, why so many Canadians seem to be at the cutting edge of these technologies, the and why (or is it if) Tablet PCs are better than Smartboards. I’d meant to get this posted earlier, but it took Ourmedia an interminably long time to make the link appear. (Anyone have a better alternative at this point?) Look for more after the first of the year.
So I’m not sure if this is another podcast, but I’m putting up an interview I did with John Hendron from Goochland, Va. a couple of nights ago. I did it to find out more about how he is implementing blogs at his school and to test out the Gizmo record feature a bit more. WARNING: This is not high quality audio, but hopefully it’s fairly interesting content.
Just as an aside, while I haven’t been a big drinker of the podcasting Kool-Aid in terms of listening to myself ramble on about the state of the education world, the journalist in me loves asking questions. So I’m toying with the idea of doing a series of Terry Gross type interviews with blogging educators, (especially if I can get the Skype record working…) Let me know what you think.
Could it be? A free add on to Skype that lets you record your conversations? It’s an early Christmas present. Only $19.95 to upgrade to the power version which allows you to record conference calls. Hmmm…
I just tried this with a friend and I am now officially one happy camper. I just haven’t been satisfied with the quality of Gizmo and have already removed it from my already cluttered hard drive. And I’ve been thinking about doing more interview type podcasting a la Tim Wilson.
UPDATE: I upgraded to the pro account and recorded a conference call and it’s AWESOME. It’s another step at making it even easier to use recorded conversations as a part of class curricula or to share with other audiences or to archive in your portfolio or… Very, very cool!
So we managed to get all four of the Ed Tech Coast to Coast gang together on one Skype call just over a week ago and the result is now ready for consumption. The file is a bit large due to a change in the production process (Read: Steve took over for Tim W.), but hopefully that won’t be a deterrent. This week, we even have show notes! (Can you tell what we were talking about?) Wow!
As always, feedback appreciated.
There is clearly an interesting point about blogs being ‘inconclusive’ media – blogs as commentary in process rather than finished comments. Such a move is another nail in the coffin of top-down power-full Big Media/Education/Government who depend on fixed narratives, content journies and subject positions. In fact the chain of links that led me to the comment is an example of that inconclusive, media.
But more, this is Derridean ’supplementarity’ – endlessly deferred meanings. This is not a matter of relativistic postmodernism where meaning is without reference or reality, but a far more important issue of destabilising meta-narratives and power positions. The fact that this discourse and its subject positions extends through a range of Blogs, content journies and relationships foregrounds the instability of ‘content’, ‘commentary’ and ‘new media’.
Not only do today’s novices use technologies unavailable at the time their teachers were becoming masters, but the quantity and types of information students need to assess has also expanded exponentially. Part of this shift in learning brought about by today’s digital, networked information results from the fact that we now often work, share, and search at the data level as opposed the level of conclusions, narratives, catalogs, or indices. That is, students are not limited to browsing a card catalogue to find just those books that their college library had the resources to purchase and that were described with Library of Congress subject terms as addressing a particular topic and which a publishing house has selected for publication by an author who had created a narrative by sorting and synthesizing years’ worth of research into a comprehensible whole. They can use search and collaboration tools to get at the primary source data as well as a wider variety of studies of the data. By so doing, they can wade through and remove four levels of filters between themselves and the information.
The highlight of my weekend (and please remember, I have no life) was the Skypecast that my class at Seton Hall and I participated in at Worldbridges.com. Dave Cormier and Jeff Lebow are doing seriously groundbreaking work with all of this and it a word or two, it left us all pretty amazed. But the best part for me was that they also had Barbara Ganley on the show, and we were able to ask her a couple of questions about blogging in the classroom and writing practice. If you’re new to all of this stuff, or even if you’ve been working through it in your classrooms, you need to listen to the way she talks about her experiences at Middlebury College. (Have I mentioned that I want to go back to school and be in Barbara’s class?)
So I already think Skype is pretty amazing in terms of facilitating the ever more infrequent Ed Tech Coast to Coast podcasts (though there may be a new one shortly!) But I happened to be watching an online presentation by my friend Alan November yesterday and he suggested a use that just made me slap my forehead in a “Doh!” moment: Skype to allow parents to listen to their child’s presentations at school!
And while we’re at it:
If there is anyone out there interested in piloting some Skype in the curriculum, let me know.
From MSNBC comes this really nice article on podcasting in classrooms. Sounds like it’s becoming a hit:
Using little more than an iPod and a school computer, Gagliolo and her students have been making podcasts — online radio shows that can be downloaded to an iPod or other portable MP3 player. Avidly discussing their favorite iPod colors and models while they made recordings of their poems and book reports the other day, the fifth-graders bubbled with ideas for future subjects.
“We could read parts of books, to show why we like them. We could do interviews. If there’s a field trip, we could make a recording of it and post it,” said Mohamed El-Sayed, 10. “Kids anywhere will like to hear about us.”
No doubt there is some energy in that quote. Could it be that podcasting has more appeal on the elementary level??? Some great implementations are described that really bring the potential of the technology to life.
I’m loving seeing more and more of these articles…
(Thanks to Elizabeth Fullerton for the link.)
I just spent most of the last couple of hours participating in a Worldbridges streamed Skype call/Webcast with Stephen Downes, Dave Cormier and Jeff Lebow (which is being restreamed right now if you’re interested.) And all the while there was a chat room with people listening and asking questions, sometimes Skyping in and joining the conversation. It was great fun, despite the fact that about 10 minutes into the show the power here at home went out and I lost my connection. (Great timing.) Took me about 30 minutes of e-mailing back and forth through my cell phone to get a Skype-in number so I could spend the last 75 minutes or so joining in.
Anyway, some good talk about the state of the Read/Write Web, and it was another one of those “couldn’t have done this a couple of years ago” learning experiences that have me thinking. And it was definitely a treat to be able to meet (albeit virtually) Stephen and get a chance to interact with him.
By the way, Jeff and Dave have done 20 of these shows at Worldbridges, live every Sunday at 10 EST, open to listener participation. Some more good stuff to consume.
I’ll post a quick link to the podcast version when it gets published.
I can’t recall all of the ones I’ve seen lately, but I’m constantly amazed at how sites launch with all sorts of categories but none dedicated to education.
“Teamwork, enterprise skills, technical skills and technical literacy are still not taught ‘for real’ in the classroom. There are often bogus initiatives that touch the surface but don’t get the kids really working on a meaningful product in the long term. These kids see themselves as podcasters till they leave school, and probably beyond,” says McIntosh.
As a result the project is also helping to raise standards. “You would never be able to tell which ones struggle in ‘regular’ class work,” says McIntosh. He also points out that, while on the surface students are working with audio, producing a podcast involves written work, too.
“Bearing in mind that most podcasts require a script, it’s not replacing the written word. In fact, it’s the opposite because kids need to redraft to make it fit the time slot they are given.”
One of the things I really like about David Weinberger is his interesting, unique vision of what is happening to knowledge because of what is happening on the Web. That and the fact that he pushes my own thinking so much. He’s a perfect example of that whole “the teachers we find are better than the ones we are given” potential of the Read/Write Web. He (and a few select others which I mention here often) challenges me in ways that are relevant to me, to my passions, leading me to new insights and connecting me to new teachers.
Another example of this is his latest essay “The New Is.” It’s a further evolution of what he articulated at his NECC keynote in Philadelphia earlier this month, and it’s a mind bender, at least for me. So this will be one of those scary “work through it in a blog post” type of posts. And maybe, the beginnings of a conversation.
Start with this:
We are entering the age where to understand something is to see how it isn’t what it is.
As opposed, I would guess, to an age where to understand something is to think we see what it is, right? An age in education when we teach by the “here it is and here is what it means” method based on a system of structured knowledge with absolute answers. An age in which, because we’ve had limited access to other voices and other sources, there is an urge for everyone to conform to traditional understandings.
But on the Web, Weinberg asserts, structure is a problem because very few ideas fit so neatly into the traditional schemes. Most ideas, most understandings are nuanced in ways that make them more personal rather than one size fits all. In fact, meaning and knowledge is evolving through millions of conversations and interactions that were not possible before, with different people “tagging” similar ideas in dissimilar ways, creating a messiness that he says is a sign of “successful order.”
We don’t need perfect knowledge in an age of knowledge abundance. We just need pretty good knowledge, and that’s something we don’t need perfect gatekeepers for. To the gatekeepers what looks like chaos and the degradation of learning to Netizens looks like an exponential increase in intelligence.
And who are the gatekeepers, you think? I can’t tell you how much angst this “exponential increase in intelligence” is causing in certain circles, and we’ve all heard it, I know. “It can’t be trusted.” “What authority does the source have?” “How do you know that?” All legitimate questions in certain circumstances. But questions whose acceptable answers are not changing, as of yet, with the new realities of information and knowledge.
And then there’s this, one of my favorite Weinberger riffs:
The difference in views occurs in part because the Net explodes the old view of intelligence as the containing of lots of knowledge. This container model is reflected in how we talk about documents: We say they have contents even though print is as 2-dimensional as a shadow. On the Net, documents ( pages ) get their value to a large degree not from what they contain but from what they point to.
I just love that concept, and I love the way it relates back to George Siemens and Barbara Ganley who see that not only are their texts not simply containers any longer, neither are their students. And isn’t that how we’ve thought about students, really, for a long time, ultimately as containers of the information we impart? But with the Web, they become much more than that, because, like pages and online texts, then can connect their own messy knowledge to the messy understandings of others and, in the process, exponentially increase their intelligence. I am so struck by how limiting I see the traditional classroom any more, the restrictive nature of it. (Much like what I think of paper anymore, btw.) So look at the last quote again and think students, not documents.
On the Net, [students] get their value to a large degree not from what they contain but from what they point to.
That’s a bit of a shift, huh?
And so what does all of this mean for instruction? I think he starts to paint that picture as well.
If you want to know about an idea, you could go to an encyclopedia and read what an expert says about it. Or you could find a blog that talks about it and start following the web of links. You’ll not just see multiple points of view, you’ll hear those points of view in conversation. That’s new in the world. The old dream of finding a single knowledge for the entire world, having knowledge be like reality, in other words, is dying rapidly. The connectedness of the Net has made it too clear that the world is not going to come to agreement and be able to write its single encyclopedia, covering everything we need to know without dissent. To understand now means to hear the multiplicity of meaning talked about across the world. The more of the world we get into the conversation, the more the world will mean.
And that then becomes the task, to get teachers and students to enter into the conversation, to get them connected (in more ways than one) to the idea that understanding and meaning and knowledge is no longer quite as easily defined, that we find them in negotiation and interaction, in the “continuousness of conversation” as he puts it.
How tough could that be?
Three out of the four of us got together Tuesday night and chatted via Skype for about 45 minutes primarily about access, access to the Web, access to the tools, access to the content. In a nutshell, I’m the depressing one. The longer it takes everyone to get connected, the more the divide is going to grow. There’s just no question in my mind that not providing THE most powerful and important technology out there to every kid is just absolutely unfair at best and really immoral at worst.
Just a couple of show notes…I’m amazed at the quality of what Tim Wilson has been able to produce in the “Pod Cave” and the quality of Skype conference. It may be drivel, but it’s really well produced drivel. And the more I get into this, the more appeal it has in terms of classroom applications. Next week, I mean it, I’m gonna get my teachers Skyping…
At any rate, here’s the link to the show. Enjoy!
Thomas Friedman continues to make the case for change in education today in the soon to be closed New York Times opinion pages. It’s about efforts in Singapore to bring high level math instruction to students. And the good news (I think) is it’s all about the changes we’ve been talking about in this community for quite some time now: creation and sharing of content, collaboration, a shifting notion of what it means to teach. A couple of points of emphasis, first from a principal:
“We have shifted the emphasis from content alone to making use of the content” on the principle that “knowledge can be created in the classroom and doesn’t just have to come from the teacher.”
And this, from the developer of an online math curriculum:
“What we have tried to do is create a platform for the continuous sharing of the best practices for teaching math concepts. So a teacher might say: ‘I have a problem teaching congruence to 14-year-olds. What is the method they use in India or Shanghai?’
HeyMath’s mission is to be the math Google – to establish a Web-based platform that enables every student and teacher to learn from the “best teacher in the world” for every math concept and to also be able to benchmark themselves against their peers globally.
The Web gives us access to much more in the way of individualized and quality resources than we’ve been able to access in the past, and it now allows us to create and to use classroom created content to teach wider audiences and serve real purposes. And it’s facilitating a much more collaborative approach to learning and creating. Obviously, these shifts are occurring in business, politics etc. as well. But the bad news is we’re just not getting that message here, it seems…