Curation

Over the last few weeks of reading ETMOOC posts I’ve noticed that sometimes I leave a post open in a browser tab for days.  These posts-to-return-to-when-I-have-more-time exhibit a common feature – many of them contain infographics or interesting visual representations. In an activity like ETMOOC numerous open tabs is not a viable solution, so I decided to curate.

I could have bundled the posts together with bookmarks and tags, but decided to focus on the visuals themselves as they are what I want to explore in detail and perhaps what I will want to share outside of ETMOOC in the future. Though I’m a fairly regular user delicious and scoop.it, I decided to work with a curation tool that is also very visual – Pinterest.  (To this point my use of Pinterest has been largely materialistic, though I have seen many using it to collect educational resources.) I like the way the board is coming together, though Pinterest really should listen to user feedback and make it possible to re-arrange pins within a board.

In the process of pinning these resources I swerved and ran smack dab into learning! I’ve spent considerable time exploring curation as a skill and have learned it is significantly more  than collecting resources. Curation also requires reflection and sense-making. A key resource I explored was this presentation by Robin Good “Content Curation for Education and Learning, Emerge 2012” (note – it will take considerable time to digest, but it is worth the investment). For a shorter resource see Beth Kanters piece “Content Curation Primer“.

So as valuable as Pinterest, Scoop.it or Delicious are for collecting and sharing ideas and resources having a space (blog) to reflect on and converse about the content is more important to learning – certainly to my ETMOOC learning. Jumping from seek to share isn’t enough – a good curator makes sense of the ideas presented.

I intend to follow-up this post with a few that delve into the sense-making part. But in the meantime I will to add to these great visuals as I explore the hundreds of blog posts in ETMOOC and the thousands of links contributed by this great sharing community. If you are interested in seeing the infographics I’ve gathered so far click the icon below.

Pinterest_Favicon

 

What you share with the world…

As I’ve navigated the fast moving ETMOOC river these last days I’ve been focused on the idea of SHARING.  As we explore Connected Learning – Tools, Processes & Pedagogies the theme of sharing has been a big one.

Dean Shareski’s session on Sharing is Accountability (slideshare) contained a quote from Sue Waters that is important for us to consider when deciding what to share:

The idea of blogging as part of a constructivist MOOC is that you’re reflecting and sharing your learning. Ideally what you’re looking for is to learn from others while building on, and adding to what you’ve learnt.

The more you read, participate by leaving comments on other participant’s posts, engage in discussions and conversations – the more you’ll learn and want to share – and this is when you REFLECT on it by writing a post! (slide 71)

A learning moment occurred for me when I purposefully returned to some of the blog posts I had read previously. (I often read a post when I see it pop up on Google+ and that means I’m reading it shortly after posting.) When you revisit a post after a few days there may be a conversation developed in the comments that offers important lessons.  For example, this discussion on over-sharing between Brent Schmidt and Sue Waters (much to learn from Sue!).

So a key learning for me this week is how important it is in a MOOC environment to keep returning to spaces that we’ve previously explored, to see what may have changed (or not) and to participate openly in the discussion when you have something to add. We cannot just skim along this great ETMOOC river, we must return to our favourite docks and see what wonderful learning vessels are moored there now.

sharing

Photo note: I’ve been wanting for a long while to use this line as a contribution to the Great Quotes about Learning and Change flickr group. I usually use my own photos as a way to encourage me to take interesting/odd pictures on a regular basis. Not having anything on hand that would work, I searched my flickr contacts for a creative commons licensed photo with the word “sharing” and the one above, taken by Dean At Unplug’d11, was included (I’m in there somewhere). A nice way to complete the sharing circle.

Introduction video

A big part of ETMOOC is “putting yourself out there” and for me that will mean trying new things.  So I got out my son’s little Sony camera and did one take of me in my favourite room. Then I fetched some of my favourite photos and started working with iMovie.

Quite a few hours later I have finished my introduction video and I have learned a lot.

  • it is very difficult to take smooth video of yourself
  • I need to articulate my name better … Jeannine (Ja neen) *sigh*
  • iMovie can do a lot but some things just aren’t intuitive
  • though audio sounded about even in the program it is quite different on upload
  • cats are not reliable props

I have a lot more to learn so your feedback is welcomed!

ETMOOC

ETMOOC begins in a few days … I am really looking forward to stretching my connections in new directions.

The organizers have done a fantastic job of orienting a diverse group of people to the mission. I’ve used the Orientation page at ETMOOC.org to guide me in:

  • fixing up my very neglected blog by adding a new menu, new tags and an archive;
  • adding the blog aggregator page to my own RSS tool of choice;
  • adding columns to tweetdeck for all 3 lists of ETMOOC partipants (1200 and counting!), as well as the #ETMOOC hashtag;
  • joined the Google+ ETMOOC Community, I’ve not used G+ much so I’m looking forward to getting to know my way around;
  • added the ETMOOC Google calendar to my own; and
  • updating my about.me page and attempting to update my profile pic across all my social spaces (I’ve found that avatars and profile pics are very useful cues in trying to get to know folks in these massive spaces).

My personal goals for participating in ETMOOC are to consolidate my own knowledge base of connected learning and educational technology, and therefore be a better advocate for it in public education, and to continue to encourage educators to consider non-teacher (eg parent) perspectives when shifting pedagogy.

School – Family Partnerships for the 21st Century

I read a lot of articles about improving the school – family dynamic in public education. Some focus on parent involvement, others go toward parent engagement. I have been inspired by the work of Joyce Epstein and Debbie Pushor as they both encourage the development of true partnerships based on mutual respect and a desire to enhance student learning.

(For those interested my friend Lorna Costantini brings their research out of the journals and into our living rooms through conversations with both women that are rich with real examples. See here and here for archives).

Today I read an article on home – school relationships that contained a sentence that really popped for me … made me say out loud “exactly!”.

(As I love the flickr group Great quotes about learning and change, I knew I had to make a poster using this line; I’ve wanted to use my orange mushroom photo for a long time and longed for a quotation about families and communities).

Wanting to know more about the author Marilyn Price-Mitchell I read her paper Boundary Dynamics: Implications for Building Parent – School Relationships. It really meshed with my own beliefs that connections, trust, networks, and knowledge creation are coming together to provide us with a real opportunity to build school – family partnerships that benefit all of us – students, parents, teachers, and community.

The knowledge society, the learning organization, and the information technology revolution represent trends that are bringing the family into the mainstream of education in ways never before experienced p. 22

EXACTLY!!!

I’d like to give credit to Chris Wejr who’s “Things that make me go BOOM” linked to this article and had me reflecting on all kinds of great things today.

Connect

On August 31 nearly 1000 teachers from this District gathered in one place for a day of learning together.  As Chair of the District Education Council I am invited to speak for a few minutes at the beginning of the day.  As I am there in an official capacity I’m cognizant of delivering a message that is true to the Council’s mission and goals, so I decided to continue with the theme of “connecting”.

I encouraged educators to model 21st century learning by exploring networks and using technology to connect to their own passions and to have conversations with educators far and wide. I suggested a few easy things they could do to begin: Tech20Tuesday, #edchat, Learning: Everybody’s Project, or even their own association’s social networks. As the major theme of the event was “responsible use” of technology I even suggested they might want to read a great blog post on the CEA website. Our District schools have developed some very good professional learning communities, but I asked them to go beyond the usual for conversations and then to bring back what they learned to their PLCs.

BUT as I was writing the remarks for the event, I realized that as a Council we have been distracted, albeit by some important responsibilities, from our own true purpose of connecting citizens to the public education system.  Whether we meet online or in person we have to spend more time in conversation with our community, exploring how to connect to the learning that is happening and celebrating the innovation that exists in so many places.

I’m excited for the new year to begin, I look forward to connecting more myself!

my message

LearnEast 2.0.11 – Parent Perspective of 21C

There’s an excellent learning event underway for NB educators in Fredericton this week. LearnEast 2.0.11, a high quality, low cost event attended by 200 keen teachers from around the province, has been organized by Bryan Facey (@Faceyman) and Jeff Whipple (@jeffwhipple) of District 18 and Jay Colpitts (@JayColpitts) of District 14.  I was happy to be asked to sit on a panel this afternoon and discuss my views (a parent’s perspective) on 21C and virtual learning opportunities for NB students.

In advocating for 21C and virtual spaces I outlined three areas where our modern tools can significantly improve our public education system.  Acknowledging that 21C type learning doesn’t require a tech-rich environment, I commented that tech tools and the internet do however enable us to make so many more connections that strengthen the role of public education.

1) Connecting students to their passions – our modern tools allow us to make personalized learning possible.  We can go beyond differentiated instruction, beyond ability grouping and reach out and touch the passions of every student of every ability in every school.

2) Connecting parents to the learning in classrooms – be it through inviting comments on a student/class blog, contributing ideas to a school wiki or skyping in from the office to provide real-world perspective on a discussion in the classroom – technology allows parents to interact with the learning in schools that goes far beyond reading comments on a report card or signing off a homework sheet.

3) Connecting the community to the school and the school to the world – the role of public education can be enhanced significantly by building connections between our local resources and our schools as well as by linking our schools to other communities around the world.  Many teachers have utilized local/global partners to enhance classroom learning, but the ability to do this virtually expands our capability tremendously and really enables us to authenticate public education as a community building institution.

I summarized my contribution by paraphrasing Stephen Downes (@downes) and encouraging the group to embrace a system where students do not have an education provided for them, but one that empowers students to build an education for themselves.

Unplug’d 2011

It has been a week since I returned from the most uplifting professional/personal development event I have ever participated in – Unplug’d 2011.

In the week that has gone by I’ve immersed myself in the afterglow of the event through sharing with the Uplug’d crew on twitter and flickr and even occasionally on ds106 radio.  I have made sure to read all of the reflection blog posts that I’ve come across and I have spent a lot of time pondering the event and what it means for me.

I learned so much about the people behind the pixels during the three days we were unplugged. The time and opportunity to share stories, songs and food led to a deeper connection which makes their work in all facets of education so much more real and inspiring.

I learned that very different people gathered from this incredibly large country can come together and work collaboratively.  I learned that everyone has a story to tell and it is okay if telling your story makes you vulnerable.

I learned that while reflection is an important component of learning, real growth in learning comes from turning reflection into action.  Thinking about something and writing about something are good – but acting on those thoughts and words leads to real growth and real learning.

When one is the ‘official spokesperson’ for a public education organization it is important to be clear when you are expressing your own personal beliefs.  I have never hesitated to promote 21C learning as it is a component of my District‘s focus on the future, nor have I been shy about increasing parent involvement and student voice in our system.  But most times I stop short of openly advocating for the transformative change I believe New Brunswick should be pursuing – and that just isn’t good enough for a ‘change agent’.

So now what?  It is time for me to take the next step – to push publish on this piece and begin to find ways to express my beliefs through actions and to inspire more citizens to get involved in shaping the future of public education in N.B..

I encourage you to read the Preface and Chapter One of “Why _______ Matters” and share with me your thoughts.

JOY

The current issue of Educational Leadership has an article that I felt had the right ring to it for the beginning of a new school year – it is titled “Joy in School” (Stephen Wolk) (click here for a TinyURL link). The article has little reference to technology or web tools, but it goes straight to the heart of what learning should be – JOYFUL.

Wolk remarks:

“If the experience of “doing school” destroys children’s spirit to learn, their sense of wonder, their curiosity about the world, and their willingness to care for the human condition, have we succeeded as educators, no matter how well our students do on standardized tests?”

He goes on to explore 11 ways that educators can integrate JOY into the classroom, including: Give Students Choice, Take Time to Tinker, Get Outside, and Show Off Student Work, and he make an important distrinction between joy and fun.   

Many of the ideas are simple and in fact I’ve seen many examples in local schools, but the impact we could have by integrating 9, 10 or all 11 of the ideas would be wonderful to see.

vision in a cloud

Recently I had the opportunity to briefly address around 900 teachers in the school District where I serve as an Education Council member.  The primary purpose of District Councils in New Brunswick is to set the overall vision and goals that are in turn operationalized by District Staff.  We are beginning a new 4 year term and will be undertaking a great deal of strategic planning in the next few months - finding a common focus, revisiting mission statements, goals and strategies, and reinvigorating our education plan. 

While I was officially at the event to bring greetings on behalf of the Council, I decided to take the opportunity to invite teachers to get involved in our strategic planning. I thought it best to give them an example of what the future could look like.  I described for them one vision of the future referenced in the OECD’s excellent document Schooling for Tomorrow, which I referenced in the post “The school is dead…Long live the school“. (Hence the prevalence of the word “scenario” in the above cloud). 

I’ve played around with various Wordle clouds since finding this tool several months ago, and I’ve read some interesting points of view as edtech bloggers have played with the tool and debated the educational value of it. This is the first time I’ve used it to really analyze a piece of my writing for content and I have the following observations:

  • Wordle is a lot of fun. I enjoy playing with the fonts, colours and other alterable aspects.
  • But it can be more than fun.  Finding the right combinations to convey the message you want is a good exercise. I chose the above cloud for the separation it created for the word “learning” – it was the central focus of my remarks and I like how it floats on its own.
  • It is amazing how many different words one can say in a few minutes. Too many words can be distracting from the message so I cut this cloud down to the top 100 words.
  • I created this wordle cloud after the fact, but there is great potential to use the tool ahead of time to help me shape the message I want to convey. 
  • I use the word “really” much too often. 

There are a lot of people playing around with Wordle - try it for yourself and check out the gallery.  It is a great little tool – for work and for play.