Saturday, August 25, 2012

Comment about chapter 8

The site connects travelers to China with schools that have no technology and need physical educational materials. It is a collaboration of people with and without technology. Andrew Yu, the founder of 1kg, "realized that we assume poor people are not happy people" (page 256 in the paperback). I think we assume that a low standard of living is a bad thing and a lack of technology is a bad thing. This section reminded me of a presentation I went to by some teens who had gone to work in a village in South America. The people in the village had a "low standard of living". Yet every evening the villagers gathered in the village square to talk and play games. I think there is a richness to that which those of us with a higher standard of living and more technology have lost. It could be argued I suppose that the "village square" experience is happening electronically. For me the electronic village square does not seem as relaxing or comparable to the physical village square.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Chapter 9- Who Are You?

As I was reading the beginning of this chapter, all I could think of was that movie where Matthew McConaughey starts flying a crashing plane without any prior experience. His companion asks him where he learned how to fly. He then credits his time spent playing video games on playstation or xbox. While I'm sure the line was meant as a joke, the reality is that these virtual worlds and simulations offer valuable opportunities that were not possible before.

My fifteen year old niece came to visit Maine recently for a visit. While there I watched her pull up skype on her computer to take her friend on a tour of our house. Then prior to climbing Mt. Katahdin she pulled up the virtual tour of Mt. Everest. She explained that she wanted to create something similar for her climb of Katahdin so her friends could experience the trip too. Bonk wrote that "our entertainment and communication technologies have become our learning technologies." This was never more evident for me than when I was watching my niece interact with both the real and virtual worlds with the sole purpose of wanting to share and communicate.

Second Life 

My personal experience with Second Life is fairly limited, but I was intrigued by the educational opportunities I read about in this chapter. The idea of being able to have students walk though recreations of Ancient Greece and Rome appeals to me as a history teacher. I think of the time I spend planning lessons so students can connect to the time period and make connections to the experiences people had. How much more connected can you get by walking through a virtual simulation? I'd love to take my students to see the ruins of the Roman forum, but I don't think that my school district will be paying for that field trip any time soon. Why not give them the next best thing?

I was interested in how Second Life is being utilized by companies and businesses for training purposes. What an opportunity for schools to utilize resources for their teachers. I think of the trainings I couldn't attend due to budgeting concerns and my colleagues who couldn't present at conferences for the same reason. This is yet another avenue for us to be able to share and collaborate.

Serious Gaming

"We are in the midst of a major shift in how people learn." A study cited surgeons who played three hours of video games per week were 27 percent faster and made 37 percent fewer mistakes than those who didn't. Although this may only be one study I can remember statistics about military target performance improvement based on video game playing as well. Not to mention my two year old niece's off the charts fine motor skill development from playing games on a touch screen. How can we use video games to our educational advantage? I remember one computer game I played as a child. It was called Museum Madness or something similar. You had to fix the problems in each of the exhibits with a backpack full of random items. While fixing the exhibit for the Salem Witch Trials, you were inevitably learning something about the Salem Witch Trials. I loved that game. It required creativity and higher order thinking to solve complicated puzzles. I don't think I ever beat that game, and if I was presented with it today, I would approach it with as much zeal as I did then.

What's Next 

Learning in a virtual reality can help retain learners. Authenticity and believability is growing in the simulations and the boundaries of what is possible are being expanded. What was once science fiction, using your thoughts to control a virtual character, is not far from our reality. How cool is that? "Our species has never before had so many ways to learn, as well as so many ways to put so much learning on display for others to view." 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Chapter 12 (Part 1) - Treasuers and Traps of This Open Learning World

Do We-All-Learn?

1. "It should be clear from reading... there is not just ONE person/resource/idea responsible for the changes taking place"

2. The Stats don't lie.... and their is ton of data to prove this stuff works and is the way.

3. Proof of Concept is not just in the data, but real world experiences.

4. There is a WAY.....
  • Enhanced Web-based infrastructure
  • Free/Open Content available
  • People want to share and participate in personalizing knowledge-sharing
WE-ALL-LEARN template is place to start rethinking and reforming education.

Resistance is futile...  in the 21st century learning technology is hard to ignore.

The world is interconnected.... for real this time..... the web awaits teachers and trainers!

The knowledge-sharing faucet has been turned on..... FOR MILLIONS WHO LACKED ACCESS BEFORE!

It is now not about getting the innovated tool or access, but surviving the onslaught of information!

Personalized Age of Learning has arrived and is opening up to ALL not the few.

No longer the student leaves the classroom and the teacher.  They can find the tutor online anywhere any time for a life time.  They can access the information on any device at any time.

We are learning toward a learning culture.... "Humankind will come to realize that learning customization and personalization is the norm, not the exception."

Now we all just need to find our "Co-Learners" and the end of "Sage on the stage" teachers.

 Teachers will be ubiquitous.... and learning will be blended and self-determined.

There will be expansion of free educational resources.

Advances create era of learning on demand.  Real-time experiences mixed with virtual worlds create authentic learning opportunities.

Libraries of the future -

  • Fingertipping Alexandrain Aristotles know where and how to retrieve ANY information needed.
  • Frontal Lobe Alexandrian Aristotles will learn a portion of info and can tell you
  • Fingertipping Frontal Lobers will be the creative thinkers.
New age of learning at a distance...

They say the new generation of kids brains are actually being wired in a different way because of the technology they access.  It not just an iPad... but a rewiring machine.

Technology has evolved beyond educational theories on how to use them.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Sitting at Google for Educators Summit...

* Please make sure you have posted about your chapter....

and have made 1 comment about each persons chapter (only need to do 1 comment per the chapters)

I will be posting my chapter on Saturday (since I will be presenting and at GAFESummit)

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Chapter 11 from The World is Open
Learning at Your Service - Networks of Personalized Service

What a rainy morning - not much to do but hang around...then I remembered today is the day to post on Chapter 11!

What it's about...
The overall theme of Chapter 11 is that the new culture of learning is one of participation and personalization. Individuals contribute to the learning process.

A few pages at the beginning of the chapter explain some of the history of Facebook. Then the author gives a couple of examples of how blogs are used educationally. Mark Franeh has his students maintain their own blogs where they post their work and open it up to comments. Mr Franeh finds that students pay more attention to their thinking and their work when it is open this way. Another blogger is posting the diary entries of 17th century Samual Pepys. Readers can learn about the history and culture of the time from the day to day postings.

There is a small section of the chapter about how podcasts and webcasts can provide commentary on key educational issues. WorldBridges is one organization the author finds worthwhile in that regard. The biggest part of the chapter gives examples of participatory sites for online language learning. I find most of this book to be an overview of what's happening or what's out there and I have started listing sites and resources on paper with the pipe dream that I will someday check them out. Here are the language learning sites with brief descriptions and some bullets:
  • Livemocha - online tutoring and chatting (text or voice) with  native language users
  • Mixxer - uses Skype, public chats, etc.
  • LanguageLab - uses voice system of Second Life. Users have avatars and explore virtual worlds
  • - free language learning lessons and resources
  • ChinesePod - teaches Mandarin Chinese through online podcasts. Podcasts are free, pay for transcripts, exercises etc. Podcast cover a range of interests such as sports, business, food etc. Liberates learner from physical, time, and teacher constraints.
  • KanTalk - adds video
  • ECPod - members participate by filming each other in everyday activities that can show language nuances and cultural innuendos.
Next is a smaller section about online tutoring and mentoring that offers these organizations and businesses as examples:
  •  MentorNet - matches female and minority college students with professionals
  • AskOnline - homework tutoring
  • - NJ state uses this one, available for all students in state
  • SMARTHINKING, TutorVista, and GrowingStars - tutors may be outsourced
  • StraighterLine - developed by McGrawHill, inexpensive intro college courses with tutoring from SMARTHINKING
The author says that the doors to learning success swing further open with such personalized attention (online mentoring and tutoring). He says that more humans, as well as more resources, are now fully loaded in the teaching and learning loop.

At the end of the chapter Bonk points out that the web is increasingly an oral culture with more and more conversations. Conversations make web learning more personalized, participatory, and interactive. Our teachers can now be anyone, anywhere, anytime. A goal is to arrive at a place where personalized learning is a standard accepted practice.

What I think....
As with the other chapters, I am grateful to have an overview of what's going on. I have not processed the information to the point where it translates to what I do with students. The teacher who finds his students pay more attention to their work when it is published online and open to comments must have spent some time working with them on how to comment constructively. Most of the sites I use (example - that allow comments deteriorate into name calling by the 6th comment.

Basically, I've been busy with a home improvement project that, like many home improvement projects, has become more involved than originally anticipated. I have been working on this instead of thinking about the book and how to apply it to my classroom. However, as a result of this book, I have been more aware of how I get information. Most of the information about how to do the project I got from the web: product websites, YouTube how to videos, websites on how to do the particular project, forums, etc. I had some face to face conversations with folks at Home Depot, and a phone conversation with someone at Behr who explained how to fix something that went wrong. I learned some things about using the products and fixing the problem that came up that I will be putting on the product reviews, not as a criticism, but just to relay what I learned from experience. This is an example of how, with the web, we are knowledge builders as well as consumers.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Chapter 10 - U-Learn, M-Learn, We-All-Learn

This chapter, I think, captures the true essence of the new learning environment.  M-Learning (mobile learning) is empowering many who would not normally have access to education while allowing.  Handheld devices are becoming  a huge force in this e-learning revolution. I am behind the curve with the smartphone movement, but many of friend have them and use them all time from getting directions, checking the weather, updating their Facebook, instantly uploading trip and event photos with their phone.  The power of these M devices is that the learner can learn how they want, when they want, and where they want. The learning can take place at the user's convenience and not at exactly 8:23 - 9:23 M - F as we see in a traditional learning environment.

Most kids have one if not several mobile devices that can be used in learning and education so access these is not an issue.  The issue is that sadly many schools (mine is an example) ban mobile devices out of hand, because of the fear of lack of control. True there are a few isolated instances where kids abuse the privilege and use them in a way that is problematic....but that is the exception.  And these devices are often much cheaper then traditional computers.

An hot spots are everywhere to Ipads and laptops can function and we can do work while flying in a plane or eating lunch at many chain restaurants (fast food).  I have, on a number of occasions, eaten lunch at McDonald’s just to be able to tap into their WiFi and get some needed school work accomplished. With 3G (or 4G) technology so many wireless devices have a virtually limitless ability to connect and keep us connected.

Chumby - It was interesting to read about the Chumby, which the author refers to as a learning appliance.  A entry into mobile learning that enabled its users to do it all.  Not of course with smartphones and the I-Phone it is going the way of the dinosaur.
The image  Chumby_in_hand.jpg  under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Chumby halts hardware sales, long-term support looking mighty unlikely by Darren Murph

Audio - The Ipod and its kin are some examples how learning become more portable. We can listen to music, lectures, podcasts, and so much more on these devices. The smartpen (Live Scribe) and the Kindle are other examples of devices that can support audio recording and playback. In fact, I listened to my Kindle read this book on my lovely commute to and from Boston a couple of weeks ago.  It was cool. Like the author says “Many of us no longer can afford the time to sit down and read a book cover to cover. “ And the newest Ipods can support video as well as record audio. A video Ipod could help a student learn sign language or watch complicated engine repairs that the written word does poorly to replicate.  The ole’ a picture is worth a thousand words effect.

Twitter - 
The image Twitter - What are you doing?.jpg is used  the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Twitter is an interesting mix.  It has some awesome educational and informational powers.  The authors talk about several examples to how it can transformative.  We have all seen how it was used to great effect in the Arab Spring uprisings. I have used Twitter on occasion to keep informed with events and communicate with friends but my “need” to keep up with it fades.  I am going to attempt this year to create an account for my classes where I will send out homework and class announcements.  This might be a great avenue for student collaboration as well as outline in the book.  We shall see. Email is too “old school” so twitter (and texting) are more typical for many students.

It is encouraging that not all schools are banning them and some are even embracing these tools. The example of K-Nect, in North Carolina, that used mobile devices to help with math and science content is a great step forward.  Higher Ed is likewise moving, at a faster pace, in that direction as well. Simple things like the example of MIT and Boston College being able to check the availability of laundry machine or Georgetown late night snack ordering functionality show how practical and common place M devices have become.  And for kids that is so true.  Many of these devices are like extensions of themselves.

I-Phone - This tool as a wide range of uses and applications from recording interviews (like the example of the one done on Habitat for Humanity), watching podcast lectures and using I-chat for video conferencing. There was even one student cited as claiming that they no longer needed backpacks because everything they needed was on their I-Phones. The Apple I-Phone is often referred to as the ultimate M-learning tool because of its functionality and ease of use.

18 Educational Apps

M-Learning giveaways  - Great recruiting tool as well as an effective means to leveling the “learning field” and great way to ensure all your students have the tools needed to succeed. 

I found the discussion about how other culture embrace M-Learning very profound....and boy are we behind the eight ball.  From the Japanese reading on their phones. They are even working on lightweight screens that could be worn on or as clothes. Their online learning opportunities (Cyber University) are far superior to what we currently find in the US. Koreans use smartphones for so many every day activities and are on top in mobile tech innovation and use.  And the learning opportunities for Koreans with EBS and other similar initiatives demonstrate their belief in E-learning.   One thing we must consider is how we fit in with all this?  How will our students compare to their students in the competitive workforce that is more and more connected and wired?  We have to innovate as well or fall further behind.

Of course in Africa its the opposite.  Computers, laptops and WiFi are far and between but cell phones and 3G are not.  So it makes sense for M-Learning to be a driving force in their societies.

Lastly the One Laptop per child initiatives in many counties reveal their commitment to technology and E-learning.  From the programs of wealthier nations to the inexpensive $100 laptops (XO or the ones that MIT promise to produce)  the idea is that to be connected is to be able to be educated.  There are some many free resources available as we saw in earlier chapters.  The accessibility to these online resources in increasing.  It is really interesting to see how this program and similar ones are helping educate so many.  Their is an interesting map ( that shows where many of the $100 laptops are deployed through

The image OLPC XO Laptop.jpr by Scott Beale is used under a the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

$100 Laptop to Sell to Public

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Refection Chapter 9

Chapter 9

It is amazing to think of how much technology has not only changed entertainment but education.  Now when I want to watch a movie I stream on on Amazon or using my XBOX360 to watch Netflix.  If I have a question or want to figure out how to fix something I search on it using the internet. Amazing.  Likewise almost any wireless device we find at Best Buy is indeed a tool for education.

Virtual worlds and learning are huge.  I have tried some basic classes using Second Life and I found it a very strange experience.  I guess that is because I think of World of Warcraft or another game like that....I just can’t seem to get out of game mode.  It is amazing to think how these virtual worlds can be used to represent real world environments, enabling people to experience and world they could not otherwise visit (like   trip into the past).  And these virtual worlds are way more interactive than just watching a video or reading a book.

My kids just recently became interested in a virtual world.  Bearville
They each have numerous Build A Bears and decided they wanted to register them.  They began by making avatars and importing their bears (who they carry with them).  They then met other kids,  took part in quests, played mini games and took part in activities to earn credits which can be used for virtual rewards.  These rewards include clothes and accessories  for their avatar and bears and furniture for their virtual house.  They can also buy vehicles and additions to their house.  It is cool to see them interact with others and explore in their virtual environment.  They often play together and share resources with each other. So I guess my kids are part of the MMOG world now.  

Lastly I find that gaming is so common now that every student either games or know someone who does.  There is no doubt that a lot can be learned from games and gaming. The work of James Gee reflects a lot about this. My children's get 1 hour of “screen time” a night.  I would rather have them use in playing games where they think, react and problem solve then passively watch a tv program.  While I would never want to replace all forms of learning with virtual simulations and games.  A great many things can be learned from games and they do help people learn the basics in a safe and “at your own speed” way.

Watch Extended Interview: Dr. James Gee on PBS. See more from Digital Media - New Learners Of The 21st Century.