Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Webo-plasmosis - can you smell the cat's urine?

Thank you Michael Caulfield for another post in the Traces series. The idea that the way we manage our social-media life is pliable and actually mould-able by the medium itself is compelling. Using a cat toxoplasma example, he warns that, just like the mice from that example who no longer smell the cat's urine, increasingly we no longer worry about the way we share details of our lives.  

This is his list to check whether you have Webo-Plasmosis:

"The hard truth of this matter is that you may not know you are infected. The world, in fact, is filled with humans affected by the related disease toxoplasmosis who don't realize it, even as they take on their 19th cat in a house reeking of urine. It's the same with webo-plasmosis: a sign of being infected is ceasing to realize you have been affected. Here's a partial list of symptoms:
  1. Do you retweet headlines you agree with to help Facebook build a profile of you, while not reading the articles?
  2. Do you take pictures of your food, helpfully labelling your dietary habits, consumption patterns, and common meal ingredients?
  3. Have you become an email hoarder, never bulk deleting old email on fear "you might need it someday", thereby preserving the vast library of documents Google needs to model your affinities, desires, and personal secrets?
  4. When something happens to you of note, do you feel compelled to log it on the web?
  5. Do you join Facebook groups that best express who you are?
  6. Do you use Amazon Alexa's much touted "Shopping List" feature to build a list of things you intend to buy locally, so that Amazon now has a list of things you buy locally?
  7. Do you wince at the thought of taking old tweets offline, because of all the "old memories" stored in tweets you haven't looked at for five years?
  8. Do you authenticate into third-party services using Twitter, Facebook, and Google identity so that they can better track your online behavior?
  9. Do you never use aliases or pseudonyms online, and are you convinced that this "transparency" somehow makes you a "more honest person"?
  10. Do you find yourself posting lists of bands you've seen, or asking friends to share "one memory they have about you"?"

You are infected with the virus if you do two or more of the above. Worrying...

Friday, 13 June 2014

A new teaser for Google Classroom

Google has released a new teaser for Google Classroom.
They announce a September start-date on their blog and perhaps even a trial:
"By September, Classroom will be available to any school using Google Apps for Education. Since we want to make sure Classroom plays well with others, if you’re a developer or partner, sign up to learn more about integrating with Classroom."
Look up Google Classroom here.

Friday, 30 May 2014

Breaking the mould? Learning Spaces for the Future.

The logic is that if you want to do something different, you need to change everything. Classrooms have been learning spaces which have not really changed very much over time, over a long time. The traditional rows of tables (desks) with the teacher at the front facilitates traditional teaching approaches. Many classrooms nowadays, however, are set out as clusters of tables, u-shaped spaces, and many other arrangements which allow greater collaboration amongst students - but has anything changed? Could a complete redesign of learning spaces encourage learning and teaching in very different ways?
The Brazilian Col├ęgio Mater Dei has been experimenting with space in an effort to achieve a greater use of technology in learning and teaching. The Official Google Blog states it as:
In 2013, Mater Dei deployed Google Apps for Education as part of a move to incorporate technology into the academic environment. After they started to see early results, they came to Google with a plan: create a space on campus that’s designed from the ground up to be a technology-powered learning center for K-12 students. Last week, that idea became a reality when Mater Dei launched what we’re now calling the Google Learning Space.
The photos show bean bags, foam stools and cushions and, frankly, really awkwardly sitting or lying students.
I admire freshly thought out approaches to opening up learning and teaching with technology and recognise that to do this you have to break the mould. But how would it work in practice? Is this a permanent classroom space for a group or class? Would the school have many of these spaces for students to congregate, cooperate and learn in?
What if we were starting from scratch, with the technology of the moment, what learning space would we have? Would we even bother having schools?

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Chromebooks becoming a real option

It seems that many schools are opting for Chromebooks.
We have been looking at this aspect from both educational and financial viewpoints. The financial one seems obvious - Chromebooks are extremely good value for money, almost tablet costs for much better than notebook operation.
The functionality of Chromebooks has been the question in terms of their use in education. Given that much of what we do educationally is browser based, the issue of a Chromebook being "just" a browser is not so important. But Chromebooks have a filing system and can work with downloaded documents - hence work off-line from Google Drive or from the file system. So what is the problem?
  • There is a legacy problem from equipment that works on Windows machines, including some laboratory and simulation software, video/audio editing programmes and the like. 
  • Heavy spreadsheet work still seems to work better on Excel and despite the improvements, PowerPoint materials always have to be carefully reviewed when uploaded to Google Presentations. 
  • We still have Windows 7 desktops as the drivers for digital projectors in classrooms and need to shift mentally and practically to Google Cast or other devices.
  • Our broadband connection - we are topping our dedicated 30 Megabits almost all of the time; how would we fare with the requirement to connect to the cloud?
However, we are reviewing the Chromebooks option very seriously at the moment.
The latest announcements from Google about tracking Chromebooks in case they are stolen seems to tie up that advantage that i-Pads had. Here is a video describing the Guardian system:

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Google Classroom coming to Google Apps for Education

Google announced today their new integration called Google Classroom.
Those of us who struggled through own methods as well as third party ones to tie in the classroom experience will welcome this.
Here is their explanation:

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Puentedura's SAMR as a Framework towards Education 3.0

Thank you Jackie Gerstein for the idea of linking Puentedura's SAMR approach (implementing technology in teaching) to explaining the move towards Education 3.0.
She produced an excellent infographic which nicely uses the Substitution, Augmentation, Modification and Redefinition parts SAMR.
She links Substitution and Augmentation to Education 1.0, Modification to Education 2.0 and Redefinition to Education 3.0.
This approach is a further attempt to explain the move beyond Education 2.0 and it is a very helpful approach that can be used in discussions.
To enable this and doing a bit of re-purposing I have put her infographic into pages on a slideshow for those who prefer it this way.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Rhizomes vs the establishment - #rhizo14

Posted this originally on the Rhizomatic Learning Google+ community but wanted to keep Bonnie Stewart's post here too, so I can refer to it.
She posted this two years ago during the #change11 MOOC and I wondered what has changed since then - the idea of independent, open, self directed learning in schools seems to be much more viable today than it did then. What has changed?
Others are also tackling this issue, be it from the technology side (allowing students to bring in mobiles to school) say, or opening up education from the pedagogy side as in this TED talk from Jerry Michalski on "What if we trusted you?" (Scarcity, abundance, trust - a little political but with some sound points).
So, what has changed?
The Rhizomatic Learning Google+ Community Post:
Thanks to Steve Wheeler ( for reminding me of Bonnie's #change11 post on rhizomatic learning.
This connected with me since the elements of our schools environment  clash with the broader INDEPENDENT learning concepts.
In her words:
"We conflate learning and schooling. We are subjects of the idea of education as a system, an institution, and so we rely on and replicate this idea in our conceptions of learning: we assume factors like goals and grading and – increasingly – market viability as real parts of what learning involves. They can be, of course. But they do not need to be unless that learning is taking place within the contingencies of mass-delivery and crowd control and normativizing of classed behaviours and literacies that we absorbed with our school milk programs. These practical components of systemic schooling processes are the base map or lens on learning which we, culturally, have inherited."