Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The P.E. Geek: Boys, Sports, and ... Wikis?

Kristian Still teaches 16 - 19 year old young men in a sports course at Tauton's College in the UK, which is designed to encourage male learners to go on to higher or extended education. The course uses their interest in sports to help them stay engaged and pursue additional academic achievements.

Kristian uses the tools of Web 2.0 as an essential way to do this. He is the "P.E. Geek"--a fellow who is able to keep his students as interested in being in the classroom as out on the sporting field.

Kristian's work is a fascinating example of harnessing the creative potential of the read/write web to provide an environment of engaged learning. Mainly using the wiki platform as a base, Kristian includes rss feeds, photo and video sharing, online slide presentations, mind-maps, shared spreadsheets, quizzes, games, podcasting, and other Web 2.0 tools to teach respect, attitude, and preparation.

In the audio interview with Kristian that is linked below, he takes us through his websites and shows examples of all of these technologies, and you can actually follow along on the web through the technology of Trailfire. Trailfire lets you build or follow a visible trail of websites and comments. Kristian's "trail," which includes 17 web pages and is marked with comments by him about each "stop," is accessed here: Kristianstill's Web 2.0 experience (http://trailfire.com/Kristianstill/trailview/38344). ( You can also download an add-on to Firefox which allows you to easily create "trails" and follow others' trails.)

Kristian's not like any P.E. teacher I ever had. I think you're really going to like getting to know this inspiring educator!

Listen to the the Interview in MP3 format
Listen to the Interview in Vorbis OGG format

Post Script Notes: Since the interview, Wikispaces now allows "automatic merging"--that is, when people try to edit the same page at the same time, Wikispaces merges the changes so that people don't have to worry about overwriting each other's work. And VoiceThread now allows embedding their "voicethreads" into other websites.

(Cross-posted from The Infinite Thinking Machine)

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

New Social Network for International Edubloggers

Yesterday afternoon Darren Draper invited me into an IM conversation with Julie Lindsay and Vicki Davis discussing their desire to help build a sense of community and connection with international bloggers--somehow to give them an "edubloggercon" experience when a face-to-face meetup is not immediately likely. And maybe to try and avoid the U.S.-centric approach to previous edublogger organizing.

The site is not meant to replace the engaged dialog of the blogosphere, but to complement it with personal connections.

As one step toward holding some virtual events for the international bloggers, we set up www.EduBloggerWorld.com using Ning. Darren, Julie, Vicki, and I are all administrators at the site, but you're going to see my tired mug as the creator just because I had the familiarity with Ning to do the quick initial setup before the Women of the Web 2 show just about to start. Hopefully you're not so tired of me that it would stop you from joining the site... :)

Darren has really pushed this along, and I think it will be fun to see how we can help build connections and community internationally among educational bloggers.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Marc Andreessen: From the Web Browser to Social Networking

It's hard for me to imagine someone more interesting to interview than Marc Andreessen. Marc was one of the co-authors of the original web browser, has a history in the Free and Open Source Software movement, and now is one of the founders of the "build-your-own" social networking site Ning. The Classroom 2.0 social network I set up on Ning has really helped to galvanize my thoughts on the substantial contributions that I think social networking will have in education, both for student use and for teacher professional development.

Marc is not only fascinating to listen to, he's also a true gentleman--you may notice a skip in the recording, which is where my recording software failed in our original interview. Marc was kind enough to re-record the second half of our discussion some days later. His comments on the future of blogs and social networks toward the end are challenging and insightful, and his descriptions of the qualities he looks for in employees could provide a great platform for discussion on the skills we teach in schools (see also his blog post on this).

I also owe to Marc my first experience editing Wikipedia. I've been a huge wiki user and lover for quite a while, but I'd never actually played in the "big leagues" by editing Wikipedia. When I was researching Marc for the interview, I noticed that a couple of the links on his Wikipedia were broken, so I fixed them. I have to admit to feeling a little thrill editing Wikipedia...

For a related interview, Marc's business partner at Ning is Gina Bianchini, and you can find my recent interview with her here.

Listen to the the Interview in MP3 format
Listen to the Interview in Vorbis OGG format

Helping to Understand Social Networking: Danah Boyd

As more and more we are seeing social networking for the huge phenomenon that it is, and as educators are beginning to see the value of social networking in education (for both student and teachers--especially professional development), it is worth getting to know Danah Boyd. Danah is a PhD candidate at the School of Information (iSchool) at the University of California - Berkeley and a Fellow at the University of Southern California Annenberg Center for Communications. From her website:
"My research focuses on how people negotiate a presentation of self to unknown audiences in mediated contexts. In particular, my dissertation is looking at how youth engage with networked publics like MySpace, Facebook, LiveJournal, Xanga and YouTube. I am interested in how the architectural differences between unmediated and mediated publics affect sociality, identity and culture. My dissertation research is being funded as a part of the MacArthur Foundation's Initiative on New Media and Learning"
Danah helps to pull the covers back a little on the what is going on between people at social networking sites. She's fascinating to listen to, and while she studies youth and their involvement with these tools, many of the same dynamics take place in adult use of social networking (after lots of discussion about the "friend" features of social networking that we've had in Classroom 2.0, I have been particularly interested in Danah's discussions about "friends").

Danah blogs at: http://www.zephoria.org/thoughts/
Danah's website: http://www.danah.org/ (has background info, papers, etc.)
Wikipedia entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Danah_Boyd

Some media:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Nfyw2KYHWw (Bill O'Reilly interview--Danah being very patient, I think)

I'd love to get Danah on for an interview, but she's been far too busy. No surprise! She's expressed concerns that educators need to understand what's taking place on social networks, and I agree. I think the positive opportunities to use customizable social neworks (like Ning) are two-fold: both to build learning management systems for classes and teacher professional development communities. Be sure to check out Classroom 2.0 (built on Ning) if you haven't already.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Ben Wilkoff 's Academy of Discovery (School 2.0, Part 11)

For months, I've been listening to this guy who records himself talking in the car (and no, it's not Kevin Honeycutt!). He calls his recording series and blog "Discourses about Discourse," and most of them are discussions with himself about his attempts to implement "School 2.0:" his use of the tools of the web in his classroom, how his students are responding, what feedback he is getting from the parents, and his concerns about how his students will do next year when they don't have the same ability to use the web. These soliloquies are surprisingly engaging, and they belong to Ben Wilkoff, a 7th and 8th grade language arts teacher at Cresthill Middle School in Highlands Ranch, Colorado.

Ben is only 24, but it's a wise voice that comes to me through my mp3 player (by the way, Ben--and others--remember that many of us have to convert your mp4 files every time we download them!) I invited Ben to describe his "Academy of Discovery" in this recorded interview, and I was impressed enough that I nominated Ben for the Edutopia/Yahoo! for Teachers Totally Wired Teacher Award--largely based on his stories of how he has had to work with the parents of his students to help them understand what he is teaching. Now, I may not have been the only one to nominate Ben, but I will take some credit for the fact the HE WON and will be flying to San Francisco later this month to accept this award. Turns out Ben was also and early Ning user...

In the crush to get ready for three conferences in June, poor Ben's interview has been delayed about a month getting posted. It's not the only one--I've got some other zingers still in the hopper!

Listen to the the Interview in MP3 format
Listen to the Interview in Vorbis OGG format

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Open Source Pavilion at NECC 2007

This is the third year that I've overseen the Open Source "Pavilion" at NECC, and the response to Free and Open Source Software gets more enthusiastic every year. The increasing interest level brought us our own room this year (hurrah for better sound!), and continued support from ISTE for integrating the speaker series into the main program. While we greatly missed having a session by David Thornburg this year, we did have an excellent series of speakers that you can see here, covering all kinds of great topics including Python, Drupal, Moodle, and the One Laptop Per Child initiative.

Mike Huffman and Laura Taylor spoke on the Indiana INACCESS program, and a link to my recording of the session is below. The crowds that assembled for them were pretty much standard fare through the three days of sessions.

Many thanks to our great volunteers: Glen Moses, Stephen Blevins, Damianne President, Shawn Adams, Daniel Howard, Giulio Helmsdorff, Jimmy Halbert, Jim Kinney, Aaron Ruscetta, and the middle-school kids from Atlanta Public Schools!

This year we also need to give a GIANT shout-out to the great folks at Red Hat, who provided our first commercial sponsorship to the Open Source Pavilion, and were a great addition to the show. Thanks to Shawn Briscoe, Red Hat's director of State/Local Government and Academic Programs, and to Greg DeKoenigsbrg, Red Hat's Community Development Manager--both shown in their red fedoras! After three years of trying to tell commercial Open Source companies that something special has been going on at NECC, Red Hat is the first one to believe us!

Listen to the Indiana Session in MP3 format
Listen to the Indiana Session in Vorbis OGG format

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