Monday, August 16, 2010

What I did during (some of) my summer vacation

Developing 21st Century Skills was the name of the online course in which I participated this summer.'s a few of the things we did:

(1) Used a wiki, (2) used an online graphic organizer with other online classmates, (3) made a blog, (4) commented on other peoples' blogs, (5) used Google Docs in an online, collaborative way, (6) made and published a digital story with narration, (7) made an example student project using iMovie software--a slide show with narration, (8) added personal digital pictures to Flickr, and (9) published to YouTube.

We did a number of other things, too, such as a lot of online commenting to other peoples' posts.  And we did a lot of online content reading. 

I think the most valuable learning that I can take from the class is the amount of exposure I received to these online tools in a relatively short period of time. Did I know about blogs and wikis before I took the class?  Yes.  Would I have started a blog without the motivation of the class assignment to do so?  Well, I hadn't made a blog until it was assigned so, no, I needed a "push".

Sharing classroom experiences, school policies, practices, and projects with others and hearing their comments was invaluable.  Some of my classmates were quite insightful and had some very profound statements that they made, completely outside of quoting classwork authors.  I took notes on some of those that were especially good.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

"Top Ten to Remember" for being a change agent in schools

Here are a few comments on this useful "top ten" list of strategies:

1.  Respect the change - Respect needs to come from everybody, but especially those that will likely be resisters.  Respecting the "new" is imperative.  And, there's a corollary item farther down the list where the tables are turned! Everybody needs to be listening and considering the situation.

2.  Use systems thinking

3.  Support personal learning

4.  Support collaborative learning

5.  Develop leadership

6.  Respect resistance - This respect has to come from those wanting to effect change.  The resisters likely will have some passionate, logical, and expected reasons for not wanting to cooperate with the changes.  Everybody needs to be listening and considering the situation. Change can be difficult, and understanding on the part of the change agent(s) needs to be present to combat hostility.  The change agent(s) must respect resistance, but they must also expect resistance, and therefore plan for it.

7.  Remember psychology - People think with logic and with emotion.  Feelings are not right or wrong; they just are.  Again, respect is the order of the day.

8.  Sustain the process - Don't give up the cause!  If the cause is truly worthwhile, the idea must be kept alive, or the organization will only go backwards (not where you want to go!)

9.  Include family and community - Keep them informed.  Find ways for parents and other potential supporters to "buy in" to the changes.

10.  Effect positive social change - The end result is a better society for all.  School is not an end unto itself; rather, better schools and quality education results in a better way of life for the community and beyond.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Partnership 21: Route 21 - Browse the Resources!

Assessing 21st century skills--wow--there are a lot of interesting tools here!  You can expand the search page to put in a lot of different parameters.  Are some of the tools just described on these pages? OR, for each link, are the actual tools (assessments, or whatever) there and ready to go? 

Maybe I just got lucky; maybe they are all this good, I don't know.  I put in some general search terms, focusing on ICT skills.  A topic comes up in the list from Intel entitled "Assessing Projects"--hmmm, I know of Intel, and I do want to assess project work.  This link also happens to be an Editor's Pick (that's good, too).  I read about it; then "Try it", then find the "Demo" link and it takes me to a library of rubrics.  You choose the 21st century skill, choose the grade level, and click--to the right you will see the complete rubric, which can be exported to a Word document and saved.  You can customize the rubrics as well.

BTW, did I say that I have an assignment due about rubric writing?  Just one more plus for this awesome resource!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Comments on Comments - Post #3

Bloggers like to receive comments.  For one of the blogs that I wanted to post a reply to, I couldn't find the form for entering the comment (I know it had been done before, because the blogger had received one previous comment at that point).  However, I had to abandon commenting to that blog because I couldn't figure it out. Posting entries and comments usually is really pretty simple. 

Following are the blogs to which I posted comments:

Monday, August 2, 2010

Beyond Techno-Bling: When Boring is Good

It seems that only when a technology tool has become totally familiar to a community of users that the tool reaches its greatest efficiency.  The tool is reliable, tech support requests drop off, and a high percentage of the community uses it, believes in it, and depends upon it.

What do tech leaders do to implement a new tool within the community?

  • Use it yourself
  • Survey "early adopters" for interest level
  • Bring building tech support people up to speed
  • Pilot with early adopters, who can act as mentors later
  • Make the tool available to all users in the community
  • Incorporate incentives for using

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Current events challenge

Some of the background reading for Module 6 has been really interesting.  Following are a couple excerpts from the Des Moines Sunday Register, August 1, 2010 edition.  First person from class to identify what’s going on with this business that relates to our reading gets a gold star! (Then I’ll have to figure out how deliver an electronic gold star to you!)

“One Part at a Time:  Des Moines software company GCommerce is teaming with Microsoft to help the auto parts industry solve a $20 billion problem…”

“After GCommerce created efficiencies in the auto parts supply chain, customers pleaded: Make it easier for us to fulfill special orders, such as requests for parts that aren’t stocked.”

“The parts explosion is getting realy bad,” Bauer said. In the 1980s the average warehouse had 75,000 part numbers. Today, the inventory stretches to 350,000, as more vehicles and more models have hit the market, and more consumers hold on to cars longer. In five to seven years, that could rise to 500,000…”

“Lost sales, employee time and other problems with special orders represent 80 percent of the costs in the supply chain, GCommerce estimates.”

“GCommerce finds answer to problem  “in the clouds” – [Virtual Inventory Cloud is what they are designing]

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Comments on "In the Wild" - from Web 2.0 in Education (Key Info)

Author Dean Groom, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia shares some interesting observations about his students when using Classroom 2.0 tools.  Some that I found particularly interesting (paraphrased) are as follows:

  • Kids' blogged or otherwise electronic comments about a peer's work seemed to be "kinder" than the verbal, face-to-face comments.
  • When blogging, comments to others could be up to seven times longer than their original post to their own blog.
  • The Classroom 2.0 tools used allowed no room for "techno-bling" (bells and whistles).  Consequently, the high-tech kids did not have an immediate advantage over others in the class.  The Classroom 2.0 tools gave middle-level kids a better chance for success, while the high-tech kids had to work harder to maintain their status in the class order.