Category Archives: Social Networking

Cross Posting: From The Global Classroom Project Blog

Luke Dyer was asked to do a guest post on the Global Classroom Project Blog. This is what he had to say:

Connecting Globally from a Remote School – Travelling Rhino Project

May 24, 2013 by  | 4 Comments

For the past fortnight we have been hosts of Lesedi, one of five travelling Rhinos sent round the world by Karen Stadler, who I have never met, but DSCN8901connected with through email and twitter. Hawea Flat is a small rural school in the South Island of New Zealand and the closest Rhino to us is in a Zoo 5 hours drive away. We knew what a Rhino was and we knew who a poacher was, however we had no comprehension of how the two fitted together and what the devastating consequence of their connection was.

When Lesedi arrived in the mail we had to begin at the beginning. We read books, watched YouTube clips and researched on line. Quickly made connections to the horrific truth and the selfish reasons behind the problem. I have never seen a group of children become enraged so quickly over an issue.

So I simply asked “What can we do about it? We are to far away!” and showed them the distance between South Africa and Hawea Flat on Google Earth.

That is where the kids took over. They showed me that the skills that we have learned in class – ways to solve a problem and find a solution – were important and that when needed the kids could call upon them. In groups they thought of raising money, but then realized that money was not the problem, people were the problem and that not enough people knew about the issue (Kids came up with this – not me).

So, again I said “Ok, it is a people problem. We cant fix that!”The News

Then the class was off again…

“We can make a petition.”
“Put it on a Google Form.”
“Tweet it on our class Twitter and Mr Dyers Twitter.”
“Email it to all the parents.”
“Get them to like it on face book.”
“We can tell the parents at assembly too!”

…and like that the project made an impact on my class and our community. We blogged, tweeted and emailed. Posters and placards were made. Then, we received emails from the local paper asking for interviews. The class and myself have been stopped in the street and told that what we are doing is awesome.

If you have not added you name to this petition then click here to get to the form.

Through my classes participation in Karen’s Travelling Rhino Project we have learned firstly about the plight of the Rhino and raised the awareness of it to our community, but secondly that through projects such as this classrooms no longer need to have walls.

The Global Classroom is a reality and achievable for any educator and all you need is a concept or cause and a PLN to connect you with the world. You can collaborate on a blog, email, Skype, trade letters or tweet with another class, as the technology we have at our classrooms removes the barriers of distance, borders, language and timezone. This project only lasted two weeks, but it changed the way that I look at education and changed the way my class looks at the world.

Sun Rhino

Thank you Luke, for a superb reflection – and for taking action to save our rhinos! KS

Cross-posting: From Luke Dyer in New Zealand

I just love how the teachers who have signed their classes up for The Travelling Rhinos Project have embraced this project and in many instances, have put their regular teaching on hold to ensure that their students can participate fully in this project. Once such teacher, Luke Dyer, blogged about the project today. I have cross-posted with his permission:

First Global Project – Travelling Rhinos

LesdieBack last towards the end of last year I saw a message on twitter asking for classes to collaborate in a project to increase the awareness of the plight of the Rhinoceros.  This South African teacher, Karen S or @ICT_Integrator, and her class had 5 Rhinos made from traditional African fabric, gave them names and sent them out into the world to different classes. Now, almost 6 months later, Lesedi (Light in Setswana) arrived in the mail.

For the past week we have learned about Rhinos; facts and figures about their life and the sad facts and figures about their rapid move towards extinction. So with these issues in our mind we decided to try and do something to make a difference.  Many ideas were raised about ways to raise money, but it was clear that money was not the issue – the issue was that people did not know that there was a problem.

Then a small child said “Why don’t we make a google form and get people to sign their name and we can put it on our blog for people to access.
Another added “…and we can tweet it out on the class Twitter and your Twitter Mr Dyer”.
Then lastly “…and Mum’s got Facebook and she can like it on that and heaps of people will see it.”photo (14)

So through social media we made a petition and shared it (as I type this blog post we have over 300 names on the petition).  The class made a poster and shared it at assembly and we also used the school newsletter emailing list to get the link to the form out to all parents. Instantly we discovered that the local newspapers read our newsletters and we have had one reporter in already taking photos and recording the journey and another is coming in tomorrow morning.

Through participating in this project I have truly seen the power of modern technology in knocking down classroom walls and making global connections.  Karen’s aim of the project was to raise awareness of the issues and I believe that in our small way, this small rural school in the middle of nowhere has made a difference. Technology removes the barriers of distance, knocks down the borders between countries and allows for global collaboration of epic proportions.  This may be just one project, but there are many more out there and I urge you to look for one or begin your own.

If you have not added your name to the petition do so now and if you have thank you.

photo (13)

Click on the image to view the petition

Thank you Luke, for your enthusiasm and support for this project! Please visit Luke’s blog to read more.

Projects, iPads, Presentations and possibly Prezi…

So I’m up to my ears in projects at the moment – three to be exact!

Firstly, small but still a project, I have managed to get our campus onto Twitter!  I am hoping that by using social media as a communication tool, we will enhance our current methods of parent communication so that they become even more effective than they are at present.  We go live on Thursday!

Secondly, we are well into putting together the first ever EdTechConf eXtended @ Elkanah conference. We are coming along nicely and registration will open shortly.  I will post more details about that closer to the time. However, conference planning and co-ordinating is time consuming and since we want to make it a conference to remember, we’re putting quite a bit of energy into it!  I’m loving it and so enjoying working with @artpreston and @timkeller.  These guys have a winning recipe that I believe is going to grow into something they didn’t, in their wildest dreams, imagine they could ever create. And the fact that we are working with them to grow this dream is amazing, to say the least!

Lastly, our iPad project is going full steam ahead, and it is this project that is keeping me the busiest – in fact it consumes my life at present – not that I am complaining!  The more I work with this wonderful device, the more convinced I become that this is a powerful tool for education and that it can change the way teaching and learning takes place.  Yes, there are many little obstacles, but those are mostly in our minds.  We have to change our way of thinking, shift our viewpoints and enable the children to take more responsibility for their learning.  At the SchoolNet ICT in the Classroom conference that I attended recently, I heard the speaker, John Davitt, refer to “struggleware”, in terms of giving children difficult tasks or projects to do and telling them to get on with it.  A little struggling never did anyone any harm and it encourages out-of-the-box thinking and innovation.  Well, I think of the iPads as “struggleware” for teachers!  These devices are pushing our boundaries and encouraging us to step out of our comfort zones, and I believe this is a good thing.  However, having said this, I don’t think the iPad is a difficult device to use and will by no means be “struggleware” for the children. It is an intuitive device and simple to use but since we (at our school) work in an exclusively Windows environment, there are a few issues we need to get our heads around – and getting the teachers to grips with the idea of cloud computing… well, that’s a different story altogether!  My challenge is to get the curriculum mapping underway and we have our first workshop with the Grade 6 teachers on Friday. I look forward to that.

In the lab all is well. Coincidentally all three grades are busy with Natural Science presentations using PowerPoint.  The Grade 4s are looking at different forms of Energy, the Grade 5s are preparing oral presentations on Useful Plants and the Grade 6s are showing their understanding of the workings of the Digestive System – three similar, yet very different tasks with different expectations and outcomes.   Think I should give Prezi a try with the Grade 6s next time… PowerPoint seems so “old fashioned”.  Mmm… food for thought!

#schoolnetsa11

The title of this post refers to the Twitter hashtag for the Intel ICT In the Classroom Conference I recently attended in Johannesburg, South Africa. It was a whirlwind three days filled with excellent keynote presentations by international speakers, Naomi Harm (@nharm), John Davitt (@johndavitt) and Jane Hart (@c4lpt).

I enjoy reflecting on such conferences and seeing exactly how much there was in it for me and whether it was worthwhile. I can wholeheartedly say that it was definitely worthwhile, if only for the privilege of hearing such talented international speakers, but also for the honour of learning from some very talented South African educators. I came away a little overwhelmed (as usual – totally over-resourced J), but very satisfied that my time had not been wasted. I met interesting people, made new ICT network connections and enjoyed three days with three colleagues from my school. Here were some highlights for me:

· Naomi Harm (@nharm) is the most resourceful and professional person I have ever had the privilege of meeting. She has a wonderful sharing spirit and conducts her sessions in such a manner that everyone is engaged and feels part of the group. She is extremely knowledgeable in her field and her experience in working with teachers of all levels of ICT proficiency shines through. I attended two of her sessions: ‘Google My Way’ and ‘Transforming Your Classroom Practice with Web 2.0 Literacy’, and I left both sessions with a ton of resources. Naomi’s keynote speech on Day 2 of the conference was also extremely good, with many ideas and tips for teachers as well as interesting statistics and need to know facts for educators all around the world. Here is the link to her blog: http://blog.innovativeeducator.us/

· As with our local EdTechConf, the continuous Twitterfeed and back channel so ably managed by Maggie Verster (@maggiev), assisted by Arthur Preston (@artpreston) and others, was fantastic. A constant stream of shared resources, comments and quotes added to the value of the conference. And Maggie herself is an awesome asset to educators in South Africa – her knowledge of Twitter and other social media in the educational setting is immeasurable – be sure to follow her on Twitter!

· Local educator, Peter de Lisle from Hilton College in KwaZulu Natal is a very interesting person. His session on ‘Useful Tools for Innovation Across the Curriculum’ was amazing to say the least. Whilst some of the tools he demonstrated did not really apply to me as a Senior Primary educator, this did not detract from my enjoyment of his presentation. Google Earth and Maps have also taken on a new dimension for me – one I intend to investigate in more depth as a result of this presentation. Peter is obviously a higher-order thinking person and I cannot help but think how privileged his students are to have him as their teacher. Check out his workshop tools on his website: http://goo.gl/mI2Dq .

· A two-hour long five-way Skype session involving four American educators and Gerald Roos from SchoolNet was very valuable in that these teachers very kindly shared and showcased many of the projects they had done in their classrooms. Having recently Skyped with an American class with my Grade 6s, I was very interested in finding new ideas of how to uses this free tool effectively. I did ask the question whether the American educators thought that Skype would become a paid for service, as a result of its acquisition by Microsoft. All four unanimously agreed that this would not happen, especially not for Skype in Education. I truly hope this is the case. This session also highlighted for me the digital divide that exists amongst educators in our country – but that is content for a later blog post; a story for another day.

There were many more highlights and as I sift through my copious notes and read the back channels and Twitter feeds, I will come back and edit this post. As I said, there was a lot to take in and process. It is happening slowly, but surely.

Do I think this conference was better than out local EdTechConf held in Cape Town in May? No, I don’t, but that is because the EdTechConf is a completely different concept. It has its place and, at this stage, is on a smaller scale. The aim of the EdTechConf is to reach teachers at grassroots level and show them that technology is possible at all levels with minimal financial implications. It compliments bigger conferences such as the SchoolNet one and has its own niche market. Watch out for news of EdTechConf eXtended@Elkanah – coming soon!

Facing Facebook…

I am an avid “Facebooker”. There is hardly a day that I do not pop in to check my news feed and see what’s happening to my “Friends”. Quite often I post a status message, but not always – just when I feel like it. Unfortunately though, I pop in a for a “quick” look and before I know it I’ve lost 30 minutes or more, reading all the status updates, checking new photos added, ‘liking’ pages and more. The reality of it is that Facebook is a time thief – 10 minutes turns into an hour in the blink of an eye, stealing what could be productive time; time which could have been put to far better use, if one had to be honest, that is. It is also a fantastic social networking tool and has enabled me to connect with people I haven’t seen or spoken to in 30 years and it is for that very reason that I can’t resist it.

However, neither of the above is why I am writing this post today. I have just come across a post (thanks to Twitter – another one of my “vices”), by Vicki Davis or @coolcatteacher which touches on aspects of Facebook which I have brought to the attention of our parents and our staff – the issues of ‘friending’ our own children and the ‘friending ‘of our students.

Before I carry on, let me say that the Internet is NOT and does not have to be the huge ogre that it is made out to be. It is an awesome resource which, when used wisely and responsibly, is the most amazing tool available to children adults alike. It is our duty as parents and teachers to give our children the tools to make use of this wonderful resource in a safe and responsible way. However, the consequences, when it is NOT used responsibly or in an unmonitored manner, can be very nasty indeed.

Back to Vicki’s post. It is an excellent read and provides some excellent insight into the Friend settings on Facebook, many of which most people are not aware. She also touches on the issue of underage Facebook users, which is something close to my heart. I’m a real stickler for following rules as I believe that rules are put in place for a reason. If you may only be on Facebook from the age of 13, then so be it. That is why my own daughter does not have a Facebook profile – she’s only 12, and I will cross that bridge when she turns 13. As for parents who allow their underage children on Facebook, well I have always advocated that these parents should ‘friend’ their children with the idea that they can keep an eye on their children’s Facebook activity as a protective measure. Vicki’s post has put a completely new spin on this and gives excellent reasons as to why this is possibly not a great idea.

Vicki also addresses the issue of teachers ‘friending’ their students. I do not approve of this, as I feel it is unprofessional, especially at primary school level when there is a great difference between teacher and child in terms of interests and experience, not to mention age. Do your students really need to know what you did last weekend or what your friends have to say about you? I think not, but that is my personal opinion entirely.

Please read her article for yourself. Whether you disagree or not, it makes good reading: Cool Cat Teacher Blog http://bit.ly/gstwVV

For similar or related posts:

Unsocial Social Media – http://bit.ly/hMwuct

Why Teachers Need to Use Social Media – http://bit.ly/gSr

Virtual ‘hanging with friends’ (where, when, how…) – http://bit.ly/f83qpO

What’s the right age to give a child a cell phone? – http://bit.ly/fphnJd