College orientations including DSN

College students and the environments in which they live and play are changing, so it makes sense that the orientation sessions for new college freshmen are also different in some locations. According to the CNN article “College students warned about Internet postings” from August 2nd:

From large public schools such as Western Kentucky to smaller private ones like Birmingham-Southern and Smith, colleges around the country have revamped their orientation talks to students and parents to include online behavior. Others, Susquehanna University and Washington University in St. Louis among them, have new role-playing skits on the topic that students will watch and then break into smaller groups to discuss.

College students are not the only ones who need this sort of practical orientation to Internet safety and safe digital social networking (DSN.) All students who are using the Internet need to be having these types of discussions with adults, and the conversations must go beyond a lame, digital immigrant plea of “don’t use those websites.”

Of course students are going to keep using digital social networking websites. The updated English WikiPedia list of social networking websites is an eye-opener: It claims (with citations) 40 million users on Xanga, 22 million users … Read the rest

21st Century PD is on wikis

I am becoming convinced that all, or at least most, of the professional development sessions we participate in as educators and share with others should be organized via linked wikis. Dean did a great job modeling this last month in his multi-day digital storytelling workshop. I attempted this in June when I shared several workshops with teachers in College Station, Texas (Bryan ISD) focused on digital literacy— primarily the use of blogs and podcasts to help students develop both traditional and 21st century literacy skills. I started a blogging tools wiki a few weeks ago after an engaging skypecast on this topic, and the MTI 2006 conference I attended 2 weeks ago in Winfield, Kansas utilized a conference wiki that a fair number of folks have contributed to successfully.

So, why all this educational wiki-use? I think the answers are pretty straightforward:

  1. Wikis are collaborative, and one of the ideas we want students and teachers to both understand and LIVE is the idea that groups of people can generally come up with better ideas and solutions than people working in isolation.
  2. Wikis are iterative, meaning that they improve over time. They are not a single snapshot or
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International educational blogging: Differences outside the US?

I love the international idea exchanges that are empowered by the edublogosphere and more broadly by read/write web tools. Not only is it amazing to have the chance to learn from and even collaborate with other educators in other nations, but it is also interesting to observe differences in speech, behavior, and perspectives.

A few weeks ago I participated in an international skypecast about blogging tools, which involved around 25 people (not all educators, incidentally) from different parts of the world. We had North American participants from the US and Canada, and even a couple Australian voices in the dialog.

One issue which came up during our skypecast conversations was whether there are international differences in the ways blogging is being used in the classroom, and which tools are therefore most appropriate for teachers and students to use. In the United States, I perceive we have comparatively more litigation and liability fears/issues in society in general, including in education. I think this can and does have a significant chilling effect on educational innovation in some contexts, and specifically with blogging causes some (or many) administrators to not even consider letting teachers and students under their authority engage in classroom … Read the rest

Sorting out the ideas

Hello from Edmond, Oklahoma, where my family and I have started the rather overwhelming task of sorting out boxes from our previous residence and finding new places for all this “stuff.”

Lots to sort out!

Sorting out your possessions when moving, particularly as we are going from a 4 bedroom to a 3 bedroom home for awhile, is challenging but also worthwhile in many ways. Like our new garage that is filled with boxes, our brains become laden with ideas as we peruse the edublogosphere. Rather than spending time acquiring more “stuff” in the form of ideas, it is often quite helpful to sort through the ideas we already have, organize them, toss out those that are no longer relevant or of interest– and at times, discover lost “nuggets” which we have either forgotten or many not have ever discovered in the first place, even though they were buried somewhere in our mind (or garage.)

Thanks to Dean for giving me an opportunity to guest blog here on “Thoughts and Ideas of an EdTech.” This will give me a good excuse to blog periodically as I’m otherwise occupied at home with REAL boxes to unpack– and also likely provide a good chance to sift … Read the rest