Shift *Is* Happening - But Are We Shifting?

Universal McCann has released a new report (Wave 3) describing what Richard MacManus (ReadWriteWeb) has termed "the impact of social media (such as blogs, social networks, online video) on the media landscape."

I prefer to call it the "umpteenth reason why educators need to Pay Attention report", but that's neither here nor there. See for yourself what I mean (from the report, italics added by me):

Social media - and blogs in particular - are becoming a more important part of global media consumption for internet users than some traditional media channels.

In South Korea - the market that's leading the world in digital trends - 77% of internet users read blogs each week compared to just 58% reading the mainstream press.

Globally, 73% of internet users are reading blogs
If 73% of internet users worldwide are reading blogs, then clearly a large percentage of our students are reading them too. What are we doing as educators to channel the use of such technologies - for our students' amelioration and for our instructional sanity?

The March 2008 survey of 17,000 global internet users is, according to Universal McCann, "the most detailed survey of the Social Media revolution." In spite of the bias that such a claim emits, I still think these figures are something that educators everywhere should consider:
  • 83% of internet users watch video clips, up from 62% in the last study in June 2007
  • 78% of internet users read blogs, up from 66%
  • 57% of internet users are now members of a social network
  • 70% of internet users in China write a blog, 66% in the Philippines and 60% in Mexico
Saving the best (for China, at least) for last:
  • China is the world's largest blogging market with 42 million bloggers - versus 26 million in the United States.
Original Image Source - Flickr user Mel B.

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The Future of the Future of Professional Development

Round three of Open Professional Development was a learning experience for everyone involved. Upon completion of Wednesday’s final session, we were left hungering for more interaction, more collaboration, and more conversation. As our discussion centered on many of the more intricate nuances of blogging (including photo attribution with Creative Commons and proper blogging etiquette), we learned that in this new environment, each of us has a tremendous amount to learn. Just as David Jakes, Jon Becker, and many other contributors to the recent conversation have stated, we - as a network of educators - have real issues to work out in relation to this new form of learning that so many have come to embrace. I think Clay Burrell has said it very well in a recent comment:

...We’re evangelizing this stuff, but it’s all so new we can’t be too “expert” at it. We’re not only evangelists of the new Gospel - we’re also its guinea pigs. We’re experimenting on ourselves.

Likewise, the question of where we take OpenPD from here can be an equally difficult morsel. Within this overarching question, there are actually several sub-questions that also deserve our attention:
  1. How do we transform OpenPD so as to attract the kinds of teachers that aren’t the most technologically savvy?
  2. How do we garner the participation of additional groups of teachers? Sure, individual participation from wherever you may be is fantastic, but a class of multiple classes would be ideal.
  3. What can be done to provide OpenPD participants with local district credit - enabling additional rewards other than the intrinsic?
  4. Considering question 3, are such extrinsic rewards really needed or would they only taint the enthusiasm for such an endeavor?
In the end, we were able to identify a number of topics that would benefit future OpenPD participants, although the times and dates of such sessions are yet undetermined:
  • RSS - We wanted to discuss RSS in this session but simply ran out of time. RSS, what it is, how it can be used to teach and to learn.
  • Creative Commons - Who, what, when, where, how, and why. Resources for finding CC licensed content.
  • Mobile devices in the classroom - Phones, GPS, possible classroom uses and integration with Google Earth.
Image Source: Flickr user doctor paradox

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A Better Way To Rickroll

Rickrolling is an Internet fad o' fun that, while recently gaining in popularity, is probably on it's way out. According to the source of all eighth-grade knowledge:

Rickrolling is a prank and Internet meme involving the music video for the 1987 Rick Astley song "Never Gonna Give You Up". The meme is a classic bait and switch: a person provides a link they claim is relevant to the topic at hand, but the link actually takes the user to the Astley video.
On a related note, you may also Flickroll your "friends" by sending them here (thanks for sharing, Sue) or see the Muppet's remake of the Rick Astley video below (certainly my personal favorite):

Now, here's the scenario:

"Hey Shareski, check out this link. This is a great article on why you shouldn't count the number of people following you on Twitter. From what I hear, that kind of behavior does nothing but kill kittens."

Shareski then clicks on the link(s) to enjoy Rick Astley in all of his 80's glory.


Speaking of Twitter, the perfect Rickrolling environment... here's the scenario there:

"Good morning twits. A kid just threw up outside my classroom door. Yep, disgusting. Check it out here -"

*Twitter Psych!*

As educators, though, I can't help thinking that we're above all of this Rickrolling, prankster nonsense. Sure, it's all done in fun, but can't we be productive while we prank?

Enter Payrolling

Yep, you guessed it. I propose that as educators we prank our fellow teachers into viewing something useful during those times of jest. Here's the new scenario:

"Hey [enter teacher's name here], I found the perfect site for you and your [insert subject name here] class. This place has activities that will take the kids hours to complete. In fact, I think you'll probably be set until the end of the year. Can you believe they actually pay us to work here? Anyway, here's the link."

[Your teacher of choice] is then transported to the Pay Attention web site wherein they can learn a thing or three about what it takes to reach our students these days.

[Your teacher of choice] just got Payrolled!

*Psych with an ed-tech edge!*

"Sure," you're saying. "He's just marketing again. Why doesn't he juke teachers into visiting some other video?"

Good point, but I couldn't find any that would make the name work. It's all about branding here, folks. We need a name that will stick.
  • Shiftrolling reminds me of a diesel truck.
  • Visionrolling? Well, which one do we link to?
  • Marcorolling definitely has potential but I'm not sure he'd appreciate the gesture.
So Payrolling it is, at least in my book.

Fun. Free. And the better way to prank. Payroll your teacher of choice today!

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A Little Homework Or Contributing To Burn-Out?

My daughter had homework tonight. Four hours worth. Is it me or is four hours of homework a little excessive?

She's twelve. And in the sixth grade!

Now, I realize that every night isn't comprised of a homework marathon for her, and I also recognize that she's asked for this heavier workload (she's in an accelerated learning program). Nevertheless, as one that is currently in his 24th year of schooling, I seriously hope she doesn't burn out. If I had the amount of school work that she has now when I was her age, I highly doubt that I would still be going to school.

I'm just sayin'.

Image Source - Flickr user Cayusa

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True or False: The Apple Doesn't Fall Very Far from the Tree

Every teacher that's ever survived Parent-Teacher Conference knows how true this is:

Which is what makes this picture of one of my favorite teachers so absolutely perfect:

But I wonder how many educators have considered their own place in the overall scheme of things:

The more I work with teachers in a variety of different schools, the more I'm convinced that we teachers are not that different from our students.

Quick Quiz:

  1. If we teachers are the apples that never fall too far from the tree, then what person, position, attitude or entity is the tree?
  2. How much effect does a school administrator have on the attitudes and perceptions of his/her subordinates? (Possibly the same question as #1)
Original Image Source (apples): Flickr user r-z

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Becoming A Better Teacher

Carl Glickman hits the nail on the head on one of the pages in his book entitled Leadership for Learning: How to Help Teachers Succeed. In my opinion, his message should be read and synthesized by every teacher worldwide.

He also provides a solution. "How do teaching and learning improve? The answer is no mystery. It’s as simple as this: I cannot improve my craft in isolation from others" (p. 4).

  • Glickman, C. (2002). Leadership for learning: How to help teachers succeed. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
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Join The Club

Jon Becker wrote this about this and was noticed by him and by him and by her and by him and yes, also by me and a number of others. And while I think that she has said it very well (and the edublogger cocktail party may just be a false perception), I am positive that myriads of bloggers around the world feel just. like. Jon!

Frankly, this is how I feel about the whole deal:

Nevertheless, I think that much of what may seem to be a private club for members only is really only a demonstration of human nature: a nature which has become busy, saturated with information, and pulled in every direction.

Let's face reality folks - and give every member of the club the benefit of the doubt. I know I haven't in the past, but I'm now willing to try.

Just because he doesn't comment on your blog or she doesn't follow you on Twitter definitely doesn't mean that he or she is arrogant - and it certainly doesn't mean that you or your content isn't worthy. Likely it only means that they're busy.

Or am I wrong?

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The Problem with OpenPD

What will it take to attract the "average" teacher in such a way that they willingly and regularly participate in OpenPD? I'm interested in your thoughts.

Image Source: Wesley Fryer (and Everett Rogers)

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Twitter Set Theory & The Wisdom of the Group

Several weeks ago I was introduced to an idea that I have found to be profound in its simplicity but complex in its implications. In an informal discussion about educational technology at EduBloggerCon West, Steve Hargadon described the kind of learning that is taking place in today's social networks. Interestingly enough, I caught the discussion via Ustream (and participated remotely within the Ustream chat), demonstrating yet another facet of this idea. I will paraphrase what Steve has come to call "the wisdom of the group":

You don't need to have everybody in the room in order to have a good conversation. In other words, once you reach a certain number of people - local experts, if you will - you can have very rich dialog without requiring that all of the experts be present.
Steve has found this to be true in many of the social networks that he frequents, and I have found it to be true in Twitter. In the days following our discussion, I have drawn up several diagrams that I think demonstrate additional dimensions to this concept (they also fit in nicely with this fine collection).

Twitter Set Theory

To begin, I find the overlapping nature of Twitter conversations to be fascinating. As one person speaks with another through an @reply, their conversation is not only visible to the person receiving the reply, but - if tweets are made public - is also inherently viewable by anyone following the person that sends out the tweets. Thus, using the diagram example below, if Amazing Mary decides to reply to a question posed by Popular Pete, then not only will Pete see Mary's reply, but the 1,200 people that follow @amazingmary will also see the reply (and will, in one sense, participate in Mary's conversation with Pete). Additionally, if Pete chooses to reply back to Mary, his 1,498 followers will see his response. Nevertheless, because only a percentage of Mary's followers also follow Pete, only that fraction of the population involved will ever see both sides of the conversation. This fact alone can make for any number of meaningful conversations that can possibly take place either without (A) the knowledge and participation of Pete, or (B) the knowledge and participation of Mary.

Another example of the "wisdom of the group" might come in the event that Presenter Paul tweets something controversial, thought provoking, or otherwise conversation-worthy. Followers of Presenter Paul might choose to converse about the topic that was brought to the surface by Paul but all aspects of the conversation(s) likely take place without Paul's inclusion and even without Paul's knowledge of it (simply because Paul doesn't actually follow that many people).

To expand upon this idea, consider for a moment Ned N00b. Ned has 13 followers, all of which also follow Presenter Paul. Because of this fact, if Paul decides to pose a question to his followers - and Ned decides to re-tweet Paul's question - Ned's re-tweet will fall upon only those that have already heard the question as originally posed by Paul. Furthermore, because Ned doesn't follow any of the same people that Paul does (see the next diagram), many of the responses that Paul might receive will never be seen by Ned. As a result, Ned the N00b is once again left in the dark.

Twitter Tracks

Shifting gears slightly, I think that another interesting element of Twitter is the intermingling that takes place on the network overall - the nature of which makes for a vastly different user experience, entirely dependent upon the user's level of participation.

Consider Ned N00b once again. If Ned, not unlike many apprehensive beginners, rarely interacts with other Twitter users and merely tweets about "what he is currently doing", then his experience in using Twitter will be vastly different than the experience of others - especially if those others are highly active in their participation and interaction with others. Amazing Mary and Sharing Sam, for example, are in constant connection with other Twitter users. Their conversations rarely center upon themselves and, considering Mary in particular, often jump from topic to topic and from person to person.

As a result of this apparent hesitancy to reach out (is it fear that causes such an initial reaction, nervousness, or mere caution?), I would think that the Twitter experience of Ned N00b would most likely parallel the experience of Twitter users like Popular Pete and Presenter Paul minus one important distinction: Pete and Paul likely receive @replies from a number of people that they don't follow. Ned N00b, unfortunately, rarely receives such interaction as relatively few people even know that he tweets. Sure, he receives a little feedback from thoughtful users like Amazing Mary and he even dips down to "interact" with Popular Pete, but likely receives no mutual response since Popular Pete simply can't keep up with all of his "fans". Therefore, Ned's overall Twitter experience is largely solitary, affording him an experience not unlike that of Presenter Paul; Paul's by choice, Ned's by reality.

In the end, Twitter remains a constant stream of conversation which, I can only imagine, probably looks something like this to the uninitiated:

In conclusion, I invite your thoughts regarding the hypothetical situations I have posed above.
  • Am I completely off my Twitter here or is this something that deserves additional thought and exploration?
  • Is it possible for even Ned N00b to engage in meaningful, highly educational conversations - even when the experts aren't present?
  • What are some insights into these ideas that I may have missed?
By the way, the names in this post have been changed to protect the innocent (Ned N00b excepting). Ten points extra credit if you can correctly identify any of my hypothetical Twits.

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What I’ve Learned By Creating Something Black & White & Read All Over

Important note: This post has been enhanced for members of my Diigo network. If you are a Diigo user, you may add me as a Diigo friend - enabling you to view additional thoughts that I have added in the form of a Diigo annotation.

One year ago today, I quietly distributed the Pay Attention video presentation to the world. Since then, I’ve learned a thing or two.
  • People from all around the world can be extremely kind and I value their collaboration and contribution immensely. In harmony with that thought, I never let people tell me the world is a cruel place. While the statement may have shards of truth to it, I've learned that you will eventually find that which you diligently seek. I seek peace, happiness, collaboration, and contribution - and have found it all in tremendous abundance.
  • Some things are best learned by sincere attempts. Maintaining this blog, creating the list of reasons why teachers should blog, and engaging with my Twitter network are all examples of this. To be honest (and to illustrate), I created the list of reasons why teachers should blog in as much of an attempt to convince myself that I should be blogging as I did to convince other teachers. Looking back, I wouldn’t change a thing.
  • Education is a journey, and never a destination. The moment you think you've arrived is that moment you're more lost than ever.
  • The more I learn, the more I realize that I really don’t know. I think this principle is equally true when speaking of the cumulative knowledge of mankind.
  • To be known across the world is worthless if you’re not honest in your dealings with other people, willing to help those in need, and caring toward even the n00bs. Even I was once a n00b, and I'm pretty sure that you. were. too.
  • Amazingly, a person can create powerful collaborative partnerships with people with whom they have never conversed face to face. Open Professional Development is a shining example of this once unimagined fact.
  • Online relationships form an integral part of my personal learning network. Nevertheless, my family has taught me more about life - and that which is truly important - than any other source.
  • A blended learning environment - combining both online and face to face collaboration - is most effective.
  • Just because you may have seen Pay Attention doesn't mean that teachers in my district have. In fact, I would estimate that less than 20% of the teachers in my district have seen it.
If you've never seen Pay Attention, I think you should - along with any of these other highly impacting educational clips:
Have a nice day, and thanks for the ride.

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Classroom 2.0 LIVE Workshop - Salt Lake City 2008

I know it's early, but I want you to mark your calendars. Additional details will be forthcoming.

Classroom 2.0 LIVE Workshop
Friday, August 15 and Saturday, August 16, 2008
9:00 am - 4:00 pm each day
Salt Lake City, UT

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