Posts Tagged ‘Social Media’

Reader Safety Notice: NO show spoilers appear in this Post

I’ve just finished Season Three of Breaking Bad. This might seem like ancient history for some, but I’m trying to eke out my addictions. As a result, I’ve now switched to watch the final season of Dexter. As each episode is complete, I’m acutely aware that the end is becoming ever more nigh for this show.

Breaking Bad - Adventure Time

Breaking Bad – Adventure Time (Photo credit: B_Zedan)

Around me I have colleagues and students who are just finishing Breaking Bad and are aghast that I’m not doing likewise. One friend has gone from “no” to “whoa” in the space of a two week school holiday timeframe. All of Breaking Bad in two weeks?! Now I’m agog.

While all this is going on, I’ve become aware of how our viewing habits have changed. I say “our” as I’m wondering how many of the following applies to you. Do any of the following sound familiar?

  • Impatient at waiting for a show to come – week to week feels forever. I’d rather wait until I have the whole lot in my hands before starting viewing, rather than come to an abrupt halt at the end of the ep and have to wait a week for the next instalment.
  • We have lost our viewing discourse, as we are all on separate paths. The days of discussing an episode the day after are gone.
  • As a result of our viewing “alone”, we have to feel around, perhaps using careful euphemisms, to determine where we are up to in relation to others, even if across seasons.
  • I’m living in the moment, thus I’m ready to discuss the revelation of the previous episode, but often struggle to recall events for those playing ‘catch up’. By the time that someone has reached a cracker moment in a given episode, I’m struggling to recall the critical details of the episode.
  • Shows are like wine. One more glass before bed? We look forward to anticipate what time the next episode will end. Is that too late? What about if I bypass the opening credits and the “previously on…” (insert your show of preference here). Suddenly my wife is advocating a four show stint of Downton Abbey that will see our going to bed at 1:50am.
  • Suddenly, hearing the HBO white static at the start of a prospective show is an invitation to viewing nirvana.
  • I’ve started to notice (read “guess”) that each series is now following its own kind of arc – a bit like how you might have Joseph Campbell’s/Chris Vogler’s perspectives of the hero’s journey. Is it the case that a season of twelve episodes will describe a similar kind of arc as that of a quest movie (The Matrix is an example that comes to mind).

So as I finish this post, I’m about to watch the fourth episode for Dexter… and who knows, maybe the fifth… I just don’t want to run out too quickly…

Advertisements

My reason for writing this is to highlight how PLANE, the online Professional Learning Program for teachers, has been affected as a viable Online Learning Community (OLC) and to draw attention to those who might be unaware of this.

PLANE's landing page

PLANE’s landing page

For the uninitiated, PLANE stands for Pathways for Learning, Anywhere anytime – A Network for Educators. It offers a series of resources and professional learning in ICT for teachers. Learning comes in the form of short skill snacks that take a matter of minutes, to lengthier and more involved quests and courses. There are forum boards, a twitter feed, an activity stream, a virtual world based on Second Life to name but a small number of interactive content. Overarching all of this is the user’s Passport, which sees you accrue points as you journey about the site and take part in a range of activities. Simply, it is an engaging form of stamp or badge collecting. Here is a shot of my Dashboard from late August 2013:

I first came to PLANE earlier this year, during my first trimester of a Masters of Education, specialising in eLearning. A colleague had made a passing mention that I should check it out, and having signed up, I spent about an hour having a click around at this enticing site. This was in March and, having made a comment about it on a Forum panel to my university cohort, my subject lecturer mentioned in a Reply post that it was worth a look, but perhaps after the looming assignment had been completed.

As a result, I did not get back to have a look at PLANE until several months later, in July. It seems that, during this time, substantial changes were taking place that would see this OLC in a very different realm. The first thing I noticed was that the Twitter login seemed broken, so having sent an email from within itself (having managed to connect ‘again’ via Facebook), I heard nothing back from Admin. Later I managed to locate a comment to this effect – and that the Twitter Login would soon be fixed; as yet it hasn’t.

Having logged on, one arrives at the News Page. Here the warning bells start to ring. Firstly there is the current statement, that has been up for many weeks now:

PLANE will cease to validate professional learning or issue certificates for completion of PLANE courses after Friday 27 September 2013. Any registered PLANE professional development completed before 27 September will remain on a teacher’s Institute of Teachers record for the purposes of maintaining accreditation. PLANE will continue to offer the current range of professional learning experiences. Teachers will be able to use this professional learning as Teacher Identified Professional Development only, which is logged by the teacher on the NSW Institute of Teachers website and validated by the school principal or their delegate. Teachers can export evidence pages from PLANE as a standalone HTML website to show their school principal or delegate to have the learning validated on the NSW Institute of Teachers website. For more information regarding Teacher Identified Professional Development, please go to http://www.nswteachers.nsw.edu.au/.

Adding to this concern, the Twitter Feed (#planePL) seems stagnant, with no content from PLANE itself since late June and the Educator spotlight has remained the same during this time (this might be intended). By a sad contrast, the Activity Stream that occupies the right of the screen is scrolling continuously. A quick glance indicates that, for the most part, those “scoring” the achievements are probably new to the site, based on the types of activities that they are being credited with.

Going further and exploring the site in detail only appears to confirm one’s concerns. The events calendar has nothing coming up (the last event was June), the Virtual World is empty when I’ve visited, apart from the three virtual characters at Boot Camp (again, with no events scheduled), the Ask an Expert is similarly stalled in June. Other areas such as the Groups (which boasts a striking 162 groups) reflects stagnation through the lack of activity in Forum posts and outdated page information. One area which seems to buck the trend is the Share Club, where participants have managed to keep the content up-to-date.

In trying to study PLANE for my university assignment as an Online Learning Community, I attempted to do some research as to its status. My Google skills might not be the best, but even I found it difficult to find much in terms of what was going on. What I did manage to locate, in a Forum post inside of the site, was a Google Doc that raised worries about the future of the PLANE website and ongoing viability. Additionally, it highlights particular concern about the loss of accreditation for new scheme teachers, which PLANE offered. There were a number of other concerns raised in a detailed and thoughtfully constructed letter.

The pertinent parts to the response is printed below.

As part of my Masters coursework, participants are asked to take part in Forum Discussions. One exercise asked students to explore the for/against of the statement If you build it, they will come. In writing this post, this seems apt. Perhaps more pertinently is that “they” might well come, but will they stay, or even come back? Are they expected to take on the maintenance of the site thereafter?

It would be nice to know if this last observation is the case. Perhaps this might go some way to helping maintain and foster PLANE’s base. I understand that many of the “pilots” who helped administer the site have gone and that it resembles more of an empty shell today. A lot of money has been put into this and it would be unconscionable to see this drift,  rudderless, towards oblivion.

In closing, take a look at this photo. It is from PLANE’s Facebook page (also with last post in June). For me it captures everything PLANE can and should stand for – the energy of a range of dedicated practitioners who have come together to create a fantastic OLC. Please feel free to forward and disseminate this post in your own social and educative circles. Perhaps it can be steered to a more appropriate course for all users.

Screen Shot 2013-09-24 at 10.15.26 PM

Well, someone in the next day will be – it could be you and this post might well tip the scale over – currently my blog sits on a modest 1994 views (I know, distinctly small fry for many). I would love to be able to let you know if you were my 2000th viewer. Maybe if I’m vigilant, I’ll be able to tell the country that you’re from. If the first six viewers all ‘liked’ this post, I could tell that number six would be the one. Maybe I could even do a feature on the person receiving that milestone…

English: The Grand Prize for the winner of a g...

A good year thus far… (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ironically, the one year anniversary of my writing – NOT my joining WordPress, which took place seven months before as part of a work ICT activity – is also coming up on June 25th. This was a post on students doing ‘TED Junior’ talks. It took me that time to work out what I was going to write about (and feel confident to press that ‘Publish’ button), one reflecting my work and ideas in Education, which, as you might expect, has also undergone some changes in that year.

Back to my title – how many times have you been the “999,999” visitor (or one millionth)? In thinking about this post, I reckon I’ve won about 50 of these things (and have of course, clicked on none of the cheery, cheesy banners when they’ve popped up). I even typed the phrase into Google and got all sorts of discussion about the possible scams and identity compromising consequences of clicking on these spots.

So anyway, to give you something in the same vein, here are some stats reflecting your relative chances of a number of events occurring – just to give you pause for thought. I’ve made them ‘Australia’ based, to reflect some of the idiosyncrasies of my country:

Chance of winning the big division prize in Lotto – 1 in 45 million

Chance of being killed by a shark –  1 in 292, 525 (chance of drowning at the Australian beach, by comparison, 1 in 3,362)

Chance of being struck by lightning – 1 in 1.6 million

Chance of dying in a car accident – 1 in 12, 500

Chance of winning anything by being the “Xth” person to visit a site – nil?

But, getting away from the darker side, it has been a great year thus far. I’ve learned so much and thank you all for popping by, whether this be a first time, or a return trip. Looking forward to even more in the coming twelve months. I’ll keep you posted on the 200th viewer… if I can 😉

Ever Googled yourself? Screen Shot 2013-04-04 at 1.29.42 PM Of course you have… perhaps the question should be more specific: Have you ever Googled yourself and, by using various search tools and terms, discovered more than might pop up on the first screen of 10 items? Recently I had some Year 9 students in my mentor (tutor) group do just this. Their reactions were amusing and revealing; thinking that they knew all this, then discovering how far the rabbit hole went. Rather than coming in on the well-honed negative of “anything bad you do online will be online for life”, I came at it on a different tack. Why not see it in a positive light. Rather than warning about “screwing up on FB”, promote it as a way of setting up your digital identity. On the basis that future employers (and possibly partners?) can and will check you out, why not develop your digital character? Here are three areas and methods to help students see how far their digital footprints go:- –

  • start with the basics: if in a different country to the United States, use the country suffix in the search (e.g. for Australia=.au), if a number of people share your name, use minus (-) to help remove them from the search, particularly if you can identify where they are (such as a State/County/Province or suburb), if it is different from you. Use inverted commas for some or all of the terms.
  • put in past connections: one student discovered that, because he played representative water polo, there were competition results from five years ago that contained his name. He was ten at the time. What hobbies, sporting groups, memberships, clubs and the like do your students have now (or have had in the past)?
  • click on images: there might not be much here worth promoting, as opposed to the likely avalanche of Facebook photos. Maybe look to suggest that developing 2-3 images as profile images (or even fewer) is a good idea. This way the ‘best side’ of you will be the one to come up at the top of the search, because how frequently it has been linked and posted to in the internet.

Then, of course, it becomes a question of setting the students up for the future. In my case, they have between 5-10 years, depending on study choices and opportunities. What this means is that there is time to develop your digital profile. I have students doing community service, volunteering with sporting groups, undertaking their Duke of Edinburgh bronze medallion courses, doing work experience. All of it counts, and, most likely, all of it will be visible for future employers and the like. Encourage the students to find ways of celebrating positive achievements, appropriately and in the right forum, online. Isn’t that a better way of looking at building students’ connections with the internet, rather than trying to fix a problem after the social disaster has occurred?

I thought for a bit about the image that I’ve used here – whether I should avoid using “me” as the example – and realised this is exactly what I’m talking about – if you’d wanted to find this out about me, Google can give you the information is 0.21 seconds. And I’m pretty happy with how my digital self appears…

On Monday I will start my first degree since the early 90s. I’m undertaking a Masters in Education, specialising in eLearning. The differences in the two approaches couldn’t be more pronounced. On the one hand, my first English lecture had 800 odd sitting listening to a lecture from a professor with decades of tenure, discuss (I think) the novel, Joseph Andrews. At the time (1989), I was in awe of the University itself – the oldest in Australia – with the size of its place, all of the buildings and the 1000s of students. So this wonderment transferred quite happily to sitting and (trying) to take notes in an A4 Lecture pad while the one-way delivery of performance was given. There were  “tutes” of about ten people, where we would break down the lecture in a more informal and social fashion. Then there was the social side – of clubs and societies, the cafes and bars and growing friendships. There were no mobile phones, the internet didn’t exist and, as I recall from a Psychology I lecture, “my presentations are copyright, so you are not permitted to make audio recordings of these lectures”.

Sydney University Quadrangle 2

Sydney University Quadrangle 2 (Photo credit: iansand)

How much things have changed. Now my University is 700km away and I am studying “by distance”. Ironically, “distance” can actually be measured in metres; the distance to my nearest computing device. Thus I was checking my (required) university email account as I lay in bed last night via my iPad. I can access all the online readings, the library database, the course notes… even the course participants who I will be discussing ideas and working with, without requiring any form of travel outside of my home. There are Facebook pages specific to the course and a Twitter hashtag to follow. I’ve already started using Notability to turn my required readings from PDFs into annotatable documents that automatically sync to Dropbox. I’ve started to use “e-highlighters” in a range of colours without unzipping a pencil case!

I’m excited with what’s about to follow. Most of my work will occur via a Moodlewhere I’ll be able to take part in discussion bulletin boards, use the class Forum and receive and submit my work. I am conscious of the self paced learning which recommends 12-15 hours per subject per week. It is self paced to a degree as I still need to complete those readings and submit those pieces of work. So while I might not need to sit down for a lecture at 9am on a Monday any more, I am conscious that I need to sit down some time and do that work. My education has, until now, been predicated on a timetable and while it still exists, the goalposts are being excavated ready for the subsequent shift. The irony is that I still play field hockey for my alma mater and fondly recollect that learning that I did in those days.

University of New England (Australia)

University of New England (Australia) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So, if you ever pop by in the future, feel free to give me an e-kick… up the back side, to keep me on course and get me back to my studies!

iDevice

Posted: February 9, 2013 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , ,

student_ipad_school - 024

It has been an interesting fortnight. School’s very much back and, along with a new, fantastic library, all of our students have their own devices this year. Year 7s have iPads and the rest laptops. We are by no means pioneers in all this, in terms of bring-your-own-device (BYOD) in a school, but that does not mean that there aren’t striking observations to be made.
Here’s one for you all – you don’t have to be a student or a teacher to appreciate this – anyone who has had a first day at school will recognise this moment. Remember that first day at school, the nerves, the sense of loneliness, perhaps coupled with some excitement, as you looked upon a sea of unknown faces? Whether you hastily looked for someone to strike up a friendship with, or waited until someone sought you out, you’ll all have a familiarity for this scenario.
However, it’s different this time. We have over 200 students in Year 7 and one staff member observed that, while boys would have boisterously chatted outside the classrooms during breaks, played handball and chatted at the tables in the lunch area last year, the place this time was eerily silent at recess and lunch breaks. Boys had their heads down – playing games for the most part, with fingers swiping madly this way and that.
So has the iPad stepped in to act as the salve to social embarrassment? And what does it mean for a generation who does not have to be thrust (for good or bad) into this social limelight where one looks to strike up friendships that may go on to last a lifetime?
I’m excited to be teaching at this time – I’m about to undertake a Masters in eLearning in a couple of weeks – but I’m interested and intrigued by some of these social considerations of our starting our voyage with BYOD. I’d anticipated that I would have to be working with a range of teaching considerations within the classroom, but less so on the ones that might be outside the class. As I said to a colleague, I wonder if this is that moment where you realise that there has been a seismic shift in how the world operates – you know, the “I remember where I was when X happened kind of thing…”
More to follow in due course.

20121227-204230.jpg

Remember that well-worn idea; you are holding a dinner party and have the chance to invite any guests, from any time – who you would like to attend?

I’d been giving it some thought over Christmas and, having let my ideas drift, have decided to bring it up to the present a little more. What about if we could use blogging as the vehicle, rather than the dinner party? And, instead of inviting guests from anytime, what if we could consider some other options, like a menu of speakers, or even ideas?
First things first, what about a look at the original format and its pros and cons.
The premise is simple enough; who would you select, from all of history, on the basis of their conversation, ideas, notoriety or the like, to attend your dinner party. With a ‘gem selection’ you would have, in theory, stimulating and provocative discourse for the whole of the evening. The likely limitations? Well, how about these:

    • You wouldn’t want anyone who would dominate the conversation. What’s the point of having six influencial figures, only to have one individual dominate the discussion all night long?
    • And, ideally, one wouldn’t want to pick six diverse individuals, only to see one topic of conversation hold court at the expense of the others. Thus choosing Mozart might well see music at the fore, while Fermat might sit quietly, listening for the whole night.
    • On top of this, history being what it is, this occasion would also, unfortunately, tend to favour male guests, for the most part, particularly when you go back 150 or more years.

So then, let’s come forward to the present day. How might we use blogging to have our “discourse dinner party”? Well, as a suggestion, consider any of the following:

      • Using a blog as a space to discuss compelling, unorthodox or provocative ideas. This would extend beyond the usual “make a comment” at the end of a post
      • Developing a small group of bloggers, exploring a common theme. Blog spots, such as WordPress, represent an excellent community for finding and fostering like minded individuals
      • Using a blog as the transcript of the “night”. Like the old fashioned chess game, carried on through months of correspondence, this could act as the repository for the discourse. Of course, this might operate over a defined period, or a broader, extended timeframe.
      • Inviting guest bloggers to attend a “dinner”. This might be on the basis of acting as a stimulus to other bloggers, or the topic being considered.

So, what are the big ideas, the big questions worth considering, defining and debating?
More than happy for you to take all this as your invitation to the dinner… If inclined, feel free to R.S.V.P. (aka Comments?) to get the party started! Not sure how it’ll all go, but that should be part of the fun…