Sunday, 10 November 2013

Would You Like to Participate in Writing a Blogging Booklet?



Chapter 1 Photo Credit: Auntie P via Compfight cc


Last spring I participated in a SEETA Webchat. The topic I chose to talk about was blogging for reflection and the way it can help in teacher development. SEETA webchats are just what they say they are - chats. The people who join the chat can ask questions and contribute to the discussion any way they want.

Participating in the webchat was a fun thing to do, but it also gave me food for thought. I was under the impression that there were people out there who wanted to start blogging, but were not quite sure how to do it. Others have tried blogging, found it solitary, time-consuming and unrewarding and given up. I went to my summer holiday thinking about what I could do to help them.

Anna Parisi (the founder of SEETA) was kind enough to help and that was the beginning of our little blogging forum. A fellow blogger, Merve Oflaz, joined and soon we had a forum bustling with activity. Still, all the teachers who joined us were experienced bloggers. There were no new or wannabe bloggers in the forum and those were the teachers we were trying to reach. That's when Anna suggested that we write a booklet for new bloggers and post it on SEETA. This booklet would lead new bloggers through the initial stages of blogging and help them connect with other educators who blog.

I loved the idea of a booklet. I thought how cool it would be if I could reach out to the wider blogging community and people in my PLN. What if every chapter was written by a different blogger?

This is where you come in. For, I need your help. Would any of you good people reading this post like to contribute a booklet chapter? If you are wondering what to write about, then think about what you wish you had known when you started blogging. Or something others shared with you and you found very useful. How did you find blogging ideas? What should a blog post look like? And a comment? How did you find readers and build your PLN? How do you use Twitter and Facebook to connect to other bloggers? Also, we need technical help. How do you set up a blog? Which widgets do you find useful? Or none of the above, but something else you would like to share with new bloggers.

Choose a topic, or I will suggest a topic for you.

If you are interested, please get in touch with me via email, or leave a comment under this post. Or, you can go straight to this Google Doc and choose a topic for yourself.

Linked to this post: 7 Reasons Why Educators Should Blog (also to serve as Chapter 1 of the booklet).





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Monday, 7 October 2013

I Will Be Presenting at the Reform Symposium


2013 Reform Symposium E-Conference (RSCON)
Click to go to my RSCON4 page


This is just to let you know that I will be presenting at the 2013 Reform Symposium. Here's the information from their website:

Teachers now have access to free quality professional development via current online technologies. Experience this live with thousands of educators from around the globe by attending the 4th annual Reform Symposium Online Conference, RSCON, which takes place October 11th to 13th in conjunction with Connected Educator Month. Attend this free online conference from anywhere that has Internet access.  


View the schedule online here. Look forward to being inspired by the following:


  • Plenaries- Sugata Mitra, 2013 Ted prize winner and instigator of the Hole-in-the Wall experiment and Salome Thomas-EL, Principal EL of the Dr. Oz Show.
  • Steve Bingham, electric violinist, and Laura Oldham, the Book Supplier, will play live.
  • 3 Panel discussions featuring Dr. Alec Couros, Ozge Karaoglu, Nicholas Provenzano,                                                            Jackie Gerstein, Steven Anderson, Silvia Tolisano, Joe Dale, Tom Whitby, Pam Moran, Lisa Dabbs, Erin Klein, and Tom Murray.
  • 100+ sessions. Topics include genius hour, the flipped classroom, global projects, mobile learning, game based learning, web 2.0 tools, integrating iPads, e-portfolios, and more. The activities meet Common Core objectives and cover all subjects and age groups.
  • Nominate an educator to receive an EdInspire Award. Takes 5 minutes.
  • Keynotes include Angela Maiers (US), Mark Moran (US), Steve Wheeler (UK), Chuck Sandy (Japan), Rafael Parente (Brazil), John Spencer (US), Chris Lehmann (US), Sue Waters (Australia), Jose Vilson (US), Barbara Hoskins Sakamoto (Japan), Mark Barnes (US), Josh Stumpenhorst (US), Nicky Hockly (Sp), German Doin (Argentina), and 13 year-old humanitarian Mallory Fundora (founder of Project Yesu)


Connect with over 10,000 educators from 100+ countries and receive conference updates via the FutureofEducation.com community,  Twitter (@RSCON4), Facebook, or Pinterest.

As you can see, the program is too good to miss. The symposium is free of charge and all it takes to join is a bit of free time and a working Internet connection.

Here's the link to my profile on The Future of Education. You will find all relevant information there, including my presentation slides and the links to all sites and tools mentioned in the presentation. 

I am really excited about this (and quite nervous at the same time). I am grateful to Shelly Terrell for the invitation and for believing in me. My presentation is on Saturday 12th October 11.00 - 12.00 CST, or 17.00 - 18.00. GMT. (If you are like me and time zones confuse you, then go here and choose your time zone to see the times for all presentations.)  Hope to see you there. 







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Wednesday, 25 September 2013

How I Became a Teacher


Deeper into the forest Photo Credit: violscraper via Compfight cc

I have a confession to make:

I didn't plan for this to happen. When I was a child, I didn't dream about becoming a teacher one day. My mother was a teacher, my two uncles were teachers and I was going to be something else. Anything else. Period.

So, how come that I have spent twenty-four years in the classroom and enjoyed every moment of it?

Well, it is very simple. Remember - my two uncles were teachers, my mother was a teacher... I am not sure whether it is genetics or destiny or something different altogether. I like to believe that, although I didn't choose teaching, teaching chose me.

I am probably lying to you, the way I was lying to myself back when I decided to study languages, just like my mother. I knew then that most language students end up as teachers (at least here in Serbia they do). I told myself that I was studying languages because it was a fun thing to do and I was good at English. Because I liked talking to people and because I liked reading. Nowadays I find it hard to believe that I never thought about what I was going to do one day I graduated.

True, though I kept resisting to teaching children in state schools, I made one small exception: I was willing to try teaching adults in a language school. And not just any school - I had my eye on the school where I now work. Because it was excellent and because I myself had been a student there and loved every moment of it.


After I graduated, I accepted the job of a substitute teacher in a state grammar school. I didn't like it there and I was glad when my colleague returned from her sick leave. I was now positive that I wanted to do something else, anything else. When the call from my dream school came, I was not too happy. It seemed to me that Destiny had its claws all around me again. Still, I was flattered. Not anyone could get into the Kolarac School of Foreign Languages. I decided to give it a try. One class, one week, or one month (if I could last that long) and then I would start looking for something else.

I would love to tell you more about my first two classes, about how one of my students (a total beginner) brought her two children to class because she had nowhere to leave them, about how the children sat silently in the corner drawing. I would love to tell you more about the discussions we had that evening in the upper-intermediate class and about all the clever, funny, deep things my students said. I would love to talk about the freedom my new boss gave me when he refused to give me any detailed instructions, but instead said: "Just show us what you can do."

Well, maybe another time.

I will just say that it was love at first sight. Destiny was laughing at me, but the laughter wasn't mean or ironic. I laughed back.

There's no place like home.




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Thursday, 13 June 2013

7 Reasons Why Educators Should Blog



I have recently participated in one of the Seeta monthly webchats. You can listen to the chat here:




When they asked me to suggest a topic for the chat, it didn't take me long to suggest blogging for reflection. As you might know, I have been blogging for five years now. Preparing for the webchat gave me some time to reflect on why I blog. I have to say that I failed to come up with a rational answer to this question.

I blog because I like blogging.

I know, this doesn't lead anywhere. Especially since, in the chat, quite a few teachers expressed their concerns related to blogging. A few have tried this activity, only to stop after a while, disappointed. Nobody left comments in their blogs and they seemed to be talking to themselves. Blogging was time-consuming and left them with less time for classroom preparation. Teachers are too busy already. Why should they add blogging to their list of duties?

Although for me blogging is a passion, I have decided to try and look at some rational reasons why blogging for reflection might be something educators should do. I will also try to address the concerns that were expressed during the chat.

1. Blogging helps you reflect on what you do in class. 

This one is rather obvious, since I am advocating blogging for reflection. Steve Wheeler says that teachers naturally think back on what has happened in their classroom, and often wonder what they could have done better. Blogging can help with this process, enabling teachers to keep an ongoing personal record of their actions, decisions, though processes, successes and failures, and issues they have to deal with. Wheeler also observes that “Blogging can crystalise your thinking.”

Yet, blogging shouldn't be the same as sharing your teaching journal with the world. If you are one of those teachers who reflect on their practices through a journal, then you are probably not ready to share those thoughts with the world. Nor should you. A journal has to be the place where you can be completely honest with yourself, without worrying about what others might think. It is also not the right place to worry about punctuation, spelling and style. Just keep writing and keep your thoughts private. However, every now and then, there will be a journal entry that will make you stop and reflect. If you sit down and work hard on it until it is presentable, you can share it with the world and make other teachers benefit from your experience.

The teachers in the chat were worried about revealing too much about themselves in their blog and sharing something that wasn't appropriate. Now, remember the golden rule - you should never share anything you wouldn't want your mom, your boss or your child to see. Amy Dominello quotes blogger Renee Moore who says teachers should be careful about what they say on their blogs. She also quotes Anthony Cody: “Make sure your boss is aware of your blogging.”

2. Writing helps you generate ideas

Richard E. Ferdig says: "Drawing on Vygotsky's educational theory (1978), educators highlight the "knowledge construction" processes of the learner and suggest that "meaning making" develops through the social process of language use over time. As such, knowledge construction is discursive, relational and conversational in nature." What I have discovered since I started blogging is that just thinking about what I might post and freewriting for a while will give me an idea for a lesson plan. These ideas might come from anywhere - I might take a walk in the park or see an image on Flickr and words will start forming in my head. What starts as a blog post idea will end up as a set of activities that I can try on Monday.

One of the biggest concerns of the teachers I talked to was that they might have nothing new or original to say, that they might end up regurgitating something others have said. And why not? By all means, read other blogs and join the conversation. But don't regurgitate. Instead, you can summarise, question, expand and share. That's what I am trying to do in this post. The conversation among bloggers has been on for a very long time. A new voice is more than welcome. Sometimes people who know how to ask questions are invaluable because they make us think and re-evaluate our opinions. Which brings me to my next point.

3. Care to share

There are hundreds of busy teachers out there. They are troubled by the same self-doubts as you. Some of them are rookies, others might be suffering from teacher burnout. Reading your post might help them get through the working week. And if you share lesson ideas, you are genuinely helping.  So, if you have nothing to say, say it anyway. Maybe it is new to me, or I just might be glad that you are doing or seeing things the same way I do. Teaching is a lonely job and you are never quite sure you are getting it right, are you? But, if you start blogging, you will never be lonely again because you will interact with other bloggers. Which brings me to my next point and that is

4. The virtual staffroom

Gabrielle Deschamps says: "In a really weird way, I no longer feel like my staffroom is limited to the four walls around me at school. My horizons have widened, and now I feel like the music teacher in Iceland I spoke with yesterday is just over there by the window.” You will connect with the teachers who share your interests, be it project work or CALL or material development. I suppose the main difference between blogging and sharing in a forum is that you will interact with these people through their work, rather than share on a common, pre-assigned topic. Blogging gives you more freedom than forums and bulletin boards. As Sam Patterson says: "I blog for myself, but with a clear sense of my audience, I hope. So I try to 'be useful' ...". Which brings me to

5. Your own space on the web

I see my blog as a home. I can close the door behind me and let my hair down. I can be who I am. Maybe no one is reading this right now, but that is OK. Because, by the time I am done with this post, I will be the one who understands better my own reasons for blogging. And if no one leaves a comment, that's fine too. Don't do it for others, do it to please yourself. Write about what interests you. Ask questions, then come back a week later and answer them. Come back a year later and give different answers. Whatever you do, don't take yourself or your blog too seriously. Blogging should be fun.

6. Your e-portfolio
 

Blogging will help you keep track of what you are doing online and in the classroom. This is, again, something I feel you should be doing for yourself rather than for others (your boss, your future employer, etc.). All your thoughts and discussions, all your links and ideas, all your digital artifacts will remain there for you to reread and reflect upon. Blogging about conferences and online workshops you attend will challenge you to try out the new approaches you have heard about. George Couros shares the example of a teacher called Kendra, who "shared what she was learning not only with her students and parents, but with the entire world." He adds: "She didn’t even wait until she returned before she started implementing the practice and starting asking questions of her students, while sharing her own learning." You can read Kendra's post here.

7. Because you can

I am not going to lie to you - blogging takes time. Yet, if you treat it as a hobby rather than a chore, you will feel free to post as often (or as rarely) as you wish. Says Ray Salazar: "“There are bloggers who post something every day (some post a few times a day). But I’ve learned that posting once a month is good—considering our workload.  Setting aside 20-30 minutes a week to draft some ideas will help craft meaningful posts.“

And it is easy to set up your own blog. Blogging platforms are very user-friendly and require no prior technical skills. Follow this tutorial by Sue Waters.

I am sure I could go on and find more reasons why blogging is good for you. However, I am going to stop here. Seven is such a nice number and, besides, no amount of reading why you should blog will convince you unless you try it yourself. And don't give up too soon. Because, as Dean Shareski says: "The only people allowed to criticize or challenge this idea are people who have blogged for at least one year and written at least 50 posts. The rest of you can ask questions but you can't dismiss it."

I challenge you - if you still have second thoughts about blogging, write a blog post in which you will list 7 reasons why you feel blogging is not right for you. Post the link in the comments area and I'll be happy to respond.

So, what are you waiting for? Join the conversation.





Works cited:


1. Wheeler, Steve. “Seven Reasons Teachers Should Blog.” Learning with e's. 11 June 2013 http://steve-wheeler.blogspot.com/2011/07/seven-reasons-teachers-should-blog.html>

2. Dominello, Amy. “How and Why Teachers Should Start Blogging.” Ideas that Work, Social Media in Education. SmartBlog on Education. 11 June 2013 http://smartblogs.com/education/2011/08/01/how-and-why-teachers-should-start-blogging/>

3. Ferdig, Richard E. “Content Delivery in the Blogosphere.” The Journal Online. 11 June 2013 http://defiant.corban.edu/jjohnson/pages/Teaching/BloggingBlogosphere.pdf>

4. Deschamps, Gabrielle. “`10 Reasons Why Teachers Should Blog and Tweet.” Music Teach.n.Tech. 11 June 2013 http://musicteachntech.com/2011/05/19/10-reasons-why-teachers-should-blog-and-tweet/>

5. Patterson, Sam. “`Why Teachers Should Blog.” My Paperless Classroom. 11 June 2013 http://www.mypaperlessclassroom.org/2013/04/why-teachers-should-blog.html>

6. Couros, George. “`... and this is why teachers should have blogs.” The Principal of Change. 11 June 2013 http://georgecouros.ca/blog/archives/2350l>

7. Orris, Kendra. “Where Was I?!” Miss Orris' Blog. 11 June 2013 http://www.psdblogs.ca/korris/2011/09/24/where-was-i/>

8. Salazar, Ray. “Top 10 Reasons Teachers Should Blog” The White Rhino: A Chicago Latino English Teacher. 11 June 2013 http://www.chicagonow.com/white-rhino/2013/05/top-10-reasons-teachers-should-blog/>

9. Waters, Sue. “Kick Start Activity 1: Setting up Your Blog - Create Blog and Customize Look” Edublogs Teachers Challenge. 11 June 2013 http://teacherchallenge.edublogs.org/2011/01/10/kick-start-activity-1-setting-up-your-blog/>

10. Shareski, Dean. “How to Make Better Teachers” Huff Post Education. 11 June 2013 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dean-shareski/how-to-make-better-teache_b_783392.html>






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Saturday, 18 May 2013

My First Ever Live Events


Working Together Teamwork Puzzle Concept Photo Credit: lumaxart via Compfight cc

I am writing this very short blog post to invite you to my first ever webinar. This year I am participating in the Virtual Round Table Conference, which is taking place this weekend. Conference programme is here. As you can see, there are loads of great presentations, so join any time you can. And even if you miss something, the sessions will be recorded and archived, so that you can listen later.



My presentation is on Sunday and I am sharing the 11.00 am GMT slot with Janet Bianchini, Merve Oflaz and Marisa Constantinides. This will be a short version of the presentation I gave in Slovenia. I am excited, but also a bit nervous.

Then, on May 31st, I will be participating in a SEETA Webchat. The topic will be something that is very dear to my heart - self-reflection through blogging.




See you there.

Friday, 19 April 2013

20th IATEFL Slovenia Conference 2013





It's been a while since I came back from Slovenia, but if you have visited this blog before, you will know that sometimes I write about events long after they have happened. In this particular case I have a great story to tell and I feel that, like all stories, it deserves to be told from the beginning.

The story begins on the day I received the letter from ELTA Serbia telling me that I was elected to be one of their two official representatives at the annual IATEFL conference in Slovenia. That also meant that I was going to present at a conference for the first time. You might be surprised by this, knowing that I blog about TEFL, but before Slovenia I always managed to come up with different excuses for not presenting. Now was the right time for me to face my fears.

Two months later I was on my way. I arrived in Ljubljana a day before the conference, so I had a chance to go sightseeing. Ljubljana is beautiful. In the following Animoto, I tried to capture the spirit of the city:








The next day I met a group of Serbian teachers who were also going to the conference and we boarded the van that was going to take us to Topolšica. As I was getting onto the van, I saw Shelly Terell's smiling face and she gave me a hug.





I am so glad that I have managed to meet Shelly face to face. She is every bit as wonderful as I thought she would be. A great thing about being a blogger is that you end up having a large PLN and that, from time to time, you actually get to meet the people in it.

Another person I met face to face was Saša Sirk. Saša has been in my PLN from the very beginning. I met her in my first BaW, where she was one of the moderators.



And don't you dare tell me that my online friends are not my real friends, because they are.

The only session we had on Thursday was Shelly's Motivating our Learners to Write with Webtools. She shared a bunch of free online resources with us, together with great ready-made lesson plans. Her presentation is here.

Friday started with Having Fun with English, a plenary by Vanessa Reis Esteves. She greeted us at the door, thus modelling what she was going to teach us later (get students into the English mode by greeting them at the door, build relationships on the way out, set the tone for the next lesson, always provide some positive feedback). She talked about the similarities between children and teenagers (impatient, distracted, demanding), as well as the differences (children are eager and energetic, teenagers are demotivated and apathetic). Finally, she shared some fun activities that can be used with both age groups.

Bojana Nikic Vujic had a workshop on Critical Thinking in EFL Curriculum. Step by step, she led us through the creation of a lesson plan which included critical thinking skills according to Bloom's Revised Taxonomy. The process included the creation of a first draft of the lesson plan and its revision after the introduction of the Taxonomy. We learnt how to include critical thinking activities into the textbooks we were using.

My presentation was next and, yes, I survived. There were some technical issues, which reminds me: If you are new to presenting, take your own laptop with you whenever possible. And don't use fancy fonts you downloaded from the internet, as they might turn into something else on somebody else's computer. And don't apologise for the technical difficulties you are experiencing. And don't walk in front of the slides while you are presenting.



Presenting in Topolšica



Having said that, I think (hope) that everything went well. Quite a lot of people turned up, which was a pleasant surprise. It was almost the same as teaching a class, in fact. Now, here are my slides:



 


And, if you would like to hear me giving this presentation again, I will be doing it at the Virtual Round Table in May.

Ok, let's move on.

Willy Cardoso's workshop Open Space: Becoming the Best Teacher You Can Be was for me one of the highlights of the conference. You can read more about Open Space Principles here. Willy gave us little post-it notes and we wrote onto them a topic connected to teacher development that we wanted to discuss. Then we voted and three topics were selected. I am happy to say that mine was one of the three ("I want to keep improving as a teacher"). Three groups were formed based on the topics, but we were free to roam about the room and change groups. Finally, a summary was created for each group, as you can see in Willy's post (I linked to it above). It is easy to see how Open Space Principles can be used in the classroom and adapted to various levels and age groups.

Shelly's plenary Wings and Webs was about the social networks that educators create in order to share resources and collaborate. Shelly looked at reasons why teachers connect and she also shared places where someone who doesn't have a PLN could go to in order to start connecting. Her talk was something that resonated with me deeply. I have been a part of the large international family of educators since 2008 and I have a hard time remembering what my life was like before that.






Jean McCollister and her border collie Bamm Bamm taught us about Animal-assisted Language Teaching. Dogs are used in therapy, as well as in teaching. In a language classroom, a dog is a strong motivator and the presence of a dog also has cognitive benefits. It provides mental stimulation and improves concentration and attention. This is true, since I have to admit that I remember everything from this workshop vividly. My attention was on the dog all the time and I remember everything he did.

Here's more about what Jean and Bamm Bamm do. It's in Slovene, but I am sure you will be able to understand the gist.





Our first plenary on Saturday was Peter Dyer's Getting Them to Speak. It was very interactive and lively, full of practical and fun activities. For one hour, we improvised, we passed around imaginary gifts, we invented stories and we lived in the fantasy world. These activities are easy to prepare and materials light (in fact, there was no PowerPoint).

The next workshop I attended was Danny Singh's The Power of Laughter Exercises in Learning. To find out more about the application of laughter yoga in language teaching, visit Danny's website. All  I can say is that I have enjoyed this workshop tremendously and that I felt more alert after it. I can see how these exercises can lower inhibitions and boost learning.

Willy Cardoso's plenary A Philosophy of Teacher Development  was another treat. He defined teacher development as trying to decrease the gap between what you believe you should do and what you can do in your teaching situation. Teachers should ask themselves to what extent they can influence, shape and create their own knowledge. Classroom observation helps here (recording yourself, asking a colleague to sit in your class, co-teaching with a colleague, or even giving your learners an observation task). Rather than wait for someone to give them the knowledge, the teachers should legitimise what they already know and share it bottom-up. They should create portfolios, start blogging or give a workshop at a conference.

Marija Lukač spoke about Your Next Step on the Professional Development Ladder. Presenting to fellow colleagues is a way for teachers to grow and develop. Nobody is going to promote you into a conference presenter, you need to make that step yourself.

The last presentation I visited on Saturday was Shelly's Teaching with YouTube. Once again, she shared an abundance of links, resources, lesson plans, ideas...

So far I haven't talked much about evening entertainment, which was great. And the beer was more than great. I grabbed this image off Shelly's Facebook timeline, hope she won't mind:





Yes, it's a beer barrel. In fact, there were three, each one with a different kind of beer.

And let's not forget that Topolšica is a spa. That meant that, when we got tired after sitting in workshops all day, we could always grab an hour to swim in the pool or relax in the sauna park. And we even had a discount on massages.

And kudos to the organising committee. They really went out of their way to make us all comfortable and everything was perfectly organised. Thank you, guys.

And, of course, big thanks to ELTA Serbia for sending me there in the first place.

Conferences are not only about presentations and workshops. They are about networking and meeting new people. And going to an international conference means meeting a lot of great new people. For me this was even more valuable than the presentations themselves. In fact I am looking forward to seeing some of those people again in Belgrade on 11th ELTA Conference in May.

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Thursday, 28 March 2013

What Makes Us Human - #EDCMOOC Final Feedback

Is she human?

I was doing fine, writing about my MOOCs and EVO workshops, then I suddenly stopped. In the meantime I got very busy. I attended a conference and I am planning to blog about it soon (though my idea of "soon" is quite flexible, especially when it comes to this blog).

Last time I was here, I promised to write about what makes us human, which was the topic of Weeks 3 and 4 of EDCMOOC (E-learning and Digital Cultures on Coursera). In the meantime, the course has finished, but I would still like to do as I promised. There are several reasons for this:

1. A promise is a promise
2. This is an E-portfolio and I have created some EDCMOOC artifacts that I would like to share here
3. It was a great course and it deserves positive feedback
4. It is time we stopped seeing online courses as something linear, something that has a beginning and an end. As Vance Stevens has said in a comment on this blog "these courses never, or should never, end ".

Back to #EDCMOOC. Weeks 3 and 4 were about what makes us human. This text by Neil Badmington is the editor's introduction to a collection of essays on posthumanism. What it did for me is made me want to read the whole book. If we are not defined by humanism, what are we defined by then? Could it be transhumanism? This text by Nick Bostrom really got me thinking and it was the main inspiration for my final project.

Nobody's listening

My favourite video in Week 3 was this one. And this clip we watched in Week 4 almost made me cry and again influenced my final project.

Discarded

In Week 3 we were asked to create an image that would somehow show our understanding of the course. There was a competition and the winners were decided automatically using Flickr "interestingness" ranking through Flickriver. Flickriver calculates an image's "interestingness" based on the number of comments and "favourites" it receives. I shared four images (those are the images I have been using in this post), but the one that got most votes is this one:

Both Worlds

By the way, that's my son in our holiday house in the country. And what made me put "Both Worlds" onto the picture is my reaction to this text.

You can look at images created by other participants in the course here.

What final feedback can I offer? The course was yet another example of how the rigid Coursera format could be bent to enable a more connective experience. No "talking heads" here, no lectures in the traditional sense. Watching the videos was like going to the cinema and enjoying good movies (which just happened to be much shorter than ordinary movies). We wrote no essays. Instead, we created artifacts.

Speaking of artifacts, I would like to sign off with my final project. But, before I do, if you want to see more final projects, here's where you can do that. And here's one of the three final projects that I reviewed. This Scoop.it by Geri Ellner left a very strong impression on me, not only because it contains five digital stories, but also because I had never before seen Scoop.it used as a digital storytelling tool.

Finally, my project. Before you watch, ask yourselves what it would be like if you could upload your memory onto a computer? Would that memory be you, or someone else? And if you were to go away one day (as we all must, eventually), what would happen to your memory?



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Tuesday, 19 February 2013

On Metaphors, the Future and the Way We Are Wired (#EDCMOOC, #ETMOOC)

Cable Bundles
Photo Credit: craig1black via Compfight cc

I am now two weeks late with my weekly reflections. The week I will be writing about here is Week 4 in EVO sessions and in #ETMOOC and Week 2 in #EDCMOOC. I managed to follow the weekly activities in my workshops and be more or less on time, but the weekly blog posts are something completely different. It takes a lot of work to put together everything that went on in all these learning spaces and turn it into something meaningful.

I am glad that this week there'll be digital stories to help me along.

In Neuroscience we learnt about the way we are wired. And, you know what? We are all wired differently. Let me put it like this:



 
 
 
 
 
 
 
   
See this story on Storybird


Dr Medina explains schema in a fun way:


Meanwhile, in #ETMOOC it was the first digital storytelling week and I created several 6-words stories on Twitter.

First there was the horror story series:

His last words: "Let's split up."
Last seen running into the woods.
She ran upstairs. Front door creaked.

Then there was this standalone melodrama:

"See you", he said. He lied.

And here is my first ever animated gif:


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For the animated gif I used this simple tutorial provided by #ETMOOC.

It was a fascinating week in #EDCMOOC, as we discussed future-focused visions of technology and education, both the utopian and the dystopian ones. We looked at metaphors as lenses through which these visions are seen. Metaphors are deterministic. This is the point where #EDCMOOC has a lot to do with Multiliteracies. Here Vance Stevens writes about why looking at computers as tools determines the way we use them and why the tool metaphor shouldn't be enough. Here's more on computer metaphors from the #EDCMOOC reading list. And here's a blog post I wrote about computer metaphors when I attended Multiliteracies two years ago. In this post I compared the computer to a geenie from a magic lamp, a magic wand and a communication tool. The second and the third are tools, but what about the geenie? Is the geenie a person? I think I will have to go back to this in my next post where I will look at this week's #EDCMOOC topic - redefining the human.

A Manifesto for Networked Objects with its notion of "blogjects" will amuse you. But just at first. Are the "blogging objects" and the "networked objects" really our future? Or, are they already our present? Are they really "more dangerous than the Terminator"? Or will they save the planet for us? Yesterday, I read in my son's weekly science magazine about a project which aims to save the rainforests by equipping the trees with mobiles. Once somebody tries to cut it down, the tree "calls for help". It is this type of thing Bleecker is looking forward to.

Now for something dystopic. The following film (7:50) was the highlight of my week:

Sight from Sight Systems on Vimeo.

I believe this movie can be used in TEFL to discuss, among other things, the gaming addiction. Not to mention the future and relationships.

Another point where #EDCMOOC crosses paths with Multiliteracies is the idea of edupunk. Here's what I found in the Multiliteracies wiki archives about edupunk:


EduPunk and Learning Management Systems - Conflict or Chance? from Martin Ebner

Am I an edupunk? Two years ago I wasn't sure, now I am. I am sure that I am one, that is. Why else do you think I am addicted to MOOCs? And what do you think I am doing here blogging about my online learning experiences?

If you think you might be one too, you should listen to this (one hour long, but worth it):



And if you are the sort of person who likes to take notes, Audrey Watters has already done it for you here.

Well, that's all folks. Next week, we will be looking at what makes us human.

I would like to finish with a great image I found in the #EDCMOOC Flickr pool which, I believe, says it all.

"Always On"
cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo by Angela Towndrow: http://flickr.com/photos/90243669@N05/8461301620/

Tags: #evomlit, #mmooc13, , #2013evo, #brainelt, #edcmooc, #etmooc







  



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