Category Archives: online learning

Flat Classroom Conference 2009

Via Julie Lindsay comes this info about the Flat Classroom Conference:

Flat Classroom Conference: Leadership Workshop and Student Summit 2009

Press release
August 29, 2008 – Doha, Qatar – Flat Classroom Project co-founders Julie Lindsay and Vicki Davis in conjunction with Qatar Academy and the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) announce the first Flat Classroom Leadership Workshop and Student Summit to be held January 24-26, 2009 at Qatar Academy in Doha.
Visit our website for more details:
http://flatclassroomconference.com/

Should be a good one.

Image Credit: Flat Classroom Logo,
http://flatclassroomconference.wikispaces.com/

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Saving the Internet, One ISP at a Time…

Click here

Since my last post on the Net Neutrality debate, there have been some developments that are positive. On August 1st, the FCC punished ComCast for illegally blocking Internet content. For the full story, see the SavetheInternet site, and particularly this post on the historic FCC decision. An excerpt:

In a landmark decision, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin and Commissioners Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein approved a bipartisan “enforcement order” that would require Comcast to stop blocking and publicly disclose its methods for manipulating Internet traffic.

Tests by the Associated Press and others showed that Comcast blocked users’ legal peer-to-peer transmissions by sending fake signals that cut off the connection between file-sharers. Today’s decision follows a months-long FCC investigation, launched in response to a complaint from Free Press and Public Knowledge urging the federal agency to stop Comcast’s blocking.

More detailed information on the FCC decision can also be found here. This is good news, also for education. However, heavy filtering of Internet content is still common practice in many schools. Unfortunately, the FCC can’t help us there …

And as stated here , “This victory is monumental. But the fight to safeguard Net Neutrality is far from over.”

Image Credit: http://www.savetheinternet.com

Net Neutrality Debate Still Far From Over, and the Saga Continues

Click here

Even though I’ve been writing mostly on mobile devices and learning as of late, the Net Neutrality issue is one that continues to be just as important (and connected to mobile as well, with the current push toward developing the mobile web further. SavetheInternet.com posted a guest piece by John Kerry yesterday asking for feedback about Net Neutrality. And feedback he got!! It’s actually more interesting to read than the post itself. There were 101 responses as of the writing of this post.

In short, people who commented on Kerry’s post unanimously support Net Neutrality and condemn the big ISPs such as Comcast. Their comments can be roughly sorted into the following categories:

  • Protection of people’s rights such as freedom of speech against government and big corporate interests. According to Dale: The brilliance of the internet is that it provides everyone with an equal voice, an equal chance to be heard. To excel, to fail and to try again. To express alternate views in a world dominated by big commercial interests or repressive/regressive governments. To allow anyone to control this medium for purely commercial gain it, is to silence the voices we may most need to hear. Read also DynamicUno’s comments.
  • Protection of small businesses: for example, Internetman states that I am a small business owner of an internet-based travel business. My wife and I rely exclusively on our websites for income. Because of network neutrality, we are able to compete for business with such giants as Microsoft’s Expedia, Travelocity and Orbitz and make a very good living. If network neutrality was removed, our entire livelihood would be destroyed. I can’t afford to pay any premiums just to put my business on the same level playing field as these internet titans, I would have no option but to fold my business.
  • Curbing big ISP abuses against customers and small ISPs: As cookseytalbott states: look at their behavior, censoring email from political sites, throttling applications like bittorrent, not fixing the golden mile, breech of privacy agreements for government domestic spying, not tending to massive bot nets on infected PC’s on their networks, random blacklisting of IP’s.

While education is mentioned here and there, mainly with regards to access to information for research and learning, it is not mentioned much. Imagine what could/would happen if government allowed the telcos (in this case Comcast and SBC) to basically control all Internet traffic. It is analogous to the ways in which governments and churches controlled society in the Middle Ages, by controlling the education of its people. Few people learned to read and write, and what they learned was determined mostly by the church, backed by the government. It wasn’t until the printing press (the Internet of the Middle Ages) was invented that things started to change, and many in power feared that the printing press would ultimately put them out of business. 

A free and unregulated Internet is a necessity for a democracy to work in today’s world. A democracy needs people who can think, be creative, have access to information that covers more than one point of view, and can express their opinions without the fear of being silenced by those in power who happen to disagree.

In any event, Net Neutrality is and remains an extremely important issue that seems to be disregarded by most major media outlets (I wonder why….). And as Crystal states in her comments:

If the internet does not remain free, you can change the Pledge of Allegiance to this

“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United Corporations of America and to the profits for which they stand, two nations, divided, with plenty for the favored few and slavery for the rest of us.”

A free people need education and information in order to act intelligently.

Please post your feedback here or with, even better, Kerry’s post.

Image Credit: http://www.savetheinternet.com

Becta’s Emerging Technologies for Learning, Volume 3

Becta has just published the third volume in its series Emerging technologies for learning, an annual publication. This series is worth a read, and I’ve gotten a lot of good ideas from it in years past. This year’s line-up includes articles on

Given the impressive line-up of authors I have to say that I’m proud and a little humbled to have been asked to contribute to the 2008 volume of the series. Highly recommended!!

Image credit: “nptechtag”; cambodia4kidsorg’s photostream:
http://flickr.com/photos/cambodia4kidsorg/1343334854/

Mobile Roundup of Sorts

 As I’m trying to get caught up on my reading about mobiles and mobile learning, I run into all kinds of interesting odds and ends. Here is a brief roundup of some of the things I’ve been looking at lately:

Publications

WLE’s occasional papers #1 Mobile learning: Towards a research agenda“. Edited by Norbert Pachler, this is an interesting collection of six papers, all arguing for the need for more theoretical work in the field of m-learning (and I would concur). Some work is being done, as is illustrated, example, by Wali, Winters, Oliver (“Maintaining, changing and crossing contexts: an activity theoretic reinterpretation of mobile learning” in the March 2008 issue of Alt-J; abstract is here), and earlier by Uden (“Activity theory for designing mobile learning” in the International Journal of Mobile Learning and Organisation), and of course “A theory of learning for the mobile age“, written by Sharples, Taylor, and Vavoula for the The SAGE Handbook of E-learning Research

Research Methods in Informal and Mobile Learning is a book of proceedings from a December workshop, consisting of 15 papers that explore how me might go about doing better research in the area of mobile learning. I’m still reading this one, but so far it’s been an interesting and I think important piece. I’ve always believed that as learning (and learners) changes so should our ways of researching it. I’m proud to say that even though I wasn’t able to attend the conference myself, I did contribute a presentation and a paper.

This is not so much a publication as it is a good resource for many things having to do with mobile and learning: mLearnopedia. I’m surprised I haven’t run across this before, trawling the net for mobile learning resources. This is a worthwhile resource, with lots of links to current news and events in mobile learning.

Mobile phones for learning

A while ago, Dean Shareski wrote an intersting post about using cellphones as learning tools with an accompanying video, describing an experiment with mobile phones to see  “Can this powerful device help students learn?” The answer for now is a qualified yes, I would say.

Here is a more recent article from eSchoolNews that discusses how institutions of higher education are responding to the iPhone’s popularity. While it is great that different institutions are beginning to cater more to mobile users, I think there is a real danger in what some institutions like Abilene Christian University are doing by focusing on one particular device. It’s the connectivity that counts, not the device that’s used for it, and who knows, we may laugh at the site of an iPhone in 3 to 5 years… As I’ve said before, the focus should be on providing content.

A whole other take on learning with mobile phones is described by Ken Banks, founder of kiwanja.net, in his article “Reaching out through mobile technology with the humble SMS” Looking at the bigger picture of things, Ken describes some of his work with mobile technology in Africa. He argues that the three keys constraints to advancing mLearning in developing countries (and I’d add elsewhere as well) are mobile ownership, mobile technology, and network access. These are probably more constraining in developing countries because of a lack of alternative technologies (as for example is described in Dean’s piece).

However, as Ken Banks concludes:

Mobile technology has revolutionised many aspects of life in the developing world. The number of mobile connections has almost universally overtaken the number of fixed-lines in most developing countries in the blink of an eye. If further evidence were needed, recent research by the London Business School found that mobile penetration has a strong impact on GDP. For many people, their first ever telephone call would have been on a mobile device. Perhaps, in the not-too-distant future, their first geography lesson will be on one, too.

Student voices

Via Andy’s Black Hole, I ran across this video on BBC News, called Children’s love of mobiles. It’s about a group of kids in the UK who filmed the making of their video report about mobile phone use. As Andy says, it’s well worth a watch.

Another interesting piece is Next generation learning, produced by Handheld Learning for Becta. The video is a nice mix of children and adults speaking about  the use of consumer electronic devices and entertainment software for learning. A few notable quotes out of this one:

  • “I don’t think there’s a big difference between learning and entertainment” (student) 
  • “We need good teachers to keep up with this generation” (Prof. Stephen Heppell)

And while you’re on Handheld Learning’s Blip TV site, check out some of the other videos that are there.

Padding to protect pedestrians ...

Finally, for the funny story of the week, head over to Fox News for its story “Padded Lampposts Tested in London to Prevent Cell Phone Texting Injuries” and PollyPrissyPants comments entitled “Why don’t we just walk around in protective bubble gear?” Even though this story is a couple of weeks old, it was too good to pass up.

So there you have it, as the title of this post states, a mobile roundup of sorts…

Image Credits:

“The Brawley Roundup”; from independentman’s photostream:
http://flickr.com/photos/indieman/5858851/

“Padding to protect pedestrians” from
http://uk.news.yahoo.com/itn/20080304/img/puk-1204650490-uk-e08f352d4-710cec94c9bc0.html

APEC Cyber Academy 2008 Contest!!

I am still involved in the APEC Cyber Academy project, and it is time for another round of the International Online Contest. We have designed lots of new content, including a module on online safety and online etiquette that all students need to pass before being able to participate in the learning modules. The specifics are described below. We are especially looking for teams from North America and Europe, and hope that you will join us!

APEC Cyber Academy &
APEC International Online Contest

February 17, 2008 ~ April 19, 2008

APEC Cyber Academy (ACA, http://linc.hinet.net/apec/) is an international networked learning environment designed specifically for K-12 students. The primary goal of ACA is to provide learner-centric, collaborative, ICT, and international learning experiences to K-12 students and teachers around the world. Launched in 2002, ACA is currently hosted by the APEC Digital Content Production Center (APEC CPC) under auspices of APEC/EDNET and the Ministry of Education of Chinese Taipei (Taiwan). With its outstanding networked learning environment and high quality digital content, ACA has already attracted many international users. As of April 2007, ACA has over 15,000 registered learners from various corners of the world.

ACA hosts an annual, international, online contest. The nine-week event for 2008 will start on February 17 and end on April 19. The contest is composed of three programs: the International Networked Collaborative Learning Program (NCLP), the International Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Cyber Camp, and the International Journalists. The first two programs, NCLP and ICT Cyber Camp, are associated with team projects and will only accept group entries. In contrast, International Journalists pertains to personal efforts and accepts individual entries only.

For more details about the online contest programs, please visit the APEC Cyber Academy at http://linc.hinet.net/apec/ or e-mail: linc@mail.nutn.edu.tw
 

International Networked Collaborative Learning Program

There are eight independent learning projects in the networked collaborative learning program: (a) Money: Currency, Purchasing Power and Investment, (b) Mallrats, (c) Food Pyramid and Food Labels, (d) Bacteria, Antibiotics and Antibiotic Resistance, (e) A Day in Our School, (f) Newspapers, (g) Holidays and Vacations, and (h) Weather and Natural Disasters. To participate in one of these projects, students need to form teams of 5 to 20, take part in weekly learning activities, complete assignments collaboratively, and communicate with their distant learning partners through ACA’s communication tools.

 

International ICT Cyber Camp

This virtual camping program focuses on learning both ICT and problem-solving skills. Participants need to form teams of 4 students for entering the cyber camp. The ICT Cyber Camp is composed of a sequence of four learning modules, which are Game Tent, Expo, iHunter, and Camp Fire Party. The program is designed with advanced and interactive technologies such as games and 3D virtual learning worlds.

 

International Journalists

Students are welcome to play the role of local correspondents for their classes or schools. After being authorized as a residential journalist by ACA, the qualified journalists are encouraged to try their best with digital storytelling, using technology to tell stories about their local communities respectively.

Evaluation 

For the Networked Collaborative Learning Program and ICT Cyber Camp, the performance of each team will be evaluated based on an evaluation rubric (see Rubric handout). The winning teams will be awarded a group certificate of merit from the Ministry of Education, Taiwan.

The performance of journalists will be evaluated based on its own program rubric. The winning journalists will be awarded a certificate of merit from the Ministry of Education, Taiwan.

And finally…

ACA will host an awards gala and conference for the contest participants in Taiwan around October, 2008. Selected winning teams will be invited to attend the event. Traveling cost will be covered by Ministry of Education for invited overseas team representatives.

Image Credits: APEC (http://linc.hinet.net/apec/)

NCSS San Diego, Saturday Session on Global Distributed Learning Tools

Global Schoolnet Foundation presentation

Global School Net provides online tools for collaborative learning. It partners with schools, businesses, univeristies, communities to provide online collaborative learning experiences. We can’t learn what we need to know by ourselves anymore, we need to tap in to larger networks: collective learning, collective sharing, online (a la Wikinomics, how mass collaboration changes everything (Tapscott).

Online Collaborative Learning (OCL):

  • creating an online shared learning community around a topic of study and a common goal.

  • creates a situation in which students share aspects of theire learning with a remote audience

  • sometimes called networked project-based learning, pbl….

  • incorporates constructivist aspects: production of artifacts; learning is a social act; dialogue and feedback

Internet projects registry on the globalschoolnet site. A resource to find existing collaborative projects and project partners.

Collaborative Learning Center: provides list of tools (not comprehensive) for different activities and examples of how they are being used. Examples shown and discussed today:

  • Photoshow presentation made by kids about being homeless in San Diego.

  • Twitter: global stream of consciousness. 140 characters, have to be brief. Twittervision uses a Google Map overlay so you can see where people are twittering from.

  • Bookmark sharing tools: Backflip, can do public and private folders, student folders, etc.

  • Tapped In: graphical user interface to a community

  • Google for Educators: online tools (lots of which are household names by now).

  • Bravenet.com: free and pay applications that can be downloaded and embedded into blogs and websites, such as guestmaps, counters, surveys, etc.

  • myway.com: free email accounts without banners and advertising. Good for students who need email accounts.

Sign up for the GlobalSchoolNet newsletter, can be downloaded as podcast from iTunes (hyperlink this); Student Operated Press. (check on this for links)

Two projects by Global School Net (check these for links):

International Schools Cyberfair: modeled after the World Fair. 8 different curriculum units to teach students about their communities. Students work in teams and create a website about their community. Other schools review and provide feedback (has been running since 1993). Affiliate partners in many different countries. Check this out online. 2008 projects due in March 2008 (K-12). Seems very similar to the ACA project I’m involved in

Doors to Diplomacy: Similar, but focusing on global issues. State Dept. provides $2,000 scholarships for students (middle and high school).

Online expeditions: Connect students with real explorers through the Internet. Not a continuous project, but it looks very, very cool.

All in all this was a good presentation with some food for thought …

 

Image Credit: National Council for the Social Studies: http://www.socialstudies.org/conference/