How do you know when you stop messing around?

Messing Around

In the Living with New Media report messing around involves experimenting and exploring and doing things just to learn more.  It is more of a tinkering culture, a figuring things out, something I feel is where I am almost stagnant at least in some aspects of tech.  I’ve been playing around with code, but I definitely haven’t geeked out.  I’ve been working on the blog, but again, more tinkering and exploring.

Attribution Some rights reserved by 1lenore

Tinkering and Connectivism

Tinkering fits nicely with a connectivist viewpoint.  Connectivism as George Siemens describes it is a fuzzy process which involves tinkering and no longer just happens at school or just from humans.  We can tinker with things, or converse with people and our knowledge grows. 
The ability to see connections between things, and create connections is a valuable skill according to Siemens. We need to help our students make those connections, and technology is one way we can connect people to sources of information. 

Tinkering with things allows us to experience, which we can then share with others to not only consume knowledge but to produce it.
Attribution Some rights reserved by ell brown

Slow Down

For me, slowing down and seeing or making the connections is an important step in the process. Slow education involves making those connections and deepening our understanding, maybe even “geeking out”. We are sharing our process together, so we need to take the time to develop our community, learn together, tinker together, wonder together.  Connectivism doesn’t see our learning as dumping information, it is a process of looking for connections, meeting people, learning more, and directing ourselves. As Siemens said we need the opportunity to plug into knowledge when we don’t have it, but sometimes I think it’s important to slow down and see where the outlet actually is. 
I think we stop messing around when we start to dig deeper into things.  Slowing down, looking at systems and making connections is a great way for us to start making these connections. 

Who chooses our hangouts?

AttributionShare Alike Some rights reserved by Jeff McNeill flickr
Creating and connecting communities. It’s one of the reasons we are here. When I’m thinking about what we do as teachers, how often do we give power to students to create their own communities.  We’re lucky… we chose to be here, well at least I imagine we all chose to be here.
Will Richardson in World Without Walls suggests that most of the meaningful teachers we meet are of our own choosing.  For us, as educators, to fully empower students Richardson pushes us to challenge our understanding of what it means to be a teacher.  No longer are we “content experts” first instead we think of our primary focus as “connectors”.
While reading the “Living with New Media”  article the authors discuss how youth have always been negotiating what it means to be a “friend”.  While we are online, this creates different opportunities and challenges, but it is still something we are always doing.
This idea that we as teachers and learners, have to be open to change. Open to new ideas, and make our own connections is something that resonates deeply with me.  Creating this COETAIL community is something I’ve been wanting to do for a year.  Creating meaningful learning experiences is powerful for me, and I’m looking forward to learning more about how I can enable my students to enhance their learning through technology.


Yesterday was a bit frustrating, when I got home I thought about the whole tech world and teaching… I reflected about the conversations I had this week where tech had enhanced student learning.

Attribution Some rights reserved by kev_hickey_uk

One of my biggest finds this week was using OCR-image to text. Some of my students have reading struggles and this app has helped them have access to any book.  Often teachers are constrained to digital books, or audio books, but students can use this to capture the text, and then using the accessibility features of the iPad have it read to them.   Is it perfect, nope, is it pretty amazing, yeah for sure.  It has put huge smiles on the faces of these students.

Nature and exploring the outdoors is a passion of mine, and earlier this week I found this site on twitter.  14 Apps That Will Revolutionize Your Walk in the Woods. Again, I felt that at times our tech could enhance, not just what we do at school, but what we do everyday.

These apps can help us develop our passions.

This week has been three way conferences, and traditionally the parents have not often talked to the tech teachers.  This year has been different, and the conversations I’ve had with parents about apps, programs, and hardware that enhance learning has just been incredible.

Permanence and student data

Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License  by  jonny goldstein 

We’ve been digging deep into the idea of digital footprint and permanence this week while blogging.

Some of our discussions have revolved around what photos are always going to be there, what comments will stay, how can we delete things we don’t want?  There is a wonder about what will happen if someone impersonates another person, how can we delete that data.  I’ve been stressing this idea that some things are very, very hard to delete.

And then…

One of my students left, he had been collaborating with other students on a slide show, and his googleapps account was deleted by us.  All of his information and work was gone… wild, no longer any access for those people who had been collaborating with him.

I’ve done the google admin test, and I thought ownership was transferred over to someone else, obviously I was wrong.

Licensed for reuse –

We’ve learned a lot as a tech group this week about google docs about permanence.  We’ve “lost” some files that were really placed somewhere else by an author.  We’ve had some hiccups with organization of our drives, but we had never really lost anything before.

Now our plan is to make a accounts which aren’t linked to humans.  For me this is hilarious because I’ve been talking to students about their blogs and how most of the traffic that comes to them is from non-humans.  They wonder about why people would do this, and now I have a very relevant reason for doing this, keeping our googledocs around.  For group projects we are now going to transfer ownership to nonhumans if someone is going to leave.  That way all of their joint accounts will go with them., making it easy to keep our projects safe.

I love the idea of Google Take Out which can keep our data ours, but I’m glad we now have a strategy for keeping shared data safe.

Unselfishness – How Michael Richards inspired me.

Over the break, I got a little into Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.  I think I saw someone post it on twitter or something, but started with Louis C.K. and just worked my way backwards.

Lots and lots of funny moments with funny people, some good observations on life, with Jerry Seinfeld who knew right? Most of it was just something to enjoy, right up till the Michael Richards episode.

Anyway, he was talking about that one night he verbally abused some guy and walked out.  He was reflecting, openly and honestly about a mistake he made. The word he used was selfish, he was being selfish about his act.

This made me think about teaching.  How often am I selfish of my lesson, or what I want the take away to be?  I don’t think it is that often, but it made me set my resolution this year to be totally focused on student learning, and from their perspective.  What is it that they want to take from the lesson.  How can I empower them to start directing their own learning, and allowing them to think whatever they want about my teaching.  I see this as an opportunity to be a better learning, and technology coach.

When working with the students this week, I’ve been working on developing their voice in their blogs. I adapted some of George Courus’ work on blogging to present to the teachers about why we should be blogging with students. With our migration unit, the grade four and five students are thinking deeply about why and how people migrate. I’ve also been really happy with the sharing of the writing. Blogs have made sharing so much easier for my students, and the immediacy of feedback has really inspired some to write more. 

When working with teachers this week I’ve been much more patient.  For the last month or so, I’ve been focused on achieving the school goals, while this is really important, I wanted to focus on each teacher’s perspective and ability this week.  It’s been great so far, I have the goals we set at the beginning of the year, and while we have been progressing, I took this week to review our goals and make some changes.  It’s great to see where they are in applying the SAMR lingo to their lexicon, and even more inspiring to see how redefinition of integration is constantly being modified.

Anyway, a fantastic episode and an inspiring start to the New Year.


cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo by MaRS Discovery District: 

I’m in the middle of blog lessons, and as we start talking about what and how we will write we are delving into digital citizenship. So far what has impressed me most about my student’s interpretations of this idea is that good digital citizenship is basically good citizenship, they just see it as an extension of their normal community.

Thankfully this allows me to talk about integrating good global citizens into my lessons this week. We can talk about what responsibility means to us in a digital and natural world, and how often those things are connected.  Most of my students know what it means to treat their classmates with respect, making that connection to posting pictures of others online makes sense to most of them.  Making the extension that these actions (both positive and negative) last longer online then they do in the classroom can be a difficult concept, but we have looked up the first website, and that makes it possible to see how long things last online (even if they are no longer as relevant as they once were). 
Responsibility to a community is something I feel we need to highlight in these lessons, and I can talk about our responsibility to the natural world as well.  Citing sources is like where we get our resources from. We need to be aware of where these things come from and treat their origins with respect.  Thinking about how we interact with others is extremely important in order to help our community reach its full potential.  
When I think about permaculture principles (the ones we made for the kids, Earth care, People care, Fair Share) I think it is easy to put these ideas into our digital citizenship classes.  I guess what I’m really wondering is how Digital citizenship is different from citizenship, any ideas? 

Coaching Perspectives

This week I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be a learning coach.  I try to treat students the same way as I work with teachers, showing them ideas, explaining a concept quickly and having people explore.  Working with each individual at their exploration process to take them to the next step in their discoveries and then sharing our learning.

I want to encourage this model for teaching with the iPads.  Students are all at different levels and have the opportunity to create many different things. This individual focus allows student to achieve their personal best.

When students are working together to meet a common goal that that they had a part in creating I’ve personally seen a much deeper sense of engagement.  They want to know more, they willingly share their work with many others and they are receptive to feedback to create something incredible. 
I think  George Courus mentioned in a conference in Bangkok that this generation of learners publishes first and then edits.  This seems to clash with the teachers who want to edit first before presenting.  I think we need to have teachers open up and not be afraid to make mistakes. We all need to publish, get feedback and improve.  
As a coach, I’m trying to again push this idea of being a beginner and that everything can be edited and changed (even once published).  We need to make sure our whole school community has chances to fail and learn from their mistakes. 

Sustainability and Tech

It is budget time and as I ask for more devices for my students, I wonder about the social and environmental cost behind my request. I’ve seen the videos and heard the horror stories of the “recycling” plants in China and around the world. I worry about the personal cost to people in these situations too, and wonder what is being done about it.

Since our school has started an iPad program I thought I would look into how Apple was thinking about sustainability. Apple says they are committed to transparency and are a member of different third party organizations to confirm this. I started reading their report on sustainable practice.

I guess I realized that everyone wants to be committed to sustainable practice but actual action is harder to take.  From their report it looks like Apple firmly believes in helping their workers (including third party workers) gain fair wages, working conditions and success.  I think all these things are true, but I do wonder about third party monitoring.

Going back to earlier post ideas, I wonder about recycling and design process.  How can we start designing computers and tablets, and whatever else to be fully repurposed.  I heard a program (forever ago it seems) on the CBC about tech designers looking at how the companies would have to be responsible for the waste (it would be included in the price or something) they then started talking about renting equipment.  The point was you could pay the company (Apple, Samsung, Motorola, etc.) for a specific package, when the time to renew that package came up the company would take the phone and hopefully reuse the different components to make a new phone or tablet, etc.

Cradle to Cradle has been a focus for me these last couple of weeks, if it doesn’t show.

Cradle to Cradle

This week I’ve been thinking a lot about the holiday season, gift giving and how those thoughts impact the environment.

Aitana Leret Garcia » DP2.- Cradle to cradle: Waste = Food : taken from -

Aitana Leret Garcia » DP2.- Cradle to cradle: Waste = Food : taken from –

So I bought a back pack for my travels around with this philosophy.

I got it from kickstarter if you want to check it out

Anyway, with my focus on permaculture the last couple of weeks as an individual and my focus on design as a teacher this cradle to cradle philosophy has really got me wondering about how we can teach students more about the ideas behind sustainable design.

Taken from

I read this book three years ago, and was really concerned that tech people weren’t buying into this philosophy.  So I want to make lessons that incorporate this idea.  I love the idea of publishing ebooks rather than wasting paper, but we’re still using important resources in order to produce the tech to make the ebooks.

How can we bring the cradle to cradle philosophy to class?

I think a lot about my implicit and explicit teaching.  When I work with students how can I reinforce the idea of sustainable design explicitly and through my implicit actions?  This is my focus for this week: being really aware of how I promote sustainable design.  Any help is more than welcome.