Wednesday, July 25, 2007

November Learning in July at BLC 07

BLC Official ProgramThe November Learning conference was titled Building Learning Communities, but this time around was mostly about “Education 2.0” I think i.e. “Leveraging Web 2.0 Tools for Education”.

I was/am familiar with several of the technology tools discussed, and have used them to varying degrees – blogs, wikis, RSS, podcasts, vodcasts, digital storytelling, social networking, and such. So what was great for me was meeting people from all over Marc Prensky, Shuchi Grover(there were educators from Ireland, Scotland, England, Australia, Guatemala, El Salvador, in addition to the majority that was from all corners of the US including Alaska! It was great to share my story from India on and my other work - during my session and elsewhere.

The biggest take-away for me was making real world connections with the likes of Marc Prensky (in pic here), Will Richardson (of weblogg-ed fame), Marco Torres (more on him and his amazing students later), Howie DiBlasi (of the “Did you Know” video shared on this blog), Bob Sprankle (serial podcaster), and Ewan McIntosh and of course, Alan November (the force behind this conference); and forging friendships with teachers from far-away places like Alaska, Alabama and Australia.

Shuchi Grover presenting at BLC07The keynote address by Dr. Yang Zhao on the final day was rich in wit and examples (mostly from China/ Singapore/ Taiwan/ Korea) that reflect the stark realities of the dual lives (real and virtual) of today's cyber-kids! Tim Tyson and Angela McFarlane (and Mitch Resnick – see my blog post about his address) were the other keynote speakers and all had interesting stories to share Alan November– Tim Tyson shared his awesome student podcasts from Mabry School, and Angela, some interesting insights from her Asian doctoral students’ research work on online communities.

Alan November’s ideas on School Redesign (aimed specifically at restructuring the US schools) made a lot of sense – in his truly unique, wacky style he provokes and debates in a way that makes you sit up and listen! He put together this fabulous event for people to connect and meet and create new learning communities that straddle the real world as well as the Web (2.0) world.

Marco Torres with his talented students - Rosa and ConsuelaMy fondest memories are those of Marco Torres’ 4 students – Miguel, Rosa, Consuela, and Isaac. These young college students brought such “young energy” to the conference, and the work they have produced as film-makers – ever since they were high school students of Marco – is simply breathtaking (see the iCan series here). They captured this conference in their innumerable videos and vodcasts, and even did a session for educators! Marco, your students must do you proud!

All in all, an interesting, enjoyable week at BLC07 replete with learning, sharing, connecting and community-building!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Shift Happens: Implications for 21st century teaching and learning

An amazing video that's been played during more than one presentation at the November Learning conference that I'm at currently in Newton, MA. [I present tomorrow...]. Its import in the context of educating the 21st century child will be apparent when you see it...

An slightly different version of the same video. This one's titled Did You Know 2.0 (I like the background music better in the other one, though...)

The Lifelong Kindergartner

I have, on several occasions over the last few years, interacted with Mitch Resnick of the Lifelong Kindergarten group at MIT Media Lab. I finally had the opportunity of seeing him in his element on a larger stage (literally) at the November Learning conference where he delivered the keynote address this morning. The audience loved his demos of the PICO cricket kit and Scratch. His enthusiasm is/was catchy. His group is christened "Lifelong Kindergarten" at MIT Media Lab - and I don't think there can be a better proponent than Mitch of the "spirit of kindergarten" - learning through imagining, creating, playing, sharing - that his group is attempting to bring to learners of all ages (5-99) through their creations and products.

Mitch shared the philosophy of learning that drives the work of the Lifelong Kindergarten group - a philosophy that is so evident in the Mindstorms kits, the PICO Cricket kits, and now Scratch as well.

As Alan November remarked at the closing session of Day2 - this framework of learning could well drive all teaching across all grades in schools. An idea well worth mulling over...The devil, as always, will be in the implementation, I suppose!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

YouTube...TeacherTube...Video in Education

[As posted on]

In the process of checking out Varni's video link on YouTube for "School Chale Hum", I also found a link to the "Ek Chidiya" film which I posted as a resource just now.

It got me thinking about the use of YouTube as such an easily accessible resource for the classroom. I'm sure there are a lot of useful video clips already up on YouTube - we have posted some ourselves and shared some others here whenever we've discovered them.

A little bit of "googling" on "youtube in education" led me to "TeacherTube" - a site dedicated to YouTube-like sharing of videos that are all entirely aimed for use in education! Here's what I got on them from their site --

"After beta testing for almost two months, TeacherTube officially launched on March 6, 2007. Our goal is to provide an online community for sharing instructional videos. We seek to fill a need for a more educationally focused, safe venue for teachers, schools, and home learners. It is a site to provide anytime, anywhere professional development with teachers teaching teachers. As well, it is a site where teachers can post videos designed for students to view in order to learn a concept or skill."

Videos are a powerful medium for teaching and they don't not need much investment on the part of schools. The barriers, I think, have been the lack of good films for use in the classroom - especially in India. In the US and other Western countries there is a huge repository of good educational videos produced by National Geographic, PBS (Nova series) and others. Schools use them on a routine basis. These are not so easily accessible in India and are pretty expensive too, for use in India.

With YouTube and TeacherTube (and even Google Video where you can put up longer films) now, one does not need much to use videos in teaching - a teacher does not even need a separate video/cd/dvd player - all one needs is access to the Internet - which schools should certainly look into investing in, if they have not already...and not just for use in the principal's office, but in teacher staff rooms, special A/V screening rooms, student computer labs, and even classrooms, as well.

Thursday, July 05, 2007 on YouTube!

Here's a movie I made over the weekend that introduces and also incorporates video and audio clips of member feedback. It's up on YouTube now...

iMovie is fun to play around with. This is still a work in progress, but I'm pretty pleased with this effort! :)