Thoughts on teaching, technology, learning and life in an era of change.

Archive for September, 2007

Shao Ping is blogging in stereo ~ 好為人師
September 22nd, 2007

My wife Shao Ping is blogging in stereo. She has her blog, 好為人師, on both and also She has been sharing her skills with other teachers of Mandarin and this Tuesday she is conducting a workshop for teachers of Mandarin regarding the techniques of setting up a blog. She works really fast. She had some Chinese Twitter like apps on her blog but they were unreliable. I suggested that Shao Ping try “Jaiku” and in about 5 minutes her Jaiku badge was already up and running on her blogspot blog.

A photograph of my dear wife Shao Ping. She is always looking for alternative uses for objects. Very creative is my wife.

Technologically Literate Teachers
September 18th, 2007

Recently a mumber of education blogs have been inundated with thoughts regarding the technological literacy of teachers. Some of the authors believe that teachers should proactively adopt technologies. Others disagree. Other commentators blame the system for not encouraging innovation or providing an environment conducive to adopting technology. One commentator proposes a set of guidelines for teachers in relation to technology adoption.

Read this post first followed by these three. 1 | 2 | 3 |

Google launches presentation tool
September 18th, 2007

Google has launched its online presentation tool via the official Google blog. I shall give the new tool a go. Will not work with Safari on the Mac.

Ken Ronkowitz and educational technology
September 17th, 2007

Ken Ronkowitz never ceases to amaze me with his excellent posts regarding teaching, learning and technology. During the last week or so he has posted some informative items regarding podcasting, Google Earth and the art of writing itself.

With respect to podcasting he brings up the point that simply repurposing lectures for delivery via podcast is not an ideal use of the medium. Ken illustrates, by way of a positive example, how David Miller at the University of Connecticut is employing the podcasting medium in a proactive manner. Each week David Miller and his students collaborate in an one hour discussion of the course material. The content is discussed and recorded for podcasting. Ken also points out how David precasts and postcasts key material before and after each lecture. Students are attracted to the subject due to this proactive and particpatory approach to the use of podcasting.

Ken also blogged an interesting post about the use of Google Earth to plot and trace the moevements of characters during the course of a novel. This would indeed be a novel approach for teachers of literature seeking to inpsire their students with additional visual cues as they explore each destination on the plotted Google Earth map.

The last gem from Ken that I wish to share is a new podcast set up by NJIT entitled ‘The End of the Essay’. This podcast is a project that Ken has been working on with Dr. Norbert Elliot, Professor of English at NJIT. Ken points out that Dr. Elliot had given a presentation called “The End of the Essay: Writing in a Mediated Environment.” Ken thought it was something that Dr. Elliot should develop into a book, however he was already involved in another book project, so the concept became a podcast. The blog post makes very interesting reading for educational technologists and teachers alike.

Digital Natives or simply Digital Dilettantes?
September 16th, 2007

I have just read a telling post by Sue Waters in her informative Mobile Technology in TAFE blog regarding the skill set of Generation Y or the Digital Natives.

This very point has come up in staff meetings and during IT workshops, etc. Sure there are students who may know a few more keyboard shortcuts and can type much faster than I. Their use of mobile phones is impressive. Yet, there are a wide variety of IT skills lacking.

They can all make an iMovie or Windows Movie Maker project but they exhibit little creativity with their editing, timelines, etc. They do not explore the technology. They may apply special effects but they do not know why they are applying the special effect. They produce a video then what next? Teachers then have to share the technological possibilities that are available to allow online publication or dissemination of the product.

Even use of tools like Word or Powerpoint is quite basic on the whole. Rarely does a student show an eye for good design or layout. These skills need to be taught by a teacher with the necessary skill set.

I am trying to encourage the student population at our school to avoid wasting endless hours with MSN Chat, MySpace and the like and steer their energies towards the construction of blogs and web sites that are beneficial for themselves and the wider community. It is an uphill battle. Some of my students have produced worthy web sites. One is actually earning about $20.00USD per day via Google AdSense on their site. Great way to earn money while still a Year 10 student.

Perhaps they are not Digital Natives at all but simply Digital Dilettantes… they are, and I quote from a dictionary, an amateur or dabbler; especially, one who follows an art or a branch of knowledge sporadically, superficially, or for amusement only.