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

Archive for March, 2008

If you are in Singapore this April…
March 26th, 2008

If you are in Singapore during mid April and have time to spare you might like to drop along to the following presentation or one of the three follow-up workshops during that week at the Centre for Educational Development, Nanyang Technological University. Each of the four items is described below.

Show & Share on ‘Extending the Boundaries of Web 2.0 and The Read~Write Web’
14 April 2008 2.30 pm – 4.30 pm

The aim of this presentation will be to share both current and forthcoming trends of the Web 2.0 or read~write web and their application in education. 2007 was a maverick year in which the world of Web 2.0 and the read/write web reached wider audiences. Educators in particular have enthusiastically taken on the read/write web and are now exploring new tools that they can apply in their own classrooms.

This presentation will consider the application of tools such as Nings, Twitter and WebNode in education and also explore the possibilities of tools such as the newly released Google Sites and the innovative Yahoo Pipes.

What role can mashups play education and research? How can these tools be used to support teaching and learning? A practical down-to-earth approach will be taken during the course of the presentation. The pros and cons of the read~write web will be considered.

NTU Lecture Theatre 12
NTU Academic Complex North
Level 4 via Lift NS2-2

Nurturing Your Networks via the Read~Write Web
15 April 2008 · 9.00 am – 5.00 pm

This practical workshop has educators in mind and is simply designed to remove the mysteries associated with education networks, blogging, twitter and RSS feeds. The Internet has evolved from a platform that presented static information to one that invites participation and user-centered interactions. This workshop takes advantage of this evolution in the web.

Educators who wish to take their use of the Internet that one step further will benefit from this workshop. Participants will learn to make effective use of Web 2.0 technologies in order to support and enhance their own professional development and make practical and useful connections with other like-minded educators.

Web 2.0 based applications that will be demonstrated and workshopped with the participants during the day will include:

  • eduBlogger, WordPress and/or Blogger: a simple to use web based tool that allows you to create and manage your own blog
  • Google Reader
  • Twitter microblogging
  • Nings

Taking Web 2.0 To The Limit with RSS and Mashups
16 April 2008 · 9.00 am – 5.00 pm

The world of web 2.0 or the read~write web is simply interesting. It allows users of the Internet to both easily publish to the web and to explore the web in new and interesting ways.

This workshop is designed to teach educators how to make use of the full power of RSS or really simple syndication. The fundamentals and practical usefulness of RSS and tagging will be illustrated and workshopped with the participants.

During the workshop participants will set up and customise the following online tools:

  • Google Reader
  • Yahoo Pipes

Additional tools such as Technorati, Dapper, GoogleEarth and AideRSS will be utilised to demonstrate the power that RSS feeds can play with providing current news and views on the areas relevant to your areas of teaching and learning.

Core Web 2.0 Tools – Blogs, Wikis and Podcasting
18 April 2008 · 9.00 am – 5.00 pm

This practical workshop has educators in mind and is simply designed to remove the mysteries associated with Web 2.0 technologies and introduce the participants to the core Web 2.0 Tools.

Participants will be given the opportunity to create and set up an education blog using tools such as eduBlogger, WordPress or Blogger. Each participant will be given a detailed insight of the settings and management of the blog.

Following creation of the blog participants will be taught how to set up a simple wiki using tools such as Wikipsaces or PBWiki.

The third component of the workshop will provide a hands-on creation of a podcast media file. Participants will then be given a practical demonstration of the publication of the podcast.

The final component of the workshop will illustrate how the three tools can be linked together via the newly created blog.

Venue for each of the three aforementioned workshops:
CED Training Room
Centre for Educational Development
NTU Academic Complex North
Level 5 via Lift NS3-3

For bookings and additional details of each item please consult this calendar of events at Nanyang Technological University. Should you have any additional inquiries please do not hesitate to email the staff at the Centre for Educational Development via this email address:

You can also drop myself an email if you would like additional information. My contact details are available via this link.

Creativity Fatigue ~ get out and stretch a little
March 25th, 2008

[Chinese New Year's Eve, Singapore, 2003.]

Scanning through the blogs in Google Reader spotted this post by Scott McLeod on Dangerously Irrelevant. Scott is responding to a post by Wes Fryer regarding ‘creativity fatigue’. Take the chance to read the full post by Wes.

Scott feels that we should actively combat inclinations to get set in our ways and I agree. We should endeavour to stretch and go outside our comfort zone. Take a new course, teach a subject in a different faculty, work overseas, and, if in administration, return to the classroom if possible. I wrote a comment on Wes Fryer’s blog in repsonse to his original post and I have added it below.

“Wes, I was alerted to your post via Scott McLeod’s blog. I agree with your comment regarding empowering students, practical approaches for teachers and participation in educational networks.

What are additional possibilities to negate ‘creativity fatigue’ within teachers? Years ago the University of Wollongong in NSW, Australia, offered a Graduate Certificate in History Education for current teachers. The course provided the participants with an update regarding current trends in historical research and historiography, an update on trends in Australian history and finally a component on the use of technology in teaching history. The course was completed in a single year part time. It was free. It was enlightening, rejuvenating and all of the participants benefited. It certainly worked for me. It was a watershed in my own teaching career.

Alternatively, opportunities could be provided for teachers to take sabbaticals or work experience in a different field, probably related to education. These experiences can ‘recharge batteries’ and allow for a chance to refocus. Some teachers may indeed discover that their vocation lies in a different direction. That would also be a positive outcome.

Finally, senior staff and administrators, out of touch with the classroom could reground themselves with real classroom teaching experience. Get them out of the office or cubicle. Not likely to happen but in the event it did enlightenment may take place.

Scott, I agree with your thoughts regarding the roll out of programmes year after year that are not well considered (or perhaps lack inadequate follow through). Teachers do indeed roll their eyes. Practical programmes with meaningful follow-up and small achievable goals should be given priority. A practical commonsense approach to professional development, preferably provided by fellow teachers on secondment to the administration providing the pd.

Cheers, John”

Mr Winkle Wakes
March 24th, 2008

Mathew Needleman, author of the informative blog, Creating Lifelong Learners, created and posted this excellent video on YouTube the other day. It is well worth watching. The video elegantly portrays in a visual manner the essence of much of the writing in the world of educational blogging.

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Update: Mathew has blogged about the video at this post.

Twitter surprise from Flocker
March 23rd, 2008

About a day or so ago I exchanged a couple of brief notes via Twitter with edublogger par excellence Clay Burrell regarding the Flock browser. I mentioned that I liked Flock but was disappointed that I could not post directly to my self- hosted WordPress blog. It has trouble recognising the api I think. Prior to that I could post directly to my old Blogger blog. It is a neat tool as you automatically gather the urls and images into the post via Flock’s excellent feature set.

Well, I was glancing through my tweets this morning and here is this tweet from the Flock team asking how can they help with my Flock problem. That is amazing. I wasn’t even following Flock.

Think about it. If I had commented on my Mac or something to do with Microsoft Office would I have received a tweet from those organisations? I replied and I now await their response.

Update: Monday 24th March. Flock replied to my twitter response and provided me with the email address of one of their staff members. Excellent service!

Christopher D. Sessums on Social Networks
March 22nd, 2008

Christopher D. Sessums has written on social networks and he has used the agora of the ancient Greeks as an analogy. He writes that the “various social and participatory applications available to us can serve… as a place where people can freely examine a wide range of ideas and ideals.”

I will not attempt to paraphrase all of Christopher’s post yet he asked a couple of questions that resonated with me. He writes:

“But the next step requires us to be reflective. The Internet and Web have afforded us an opportunity to re-examine and re-define our morals, our communities, our nations, and the globe. But will these conversations be limited to only a few? What mechanisms are in place to encourage and support a wide range of thought and activity?”

I have wondered about the conversations of late and the diversity of thought within the edublogosphere and at least within the blogs that I read there seems to be a sameness creeping into the environment. I articulated these thoughts a little further on Christopher’s blog. Something along these lines…

I feel that his two questions, as quoted above, are timely and they need to be asked. I have sensed of late that segments of the “edublogosphere” are dominated by a small coterie of seasoned bloggers who are followed by a dedicated core of disciples that hang off their every word. I think this is stifling original thought and creating a sameness in some edublogging arenas. The conversations are limited to a few yet cloned by many.

I have observed a number of new edubloggers join the networks of late and they soon become mirror images of the more seasoned or ‘vocal’ edubloggers. It is a pity. I feel that the twitter networks play a role in the establishment of this sameness.

“What sort of mechanisms can we set up to encourage creativity and diversity among edubloggers?” I agree that the world of education bloggers should be more like an agora with a highly varied range of discussions, debates, marketing of ideas and the ‘playing of games’ (as per an agora). The agora of ancient Athens was largely responsible for the creation of democracy, philosophy and western thought.

At the moment I fear that the edublogosphere is evolving into a collection of shopping malls populated with overly dominant voices that are differentatiated only in the way that they are branded. We do need more voices. Different voices.

Looking at Christopher’s blogroll I also think it is time I explored a few new voices and joined a few new networks.