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Saved by Katie Day
on January 4, 2009 at 9:22:43 am
 

This is a professional development initiative for our primary school teachers, inspired by the 23 Things movement online by various libraries, especially the original one by BLAH BLAH.  Since then many others have sprung up, including:  BLAH BLAH BLAH

 

We are not limiting ourselves to 23 literal tools or experiences -- instead we guarantee to expose our participants to AT LEAST 23 things (but likely more).

 

The accompanying blog provides the order and pace of tools introduced over the 10 weeks of Term 2 (though teachers have until the end of Term 3 to complete the assignments in order to qualify for the prize-winning draw of two names to receive S$100 each in the form of wine or book vouchers or IT gadgets).

 

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from an email to Ben...

 

We're putting together a "23 Things" kind of (optional) PD initiative to introduce East campus staff to Web 2.0 tools. 

You might not have heard of the "23 Things" movement, as it originated in the library world, but it's spreading to other spheres, e.g., school professional development.  (NB: it's also known as "Viral Professional Development".) (I'm expecting the Promethean IWB Challenge to be similar -- though I haven't started that yet...)

Basically, you incent people to sign up for weekly online tasks/challenges and offer some kind of chance at a prize for those who complete it (we've gotten permission for $200 to be spent on two or three prizes -- names drawn out of a hat -- e.g., iPod shuffle, wine, book vouchers -- for those who complete it).  We plan to run it over the 10 weeks of Term 2, with people having up until the end of Term 3 to finish all the tasks.

A public librarian in the States did the first one:  <<The Learning 2.0 program was designed by Helene Blowers, PLCMC Technology Director, with the support and assitance of several staff and is loosely based upon Stephen Abram's article, 43 Things I (or You) might want to do this year (Information Outlook - Feb 2006) and the website 43Things.>>

Since then, many more organizations have done their own versions, as Stephen Abrams noted earlier this year.  For example, here is Imperial College London Library's version and here is RMIT's version (they use a sports metaphor, calling it "21 Lunges").

We've set up a blog and a wiki -- where the blog is where the weekly assignments will be posted, and the wiki is where we put the instructions/examples/whatever to back up the assignment. 

 

What we're working on now is deciding which tools to highlight and the order in which to introduce them.  First we needed to know what people are already using and what they want to know.

As we began to collect responses from East Campus staff, we were talking to friends at Dover who were asking to take the survey themselves, so then I figured we might as well send it out to everyone.

From a library point of view, I am particularly interested to know how many staff members are using the subscription databases we pay for, e.g., Encyclopedia Britannica, United Streaming, SIR Knowledge Source, etc. -- (which reminds me, I forgot to put Newsbank in there).

You, of course, will be curious to see who knows about Atomic Learning and StudyWiz (though, of course, the StudyWiz results are skewed by where in the school people work -- and we forgot to ask that info in the survey -- but it can be figured out).

So we're happy for you to have access to the SurveyMonkey responses:

DOVER group:  http://www.surveymonkey.com/sr.aspx?sm=Ae60r0mus7_2bem7rrGFz7Hn5wRitoxjI5go5jpcuFY58_3d

EAST group: http://www.surveymonkey.com/sr.aspx?sm=KK6D2jnZGrlqOpDuTaklEIcHpjpHKG5IyDHL8JGWJgw_3d

And we'll keep you posted on our "23 Things" project -- which we're calling "Connecting East".  The plan is that we're going to unveil it during the first 15 minutes of the 1st staff meeting back after the holiday.  After that, it will run on its own in the background, though we're going to hold "Fruit Fridays" every week -- where we will be available in our Resource Center (ICT/Lib) every Friday morning before school for anyone who needs help (and fruit will be provided as a breakfast treat).

The goal is to make it both fun and practical... and anyone can sign up.  (We'll be offering it to our teaching assistants as well as our teachers.)

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Our main concern is to increase awareness of what is available online to improve teachers' personal/professional productivity and to enhance their classes/teaching.  The way it's structured we can only tempt people to try new things -- hopefully stretching/scaffolding them to increase their ability to take more responsibility for their own Web n.0 learning.

As for working with systems the college already has, we will definitely share our thoughts/resources with you.

I'm sure you will have noted in the results how many people aren't familiar with Atomic Learning -- which should be the first stop for people wanting to learn new technologies.  See, for example, Brian saying his lack of knowledge of Office 2007 was causing him to lose two hours a week in delays.  He could invest a bit of time with Atomic Learning, but does he think of it?  (By the way, is there a link to it on the college website?  I can't find it.) 

We aim to touch upon each of the college subscription resources over the course of our "23 Things", e.g., by including links to Atomic Learning lessons whenever possible or by asking them to bookmark a UnitedStreaming video or by asking them to take an online note on an article retrieved from Newsbank, etc.

What we're going to cover and the order in which we're going to present them isn't quite settled yet -- we're still looking at the survey results.  Just because we put things on the survey does NOT mean we're going to cover them.

The first "thing" will be probably be "commenting online", e.g., watch a TED talk (too good to miss) and then comment using Voicethread (an excellent tool for primary school classrooms, allowing students to do audio or text responses).  See, for example, how one school had kids review picture books:  http://voicethread.com/#q+kshawaii

Two other top tools we really want to have them appreciate are:

-- social bookmarking, like delicious and Diigo, as a way for teachers to collect/share teaching resources with each other, if not with students

-- RSS feeds/readers, as a means of tracking/gathering useful information

Note that we'll only be addressing the needs of primary school teachers -- in terms of classroom examples and exercises -- so when it comes to StudyWiz, we may only offer examples/tasks using the primary interface.

I hope you've found the survey results as interesting as we have.  You're right, basic computer skills are still required for many teachers.  We don't really have a hope of addressing them with this PD.  Anyway, if this survey was our pre-assessment, it will be interesting for us to give it to our staff again in June and see if we can see any increase in usage (not that that proves any improved learning -- on the part of teachers or students).  For those who take the plunge with us, at least they'll be able to say they've heard of or have used a few more things. 

Becoming an online learner is like becoming an avid reader.  It takes time, but once hooked, you keep going.  Similarly, Web 2.0 tools are like reading genres.  Sometimes all it takes is a strong recommendation or taste of a genre to have you expand your book options.  I belong to the "Magic Bullet" theory of reading -- that the right book at the right time can turn a non-reader into a lifelong reader. 

Keri-Lee and I are selecting our ammunication very carefully.......  watch for our final battle plan on January 5th.....

-- Katie

 

p.s.  not sure I like such a military metaphor -- may have to work on finding another image for my "Magic Bullet" theory.....

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Keri-Lee's email to Ben:

 

To jump on the bandwagon...

We have been working very hard to use Studywiz over here at East. All grade 2-4 students have been able to log in and look around at the very least. G 4's have created a blog, used the chat function, been involved in a discussion thread, saved photos in their e-locker & navigated lessons. Grade 2s have gone into lessons, opened a file, uploaded a video into their e-portfolios. Grade 3s are just beginning, but my point is, Studywiz IS being used. The kids are absolutely stoked with it.

As a teacher, it has proved in equal measures fantastic and frustrating. As we are the guinea pigs of using it in the primary school, there are bound to be teething problems. You have been great at fixing our problems quickly Ben! I think Studywiz has a lot of great features and is a really good 'walled garden' for the little guys.

I do believe Studywiz is only one piece of the puzzle. I think we need the walled garden approach, but there are undeniable benefits from having an online presence for the students. To get feedback on their work from kids and teachers around the world is beyond motivating. I like the set up they have at ISB (see the diagram on Jeff Utecht's website here http://www.thethinkingstick.com/?p=799) as an example.

One thing I believe we need to add to our pot is Education Voicethread accounts. I think there is a whole-school licence available. I have an ed voicethread account for use with my classes, but it's a tool that has fantastic potential for kids of all ages - yes, even high school.

 

Anyway, I'm going off on a tangent  now - I don't think we'll be recommending any tools that you wouldn't support. Basically, as Katie said, we'd like teachers to get on delicious or diigo, use voicethreads, be able to comment on blogs, start up an RSS reader and anything else is gravy!

Remember this is optional, so I don't think large-scale change is going to take place, but if we do get a critical mass doing SOME stuff, hopefully we'll reach the tipping point.

K-L

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