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Tag Archives: Online Communities

Brainstorming: With Anonymity and without

I was reflecting for a moment on the picture here, where Design Thinking was in action, and was thinking about how we often ask students, teachers, parents, administrators, workers, and so on to add their ideas to a wall through a brainstorm method.  But I was also thinking about accountability.  I wonder if it would be better to create a system like this where everyone needs to have their name attached to their idea.  My theory is that it would help in two ways.

The first is that the overall architect(s) would be able to return to the brainstorm and see who’s name is attached to the idea.  This way, if there is a problem, they can quickly follow-up with that person to get a clearer idea of what they were writing about.

The second idea stems from the fact that I assume people will put more effort into an idea if they know their name is attached to it.  With anonymity could come sloppiness, laziness, or downright silliness.

Where I think it might squash some of the better ideas because people may not want to put them forth since their name is attached, to counteract this, people could be asked to come back to the wall or another wall for another turn at it.  This time, they could put any idea that came to their head, but could do it anonymously.

I would argue that using both methods would be most useful because most ideas would be well thought out and articulated from those who had their names attached, but the second method would enable out-of-the-box thinking and the bizarre ideas to flourish.

What do you think?  Has this approach been done before?

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Posted by on February 28, 2015 in Design, Education

 

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Connecting around the world (within Timezones)

One of the projects on the back of my mind for our school is to buddy different classes or grades with “sister school” throughout the world.  Where this most often becomes is through technology, authentic needs and projects, and through meeting synchronously at the same time.  To alleviate this last worry, I was examining the idea to limit the schools we would connect with to those within our own timezone (for now).

Time Zones

Time Zones

This would mean that we could still get a cross-cultural feel for how things are in different parts of the world, but never have mix-ups or hiccups because of timing.  I can envision it now:

“Ok, great.  We’ll Skype with your class at 2pm then.”

“Wait, 2pm your time or mine?”

“Oh, ours.”

“Oh, we will already be gone home.”

This preplanning could fix all of this hassle down the road.  Because I am in Istanbul, this gives me a wide gamut of places and schools to consider, for example, Finland, Kiev, Bucharest, Cairo, Lubumbashi, Pretoria, Cape Town, and the list goes on.

Asynchronous conversations would end this worry and could be done through ideas like: Edmodo, Wikis, Blogging, Google Docs, Twitter, Twijector, and more.  However, there is definitely something about connecting in real-time.   I am excited about the idea and will comment further about the progress and the new problems we may face.

 

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Connected –> Organized –> Disconnected

Image representing Netvibes as depicted in Cru...This post is about the idea that we have definitely moved into a connected society.  You cannot argue with statistics like these:

We had 845 million monthly active users at the end of December 2011.
Approximately 80% of our monthly active users are outside the U.S. and Canada.
We had 483 million daily active users on average in December 2011.
We had more than 425 million monthly active users who used Facebook mobile products in December 2011.
Facebook is available in more than 70 languages. (Facebook, 2012)

What does this mean for learners, or better yet for facilitators and parents of those learners?
I see two things that people need to focus on learning now that we are so connected.  The first is organization and discerning between good and bad sources.  The second is working towards systematic and non-systematic disconnection.

With the first idea that we need to work towards organization of all of the information that is bombarding us, there are a few ideas that I can think of.  The first is using consolidating sites like iGoogle.com or preferably Netvibes.com.  I recommend Netvibes because it allows you to see all of your emails, your website.

You can direct the content to this feed so that you don’t miss what any of your favorite website are talking about.  I cannot speak about whether iGoogle has this feature, but this in itself is one reason that I would recommend the competition.  Both of the platforms are completely customizable and are simple to use with a drag and drop user interface.es, like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and more, plus it allows you to have notes and to-do lists for yourself.  This is the same as iGoogle, but it also allow for you to have your RSS feeds, and view them as email, so you know which ones you have read and which ones you haven’t.  In case you don’t know what an RSS feed is, it can be a blog or website that updates.

The green space A at top is even simply connec...

The second idea is about moving away from connectedness to a disconnected time period.  As Mark Prensky (2001) coined it, students today are digital natives, which means they have always had computers and the ability to access the internet for every answer, query, or need for connection with ‘friends’.  The problem is that of ‘offline-edness’.  Mobile technology and the Edge has moved those with this technology to constant connection all the time.  Push notifications wake us up at night.  Smart phones, tablets, and laptops all receive and send a signal just about anywhere we are these days.  So how do we fight it?  And why?

First why?
Children need to be in nature.  They need to interact with one another in collaborative ways without using a computer.  They need to not be distracted by the tweet or email that was just sent through.  They need to sit down for dinner and have a conversation without a screen in front of them.  So do adult!

And how do we fight constant connectedness?
Parents need to limit the amount of time a child has on their device.  In doing so, they need to model this with their own limitation of the devices.  If they are at the dinner table, a rule needs to be that devices AND push notifications are turned off.  On vacations, there should be days where technology is left behind, or at least turned to airplane mode.  Parents should also put charging stations for devices in a central location, like the kitchen.  This may not be possible with many which charge but are also used to amplify the device with speakers or some other connection, but it is worth a consideration.

Schools need to have screen-free days or weeks.  This is the idea that EVERYONE in the school goes a day or week without using a computer or mobile device.  Everything is turned off and left at home or in lockers.  If people need to send an email, they do what people did in the old days, they send their messenger, I mean walk down the hall and talk with that person face-to-face.  It’s not a novel idea.  I heard about it years ago from Jeff Utecht, a technology integration specialist of all people, who was promoting the non-use of technology.

This is something we need to concern ourselves with.  We need to get back to the roots, and I don’t just mean them figuratively.  I mean we need to get back out into nature and climb a tree…or at least lay under one and watch the clouds.

References
Facebook. (2012). NewRoom. Retrieved March 11, 2012, from Facebook: http://newsroom.fb.com/content/default.aspx?NewsAreaId=22

Prensky, M. (2001, October). Digital Natives Digital Immigrants. Retrieved October 23, 2011, from MarkPrensky.com: http://www.marcprensky.com/writing/Prensky%20-%20Digital%20Natives,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf

 

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If you are a teacher this is how your Facebook settings should be

Attention:

Facebook needs the default privacy settings I have listed below.

Aside to this fact, I have an ongoing argument with a good friend of mine about teachers adding students to their Facebook accounts.  My friend feels teachers should not add students because students might see something not meant for them.

I am this wary about anything I put on to the internet.  As an educator I do not want anything on the world-wide web from or about me that is anything less than professional.  Why are the comments, photos or other things I put on to Facebook any different?

Essentially, if someone who I added as a friend wanted to place my images or text in some other forum they could easily do so.  No one should consider Facebook a secure environment to treat as a secret diary.

Nonetheless, there are some major uses for Facebook in education.

Proof:

Patrick Batty has this to say about Facebook in education:

[M]any students, instructors and administrators are using a number of Facebook applications for a wide variety of academic purposes.

Recently we’ve been examining a number of Facebook apps that are relevant for educational use. We’ve assembled a small list of 20 facebook apps here and are happy to have others add additional apps to the list that you’ve found helpful.

  • Books iRead: Share the books you’re reading, and see what others think of books with this application.
  • Flashcards: With this application, you can create flash cards to help you study on Facebook.
  • SkoolPool: Get the lowdown on schools, online and otherwise, with this neat application.
  • Rate My Professors: Find out what other students think of professors before you register for their class.
  • BookTag: This app offers a great way to share and loan books out to students, plus create helpful quizzes for studying.
  • DoResearch4me: This app makes it easy to gather information using your thesis statement, instructions, and more.
  • Mathematical Formulas: Distribute formulas, solutions, and more with this application.
  • SlideShare: Create presentations to send to students with this slideshow application.
  • Calendar: This calendar app from 30 Boxes lets you organize your days, set reminders and share your calendar with others.
  • To-Do List: Stay on top of your tasks with this Facebook to-do application.
  • Zoho Online Office: You can keep all of your documents online, and even share them with classmates, students, and colleagues.
  • UdutuTeach: UdutuTeach allows you to import courses from myUdutu (a course authoring tool) manage which people can take your courses, and track the learners’ progress.
  • UdutuLearn: UdutuLearn lets you view courses that you have been given access to and shows your progress.
  • Courses: Courses offers loads of functionality for online education, with features that let you add your courses, post announcements and assignments, search university reviews find classmates, create discussions and form study groups.
  • Files: Powered by Box.net, this application makes it easy to store and retrieve documents in Facebook, so you can access them anywhere you have a connection.
  • WorldCat: Use WorldCat to do research, catalog your library’s collection, and share information with students.
  • HeyMath!: These mini-movies explain difficult math concepts, so these are great to share with students or use on your own.
  • Study Groups: Get everyone together on your group project by collaborating with this application.

Caroline Lego Muñoz of Fairleigh Dickinson University states, “Facebook is equipped with bulletin boards, instant messaging, email, and the ability to post videos and pictures. Most notably, anyone can post information and collaborate within the system. Recently, Facebook has opened up development of downloadable applications, which can further supplement the educational functions of Facebook.” in the essay, Opening Facebook: How to Use Facebook in the College Classroom.

I try to take the early adoption technique about new technologies and implementation of such.  If you want to as well, try the following.

Strategy:

Follow these 19 steps.  This will take 1/2 hour to an hour.

  • Choose Privacy Settings in the top-right corner, like you see in the picture below.

  • Click on View Settings

  • Change the Search for you on Facebook setting if you do not want everyone to find you
  • Definitely change the See your friends list.  I set mine solely to myself.
    [Side-note: Last night, at a staff party, a colleague of mine was wondering why students I had added as friends were not trying to add her.  She said the students all asked if she was on Facebook, as they wanted to add her.  She thought the students were a little slow, but then I mentioned I don’t allow others to see my friends list.  She thanked me.]

  • After you have changed those settings, go Back to Privacy

  • Choose Customize Settings

  • Assuming you consider what you write when you post, you shouldn’t need to limit the Posts by me for your friends – who may be students.
  • Consider your Relationships, Interested In, and Religious and political views as private
  • Take note: You can edit Privacy Settings for Photo Albums and Videos here

  • When you Edit privacy settings for photo albums, you have the options seen below.
  • If you only want specific people to see, choose Customize

IMPORTANT:
You want to limit what others post about you

  • Choose Edit Settings for:
  • Photos and Videos you’re tagged in
  • Can see wall posts by friends, and
  • Friends can check me in to places (You never know where someone might check you in)

  • Choose Customize

  • Choose Specific People
  • This will take a while – You need to go through your friends list and choose who can see.  I usually start typing “a” and Facebook auto-completes with friends with an “a” in their name.  Then I type “b”, then “c”, and so on, up to “z”.

Good luck.  Report back if you think I missed something or if you would do it differently.  Cheers.

 

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Create comic strips like a Pro

Less than 2 minutes is all it took me to make the above comic strip.  The learning curve using stripgenerator.com is low.  The options are seemingly endless.  The ability for teachers to use this in their classroom at a low age is high.  There is a “like” factor for kids.  Why not explore it for yourself.  I have listed some of the abilities with this all-in-one website below.

Strip Generator allows for different types of:

  • frames
  • characters (plus you can build your own)
  • items (like tvs, hats, books, toys, instruments and so much more)
  • text (and text bubbles)

Everything can:

  • be rotated
  • be re-sized
  • be arranged front to back
  • blurred
  • have its opacity changed

When you finish you can tag, print, share on Facebook and Twitter, embed on your website or blog, or even join with other strips you have made to create a booklet.  The website is very intuitive.  I can see many uses for it in education and give it 5 out of 5 stars as a resource.

 

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