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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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I can’t live without Podcasting. Here’s why:

Attention:

I can’t live without Podcasting or Vodcasting (Video Podcasting) and this article explains why.  First have a look at this video to understand the implications this can have for the education system .  The idea is a reverse-homework approach, which allows for a differentiated classroom with hands on teacher instruction.

Proof:

Of all places to start, I was initiated into the world of podcasting by listening to my banks podcasts found here: www.bmo.com/podcast  They were actually interesting and informative.  They made me want to explore more.

I realized that podcasts were not just books read aloud, but could also be lessons in digital form. I found lesson upon lesson at Apple iTunes and at BBC Radio.  Beyond teaching and learning, I found “the ultimate podcast collection” at Podcast.com.

Moving away from the consumption idea I thought about the other end of it: Production.  Podcasting meant that students were able to create, which meant facilitation of higher-level learning in Bloom Digital Taxonomy.  It meant the digital natives in our classrooms had another facet to express themselves.  But how do they do it?

Strategy:

Let’s look first at how to Podcast and then how to Vodcast, Mr. Bennett style.

Podcasting –

  • Plan your topic and what you are going to say.
    • Make sure you have sound accessories (tambourines, noise makers, etc.) and you know where you are going to record.
    • Think about background and ambient noise.
  • The Equipment you will need:
    • A computer
    • A sound card
    • Working headphones and mic
    • Some hard disk space (approx 2-3 gigs should be lots in the beginning)
    • Pop filters are nice, but not necessary.  They take away the loud crackly ‘p’ sounds when you talk
    • Software to record and edit: Audacity is good for a PC / Garageband is excellent for a Mac
    • MP3 Encoder: LAME or iTunes
    • To learn more about how to Podcast using Audacity, follow this link to Jason Wan Orden’s site.
    • To learn more about how to Podcast using Garageband, follow this link to Indiana University’s site.
  • Publish and post your Podcast at Ourmedia: mp3 file storage | WordPress: blog service and host | Feedburner: to create a podcast-ready RSS feed

Vodcasting – This is with the idea teachers will create a video podcast for their students to watch as homework

  • Plan your topic and what you are going to say.
    • Make sure you know where you are going to record.
    • Think about background and ambient noise.
    • Think about the background that people will be seeing.  Less is more.  Sit in front of a blank wall.
    • Make sure the lighting on your face is not harsh or one-sided.
    • Keep videos to 10 minutes or less (for student attention and to make sure it will upload to Youtube).
    • Keep yourself Animated and interesting.
    • Have only one idea per video.
  • The Equipment you will need:
    • A computer
    • A sound and video card
    • Working video camera – if it is built-in to the computer it might be best
    • Working mic – again, built-in could be the way to go
    • Camtasia or Camstudio to video and capture screens
    • Keynote, PowerPoint, Prezi or something else to display notes
    • Digital writing toolWacom tablets are great and well-priced
    • Software like iMovie (Mac) or Freemake (PC)  to edit the video
    • A Youtube, TeacherTube or iTunes subscription to upload your videos
  • Students need:
    • A computer to view Youtube, TeacherTube or iTunes OR
    • Cell phones to watch MP4s OR
    • PSPs – This method requires a video format converter like Media Coder OR
    • Flash Drives
  • You might also attach using a blog or site:
    • Pre-written and uploaded notes
    • Guided practice with questions students will answer
    • Extra reading if they would like
    • Diagrams to follow

Be diligent, but only bite off as much as you and your students can chew.  For example:

  • If you start creating podcasts, try one a night or two a week.
  • Work only on one subject at a time per year.  Don’t overdo it.

This will eventually mean that you have flipped your classroom.  For more information about this, check out University of North Colorado’s website and visit http://www.brianbennett.org/.  Join the discussion at Vodcasting Ning found here.

Good luck.

 
 

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