Category Archives: Course 2

Wrapping Up Course 2

Welcome to Week 6!

You did it! Course 2 is just about over. This week, just like last course, will be an opportunity to for you to wrap up all of the work that needs to be completed, and to put finishing touches on your final project for Course 2.

At this point you should have:

  • read and completed all readings up to, and including “Week 5″ in Course 2 under “My Courses
  • written 5 blog posts and 5 comments
  • continue recording the URL of the post you would like assessed as part of COETAIL on your grading spreadsheet in the Course 2 tab
  • continue recording the URL of the comments you would like assessed as part of COETAIL on your grading spreadsheet in the Course 2 tab
  • begun your collaborative project for your Course 2 final project – remember each person needs to write an individual project reflection, even if the project work is collaborative.
  • reviewed the feedback on your posts and comments in your grading spreadsheet
  • completed the application process for SUNY (only if you’re taking COETAIL for SUNY credit) – the deadline for this process is the end of this course.

Google Hangout Coming Up!

Join Shary and Robin for a Google Hangout at this time (for most of us this will be Tuesday, 10 December, but it will still be Monday in the US). You can e-mail Shary for an invite, or leave a comment here. Remember, only 10 people can be on one call at one time, so you might end up creating multiple calls if everyone wants to join in. I will do my best to join you!

Making the most of your blog

As we wrap up Course 2, I’m hoping that you’re starting to become more comfortable with sharing your thinking in this space. Here are a few thoughts I’ve been compiling as I’ve read your blog posts this course, and had conversations with many of you about your blogging.

Building your digital footprint

Your blog is becoming part of your digital footprint – make sure it represents you in the way you want to be represented. I’ve mentioned it before, but a good rule of thumb is to “praise locally and criticize globally“. If you’re frustrated with colleagues, or your school, or even your students, remember that its fairly easy for them to find your words online, so please be kind and careful with the way you represent your feelings. Remember, potential future employers will most likely also have a read through of your blog before they decide to interview you too…

Your blog is for you

As you compose your posts, remember, the writing you do on your blog should be relevant to you – don’t worry about posting the weekly question, or responding directly the question on each week. Those questions are there as prompts for those that need them. If you have something that resonates with you, something you want to share that fits in with the theme of the weekly readings, go for it! Your blog is for you, as much as it is part of this course.

Share your perspective, rather than a summary

Make sure your time writing and reflecting is meaningful for you, rather than seeing it as “answering a question”. Sometimes this is tough because you are learning a bit in isolation, and the only space you have to process your ideas may be here on the blog (which is why it would be great for us to have more Hangouts – anyone interested in hosting?), so it’s tempting to just jot down your thinking about the readings. The problem with this is that everyone in the course is reading the same things, and summarizing the posts may be less interesting as a conversation starter than your thoughts about the readings and how you might implement them.

Bring your classroom to your blogging practice

Over the years, I’ve found that the posts that become the most relevant (both to me as a blogger, and to the participants in COETAIL), are those that are practical. Posts that share how you might be approaching these ideas in your classroom, school, or library. Posts that share student feedback or impressions. Posts that describe how these big ideas impact you, and how you might implement them (rather than re-hashing the big ideas from the articles, which are easily linkable within your posts). Some ways you can make this a habit are to:

  • take pictures during lessons (even if you don’t know if you’ll use them or not – that way you have them if you need them).
  • tag student samples so they’re easy to find
  • screencast or screenshot student work
  • test out the strategies from the weekly readings, and get feedback from the students
  • share student feedback

Remember your audience

Keeping in mind that your blog is for you and should be relevant to you and your learning, it’s also important to remember the environment that you’re writing in, and the audience for your writing. Blogging is less academic-style writing, and more casual. The idea is to start conversations, and to do that you’ll need to keep in mind that your audience is most likely other teachers, probably primarily international school teachers. As you write, you may want to consider which posts are getting the most responses from outside our cohort, and which posts are resonating with people the most. This may help you find your blogging voice – and it’s ok if your blogging voice is different than other write you do (or have done in the past). Match your tone and style to the format and audience in this space.

Staying organized

As you’re writing, remember to categorize and tag your posts – this is how others will find you, and how you may go back and search your posts in the future. Tags are also a great way to see what others are writing about the same topic. You can always try to search the COETAIL site for tags that are interesting to you to see if you can find some like-minded or interesting COETAILers sharing about the same ideas.

Track who’s reading

Sometimes it feels like no one is reading your blog, but you might be surprised at how many readers you actually have. A good way to find out is to start tracking your viewers. You can install Google Analytics for more advanced tracking, or just a simple clustermap or another type of visual map or stat counter to see where your viewers are from and which posts are capturing their attention and time. Pingbacks are also a great way to see who is writing about you, as is a custom Google alert. All of these strategies can help you be more aware of who is reading and what they’re spending their time on.

Perfect is not the point

I struggle with this myself. I like to read my writing again and again to really make sure it says what I want it to say. Sometimes this goal of the perfect post just means I never end up hitting publish, which is even worse than a slightly-less-than-perfect post because I never get to hear the feedback on my ideas, or I loose the idea or train of thought that was so compelling in the first place, or I miss a chance to document important learning. It’s tough to put your thoughts out there, but please, don’t focus on being perfect, focus on sharing your thinking. This is a learning space, where our ideas and thoughts can grow and change over time – and sometimes that’s the most powerful evidence of our learning that we can find.

What’s working for you?

As you’re finding your blogging mojo, what’s working for you? How have you developed your blogging voice through these first two courses (or previously)? What are you still working on? What’s still challenging? Would love to hear some of your thoughts either here in the comments or on your own blogs!

The Power of the Web

Welcome to Week 5!

By now you should have:

  • read and completed all readings up to, and including “Week 4″ in Course 2 under “My Courses
  • written 4 blog posts and 4 comments
  • continue recording the URL of the post you would like assessed as part of COETAIL on your grading spreadsheet in the Course 2 tab
  • continue recording the URL of the comments you would like assessed as part of COETAIL on your grading spreadsheet in the Course 2 tab
  • found and contacted a collaborative partner for your Course 2 final project
  • reviewed the feedback on your posts and comments in your grading spreadsheet
  • completed the application process for SUNY (only if you’re taking COETAIL for SUNY credit) – the deadline for this process is the end of this course.

The Power of the Web

Throughout Course 2 we’ve been thinking about the potential of the connections we make online to transform lives, to bring people together, and to make things happen that may have been impossible before the technology was available. From the idea of digital footprints and personal connections to the concept of creativity and the opportunities the web provides us, it’s clear that the web is shaping many aspects of our day-to-day lives.

In addition, we can see the power of those connections around the world in microloan services like Kiiva and Zidisha; awareness and human rights campaigns like Witness and Global Voicescrowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and indiegogo; sites to promote learning like Khan Academy or Code.org; even a something as “basic” as wikipedia is yet another example of the amazing power of the web. Or in the accessibility of data and our ability to share, collect and organize that data into useful and important “remixes”. Here’s another one of my heroes, Tim Berners-Lee talking about exactly this kind of example:

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However, one conversation that always comes up (and rightfully so) around these kinds of conversations is that the access to these kinds of technology tools is not equally distributed around the world, commonly referred to as the digital divide. Of course, I don’t have any easy answers to this challenge, as so eloquently described by my current YIS COETAIL participant and YIS colleague, Merilyn Winslade in one of her Course 2 posts: The Internet and Illusions of Grandeur. But I have been reading some interesting things about new possibilities being developed in countries like Zambia to move closer to bridging this divide that seem exciting and promising (although so does/did OLPC, and I’m not sure how much of an impact that has made, although this sounds good, as does this).

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It’s exciting to think that we may be moving toward a time when this kind of power may be more evenly distributed around the world. I was recently traveling in Burma (and Sean can tell us lots more about this), and I was amazed at the speed of the connection I had in various hotels and cafes. I left for my trip thinking I would be “off the grid” for the whole three weeks, but often found my access cheaper and faster than I would in Thailand or Vietnam. If countries that haven’t had sustainable access in the past are now starting toward that trend, it makes me wonder how much they will be able to leapfrog above and beyond those that are now at the forefront.

Living here in Japan, I know that we have amazing access to technology but quite a lot of it is almost humorously out-of-date, simply because they were the first to invite the technology (or use it in a widespread fashion), they haven’t been able to move ahead with the rest of the world.

Obviously, we’re all living in different places. What do you see in the development of technology in your host country (or home country)? Can you see people able to harness the power of the web?

Finding Your Tribe

Welcome to Week 4!

By now you should have:

  • read and completed all readings up to, and including “Week 3″ in Course 2 under “My Courses
  • written 3 blog posts and 3 comments
  • continue recording the URL of the post you would like assessed as part of COETAIL on your grading spreadsheet in the Course 2 tab
  • continue recording the URL of the comments you would like assessed as part of COETAIL on your grading spreadsheet in the Course 2 tab
  • found and contacted a collaborative partner for your Course 2 final project
  • completed the application process for SUNY (only if you’re taking COETAIL for SUNY credit) – the deadline for this process is the end of this course.

Google Hangout: Take 2?

Last course, Akio graciously hosted a Google Hangout, which only a few people were able to attend. Would you like the opportunity to have another real-time chat during this course? It’s a great way to connect with other members of the cohort, to discuss some of the big themes that we’re reading about, and just to get to know each other a little bit better. It could also be really valuable for those of you that haven’t found a collaborative partner for the Course 2 final project yet.

If you’d like to have a Hangout, please let me know in the comments! If you’re interested in facilitating this one, please also let me know! I am happy to facilitate if no one else is interested, but I love the idea of a participant-driven event. This is not required at all, just an opportunity for us to get together and share.

Finding Your Tribe

I’ve been reading through your posts this weekend and it’s great to see the varying perspectives that you all have, particularly on privacy! It’s a hot debate, that’s for sure! I’m glad to see how many thoughtful conversations have been started, and how many conversations in the comments are inspiring full blog posts!

One of the themes that came up again and again was the value of connecting and sharing, in comparison to the desire to share only with a limited group, or not to spend too much time sharing. One idea that’s resonated with me over time, is the concept of “the tribe” by Seth Godin:

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When I started sharing in online spaces, I never really thought about the connections I would make, or the opportunities that would come my way because of those connections. I certainly never realized that the time I spent sharing would develop into long-lasting friendships, job opportunities, more learning than I know what to do with, and of course the creation of COETAIL.

When I look back at those first posts, first tweets, first pictures, first status updates, they weren’t carefully crafted pieces designed to make people think or to share a new idea or even (really) to reflect on my own learning. But over time, my understanding of the medium grew and I started to understand just how powerful that sharing can be in creating those long-lasting real-life-impacting connections.

From reading your posts, it seems that many of you have had similar experiences. For those that haven’t (yet), I hope you will remain open to the idea, and at the very least consider how important this kind of environment can and will be for your students (and possibly your school) and their future.

Who’s in your tribe? How can you help your students understand the power of the tribe?

Understanding Copyright & Exploring Remix

Welcome to Week 3!

By now you should have:

  • read and completed all readings up to, and including “Week 2″ in Course 2 under “My Courses
  • written 2 blog posts and 2 comments
  • continue recording the URL of the post you would like assessed as part of COETAIL on your grading spreadsheet in the Course 2 tab
  • continue recording the URL of the comment you would like assessed as part of COETAIL on your grading spreadsheet in the Course 2 tab
  • started looking for a collaborative partner for your Course 2 final project
  • completed the application process for SUNY (only if you’re taking COETAIL for SUNY credit) – the deadline for this process is the end of this course.

Understanding Copyright

This is a complex topic, and one we often spend a full day discussing in our face-to-face cohort meetings. Along with the resources and readings for this week, if you’re super keen to learn more, the World Intellectual Property Organization has a very detailed and very long overview from a global perspective of copyright and it’s implications. In terms of use for education, this document from the American University Center for Social Media, has a great overview and lots of details on Fair Use. Common Sense Media has tons of great resources as well, and the handouts (which you have to create a Common Sense Media account, and then log in to access) from this lesson from the middle school section is particularly useful as a very simplified understanding of Fair Use.

In recent news, Google has just won their copyright battle to make portions of books available on Google Books, and Amazon is now able to offer ebook versions of books you’ve already purchased through them.

Exploring Remix

I have to admit that Week 2 of Course 2 may be my favorite of the whole course. I am fascinated by the concept of remix in general, and I love love love all the media and materials that come with this subject area. And, of course, Larry Lessig, the founder of Creative Commons, is one of my idols:

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Another of my absolute favorites is Everything is a Remix by Kirby Fergusen:

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Along those lines, you might also enjoy this clip from Press Pause Play featuring Seth Godin:

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And if you liked those, you might also enjoy Rip! A Remix Manifesto (another feature length film available for free online – just like Press Pause Play). Another great resource for remix material and understanding remix culture is PBS Off Book. All of their videos are fantastic, but to get an idea of remix through a more fine arts viewpoint, check out Visual Culture Online. There are tons more, so don’t stop there!

Getting Creative

How does all of this strike you? Are you excited and empowered by the opportunities for creativity and collaboration and sharing, or concerned about restrictions and abiding by the law, or worried about artists and their future money-making potential? Looking forward to reading your posts!

Privacy?

Welcome to Week 2!

By now you should have:

  • read and completed all readings in “Week 1″ in Course 2 under “My Courses
  • written 1 blog post and 1 comment
  • started using the “Course 2” tab of your grading spreadsheet to record the work you’re doing (this helps us stay organized – there is a separate tab for each course)
  • recording the URL of the post you would like assessed as part of COETAIL on your grading spreadsheet in the Course 2 tab
  • recording the URL of the comment you would like assessed as part of COETAIL on your grading spreadsheet in the Course 2 tab
  • had a read through of the final project for Course 2 – it’s a little different than Course 1
  • completed the application process for SUNY (only if you’re taking COETAIL for SUNY credit)

Preparing for the final project

Based on your feedback in Course 1, I’ve moved the final project information up so you have an idea of what to do, earlier. Along those lines, I thought it might be helpful to see some examples of really outstanding final projects from our cohort from Course 1. All of your projects were creative and relevant for you, and I’d like to highlight these examples for either the way they really demonstrate a solid UbD planner, or their thoughtful reflection on their final project. I’m hoping that sharing these examples will be helpful as you begin to think about your project as well.

  • Sean’s IBDP TOK project really demonstrates the effective structure of a GRASPS task written for students, as well as a thoughtful reflection and description of what he’s doing and why.
  • Alice wrote a great reflection about what she plans to do to get started with classroom blogs in grade 1 and how she plans to implement her project through the use of iPads and blogger.
  • Jessica’s reflection on her IBDP English project is amazingly thorough, and includes student samples of the finished work!
  • Mark’s Grade 7 Humanities planner follows the UbD principles and suggestions that I shared in one of my posts extremely well. His GRASPS task is so clear and easy to understand for students.
  • Murray and Michelle did a great job collaborating on their unit planner for Middle School Science, and the reflection they shared was very thoughtful and well organized, and gave a fantastic insight into exactly how they implemented this project – (one point, though, if you collaborate with others, please write an individual reflection – though it’s fine to have the same unit planner.
  • Robin did a great job making her unit planner practical and useful for her in her role in the Technology and Learning Team, as this unit is designed for teachers, rather than students.
  • Jeff pushed his grade 5 unit to the next level by adding a globally collaborative project element!

If you have time, please have a look through some of these projects (if you haven’t already), and leave them some feedback too!

Final Project Collaboration

As you can see in Murray and Michelle’s example above, collaborating on a final project can be a great way to push your thinking, get new ideas, and make the most out of our cohort experience. If you’d like to collaborate with someone for the Course 2 final project, but you’re not sure who might be interested, please leave a comment here and hopefully we can create some meaningful connections!

Please remember, if you collaborate with another cohort member on your final project, you each need to write an individual reflection on the process.

Privacy Online

This week’s theme is a complicated one. Is there such a thing as privacy online? Can you hope to keep anything you share in online spaces private? Is that a reasonable expectation? What kinds of things are people sharing online, and how does it affect them in other aspects of their lives?

Here’s a great infographic about how teens share online, along with a fun article from Lifehacker about how you’re unknowingly embarrassing yourself online (and how to stop).

Of course, it’s one thing when we’re thinking about sharing in spaces like Facebook or Twitter, where we know privacy is not a key feature, but what about in other aspects of our lives like banking or credit cards. Check out this commercial from Belgium (and the Mashable article about it):

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Is this freaking you out? Explore Disconnect or Ghostery to get a better idea of what websites are tracking you, and how to stop them.

The Filter Bubble

In addition to privacy concerns, what about the idea that what we see online can be tailored to us, based on the enormous amounts of data that companies can collect by tracking our online behavior. This is one of my favorite TED talks to show students and parents because it prompts so many great conversations about how the time we spend online impacts our lives in so many ways:

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Finding Balance

Now I’m not advocating we all go off the grid immediately (as you read in this week’s articles, it’s a lot harder than it sounds), but it is important to be aware of both the advantages and disadvantages of our increasingly digital lives. How are you finding the right balance between privacy and personalization for yourself?

Welcome to Course 2

Welcome to Course 2

Wow! We’re already finished with Course 1 and on to Course 2! The main focus of Course 2 is around privacy, safety and responsibility online. We’ll explore the ideas of digital footprints, copyright, digital citizenship, and the power of connections over the next six weeks. Again, the course will be divided into 5 themes for the first five weeks, and your sixth week will be time to catch up and complete your finished product.

Just like last course, you will need to complete:

  • 1 blog post per week for each of the 5 weeks of the course
  • A final project (see more details about the final project after the Week 1 readings)
  • 1 additional blog post reflection on your final project  – for a total of 6 posts
  • 1 comment per week for each of the 5 weeks of the course – for a total of 5 comments

All of these items should be documented on your grading spreadsheet.

A few updates from last course:

For the Final Project: This time around (thanks to your feedback), I’ve moved the final project details to just after the Week 1 readings so you can get a head start as early as you would like. Remember, it’s always ok to click through all of the weeks at once to get an overview of what we’ll be doing and then continue posting at your regular pace.

For your comments: Please note that these comments should be on someone else’s blog aside from your own or this blog. We’re trying to encourage collaboration and connection between the participants and beyond, so for those you’d like assessed please highlight your comments on other people’s blogs.

The Power of the Digital Footprint

Note: all of the links in this paragraph are new, and not officially part of the reading for this week, but I put them here because they’re super interesting and worth reading! Just didn’t want you to miss them 🙂

This week’s readings are all about digital footprints – what we leave behind as we share on the web. This course will highlight both the positive and negative aspects of sharing online, but as you might have guessed we believe strongly in the power of sharing – not just for us as educators, but also for our students. One great example that I always find amazing, and learned about from one of my YIS Cohort 1 co-facilitators, Brian Farrell, is the story of Rosie Hardy (and here are her thoughts on the original photograph). The idea that there is an audience for our work is an exciting one, and certainly one worth sharing with our students!

Along those same lines, you may enjoy this TEDx talk from Alexandra Samuel: 10 Reasons to Stop Apologizing for Your Online Life:

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For some reason this talk really resonates with some people and rubs others the wrong way. What do you think? Would love to hear your reactions in the comments or on your blog!

Organizing Your Digital Footprint

As you start to think about the lasting impact of the work you’re doing with COETAIL, you may want to start organizing your posts and developing a category system so that your work is easy to find and reference in the future. You’ll notice that each of my posts for Course 1 are in a Course 1 category, and I’ll follow the same process for Course 2. In my mind, categories are like a manila folder that lots of papers can fit into, a bigger concept that many different ideas will fall under.

When we’re looking at more specific topics, like “digital footprint” for example, you might want to create a tag. Again this will help you (and others) search and find your posts. Tags are very useful once you have lots of posts to sort through and the big categories aren’t as helpful any more. It may not seem like it now, but you will have lots of posts by the end of this program!

Common Tags and Categories

Another thing we may want to think about as a cohort, is agreeing on some common tags. We’ve added an awesome tags page on the COETAIL site to make it easier for all of the participants to find each other’s work. What about if we start with some like:

  • Course 2
  • Final Project
  • and one for each theme of the week: this week’s is Digital Footprint

Have another suggestion? Please leave your ideas in the comments!

Let’s get started!

That’s it! We’re off and running with Course 2! If for some reason you’re still missing work from Course 1, or having received a grade yet, but don’t know why, please let me know. There are a few of you that are still working on things, which is fine, but certainly if you’re confused, drop me a line!