I’ve followed the School Library Journal’s column, Carrie on Copyright, for a long time, generally reading it as each issue comes out. I had recently added it to my Google Reader feed, as I use this feed to gather information for “tweeting.” I find it surprising that Carrie Russell, who writes this regular column, does not use Twitter (at least openly) to propogate her column to a wider audience. It speaks to a general misunderstanding about what Twitter is best used for, in an educational sense.
As @LibraryRemix, on twitter, I use the service to push links to my own blog out to other library media and ed tech specilists, as well as share links to resources I’ve discovered online. My early foray into the system, where I shared cryptic thoughts and opinions gained me few followers. In was when I started to share USEFUL information, along with links to longer commentaries in my blog that I started to develop a professional network. Twitter is at it’s best when used as a BRIDGE medium.
In the classroom, I think students gain significantly when they make a personal connection to experts/authors. Too often students fail to see themselves as partners in the professional dialogue that surrounds them in their studies. By connecting directly to the key players in that dialogue, students are encouraged to not only listen in, but to also participate in that dialogue. Following an expert on twitter, exchanging emails with an author/artist, following a researcher’s blog…each has the potential to help the student become more participatory—practitioners, so to speak—in the learning process. They become part of the professional network.
As a teacher, I feel I can be most effective in teaching this professional networking by modelling both its practice and its benefits. I find it FRUSTRATING beyond belief that while I can do this as an individual through my LibraryRemix blog/twitter account/facebook page, I cannot do so directly as the Library Media Specialist at my school through the school’s channels. I can teach students RSS feeds, though those feeds often come from professional blogs, which are blocked by our school’s filters. Meeting students WHERE they are with the resources that the need…modelling positive learning behaviors in online spaces that are so often seen as only social in nature…that is my professional role and I feel held back by policies that are designed more to prevent than to prepare students for the world they encounter online. How can it be that students are encouraged to follow outside experts but not the experts in their midst?
If I could, I’d take my work with students online to the networks where they “live.” There, I’d teach students to find and experts online…and to evalute, to carefully choose who they follow based on reputation, purpose, and credibility. As it is, I can only point them to the experts I have, myself, vetted…doing the most critical thinking for them. And, leaving them unprepared to create a learning network beyond the one that they are fed or chance upon.
This year, my school implemented a Video Library component of our online filter (LightSpeed). For the most part, it does a great job at isolating the content from the video…BUT…there are shortfalls. Videos cannot be embedded into the local website (links only), nor can videos from other video sharing sites be integrated using the service. So…are there other alternatives? Tools for educators (and parents) to use that encourage viewing but limit access? I’ve listed (and tested) a few tools and share what I’ve discovered below:
SafeShare and ViewPure
Both sites allows you to input a video URL and generate a code that can then be shared through websites, as well as via social networking tools. In SafeShare you can crop videos before sharing. YouTube only.
TubeChop or SnipSnip
Each allows you to crop (set a beginning and end point) of a video and then share via web or social network. Handy when you need to pull something brief from a video. TubeChop is simpler to use (just). Neither allows you to convert using online conversion tools, such as Zamzar, for further remixing.
Need to do a simple download (for load on an Mp3 player)? Try SaveVideo.me!
iLearn Technology blog’s post, Tag Galaxy: Visual Word Relationships outlines a tool with some serious possibilities. Beyond word relationships and visual imagery, I can see using this to help students understand the concept of tagging on the web, in general. Tagging has become a standard part of many teens’ online experience (think FaceBook)…but how many students understand what it is they are doing…the digital trail they are creating…when they create tags. Learning to tag responsibly is a crucial lesson that many of us (even as adults) have yet to learn.
I’ve had my mind on storytelling as a genre. It’s not often, at the high school level, that I engage in “storytime,” though through in my role as forensics coach, I’ve witnessed some fine examples. As school media guru, I believe all students deserve the chance to “tell their story” in ways that are meaningful to them. I’ve been working my way through online options for storytelling. Teens can be notoriously fickle, and they certainly like to express themselves in unique ways. Offering them more options in their “toolbox” just makes sense. Here are a few I’ve found.
Storify allows users to search for and import social media posts into a “retelling” of a story. Still in beta, the site requires potentials to request an invite (along with information regarding your purposes and web presence).
Projeqt supports users in creating a slideshow story that is readable on mobile devices and social media sites. Request a beta invite through a simple email submission.
Intersect offers a unique take on social storytelling. Users create stories the site identifies other stories that “intersect” by place and time. You can search the site by place and time as well. The site has an iPhone app that complements it.
Screenr is a screencast recorder online. You can record your online actions and post to twitter or embed in other online sites (including your own website!).
We’ve had a recent debate at my school regarding the discontinuation (wedding) of all VHS tapes from the library collection. English teachers are understandably upset by the administrative strong arms who may or may not have an understanding of core literature being taught in the curriculum. I have mixed feelings. I weighed into the conversation and think some of what was said bears restating:
“It’s true that literary knowledge does not follow the same trajectory as the hard sciences, where things become outdated by age or medium (or even popularity). Literary folks will attest to the fact that not only do some of the MOST timeless works of literature fail to capture the attention of our market driven society, but there are also many great works (print, moving or otherwise) that remained relatively “undiscovered” by the popular culture for years. Likewise, there is a lot of stuff that is wildly popular and available (the Gossip Girls series, perhaps), that doesn’t deserve a great investment on our part. It’s our responsibility, as educators, to expose students to deep texts, if we are going to demand deep thinking. If we are forging the way (rather than simply following along) we may sometimes need to teach materials, ideas, and concepts that are not available due to less popular demand.”
“I think what’s important for us all to understand is that we (i.e. LMC/Tech staff) are no longer able to support a dying technology with the personnel and funds available. For now, we are supporting DVD and online resources (skipping the equipment dependent BluRay investment). Technology is changing so fast, who knows what formats we’ll be using even five years from now. This does bring to light the fact that as educators we need to DRIVE the demand for quality materials. We’ll have to experiment with other online sites and delivery models (YouTube and Safari are not all there is), loudly weigh in on the issue of copyright/reproduction technologies within our larger culture and learning networks, and professionally enter into the conversation about what media delivery will look like here at HUHS…what formats and what devices.”
I’m excited about the discussion. Lots of fodder for moving forward and taking a lead.
I enjoyed participating in an online interactive interview with author James Bach on Self-Education and Passion held this evening and hosted by FutureofEducation.com. Bach is the son of author Richard Bach who penned Jonathan Livingston Seagull, the first book I read that encouraged independent and critical thinking. James dropped out of high school and has gone on to build an impressive career in the software world, self-education. He supported his own son’s decision to leave formal education at the age of twelve, choosing to facilitate his son’s learning as interests in subjects and topics arise.
Bach’s ideas are radical, to be sure. Many educators will cringe at the ideas of unschooling heralded by self-made individuals such as Bach. As a librarian, I don’t find it such a stretch. I strive to provide students with an IDEA lab…a place where they can explore and learn what and through those subjects/ideas that draw them. There are lots of people who agree. Check out SelfMadeScholar, a blog dedicated to these concepts.
Two puzzles are continuing to rattle around…things I’ll need to think more about.
1. Many of the individuals who associate themselves with unschooling actually promote it through the institutionalized concept of “home-schooling.” It seems to me that doing so not only appears a bit converse to their own concept (why use the work schooling at all?) but also pairs these learning revolutionaries with others whose opposition to public schools is founded in very different ideals…fear that public schools are not strict, not structured enough. Strange marriage.
2. I’ve noticed that in schools that opportunitites to participate in the most motivating alternative learning environments (conferences, field trips, extra-curriculars activities) is generally limited to those students who are successful in formal school. Those students who would most benefit from these opportunitites are either restricted or left unaware of their availability. I wonder, are “unschooled” students presented with opportunitites for immersive learning. As a professional, these are the places where one networks with like-minded people. Should students who are self-educated be introduced to these opportunities, at the very least.
…with classroom support materials at MacMillian Dictionary Online (here).
In a time where the dialogue centers around the ACQUISITION of languages (as a means towards globalization), it’s mind-bending (and inspiring) when we turn the conversation towards language BUILDING. It may be politically incorrect to applaud the use of English as a global language today, but it’s hard to deny the flexibility of form we enjoy, as English speakers. I’d never argue that we quit the quest to learn and use other languages–there’s much cultural respect in the practice, and certainly beauty in learning to express ourselves in new ways–but I say HURRAH! for celebrating the dynamic nature of language itself…and of English, in particular.