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Thursday, April 12, 2007

A Heart for the Horizon: Horizon Project 2007 Kicks off Tuesday



Sorry for the long post but I want to give you all of the details about this project and give you a special invitation to join us. I've tried to contact as many as I can but I haven't gotten to my whole list! Please e-mail me or leave a comment here!

My Heart is on the Horizon

My heart is on the horizon
squinting into the sun
wondering where we're going
and just what we've just begun!

My heart is on the horizon
as we forge ahead like a herd of turtles.
A better day lies ahead
if we'll work to jump the hurdles.

The hurdles loom in our minds
and in the hearts of men.
Link arms with giants
and put your heart on the horizon again.

Vicki A. Davis




The Horizon Project Begins Tuesday

On Tuesday, the following classrooms begin a project to look into the future of education based upon the Horizon Report 2007 Edition by the New Media Consortium and Educause:
  • Australia - Presbyterian Ladies College (Melbourne) Grade 10 Digital Innovation (John Turner)
  • Austria - Vienna International School (Vienna) Grade 11 Information Technology in a Global Society (Barbara Stefanics)
  • China - Shanghai American School (Shanghai) Media Literacy (Ed Kidd) Blog: http://blogs.saschinaonline .org/edkidd/
  • Bangladesh - International School Dhaka (Dhaka) Grade 11 Information Technology in a Global Society (Julie Lindsay) Blog: http://elgg.net/itgs/weblog
  • USA - Westwood Schools (Camilla, GA) Introduction to Computer Science, Vicki Davis
This includes 60 students in five countries but represents many more nationalities and cultures.

Julie's slideshare to the students explains the project best:


We are analyzing the trends that will significantly impact college education (and our society) in the next 1-5 years. We are looking at them now, predicting the future, and making proposals about what the students think that needs to happen.

Like the flat classroom project, we are researching the trends AND experiencing the trends in this form of wiki-centric, web 2 enabled scholarship.

Here are the areas of fundamental change:

So, why are we doing this?
What are our goals and who is involved? We've created a very complete About Us page naming the people who thus far have agreed or volunteered to help and explaining the "why's" as best we can. But our focus is the students!

Amazingly twenty six of you have agreed to help in several areas. We appreciate it, but know that if you are interested in such a project for your school we have room for more.

Here is my introductory message (we all post podcasts or avatar-enabled video to start).



We appreciate our original flat classroom judges coming back to advise us. They've been spending a lot of time via e-mail or IM giving us feedback as we literally gutted the two old rubrics to come up with ONE rubric for all five classrooms that follows current educational theory and effective practice. (We were very concerned with the flaws in the old one that many were copying the old rubric! We felt it was too cumbersome and didn't focus enough on the thinking skills we are trying to teach.)

Do you or your classroom have one Class period?
See: Sounding Board Wiki

A major weakness of the flat classroom project according to our advisory panel (and the students) was the lack of peer review and feedback during the project (which consisted of only the teacher's feedback.) The students felt like that the judge feedback was so good that they should have had it sooner.

So, we've added two new components:

Peer Review: The Sounding Board Concept
Sharon Peters, who has collaborated on no less than six international collaborative projects (and provided peer feedback on many more) has agreed to be our "Head Coach" for the Sounding Board process. She will share her lesson plan (one class period) and assessment strategies for teaching your classroom effective peer review strategies. If you join in, you as the teacher will be added to the wiki, and our private ning discussion area for educators only (not students) so that you can work with Sharon to give your feedback and refine the process of peer review.

Then, on either April 23 or April 30, you will take a list of our wiki projects and divide them between your student with each student have 1 or at most 2 wiki groups. Using effective peer feedback strategies, they will read the student wikis, evaluate them, and post their feedback on the discussion area of the wiki for the page(s) that they have been assigned. (They do not need to join the space to do this.)

Note: Peer review has to move down to the high school level. With the student networking tools at our fingertips we need to get past the "Cool post" or "You go girl" kind of comments into meaningful, motivational, effective peer feedback that sets the stage for entrance into an Internet-centric workforce or academic institution. It is a skill to be taught and an increasingly important one (as the Horizon report bears out.)

The involvement of experts
The students and judges hungered for feedback earlier in the process.

a) We've created a tagging standard and are going to be coaching them about how to use delicious to share resources. YOU CAN TAG TOO and send them feedback on the trends analyzed in this project. It will feed to their wiki via RSS.

b) We have a group of "experts" that will give feedback to the teams via the discussion tab on the wiki only on April 23rd. They will read over the wiki and point out research and things the students need to be looking at. (This is in addition to feedback from the teachers that is provided on a weekly basis as well.) If you are interested, please get in touch with me at coolcatteacher at gmail.com!
We kept the judging process but have renamed it Expert Review Panel. They will use the judging rubric to evaluate 4-5 wiki pages each and provide feedback after the project is over and awards modeled after the last project. This is who is on board thus far.

Researchers
We are also working to include several researchers and have forms to allow researchers to observe that we are going to ask the classrooms to sign. Most if not all will be over skype and no student will be interviewed without a teacher present. All contact will be made through the teacher and through observations on the wiki.

Dr. Mary Friend Shepherd, a friend of mine and lead teacher at Walden University has already signed on to observe and she and I are meeting next week to discuss some others who are interested. We hope to have larger scale research in the fall so that the results can be observed to determine if this is something all schools should do. (We think it is!)

Journalists
We wanted to make sure that we did a better job this time of capturing the process. When people wait and observe the final product, for the most part, they look so good that it is intimidating. The messy, tough, challenging process was never observed and far too many teachers say: "I can't do it." It is such an all consuming process that we too forget the nuances.
We are using a tagging standard to feed the panel of journalists our posts (we are still setting up the feeds via the wiki) and are going to give them access to the teachers and classrooms. The current journalists involved:

United Kingdom


United States

  • Suzie Boss - Executive Editor, The Learning Innovation and Technology Consortium - www.learninginnovation.org Co-author of New Landscapes for Learning: A Field Guide for 21st-Century Teachers, to be published later this year by ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education)
  • Anita McAnear, Acquisitions Editor, ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education)
  • Gwen Solomon, Director, techlearning.com
  • Beth Kanter, Contributing Editor for NGOs and Social Change at BlogHer Beth's Blog, Netsquared - Columnist
We would love some from other countries!

Youth Summit

Our plan is to conclude with a youth summit and right now we are seeking a platform such as elluminate or WebX that could allow the students to log in at various times and present their video and share what they learned. We would like to allow you and students access to the presentations and literally have educators around the world talking about the future and led by the future.

This is still in the planning stages and our goal is to have it around May 14-16. We hope that we can find a platform that is stable and a company that believes in the cause of global collaborative project that would like to have many educators around the world use their services. (We have no budget but big dreams for this project and the world.!)

Project managers
Each team has a student project manager. These are, for the most part, students who mastered flat classroom I. They will be coordinating their teams and facilitating collaboration and intra-wiki linking between all projects to promote group synergies.

This was another suggestion of our flat classroom judges and is why we are seeking to involve as many advisors as we can. For it is often in the one kernel of an idea that amazing things sprout for all of us! Our advisors on this:
The Hard Work
The hard work, like last time, is before the project started. Julie and I have been working for over a month as have the advisers and the teachers who are coming on board. This takes a lot of work. The great thing is that we are working to leave "tracks" that others can follow.

If the rubric works, guess what, you don't have to spend 20 hours on it like we did -- you can use that one.

If the templates work, and you do a project, after we revise the templates, you can copy and paste it and don't have to spend the 10-15 hours we've spent working on them and developing them. But we need good feedback, many educators are cutting and pasting these rubrics and templates so they need to be right!

Clearing the field
I guess it is like when my dad used to clear a field when I was a child. It could take a month to cut down the trees and pull up stumps and rocks, but after that, all he had to do was till the land under. It became easier.

Now three amazing new teachers are coming into the project and it makes Julie and I make sure that we document things.

Why?
As I said, I am a farm girl. And when I grew up I remember going down to the gas station and listening to a lot of the farmers sit around and talk about when they were going to plant and what they were going to plant and how their harvest was going to be better. Dad didn't hang around there... he was out planting!

Well, we can talk about School 2.0 and Web 2.0, and global collaboration, and all of the principles in the Horizon Report all day long but there are some people (not just us) who are out there planting!

We've got to do our part to plant so that we will begin to move students not only towards information literacy but digital literacy and collaborative literacy as well as effective techno-personal skills.

We're not the only ones but we are part of the process of change and we welcome all others who want to join in! We are trying to be inclusive connectors! Here's your invitation! We can't e-mail everyone!

The Chasm between Business and Education
A widening chasm is occurring between what businesses need and demand and what educational institutions are producing today.

  • Educational institutions value paper.. Businesses are cutting it out.
  • Educational institutions value face to face interaction. Businesses are promoting virtual interactions.
  • Educational institutions value peer review journals many of which take 2 years to publish. Businesses value peer reviewed blogs and wikis to promote rapid information exchange.
  • Educational institutions look down on many internet sources...things take time. Businesses want information at the end of their fingertips... time is money.
  • Educational institutions want to take away gadgets and keep students from using them. Businesses want to give their employees more gadgets and expect them to figure it out.
  • Educational institutions often want students to learn before they create. Businesses want students to learn as they create!
There are many educational activists out there who want to see all of us, ourselves included, produce better, more competent, stronger students. We want to see all students succeed and to help students understand that morality doesn't stop at the computer screen.


Our heart is on the horizon.

If your heart is on the horizon... will you join us?


Thank you Julie for your hard work and dedication! Thank you Barbara and John and Ed for believing that such projects can be done!
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I think I'll have changes to this tomorrow, I am so tired. But here it is for you!
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