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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Questions to Help Examine Your Learning Practices



A round brilliant cut diamond set in a ringImage via Wikipedia
But I've spent the morning captivated. Enraptured. I have a segment of my RSS reader called "hotlist" and into it go the blogs and feeds that I can't ignore - my "media diet" as Mark Hurst of Bit Literacy would say.

Relationship Gem #1: My friend, David Truss
In the first post in my reader -- I had to stop and say - Happy Blogaversary, David Truss - it has been five years and you've given us a heck of a lot more change than a "pair a dimes!" (couldn't resist ;-)

Be part of the lives of your friends. My dear friend Julie Lindsay left a comment on Friday's super-popular Facebook Friending 101 for Schools post - it means a lot for her to fire up her VPN and read my blog sometimes.

RSS Gem #1 from Marshall K + Bookmark #1
I started with Marshall K's post about departing Twitter co-founder Evan Williams. Not only was it touching for Marshall to show what Evan (cofounder of blogger AND Twitter) meant to him but the description of how Marshall K massages and extracts meaning from Twitter was fascinating to me.

Marshall said:

"I’ve used the tool Needlebase to discover patterns and benchmarks in social media activity by leading corporate practitioners around the world by scraping Twitter lists, and to scrape and map people who’ve been listed by other users as Journalists who have more than 2,000 followers and live in the South Eastern US. I used Needlebase to scrape the messages and locations of thousands of Tweets from Twitter staff members and find one needle in the haystack that indicated yes, the rumor that Twitter was opening a data center in Utah may have been correct, since an engineer Tweeted that he had begun work that day and geotagged the tweet from the area."
Led to... Teaching Idea #1
Now, college professors - take that and study it. We're going to look at this one with my tenth grade NetGenEd students today who are studying augmented reality and location based apps.

Led to... Technology #1, Bookmark #2
This led me on a journey into Needlebase and a list of free databases that would be fascinating to use with students. But then, I came across the list of twitter users on Needlebase  that Marshall made in less than an hour. Ok, then I begged for an account on needlebase to understand and test the service.

RSS Gems #2-5 from Stephen Downes
Back to the 30 items in my Google reader widget on my iGoogle start page only to be inhaled by the brilliance of Stephen Downes. Whether he loves me or not, I don't care but he is by far, the most useful and widely read aggregator of education news alive today. If educational blogging had a grandaddy, I think he'd be it. I learn from him every day I hit the reader. Here are the three articles that hit me there:

Led to Bookmark #3

Paul Stacey from BCcampus: Open Education and Policy  - "Paul Stacey is as much an authority as anyone on the subject of open educational resources, and in this interview by Creative Commons he offers a useful resource in the form of a chart cross-referencing OER projects and the licenses they select."
Led to Bookmark #4 and a Comment on the Huffington Post
A link to an article on the Huffington post about Kids Teaching Kids. (The only thing that bothered me is that the writer on Huffington is one of the people who founded Kids Teaching Kids and the article is written very much like a news article - not sure the disclaimer fully discloses there.) Yet, it is a good article that reminds me of the student idea for Aha! (Amateurs Teaching Adults) from Mumbai's Flat Classroom Mini-Conference in 2010. (We'll be back in 2012.)

Led To Teaching Gem #2 for the Digiteen Project

And a useful tool from Media Awareness Network to help kids be safer cybercitizens.

Full of learning, I go back to my reader widget on my iGoogle page.

Vicki, you've got to start writing your post this morning. This is your blogging time, not your learning time, remember?
RSS Gem #3 + Bookmark #5
POW! A post from Edutopia's Betty Ray that aggregates a wealth of writing on Student-Centered Learning. Who needs a textbook when you've got an article like this to read.

Time Elapsed: 25-30 minutes

So, then I came here, to write to you. (My bookmarks will be posted on this blog in the morning automatically by Diigo which aggregates the things I tag for you and posts them automatically around 5:45 am.)

Here are my conclusions.

Questions for You About Your Learning
  • Look at your RSS. I've written about selecting your Circle of the Wise and it is even more important today. Who is in your @Hotlist on your RSS reader?

  • Look at those in your Feed. You become like those you are around and mirror those we are around. Who are you around?

  • Look for inspiration. If you're only around yourself. Only writing about yourself. Only thinking your own thoughts - how interesting are you? Dad always told me that there are two things that can influence my life - only two: the people we meet and the books we read.

    I tell my children now that there are two things: the people we meet and what we read. (magazines, blogs, Kindle - these things are more than books.

  • Get past "Googling" into Thinking. Are the students I teach prepared to go deeper? Most students expect to type something verbatim in Google and get an answer. What happens when they have pre-processing required to figure out what to search. In Digiteen, we intentionally changed up the words we used to force students into authentic research. We've gotten pushback from kids who say "I can't find anything on global awareness and virtual worlds."

    (They are missing that they are studying how various countries are using virtual worlds - HOW do they find information on THAT. It is hard for most students to get to that level of thinking. But if they can't get THAT how on earth are they going to figure out how Marshall K figured out that Twitter was opening a new data center? How could they use something like needlebase.)

  • Take Time to Learn. We need time to amble through learning experiences. We can find meaning and learn a lot.
  • Are you Set up for Serendipity? John Hagal, John Seely Brown et al in the Power of Pull call what I've had this morning "serendipitous learning experiences." Have you designed your start page to bring serendipitous experiences to you?
  • Take Time to Learn! (Yes, I repeated myself!) Can you take 15-20 minutes at least 3 times a week to learn something new. This is about lifelong learners. I just became a lifetime member of Weight watchers - I have made a decision to be healthy and live it out every day of my life. You will make a decision to learn and grow or stew in self centeredness. What will it be? Lifelong learner?
You can't learn everything but you can learn something. Take time today to amble through your circle of the wise. You'll be glad you did.

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