Archive for category online tools
Blog reader, welcome to the Next Thing that is pulling me back inexorably into a research space concerned with online learning.
In my last post I talked about/to the most excellent Sayraphim Lothian, who is on the verge of beginning a research degree at my uni (hopefully with me as the supervisor). Sayraphim is slaying the write up of the research ‘prologue’ over on the blog sayraphimlothian.com. We have both caught the #edutube fever, wanting to explore education/educational YouTube videos/creators etc. …you know, #edutube?
And I mean, that’s the problem-slash-wonderful thing about exploring YouTube that is being created and viewed in educational ways. To even pin down what I mean by that involves myriad semantic considerations. The ‘on YouTube’ bit is concisely defined and establishes one clear boundary. Excellent. But as for the rest…
When I say ‘edutube’ a typical question cascade sounds like this:
- Are you meaning professional teachers who make videos, or anyone who is aiming to teach others through a video?
- Does the education have to be intentional – what about when something is learned from a video on YouTube but the creator didn’t intend it, and maybe could not have anticipated it?
- What is the difference between education and learning anyway?
- Isn’t everything a potential learning experience? So are attempts to define what is ‘educational’ just exercises in gate-keeping?
- By the way, schools are such gatekeepers, they are really bureaucratic and restrict learning in a lot of ways, don’t you think? Down with schools! YouTube has tutorials for everything!
- jk. Platform capitalism might be a concern – do you think platforms like YouTube might be trying to create a global education market?
- In what ways might professional teachers’ work be intersecting with new education markets?
- Have you heard of flipped learning?
- In what ways might we be productively redefining teaching and learning? Perhaps as personal and community practices, not only professional and institutional ones?
- Can anyone be a teacher? What defines a teacher?
- Is a teacher the same as an educator?
- How is ‘education’ different to ‘educational’? Does that distinction provide a helpful boundary?
- Will anyone be asking the students about any of this? #studentvoice
There is a striation that commonly interrupts this kind of question cascade: who owns teachers’ IP; what are the conflict of interest issues; who stands to profit from a hidden global curriculum that is defined by a corporation; have you heard the saying ‘if it’s free then you’re the product’? Technical and practical questions about legislation, policy and money. Interesting questions, ones that also interest me. But they aren’t as helpful for defining ‘edutube’.
So why edutube for me, why now?
Biographically, the answer is that it is a very natural progression for me in terms of my ongoing interest in social media and digital cultures. I was a teacher in the thick of the Digital Education Revolution and we lived and breathed this challenge: what can you do with these screens? We found out quickly the limits of that world, and how contingent those limitations were on things including: the state you taught in, the sector, the goals of the Regional Director, the attitudes of the school community (especially the Boss)… not to mention the damn battery life and lack of internet connection.
As far as I can tell, from my position in Brisbane, Australia at least, is that the answer to the challenge ‘what can you do with these screens?’ in education – both schools and higher education – is ‘take it slowly’. The hyper-connected PLN/PLE learning culture that we thought could be around the corner remains stymied by over-crowded curriculum and a culture that is fixated on standardised (you say ‘high standards‘, I say ‘one size fits all‘) pedagogy and assessment.
But I can’t help it – I’m still interested in screens.
One of the most popular screen media in my house is YouTube, I am already a participant in the culture. I’ve been making video for my own teaching for a long time, uploading my first (unlisted) teaching video to YouTube in 2012 – it was an assignment Q&A – and now maintaining a public-facing channel with a few uploads a year. I am a ‘creator’!
A creator. Look, here is another different word for teacher. Or would a better word for that be author? Wait I think I remember something about the medium being the message? Now we’re talking! My screen-based, education and English teacher worlds collide!
I’m only just piecing together the parts of my own research design. I won’t write the ethics application until next year after January break, but I think I want to start by looking at Australian teachers who make YouTube with the purpose of educating others. Just a few case studies, maybe alongside a wider survey?
If you want to keep talking about this, or just have an idea, reference or link to throw my way, drop by in the comments. I’d love to hear responses to any element of this post no matter how random.
I thought I knew the Australian Curriculum for English almost inside out, but recently discovered a whole new box I had been leaving un-ticked.
It was the ScOT box.
What does ScOT stand for, you ask?
Schools Online Thesaurus.
If you go to their homepage (http://scot.curriculum.edu.au/) you can search for a relevant term to your field and see what you get. I searched for ‘literature’ and was directed to this:
…you can see some of the rabbit holes I’ve been down from there already.
I found such useful things in the thesaurus for the work I’m doing this week.
I also found the other data sets available in the Australian education vocabularies list:
For the English teachers still playing along – see ‘language modes’ in the list? Kinda specific thing to make a vocabulary about, I thought.
I clicked though and interestingly, the entry does not reflect all six language modes in the Australian Curriculum.
‘Creating’ has been left out.
Creating has been left out, despite being there plain as day in the Achievement Standards, the Aim, and the Glossary entry for ‘mode’ in English.
And there ends the list of all the things I needed to stop and show you.
Who I do I write to, to point this out?
Enjoy the thesaurus!
I created a YouTube channel over five years ago, but only used it to upload random learning objects for work. Most of the time the videos were published as unlisted.
In the lead up to VidCon however, I had a go at a couple of purposefully-public vlogs:
- One on whether teaching senior English is different to junior,
- and one asking why we read/write/teach poetry.
Since VidCon I’ve stayed in touch with the eduTubers I met there, and we are all working on videos based on a common theme. To be revealed!
The channel settings have recently been changed as I attempt to build something like this blog, that is a channel for my voice.
The channel name is: kellischannel
I currently have 38 subscribers (woo hoo!)
If I get to 100 subscribers, I can switch to a custom URL (omg!)
So, if you want to see where I go with this, head over to YouTube to like, comment or subscribe…
This is my ninth year of blogging and I have just reached my 200th subscriber.
When I began blogging in June 2008 I managed to post nine posts in the first month. That’s heaps! I went back to browse them and was surprised – that I had written so much, but also that they were so short. These days I feel like everything I have to say needs so much explaining, so much backstory. It’s an occupational hazard. Writing lectures and research papers is wordy work, and that has truly seeped into all the other genres in my life.
Last weekend I was in Melbourne for VidCon, the first ever in Australia. It was amazing! More on that another time. And I met an excellent crowd of YouTube creators who are into education, and we had long and interesting talks. Getting to know each other, it was only when someone mentioned they have been blogging for a long time that I caught myself having not mentioned my blog. And I paused for thought. Then realised I hadn’t really, truly grasped the similarities between blogging (in which I am an old hand) and vlogging (in which I am a noob), until that moment.
(You mean I can transfer all this knowledge there? That is so darn handy right now.)
So, to articulate it for myself and others, here are the three big reasons why I still blog:
- I use the blog as a professional journal to reflect on my practice.
- I like to make a lot of my ideas and resources visible to others, because I trust the network and believe we are better when we share.
- The blog is like a pensieve. Or a portable hard drive for my mind.
ICYMI – in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Albus Dumbledore describes the penseive like this:
“I use the Pensieve. One simply siphons the excess thoughts from one’s mind, pours them into the basin, and examines them at one’s leisure. It becomes easier to spot patterns and links, you understand, when they are in this form.”
Came across this video today that I made with colleague Jill Willis, back in 2015. I’d still give all of this advice…though I might add a caution about not engaging in Twitter arguments, as there are too many of those going around these days.
If you are a teacher who is about to try some tweeting, here are some tips:
It was very satisfying this week to get a notification from WordPress reminding me of my blogiversary.
Six years of blogging!
The time sure has flown. And although I still have much to learn about online writing, I can say with confidence that nothing beats the professional development and reflection that public writing has afforded me.
As if one milestone wasn’t enough, this was also the week that I clicked over the 10,000 tweet mark (!)
Sadly I missed the exact moment and didn’t get a screenshot, but here’s how it’s looking today:
2008 – what was happening?
A quick look at my profile stats shows that I joined Twitter in May 2008, and created my blog not long after in June 2008.
Around this time I was:
- 27 years old
- living in Southwest Sydney
- halfway into my second year of full time teaching
- part time enrolled in my PhD
- newly married
- on the ‘Web & Technology’ and ‘Curriculum and Assessment’ Committees of the NSW ETA
Whew! When that’s all written down in a list we can see it was big year! And that’s just the ‘big stuff’.
The ETA bit is important, because it’s through ETA work that I met one of my most influential and constant mentors, Darcy Moore – it was his persistent encouragement that persuaded me to start tweeting and blogging. His advice at the time, which has always stuck with me, was that I shouldn’t be afraid to put my views in the public domain, as long as they are views I am prepared to defend and stand by. In fact, the test of whether you are prepared to say something in public can be an excellent method for testing your convictions.
I’ve used the metaphor before, but real True Blood fans can stand to hear it twice: Darcy you’re the best ‘maker’ ever!
My other big digi-hat tips go to Bianca Hewes for being such an incredible force of energy and inspiration, and to Mary-Helen Ward who got me writing my first ever blog posts back at university on the internal network. You gals have left footprints all over my professional (and personal) life and I’m so grateful for it.
Milestones IRL – Work
The end of this semester also marks a non-virtual, real life work milestone: four years in one job.
Four. Years. In. One. Job.
It’s not for lack of stamina that I haven’t stayed anywhere else for longer than three years. I worked part time for awhile when I started my PhD. Then I taught for three years in one place before moving interstate and reseting the meter. So it’s not like I’m some kind of education sector Runaway Bride! Although I am also no Baby Boomer, and I confess the idea of staying in one job for a lifetime is simply unfathomable to me. I won’t bother linking to any of the plethora of ridiculous articles about how Gen Y make bad employees – as a Gen X/Gen Y ‘cusper’ I never see myself in those stories (I’m too young to relate to Winona Ryder in Reality Bites, and too old to pull off skinny jeans). But suffice to say that after four years in one job, I’m feeling a sense of stability that I’ve never known before. It’s nice. I’m finally standing still for long enough to start sharpening the saw.
Well, it turns out that this is my 299th blog post, so post number 300 is just around the corner 🙂
Other than that, I’m going to keep on keeping on with my online writing and continue to integrate digital communication/curation into my teaching practice. I’m working on a few scholarly journal articles for publication early next year, so my post-PhD academic writing funk looks like it may have finally run it’s course.
I’m trying to take a more active role in promoting our local English Teacher chat on Twitter (#ozengchat).
I’m slowly collecting my poetry teaching materials on the web for other teachers to access with ease.
Aside from that, time will tell.
But for now let me just say: thanks for reading, and happy blogging everyone!
Happy 2014 to all! It seems I inadvertently took a blog break over summer holidays – a break from most things digital, in fact. I’m back in the swing of things now though, with a head full of ideas and energy stores replenished. Who knew I was so tired after 2013? Well OK, I did. Now you do too 😉
So, this is my fourth year at my job as a lecturer. How time flies eh? Reflecting on my time so far I can confidently say that I’ve continued the spirit of innovation I had as a high school teacher into my university teaching. I’ve pushed forward with using social networks to support student learning, with developing project-based learning pedagogies, and with developing blended learning experiences including wiki work and blog-based assessment.
But this week when I was offered a chance to trial a new technology with my class, I turned it down.
There are any number of reasons that teachers say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to trying something new. Watching this keynote by Sarah Howard from 2012 today gave me a chance to reflect on my own tendency to be a risk taker in my practice – I usually see the benefits of innovation as outweighing the costs:
…and boy last semester there were some costs. Some cyberbullying from a student really put a damper on my teaching with Twitter, and right at the end of last year I experienced a big delay in giving students assignment feedback after a swathe of electronic assignment files got deleted. Further technology fails ensued as I struggled to negotiate student assignment return via Blackboard, our university LMS. It was a nightmare, and a confidence shaker. In a university teaching context where a whole semester of awesome learning can be overshadowed by a single student complaint to the wrong person, I ended 2013 wondering if all my efforts were ‘worth it’.
Fortunately I value innovation and creativity to such an extent that taking risks in pursuit of better practice is still worth it to me. In her keynote Howard explains that people are less likely to take a risk to pursue something they see no value in, which makes sense really.
I guess the shift for me will not be from being a risk-taker to being ‘risk-averse’ – I haven’t had the stuffing beat out of me quite hard enough yet to be averse to risk! For me the shift will be from high-stakes to more low-stakes risk; rather than pushing the boundaries with a wildly new practice I’ll be consolidating and refining my current pedagogies and taking stock of where I want to go with my teaching in 2015. Which will be nice timing, given the massive course changes we are implementing next year (PS. in six months if I disappear completely, somebody please come find me, I may be perishing under a mountain of new unit outlines…).
Do you see yourself as a risk-taker in your teaching? How risky are you planning to be in 2014?
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