Yummy Ideas need flavour

Templates are the most efficient way to kill creativity in your organisation. Templates are not just the pro-formas of conformity, they are intended to provide creative boundaries in individual communication. In a world dominated by rapid change, templates offer languishing conformity. Office automation was the playground of templates. Powerpoint being the master template of all templates. You can buy thousands of templates from Office Works on CD-Rom (remember those) and when opening Word Processor documents you are prompted to choose a template. Before we offer up an new idea, we have to make a decision to use or not to use, to conform or rebel, to be guided or to be free. We create ‘visual’ templates, such as the one above. Blue and Yellow (the colours of friendly efficiency) mapped into a ‘global’ image of high-tech happy students, clutching knowledge. Our use of templates leads to constrained thinking. There are many ‘tools’ out there that promote new ways to organise information.

The corporate voice is giving way to the individual. The template is now ‘architecture’ – to create infrastucture and building tools that used to be the domain of expert programmers; web developers; engineers and media barons. They allow us to leap-frog the intellectual chasm between non-experts and experts. We don’t need our ‘amateur’ work graphically corporatised to speak with compliant tones or to remove our own identities in favour of the corporate persona. The templates of Web2.0 allow us to be individuals, using and adapting technologies to suit our own individual ideas and ways we like to communicate them.

Templates are allowing us to rapidly develop new information that are sharp and tasty ways to communicate in online spaces – they are ‘kick starters’ that we immediately customise and adapt. Spaces such as Second Life, where we un-template our avatar, a blog where we experiment with writing … all activities that are oppositional to template thinking which leads to tedious, uninspiring, unmotivating, congenial and unemotional ideas. When you think of educational communication in schools –  think about the times that you have been most inspired … because of a tasty idea not a bland proposition? Templates are designed to de-flavour and de-individualise … yummy ideas presented in flavoursome ways are what we need in education I think.

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Blocked Learning

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Teacher Trauma On Twitter

Image by Ewan McIntosh via Flickr

“But is ‘it’s blocked, I can’t access it”.

But the ‘firewall’ supposed to keep them ‘safe’ does not work. They go home to read and watch it, or use their phones? Are we then to install mobile phone ‘jammers’? We have not created a ‘firewall’, but a brick wall – we are Blocking Learning. We might be ‘covering’ it over with policy, rendering it with policical ‘motherhood’ messages, but behind the rhetoric is a solid wall, that believes ‘the internet’ is somthing that can be controlled and monitored, and that a few people (Senetor Conroy, the czar of communication in Australia –  #nocleanfeed) should dictate our social connections, contracts and learning.

My wife tried to access the EPA this week with her year 1 class. Can someone please explain the criteria used for to evaluate the Envronmental Protection Agencies not condusive to learning if the teacher thinks they are? In fact all the science sites on environment they searched for in Google were blocked. This, despite taking part in an online, DET promoted, ‘science competition’.

IMBEE – a social community in which students can only talk to and friend other members of their group (their class) and all chat is moderated – as banned from use – and so were the fabulous parent and student resources, which included cyber safety. “imbee is a parent approved, teacher endorsed social networking site appropriate for kids and ‘tweens.” Posters and booklets specifically designed to address safety – banned. What is better IMBEE or Habbo Hotel or Club Penguin – both of which have MILLIONS of unmoderated residents.

Learning impairment

Teachers can’t ‘plan’ serious ICT activities, and be sure they will work. Many primary school teachers have little to no ‘relief’ time to plan at school, so have to use their own ‘free’ time. There is absolutely no doubt that the DET is out of control, has too many political masters (who DET say are to blame), and lack of clarity or effective policy that can be aligned and aligned in the classroom. The is for example no DET portal ‘request’ for access – even for an hour to a site. What is the point of putting infratructure, wifi and laptops into schools – if what they connect to cannot effectively allow communication flow ?

A connection to a brick wall, not a firewall.

There are ways to deliver better ‘duty of care’ – the current model is based on fear, lack of understanding and policy designed for physical spaces and objects. Rumour has it that Queensland and Western Australia want to ban any site that has ‘data’ stored outside of Australia. Who thinks this stuff up? With No Clean Feed and Conroy re-introducing the ducking-stool and covert ops in state education departments banning anything remotely ‘engaging’ and doing nothing to facilitate, professionally develop staff etc. Stack this up against  public ‘draft’ policy, that smells like ‘National Curriculum’, Gillard talking about adopting New York Ciry school models, vague attempts to introduce low-end netbooks, recent laptop dumps in High School and the ever promised ‘fibre’ to schools roll out.

What does the DET ‘innovations’ department do?

We all know, much of what we can give teachers is free, already tested and widely reviewed and researched by reputable institutions. Quest Atlantis for example. A brilliant virtual world, we a great global community, that will won’t comply to QLD and WA rumored ‘policy’. Has anyone involved in QA been approached by anyone from these ‘elected’ guardians of education? – I doub’t it. Unlocking virtual worlds or any other technology is not something that will happen unless teachers start making lists, and principles start sending those lists to parents, MPs and lobby groups. List the banned sites. ‘Ah’, you say ‘I can’t put that on a wiki, they are all banned’. But here is what you can do, as I am getting a bit tired of ‘yeah buts’ based on no-consultation from elected representatives.

Perhaps Mrs Gillard would like to discuss? But probably not unless there is an imperative, so maybe we should make one. Theres one thing NOT blocked. And that’s ‘email’. So here’s what you can do, to let the DET know what you could not teach in your classroom.

Take action – let ‘them’ know this is – BLOCKED LEARNING


Just send an email!

You don’t need to put in your name or your email address.

A screenshot would be ‘sweet’.

Please include the URL of the site, the grade that could not see it, your state and what you wanted to teach. 140 Characters or less so you can “Tweet it”.
The post will get blogged at http://blockedlearning.posterous.com and perhaps a beneficial resource for our elected state and government officials.

Please share the URL, post on Twitter with #blockedlearning – so we can see the list growing. This will let other teachers know, ahead of time – what is already blocked by the various ‘experts’. If you want to attach a screen shot of your favourite blocked filter message – we can start a meme!. Just attach it to the email, Posterous figures it out.  This is a practical way of using technology (posterous, email and twitter) to highlight the ‘blocked learning’ in K12 – and to save other teachers and students the frustration of trying to learn though the policy or non-teachers and learners.

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Virtual Learning

Today I had the chance to try out some ‘technologies’ in Macquarie University’s lecture theatres.

This presentation was mashed over an hour with a ‘virtual’ hook up with Annabel Astbury and Jokay. Its always hard to know how to ‘pitch’ virtual worlds, but I see them as highly motivating and engaging spaces that students find ‘enjoyable’. The degree of ‘fun’ that they offer I think gives me some latitude to explore more challenging questions of pre-teachers.

The invitation to ‘live comment’ using Tinychat was met with blank looks as the opened their highly decorated ring-binders and set out their ball point pens. This presentation is also online, so ask questions, don’t write alone. But of course, no one was used to the idea of live note taking, but that was a message not something I thought would happen.

I think you have to have a serious message, but with mixed media presentation when talking about Web2.0 or virtual worlds. It’s a style thing. I like to use Apples ‘spaces’ to bounce around screens, but also like to have a lot of fast-paced slides, mixed with a few videos to allow a break from the onslaught.

Other like to run off a wiki or a set of bookmarks – I like pictures.

I don’t expect students will take specific ‘facts’ from the presentation, and indeed, I don’t want them too. All too often technical presentations for ICT get bogged down in ‘details’ and ‘yeah buts’. What I want them to do is take away one simple question – as “What I am doing motivating for students”, and then perhaps to start thinking of reasons to think about other things. Today I used World of Warcraft and Second Life – to demonstrate how we can use narratives and motivation to develop a range of ‘soft skills’, contrasted against the freedom of virtual worlds such as Second Life and Open Sim. I am sure that the students are not about to explore this stuff deeply. It’s just one hour in their course, but I’d like them to feel is that it is not okay to dismiss it.

The next step is to mix Second Life ‘live’ with a lecture, having students in-room and in-world. As the lecture is delivered, the backchannel should light up. All I have to do now is find an academic mad-enough to try this – or even better try and hook our theatre with another class. And to me, that is the hard part of EdTech – getting someone to take a ‘risk’ – a one hour ‘risk’. The technology itself is a piece of cake … the saga continues. A lot of work for an hour I grant you. But no matter how hard it was, it won’t be again … and there is always a next time.

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Second Life – using, not exploring possibilities

mqsl4_002I took part in the end of year ISTE Presenter fire-side chats on Friday (Thursday SL time). To me, some of the most thought provoking inputs come from informal discussions in Second Life, and this was no exception.

For a while now, I’ve been talking with Judy O’Connell, Jo Kay and Konrad Glogowski about developing a Second Life curriculum, that will allow teachers to use a ‘toolkit’ approach to developing work for students to undertake virtual Worlds.

At ISTE, I was engaged in a fantastic discussion with Peggy Sheehy about ‘negotiated curriculum’ – an approach to learning where students are asking more of the questions than the teachers. We also talked about how Second Life allows for a distributed classroom model – where it would be possible for that to be ‘facilitated’ by multiple teachers around the world. We thought it was possible to find some ‘third space’ for learning using virtual worlds – which has been highly successful in Quest Atlantis – because it has curriculum and measurable goals, facilitated by technology, students and teachers. Second Life still does not do this, though a range of TSL projects obviously do. In short, the efforts of us all are driven to similar goals, yet atomised.

We also thought that the model would suit some definition of 21st Century capabilities. All those things we know are important – yet are not on the test.

In a very recent NMC report, educators are actually increasing activity in Second Life. The NMC survey suggests

Educators are moving from exploration to use of Second Life for teaching and learning. More respondents report being involved in an educational-related activity in Second Life (increasing from 54% in 2007 to 71% in 2008). More than half report that the organization they are affiliated with owns a sim (up from 36% in 2007) and 74 individuals report in 2008 they own their own sim. This year 29% of survey participants report holding virtual office hours in SL; 37 of them (12%) have taught a class entirely in SL (up from 14 or 8% in 2007).

In 2007, Judy and I started SecondClassroom and TeenSecondClassroom, a place for teachers to talk and work on Virtual Classrooms and TeenSecondClassroom, a reflective space in which students of those teachers can form groups to talk about and evidence work. Now with over 100 members, perhaps there it is time to start meeting in Second Life and talking more about this idea. I would assume that this, like most ‘community’ approaches will suffer the Long Tail, however even if 10% of the group actively participate – then in 2009, we could develop this to a point where we could also deliver it.

Macquarie University joins Second Life

I’ve been busy this week working with Jo Kay developing a Second Life build for Macquarie University. As part of the ongoing ‘innovation to integration’ research, the MQ teaching and learning centre has joined Jokaydia. An extension to the capability of the learning and teaching centre it will serve as a classroom for educators wishing to explore Second Life. The build will also be used as a practical venue for distributed staff to meet and work.

I arrived at MQ just as the Learning and Teaching Centre was developing its 2009/10 strategic plan, so it’s been a busy few weeks trying to get up to speed and working with so many passionate educators and meet an end of year deadline. I am really impressed that in adding this element to the centre’s operations, that I really didn’t have to go through the ‘why don’t you get a first life’, ‘is it a game?’ conversations. I wasn’t quite expecting that or the depth of understanding already of Virtual Worlds. Everyone recognised these are an important technology in educational development research. It has been fully supported and very easy to deliver (mostly thanks to working with Jo). So in just over a week, the centre is ready for our first professional development session next Monday.

MQ already runs a successful iLecture system in many classrooms, deliverying recorded audio content to students which continues to grow, and will begin testing of video-lectures in 2009. The LTC has Elluminate, Adobe Connect and Elluminate as core technology offerings – Second Life however was missing from the ‘set’. It is interesting that once you talk about Second Life, all sorts of people come out from the shadows and say that they have been investigating or un-officially ‘doing something’, something which was echoed at the recent Open Education Workshops, where many presenters said that their now successful projects started life in-secret.

MQ on Jokaydia has two spaces, a practical resource, information and teaching ‘building’ and a second area, which the University can use, as a collaborative space. The aim is to allow students and staff to have a workable and sizeable space in which to develop anything that supports learning and teaching. We talked about developing an ‘island’, but felt that the nature of Second Life is as an synchronous, interactive first person experience – rather than a visual statement. I have been part of the Jokaydia community for some time, and so know just how engaging and inspirational some of the work has been. The professional development opportunities are created through the community engagement on Jokaydia – so placing MQ students and staff into the community to me is significantly richer than just wandering around your own island or occasionally running a symposium.

In 2009, the MQ space will also be connected with student and staff support mechanisms, together with a series of symposiums that I’m working on as face to face events (open to all), webinars etc., In addition, we are going to explore connecting Podcast content in-world. It will then be possible to ‘stream’ content on demand into the classrooms. This then allows students to meet and discuss the lectures – which is particularly important to MQs on-going focus on student engagement, given the vast number of students that are enrolled in distance education though various study pathways such as Open Education.

This facility will assist staff and students in exploring the multiple opportunities and impacts that ‘first person’ experiences has in learning and teaching – all supported by the amazing Jo Kay.

Write a book in a day

04112008561Day 1 of the ‘Book in a Day’ creative writing project with 9th graders ended in an almost party like atmosphere from the 60 students who took part today. The final hour had 60 students in one big room, furiously working in groups to finalise their work and publish it.

The scene reminded me of the buzz that advertising studios generate in the final moments before some suited up account representative takes the creative thoughts of the writers and designers to pitch for the account.

What also stuck me was the organisational skills and co-operative skills that the students have.

04112008558No teacher was pushing them along or giving motivational speeches. From the moment Lucy Gresser posted the days work groups, the kids threw everything at it. Even the students that tend to lurk on the very brink of engagement usually, were sucked into the vortex of creative writing that was going on.

We presented a short video montage of themes from Orwell’s Animal Farm – spliced between images taken in Second Life from Tempura Island (a recent field trip with the Jokaydians). This was the visual base from which they had to produce a book – on a given theme – 8000 words. The students almost fell off their seats when seeing that – 8 0 0 0 words? – it looked impossible – and in a single day – madness, but we are  giving them a summative writing test in a day. We thought they could do it, now they had to believe it too.

We didn’t want them to start getting into graphic design, so the supplied material negated them spending time there. The end product would be a simple 5.5″ x 8.5″ book, with a title cover and about 12 pages in which 6 students developed their storyline – and each took equal share of creative writing – 1000 words each, or approximately 2 pages of writing.

04112008556Two pages of creative writing might now sound too much, but to get 9th grade boys to undertake such a thing is, in my experience, a rare thing.

We are so used to seeing students produce reports and recounts – using crutches like Google and Wikipedia, that the work done recently in community blogging in their Green Up project – gave them the confidence to engage with the task.

The way in which we’re designing projects and lessons is delivering confidence, engagement and a sense of adventure in learning – or at least that is the feedback that students are giving us. They bail staff up and talk about ‘learning’ and Gavin Hayes reported last week how he overheard kids at the cricket nets discussing teaching approaches between classes, and which worked best.

The students are very aware of what good teaching and learning is, and that accountability fuels the enthusiasm of the teacher. 9th grade is often a difficult grade, and our school used to be a proof of that. Now, we have learners, not issues.

They are reflective writers now, so this project is pushing them into being creative too. The year long skills that they have developed, under the project leadership of their teachers, especially Lucy Gresser in English was paid back in a single day it seems.

The boys know how to collaborate and share information and ideas and the groups took several different approaches to the task.

One, for example, decided that they would co-operatively create the first ‘chapter’ of a thousand words. From that they each took a subsequent chapter individually. This approach they thought would give them some common unity and style, so the remainder of the writing would be much more connected.

These are decisions that they can now make as they are experienced in what makes collaboration work. They are now a long way from the prior norms where a few do the majority of the work and the other coast along for the ride. They all WANT to contribute – and support each other using the critial friends process that they have been taught all year.

The know how to use a GoogleDoc and share it to speed up their effectiveness – they can throw 8000 words into InDesign in half an hour and format a publication. Their fluency between technologies now affords them methods of collaboration to manage time, pace and delivery.

04112008557During the day, it is significant that Google was not a tool that students used. There was no desire to try and ‘find answers’  or short cuts.

I think that the way in which the English projects have been designed and presented to students in the last 6 months have sufficiently promoted individual thinking and writing that to a large extent, students no longer see Googling as the best way to learn. They may hit it for quick facts, but do not rely on it anymore. That to me is a massive shift away from prior ‘norms’ that we saw in 9th Grade ICT based classrooms.

Lucy is writing up the more literacy aspects of today on her blog, so I’ll link there, where she has also posted up some examples of the work the students did today.

All 14 groups posted their work on time, which is 112,000 words. The next step is to work with them to extend the project in terms of design and publishing – and post the combined works on Lulu for purchase and download by their families – and of course the world.

Day 2 will see some 80 students do the same summative task – and I’m really pleased to know that Judy O’Connell will be sparing some time to come and get involved in the afternoon!

I am finding that students work really well in carefully planned tasks that have a sense of urgency and deadlines about them. We’re finding that 2 week projects appear to yeild higher engagement than 4 or even 6 weeks. Lucy is also very adept at using a range of formative methods – this is a critical teaching skill to ensure that her classes are not only meeting outcomes – but also demonstrating sound knowledge of the syllabus content.

If there’s one critisism of project based learning I have – it is in teachers being able to track and evidence syllabus content as well as meeting outcomes. There is a danger that ‘content’ is glossed over in the desire to have a ‘cool end product’. This isn’t something that is happening – and I think that using Web2.0 tools makes the formative work far more transparent, than if students were using more tradtional PBL approaches, but it does take a lot of strategic planning to build that into activities – the results however, are worth it. To see these students work right through recess and lunch, almost oblivious to it, and then to end the day so enthusiastic is amazing.

Sony homes in PS3 based Social Power


It might not be news to some, but Sony has been inviting the hardcore faithful into Beta tests of ‘Home’. 

Sony claims Home is comparable to Second Life, as a virtual community of PS3 owners living together in both public and private environments.

Users will be able to login, chat with both text and speech and play casual games together such as pool, bowling and even embedded arcade machines. And when the old stand-bys grow stale, users can invite one another into other PlayStation Network titles outside of PlayStation Home.

Every user will have their own virtual apartment to decorate with furniture, their trophies from various games (see: achievements) and content from their own PS3s. Since the initial limited showings, but a fair amount of talk, this ‘world’ is certainly aimed at ‘pull’ technologies. The user has some ability to decorate and move around, however unlike Second Life, Sony decides what is in, out and what you can do with it at this stage.

The proposed interface for navigation is not suprisingly a virtual PSP. Sony claim to be selling 280,000PS3s  a month. At this point Home is supposedly ‘free’ for PS3 customers.

The gamer hardcore (who hnd out in forums) are however a little unconvinced, as recent ‘sneek’ peeks still don’t allow gamers to meet in themed areas. So if you are into Call Of Duty, then your ‘sim’ is not likley to be themed as per the game. Instead, a central plaza offers bollwing and pool.

Jack Buser from Sony commented

“The real reason for the game space being there is to give you an excuse to do something to meet people,” he said. “Take pool. It’s just like playing pool in real life. You do it to hang out with friends. Maybe one out of 10 times you play pool it’s actually to get better at your game.” 


The graphics are going to be slick – the PS3 is a very powerful machine, but how much ‘free’ content will exisit and how much ‘paid’ content remains a mystery. How and financial system works is not clear, nor any mention of connection speed – and the curse of Second Life – lag.

Right now the limted Beta testing is leading Sony Forum types to talk about Home as ‘vapourware’ – as there is little more than a few screen shots and a promotional video to go by – and that has been around for a while – there seems no rush to announce a date. But that is not common in this sector of the market.

Given the endless console wars – this is however an area that Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo are all exploring. However, content – as Linden Labs know, is king.

Developing an experience that adds to the gaming experience is the product to be sold here – and that is directly linked to commercial interests or not just Sony Playstation and it’s developers – but also it’s wider interests in music, film etc.,

It ‘s not clear how Home will be rated in terms of ‘age’ and ‘safety’ so again hard to suggest where it might fit into the spectrum of virtual worlds right now. Once again, this is very much the challenge of all online communities right now.

PSPs and PS3s are very powerful machines, and have a solid following. This further illustrates how ‘big entertainment’ (Sony pulled out of buying Club Penguin, leaving Disney to do so) – are actively hiring bright thinkers, gamers and social networkers to talk about and develop their product.

The media age is creating new opportunities – and game developers learn about social aspects of gaming – over and above providing a 2D web portal to ‘join a game’. We can’t really tell kids anymore that ‘you can’t make a living out of video games – as quite clearly – you can, and a very good one.

As one forum post commented on Home’s dribble feed of information

Among my worries- people generally don’t “behave”. If you’ve played WoW, Second Life, or to an extent XBox Live you probably know what I mean. Also, ads? This looks like a *very* expensive system to maintain, and if it’s (mostly) free, that means I foresee a lot of ads, possibly to the point of pushing users away. Only way to avoid that would be really expensive add-ons, like the clothes and furniture, and then you don’t get as many buyers, and you’re back to square one. So we’ll see about that.

Commercial advertising or click throughs are the lifeblood of the internet. One advantage I think Second Life has always had is that the user owns the IP, and in that regard to choose to take or leave anything they see, and in that regard you can make a living out of Second Life. Perhaps more significantly for students, they can break into Second Life Development – far easier than they can Sony – and on their own terms.

Nintendo is rumoured to be getting social. Animal Crossing for the Wii will be an MMO/social networking title. It’s no great surprise – in a few short years, Animal Crossing has become one of Nintendo’s most-loved and top selling franchises (over seven million copies sold) – mostly sold in Japan. And Nintendo is quick to talk about it as a ‘communications game’ – will pull technology being used to draw users to it.

The cross-over between console, mobile computing, mobile phone, laptop, desktop, plush toys, action toys has happened.

 Its a convergence that has been made possible by read/write technology over TCP/IP – and is spilling over into all devices that can push out a wifi signal. It is not a question of ‘if’ but ‘how much’ and ‘where’ these things will be accessible from. Everything and everywhere seems to be a reasonable assumption at this point, But there is a snag for society. As Beth commented on an earlier post -“ it further divides the have/have nots – the tech savvy and the not.”

Consoles are pervasive with Australian school age children.

While PS3 is expensive, XBOX360 is also another LIVE console – and as supply issues get sorted out towards the Christmas season – both Sony and Microsoft will wage further price and feature wars – inching ever closer to the console being a ‘social’ experience – as the price point falls.

As we debate – media literacy  and global citizenship s – I think that running a private Teen Second Life Island looks like very simple thing to do in light of what is fast arriving from the commercial sectors. Developing re-useable ‘teen’ content in online spaces has to happen – as teens will be using these spaces after school.

But as many adults don’t play games – and are not used to putting out personal information with ‘strangers’, then there is a huge void between what ‘we’ think and what ‘they’ think. Adults often have no idea of using a 3D Graphical User Interface full stop, and when using a computer – monotask. Kids don’t.

Music, social trends, social networks, video games, movies and fashion have blended into ‘life’ – and that life is online – in a continual conversation – that can be remixed, re-packed and re-used.

If schools and teacher think that some ‘tenure of authoriity’ based on decades of autocratic classroom management will maintain ‘school values’ then I see a very worrying time ahead – for students as their classroom ‘learning’ drifts further and further from their social learning – but at the same time, access to this is based on having, as Beth said, Tech-savvy parents that can afford it.

Learning about teaching in Second Life

Jass Easterman aka Sue Gregory from the University of New England talking about her role in working with a range of students. They were learning how to use Second Life in their future professional teaching career. This is a story of what Sue was doing. The audio is a feed out of the conference, so at time’s shes answering comments and questions in the back channel. I found it facinating to hear some of experience.

Recorded at the 2008 Jokaydia Unconference. Here’s the link to the Sue Gregory Podcast.

Unconference Day#1

Peggy was talking about Ramapo Islands. Not the usual stuff, but sharing a lot about how she sold the idea into administrators, how she has been strategically designing the islands to suit the needs of her learners and some of the projects and outcomes that she has been running.

A fantastic, in depth look at innovation in education.

Jo, Konrad and Al, were touring Newbies around the gardens, and it was great to hear so many new people asking questions and sharing ideas on how they can use virtual worlds in their classrooms.

Chris (aka Gnu) and Jeff did a really engaging session on Microblogging.

Jeff’s off the cuff story telling of his own journey into developing and participating in a personal learning network was a really powerful message. Jeff (aka teacherman79 or Henny) used lots of examples of just how he’s been using it for his personal development as well as digital story telling in his classroom.

He talked about collecting a bunch of old PCs today that we’re being thrown out, so he can use them in his classroom, and shared how he had to take the truck and his dog up there to get them, then his dog chewed through its leash. He used his phone to shoot pictures and upload the event to a microblog – so when the kids get the computers, they’ll get the story of what he did to get them. He said that kids are such visual learners, that he’s trying to capture as much of ‘life’ as he can and then use that for further discussion in the classroom.

He also talked about how Montana is isolated, and how he now feels connected like never before in a personal learning network. Its amazing to think how a passing conversation in a virtual world can lead people to make such powerful and ever changing connections with their learning.

I loved that his story was about TODAY – and so relevant to what he is doing TOMORROW.

That’s the difference I think that many in the Jokadia community offer – far less engaged in ‘gazing at the why’ – which seems to me in perpetual orbit in some online sessions – and more about conversational learning that happens right now. I learned a lot today from Peggy, Jeff, Chris and Leigh Blackall … and it was great to see Sue Waters and Judy O’Connell – whom are a constant source of inspiration.

I’m really looking forward to working with Jo and Konrad in the near future … who needs walls?

Jokaydia Unconference THIS WEEKEND

The Jokaydia Unconference is on this weekend in Second Life. This will be MASSIVE. Jokaydia has become a huge personal learning network, and this weekend there are a huge amount of things happening – and some great people sharing stories of things that are happening in classrooms – not just talking up the need to change – but people who can show you change.

I say this as recently I’ve been to SL events that really are not much more than fireside stories. For some reason I put my hand up for Quest Atlantis If you’ve been thinking about ‘what is SL all about in regard to Education’ then this is the BEST thing you can start with. Check the website for sessions and times!

Shakespeare’s Second Life

A quick flip-video of students working collaboratively to design and build their ‘sets’ for their current Machinima project, based on modern interpretation of a Shakespeare play. Students also document their design and build here in a blogging community. For teachers who are generally interested in using MUVEs and Video Games in Education you might want to check the educator Ning group here. I’m in the last phase of our intranet being moved to a virtual world, so the kids are going to be the architects and engineers. They have had 1 hour a week this year in Teen Second Life – but at least it is on the time table and in the curriculum!