Sunday, 12 October 2008

Here Comes Learning - A Keynote from Sheryl Nussbaum Beach and Will Richardson Pt2.

Will stepped in at this point to explore the concept of sharing further. He looked at how sharing on line is extremely easy, apparently blog posts, Flickr uploads, etc number in the millions each day. We talked about how the problem with this ease of on line sharing is that many kids using forums such as MySpace are not necessarily sharing in a way that is very appropriate. He went on to add that our kids are going to be Google-able and thus it is extremely important for them to think about what they are sharing. Apparently in the U.S. more and more people are being Googled by future employers. Will asked us to think about what we are doing to prepare our kids to make sure they are employable in 6-7 years time. He went on to say that we're not really preparing them to be sharable right now. I had to agree whole heartedly with this as I am absolute passionate about helping kids (and adults) to understand the importance of their "digital footprint" and encourage them to consider that everything they place on line stays on line. It was very affirming to see that I am definitely heading down the right track with this.

He also made a point about filtering our children's on line experiences. He gave Clarence Fisher as an example, Clarence doesn't moderate his kids blogs, he monitors them, because they have an unfiltered world at home. I totally agree, it makes much more sense to teach kids appropriate ways to deal with the nasties out there then wrap them up in cotton wool so that when they do encounter them they have no experience of how to deal with them appropriately. If they are given an opportunity to manage these situations in a safe and scaffolded environment, then surely they will be better prepared to meet them head on on their own.

Sheryl stepped up at this point to explain how sharing leads to connections, which eventually leads to the building of community. She talked about how she went from knowing no New Zealand based educators to connecting with a whole lot, to developing community, all due to their on line presence. She explained that it is important to continue to share, engage and post in order to maintain the community of practise and to allow it to grow over time. I know there are times where I have large gaps in posting to my blogs, although I do maintain a healthy level of interaction via Twitter. However, after hearing this I resolved to make a greater effort to not only blog with greater regularity, but also comment on the blog posts of others more often. I can also see the necessity of setting up situations in the classroom where my children have this opportunity as well.

Will shared examples of fan fiction sites at this stage as an example of the cooperative things kids are doing. He talked about how we can cooperate and create similar situations. He also mentioned Scratch and had me absolutely fascinated as he talked about a group of kids he hooked up on line via Skype, with an expert in Scotland who took them through how to use Scratch. Andrew was the 12 year old expert and he was up past his bed time - how cool is that?! I love the idea of using tools like Skype to connect kids with each other in real time situations. I certainly think this is an area that needs to be explored further. I am also very excited by the thought of children being able to see each other as experts, to be able to realise that the "experts" aren't just adults or teachers. I wonder what areas of expertise my children could offer in a similar forum? I definitely need to explore this idea further.

Sheryl talked about Bruce Tuckman's ideas of Teaming and explained how groups go through stages of Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing. Apparently the reason we often don't see more evidence of change in school is because people get to the storming phase and give up before getting to the true performing stage. She also talked about how you can see pockets of isolated change in the school/classroom. That resonated with me as I could totally relate to the idea of being an isolated pocket.

(To be concluded in Here Comes Learning - A Keynote from Sheryl Nussbaum Beach and Will Richardson Pt3).

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