Publishing Guidlines

My favorite thing about this course so far has been the opportunity to work with others; sharing ideas, teaching, learning and laughing. This time, Mr. Norris, Mr Baker, Ms. Hosoi and I worked with our High School principal to develop some guidlines for publishing on the Internet and in printed form. We wanted the guidlines to be clear, positive and relevant to teachers and students alike. I think that we have succeeded in sending a positive message about the importance of the thinking before posting things on the internet.

Our next step is produce the poster as a way of promoting digital citizenship in our school. We’re hoping that it will start some discussions in the classroom but also in the staffroom and that generally people will just become more aware of the things to consider when publishing work.

I think the best way to promote digital citizenship in our school is to model the practices ourselves. Once we have acted appropriately we can discuss how and why we acted in that manner. I think the school will need to take a more formal and structured approach too but this will certainly help to get that conversation started.

Searching For Yet Another Name

The idea of developing a brand for myself is difficult one. Choosing something to represent me is a big deal. Before I can accurately brand myself I need to consider who I am. The problem is that I am many people. I am Joy the wife, Joy the daughter, Joy the friend, Miss Seed to the kids, Seedy to my friends, Joyous, Joyful, Joy Joy and Joie are also names that I answer to. Trying to balance all of these roles and identities is difficult in real life so it’s no wonder that I’m finding this hard.

I blogged previously about wanting to take my digital presence one step further by developing my blog to become mine, not just a requirement of the course. I want my blog to be one that my students can access and contribute to, my colleagues can learn from, the parents of my students can be informed by and one that other interested teachers can benefit by. I guess that means that my brand should be related to my work identity and my content should school related. I think that this is a good start but I don’t really know what to do next.

Luckily for me, the article ‘Personal Branding 101: How to Discover and Create Your Brand’ helped me to figure out my next step. It said that “Brand discovery is about figuring out what you want to do for the rest of your life, setting goals, writing down a mission, vision and personal brand statement (what you do and who you serve), as well as creating a development plan.” I don’t know that I can figure out what I want to do for the rest of my life but I can certainly set some goals, consider my vision and make a personal brand statement. Here goes, I would like to blog weekly about things that are happening in my classroom. I hope to focus on the technology that students are using but not exclusively. I will try to use technologies new to me in my posts and that will help me to be continually learning and give me an audience to show off my newly developed skills. I already have a blog but I would like to spend some time developing so that it reflects my teacher identity more. Hmmmmm, what is my teacher identity? Now I’m stuck again.

Currently my blog is titled ‘Teaching and Learning’. I chose that title because I strongly believe in the idea of teachers as learners and the blog is a way for me to learn so I wanted to include it in the title. I think I want to change this to include my name and then use the same title as my name on twitter. I don’t expect to be a leader or have a lot of followers online but I would like to contribute to the community of educators there because I have benefited so much from their articles, posts and tweets.

I guess that I have gone a little further down the road of developing a brand for myself. I hope that by blogging, my brand will sort of organically develop and I’ll find my niche and audience over time. I don’t think that this something that I can manufacture over night but I am looking forward to spending time with my online self and developing a voice that will stay a part of me for a long time to come.

Hyper Linked

My life and the Internet are gradually becoming more and more intertwined. I used to rely on my husband to direct me to places but Google Maps has given me my independence. I stay in touch with people by ‘friending’ them on Facebook and I follow the events of the world as they happen on Twitter. I use Google Docs to collaborate with colleagues and students and my Google Reader provides me with stimulating reading that develops me professionally. I use Amazon to shop and have not stepped into a travel agent or bought a paperback in years. I watch my favorite shows by streaming them over the Internet and my music comes from online radio stations. More and more I find it hard to imagine life without the Internet.

Image by Wellington Grey

So why has the Internet so successfully permeated my life? says it well when it highlights that the web has changed not just my life but the very fabric of society itself. It has given us a new way to satisfy our natural desires to make connections, networks and communities. This natural desire to make connections was also highlighted in the 6 Degrees of Separation where it is noted that “not only are we connected, but we live in a world in which no one is more than a few handshakes from anyone else. That is, we live in a small world. Our world is small because society is a very dense web. We have far more friends than the critical one needed to keep us connected.


It is not surprising then that the ability to make quick, fluid and easy connections with people, ideas and documents on the Internet is the basis for its success and the reason for my life becoming more and more enveloped by it. Hyperlinks really are at the heart of the web and the major contributing factor to its success. So how can I harness the power of the Internet to make me a better educator, not just a more efficient shopper, travel agent, navigator and viewer?

I believe that WordPress is the most practical answer to my question. By maintaining a blog I am practicing all of the skills that I hope to pass on to my students. I am generating content, connecting with other educators, considering the implications of publishing names, images, videos and opinions, interacting with vimeo, youtube, flickr and other publishing communities, generating a positive digital presence, strengthening my ability to comment and respond to other peoples’ work and playing with my brand or online identity. All of these things are things that I would feel privileged to develop in my students.

Now that I am convinced of the value in maintaining a professional blog, I am going to push myself to transfer this blog and make it not just another COETAIL Blog. I am also going to play with the widgets available to me and consider designing a look that suits my teacher identity. I am going to aim to continue to write about my experiences in the classroom and my professional development but also expand it to be something that my students can read and comment on and something that reflects my day to day experiences in the classroom. I have to thank misternorris for inspiring me to take this path. I so enjoy reading about what he is doing with the students and what he is learning about. His site has had a big impact on my decision to go down this road. Watch this space.

It Takes a Village to Raise a Child

All too often the community at large expects the local schools to act as welfare officers, career guidance councilors, dietitians, police officers, moral guidance officers and the holders to the key of knowledge. While I see my job as an educator as involving aspects from all of the above, I certainly cannot successfully fulfill all of these roles single handedly. I believe that rather than place the responsibility for the upbringing of children solely at the door of the local school; the entire community should be involved in the education of a child. We are all responsible for teaching young people their civic duties, responsibilities and rights.

Not surprisingly, in order to be responsible students online, children need the same values and skills required to be responsible citizens in the real world. So what makes a good citizen and how do these skills transfer to their digital identities? I believe that responsible citizens are active and informed with shared values of freedom, tolerance, respect, responsibility and inclusion. Funnily enough, these are the very same values that are reflected in the NETS-S.

The introduction of technology has not redefined what it is to be a responsible and successful citizen, nor has it changed the fundamental cause of bullying. Obviously the introduction of technology has introduced new challenges for educators (the speed at which news and communications can travel and mobilize, the false sense of anonymity an online identity can offer and an unprecedented level of access to others) but bullying itself is not new and the solution is the same as always – education. Everybody who talks to a child is responsible for modeling positive communication, every teacher in every school is responsible for helping children to see things from other peoples’ perspective and every parent is responsible for reinforcing the importance of positive peer relationships. By working together to teach young people the importance of truth, freedom, tolerance, respect, inclusion and the balance between rights and responsibilities we will be working together to produce active and informed citizens both in the real world and the digital one.

Originality is Nonexistent

Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is nonexistent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery. celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you take things from – it’s where you take them to.” This is the fifth rule of Jim Jarmusch, an independent film director, his golden rules:

In his written publications and in recentish TED talks, Lessig argues that copyright laws are strangling creativity and are bad for business. They are strangling creativity because they are extreme and prevent people from legally reworking and remixing ideas. This extremism has caused an extreme response whereby otherwise law abiding citizens are blatantly ignoring the law and living against it. He highlights the importance of allowing people, children in particular, the opportunity to participate in culture and express their ideas by remixing them and taking them somewhere new. He argues that in order for that to happen, a change in our law and culture must occur.

Generating content is an important part of participatory culture and of education today.

Participatory culture is “a culture with relatively low barriers to artistic expression and civic engagement, strong support for creating and sharing one’s creations, and some type of informal mentorship whereby what is known by the most experienced is passed along to novices. A participatory culture is also one in which members believe their contributions matter, and feel some degree of social connection with one another (at the least they care what other people think about what they have created).”
— New London Group (2000, p. 9)

I’m all for the democratization of broadcasting and what that means for the improved learning opportunities of my students, for me as an educator and for me as a creative individual. I really like the idea of people sharing, remixing, appropriating and transforming content on the Internet and in real life BUT I think it is very important to remember and protect the rights of the owner of the creative or intellectual property, even if that means not using something. As an educator I should speak of and encourage the values of freedom AND of respecting the creator. I found this website to help me to teach these values.

So how do we as a society find a balance between the natural instinct we have to remix and the ownership rights of the creator? We should aim towards developing a society where we have complete freedom to use the work of others IF we use common sense. Common sense could prevail by asking ourselves, am I actually creating something new or am I copying another person’s work? Have I expressed a new meaning or added new insight? How much am I taking and is the work that I’m taking the most important or iconic part of it? Will I be effecting the income of the artist by taking the work? Have I acknowledged the original work? In my opinion, if we ask ourselves these questions and refrain from using work that does not adhere to common sense or ‘fair use’ then we should have the freedom to use them. After all, nothing is original, as this final video shows.

Everything Is A Remix: THE MATRIX from on Vimeo.

The Matrix Remix

New London Group (2000).“A Pedagogy of Multiliteracies: Designing Social Futures,” in
Multiliteracies: Literacy Learning and the Design of Social Futures, ed. B. Cope & M. Kalantzis for the New London Group.

A Public Affair

As I read through the readings for this week I struggled to see the big deal about online privacy and was surprised by how many people expected it. I tried to empathise but in the end failed, mainly because I see the Internet as an extension of real life, and as such believe that, like real life, privacy is a naive and impossible expectation.

Due to the fact that we live in a society, we are surrounded by people all of the time. People are looking at us, studying our outfits, overhearing our conversations, bumping into us on the train and exchanging ideas and goods with us all of the time. I don’t get upset when people look at me in real life so why should I get upset when they look at photos of me on the Internet? The only thing you can really control is you. People can only take pictures of us or see us doing things when we do them. If we don’t want certain people to see or know about things then we shouldn’t do them. If we don’t do them then we don’t need to worry about keeping them ‘private’.

As educators I think the fundamental thing to teach our students is that every action has consequences and that actions taken on the Internet are no exception. Rather than creating a private space for us, the Internet is an extension of real life where privacy is impossible. If we would be unwilling for our parents, friends or teachers to see or read something then we shouldn’t do, it let alone write about it on the Internet. Jon Kleinberg, a professor of computer science at Cornell University who studies social networks advices: “When you’re doing stuff online, you should behave as if you’re doing it in public — because increasingly, it is.” Who knows, maybe all of this publicity will help to make us into more accountable, better people.

From Pyramids and Obelisks to Social Media and Digital Profiles

Egyptian pharaohs had to spend years creating propaganda to promote themselves and earn immortality. Today it’s as easy as creating and managing an online presence for yourself. Okay, so immortality might not be as easy as that but promoting and representing yourself certainly can be.

Whether we like it or not, we are all creating a digital footprint and this footprint can be as influential in defining us as the way we dress, the car we drive, the language we use, the job we do and the political views that we follow. As a society and as educators we can approach this phenomenon in one of two ways, that of fear, suspicion, paranoia and trepidation or enthusiasm, opportunism and pro-activism. With this in mind it is important for educators to raise student awareness about the identity they are creating for themselves online and to teach them how to turn this collection of data to their own advantage.

In his article ‘How to Build your Digital Footprint in 8 Easy Steps’, Mitch Joel outlines many practical approaches to making your online presence a positive one. He suggests that the first step is to consider what you hope to accomplish with your online presence. In a classroom setting, this could be as simple as having a discussion with students about how they would like to appear online and what kind of branding they would like to give themselves. The way we brand ourselves is informed by the kinds of things that we enjoy creating or producing. I would like to spend more time with my students exploring and experimenting with the various digital mediums available to us today. Once you have considered your preferred medium (photos, videos, words), it is time to select an appropriate channel. This could lead to a discussion about the many different ways we have available to us to publish content on the Internet and the appropriate norms for each channel.

Joel argues that the more active and involved you are in a community, the more rewarding your experience will be. He suggests that before you start creating content yourself you should take an active role in reading and commenting on what other people in your field of interest have produced. By following people with strong online voices on sites with a high amount of traffic we can quickly become familiar with what other people are saying and how they are saying it. I think that this is an excellent way to begin in the classroom as well and can lead to discussions surrounding the type of language that is most commonly used, the elements of a thoughtful comment, how to reply to comments or maintain a discussion thread. Involving students in this kind of a community will help to expand their learning network and add a high level of collaboration into their learning experiences.

The Internet and the emergence of social media sites really has provided the catalyst for an educational revolution. Students and teachers now have access to unprecedented amounts of information. Don’t believe me? Here are some facts and figures

* In 2010 on Facebook alone there were 30 billion images published by millions of “authors”
* 5 Billion Photos published on Flickr by 2010
* YouTube figures reveal that 48 hours of YouTube videos are uploaded every minute as of May, 2011
* It is estimated that over 330 million blog posts are published every year

Instead of being afraid of this phenomenon, we should embrace it. Let’s expose our students to the content and teach them how to find it, analyze it, synthesis it, curate it and evaluate it. Let’s teach our students how to comment on it and discuss it. Let’s teach our students to create it and in doing so create for themselves a powerful identify that enriches their lives, leads to personal growth, introduces them to new people, expands their horizons, offers them unprecedented opportunities and helps to craft them into citizens of the world, the digital one included.

Bring on the Learning Revolution

The first unit of COETAIL has changed me. My opinions about the use of technology in the classroom have dramatically shifted and the urgency and passion that I feel for the need to revolutionize and personalize education have been affirmed. For the first time I can articulate the need for technology in the classroom as a way to make learning authentic, collaborative, connected and personalized. This course has not just been about computers, it’s challenged the very purpose and nature of education and I have loved every minute of it.


As part of the assessment for Course 1 of COETAIL I had the opportunity to collaborate with Mr. Norris, Mr. Baker and Hosei Sensei. This really was a highlight of the course for me. It was fun to share ideas and watch them evolve into better ones as we worked together. Our final project will involve working together to provide students with the framework and skills to produce and publish digital media about their learning and their lives. The purpose of the website is to give students a voice and a connected learning community. We hope that the student driven site will provide faculty and our administration with an opportunity for professional development and growth and that overall, the profile of learning technologies will be raised.

I am looking forward to working on the project because it will give me an opportunity to apply some of the things that I have been learning about it in the course. I prefer working with other people to working in isolation so that is another exciting thing for me. The aspect of the project that I am most enthusiastic about is the potential it offers for professional development. I hope that the website can be used as a forum to display the types of things that teachers at our school are working on but also as a vehicle to drive discussion.

Social Studies and the NETS

My experience with curriculum standards in the past has left me with a slightly bitter taste in my mouth. They tended to be either overly prescriptive or too general to be meaningful. The iste NETS, in my opinion,  are different. They really resonate with me. I find myself nodding as I read them and my inner voice cheers ‘right on’. I like how they are practical, clear and applicable to every subject area. I appreciate the way that the standards start off with simple indicators but extend to really challenging and rigorous possibilities. I hope that one day I can be a teacher who can provide my students with such an authentic and challenging learning experience.

The NETs fit really well within my curriculum area and I am more than happy to use them as a framework to structure my units of work. The task of creating Prezis, PowerPoint presentations and imovies is a straightforward and rewarding way for students to apply their knowledge in Social Studies. I would like to learn more about software and programmes that can be used to identify trends, simulate and model.

Social Studies lends itself well to discussion and forming an opinion isan essential part of the learning. Keeping a blog is a useful way for students to reflect on their thoughts and opinions and develop them as they think them through. It is better than keeping a journal because other students can challenge their ideas and collaborate with them in real time. In this way, and in many others, the ‘Communication and Collaboration’ standard fits really well into Social Studies. Like with the previous standard however, this is only just scratching the surface of the depth that these standards reach.

Much of what we do in Social Studies is to gather, organize, evaluate and synthesize information. The ‘Research and Information Fluency’ standard is a key component to any Social Studies unit of work. I am pleased to see it so explicitly mentioned and am looking forward to the day when we can all purposefully and explicitly work together to improve these skills in our students.

Civics and Citizenship is a key element to any Social Studies curriculum. Digital citizenship is a crucial element to this. It is easy to rely on incidental learning but Social Studies allows for a thorough investigation and discussion into the human, cultural, and societal issues related to technology and practice legal and ethical behavior.

I don’t believe that every teacher should have to meet all of the standards all of the time but the school should have a vision and expectation that as a team, the teachers would work together to ensure that students are able to achieve all of the standards by the time that they graduate. I would love to see the whole school get behind them and use them to really drive the curriculum, language and debate at my school. I believe that it is everybody’s job to teach theses skills.

Changing the Learning Landscape

Over the past couple of months I have been challenging myself to develop my understanding of how technology can be used to further the learning of my students. The COETAIL course has taught me the importance of allowing students the opportunity and freedom to develop authentic and expert connections as well as the opportunity to collaborate via digital mediums.  I have very much enjoyed reading the blogs of the cohort and am reaping the rewards of my efforts in the fruits of Twitter, Diigo, Google Reader, Google Alerts and Blogging, none of which I used before this course. Improving the way that I receive and manage digital information has had a trickle down affect on the tasks and activities that I ask my students to perform.

With all of these new and interesting possibilities in mind, it has been with a spring in my step that I have traversed the hallways of late and great enthusiasm for learning technology has underpinned conversations with my colleagues. My brain is teeming with ideas and excitement at the potential for education in the future. That was until I assisted in the moderation of the PSATs last week. Being a Middle School teacher, I have little to do with these tests, in fact I had to ask what it meant and what it was for before I went over to supervise. Upon arriving in the stuffy room with single desks lined up in columns and rows, I took the time to page through the test. I was horrified and disappointed with what I found. There were grammar questions requiring students to circle the grammatical error in the sentence and lines to fill in the missing word from a list of vocabulary. The alternative sections were filled with questions relating to the distance of the side of a triangle and other Mathematical related questions. My mind struggled to reconcile the vision of collaborating, connecting, creating and inventing with fill in the blanks and calculate the sum.

I concluded that for education to properly change and for the landscape to look different, we as educators must evaluate how we assess students in the end. As long as students are required to complete a general standardized test, the temptation is to teach to it in an effort to prepare them. Once we have agreed on what we want 21st century learners to look like and what we are preparing them for we should allow the final assessment to evolve with the vision. Until it does, I’m afraid that not a lot of change will happen. That’s not to say that I won’t try.