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Thursday, 30 June 2011

Braindump #2

Away from ISTE even one day later, I worry quite a bit about forgetting things that caught my attention at the conference. This list is a follow up to the previous post with those things that I thought important to investigate further. It is a do list of sorts.

 *Reminder to self about the number of cards from people I met, who expressed an interest in partnering up our students. These need be organised and followed up on, but not until August.

Interesting Ideas
I have used Voicethread a few times with students and have known about it for ages, but felt I needed a bit of a refresher and some inspiration. The session I attended was fine, not terribly challenging, but it gave me a few more ideas for uses I had not thought of. Certainly book talks are high on our lists of priorities this year and Voicethread is a  good vehicle for this as it allows for image/video uploads as well as collaboration and discussion. It can be used for debates as well, between members of a class, different classes or even different schools. A follow me story could be created with each person or team adding their image/s and chapters to it. There are plenty more uses for it, but these are some that stood out for me.

Things I Missed
One issue with an event  as big as ISTE is that you can't get to every presentation you'd like to. I remember sitting in perfectly good presentations, while TweetDeck spurted tweet after tweet at a rate of 2 per second, praising the joy and conversation of other presentations. This leads me to another job for the list, to browse through ISTE Unplugged.

High Impact
I almost missed Alan November's session  on Empathy: The 21st Century Skill.  It reminded me of things I knew and had pushed to one side, things I should be doing, and it put me to shame. This was a good thing however, as Alan talked to us about searching using site: and country codes as well as using twitter hashtags to search with in order to ensure kids are getting the full picture, understand issues from many perspectives ... I began kicking myself. I hadn't done this with my 7th grades during the Egyptian crisis project we did.  Our work seems so superficial in comparison, and it would have been a perfect unit in which to incorporate such important skills. I haven't gotten over it and that's a good thing. It means I will do better next time.

This lead me to a very important realisation.  I have used Twitter a lot for years and even taught kids to use it to record their own research in tweet format, but I have never had the kids use it to search empathetically, to pop that search bubble  that we have become encased in and find out what is really going on from all sides. Wasn't Twitter instrumental in getting ideas, experiences and news out during the Egyptian crisis...yet that wealth of information remained untapped for my students....Kick, kick, kick.,..Twitter is one of the best research tools around for getting all sides of the stories straight from those who are affected, directly involved and on the front line and at the very least for accessing media sources from around the world. When combined with smart searching using country codes and specific domains you can't go wrong, you will get the full picture.

Next Steps but Not Yet
Finally, one last thing that I can't let slip by is all the talk and excitement about iPads. They have certainly emerged as a must have for schools, There is so much that can be done with such a portable yet complete device. Hundreds of apps aside,  I saw people using their ipads in the most sensible and interesting of ways, capturing images, creating animations and other digital stories, sharing ideas, communicating with each other  and much, much more. There is one dark side however, that I was made aware of. Google Docs doesn't work properly on the iPad yet. No worries however, we have a whole school year to see if they sort out the issue or not.

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