Saturday, January 28, 2012

4 simple steps to join the mRevolution

For long, we've been talking in our circles of students as producers, not simply audience, and students finding their own voice. Educators know how important it is to move from our classrooms industrial production-like type of education. We've realized that there's much more potential in networking, in giving back to students the control of their own learning. We do know, however, that this is much easier said than done.

Music students with iPads
students in charge
This is a time of production, way beyond the passive-receptive mode of education. For some time now, we've had powerful tech tools around for the shift, but new devices, which are smaller, portable and in the hands of our learners are bound to give us the support we need for this active, exciting passionate movement towards meaningful learning. The world is more MOBILE than ever before. And we should grab this opportunity to make the move, to experiment, to learn with our students and to give a step forward.

So, here's what I've been doing that might give you some hints of what you could do to start an mRevolution:

  1. Give your students a chance to teach you new trick using those portable devices. They are experts! They know cool apps, they are into cool features that you don't even imagine they are there in cellphones, cameras, tablets, netbooks.
  2. Don't ask your students to turn off their devices. Ask yourself how you could use them to have exciting, dynamic lessons that tap into students' creativity and make students smile and enjoy themselves while learning. 
  3. I've been reading as crazy about mLearning, downloading apps to my tablet and cellphone, testing things out. The most important thing in this first step is to keep a record of all that, using a very visual curation tool, and being closer, interacting with educators interested in the topic:
  4. I've been fearlessly trying mPossibilities in my classroom, which requires a lot of planning, but it is totally awesome when you see the positive results and the students' excitement. I had an adult group last year, and I tried different activities with them using the power of what they had in their pockets: cellphones. I had the idea that if they, who were not so aware or comfortable using those gadgets for learning, could profit from the experience, imagine the younger gang! The most important aspect of the trial part is reflecting upon it and keeping a record. So, blogging was an essential part of the process:
This is just the beginning of an exhilarating world of new possibilities in which our learners are truly in charge of producing something meaningful, of becoming active participants in their own learning process. 
What would you add to your mRevolution list?

In the meantime, here's a show I'd recommend following:
Listen to internet radio with Techchef4u on Blog Talk Radio

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Digital Skills for Teachers - Where Are You?

Nik Peachey's post resonates to what I've been trying to do for the last decade in the school I work for, give support to teachers to help them enhance their digital skills' development.

Just by clicking on Nik's list, you'll be able to find where you are, how far you've gone and where you want to head to.

Teachers' digital skills tick list

387342_10150442069076669_7137316668_9014169_354579768_nAs for my own professional development, besides being connected to my online network of educators through Twitter, Facebook, blogs, plus attending online webinars and conferences throughout the year mixed with f2f seminars and presentations in conferences, I have a motto of
"a skill or tool a semester"

Every single semester, I set a specific goal for my own learning and pursue it throughout the semester. It is doable, simple and it keeps me focused on my learning goals.

How about you? How do you keep yourself up-to-date? How do your pursue your professional development? Where do you want to head? What are your weaknesses that you want to transform into strength? How do you keep motivated to do your best on a daily basis? How are you constantly preparing for yourself to be an AGENT OF CHANGE?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Storytelling - Five Card Story

This week, in our Digitools EVO session, we're exploring writing. To be more specific, creative writing. Jane Petring carefully prepared wonderful tasks for that. She used many interesting writing platforms that we had collected. They are all fantastic ones, but I'd like to highlight one in special created by Alan Levine, the Five Card story.

There are so many possibilities there for students. They have a choice to grab the five random cards to write their stories.

The students can write their stories and share on the site.

They can write the stories and give each other's stories the title of their peers' stories.

The teacher could assign the picture cards and see what students come up with and then compare to the original story posted on the site. Take, for example, this very short story. The teacher could show the pictures to students, give them the guidelines, they could write the stories, compare each other's stories and then check what the author came up with.

Five Card Story: The Best Thing about a Mac

a PLP ConnectU story created by tesuque

flickr photo by cogdogblog

flickr photo by cogdogblog

flickr photo by cogdogblog

flickr photo by AJ Wms

flickr photo by giulia.forsythe
Had a PC. Fed up with trojans.Bought a Mac. Finally saw the light! Practically no viruses!

So much to explore in the realm of digital storytelling, but my advice is always to keep it simple and fun for you and your learners.

Monday, January 16, 2012

EVO - The Art of Curation and Discovery in Professional Development

Just came across George Siemens's insights
"A curatorial teacher acknowledges the autonomy of learners, yet understands the frustration of exploring unknown territories without a map. A curator is an expert learner. Instead of dispensing knowledge, he creates spaces in which knowledge can be created, explored, and connected. ... A curator balances the freedom of individual learners with the thoughtful interpretation of the subject being explored. While learners are free to explore, they encounter displays, concepts, and artifacts representative of the discipline. Their freedom to explore is unbounded. But when they engage with subject matter, the key concepts of a discipline are transparently reflected through the curatorial actions of the teacher."
(George Siemens, Friday, August 24th, 2007 at 10:31)

It is a perfect definition of how we try to do things in the Electronic Village Online, and it hasn't been different this year. With the Classroom Digital Tools session in full steam with 503 participants, the moderators are simply the enablers of people connection and the pointers to exciting educational content. We are designers and curators of meaningful learning experiences. And this is certainly disorienting at first to participants who join us for the first time. Why? Because they generally expect to have a traditional type of training in which we "teach", they "learn", in which we are the "experts" and they are the "recipients".

IMG_0238Soon they come to realize that by joining the EVO, they enter in a different realm of professional development. We are there together to experience learning in a community. And in a community, there's no one way road. In fact, we have roundabouts, u-turns, all kinds of communicational directions to achieve our main goal for the session, provide participants with the opportunity to learn how to be out there in the wild with more confidence, to click around, to explore, connect, add their own voices and to keep daring. Nobody wants to make a fool of himself in front of 500 other people, mainly when these people are educators. We have our own self-image to preserve. However, once participants realize that YES, it is OK to ask, to write in the wrong area, to comment, to make suggestions, to give and get constructive feedback, the learning possibilities are immediately amplified, and it seems that our professional development gets on a whirlwind of new perspectives and directions with the wonders of new nodes and connections with educators around the globe.

Week 1 in EVO is always daunting, a bit scary at times, but it is also a time of allurement and fascination, a time for discovery and optimism that reenergize us as professionals and educators trying to make a difference in every learner's life and in our own.

I can't help myself, but be totally touched by what has been shared in our session by participants coming from all over the globe with their multicultural perspectives, trying to see what works and what doesn't in their contexts.

Week 2 in the Digital Tools group has started with some creative minds in action! We never know where it is going to take us with such a fantastic community. Let us keep exploring the unbound freedom of guided discovery...

Some highlights of our session also available at

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Make it Small, Move Slowly, Make it Big

Still on what I had mentioned for New Year's with my no-wish-list statement, I just came across a very enjoyable read that is inspiring and plain simple.

Mitch Joel, in his post "The Deception os Malcolm Gladwell, Seth Godin and Gary Vaynerchuk" (no wonder I'm a huge fan of these guys!) mentions the power of taking a step of a time, making things a habit and giving you some time to change. In fact, many people think that any move is about taking a big decision and just going for it. Wrong. All the big decisions in life have a maturation time, a period to settle in and become part of your mindset. Just then, it becomes an A-Ha moment. We might thing that it happens overnight, but it doesn't. We just need to have an open mind and the willingness to give a different perspective to our thoughts, actions and habits.

slow media

So, instead of big promises with huge moves, what if we made a very small change in our routine that can become a major impacting change in the near future? No wish lists, no promises, but one small change. I've already decided for mine. Let's see how it works. How about you?