Monday, 29 October 2012

Check It Out On YouTube - Blog 4

The phenomenon of YouTube is amazing. It is hard to believe this video sharing site has only been around since 2005. YouTube has become a mainstay in our box of social networking and educational tools. It allows its users to share or watch videos on any topic imaginable. A small list from limitless possibilities includes: how to videos, social trends,inspirational videos, sports videos, political debates, educational videos, and music videos.

Humans enjoy learning through both the auditory and visual modes because they arouse our interests, motivate us, and inspire our emotions. I have searched such varied topics as how to tie a Windsor knot, how to make a perfect omelette, or how to take a screen shot on my Mac. Of course, links are essential to the success of YouTube. Part of its brilliance is the list of related links that pop up when you watch any video. By perusing these similar or connected videos, the community of followers multiplies, creating the phenomenon of ‘going viral’ that we have now adopted into our everyday vocabulary. The social impact of YouTube has been immeasurable. Music artists, such as Justin Beiber, were discovered after posting simple home videos that went viral. Other sensations, such as Gangnam Style by the Korean artist PSY, or animal voice-overs have created a stir or become a trend as people discovered the novelty of the idea and shared it with friends by word of mouth or through links posted.

YouTube has also infiltrated our need to know at home and in schools. The connection with TedTalks has led to a steady stream of informative, educational speeches by such experts as Susan Cain, Brene Brown, and Sir Ken Robinson. You Tube has extended its reach into our schools by launching extensions such as YouTubeEDU. Students love having YouTube moments at school to enjoy videos related to the curriculum. They would convince you to let them watch the stream of related videos for hours, if you let them. YouTube appears to be here to stay. I would continue to discuss the wonders of video sharing, but I need to go help my son find the answers to conjugating French pronominal verbs.

References: (accessed 10/28/12)
Image credit: (accessed 10/29/12)

Monday, 15 October 2012

The Journey of Collaboration - Blog 3

This week, I decided I would investigate how blogging might be used in the classroom. Nine or ten years ago, I tried using a classroom blog to post homework and relevant business items.
It only worked moderately well because I was not fully invested in the process and our school community had not yet embraced the idea of social networking. Through exploring different blogs and researching classroom uses of blogs, I have discovered some interesting ideas for collaboration and I have made connections I didn't expect.
Initially, I revisited my school division blog and saw a post by a colleague, Thea Morris, about her use of a classroom blog to track and describe the journey her class is currently on in a one to one project using iPads in her classroom. After receiving the technology grant for the iPads, she made a smart decision to document her students' progress on a blog that she can now use as her action research project for this year. Thea had interesting insights to share and our conversation continued as I contacted her to inquire about linking her blog to mine. She reminded me that that is precisely how bloggers support each other. We had an interesting email chat and she told me about the personal blog on organized living she also started ten months ago. With 11 000 followers already, she has definitely made an impact on the collective!
Edublogger conducted a survey entitled, "The State of Educational Blogging in 2012" from May 5-July 25, 2012. Respondents described using classroom blogs predominantly for class websites, class blogs, student blogs, professional/personal blogs, news blogs, and for collaboration and discussion. Educational bloggers, Linda Yollis (U.S.A.) and Kathleen Morris (Australia) are two teachers who moved from collaborating collectively through the comment sections of their classroom blogs to creating global collaborative projects. They explain that "effective classroom blogging and global collaboration are built around relationships," The collaboration between their classes has spawned empowering student leadership initiatives for their students.
The journey of collaboration and the ability to embark on unique and creative global collaborative projects has a reach that goes far beyond posting homework on a class blog. I have been discussing the power of local and global leadership opportunities with my 14 year old son, who is hoping to attend We Day on October, 24. He is totally pumped about attending this special event and sees himself as an "ambassador of change," within his school and the community. Starting with simple class blogs can give children the skills, confidence, and even the courage to share their own voices through personal or group blogs that have the potential for world wide impact. I am amazed at the bravery shown by Malala Yousafzai by blogging about the right of girls to be educated in Pakistan. Efforts that begin as local concerns in the classroom have the potential to have far reaching effects.

References: (accessed: 10/13/12) (accessed: 10/14/12)

Monday, 1 October 2012

Understanding the Blogging Phenomenon - Blog 2

After investigating various blogs, I am contemplating several  questions and I have started to understand some key ideas related to this social networking phenomenon. Looking back at my first post, I realize how sparse it was! After doing my blogging research, I see how powerful and useful it is for readers to include relevant links. It is amazing how you can navigate the highway of websites and blogs as you cruise along. I also gather how we use our skills of skimming and scanning to decide what to spend our time reading. Much like reading a newspaper, I scanned titles and headings to quickly decide what was applicable. As well, I understand the need to be succinct! Too many words will scare away the audience. A blog needs to be visually appealing and easily navigable. Those I found too dense or hard to figure out lost their appeal quickly. On that note, I did find several sources with tips regarding better blogging. One of the key tips in this blog post is that it is the feedback from followers and ensuing conversations that are the driving force behind the power of blogs.

How can blogging be used in the classroom or in our personal lives to build community? The reading, writing, and sharing involved is powerful. Social media such as this helps us make connections with so many people from around the world with similar interests. Even talking about blogging in real time stimulates sharing and building community. I asked my yoga friends (who come from all walks of life) if they had any ideas about good yoga blogs I might follow. Several ideas were shared in an interesting conversation and I went on to learn even more when I investigated those blogs and many others linked to them.
Is a private rant okay to share on a public stage? It depends on your employment and concern for your reputation. One blog I searched had a very facetious and raw element of judgment included. It was funny, yet not appropriate for my analysis. The author clearly didn’t care about repercussions related to work or reputation. On the other hand, the president of Hockey Calgary resigned his position after it surfaced that he had called opponents of banning body checking “morons” in a personal blog post shared months earlier. People need to remember the implications of the public domain when interacting in "the collective" (Thomas & Brown, 2011).
Sir Ken Robinson talks about education killing creativity. The interaction created through blogging is a dynamic way students and teachers can continue to support their diversity and imagination. Do I have time to incorporate this type of creativity into my hectic life? I suppose it is a matter of making time. Participating in the collective will depend upon my interest in the topic, my need to find information, or my desire to actively engage and learn something new, (Thomas and Brown, 2011).

Thomas, D., & Brown, J.S. (2011). A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change. Seattle, WA: Create Space. (Accessed 09/25/12) (Accessed 09/28/12) (Accessed 09/28/12)