Monday, April 30, 2007

Many Eyes

Below is a tag cloud of the recent speech Australia Rising, by Australian Prime Minister John Howard.
The cloud was created by a neat little program called "many eyes" which is a data manipulation/representation program. Well worth checking it. What a great way to compare the main ideas of 2 separate pieces of writing. It's searchable as well.

I discovered this wonderful tool on George Siemens' Connectivism blog

Grunt Cognition

"Functional visualizations are more than innovative statistical analyses and computational algorithms. They must make sense to the user and require a visual language system that uses colour, shape, line, hierarchy and composition to communicate clearly and appropriately, much like the alphabetic and character-based languages used worldwide between humans." Matt Woolman

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Comment on Australia Rising

As an educator I am somewhat shocked by Mr Howard's speech.

Its hard for many to see past the party political rhetoric of an election year campaign speech. However Mr Howard's speech struck a chord with me. Perhaps that ought to be "discord".

You see, out of all the 21st century skills, flat world, what if, shake it up, type presentations that I have been referring to in my previous posts, (presentations which in my opinion inspire and motivate many educators), it took Mr Howard to link 2020 to the ongoing global war on terror. (In my mind at least).

Mr Howard's choice of words is very telling. When describing australia in 2020 he uses, Struggle, terrorism, fight, war, enemy, battle, defence force, combat, heavy burden.

Have the educators got it wrong? Or is it the politicians that refuse to shift from 20th century "world is round" thinking? What kind of world are we creating? Do we tell the class of 2020 (todays kindergarten), that our leaders are planning to continue the war? That the world they graduate into will be a burden and a struggle, or ought we be trying to inspire them with some other, more hopeful vision?

Monday, April 23, 2007

Howard outlines vision for 2020

Howard outlines vision for 2020

Full text here

I want to begin by sketching the sort of world Australians are likely to be living in a decade from now; for argument’s sake let’s say by 2020, when most of today’s children will be young adults.

Liberal democracies will flourish, yet their purpose, patience and resolve will continue to be tested. For a country like Australia, there’ll be no holiday from history or from the long struggle against terrorism.

This fight is a different type of war against a different type of enemy. Our interests and ideals demand we stay engaged in the world and in the global battle of ideas.

Australia’s defence forces must be combat ready and well-resourced and our alliances close and strong in 2020.

We will continue to carry a heavy burden for order and stability in this part of the world. One of the most far-reaching national security decisions this Government has taken was to end a posture of benign neglect in the Pacific. There will be no going back from that commitment.

In 2020, policy makers will still be grappling with the great disjunction of our age – between a globalised economic order and a fragmented political one. Australia has a profound interest in a stable, cooperative and market-oriented global system underpinned by stable, cooperative and market-oriented nation states.

No-one should pretend the nation state is going anywhere. People will continue to express their demands for security, economic wellbeing and identity primarily through national politics. And the duty of political leaders will still be protecting and advancing the national interest.

It will be a world where economic and geopolitical power is more evenly distributed; more so perhaps than any time since America’s rise in the late 19th Century.

The human face of globalisation in 2020 will be increasingly Asian and middle class – as our region becomes the epicentre of history’s first truly global middle class.

It will be a world of intense competition for markets and for global talent. Australia must work hard to earn our place in a fiercely competitive global economy. We must ensure Australia retains and attracts our share of the best and brightest – the researchers, scientists, innovators and risk takers who’ll generate the ideas for a rising Australia.

Australia’s workforce will continue to face challenges from demographic change, from technological change and from globalisation. The Treasurer’s Intergenerational Report earlier this month showed that we have made progress in meeting the challenge of an ageing society.

Many families are confronting these pressures directly with the rise, for example, of the so-called sandwich generation. More and more baby boomer women in particular carry heavy responsibilities around caring for ageing parents and for children still at home, while also holding down a job in the paid workforce.

All this points to the need for governments to become even more nimble and responsive to individual needs in the next decade. The old rigid welfare state models have become increasingly obsolete.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Pay Attention

I love Teacher tube. You tube is blocked (for good reason) in many state education departments. Teacher tube is not. Many worthwhile videos from you tube are being reposted to teacher tube by teachers.

Here is a recent post along the lines of "did you know". Its called "Pay Attention" and it's by Darren Draper. There are support materials for Pay Attention at Darren Draper's site


Sunday, April 08, 2007

Aquisition of mechanistic skills does not mean IT literate.

21st Century Skills

Readers of c21skills will know by now that I'm searching for a suitable ICT skills framework that can be adapted to work within my own State Dept of Education.

The best I have come accross so far are the ISTE Nets and the enGauge Framework.

Nets has become the defacto set of skills used in the USA, and even here in Australia we have very similar checklists for what we expect our children to know.

This is all well and good, but a checklist of skills does little to develop the critical thinking and collaborative work habits required of Australias 21st century citizen.

The kindergarten class of 2007 will graduate from high school in 2020! they are going to need alot more than an ability to "use" technology in a mechanistic way.

As good as the skillset in the NETS framework is, the enGauge model has a greater focus on 21st century skills.

Here is a comparison of the NETS skills and the enGauge model.

Note: the NETS standards do not specifically address Visual Literacy, Global
Awareness, Adaptability/Managing Complexity, Curiosity, or Risk-Taking, which are addressed by enGauge.

My thoughts? I'm looking at the enGauge model carefully. It doesnt have an easy checklist format that 20th century teachers seem to love so much, but it has a powerful set of skills that we ignore at our peril.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Connectivism, what is it?

Kind of makes me wonder why I haven't come across this before. On first reading it makes so much sense. I'd like to see some critiques of the theory. I'm sure the digital Taliban would have many. Here is George Siemen's paper explaining connectivism. George has a blog here

elearnspace. Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age

The pipe is more important than the content within the pipe. Our ability to learn what we need for tomorrow is more important than what we know today. A real challenge for any learning theory is to actuate known knowledge at the point of application. When knowledge, however, is needed, but not known, the ability to plug into sources to meet the requirements becomes a vital skill. As knowledge continues to grow and evolve, access to what is needed is more important than what the learner currently possesses.

Connectivism presents a model of learning that acknowledges the tectonic shifts in society where learning is no longer an internal, individualistic activity. How people work and function is altered when new tools are utilized. The field of education has been slow to recognize both the impact of new learning tools and the environmental changes in what it means to learn. Connectivism provides insight into learning skills and tasks needed for learners to flourish in a digital era.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Shake it Up

Similar content to "Did You Know". Essential viewing for your favourite digital refugee.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Digital Who?

Is Web2.0 a threat to the Digital Taliban?

By now most of us have some idea who the "Taliban" are. They are the group that once ruled Afghanistan. They imposed strict laws and punishment upon their citizens, which resulted in the freedoms that we take for granted in the west being removed from the citizens of Afghanistan. Girls not being allowed to attend school is one of many examples of this.

The Taliban (and groups like them) see and understand the world through their own narrow understanding of “the way things are". They do not tolerate nor allow criticism. They are correct, and therefore no-one else can be. They become irrational and emotional in the face of evidence that contradicts their worldview.

They meet out punishment to dissenters (non believers). They destroy that which does not align with their view. They make claims that cannot be proven (God does not want us to fly kites, ride bikes, watch television etc).

So why do we need to understand the Taliban? Well in order to understand the term "Digital Taliban", a basic familiarity with the Taliban of Afghanistan is worthwhile.

So, who are the Digital Taliban?

I'm sure we have all come across them at various times. They are the ones who built "their" network within "our" organisation. They pushed cable through walls and ceilings, air conditioned the server room, created the user accounts, and set up passwords. They even setup the acceptable use policies. They allow whomever they want the network freedoms that they determine are appropriate, and yet deny those freedoms to others whom they deem not worthy/able/literate.

When a brave soul attempts to clarify a situation or ask a question (such as: Why can't I install this piece of educational software onto a machine, others schools are doing it?), the usual response is a barrage of baffling geek speak. This ensures the the questioner not only feels disempowered by their relative lack of network knowledge, but guarantees that a question will not be asked in future. Strategies like this (and worse, such as reduction of network permissions, resetting of passwords, deletion of accounts) are deliberately designed to maintain personal control of the communication technologies within the organisation.

The followers of the Afghanistan Taliban see their leaders as infallible, or the voice of their gods who can direct them infallibly in the interpretation of the sources of truth.

So too, the followers of the Digital Taliban, (various layers of executive within the organisation) see the Digital Taliban as the source of all solutions. They become reliant upon the goodwill (blessings) of the Digital Taliban in order to be productive through the day/week/year. The Digital Taliban can bestow favour upon the executive (followers) by granting them faster network access, the best printers, and priority in the help desk queue. In return, the executive (follower) rewards the Digital Taliban by faithfully upholding their lofty (and infallible) position within the organisation.

Now here are some questions.

How can inspired educators encourage the students to become critical and productive users of the technology when that technology is under the control of the Digital Taliban and their faithful followers?

Can the Digital Taliban be persuaded to relinquish their grip or do educators need to come up with a strategy to forcibly remove the Digital Taliban from power, and provide a realistic alternative to the followers?

Sunday, April 01, 2007

More on Grip Fix Turn

Kim Flintoff has a great elaboration on his use of the term Grip Fix Turn over at his blog

More on Grip, Fix, Turn : Grip Fix Turn

What I was trying to suggest, as others have done in different ways, is that a proficiency with ubiquitous forms of technology use and a comparative comfort with technology engagement does not necessarily confer any expertise or control or any deep understanding of the technology, the culture producing or surrounding it, and more especially the capacity to engage with critical awareness and assessment of technology use.

Impressive Membership

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills has an impressive framework for 21st century literacy.
The diagram at the bottom of this post shows that so called "ICT Skills" are only a subset of other elements such as content (global awareness, civic literacy, health and awareness), thinking skills (critical thought, problem solving, collaboration, creativity).

If you download the pdf from this site (see link at bottom of this post), you'll see a very impressive list of members. Intel, Verizon, Cisco, Adobe, Apple, Microsoft, Oracle, to name but a few. It would appear that some of the best a brightest have contributed to this document/site.

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills - Framework for 21st Century Learning
The Partnership for 21st Century Skills has developed a unified, collective vision for 21st century learning that can be used to strengthen American Global education.

P21 Framework Rainbow
Download this page as a PDF.


The first stage in project based learning is identifying standards.

In the absence of readily available sets of ICT standards, I'm setting out to gather together sets of standards from around the world, that may provide interesting insights into how other countries are approaching the task. The following standards from New Hampshire DoE interest me because they contain an emphasis upon 21st Century Skills. Feel free to peruse and critique them. I'd appreciate a variety of thoughts on the matter.

Office of Ed Tech

The ideal ICT Literacy Program in grades K-8 weaves technology experiences into all content areas and all grade levels, so that a student can demonstrate ICT competency at the end of 8th grade. The ideal ICT Literacy Program in high school provides courses which allow students to focus on technology experiences that match their career aspirations. Digital portfolios at the K-8 and 9-12 levels are ideal demonstrations of competence, as they can show how students competently use technology tools and resources within the context of core content areas.

Cartoons as a Resource

Great site here, using cartoons to enhance literacy.

ToonDoo - The Cartoon Strip Creator - Create, Publish, Share, Discuss!

check out my first "toon"