Tag Archives: 21st century learning

It’s been a good day

After all our early struggles and frustrations, what  relief and joy to experience smooth sailing. Touch wood. Maria and I were grinning at the end of today’s lesson because boys were connecting easily to our ning, and we were enjoying the fruits of our previous labours.

First of all, we looked through Allan Baillie’s responses to the boys’ questions. I’m not sure what the boys thought, but they kept it to themselves as usual. That is to say, they were attentive but not jumping up and down. That’s all we can expect, I think.

We discussed the fact that even Allan Baillie made typos. We talked about how, if you had a great story to tell, you could work through the editing  process to arrive at the polished product. I think it’s important for them to understand that having something to say, having a story to tell,  is the most important thing, and that it’s possible even for a student who doesn’t think he’s ‘good at’ English to work through the drafts, with help if necessary, and end up with a great piece of writing.

Some of Allan’s replies were worth singling out – there were answers that obviously revealed things about his writing process and decisions which we wouldn’t have know from his biography or website. Maria and I find that fantastic.

Since the boys are working on a Little Brother project with many parts, allowing choice and variation in presentation, it was a good time to show them Flickr. I showed them how to find the best photos of Cambodia and related things, talked about sets and pools and tags, talked about Creative Commons, and good behaviour in photo sharing, and they listened attentively because it was relevant to their needs.

Lastly, I showed them Tag Galaxy which is such a beautiful and absorbing visual search application, and that was a wonderful way to finish the lesson. Our flickr searches found some fantastic photos with interesting information that we wouldn’t have found on Google Images.

The great thing about the ning is that it’s dead easy to add links and explanations in a spot where the students can find what they need at a later time. I was able to put in the link to Creative Commons on Flickr as I went. Since we don’t expect students (or anyone) to retain what we tell them in class, it’s good to have a designated space for them to go back to when they’re ready to have a more detailed look.

It’s not about the technology

‘It’s not about the technology’ has become a catch-phrase of mine. My experiences with Maria Toomey with 7M Ning has convinced me that good teaching is at the heart of the use of technology in education. Just as laptops in themselves do not provide a solution to student disengagement, so do Web 2.0 technologies, such as the use of Nings in the classroom, do not teach themselves. Maria and I have always provided scaffolding for the use of the Ning, unpacking questions, creating discussion, encouraging critical thinking.

I’d like to share the videos I made when I interviewed Maria about her Ning experiences; these are part of our Powerful Learning Practice presentation and can be found on this page.