Collaboration Connectivism Course 2 Digital Footprint New Media literacies

Co-dependency between Machines and Human Beings

During the last 3 month I realized that connections, connectedness (does this word really exist?), connectivity on the Internet are possible in endless ways. The main two streams though are:

  • connections through human beings
  • connections through machines
Webgraph of

Through Webpages as a graph (works only with Firefox) you get a visualisation of your website and in particular also of your hyperlinks. It looks beautiful!

The blue dots are actually the important ones because they show me the hyperlinks on the blog. To understand the graph fully you need to know at least a little bit of HTML which is the language to create webpages. That reminds me that I – maybe 7-8 years ago – created a website for a friend. Unfortunately it doesn’t exist anymore and also didn’t take a snapshot (probably I put the robot.txt to avoid spam – do I mix up something?). In this context I thought about how to optimize the search engine result and – here it comes – hyperlinks. Google obviously looks at both links – to and from your website. To have an impact on your page rank the links to your website are important. You can imagine, suddenly I was curious about my page rank. There are several ways to check and in the end the chrome apps are the most convient one. The app I really liked is PageRank Status. A screenshot of part of it says: Hmm, does it really means that I’m the first on the search results? How can this be? I’m sure that not that many people linked to my blog. The reason probably is the connection to the Coetail website itself. Please, other cohort follower, please correct me if I’m wrong. I try to understand.

Anyways, my point is if we make sure (somehow) that there are enough hyperlinks from other sides to our than the ranking goes up. We need to set the links but the machine does the rest.

There are other ways to connect on the Internet – again driven by human beings but the machines do the rest, f.e. by suggesting people we might know or suggesting website, groups or people to follow. Recently I intensified it by using f.e. various social website:

  • Google, Gmail, Google Drive, Google+, Google Hangouts
    All those tools gave me possibility to connect to other likeminded people from all over the world. It is exciting and inspiring and not frightening at all. Maybe Vivian is right that Coetail keeps us for the beginning in a bubble, but it also depends on us how much we put us out there. I’m enjoying the collaborative work by using Google Drive and meeting through Google Hangouts.
  • Twitter
    I am following more people now and I explored Tweetdeck wich helps me to orgnise the tweets, to have conversations with other people – to create my own Personal Learning Network. Sometimes I tweet something, ask a questions, comment on something,  … but I definitely still see room for improvement. Like so often – it takes time. I will.
  • Facebook
    Another tool to connect. Fortunately a lot of organisations I’m interested in are on Facebook. It is great to follow them (Still lurking? Well, I started to comment way more often.)
  • LinkedIn
    It is still a little bit neglected by me …
  • Blog
    Of course the blog is also a way to connect. People comment and I try to comment as much as possible. For the kids I really like the #comments4kids on twitter.

And, and, and … To be honest, I still wish to create and contribute more. This experience here with Coetail helps me to connect with other people and how to use the Internet in a less consuming way. Let’s create, contribute and share! It’s worth!

Collaboration Connectivism Course 1

Creating a Wikipedia to share our knowledge

Using technology for teaching has always been a goal for me. First it’s my personal passion since I can think of and second it is, it will be the future of the children I teach. Last but not least it is motivating for the children and gives them the chance to be an independent and creative learner.

It’s the second time my students of Grade 4 create a Wikipedia about a brain. As a German language teacher the focus last year was writing, only writing. It was less about being connected, creating and sharing knowledge and learning from other. That is probably part of the Coetail Effect. Thanks to everybody, it’s so important. My mind works already differently. As you can see in my planner, of course it is still about language. Most of the students in class are native German speakers and the few Germans as an Additional language speakers could get differentiated support to improve their written language skills.
To support the students I produced for the first time some instructional videos in advance. I wanted them to use the help instead of asking me constantly. As differentiation few students got the chance to produce an additional video by themselves. It was a great possibility to create and contribute something for the help section.

The post of Beth Queeney Dressler: Tapping into Collaboration made me think about using the Wikipedia in class. She questioned whether it is doing old things in a new way.

I didn’t write a single post. The students chose a topic to read about the human brain, showed their understanding by filling out a attached sheet and created then a post for the wiki. I also asked them to comment on each others posts and reflected about what is a appropriate comment.
But I agree – what will be the follow up? Will the wiki die now? For me it would be already a lot if they understand the purpose of a wikipedia. And who knows, maybe one day, sooner or later somebody will be an editor on one of the countless wikis that exist online. Or they will start commenting on each others blog (portfolios). It is/was about getting them aware …
Here now my planner:
Collaboration Connectivism Course 1 Learning Landscape

It’s Already Happening – Online Collaborative Projects

When I for first time read about “online collaborative projects” this week I was reminded of a conference (European 1-1 Learning Institute) last November at the FIS (Frankfurt International School). One of the keynote speakers was Ian Jukes. He spoke of a new book and mentioned that he wrote that book with two other people who he has never met in person. The whole process took place online as a collaborative project. I was impressed and I remember thinking: Probably that is the future.

It is not the future – it’s already happening. Last week I asked around mostly non-teacher curious about whether they are working somehow collaborative online. Several examples in a business or programming environment came up and I was confirmed that it’s already happening. Additionally my mother sent me by old-fashion mail an article Die Ungeduldigen. Eine Geschichte über Neugier und Fragesteller (in English: The Impatient. A Story about curiosity and questioner). The article describes three young teenagers who are already involved in programming projects. The author also ask what impact it has for teaching (Yeah, also in Germany is a mind-shift going on!) And guess how they are working: online and collaborating through their network. It’s already happening.

Of course I was curious what is going on in education:

  • How are teachers involved in online collaborative projects?

So far I know about two groups of teachers at our school. Both collaborative projects are happening within their professional development. They are inquiring into new concepts, exchanging their findings, their opinions and conclusions, their learning as a group at school but then also and as much as important online on a specific platform. It’s already happing.

  • How can we involve students in online collaborative projects?

It’s also already happening. There seems to be endless websites already to create projects and to find projects. Teachers and classrooms from all over the world create, inquirer, find out, exchange and a lot more. Here are some websites: CIESEtheteacherscorner.netKidlink, … There are tons of projects already going on. I even don’t know whether those links are the most popular amongst all options. So please feel free to add links you explored and you want to share.

So how is technology changing the learning landscape and global education?

Using technology for online collaborative projects gives students the possibility to get meaningful and authentic learning and live experiences. It allows sharing knowledge and experiences with other students from all over the world. Automatically they are having an audience that is like-minded and driven by the same interest. Learning doesn’t happen exclusively in the classroom anymore – it’s global. And it should be global because we have to solve global issues locally. Students get the chance to be involved in something. It will be the start for being active and creative for a network, for a community or for the whole society. If students/people get to know each other, if they know from each other their way of living, the obvious and the hidden part of culture (The Cultural Iceberg), we can take responsibilty together for our world like Plant for the Planet.

I definitely see myself being involved with one of my classes in an online collaborative project. It’s just a matter of time and opportunity. I will make it happen.
Inspired by the fact that I’m working at an international school, by the video Where is home?, by the phenomena of TCK (Third Culture Kids) and a project called Where do I live? I could imagine a project called Who am I? to let the students get to know each other and themselves better, to get a deeper understanding of their family background and their own identity.

The next question came up immediately: What tools are already out there? There is a List of collaborative software, collaborative plattforms, and a List of Wiki Software … but that goes to far for me at the moment …