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My Digital Footprint

John Seely Brown

The web has just begun to have an impact on our lives. As fascinated as we are with it today, we’re still seeing it in its early forms… My belief is that not only will the web be as fundamental to society as electrification but that it will be subject to many of the same diffusion and absorption dynamics as that earlier medium.

The Linking for Learning Blog


The 'Flipped Classroom' model - an overview

I've recently had a number of conversations with colleagues about the 'Flipped Classroom' model of teaching and learning.  In a nutshell, it is the concept of using the time in class for learning, discussion and activity that benefits from close intervention of the teacher and allocating tasks as homework that can be brought back to the classroom for review and discussion with the support of the teacher.  

The Flipped Classroom model acknowledges that students often use class time to watch and listen, leaving them to do the puzzling and struggling with learning on their own at home or in the library with mates.  The model has sprung to prominence in recent years through the evolution of technology that has simplified the creation of video and audio with everyday tools.  It is not without controversy and to be fully understood should involve a review of actual practice in its various forms.

Bendigo Senior Secondary College teacher Andrew Douch has used the model with his VCE Douchy's Biology podcasts for many years and while not teaching fulltime in 2012, his podcast has approx 1000 downloads per day by students around the world. He's been 'flipped' for many years.

Gathered here are a number of resources that I consider, provide a balanced overview of the Flipped Classroom model.  They will inform and stimulate discussion of the topic.

Educause: The Flipped Classroom - Pro and Con (July 2012) In this article Educause have provided an excellent summary of both sides of the argument in relation to the Flipped Classroom model.  This is an extensive article and will require some time to explore fully.

Reflecting on the flipped classroom through student feedback (May 2012) I've chosen this article as it contributes student voice as feedback to support the discussion.

Reverse Instruction: Dan Pink and Karl’s “Fisch Flip” (November 2010) This post is a couple of years old but provides background philosophy with reference to the work of Daniel Pink author of A Whole new mind,

The Flipped Classroom Model: A full picture (June 2011) By Jackie Gerstein Ed.D, this is a comprehensive description including diagrams of the model and the presentation embedded above.

We are in a new age of learning that is providing opportunities for classroom innovation.  Do you have an experience of the Flipped Classroom model to share?


5 ways of 'working in the cloud'

It's hard to imagine that cloud based file management is such a relatively new process when we consider its popularity in managing files seamless between a variety of devices from school, home, in the car or wherever. As part of my daily routine, it makes movement between the iOS, Mac and Windows technology a breeze and facilitates 'anywhere/anytime' access to resources.  Let’s look at just five cloud based tools that have changed my daily work practice. 

Google Docs (free) - One of the most accessible and easy ways to access and manage word processing, spreadsheets and forms in particular.  Compatible with MS Office format, the ability to upload existing documents provides easy access for personal files or for sharing.   The collaborative nature of Google Docs in that one copy of the document that can be shared with and simultaneously accessed by any number of people, overcomes lost or corrupt USBs and version confusion.  As a bonus, it saves automatically. The functionality of applications that make up Google Apps for Education are influencing its rapid uptake by schools and universities, displacing traditional Microsoft software.

Dropbox (free) - the portable storage box for every type of document.  Yes, you can store your documents, spreadsheets and presentations in Google Docs.  The value of Dropbox, however, is that it’s a file storage ‘box’ that stores a broad range of file types and sits in the file storage system of any computer I wish to install it onto.  It’s ‘device agnostic’ in that the type of device does not matter.  I have it at home on my Mac, at school on my Windows laptop, on my iPhone and iPad. 

If you don’t wish to install the app, you can access your Dropbox account directly via ‘the cloud’ by simply logging in via the Internet.  Dropbox is not an editor, it is a ‘box’ where I store files for easy access.  The ability to share folders facilitates the distribution of private documents online, even family photographs, and is a easy way to consolidate files contributed by a group of people into the one place.  I recommend Dropbox for managing and handling documents on the move.  Why carry that laptop home from school every evening if there is another computer available to access and continue working on a document? 

PDF Expert (iPad, iPhone $10.49) - expensive you say! Yes, however, worth every cent as an invaluable productivity tool.  This app enables me to read .pdf documents on the iPad, to annotate, draw and save changes.  I can open a .pdf file, add a personal signature, then return the form to the sender without moving from the iPad.  No need to print off, scan or fax.  My latest use of this versitile tool was to sign a holiday rental agreement and an official nomination form that were sent to me via email.  They were signed and returned immediately on the iPad without leaving the device.  So easy.

Evernote - (free) One of the best cloud based notetaking, web clipping, audio recording tools available, particularly in supporting research activities.  My principle uses of Evernote are as a web clipping service where I can quickly clip a note from the screen and store it in a topic folder, and on the iPad, as an audio recording device with corresponding notes.  As with all cloud-based services, I can record data into Evernote and immediately access it from any number of other devices through a simple login.

Feedly - (free) is an RSS feed reader.  Google Reader is my preferred RSS aggregator.  It is the ‘home base’ where I subscribe to RSS feeds (that feature that brings all my news to me instead of me hopping site to site gathering it).  Google Reader is the work-horse which integrates with magazine type tools such as Feedly (PC) and Reeder (iPad).  These apps make catching up on the news and sharing it with my personal learning network (PLN), saving it to social bookmarks (Diigo/Delicious) or storing as personal research, a simple process.  Integrated with Flipboard on the iPad makes reading the news from my personal magazine a real pleasure.

These are just a few of the cloud based tools that make an impact on my life.


Continuing the journey

In his essay Should everybody write? The destabilizing technologies of communication Prof Dennis Baron of University of Illinois provides a comprehensive overview of the history of the craft of writing since the time of Socrates and his prized student, Plato.  This essay made interesting reading as I considered this transfer of my blog Edubeacon to this new location.  

Authoring a blog is simultaneously a personal and a public experience.  I commenced my blogging career in January 2004 on the very simple Blogger platform.  Over the years, the technology has evolved into more integrated options, however, my reasons for blogging remain unchanged.

Basically, blogging provides me with a place to reflect and expand on ideas; a place to capture ideas from the variety of sources that constitute my Personal Learning Network; ideas that I'd like to retain with the opportunity to dip back into at a later time.  Therefore, whilst a private writing experience, it is also a public opportunity to share ideas and opinions more broadly.

Building a Personal Learning Network is a rewarding professional activity that brings one into a rich community of learners not limited by proximity or the need to have met in person.  It’s a journey on which we build knowledge, collegiality and understanding with a variety of companions.  Blogging on Edubeacon has been part of my meandering journey for the past 8 years.  By transferring onto my Linking for Learning site we are commencing a new phase of the journey.  

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