…Or are you looking for a way to collaborate with colleagues?

Over the last week, I’ve been using crocodoc.com with my IB examining colleagues in order to discuss samples of students work. I can certainly see many benefits for us in the High School.

Crocodoc is a very easy way to annotate and mark student’s work that is in PDF, word document for or even images. You create an account and upload files which you can then share with students and colleagues. Anyone you share with can add comments, highlight areas and make annotations.

And a note about the upcoming mock exams…

Now that we are coming to the examination season, our Grade 12 IB ITGS Diploma students are required to ‘hand-write’ their papers which means that there is one hard copy of the student’s work. That’s fine as you can physically mark and comment on the paper and give feedback to the individual student. However, why not consider scanning, uploading and annotating electronically one or two high-scoring papers to Crocodoc to share with your students to provide and discuss the marking and allow all students the benefit of the feedback as well as providing good model answers? An added benefit is that you have an online record of the annotated work that you may want to share with other students or colleagues for moderation purposes in the future.

To get started and try out Crocodocs, go here.

Example of editing student work

Crocodocs is FREE and currently available here in China….so get started and see how you go!

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Seeking ‘experts’ for IB ITGS students to interview

On December 1, 2010, in Uncategorized, by Madeleine Brookes

Can you help? Are you an expert in one of the following or know one?

My current grade 12 IB ITGS students at the Western Academy of Beijing need ‘experts’ to interview online or via email for their portfolio extension. They are 17-18 years old and have been (individually) investigating issues arising from the use of IT. Each student has produced a portfolio paper on their topic which is based on secondary research and now need to interview an ‘expert’ for further opinions for their extension. (The experts must be over the age of 18 and have first-hand experience of the topic.) Please, please would you think about your contacts and let me know if you are able to help? We are aiming to get these interviews done in the next couple of weeks (by Dec 17) – if possible! You can email me directly (madeleine_brookes@wab.edu) or leave a comment here.

Here is the list of what we need (in the words of the individual students):

Topic: The effect of SMS on language of high school students
Issue: The degradation of written language
Who you want to interview: a high school English teacher where the primary teaching language is English, a linguistic expert on spoken and written English.

Topic: Biometric Identification System in schools
Issue: Privacy issue
Who you want to interview: The organiser of the biometric system in a school. Principal of school which has the biometric system.

Topic: The use of remote Webcam technology to spy on kids
Issue: Privacy
Interviewers: A LANrev employee, and someone who opposes to use of technology to spy on kids

Topic: Health issues arising from the use of eBay to purchase medicine
Issue: Health
Interviewee wanted:
1. Manager or better working for an online auction/shopping website that allows medicine/drugs-shopping
2. Medic/Doctor/GP who knows auction/shopping websites

Topic: E-book piracy
Issue: The impact that E-book piracy is having on the publishing industry
People that I want to interview:
– Someone working in the publishing industry that is being affected by E-book piracy.
– An E-book pirate or uploader.

Topic: Google Earth Privacy issue
Issue: Privacy invasion ranging from personal to country
Who you want to interview: I have a secondary interviewee but I need the actual government person who might be censoring Google Earth or any kind of official people who might be doing this job in an organization censoring Google Earth for some reason.

Topic: A “iPhone Program” implemented in UK schools for students to rate teachers
Issue: Students abuse this power and teachers feel they have become slaves to student’s needs rather than how they should be doing their own method to teach.
Who you want to interview: An expert who knows a lot about how schools use technology to rate teachers.

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The week ahead in the cyber-classroom

On November 21, 2010, in Madeleine Brookes, Uncategorized, by Madeleine Brookes

Grade 11 – The Great Debate

We look forward to this week’s work where the insideITGS students will be starting on the Great Debate project. We are using a fictional country “Edtopia” for our setting and students will assume the roles of various Edtopian citizens.

Front page of Le Canadien, November 22, 1806

Here is their brief:

Edtopia is a country that has a dictator ruling the people. Edtopia Press is a publishing company that produces newsletters and magazines for clients. Edtopia is moving into the 21st Century and starting to embrace more online and multimedia forms of publication, including the use of social media to attract more readers and therefore generate more profit for their clients. However, with the development of new forms of publication including online social media, many clients and businesses are now creating their own publications and managing their own online distribution.

The essential question that will be debated is:

Has the introduction of freely available online facilities and tools for publication (including desktop publishing and Web 2.0 forms of social media) been a positive step for society?

This project will take place over the next 3-4 weeks. We have broken it down into 4 stages: technical knowledge, research, debate and synthesis/evaluation. The students from the three participating schools (BISS, WAB and Vienna International School) will be collaborating on the first three steps and then will be required to generate their own evaluation for the last step, where each student will produce their own paper to address the question.

This week we will be looking step 1 and 2. For step 1, students will look at the technical tools and IT systems associated with this topic and will be collaborating in wikispaces to build a set of notes to share. At some stage we will be assessing their individual technical knowledge with an IB-style quiz.  We will also be allocating roles to teams of 3+ students, each from one of the participating schools: so that they can research, collaborate and produce their position paper which they will then use as a basis for their presentation in Voicethread.

We will blog more on this project as it develops. In the meantime, please join us here or leave us a comment.

Grade 12 – The 2011 Case Study

EthioGift - delivery service in Addis Ababa

I also have a Grade 12 class who will be working on the May 2011 case study. Again, collaboration will take place with the students at Andrew Churches’s school in New Zealand, where again, thanks to wikispaces, the students can build and develop their technical knowledge.  If you are interested in this aspect of the case study, the wikispace is accessible to anyone but to be able to edit the space you must be a member of the space. Teachers are invited to become organisers of the space and they in turn can invite their students to become members of the spaces.

The case study is about e-commerce and at WAB we are kicking off with an investigation into a very interesting ecommerce site, ethiogift.com, which is a gift delivery service in Addis Ababa. Our students will be looking at the underlying technology and the issues associated with this specific site,  for example: one of the of the ‘hot buys’ is a 35kg sheep. How does the company deliver the sheep in a country where addresses are vague and the phone service is limited? Please leave a comment here if you are interesting in learning more about this activity.

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UPDATE!! Here is the FULL presentation created by Inside ITGS teachers and students in Beijing, China

Inside ITGS: Cyber-Students Share their Connected Learning

Here is our promotional ‘teaser’ for our K12 Online Conference presentation: Inside ITGS: Cyber-Students Share their Connected Learning. If you are based in China, go directly to this upload.

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Learning how to learn together in different ways

On September 27, 2010, in Julie Lindsay, by Julie Lindsay

Learning is social, learning is collaborative, learning does not take place in isolation. This is the premise for our Inside ITGS flattened learning structure. The challenge of being an effective learner is to be comfortable, adept and inspired in different learning situations. Ultimately a 21st Century learner must be able to survive and thrive in an online learning community as well as a face-to-face learning community, and be able to move from one to the other seamlessly.

Last week my students at Beijing (BISS) International School took a field trip to meet, face-to-face, the class they had been collaborating with and interacting with via the Ning and the wiki since August. A 25 minute bus ride took us out of the Beijing 3rd ring road area and further nth west towards the airport, to Western Academy Beijing. Out of nine students in my class 8 of them had never been to WAB before. BISS is a very different campus to WAB, so one of the first surprises of the day was discovering how large the WAB campus was, and how amazing the High School building was, with it’s open plan environment, grand piano in the communal area, and many other facilities that were alien to our BISS campus.

Watching the students adjust to new surroundings and meet their team members and ITGS partners for the first time was interesting, with shyness and awkwardness of the average teenager predominating. Luckily we broke the ice with food (WAB students catered for us…..hmmmm, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches! Chocolate cake! yum!) and then with some mixed team activities. Madeleine had lined up a team drawing game where they had to draw and label input devices (very ITGS), they later had to work with a map of the world to mark in countries and capitals high and low income areas, referring to the digital divide. I was surprised that even with an international clientele, many students struggled with simple geography!

Also as part of our visit we spent time discussing the tools we are using to create the Inside ITGS collaborations and how the students felt about online learning including strategies they were adopting to improve their own success at online collaboration. There was an ulterior motive to this discussion as we videoed many conversations in order to put together our presentation for the K12 Online Conference in October entitled: Inside ITGS: Cyber-Students Share their Connected Learning, more about this in a future blog post.

What puzzled me about some of these interactions and conversations is how the students do not quite get what it means to be an online learner. They easily moved into effective classroom team work and seemed to feel comfortable and engaged with new friends. However, so far in Inside ITGS and work on the Ning and on the wiki I am not seeing true connected learning. I am seeing students who are asked to post information and products into online spaces, which they generally do quite well, and I am seeing some conversation and follow up. However, I am not seeing bonding and community building and connectivism that ultimately joins our classrooms into one……yet. We continue to act like 2 classrooms that are in the same spaces, almost by accident sometimes. I do not see the students coming back to discuss, reach out, share, communicate in a community conscious way…….yet. Maybe I am being too hard on them?

When asked the other day what their strategies were for connecting and sharing many said they relied on email. This I found surprising given the facility of the Ning and wiki! I do not think they are feeling comfortable with the Ning….and I am not sure why! After all it is sort of like a FaceBook……isn’t it? Maybe they lack ownership? Maybe they just do not know HOW to belong to a connected online community. So, our challenge as educators is to lead the way, lead by example, and model good connected and collaborative learnign ourselves. I know that Madeleine and I are doing this, but then again maybe we are NOT sharing our collaboration process effectively as a lot of it is in the background.

Lots to ponder! I want my students to appreciate the benefits of online learning and also understand how a face-to-face opportunity can cement this cyber-relationship. As Madeleine commented to me, if the students (who are meant to be more tech-savvy) don’t get it, then how can we expect the teachers who are struggling with digital tools and spaces to get it? Comments and advice from readers of this blog post most welcome!

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Getting Tool’ed up for ITGS

On August 16, 2010, in Madeleine Brookes, by Madeleine Brookes

Today was our first ITGS lesson where we focused on a cyber-orientation.

We started with our internal system, WAB Moodle which is our virtual learning environment where each physical class has a corresponding Moodle course. At WAB we use Moodle as a repository for class-specific resources, a place where homework is submitted and interact with the large variety of tools such as forums, wikis and glossaries. Now that Julie and I are flattening our classrooms and sharing our resources and collaborating in a variety of activities, I can see that the school-specific course is not going to get much mileage this year as I am hoping the most of our resources, forums and wikis will be open and available for all interested schools and ITGS students and I don’t want to be double-posting. Suggestions please!!

In terms of productivity tools, I had students set up Evernote and delicious accounts. The good news was that many students already had these in place thanks to some of our tech-savvy teachers from last year.

Evernote is a powerful note-taking tool and is free. It allows students to make numerous notebooks – we suggest at least one for each subject. Each note can be tagged and are automatically sync’ed to the server so that even if students lose their laptops or forget to backup, the notes can be accessed online and through other devices such as iPhones and iPads. This year we are promoting the use of Evernote throughout the MS and HS and have Evernote on our school image so that all students in MS and HS already have Evernote installed.

We also set up delicious accounts for our social networking. We would like to use diigo as this is the social bookmarking site used for ITGSopedia, however diigo is blocked here in Beijing. So this is our work-around for now until diigo is unblocked or we can access ‘legally’.

Finally we looked at ITGSopedia. I didn’t have time today but I will introduce the ITGS global tagging system used for the ITGSopedia diigo in hope that the students start to use these conventions in both delicious and Evernote. Time will tell!

I strongly encouraged students to use their school email addresses for these two accounts as they do have a tendency to use a number of email accounts and often forget the account name and/or passwords. One great new feature of Evernote allows encyption so students can enter their usernames and passwords into an Evernote accounts, highlight the password and then right-click to Encrypt Selected Text.

Next lesson we will look at the external ITGS resources: our ning and this blog so that we can get started with our first collaborative activity.