Tuesday, February 28, 2012

How to convince students to share their ideas on a blog

Seated Woman with Blog, after Picasso by Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

Is a blog a good or a bad thing for sharing ideas with your classmates? Lets deal with the good stuff first. Blogs are a great way to share information - websites, photos, videos, the latest gossip, and of course your ideas, and what you are learning in class. Here are some examples of blogs to get you thinking.

It can be interesting to find out more about the people sitting opposite you in class - what they are interested in and what they believe in. So it is a good way to get to know each other better. You will probably be pleasantly surprised to read about others' hidden talents. It is a good way to see things from different angles and reading what others have written helps you to do this. And to state the obvious, blogging really can help your writing, and your learning especially when your classmates give you helpful hints.

Posting on a blog can also help you to express the ideas you might be too shy to say out loud. It is good practice for learning to express your ideas too. It is really cool when someone reads what you have written and leaves you a comment. Just knowing others are interested in your thoughts is a real confidence booster.And of course, it is a great way for your teachers to give you feedback about your work, and to challenge you to think.

Sure it can be scary when you start to think that others will read what you have written, but it can also be addictive seeing how many people are reading your posts, and who is leaving comments.  The more you do it the easier it is and the better you get at doing it.

The main thing to remember is to be respectful to each other when leaving comments, and it is a great way to show that you are interested in their work. By posting to a blog and sharing what you are learning, you are hopefully going to have fun and do some learning at the same time. So you can learn from each other if you share your work with the class as well as the teachers, and if your blog is open on the web you might even get some interesting people looking at your work.

It is also possible to set up a mobile blog where you can send texts, images and video directly to your blog....but that is another story, and one for you to explore. When you get really good at blogging you might even be able to attract advertising and make some money - lots of people do....but that is something for after class.

So what are you waiting for - lets get started.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Starting 2012 with a thought freedom of expression on the Internet

Open by tribalicious
Is this a new year's resolution or just a considered way forward for 2012. I lost my way with blogging last year what with the Doctorate and one thing and another. So I have decided to post a blog about something at least once per week or whenever a item of interest - even if vaguely connected to education - comes up. So here is my response to the discussion facilitated by Hazel Owen about Wikipedia blacked out protest. She has lit my blogging fire so to speak after I discovered her blog at Ascilite 2011.

I have also signed the petition for a free and open Internet , and reject the ratification of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), which would destroy it. This is open to anyone to sign via Avaaz.org

My response re an open Internet and freedom of expression
The idea of removing information because it is offensive for whatever reason is a tricky one. Well we already do it in society all the time - offensive human beings are removed to prison. This happens when the authorities get involved. When people act without involving the authorities people who offend also get removed, in one way or another. Vigilante behaviour is not favoured when it is against the law. Freedom of expression is important but offensive material and bullying behaviour via the Internet is not. I also don't agree with one group controlling the masses. 

To be effective people can learn to be assertive, ethical and responsible - and also may need to 'harden up' if others don't agree with them or challenge them. I believe that we learn appropriate behaviour best from our peers and by observing others. I believe that the Wikipedia model has shown us the power of networks in keeping things open and 'safe', and has done a great job in showing us how to 'share our toys' without throwing them out of the cot when things get sticky. Copyright does nothing in reality, but line the pockets of those who are probably already rich (in majority world terms) or have the money to sue - in contrast copyleft opens up a whole world of possibilities for anyone....if everyone plays fair and gives attribution where it is due. The question is how can we make enough money to live if we share our creativity freely with the world - or does this actually more likely our creative works will be seen, and we will make money anyway?

This is certainly a concern for educational institutions. Surprisingly enough sharing content and ideas can actually attract money. If an organisation is open and willing tio share, more people are given the opportunity to hear about what they offer. This can lead to more enrolments and opportunities for research and collaborative projects. My teaching materials are open on WikiEducator because it is important for me to model this to other teaching staff. Occasionally, someone comes along and contributes and adds to my work, and for me this adds richness to my work. I would love people to contribute to the Flexible Learning Guidebook, and this year I am going to use a student-generated model with the staff who take my course - this will be an interesting year.