Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Sky is Fall-NING

Cross Posted at

Okay, it really isn’t fall-ning, but this last week you would be hard pressed to convince my Personal Learning Network of this.
The following NINGS (and many more) are poised to cease and desist.(Details coming May 4, 2010) Well, I haven’t officially heard this, but we are planning to give up the sites as long as NING continues to move on and not offer FREE use of their NING site for educators and students.
Here are examples of some educational NINGs on the chopping block.
A SEEDL-NING  Alice Barr, Bob Sprankle and Cheryl Oakes' Seedlings NING
2010WJHSourspace-ning  8th grade Ning
Images4educa-NING   An incredible online class by Carla Arena
and feel free to add yours to this list in our comments!
I have great respect for all Web2.0 businesses populating the Internet, offering their products for those of us intrepid folks looking for new and useful sites to share with our students. How else are we going to keep our students engaged and motivated when they have spent all evening and outside of school time in interesting places? So, we try out FlickrPicasaPhotobucket and are rewarded with great opportunities to share our images with others, and to use the images of those who keep them in the public arena with creative commons licensing.(Nevermind that Bubbleshare disappeared in the past year, although with great warning.So, is this a sign of the times?)

We spread the word through Twitter and Facebook, struggling with privacy issues and spam all the while learning and sharing our new found information with our students. We are always trying new sites and comparing them to our standards which include free hosted space, no spam, some unobtrusive advertising if we must, and lots of options and gadgets. NING was a great find! But how did we arrive at NING?
Which leads me to purpose. What is the purpose for creating  nameyoursite?

While looking for a website to create an online presence for our eighth graders we chose a NING for the following reasons:
we could get a free educator site without ads
we could keep the site private if we wanted to
it was easy to teach teachers how to use
the students knew how to use the site from their experiences with social networks
this site promoted our goals for collaboration, communication and creativity
this site was a platform for teaching about a digital footprint, netiquette and copyright information
this site was available at school and from home 24/7
as site admins we had a lot of control over the site and could add features as necessary
did I mention FREE?
What was not to like about Ning, in a matter of 10 minutes I was able to set up a site for 100 eighth graders and their teachers to delve deeply into a book by Chris Crutcher, Staying Fat for Sarah Brynes,  where our students took their mission  seriously. Chris Crutcher  even stopped by and engaged in a conversation with the students one day!  Choose a character, respond to profile questions in character, add your comments to forum questions as your own character, plus, make your avatar depicting what you imagine your character looks like, then choose an astrological sign, music and quotes your character would espouse to.
As educators we were able to focus on the goals and outcomes and not have to worry about the details  or cost of using this Web 2.0 tool. But now with NING falling out of the sky, I am worried. How will I explain to our students and staff that we need to either move our site or pay up to finish our year? Our schools have frozen budgets through the rest of this year, we hear that next year will not be any better in terms of finances. I know that this project has benefited our students, however, I have not planned this as a budget item for next year, so will I be left to find another FREE site and recreate the project, or I will have to pay to keep this going.
By the time this post is made, the Elluminate  session with Steve Hargadon will be an archive and, John McDonald
VP, Advocacy , from NING will have possibly closed the survey he posted for educators. However, leave your comments here or send a message to NING, let your voice and the voices of your students be heard. Hopefully, we will find that NING is not falling out of the sky.

For the latest information from NING, check out their NING site with this post by John McDonald, Mythbusters: Three Things we are not doing on May 4th

 Leave your comments and join this conversation. I will make sure it gets back to John McDonald. 
Posted by Cheryl Oakes at 04/27/2010 06:32:55 AM | 

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Wes Fryer presented the Keys to the 21st Century, Creating,Communicating, Collaborating in Wells Ogunquit CSD

Wes Fryer presented the Keys to the 21st Century, Creating,Communicating, Collaborating

It was a morning of a great homemade breakfast, yummy fruit smoothies, bacon and sausage, an unbelievable French Toast, fruit and excitement..
Excitement about the unknown, excitement about sharing good ideas, excitement about accompanying others on the journey into the 21st Century Literacy Tool arena.
The cafeteria was transformed into a workshop full of educators listening to Sarah and Wes Fryer about how to use some new tools in teaching and learning. Sarah explained how easily some tools could be incorporated into any one of their existing lessons. Sarah shared how she used a Web 2.0 tool called Voice Thread to present her book report. Then in about 5 minutes she used some photos from her recent trip through NH and presented a slide show that could be published, not on her refrigerator, but on the web with the world as an audience. Sarah generated plenty of interest and engagement from the audience of educators, so much so that some teachers presented an application to the PTO for a school subscription to VoiceThread.

Wes modeled some great ways of using technology, he also modeled how smoothly he could use a backup plan when necessary and he persevered through a brief fire alarm.

Beth Goodwin, captured the moments with her camera phone and then within an hour put all the photos together and presented a musical slideshow sharing the workshop moments. This modeled how quickly a digital story could be put together, published and available for comments to the world.
Then because the slideshow was shared, Wes wrote a story on his blog post, explicitly sharing how the workshop was prepared and run.
Here is a comment from Author: Isabelle Selak

I am so glad that you posted about these PD sessions here. It is a great model for every school. We should all have numerous days a year (with our school provided laptops, of course) that we are encouraged and guided through using exciting tools that will enhance our classroom skills and lessons. Thanks also for sharing some of the tools that you are using at these sessions. We can't all be at sessions like these, but we can learn from yours!

Why is this transparency and sharing important?
We demonstrated how the WallWisher worked. Again, it was an explicit use of a Web 2.0 tool that can be used in your classroom. The WallWisher collected comments from our day. Please check them out we collected many great reflections about our day, the food and our learning. You will find the WallWisher comments at the end of this article.

The presenter, internationally known, frequently tweeted out to his followers, and previously had webcasted his schedule for the day. As a result, again, explicit modeling, the workshop was ustreamed and archived. The audience was told that the workshop would be ustreamed. There were 12 remote viewers throughout the morning. What a great opportunity for other educators to participate virtually in the workshop being held in our school. This all promotes the wisdom of crowds, open source learning, sharing with creative commons, share and share alike. We also captured the ustream and 5 days later, over 258 people have viewed the presentation.
Other things that were shared, Wes' slideshow presentation,

Can people at different comfort levels take away from this one presentation? How?
This is something that I have been thinking about since last Friday. After all the positive comments, the smiles, the engagement, something is still nagging at me. What next and how to provide support to all learners, participants and the naysayers?

Here is my feeble attempt to provide a supportive timeline with activities for the Journey using 21st Century Skills and Technology.

What is your purpose? This is the first question we all ask before we plan or use any technology. This is not a technology question, but rather this is good pedagogy!
Start reading a blog post a day. is a great place since there are a dozen or so bloggers posting, you will get a great cross section of current bloggers.
Comment on someone else's post. Find one or two people that you enjoy reading.
This is a leap, register for Twitter and then begin following the two people you enjoy reading. Learn about Twitter here and here and with Liz B. Davis and her spreadsheet of Twitter users, I am sure you will find someone with similar interests to yours.
Join a face to face PLC or begin working with one partner.

If this is not enough to get started, begin your own class blog or professional blog. You have something to share with others and others have a lot to benefit from you.

I put this question, "How do I know what I don't know?" out to my personal learning network and this is what I got back:
Elaine Griffin Plybon commented on your status:

"I tell teachers there is no way they'll ever know everything so they need to let go of that. What they should focus on is 1. what do I want to accomplish 2. What type of technology might help me accomplish it, and 3. what tool has that feature. If more than one, which one meets my needs the best. We don't need to know it all, we just need to know what we need."

A couple things- with things changing so fast, it is understandable that you are overwhelmed. What can I do to that might help you? Technology should be something that "adds to your life". What would you like to learn- something small that might make life easier/better for you or your students?

Here are some other resources !
Wes Fryer

Nancy White
How to assess 21st Century Skills , thanks to Nancy White from Aspen High School for this great Prezi!

Bernajean Porter's Guidelines
Check out the GA Spectrum Table and the Cadre Charting Instrument

WallWisher Comments
Comments from the WallWisher! again, modeling something that could be reproduced in a classroom.

Thanks for an excellent breakfast! I've enjoyed having Sarah be part of this presentation. Such great confidence and ease with an audience!
Our students create quite a bit with technology, but we are struggling with what are useful ways to SHARE and with whom?
Psyched to start doing some more things with the smart-board and the kids laptops - so much opportunity and potential!
Wonderful to be here with the Amazing Wes Fryer!
It is exciting to see and learn new things that can be brought into the classroom.
How do we know what we don't know?
Great ideas and a wonderful presentation!
So much to try! I am still working to understand my new promethean board! I will get there! Thank you for your sharing.
This presentation was the best!!! The book report presentation would work great for our kiddo's instead of hand writing and face to face presentation!!
What does anyone know about
it is great to see technology in action. Terrific presentation!!
Lots of new things to try with kids.
As we develop ideas for 21st century literacy, we need to remember that all people will learn from the practice of story telling.
I hope some of this technology (the solar paneled $100 computers) make it to third world countries.
I can't wait to integrate some of these ideas into my class!
I'd like to have students present more in this fashion but I worry about the technology and tech support at home.
6th grade will be using Google Docs for the research project on 19th Century reformers and inventors, this year. I will let everyone know how it goes.
thanks for the breakfast and the inspiration. I loved this workshop.
I can't wait to try using voice thread with students! Thanks for a great presentation.
Eric L: Let's talk. Key words to remind me of the idea for collaboration: Chain of Love blog. THanks.
Great job Emily...thanks for coming and sharing your expertise.
Good luck creating folks!
My husband would love this! It is amazing.
If anyone would like to collaborate with a class in York, let me know. We'd love to connect classrooms with a project.
Technology is so fascinating but still very overwhelming!! I really hope to step further into this 'magical' world.
Voice thread is something that I might actually try
Overwhelmingly Wonderful! I can't wait to use these ideas with the students in our classroom.
My son would love this!
It has been a very informative morning!
The book report presentation looks like something that I would like to try.
It is great getting together with everyone to share and learn!
I really liked the the book recreation of the Black Eyed Peas song. I bet our students would enjoy watching it.
This was a great presentation! I can't wait for the kids to begin working and to see what they do!
I'm the school social worker. Sometimes technology is not so fact it has made my job more difficult.
Thanks for sharing . I hope to use the voice thread real soon.
My son is going to love the Stanza app on his iTouch.

Thanks to:
Wes Fryer
Sarah Fryer
Alice Barr
Beth Goodwin
Bob Sprankle
Eric Lawson