Could Facebook be used in an educational setting?

Possibly…. but it would take a very dedicated teacher to try it!
I am not trying to dissuade people from the idea – I am all for trying to integrate new technologies if they are useful, if they can do something that no other means can, if they achieve growth in information literacy, if they are safe….

but to use Facebook in an educational setting, you would have to keep an eye on usage the entire time, to make sure it was not being used innappropriately. Teachers could post homework assignments on their students’ walls, post educational videos, websites they wanted their students to check out – they could use it to stimulate conversation or debate between students out of school hours, or to invite expert (who also had facebook accounts) to share their thoughts or ideas.

However I am just not sure if it would be manageable – the advantage of being able to post to all with one click is definitely there, but how would you be able to monitor or delete inappropriate posts? I myself am only really a facebook beginner, so the questions I am asking are not ones I have answers too – maybe there is an easy way that I have not discovered yet. I know companies like Flight Centre are encouraging their employees to use Facebook to maintain good client relationships, and communication between staff – again, it is about using webware in a way that wins for everyone – if people are going to access facebook during work/school hours, why not make it work for you?

One thing is clear – we need to keep on top of these things and continually explore the possibilities they present, because they are changing the way people socialise and communicate – and as social organisations based on communication (I’m talking about schools, here!!) I think it is pretty necessary we don’t bury our heads in the sand!!

So…. any suggestions? How would you use facebook in the classroom? Have you used it? Did it work? Was it too hard to monitor? I’m looking forward to the answers rolling in 😉


The kids we teach….

I have some friends whose five year old is working with his Dad to build his own computer.  His mum told me that he cried one day when he couldn’t pause the free to air television so he could get a drink – free to air television was such a foreign experience that he couldn’t comprehend why he didn’t have control over it like everything else he watched online and on his Xbox.

This is the future. Granted, this family are early adopters. They live and breathe technology, and so it is natural that their child does also. However, it will not be long before this is the norm,and quite frankly, school is not designed to cope with it.

Even at the most well resourced classrooms, access to technology is limited. Limited not only by cost, but also limited by the current curriculum, which was written in a pre-digital age. And I am not sure what the answer is, as I don’t think any of us know what a curriculum written for the digital age will look like. Even the most savvy teachers struggle to cover what is expected without adding what is actually needed.

There is a danger that we will assume that ‘digital natives’ as Marc Prensky calls children will ‘teach themselves’ about technology, and that teachers will only need to pick up the slack in less technological advanced areas. However we cannot make this assumption. Kids pick up what they need to know, and teach themselves to a certain extent, but just like those children who came to school knowing how to read, having just ‘picked it up’, we still need to teach them formally, to ensure there are no ‘gaps’ in their knowledge. The problem is that where we are relative experts in the area of traditional literacy, we are virtual beginners in the areas of information and technological literacy, and how this develops in the young learner….. so many issues to consider….

That’s my rant for today!!

Have fun. Kay.

I’ve been slack, but look at these great resources!!

I apologise for not posting for a long time..I admit I have been slack, and have been revelling in my new found freedom from study (having recently completed my Masters in Education).

However… do I have some sites for you….

Ever wanted to do some mindmapping but haven’t had the software to do so?? Check out….. it is truly the coolest free mindmapping you will ever find@@

Need a calculator for advanced math?? (well, I don’t but some people might…) check out – the Coolest calculator on the web….

What’s wrong with conventional calculators?

Let’s take the windows calculator as an example.

  • What’s the deal with drawing buttons for each digit on the screen when we have such buttons on the keyboard?
  • You can not type into a number. If you forgot a digit, you have to erase all last digits and retype them again.
    Try to type 12345, and then change to 19345.
  • You can perform just one operation at a time, no “complex” arithmetic like (2+3)*4
  • Why is there no history of previous calculations? The entire memory is 1 number (good old M+ and MR). PCs come today with megabytes of memory, why limit to one?
  • It’s inconsistent. Try this: runs the windows calculator, Select View | Standard and type 1+2*3=. You should get 9 as the answer. Now change to View | Scientific, and type again 1+2*3=. This time you get 7.
  • No unit conversions. Does your current calculator know how many feet are 100 meters? How many Fahrenheit is 32 Celsius?
    How can I replace my windows calculator?

Need some help with your Shakespeare?? Check out SparkNotes – for free online study guides…

Want to write your bibliography?? Take the pain out of the most painful part of an assignment with EasyBib:

Taking notes, and are a fan of Facebook?? Check out the newest facebook application, Notecentric,  a web based note taking application. Notecentric keeps your notes organized and readily available online. Your notes are always in one place, so you don’t have to worry about synchronizing them. Check it out at

More ideas coming your way, the next free half hour I get!!

Why too much praise can hurt…

I was always uncomfortable with the idea that children should be praised at every turn. Life, in the real world, is just not like that. Children who grow up expecting to be praised every time they do anything will surely be in for a rude shock when they hit the world of work, where praise is far less common, and critics are everywhere.

Well, it seems that some of this discomfort was well founded. While this blog has always usually focused upon ICT, there is a wealth of other educational resources online also, including the following article at

I have included the first part of the article here so you can see what it is all about…

How Not to Talk to Your Kids

The Inverse Power of Praise.


What do we make of a boy like Thomas?

Thomas (his middle name) is a fifth-grader at the highly competitive P.S. 334, the Anderson School on West 84th. Slim as they get, Thomas recently had his long sandy-blond hair cut short to look like the new James Bond (he took a photo of Daniel Craig to the barber). Unlike Bond, he prefers a uniform of cargo pants and a T-shirt emblazoned with a photo of one of his heroes: Frank Zappa. Thomas hangs out with five friends from the Anderson School. They are “the smart kids.” Thomas’s one of them, and he likes belonging.

Since Thomas could walk, he has heard constantly that he’s smart. Not just from his parents but from any adult who has come in contact with this precocious child. When he applied to Anderson for kindergarten, his intelligence was statistically confirmed. The school is reserved for the top one percent of all applicants, and an IQ test is required. Thomas didn’t just score in the top one percent. He scored in the top one percent of the top one percent.

But as Thomas has progressed through school, this self-awareness that he’s smart hasn’t always translated into fearless confidence when attacking his schoolwork. In fact, Thomas’s father noticed just the opposite. “Thomas didn’t want to try things he wouldn’t be successful at,” his father says. “Some things came very quickly to him, but when they didn’t, he gave up almost immediately, concluding, ‘I’m not good at this.’ ” With no more than a glance, Thomas was dividing the world into two—things he was naturally good at and things he wasn’t.

For instance, in the early grades, Thomas wasn’t very good at spelling, so he simply demurred from spelling out loud. When Thomas took his first look at fractions, he balked. The biggest hurdle came in third grade. He was supposed to learn cursive penmanship, but he wouldn’t even try for weeks. By then, his teacher was demanding homework be completed in cursive. Rather than play catch-up on his penmanship, Thomas refused outright. Thomas’s father tried to reason with him. “Look, just because you’re smart doesn’t mean you don’t have to put out some effort.” (Eventually, he mastered cursive, but not without a lot of cajoling from his father.)

Why does this child, who is measurably at the very top of the charts, lack confidence about his ability to tackle routine school challenges?

Thomas is not alone. For a few decades, it’s been noted that a large percentage of all gifted students (those who score in the top 10 percent on aptitude tests) severely underestimate their own abilities. Those afflicted with this lack of perceived competence adopt lower standards for success and expect less of themselves. They underrate the importance of effort, and they overrate how much help they need from a parent.

When parents praise their children’s intelligence, they believe they are providing the solution to this problem. According to a survey conducted by Columbia University, 85 percent of American parents think it’s important to tell their kids that they’re smart. In and around the New York area, according to my own (admittedly nonscientific) poll, the number is more like 100 percent. Everyone does it, habitually. The constant praise is meant to be an angel on the shoulder, ensuring that children do not sell their talents short.

But a growing body of research—and a new study from the trenches of the New York public-school system—strongly suggests it might be the other way around. Giving kids the label of “smart” does not prevent them from underperforming. It might actually be causing it.

Read more here:

Alan November: a guru

Want to find out where it is really at when it comes to technology and education? Visit and read anything that Alan November has put out – and you will be greeted by down to earth, practical and useful information about how it is important for educators to change their approach to the classroom and technology, and how we need to take advantage of rather than shy away from the huge world that technology opens up for us. So who is Alan November? This is from his blog:

Alan November is recognized internationally as a leader in education technology. He began his career as an oceanography teacher and dorm counselor at an island reform school for boys in Boston Harbor. He has been a director of an alternative high school, computer coordinator, technology consultant, and university lecturer. As practitioner, designer, and author, Alan has guided schools, government organizations and industry leaders as they plan to improve quality with technology.

Alan is well known for applying his humor and wit to inspire us to think about applying technology to improve learning. His areas of expertise include information and communication technology, planning across the curriculum, staff development, long-range planning, building learning communities and leadership development. He has delivered keynote presentations and workshops in all fifty states, in every province in Canada, and throughout the UK, Europe and Asia.

Alan was named one of the nation’s fifteen most influential thinkers of the decade by Classroom Computer Learning Magazine. In 2001, he was named one of eight educators to provide leadership into the future by the Eisenhower National Clearinghouse. His writing includes dozens of articles and the best-selling book, Empowering Students with Technology. Alan was co-founder of the Stanford Institute for Educational Leadership Through Technology and is most proud of being selected as one of the original five national Christa McAuliffe Educators.

You can keep up with Alan November’s thoughts and work through his blog at and you can also read a number of his very informative articles and find his suggested useful websites through this site:

As usual, there is far too much to read, and not enough time to do it, but by even subscribing to his blog using rss, you can at least take the time to see through the summaries of his entries where his thoughts are at … and who knows what this might inspire??

Until next time!


Everything is Miscellaneous…..

I don’t know about you, but it seems like every day there is more to know, more to read, and not enough hours in the day to do it. I spend countless hours on the net, surfing, discovering sites and tagging them to read ‘later’ – but ‘later’ never comes – each day brings yet more sites to read and discover, and I seem to never catch up on those ones discovered previously.

Obviously others are feeling the same way, as the publication of the book ‘Everything is miscellaneous’ by David Weinberger explores just this topic. He argues that we need a change in thinking, and that this change is already on the way. A blurb from Amazon neatly summarises the book:

Human beings are information omnivores: we are constantly collecting, labeling, and organizing data. But today, the shift from the physical to the digital is mixing, burning, and ripping our lives apart. In the past, everything had its one place–the physical world demanded it–but now everything has its places: multiple categories, multiple shelves. Simply put, everything is suddenly miscellaneous.

In Everything Is Miscellaneous, David Weinberger charts the new principles of digital order that are remaking business, education, politics, science, and culture. In his rollicking tour of the rise of the miscellaneous, he examines why the Dewey decimal system is stretched to the breaking point, how Rand McNally decides what information not to include in a physical map (and why Google Earth is winning that battle), how Staples stores emulate online shopping to increase sales, why your children’s teachers will stop having them memorize facts, and how the shift to digital music stands as the model for the future in virtually every industry. Finally, he shows how by “going miscellaneous,” anyone can reap rewards from the deluge of information in modern work and life.

From A to Z, Everything Is Miscellaneous will completely reshape the way you think–and what you know–about the world.

Sounds to me like a book to have…. you can find it on Amazon by clicking on the title above.

Until next time!! Keep tagging!

Simple Learning Objects

 Okay, so this is not really an ‘online’ resource, but after a recent inservice I have fallen in love with using powerpoint to create simple learning objects.

A learning object is a tool that encourages children to interact with their learning digitally.  A paper published by Margaret Haughey of the University of Alberta and Bill Muirhead of University of Ontario Institute of Technology at finds that although learning objects have many definitions, essentially they are used to:

  • introduce new topics and skills
  • provide reinforcement to existing skills
  • extend learning by providing new means for presenting curricular material
  • illustrate concepts that are less easily explained through traditional teaching methods
  • support new types of learning opportunities not available in a classroom environment
  • provide enrichment activities for gifted and highly motivated students

I have been using powerpoint to create very simple learning objects, but I would dearly love to learn how to use Flash, as this provides more flexibility with animation and with the types of effects that you can achieve. Using powerpoint involves the use of clipart and many, many hyperlinks, so that when a student clicks on a particular image or word, they are taken to another slide that provides a response to their decision. To illustrate, I have uploaded a simple learning object that I have developed for Prep children (aged 4 and a half years old) that retells the parable of the Lost Coin from the Gospel of Luke, and encourages them to participate in helping the old lady recover it. You can see it below.

The Lost Coin Learning Object 

For further tips on how to use powerpoint to create learning objects, check out these websites:

Have fun!


Summary of presentation of Jannette Elwood, Professor, Queen’s University Belfast

Summary of presentation of Jannette Elwood, Professor, Queen’s University Belfast

at Leading Lights of Learning, 26 April 2007.

Assessment, Learning and the Mind.

Prof. Elwood suggested that there are fundamental links between assessment, learning and the mind, and that these can be presented on a continuum.

There are many theories of learning – these may be grouped into families:

Behaviourism                            Constructivism              Socio-culturalism

Our teaching is influenced by our tacit views of learning, even if they remain unarticulated, however, teachers in their thinking about the learner are more likely to articulate their views than those involved purely in the development of assessment tools, as more often than not in the case of external assessment, they are separate from the learner.

Despite this, the theories of learning are fundamental to assessment design and the interpretation of responses to assessment, and therefore the separation of assessment design from teaching and learning is anathema.

In thinking about the learner, we must also consider where the mind resides. In doing this, we can consider two categories of theory:

1. Symbolic:

The mind is internal, and separate from the environment. It is considered a place where learning is stored and can be retrieved.

This is a LOCAL view – learning is intrinsic to the learner.

Characterised by works of Bruner, Artificial Intelligence theory, Connectionism

2. Situated:

Learning and the environment are inseparable – The learning can only be viewed in a relationship between the learner and the teacher/other.

Learner and teacher are entangled.

This is the NON-LOCAL view – learning resides between the learners.

Learning is not an individual activity.

Therefore the theories of learning and mind can be placed upon a continuum: as you move along the continuum, the particular views that are held influence how assessment is viewed and how the outcomes obtained from assessment are interpreted.


·          Linked to behaviourism – the body of thought characterised by psychometrics. ·          The student and what they ‘know’ is viewed in isolation – therefore the assessment can be removed from the classroom and the teacher. 

·          Assessment is ‘done to’ the student in order to ‘check up’ on the learning that is stored in the head. ·          A transmission model of teaching is evident. 

·          The mind is located and isolated STAGE 2:

·          Linked to constructivism –  teaching is an intervention in the knowledge construction process.  

·          Assessment is a social activity, done with and for the student. The social context influences and mediates the learning.   ·          The view of the mind is that learning is co-constructed, but stored by the individual – the mind remains located and isolated. STAGE 3:

·          Linked to socio-culturalism – learning can never be viewed in isolation from the cultural context in which it occurs.  ·          Learning takes account of the socially constructed nature of individuals.  ·          The view of mind is that it is not located, but situated between individuals within a specific contextual relationship.               

The ideas that Professor Elwood suggests are moving towards a fourth stage on this continuum, but at present reside at the third stage.

These ideas have to do with the relationship between assessment, learning and mind:

Quantum Theory – related in its dealings with the things we can’t see, in this case, learning, ‘knowledge’ and ‘the mind’.

Three concepts that relate: complementarity, uncertainty & entanglement.

With this perspective, is measurement of knowledge and learning possible, or does measurement merely create that which we think we are measuring? This is known as complementarity. The concept of Uncertainty finds that the more we measure, the less we know about what we haven’t measured, and the concept of Entanglement finds that when things are in a relationship (entangled) they can no longer be measured separately.

Can students and teachers be seen as quantum entities? Complementarity, uncertainty & entanglement ensure we can never say in definite terms what a child can do independently – we are unable to abstract away from the test – test performance is not descriptive of the ‘child’s learning or knowledge’ but is merely a descriptor of the relationship within the cultural context between the test taker and the assessor at the time.

2.      Wittgensteinian Philosophy – the is a rejection of the Cartesian theory – nothing is hidden inside – and the outside is influenced by the inner, therefore there is no way to store ‘knowledge’ ‘inside’ without it influencing the outside.

The implication of this is that we can only describe, and understand, and that our whole being and experience is always part of any response, and therefore the response cannot be extricated from our life experience.

Therefore assessment outcomes should be seen as the description of the relationship between the teacher, the learner and the assessment task.

Interesting stuff, huh? Definitely food for thought!

TeacherTube – an amazing discovery!

An amazing discovery that I made today is of a great website called TeacherTube – youtube for teachers!!

I have copied the blurb that describes it from the site, (I hope the creators don’t mind, it is purely to support and promote their great work!!) as it succinctly describes what TeacherTube is all about:

After beta testing for almost two months, TeacherTube officially launched on March 6, 2007. Our goal is to provide an online community for sharing instructional videos. We seek to fill a need for a more educationally focused, safe venue for teachers, schools, and home learners. It is a site to provide anytime, anywhere professional development with teachers teaching teachers. As well, it is a site where teachers can post videos designed for students to view in order to learn a concept or skill.

TeacherTube was the idea of Jason Smith, a 14-year veteran educator. Jason has been a teacher, coach, campus administrator and district administrator in public schools. He asked the question, “Why can’t teachers, students, and schools utilize the power of the read/write web for learning?” To overcome barriers, he decided to just create a site and get started trying to help. He turned to his brother, Adam, who is a younger, digital native, with technical skills. Adam used his skills to develop the site and found a web host. Soon, Jason’s wife, Jodie, joined the team to start populating the site with videos and help improve the communication. She too has 14 years of experience in education as a classroom teacher, campus technology integrator, and district curriculum coordinator.

With TeacherTube, community members can:

  • Upload, tag and share videos worldwide.
  • Browse hundreds of videos uploaded by community members.
  • Find, join and create video groups to connect with people who have similar interests.
  • Customize the experience by subscribing to member videos, saving favorites, and creating playlists.
  • Integrate TeacherTube videos on websites using video embeds or APIs.
  • Make videos public or private – users can elect to broadcast their videos publicly or share them privately with those they invite.

There look to be some really interesting videos on there already, and this is sure to grow. Joining is free, and this definitely looks like one to watch!!

Check it out!!!

Have fun! Kay.

the world is your oyster… or webster…..

This website  is another example of web 2.0 – Show People Where!

Create your own markers on the map and show off your favorite locations by linking to them.

Wayki is a free service that you can use to create links to locations on a map so that you can easily share them with others.

I am sure that this would have possibilities in the fields of geography and social science – if you are talking about a particular place, create a web address for it, and away you go!!!

I have yet to explore the full possibilities of this site, but the sky’s the limit…. go for it!

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