Tag Archives: K12

K12 Content Filtering: centralized or distributed?

Content filtering is always an interesting topic for discussion because it is so multifaceted. In my earlier post I listed the points below as part of the discussion arena. In my context, the framework is K-12 education.

  • filter or not?
  • if you do, how much?
  • if you do, is it done centrally or at the school level?
  • how do you align content filtering with educational resource selection processes for print, video etc.?
  • block or allow social networking?
  • keep students safe
  • sufficient band width
  • how do you define ‘educational content’ in a way that makes sense in a K-12 context?
  • should content filtering be more age or grade appropriate?

There are no easy answers. It is easy to find valid reasons to sit on either side of the fence for each point. More importantly, there is a growing need to keep learning about what is right, what is doable and keeping the agenda moving forward in an appropriate fashion for K-12 education. Further reflection on this post has two aspects of content filtering churning around in my mind.

1. Copyright: Content filtering must respect copyright and your country/jurisdictions laws and regulations. This whole aspect of internet use is blurry in the global community. At face value, what you see in your browser is relatively consistent from your vantage point on the globe. The internet seems like ‘one place’. The reality is the servers, and therefore content are in different countries. What you are able to do with content (copy, download , redistribute, use in a school classroom setting etc.) will likely vary, depending on your regulations and these need to be respected.

2. Equitable access: A couple of weeks ago, I was having a meeting with @socmediatrust (Twitter) discussing Digital Citizenship and his work at schools presenting Internet safety sessions to students and parent groups. At some point in the conversation, we landed on content filtering. As mentioned above, there are many approaches to dealing with this. The focus of our discussion was bullet #3 – centralized or distributed to the school level systems. This led to an interesting talk framed around consistency and equity of access.

Providing content filtering from a centrally run system provides equitable access to resources deemed suitable for use by all students/staff/sites within a system. To me, this makes the most sense. Deem the content that is acceptable for use in a particular system through a fair mechanism to select and align content with educational needs. Then you can work away at fine tuning needs in a strategic way.  I can see value in having a ‘sliding scale’ effect for content filtering so it is adjusted for age levels – maybe something along the lines of  tightly controlled (young students), medium access (maybe grades six to eight) and more open for high school. Validate readiness for each level with a strong Digital Citizenship program to teach ethical, responsible, safe use and digital literacies.

Now, imagine a system where access is controlled at the school level. This could potentially be a dogs breakfast so to speak. Two (or more) schools serving the same age group of students may be serving up completely different content and access to web tools. This leads me to many questions about equity of access, lack of consistent approach within a large system, lack of consistent expectations and use by staff and students and awkward to dialog with parents when the rules (access) varies from site to site. As curriculum leaders, do school administrators bring their own ‘rules of access’ with them as they move site to site over their careers?  Hmmm.

My View: It seems to me, at least at this point in my thinking, the distributed model leaves more questions than answers. I would cast my vote for a centrally run system that allows for the ‘sliding scale’ fine tuning approach that is well aligned with curriculum needs and resource selection processes.

~ Mark

K-12 Education: Content Filtering

Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending the first Central Ontario Computer Association (COCA) for the 2009/2010 school year. COCA provides a forum for ICT educators representing approximately 25 school boards to dialogue and collaborate face to face 5 times each school year. I always look forward to these meetings as I know the dialogue will be rich and engaging – a tribute to the forward thinking, action oriented people in these roles. Hats off to you for making a difference!

The agenda for this particular session was organized to provide an opportunity to discuss current educational issues and topics including:

  • Report: Ministry of Education licensed software for Ontario school Boards (OSAPAC committee)
  • Brainstorming: What would a Ministry of Education integrated ICT document look like?
  • Presentation: ICT Ethical Use
  • Presentation: iPods in the classroom project with a research component
  • Discussion: Twitter in the Classroom
  • Discussion: Round Table

I will be interested to follow Mike Redfern’s work on his Ethical Use of ICT project which will provide an in depth look at technology and social networking issues in the K-12 educational setting.  I will provide some information about our (WRDSB) iPod projects and research initiative in a future post.

As I anticipated, I found the round table discussion particularly interesting. Many points were raised, but the one that really stuck with me was content filtering. Content filtering is always an interesting topic for discussion because it is so multifaceted.

  • filter or not?
  • if you do, how much?
  • if you do, is it done centrally or at the school level?
  • how do you align content filtering with educational resource selection processes for print, video etc.?
  • block or allow social networking?
  • keep students safe
  • sufficient band width
  • how do you define ‘educational content’ in a way that makes sense in a K-12 context?
  • should content filtering be more age or grade appropriate?

There are no easy answers. It is easy to find valid reasons to sit on either side of the fence for each point. Oh yes, how do you apply content filtering to keep everyone (students, teachers, school administrators, technicians, parents, school board officials) happy?  That is a $64000 question!

Now, throw another huge component into the discussion: copyright, digital rights, document ownership. Yikes. A few people commented that their Board had recently opened up YouTube as part of the progressive move toward more openness in the content filtering in an effort to teach online safety and digital citizenship.

BUT – What about the YouTube end user Terms of Use policy? Section 5 (see below), in the terms of use policy contains some very specific language. I have emphasized some of the areas that I feel need careful consideration from school Boards when making a determination to allow or deny access to this site.

5. Your Use of Content on the Site

In addition to the general restrictions above, the following restrictions and conditions apply specifically to your use of content on the YouTube Website.

A. The content on the YouTube Website, except all User Submissions (as defined below), including without limitation, the text, software, scripts, graphics, photos, sounds, music, videos, interactive features and the like (“Content”) and the trademarks, service marks and logos contained therein (“Marks”), are owned by or licensed to YouTube, subject to copyright and other intellectual property rights under the law. Content on the Website is provided to you AS IS for your information and personal use only and may not be downloaded, copied, modified, produced, reproduced, distributed, transmitted, broadcast, displayed, sold, licensed, translated, published, performed or otherwise exploited for any other purposes whatsoever without the prior written consent of the respective owners. YouTube reserves all rights not expressly granted in and to the Website and the Content.

B. You may access User Submissions solely:

  • for your information and personal use;
  • as intended through the normal functionality of the YouTube Service; and
  • for Streaming.

“Streaming” means a contemporaneous digital transmission of an audiovisual work via the Internet from the YouTube Service to a user’s device in such a manner that the data is intended for real-time viewing and not intended to be copied, stored, permanently downloaded, or redistributed by the user. Accessing User Videos for any purpose or in any manner other than Streaming is expressly prohibited. User Videos are made available “as is.”

C. User Comments are made available to you for your information and personal use solely as intended through the normal functionality of the YouTube Service. User Comments are made available “as is”, and may not be used, copied, modified, produced, reproduced, distributed, transmitted, broadcast, displayed, sold, licensed, downloaded, translated, published, performed or otherwise exploited in any manner not intended by the normal functionality of the YouTube Service or otherwise as prohibited under this Agreement.

D. You may access YouTube Content, User Submissions and other content only as permitted under this Agreement. YouTube reserves all rights not expressly granted in and to the YouTube Content and the YouTube Service.

E. You agree to not engage in the use, copying, or distribution of any of the Content other than expressly permitted herein, including any use, copying, or distribution of User Submissions of third parties obtained through the Website for any commercial purposes.

F. You agree not to circumvent, disable or otherwise interfere with security-related features of the YouTube Website or features that prevent or restrict use or copying of any Content or enforce limitations on use of the YouTube Website or the Content therein.

G. You understand that when using the YouTube Website, you will be exposed to User Submissions from a variety of sources, and that YouTube is not responsible for the accuracy, usefulness, safety, or intellectual property rights of or relating to such User Submissions. You further understand and acknowledge that you may be exposed to User Submissions that are inaccurate, offensive, indecent, or objectionable, and you agree to waive, and hereby do waive, any legal or equitable rights or remedies you have or may have against YouTube with respect thereto, and agree to indemnify and hold YouTube, its Owners/Operators, affiliates, and/or licensors, harmless to the fullest extent allowed by law regarding all matters related to your use of the site.

Independent of the nature of the content posted on YouTube, and whether or not there is a clean adherence to copyright and digital rights management, the terms of use document specifies that the site is for personal use. In Canada, classrooms are defined as public, not private.  As I understand this, personal use sites such as YouTube, do not have a legal place in Canadian classrooms much in the same way there are restrictions on the use of music and video. There is definitely more studying and thinking ahead in the complex arena. For now, I think we are positioned well with our current approach.

Related Reading

View the full YouTube end user Terms of Use

~ Mark

Are Netbooks Ready For Primetime?

The right answer is yes, no and maybe. It all depends on your point of view.

End User: If you need a nice small travel laptop for work or learning that runs mainly web based applications, your answer might be a resounding YES! Many of the netbooks available today have plenty of ‘horse power’ to run a few key applications and perform well when running web 2.0 applications. I have been ‘road testing’ one of the Lenovo IdeaPads. I loaded it up with a few apps including open office, skype, the first class client, MSN, iTunes, Adobe Reader and Smart Ideas, a graphic organizer. Other than these apps, everything else is web based. Other than the quirkiness of the keyboard <SHIFT> key and <ENTER> layout (or my slow adaptability to a new layout) and the screen being a little small as far as real estate goes for some applications, the IdeaPad performed well and behaved in a stable manner.

Point to ponder: Would you give up your desktop or full sized laptop for a netbook?  Personally, I would not be ready to make this type of a switch at this point in time. At least for the type of work I do, there are too many times where have a full screen to facilitate multi window operation of some sort, more serious document editing or something more intensive such as audio and/or video editing. I would find the small screen and extending timeframes working with tight key arrangement on the keyboard less than idea. Perfect for travel, but I am keeping another computer or full size laptop.

Enterprise needs: I am changing hats now. Let’s look at this from the IT Management viewpoint. In the setting of our school board, interest in netbooks (or the promise of the Mac tablet) is on the rise. From a planning point of view, the price point is certainly positioned to allow you the opportunity to buy more equipment for the same level of funding. On the assumption you could match the application suite and access to the equipment to maximize the use, netbooks look pretty attractive. But, before you rush away to buy a large number of netbooks, there is another side to consider.

Many current netbooks ship with Windows XP Home with no supported upgrade or conversion path to Windows XP Pro. The XP Home version limits you to local machine and workgroup access.  Using the netbook in a network domain environment with group policies and defined security permissions is not an option. In addition, many enterprise level tools for imaging, patching, software updating and application package distribution rely on a domain based structure to properly manage the computers.  This is where I think we are stuck yet. If you can manage the netbooks, at least easily, then this is a double edged sword. The price point and web usage is there, but you are limited in maintaining and supporting the machines. You can’t say you don’t need to support the machines – just wait until you have a few messed up and now some class in not functioning properly. They staff and students will want support to fix the computers or restore them to a usable state.

Things look more promising with Windows 7 on the horizon. Then again, how many large organizations are ready to roll with a Windows 7 deployment backed up with an organization wide support model?

My View: At least at this point in time, I stand by my yes, no and maybe answer. I do believe netbooks are here to stay, and will be valuable learning tools. It is just a little to early in the game. I will be interested to see how things unfold over the next few months because I think we are close.

Related Reading:

Test Freaks:  Netbook reviews and ratings

PC World:  Road Warriors Guide to Netbooks

Sync Blog:  Should your child have a netbook?

~ Mark

Social Media Map

As educators we are always on the look out for a new and clean way to explain concepts to other people. I came across this diagram a little while ago and thought it was an interesting way to explain the relationships of Social Media Tools.

The diagram, as you can see from the thumbnail thumbnail below, is laid out somewhat like a railway track system with colour coding used to represent categories of social media tools by function.

SocialMediaMap

The key in the lower left explains the function categories as:

  • syndication
  • collaboration
  • communication
  • interaction

Each function area shows a number of application types, which correspond to entries on the map. The original map, by Jay Ball,  is posted in an online slide show.  Click here to view the original B2B Social Media Map. I thought this was a fresh approach to explaining social media and the relationships between some of the applications. This is well worth a look in my view – another teaching trick in the back pocket.

~ Mark

Online forums for iPods in the Classroom

As momentum continues to build for the use of mobile handheld device in the classroom, it is important for teachers, IT leaders and administrators to share:

  • projects and activities
  • curriculum context
  • instructional strategies
  • learnings: what worked, what should be changed, what to avoid
  • best applications
  • best practice for maintaining a class set of iPods

One of the areas that interests me is the overall direction that people tend to take with these projects. In my mind, many of the available applications fall into the ‘drill and kill’ repetition category. Extensive use of drill based software in is opposition to the ISTE nets standards being adopted in many Boards. The ISTE Nets standards for students promote foundational ICT skills in the areas of:

  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Communication and Collaboration
  • Research and Information Fluency
  • Critical Thinking, Problem Solving and Decision Making
  • Digital Citizenship
  • Technology Operations and Concepts

I hope that professional collaboration and sharing will keep the use of  mobile tools in the classroom pointed in a positive learning direction. Certainly, having a room full of students with mobile learning devices in hand will fundamentally change the way one teaches. Perhaps learning about what this new teaching model looks like and defining best practices in this arena are a key component of moving forward. Lets not repeat mistakes and reinvent the wheel over and over. Share and collaborate!!!

I have list four online forums that I initially started reading in the summer. I have joined each one and now read them regularly. I hope you find some of the information and collaboration opportunities worthwhile.

Links

iPod Teachers
iPods in the Classroom
iPod for Educators
iPod Touch Schoolwide Implementation on Classroom 2.0

~ Mark

iPod Resource: iLearn 2

The great thing about traveling the ‘blogosphere’ is that you are constantly learning. The learning takes many forms: new resources, new sites to bookmark and revisit, new sources of information, new people to add to your PLN or RSS feed. There is constant reinforcement of the rich content, thinking, sharing and collaboration that occurs in our online world. 

During a recent blogosphere trip, I came across references to iLearn 2, so I bookmarked it and have gone back to revisit the site a number of times. iLearn is organized like an online book which can be viewed in magazine, presentation or paper views. Contents of iLearn 2  include:

  • a 21st century learning framework
  • ideas for choosing a particular iPod model
  • mobility in learning
  • podcasts
  • slideshows
  • video
  • text files & eBooks
  • internet usage (iTouch browser)
  • a comprehensive list of applications with brief descriptions organized by subjects
  • digital storytelling
  • lab management tips 

In my view, iLearn 2 is is an excellent resource and I recommend that you take the time to have a look if you are using or planning to use iPods in your classroom. Enjoy the learning.

~ Mark

Classroom: Student use of Twitter

 In Monday’s blog post, Twitter in Education, I outlined a few perspectives on using Twitter in the K12 Educational setting. Based on the reading I have done, there are 2 emerging trends.

1. There is little question about the value of Twitter as a tool that plays a key role in people developing their Professional Learning Networks (PLNs) and expanding their resources.

It is interesting to note a recent blog post on Mashable, reported that “Nielsen has compiled data from its NetRatings panel of 250,000 US Internet users and discovered that there are fewer young people on Twitter than on the Internet as a whole: one quarter of US Internet users are under 25, Nielsen says, but only 16% of Twitter users lie in that age range.”

Note: “While Nielsen is only measuring people who visit Twitter.com (not desktop and mobile clients), the analytics firm additionally claims that over 90% of TweetDeck users are over 25, making it unlikely that there are masses of uncounted young people on third-party Twitter apps.”

twitterteens

2. Despite the statistics that are currently available, there seems to be a slow but steady growing interest in using Twitter in the classroom as a communication tool for students within the curriculum delivery framework. I believe the key is finding a fit where Twitter makes a difference in the learning process and learning outcomes. In many respects, we are ‘early in the game’ of social media uses to deliver curriculum. Certainly, if developing collaboration and problem solving skills and PLNs is important for adults, then it stands to reason that this must be important for student learning too. Communication strategies and student engagement are often given as reasons for looking at Twitter use in the classroom. I believe the skillful teacher will find the right fit for Twitter as a curriculum support tool.

A Few Ideas for Twitter in the Classroom

Mashable: Twitter Guidebook

Songhai Concepts: Classroom Twitter

Tame the Web: Twitter in the classroom

Online Colleges.net 25 Twitter Projects for the College Classroom

~ Mark

Twitter in Education

Over the last year, I have followed a number of online discussion regarding social media in the K12 education systems. This summer, I have specifically followed conversions regarding the use of Twitter in the classroom. As a general observation, it seems the people are more likely to be decisive with their yes/no stance with regards to Twitter. At least from the reading I have done, there seems to be more acceptance of Twitter use at the college and university levels. 

In the relatively short time that social networking has burst onto the scene, the debate over pros and cons continues to be batted about. On the classroom side, typically the conversations cover: engage the students, embrace new technologies, teachers modeling 21st century or life long learning, disruptive technologies, fragmentation vs time on task, responsibility to teach student online saftey and  and curriculum benefits (or not). On the teacher/instructor side, social networking can provide many useful connections and sharing as people build their Personal Learning Networks (PLNs) and build their resource libraries. As one reflects on this list of topics, it would be easy to argue that there is no one right answer, especially on the classroom side. Thus, the debate will go on.

Perspectives

According to Howard Rheingold, who teachers at UC Berkeley’s School of Communication and Stanford University, bringing social media into classrooms is “challenging the 1000-yr-old paradigm that you have to learn from a master and the only way to do that is to go to lecture and take notes.” 

Rheingold points to five reasons for teaching students social media:

  1. Developing students’ literacy in our new online environment is as crucial as developing their abilities to read and write. Communication is moving toward social media. We can either help students thrive in this environment or leave them flailing.
  2. Many students bring their computers to class. Why not work with this trend instead of fighting or ignoring it?
  3. Social media is just that: social. Students who use Twitter for class are “learning collaborative skills that are particularly important today.”
  4. There is only so much class time. Rheingold makes mini-lectures on video that students comment on between classes, allowing more time to engage the issues through in-class discussion.
  5. Shy students who hold back in class often speak up online. “If you can extend the discussion to an online message board, you enable students who may not jump into the discussion,” he said, to “make a thoughtful contribution.”
Regarding Twitter, Angela Maiers states that “it is the most influential tool in my personal learning network.” Angela is passionate about Twitter for a number of reasons including:             

  • “Twitter allows me to share and glean resources I can use in the classroom
  • I meet and connect with other educators from around the world whom I would otherwise never be able to meet
  • It gives me 24/7 access to the most creative, influential, and innovative minds the world has to offer, allowing me a virtual whiteboard and brainstorm group” 

David R. Wetzel views Twitter as a web 2.0 tool used to improve teacher professional knowledge, collaboration, self reflection, and ability to remain current with the latest news and trends in education.

Advantages of Twitter in Education:

Collaborating with Other Teachers

Self Reflection about Teaching
Remaining Current in Latest Education Trends
Building Reliable Networks of Teachers
Professional Development and Continuing Education

 

My view:  Personally, I land on the side of embracing social technologies in the K12 system. Different technologies will fit the learning environment in different ways. Just like using other software packages, you need the right tool to support learning in the most effective way. In my mind, there are clear benefits to using social networking tools for  student learning, curriculum delivery and professional development. Twitter, for example,  has been a core component of the development of my PLN and daily learning.

 

Where do you stand?  Share a comment or send a tweet.

Related Reading:

Angela Maiers:  My Twitter Engagement Formula

Jessica Grosse: Article in the Huffington Post blog.

David R. Wetzel: Article posted on  Suite101.com .

 

~ Mark

Open Space Technology for Teacher PD

CATC By the Water is our Board’s summer 3 day ‘computer camp’ for teachers.

Background: CATC is our acronym for Computers Across the Curriculum. ‘By the Water’ is our catch phrase for the location. We have found great success in running this event away from home and away from Board premises to allow total focus on the task at hand by maximizing the learning and minimizing the distractions. Each summer we make the trek from our southern Ontario base north to Barrie (2 hours drive) to Kempenfelt Centre where we have hosted the event for the last 18 years. 

Organizational Strategy: The camp is organized by, and designed to function based on the principle of Open Space Technology to frame the facilitated but self directed learning experience. The principles of Open Space Technology are:

 

  • Whoever comes are the right people
  • Whatever happens is the only thing that could have
  • Whenever it starts is the right time
  • When it’s over, it’s over
  •                                              – Harrison Owen, 1985

    Areas of Focus:  Based on the planning sessions for this year, areas of focus are: literacy, ISTE Standards, collaboration, technology integration, writing and presenting through the use of: SmartBoards, Blogging, Wikis, Rapid Web Designer for the FirstClass environment (RWD), Podcasting with Garageband, Comic Life,  multimedia with iMovie, Adobe Premiere Elements, Adobe  Photoshop Elements and iPhoto,  Smart Ideas, Band in a Box and Finale. Software titles listed in green have been licensed by the Ministry of Education through the work of the OSAPAC Committee (Ontario Software Acquisition Program Advisory Committee).

    This year, camp facilitating staff are collaborating via the CATC By the Water wiki. Have a look at camp details, follow our progress and enjoy the learning! I am set to enjoy another day of facilitating and learning at CATC By the Water.

    ~ Mark

    iPod Roundup 2

    Earlier in the summer, I posted ‘iPod Roundup’, a collection of resources and ideas for using iPod technology in the classroom. Since then, I have run across a few more sites and blog posts related to this topic. The resources are listed below.

    The Digital Backpack:  voice recorder ideas

    Teacher Magazine:  Adding a ‘Touch’ of Technology

    Newhartford Schools:  iPods in the Classroom

    School CIO:  Getting Started with iPods in the Classroom

    My earlier post:  iPod Roundup

    Enjoy!

    ~ Mark