Friday, 25 January 2013

The Power of the Internet

Alec's page.
This week Dr. Alec Couros { @courosa } shared with our class using adobe connect. I'm a fair hand at skype, but simultaneous video, audio, chat, presentation is awesome, even if the audio crashes every few minutes.
Alec started with talking provides a place to unify your online presence with a bio blurb and links to all your online spaces. As someone with a growing digital footprint I think this is great. It's like an iBusinessCard. Give your page to someone and they have all the ways to connect with you! I've made one for myself and have started using as my default URL/website for any service that asks what mine is.

Alec presented the power of the internet in five categories and gave us some tips to get started.

Our tools keep changing. Smart phones have become the norm. (I guess this means I'm abnormal?) One just has to take a quick peak through her or his facebook feed to see that everyone is highly connected and sharing everything, seriously, EVERYTHING! Yet schools are a few tech generations behind and most force students to disconnect from their personal tools when at school. Alec said that the share button has changed everything and I agree. If we don't acknowledge this we do our students a disservice. We need to teach what TMI is if we don't want TMI.

The internet is open, well at least for now, ulp, and education is moving that way. If everyone can access information, why not make instruction available to everyone too! This the idea behind massive, open, online courses, henceforth MOOC. Places like coursera and edX offer many MOOCs to anyone interested. Alec is also involved with #ETMOOC, an education technology MOOC. I've joined and am enjoying it so far. I haven't been in sync with the synchronous sessions yet, but I've made use of the archives and have already made some valuable connections!

The internet is a inter-connected network of computers, but it's real power is the networks of people that inhabit it. Sites like tripadvisor, urbanspoon, and couchsurfing allow people to help people in new ways. My friend introduced my wife and I to couch surfing and we found it invaluable in our travels around Australia.
Alec also mentioned crowd sourcing - getting many people to work together on small parts of a large project.

These projects are incredibly fun! I'm currently involved in two:
Star Wars Uncut is getting fans to remake Empire Strikes Back 15 seconds at a time.

#ETMOOC lip dub of Queen's Don't Stop Me Now. 
Screen shot of my line - "I'm havin' a good time!"
These are great ways to collaborate and have so much potential to use with our students. My friend Miss L came up with some great ideas for using these with our students. Those got me thinking and I've come up with a few of my own:

  • A lip dub of Martin Luther King Jr's "I have a dream" speech as a History project.
  • A collaborative final project for pen pal or skype pal classes.

new possibilities
Alec talked to us about an internet phenomenon - memes. I love that memes are defined as idea viruses. Most people know them as funny, or almost funny, pictures with captions, but we can use even these with our students. They can use them to learn from and to show their learning. They can be social commentary, like the pepperspray cop meme.
Alec told us about know your meme, a site where the latest and greatest memes are tracked. This allows us to keep up with the pulse of the internet and bring current content into our classrooms.
I like memes and I like to make stuff, so I decided to participate in meme-dom. I've made a cheezburger site - Memes for Learning where I'll store the memes I've made and archive ones I think will be useful to educators. Maybe one day you'll see one of my memes features on know your meme?

The internet has enabled everyone to have a voice and to use their voice for change. We can stand up for what we believe in and have people take notice.
Alec talked about Martha Payne, a blogger who turned her commentary on terrible school cafeteria food into helping provide meals for schools in need. There are also websites, like kiva, that allow those with more to give a leg up to those with less.

where to start

  1. Embrace new communication tools (appropriately).
  2. Experiment with new forms of expression. Focus on how students can learn from them.
  3. Teach (and MODEL) Digital Citizenship
  4. Find hashtags about what I like and connect with people. Cybrary Man has a list to start us off.
  5. Make learning visible.

I'll end with a few good quotes Alec shared with us.
"It is no longer enough to do powerful work if no one sees it." Chris Lehmann
"Don't limit a child to your own learning, for he was born in another time." Tagore


  1. Lip dubbing projects seem like they would be amazing to incorporate into a classroom! Ever since I saw my first Kid Snippet video, I wanted to do one, and wanted to somehow incorporate it into a classroom. As an early years teacher, I was trying to think of how it could be done within a decent amount of time. Getting kindergarten students to make up the story, and then get some teachers together to act it out? Or even some grade 4's? The definition of "endless possibilities!!"

  2. @scott I thought of a similar idea for Kid Snippets (and a few other ideas) as outlined here:

  3. GO JETS GO! 3-0 in the past 3 games, whoop! :) Awesome blog Tyler. I am learning more and more about you as a person, just by reading your blog! I love the added pictures and youtube videos, it gives me more ideas of how I can personalize my blog to fit my personality. Dr. Couro's presentation was very well done, I agree and it opened my eyes to the etmooc and meme which I had never heard of. And now your blog even clarifies the applications even better. Thanks Tyler!

  4. With responsible use, internet can really bring a lot of advantages.