Saturday, February 26, 2011

Students Working with Teachers

Sorry that I haven't done much blogging during the conference.  Web access has been quite splotchy so I haven't always had the access when I had the time to post.  I hope that you have been following the blogs of the other students and attendees of this wonderful conference.  If you haven't, look in the right column of this page to see links to blogs where you will find more stories of what has happened.

This conference has been all about Action.  Vicki Davis and Julie Lindsay call it an Action-Based Conference.  That means that it involves more Doing and less Watching.
Follow this link to the Conference Program and you will see that there are very few lectures to watch and lots of time for students and teachers to work by themselves and together.

The essence of the Flat Classroom movement is collaboration. This means people working together. People working together to develop online experiences that cause learners to develop new understandings of each other and the global experience.

There are two strands: Student Summit and Leadership Workshop:

Student Summit Strand: Students are challenged to develop a Flat Classroom-style project that will help to promote awareness and global improvement based on the summit theme, 'Our Global Future Living Together'.  This is something that they began on Thursday afternoon when they broke into groups. None of these group members knew each other before the conference. Together they identified ideas and created 2-minute "pitches" that they were to present to the members of the Leadership Workshop on Friday morning.  This format involves students presenting ideas to educators.

Leadership Workshop Strand: Educators (teachers, administrators and specialists) divide themselves into groups by grade level and interests.  None of the members are to work at the same schools. Diversity of location is the name of the game here. Their assignment is similar to the students' assignment because they must develop a Flat Classroom-style project that they might use in their classrooms. This is important because the main goal here is to create content that will be used at a later time. The most interesting part of this assignment is that the Educators were to also develop a 2-minute "pitch" that they would present to the members of the Student Summit. YES. Students were going to be asked to evaluate teachers' ideas.

The strongest part of this experience was the interaction. Group members interacting with other group members from around the world. Teachers providing feedback for students.  Students providing opinions about teachers' ideas for lessons before they actually have to experience them. The students LOVED this, by the way.  They loved telling their teachers what they didn't like about the proposal.  =-) I was quite impressed with the suggestions they offered.  It was like watching "Dancing with the Stars" or "America's Got Talent." Everyone wants to provide an opinion.
By the way, let me point out that they didn't just make their pitches once. NOOOO. Each group had to pitch 6 times to 6 different groups. They had 2 minutes to make their pitches and then received 3 minutes of feedback about the pitch.  It was interesting to watch the pitches get better and better with each review. It seemed to me that the teachers asked for more suggestions about how to make their pitches better.

Developing Their Ideas
Students: Once each group received their feedback, they took their proposals to the next step.  The students began work on 7-minute presentations that they would do for a large group. These were proposal for projects. Some included Creative Recycling, Culture Connections, or  energy monitoring systems.
The whole group stood in front of 100 students and leaders to make their presentations.  These presentations were then evaluated by the audience using an online polling system.
The top 6 projects have already been identified and they have been working with Bernajean Porter and Frank Guttler to create short videos of their final project. These will be shown at the closing ceremonies. This should be quite exciting.

Educators: The educators need to actually turn their ideas into Flat Classroom Projects. They have been provided with online wiki forms for them to complete.  The first form was a Brainstorming form that helped them get their ideas together for their pitch.  It involved analyzing their needs and then identifying Methods of Interaction that they would use in the project.  These were completed on their wiki so that virtual members of their teams would be able to add to their ideas.

After they made their pitches and received their feedback, the educators were challenged to finish their Flat Classroom projects by completing an additional form that took them through the rest of the ADDIE process.  This was also done on a wiki so that the virtual attendees would be able to give their input.

The educators don't need to present their ideas again. Their written work will be reviewed by me (Dr. Z), the Panther squad, and some Apple Distinguished Educators.  We will use rubrics to identify the winners and the top 3 will share them at the closing ceremony.

All in all, this is an exciting conference to experience!  It is TRULY and Action-Based Conference. It is all about doing things and interacting with other people and making things happen. Interestingly enough, these are the precise traits of the two ladies who put this conference together: Vicki Davis and Julie Lindsay.

I guess I should make a note that these are the traits of everyone they involved in making this conference happen. Learning at a conference is no longer about sitting in a chair and listening to lecturers share their lives and ideas.  It is about making things happen now that can affect education later.

What do you think?  How do you see this format as changing conferences as we know them?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Ducking My Blogging Responsibilities

OK, OK  . . .
So I have been ducking my responsibilities for keeping you informed of our wonderful trip to Beijing. (Don't you just love that duck? <-- Bernajean Porter took it outside a shop near Tiananmen Square. 

Actually I haven't been too worried about our trip being documented. Our students, the Beijing Travelers, have been doing a great job of doing that. It has been a HOOT to watch these Teachers in a Strange Land running around with their Flip cameras recording anything that moves. It is even more fun to see them narrating their experience.

Look what is already posted:
  • If you want to see video about our flight to Bejing, check out Jamie Elliott's video on our Flight to the New Land.
  • If you want to read about our Marathon Sightseeing, read Deb's Diary by the same name. 
  • Want to know more about the schools we visited?  Read Jen's posting called Wednesday at WAB where she discusses their visit to the Western Academy of Beijing.  I couldn't make that trip because we were working on the conference, but Kathy's photos of the school are quite impressive.
  • Here is a video of the Amazing Flying Acrobatic Show. 
I promise that I will do a better job of posting to this blog to keep you updated, but look at the ones I cited above and look down the right column of my blog (see them up there?) to see wonderful reporting of our trip.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Follow Us Virtually at the Flat Classroom Conference

Yes, we will be in Beijing for a week so that our 8 wonderful Instructional Technology grad students will be able to present about Instructional Design and facilitate hands-on workshops with teachers and students.

The Flat Classroom Conference is unique in that it includes teachers and students from around the world.  That means that we have attendees from a variety of different countries who will attend.

Believe it or not!!!!!!  You can attend too!!!!!!

This conference will be streamed through the Internet. That means that people can watch it from almost anywhere in the world.   But there's more . . .

Some teachers and students will be able to actually take part in the conference virtually.  That means that they will be involved in the small group activities.  They will listen to what is happening and respond through an online chat room for that group.   Unfortunately, the deadline for signing up has passed, but you will be able to watch the conference.

There are two strands for this conference: the Leadership Strand and the Student Summit:
  • The Leadership Strand will involve adults who will explore collaborative learning modes and emerging technologies that support these while designing new instructional models for immediate use in their own classrooms.
  • The Student Strand will involve 100 students who will be challenged to be part of an action project which asks them to envisage solutions to problems identified as "Our Global Future Living Together."
Read this posting from the Flat Classroom Blog to learn more about this and see all of the schools that will be involved. 

GET INVOLVED!!!!   Watch the videocast at the Streamed Video website.  Here is a schedule for the conference. Please note that it begins on Friday morning in Beijing, but that is Thursday evening here in Cedar Falls.

The Scheduled Activities:
Time in Beijing is 14 hours ahead of Cedar Falls. This means that you will be watching a Friday morning presentation on Thursday evening here in Iowa.  Below are the times of the conference activities with the Iowa times listed after each presentation.
  8:30                        Introductory Activities (Th 6:30 PM CST)
10:00 - 10:45           Technology Skills Workshops (Bootcamp) (Th 8:00 PM CST)
11:00 - 11:45           Technology Skills Workshops (Bootcamp) (Th 9:00 PM CST)
  2:30 - 5:30              Sessions (Fri 12:30 - 3:30 AM)
8:30 - 9:00               Leaders provide ideas for projects (Fri 6:30 PM CST)
9:15 - 10:00            Dr. Z and UNI Grad Students present: Instructional Design (Fri 7:15 PM CST)
11:15 - 12:15          Students present ideas (Fri 9:15 PM CST)
1:00 - 5:00              Sessions (Fri 11:00 PM CST)

10:15 - 10:45          Feedback for student presentations. (Sat 8:15 PM CST)
10:45 - 11:15          BE the Change presentation by Julie Lindsay (Sat 8:45 PM CST)
11:45 - 12:45          Closing Ceremony (Sat 9:45 PM CST)

Remember that all of this will be recorded so you can watch it later if you wish.

Will you be involved in this?


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Heading for China and the Flat Classroom Conference

On Saturday, we will be flying from Cedar Rapids, Iowa to Beijing, China, via Chicago. In this case, "WE" means that I will be accompanied by 8 Instructional Technology graduate students from UNI and their teacher of record, my wife Kathy Klink-Zeitz.

We are going to Beijing to participate in the Flat Classroom Conference. The Flat Classroom Conference is a celebration of the work done by Vicki Davis and Julie Lindsey in creating and running the Flat Classroom Project (FCP).  I have written about FCP in previous postings. It is instructional global collaboration where students from around the world join together to interact in collaborative problem solving.

I haven't posted about this conference before this because I have been too busy trying to get it all together.  Our students are practicing professionals.  Most of them are teachers.  They have been blogging about their upcoming trip and I have listed links to their blogs below.  They will be blogging, video blogging and Skyping with their students here in the States.

Review These Blogs:
  1. Jami Elliott, a graduate of Iowa Wesleyan College, teaches third grade in an elementary school in West Burlington, Iowa for the last 8 years. Her blog, Ms. Elliott's Adventure to China, is dedicated to her trip.
  2. Cathy Olson, a graduate of the University of Northern Iowa, is a high school English teacher in Boone, Iowa.
  3. Carrie Jacobs, a graduate of Central College, is a social studies teacher and the technology specialist at Walnut Creek Campus, an alternative high school in West Des Moines, Iowa. She has a masters of education degree in Quality Schools from Graceland University.
  4. Deb Bruxvoort, a graduate of William Penn University, is Director of Academic Computing at Central College in Pella, Iowa.
  5. Farah Kashef, a graduate of the University of Northern Iowa, is a Dental Hygiene Instructor at Hawkeye Community College in Waterloo, Iowa.
  6. Brandi Day, a graduate of Harding University, is a Program Associate with AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps.
  7. Jennie Kies, a graduate of the University of Northern Iowa, teaches engineering technology at Jefferson high school in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
  8. Lisa Schaa, a graduate of the University of Iowa, has taught art and technology at an elementary school in Stratford, Iowa for the last 27 years. Mrs. Schaa's Adventures in China is a blog all about her travels
A wealth of information can be found in Kathy Klink-Zeitz's Beijing Design blog which is the blog that she used to organize the course, Applied Instructional Design, which all of the students had to take.

Follow along and I will tell you how to watch us virtually and even get involved virtually as one of the attendees.

Monday, February 07, 2011

UNI Videos Go Viral

Yes, videos from UNI Panther-Land are making it on the web. We have had a couple of successes.

The first is one from our very own Northern University High School. This one is entitled:
(AKA Bo Beep) It is the brainstorm of two students from Taiwan: Wendell Tsai and Shang-Hung Tsai. Based on a popular music video from Taiwan, the brothers decided to involve some classmates so that they could share something from their culture. (Watch carefully, because I think that the blue and green room with the glaring lights is the broom closet that I used to call my office when I was the instructional technology coordinator at NU high.)

Upon writing this posting, this video has had almost 1/2 million viewings.

Another UNI video (actually set of video) involves the Interlude Dance.  This is a dance using the Interlude song by Attack Attack was created by a student, Tyler Wright. An article about this dance is in our Waterloo Courier newspaper today and it says that Ian Goldsmith and Scott Connerley worked with Wright to create it. They created an instructional video and then, for the 2011 basketball season, the song has been played during game interludes and hundreds of students dance to it.

Below is the instructional video. It has a number of students (is that Hailey dancing there?) who are dancing in their dorms, at McDonalds, under a black light and even at the student union. At this posting, this video had been viewed over 38,000 times.

Now you can watch the video of the students dancing the Interlude Dance during the UNI - Creighton basketball game. You can see hundreds of students dancing (is that Michael in there?).  You might even see some faculty (Is that Nick Pace?)   At this posting, this video has been viewed 59,000 times.

Have you danced the Interlude Dance or the sung Bo Beep? If so, what was your experience?
What other links can you provide us to share this experience?

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Google Apps is now MORE than Google

Google Apps has been a boon to schools all over the world. This was a packaged deal from Google where many tools are made available to the schools and school districts to create a controlled system for communication and collaboration.

Google Apps has been adopted by many schools and school districts. In 2010, whole states adopted Google Apps for their education programs. Oregon was the first one to "see the light" (Go Ducks!!) This was quickly followed by Iowa and Colorado. the states of Iowa and Oregon adopted Google Apps as their suite of tools available to all for free online.

These Google Apps typically include Gmail, Calendar, Talk, Docs, Sites, Video and Groups.  More recently, it has added Blogger and a few other offerings.

Now Google has expanded their offerings to include a variety of apps created and offered by private companies. These companies provide online curriculum and utilities for the students to use in their learning. This is another example of how Google made deep connections with institutions by providing them free services.  Now the Google conduit will provide pay-for-use resources like BrainPop, EasyBib and Aviary. It is difficult to tell from the news releases that I have found, but some of these may be for free.  You can see the list of offerings at the Google Apps Marketplace.

Are you using Google Apps for Education in your schools?  How do you think that these new offerings will be received by your teachers and students?