Friday, December 30, 2005

Blog Hui 2006 - NZ international weblog conference!

Blog Hui begins 2006!

Check out the growing list of invited speakers!

Get your paper in NOW! Due end January 2006.... :o)

Registrations are also limited so first in first served - register NOW!

Friday, December 23, 2005

Challenging the status quo - blogging in schools

Update(18-01-06): This post by Will Richardson, is timely to the discussion about blogs and our children. A emotive example, which shows aspects of teenage living that perhaps parents do not yet fully understand. You be the judge.

Earlier: Came across Scott's commentary on a post at 'I Speak of Dreams', about the art of teenage blogging and the reaction by schools to restrict access by students to these blog/journal sites in schools.

We are still seeing the blogosphere as somewhat emerging in terms of teaching and learning, but already there are some excellent examples of its use in education - you only have to see the wave of edublogs, uniblogs and learnerblogs, courteousy of James Farmer, for one!

How is the Establishment going to face up to this? I put the challenge to Ed institutions out there with Scott's pointers and questions as a starting point! I agree with him when he says:
...providing an open yet supportive environment for student writing and communication may not be as difficult or risky as its made out. But you have to understand students, and understand the emerging teen web culture.
These young adults are our future! And I don't think we get to know our students enough to make value judgements about what we teach them. If we continue to hamper students' development as responsible and civil global citizens, how are we to do so if we continue to cast limitations on them? How will they learn responsibility? How will they embrace the critical thinking skills we espouse in our teaching practices, while at the same time locking up their options?

I am reminded of a tale (told many times over, the origin of which escapes me) where a young boy, a diehard Superman fan, dressed in his Superman outfit - including cape, was convinced that in wearing his outfit he could fly. His mother did not deter him as he climbed the fence - his "launching platform." He of course jumped and fell, hurting himself in the "fly" - but learnt a valuable lesson about gravity (and the lack of human flying ability) at the same time. This story sticks with me as a constant reminder of the need to 'love with open arms' as they say. Painful, yes of course - that's life! We often learn best from painful and involving experiences! Often, in sytematising processes and practices (like education), we find ourselves trying to lighten the blow, removing ourselves one step from the action, objectifying and sterilising the experience.

Perhaps we need to bring such topics into the upcoming 2006 Blog Hui Conference in NZ? What can we do to better advocate for blogs and persoanl learning spaces online? How might such technology be better understood in the teaching and learning context? What do we need to do now in order to better serve our students (and teachers!) of the future?

Monday, December 19, 2005

Christmas shopping that's good for the soul!

gift cards
My partner heard about these guys on ABC radio. They're called TEAR and offer Arguably the World's Most Useful Gift Catalogue! Check it out! You can buy donations as gifts for family and friends, like a goat (A$50), or a health worker (A$60) or even a small but significant gift of school supplies (A$5)!

Makes me feel a little better than watching the Christmas ads on TV. It's sort of like making a home grown burger instead of going to Hungry Jacks! If you wanna know exactly where your donations are going, you can check out the slideshow here (3.2MB).

Saturday, December 17, 2005

So this is Christmas...

Artist: Tamara Voorn (see more here and here)

Well, I certainly don't wish to 'bah-humbug' christmas, but it doesn't feel like the festive season (just yet?) and I'm really not big on the shopping fiasco that seems to begin earlier each passing year! The pic above is by Tamara Voorn from Amsterdam and shows a different colour scheme for Christmas! Throws a different perspective on the whole Christmas thing huh!

So, how has 2005 been for you? What will 2006 bring you?

I'm looking for some fresh perspectives, new ideas, ever-widening circles of friends and professional partnerships.

What did you enjoy most about this year, 2005?

I think the best parts of 2005 for me were partially obscured by more negative events, but with everything there is a balancing force! One thing that stands out for me is discovering and making the most of the fantastic collegial relationships within the Centre for Learning and Teaching Support! Brilliant people doing amazing things in a climate that is often stifling and highly bureaucratic.

What will you be looking for in 2006?

As I mentioned above, there will be some new things, but I hope to rediscover my love of teaching, as well as enjoy being newly married to my wonderful partner! ;o) I'm also going to work on making it through to the end of 2006 without feeling burnt out!

I'm also hoping that Australia will continue to grow and develop as a community of caring and open-minded people. There are many different ways of viewing the world and looking at who we are - take Christmas for example; people all over the world celebrate Christmas but in many different ways and some don't celebrate it at all!

How do you celebrate Christmas?

Monday, December 05, 2005

Homespun and heart matters!

Well, this is what I've been up to while taking time out! No, not 'producing' 11 month old bubs, but being Aunty to one! :o)

It's amazing what two weeks of rest can do for you:

1) remind you of who you are and where you've come from,
2) remind you of the people who supported you in becoming the person you are,
3) remembering the dreams and goals you set up that kind of got lost amongst 'life' generally! and
4) when all else seems big and messy, family and friends remind you of the simple things!

Much of this relates to our learning experiences too. We need to remind ourselves of who we are in order to take responsibility for what we do and what we learn (as well as what we teach).

We can also see how our own networks bind and support us, yet remain fluid enough for us to stretch away and bounce back as we need to. Learning is a natural activity that we need to re-discover in ourselves with a renewed sense of wonder about the world and see the beauty of learning as part of our humanity.

We can also take some comfort in the knowledge that once we know things, we will always need to learn more: it's simply a part of living!