Relaxing with technology

I need a break. I’ve been working like crazy, weekends too. So, for the next few days I’m having a break. As I’m not able to go away, a “staycation” is called for. I can’t go away partly because of another looming deadline, and even more partly because of the two feline parasites who have recently taken over our household. (I could meet the deadline from anywhere in the world, but it's too soon to leave the cats in somebody else's hands.) As a techno-addict I’ll be using a computer of some description or other to provide some entertainment. Here’s what I have lined up

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Summer Reading

If you're worried about how to keep yourself occupied over the summer break, and are not interested in novels and suchlike, why not curl up with a copy of The Amazing Web 2.0 Projects Book?

With 87 really interesting projects featured, it's a good read. Others think so too: I've received a lot of good feedback, some of which I've included on the Free Stuff page, from where you can download it. As of about 10 minutes ago, this is how the stats are stacking up:

Downloads: 14,347

Views in SlideShare: 509

Views in Myebook: 2,742

Views in Scribd: 399

You'll find all the links to these alternatives here. There is also an HTML version over in the OU Vital community, although you'll need a (free) login to be able to access it.

I'd also highly recommend checking out Shelly Terrell's suggestions. She lists 35 professional development resources which will keep you busy for a while! (I have to declare a slight interest here, because she has included two of my own efforts.)

Whether you prefer learning through books, audio books, blogs or live seminars, you're bound to find something of interest in Shelly's list. For me, I'm hoping to check out the discussion with Howard Rheingold on 16th June 2010.

I'm also working on the next issue of Computers in Classrooms, which was delayed because of computer problems. Long story short: it's all sorted now, but in the meantime lots of stuff has piled up and so I'm in catch-up mode. But that hsould be a good read too, plus if you subscribe yu'll have a chance of winning a computer game and a year's subscription to another game. More information on all that soon.

Poster Session at the Virtual Language and Technology 2010 Conference

I was delighted to receive an invitation from the great Shelly Terrell to submit something for this virtual conference's exhibition. I submitted my book, Go On, Bore 'Em: How To Make Your ICT Lessons Excruciatingly Dull.

Shelly then emailed me to say:

This is the first poster exhibit we have set-up for the conference. Many of you may not be in Second Life so we have a video we took of the presentation so you can see what your poster looks like and how participants can interact with it. We also e-mailed this video to all our 600 participants and put it on Twitter to spread this to a wider audience. Here is the link to the Youtube Video

If you are on Second Life, then you can visit your poster at this SLURL:

The poster presentations will be up till Saturday 6am GMT. 

We really hope you will consider submitting a poster to our October 2010 Virtual Round Table Conference!

What impressed me about the video is how Shelly has taken the time to introduce all of the exhibits, and to say something about each of them. The only fly in the ointment is that the volume seems to be very low for most of video.

Anyway, here it is. Do take the time to explore the Round Table link as well.

The 30 Goals Challenge

#30goals When a long-time subscriber to my newsletter, Computers in Classrooms, emailed me to ask if I could recommend a blogger she should follow, I had no hesitation: Shelly Terrell, without a doubt.

Seemingly indefatigable, Shelly writes an amazing amount of stuff, all of which is high quality. Following her on Twitter is good for one’s professional development in itself, but her blog, Teacher Reboot Camp, is definitely worth a visit.

And worth subscribing to.

At the moment, Shelly is writing a series in which she is setting a new challenge every day for 30 days. Known as the Goals 2010 Challenge Series, this is an excellent set of posts that are:

  • Challenging
  • Replete with resources
  • Well-written

The upbeat tone of the articles, together with their good advice and questioning, serve to remind us of the sheer excitement of working in education.

I have to say I find some of the posts a bit long, so I tend to speed-read them much of the time. That’s not a criticism actually. I prefer long posts sometimes because I like something I can get my teeth into. Besides, Shelly often formats her articles in such a way (ie with bullet points and suchlike) that reading them quickly is not difficult.

I love her challenge about causing a ripple. In fact, I love the idea of this sort of series, and will be starting one myself soon, on a different topic. I’ve been intending to do it for ages, but have been waiting for the right time. Inspired by Shelly, I’ve now decided to start writing it while I’m waiting for the right time!

Another series you might like is Steve Dembo’s 30 Days to be a better blogger.

But check Shelly’s out first ;-)

You Need To Set a Good Example

If you want students to be good learners and users of technology, you have to set a good example. That is basically the message of Shelly Terrell's latest post, Most Teachers Don't Live There. Shelly asks:

Shelly Terrell

If we are knowledge sharers, shouldn’t we continue to fill ourselves with knowledge?

If we want to inspire students to continue learning throughout their lives, then shouldn’t we continue to learn throughout our lives?

If we want motivated students who see learning as a journey, then shouldn’t we continue our journey?

If we want to motivate students to be the best in their fields, then shouldn’t we be the best in our fields?

If we want other educators to listen to our ideas, then shouldn’t we read about their ideas?

If we want support from our colleges, then shouldn’t we support their workshops and projects?

If we want students to use digital media responsibly, then shouldn’t we give them access and show them how?

If we want student to not let technology overtake their lives, then shouldn’t we teach them how to balance themselves?

How can we teach balance, if we don’t have any social media in our diet?

These are great questions, and they are spot on. Whether you work in a school, a Local Authority or for a company or for yourself, if you do nothing else you must at least be an excellent role model in your appraoch to education in general and to educational technology in particular.

In fact, I would go further than Shelly has, and say it's not only about setting a good example to our students, but to our colleagues as well.

Of course, some of Shelly's challenges are hard to meet, like the ones about balance. Recently we watched a programme called "Email is ruining my life", which looked at someone who sleeps with her Blackberry next her in case an email comes through in the middle of the night, checks emails in the bathroom, checks them whilst having dinner.... I am not that bad, but I must be heading in that direction because at the end of the programme Elaine said to me:

"Recognise anyone you know?"

I tried to plead the 5th, but that doesn't cut much ice in England.

It reminds me of this story:

A woman takes her little boy to see a Holy Man. She says, "Please tell my son to stop eating sugar."

He replies: "Certainly. Bring your son to me in three days' time."

Three days later, she returns with her son, and the Holy Man says to him, "Stop eating sugar."

The woman says, "Why couldn't you have told him that three days ago?"

"Because", he says, "Three days ago I had not stopped eating sugar."

Shelly's post is very challenging, I think, and she finishes it with a great challenge to the reader. Do head on over there to read her post in full.