Friday, March 26, 2010

Friday, March 19, 2010

Social bookmarking for the nation

An impact project that several of my students are currently working focuses on social bookmarking: the ability to save and share useful websites. Incredibly there is no central place for students and teachers from schools up and down the country to share websites that are useful for learning. Think about this: students doing a year 10 project on ponds finds a really nice website that has animations and definitions that helps her to complete the project. Not only should she be able to save the site for herself for future reference, but she should also be able to share it with her friends, who should then be able to give her feedback on whether it is useful or not. Thumbs up or thumbs down would be enough. Sites like or exist for the world to be able to do this, but sites for learning present a couple of different challenges: i) the need for cyber safety and security around online stranger-danger, and ii) the need for classification around curriculum and NCEA levels.
We want this to be a project that other schools can hook into, so some kind of federated identity and access management is required (we don't want to be issuing people with yet another username and password; their school credentials should be enough) and, of course, it needs to be open source. The short-list for solutions boils down to two at this stage: Pligg and Drigg both of which support OpenID as an authentication method.

It's quite an exciting thing for a bunch of 15 and 16 year-olds to be building and gifting to the nation. I'll let you know how they get on. And of course, if you're interesting in signing your school up for it, let me know.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Public Address Radio: The Open Source School

Recently I had the pleasure of talking to Russell Brown on Public Address Radio about what we're doing at Albany Senior High School. The interview is here on the Public Address site.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Wikitasters for Wikieducator

I had the pleasure of running a Wikitaster session for Red Beach School this week: an introduction to Wikieducator. It covers the basics of what Wikieducator is and why it's useful to educators:
"The WikiEducator is an evolving community intended for the collaborative:
  • planning of education projects linked with the development of free content;
  • development of free content on Wikieducator for e-learning;
  • work on building open education resources (OERs) on how to create OERs.
  • networking on funding proposals developed as free content." (Link)
Perhaps the most transformative aspect of Wikieducator for both teachers and students is the fact that they are open and free: free for you to take, remix, reuse, transform and adapt. Everything in Wikieducator is released into the public domain through a creative commons licence, so we are no longer beholden to text book producers to package up our curriculum and sell it back to us. In my history class last year, the students wrote the textbook as the course progressed. Not only was it more co-constructed than a black and white textbook, it also had images, audio and video. Here are a couple of examples of what they achieved last year:
As with any collaborative, wiki-based project, these will continue to improve year by year and as more schools contribute to them.
And that's perhaps the best thing about Wikieducator: the collaborative opportunities that arise out of contributing to a global project. The sky's the limit.