We live in a digital world where everyone has the opportunity to be a creator and where we are all consumers of information. Aside from the occasional paywalled website, information is free and accessible by all in a variety of formats.

This last week a video entitled “Kony 2012″ has gone viral and sparked a debate. The debate though has gone off in two tangents; one about the issue it was meant to look into, ie a war criminal, human rights abuses and child soldiers; the other about how charities and campaigns use new media and the internet and whether they should tell us how to think or what to think?

Being critical of media especially online media is a skill and is an important one for children to learn. Of course many adults haven’t mastered this either which I can judge by the number of chain mails and scams I still receive from people who think they need to forward them! But in the world we live having the critical skills to see investigate, summarise and make up your own mind are more important than ever.

More than one subject in UK schools already tries to do this: English devotes time to learning about the media and seeing different perspectives, geography, history, citizenship and RE all spend time looking at different opinions, controversial issues and propaganda and of course science and mathematics look at how to analyse data and draw conclusions. When is comes to analysing digital media it is often IT teachers who end up with the responsibility. When I taught ICT we spent around two weeks either in year 7 or year 8 looking at how you could trust websites and the information on them. Children were delighted by the absurdity of Dog Island and the British Stick Insect Foundation but the internet has moved on a long way since then. Digital literacy, including being able to look critically and evaluate online materials and is a key skill and too often falls in the gap between subjects. Wherever it does fall there is also a need for teacher training on how to deal with controversial issues which is not something many teachers are comfortable with regardless of their level of subject knowledge.

One organisation that does tremendous work on dealing with controversial issues surrounding religion is the Three Faiths Forum http://www.3ff.org.uk/

It was Debbie Danon, a friend who I have collaborated with on a few workshops and projects who brought this issue to my attention and I’ll finish by sharing her initial thoughts along with a group of her resources that may be of use to teachers or anyone interested in this issue.

 

Say what you like about Invisible Children’s The Kony 2012 Campaign, people are talking about it like crazy. About Kony’s heinous crimes, and the need for him to be brought to justice, yes. But let’s also zoom out to observe the power of shiny, youth-focused media, aiming to unleash Youth Activism 2.0. The film implores young people to ACT on the basis that they already have all the FACTS they need. I wonder how many young people will have looked elsewhere to verify the facts offered in the film before sharing/posting? Even when propaganda is for a good cause (and let’s admit, this is a propaganda film), shouldn’t we engage with it critically? Whether a little more research turns us off a campaign, or strengthens our resolve to get involved, I can’t help but feel that little time would not be wasted.

I’m not saying I don’t believe in IC’s cause, but justice and development issues are complex. So in the name of complexity, here’s the IC film; the blog of a critic; IC’s official response; and an awesome online project “Digital Disruption” which helps young people identify and understand propaganda online. And I say to myself…what a complexified world!

The Film and Website at http://www.kony2012.com/

A critique of the film http://visiblechildren.tumblr.com/

Newspaper article critique http://news.nationalpost.com/2012/03/07/kony-2012-video-controversy/

Responses by the charity http://s3.amazonaws.com/www.invisiblechildren.com/critiques.html

Excellent Channel 4 Blog on the issue http://blogs.channel4.com/snowblog/tracking-elusive-joseph-kony/17342

Digital Disruption Website, resources and lesson plans for use in the classroom on these kind of issues http://www.digitaldisruption.co.uk/

ICT lessons used to start with learning to use a mouse! Photo by Stef Noble

This morning I woke up to the rather alarming headline that “dull” ICT was to be dropped from the school curriculum to be replaced by computing. The story coming on the back of a department of education press release summarising  a speech to be given later in the day by education minister Michael Gove.

I’ve learnt from experience to never judge a story by its headline, and the premise of the story that ICT would be dropped in favour of computing seems now a simplification if not a mistake. Nevertheless the speech did contain criticisms of the current ICT curriculum and described much ICT in schools as dull, this based on the recent OFSTED report similarly criticising much ICT teaching. But the speech did also mention excellent practice and teaching by some schools so it wasn’t all negative by any means. It is a fact that many schools spend inordinate amounts of time teaching students basic office software skills, not necessarily a waste of time but certainly not engaging for a large number of students. But contrary to Gove’s crticisms much of this isn’t necessarily down to the existing curriculum, which is fairly broad and flexible, it’s down as much to the play it safe attitude of schools and a lack of suitably qualified ICT and Computing teachers. ICT in many Secondary schools became a place to pick up league table points by offering GCSE level qualifications based on office skills and ticking boxes. Even in schools where this wasn’t the case the threat of Ofsted and school management lead many schools to feel uncomfortable innovating lest the inspectors or school review system should find out that that basics were not being covered. During my time as an ICT and Computing teacher I was lucky to be able to innovate and bring in new ideas but I was “told off” on more than one occasion for deviating too far from what the other teachers were teaching. This wasn’t a problem with what I was teaching but more a problem that we would find it harder to assess, compare or show we are meeting the same standards when different classes were not all learning the same stuff.

From my understanding, today’s announcement gives schools a much freer rein to teach ICT without worrying so much about ticking boxes or being checked up, it sounds like teachers will be given room for innovation… in a best case scenario. In a worst case scenario it could become a box ticking exercise of a different kind, where cross curricular ICT/Computing, both the dream and fear of every ICT teacher, is brought into schools. Cross curricular ICT is done successfully in some schools, where there are no or few discrete ICT lessons and students study different topics in different subjects, sometimes supported by ICT specialists. In reality it is very hard to get to work because in a traditional subject based school curriculum teachers tend to concentrate on teaching their own subject and any ICT would come second, and this is assuming the teachers have sufficient knowledge themselves.

The part of the speech today which I am very excited about is the promotion of computing in school. Computing isn’t a subject that every student will love or thrive at. But like many other subjects it’s important that students at least get to try it and learn some programming. The best coders who will truly bring about innovation and entrepreneurship in the future are not necessarily those who need teaching in detail, but at least giving them the chance to learn the basics could give many students a foundation to develop skills in their own time, ala the developers of the 1980s who graduated from the first generation of home computers to write software, games and create some of the household IT names we have today. The announcement by Gove promoting computing is some feat and a massive u-turn in many ways. Computing, always a niche subject, has gradually been dwindling over the last few years. A group, Computing at School was set up by teachers and industry just a few years ago to try and buck this trend and this group, along with industry pressure and pressure from a number of other interest groups they seem to have caught the ear of the government. It’s a major u-turn for many reasons, when the Conservatives came into power one of the first quangos they scrapped was Becta, the internationally renowned agency for technology in education. Not necessarily an anti technology move but it was easy to see it as such. Next was the promotion of traditional teaching and subjects such as latin. Not necessarily anti-technology but computers didn’t have a place in grammar school education of the past. Next was the e-bac, which included many subjects such as history or geography but not ICT or Computing. Finally last year Michael Gove didn’t even turn up at BETT (the UK based educational technology exhibition which draws people worldwide) a statement in itself.

Such a big u-turn should inspire extra confidence. But anyone who has been in state education knows that one government announcement doesn’t make real change. All teachers have had the experience of sitting in an INSET (compulsory teacher training) session learning about a new initiative to improve their teaching but in reality finding it another box ticking exercise or finding it scrapped or superceded a year later. A few years ago the government decided that ICT would be tested as a SAT exam in an onscreen test. I spent 3 days of training along with 2 other ICT colleagues preparing for this, as well as hours of classroom time running the test with students rather than teaching. Our network manager likewise spent hours configuring the software. Not long after we found that the “award winning” test had been scrapped, not just the cost of the project down the drain but all the teacher hours. Bringing computing into schools may also be a large financial investment but with support from industry and other organisations that is set to grow it may just work. There is already a scarcity of qualified ICT teachers in schools, teachers such as myself with a computer science degree are even rarer, but to teach computing to a certain level you don’t necessarily need a degree, you need patience, willpower, support, an abilility to learn but most importantly time to learn. It can happen and I hope it will happen but we’ll have to wait and see!

The truth of the program is in the compiling (or was it something with pudding and pies)

As these details won’t be in the Limmud handbook… and as there are 10 places for online viewers… please pass on details of this session to anyone who may be interested!

Around the World in 8(0) Webcams – Monday 26th December – 18.40-19.50 (GMT)

http://limmud.org/conference/programme/sessions/411/#981

 

Joining Limmud conference, via webcam, for this session only are a diverse group from all over the world. Ready to answer your questions and give their opinions. Those at Limmud can participate and ask questions in Ram 3, there are also 10 spaces for people not at Limmud who want to join and participate online. Please tweet me @nstone if you want to join.

 

Participants: (short bios)

 

Nina Price – Boston, USA.  Director of Jewish Learning Connections at the Combined Jewish Philanthropies in Boston. She has participated in a variety of fellowship experiences including the Mandel Jerusalem Fellows, the Senior Educators Program at Hebrew University, and the Wexner Graduate Fellowship

 

Rabbi Stanley Davids – Jerusalem, Israel (and Atlanta, USA)

Honorary Chairman of the State of Israel Bonds Rabbinic Cabinet.  Rabbi Davids is currently a member of the Board of Governors of the Jewish Agency for Israel and the Executive Committee of the World Zionist Organization

 

Ian Samuel – Melbourne, Australia

Retired solicitor, specialising in banking and finance as well as not for profit organisations. Now an activist for Progressive Judaism, Zionism and disability issues.

 

Ruth Ouazana – Israel (originally Paris)

Ruth Ouazana, founder of Limoud in France, has been representative for 7 years of the Jewish French scouts worldwide, and is both an active zionist and an active peacemaker. She is very passionate about the relations of the Jews and Israelis to their own identity, and their relationship with other communities…

 

Emmanuel Bismuth – Strasbourg, France

Taught economics and management for nearly five years in Strasbourg now specialising in new technologies, pedagogy and e-learning.

 

Daniel Abrahamsen Kohn – Oslo, Norway

On the board of the Oslo Jewish community with responsibility of kindergarden, communications and website. Expecting first child in January with his wife Leoni. Trained engineer working in sales.

 

Sandy Behar – Istanbul, Turkey

Sandy is a student at Ulus Jewish school in Istanbul and active as a madrich in one of the local Jewish youth movements.

 

Sara Herczy?ska – Warsaw, Poland

Sara is a member of the Polish Jewish youth organisation ZOOM and active in the Jewish community.

Victoria Godik, Kiev, Ukraine


EUJS Vice President, UUJS chairperson. Organized the “Fact. Fiction. Propaganda” international seminar in Kiev, multinational ethnographical expeditions in the framework of “Save the Memory” Lo-Tishkach & Genesis Philanthropic Group project, the “Lost Luggage” All-Ukrainian ethnographical memory photo exhibition, “Atoms of Remeberance”, “Jews 2.0”, “Jewish Living Library” and other projects of EUJS and UUJS.
Victoria is Alumnus of the Israel Connect European Programm and a presenter at Limmud FSU, Limmud Ukraine and Limmud Baltics

Chairing the room at Limmud: David Cohen – UK/Australia/Israel - Co-Chair of Israel Connect, the young professionals wing of the ZF. A native of Australia and a recipient of the prestigious Herzl prize for services to Zionism. David is also a founding partner of the Asquith Israel Merchant Bank.

 

Chairing the online room: Daniel Needlestone – UK/Norway - A technology, e-learning and education evangelist. He has an MA in technology in education and was a school teacher specialising in e-learning and computing. Daniel will be presenting virtually from Norway where he moved this year.

I’m very pleased that Limmud Conference will once again be streaming a selection of sessions. Pleased partly because I was one of the people who helped bring online streaming to Limmud last year and experimented with various forms of streaming for my own sessions in previous years. Pleased even more because I won’t be at Limmud this year so can watch some online!

Whatever your background or faith there is bound to be something interesting in the list of sessions… below.

You can view sessions at www.livestream.com/limmud or in the window below (when sessions are showing)

Watch live streaming video from limmud at livestream.com

These sessions are the ones planned to be broadcast:

Sunday 25 December: 11.00 – 12.10

The Eichmann Trial: Its Significance and Impact

Deborah Lipstadt

In 1960 Israel kidnapped Adolf Eichmann in Argentina and brought him to Jerusalem to stand trial. What were some of the legal, historical, and moral issues embedded in this trial? How did this trial change the way in which the world thought about, not just the Holocaust, but genocide and the need to adjudicate it? What has been the impact of this trial and why is it still important fifty years after the event

Sunday: 18.40 – 19.50

Strangers No More – an Inside Look at Refugees in Israel

Alisa Olmert

In the heart of Tel Aviv, there is an exceptional school where children from forty-eight different countries and diverse backgrounds come together to learn. Many of the students arrive at Bialik-Rogozin School fleeing poverty, political adversity and even genocide. Here, no child is a stranger. Strangers No More follows several students’ struggle to acclimate to life in a new land while slowly opening up to share their stories of hardship and tragedy.

Sunday: 20.40 – 21.55

Engagement and Disengagement – the Future of Religion in the Land of Israel

Tzvia GreenfieldDavid HazonyAnat Hoffman

What is the real place of religion in the lives of Israelis today and what is the relationship between the religious and less observant public in the Land of Israel? Is it one of disengagement, of each one remaining in his corner and ignoring the other, or is it one of hostility? Are there healthy models in place for relationships or other ways that the two worlds can be bridged?

Monday 26 December  12.30 – 13.40

Faith, Doubt and the Road Ahead: Struggling with Our Judaism

Nathan Lopes CardozoElliott Malamet

In the shadow of the Holocaust and yet being practiced in an age of unprecedented autonomy, how can Judaism remain relevant in people’s lives? How must Jewish law adapt to the challenges of the modern world? What does it mean to be religious? Can one live an authentic Jewish life while in doubt? Please join Nathan Lopes-Cardozo and Elliott Malamet as they engage in a wide ranging and free thinking conversation.

Monday: 15.30-16.20

J-DOV Talks: Jewish Dreams, Observations, and Visions (2 of 3)

Shoshana Boyd GelfandJonathan BoydSeth CohenDeborah Lipstadt

Ever wondered what it would look like if you crossed Limmud Conference with TED, (the popular conference which brings inspiring speakers to give ‘the talk of their life’ in 18 minutes or less)? Here is your chance to find out. For three days at Limmud, immediately prior to Channukah candlelighting, Shoshana Boyd Gelfand will host a session where nine of the most inspiring presenters at Limmud offer us ‘the talk of their life’.

Monday: 17.10-18.20

If It Walks Like a Duck: What Makes a Jew Jewish?

Shmuley BoteachSergio DellaPergolaYaffa EpsteinClive LawtonJonathan Romain

Jewish identity is a notoriously slippery term and yet it is the preoccupation of many a Jewish conversation. Are there core factors that comprise Jewish identity? Or is it simply whatever definition it is given by a generation of Jews? Is there such a thing as Jewish culture?

Monday: 18.40 – 19.50

What’s Going on in US Politics? Issues that Unite and Divide US Jews

Marvin FeuerWayne L FirestoneEllen FlaxShuly Schwartz

Tories and Patriots, Slaveholders and Abolitionists: Jews in America have been divided on political issues since the birth of the republic. From immigration policy and church-state boundaries to economic policy and gay marriage rights, American Jews have taken positions on both sides of most issues. As we prepare for the 2012 election, partisanship abounds, with policy on Israel most divisive. Join us as we discuss the significance of the Jewish stance on US politics.

Tuesday: 09.30-10.40

Israel’s PR – Time for Fresh Ideas

Uri Dromi 

After decades of ‘Hasbara’ efforts, we still complain about Israel’s image in the media. It’s about time that Israel’s true side of the story and its prettier faces should be given a chance. The answer is ‘soft action’, where journalists based in Israel and visiting it will be exposed to Israelis who are not warriors or politicians only, but warm human beings, who yearn for peace and a better future for their children

Tuesday: 11.00 – 12.10

Kosher Jesus

Shmuley Boteach

Shmuley offers a radically new perspective, based on years of ground-breaking research, about the world’s most famous personality. He conclusively determines that the Jews did not kill Jesus, and explains why the New Testament editors made the Jews culpable as the story took shape. The idea is to hope these realisations will strengthen Jewish-Christian ties and values, with Jesus (historically the barrier separating the two peoples) serving as the bridge between the two faiths.

Tuesday: 12.30 – 13.40

Justice, Justice You Shall Pursue, that You May Live and Inherit the Land the Lord Your God Gives You

David BreakstoneLouise EllmanDaniel LevyElliott MalametMichael Sternberg

The debate about Israel and her neighbours is becoming increasingly strident. There is enormous pressure within the community and the public at large to separate fact from fiction, legitimate criticism from distortion, historical truth from clever propaganda. This panel will discuss some of the moral complexities.

Tuesday: 15.30 – 16.20

J-DOV Talks: Jewish Dreams, Observations, and Visions (3 of 3)

Shoshana Boyd GelfandSamuel LebensJeremy LeighAlicia Jo Rabins

Ever wondered what it would look like if you crossed Limmud Conference with TED, (the popular conference which brings inspiring speakers to give ‘the talk of their life’ in 18 minutes or less)? Here is your chance to find out. For three days at Limmud, immediately prior to Channukah candlelighting, Shoshana Boyd Gelfand will host a session where nine of the most inspiring presenters at Limmud offer us ‘the talk of their life’

 

Tuesday: 17.10 – 18.20

Muslim and Jewish Communal Relations of the Future – Discussion with Existing and Emerging Leaders

Mohammed AzizDilwar HussainCharles KeidanMiriam Lorie,Abdul-Rehman MalikStephen Shashoua

This session will probe the issues facing Muslim and Jewish communities individually and collectively. It will pay particular attention to the tensions between communities in order to explore together how they can be dealt with. The panellists have proven themselves, through their work with communities, to be leading figures – what solutions can they offer?

Tuesday: 19.10 – 20.20

UK Jewry: Challenges, Achievements and the Future

Norma BrierLaura MarksVivian Wineman

This panel discussion, hosted by the President of the Board of Deputies, will bring together some of the community’s leading lights in the areas of education, social care and volunteering to examine what the future might hold for the UK’s Jewish community. We’ll be asking some tough questions; expect some frank answers

 

Tuesday: 20.40 - 21.55

Trouble in the Family: Can We Ever Be One People?

Jonathan BoydShmuel KlitsnerJoel LevyHelena MillerDavid Shneer

Is Jewish unity a myth? It seems that Jews argue about everything, and are only briefly united by the simplest propositions. What is the basis for the rifts between Jews and is common ground achievable?

Wednesday: 11.00 - 12.10

Social Revolution in Israel

Daphni LeefRoee NeumanBarak Segel

This summer has been an outstanding summer in Israel. For the first time in 63 years, the people have spoken! This session will introduce the turmoil in Israel in the past few months.

Wednesday: 12.30 - 13.40

Are There Any Honest Journalists Left?

Daniel JohnsonEetta Prince-GibsonGil Shefler

In light of the News of the World scandal, trust in the media is at an all time low. Is this a problem in Israel as well as the UK? This session will discuss the role of Jewish Ethics in Journalism.

Wednesday: 14.00 - 15.10

Love Your Neighbour As Yourself?

Eli AmirLorna FitzsimonsSummer Jaber-MassarwaAnshel PfefferJames Sevitt

Can Israel ever become a friend of her neighbours? What would it take? Has the recent release of Gilad Shalit helped or hindered? The panel will examine the signs.

Wednesday: 15.30 – 16.40

Kosher Sex

Shmuley Boteach

Adults only. Come and discuss a revolutionary approach to intimacy, marriage, and personal relationships, drawing on traditional Jewish wisdom. Based on Shmuley’s international best-selling books on love and intimacy, as well as his experience of counselling individuals and couples, we will break down sexual taboos and openly, yet respectfully, discuss the meanings, emotions, and hidden power of sexuality.

Wednesday: 17.00 - 18.10

Israel/Palestinian State

Daniel Johnson 

This will be a discussion on the implications for Israel of a new Palestinian state. The debate would also include a discussion of attitudes towards Israel in the rest of the world.

Wednesday: 18.30 - 19.40

Jewish Culture or Culturally Jewish?

Nathan AbramsDaniel CainerLiana FinckRebecca Joy FletcherJoel Stanley

Jewish artists and intellectuals have typically remained aloof from mainstream Jewry often because they view it as being more interested in the colour of wallpaper than in culture. Is such a view justified? This panel will explore the role of ideas, arts and culture in the Jewish community. What is the relationship between cultural engagement and the Jewish community? Are there too many taboos? Is British Jewry too scared to produce really engaging art?

Thursday: 10.00 - 11.10

Rebuilding Noah’s Ark: Does the Story of the Flood Really Hold Water?

Raphael Zarum

How did all the animals fit into the Ark? Is there any evidence for this hard-to-believe story? Did it really happen? What should we say when children question us about this? We will analyse traditional commentators from Talmud to today and take in Gilgamesh, Tolkien, Karen Armstrong and the tooth fairy along the way. Can we really hold on to magical realism and rational reality? Come aboard but beware, we’ll be sailing into treacherous waters…

Thursday: 13.00 - 14.10

God Is Not Righteous and the Torah Is Not Moral

Nathan Lopes Cardozo

Still believing in a good God even when earthquakes happen, and diseases kill millions? Still believing in the divinity of Torah even when its laws clash with our moral sensibilities? A whole new approach.

Tomorrow evening I’m doing a presentation and discussion to Collaborate for Change ( twitter hashtag #c84c)

I ran a table discussion at the last c84c at BETT last January (you can see the video at the bottom of this blog post) on “How can we encourage teachers to take risks and innovate with technology”. The discussion was great and the whole event was also fantastic bringing together a massive range of people to discuss and present.

The second C84C takes place in Havering, Essex which was a little hard for me to get to, not because I’m one of those Londoners scared of venturing to Essex but because I recently moved to Norway. Fortunately the organisers of C84C agreed to let me run a session virtually which I will be doing via the wonders of blackboard collaborate (formerly Elluminate).  It’s a piece of software that has evolved quite well since I first tried it during my MA 4 years ago or so and is great for teaching. I used it earlier this year for a series of webinars for a group of students I worked with on a leadership programme and got to experiment with it and work out how to make online sessions participatory and interesting. Tomorrow though is a new challenge as I will be presenting and attempting to lead a discussion to a room of people as well as, I hope, some online participants. All being we will have a great discussion but I also want to learn some new tricks for presenting virtually to a room of people and the best way is by doing, which takes me back to the title of this post…

The topic we will be discussing is,

“Is there such a thing as too much innovation?”

The focus will be on looking at why existing innovators innovate, whether there are boundaries or appropriate times to innovate and if we need to plan carefully for innovation or just do it.

Comments are very welcome below but even more welcome if you wish to join us tomorrow – the link to participate online and to replay is https://sas.elluminate.com/site/external/launch/meeting.jnlp?sid=2010108&password=M.B282631F6F3D88D3A505A51183E1A4

.

Do Teens Use Twitter?

Posted on August 25th, 2011 in thoughts | No Comments »



Common wisdom says teens don’t twitter

Here’s a few articles saying exactly that (in chronological order 2011 to 2009)
http://blog.eloqua.com/why-teens-dont-use-twitter/
http://mashable.com/2010/02/03/teens-dont-tweet-or-blog/
http://techcrunch.com/2009/08/30/why-dont-teens-tweet-we-asked-over-10000-of-them/
http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2009/jul/13/twitter-teenage-media-habits
http://blog.nielsen.com/nielsenwire/online_mobile/teens-dont-tweet-twitters-growth-not-fueled-by-youth/

While it may be the case that the majority of teens don’t tweet judging by today’s trends on Twitter in the UK they certainly have a strong presence.

Twitter trends UK 25th Aug 2011

Twitter trends UK 25th Aug 2011

All the trending items with a red arrow annotated show topics related to GCSE examinations. These UK examinations are typically taken by 16 year olds.

It may be that most teens don’t use twitter, it’s probably true that most people don’t use twitter, but of those that do teens certainly have the power to make their voices heard. Imagine what they could do if they clubbed together – the student voice could become quite powerful!

The Purposed Project has got me writing on my blog again rather than just thinking of things I should get round to writing. I’ve taken part in 3 stages of the project starting with my earlier blog post “Time To Learn”, then a bit more passively with this lovely picture quote mashup created and contributed by @grumbledook (thanks and I was flattered).

Purpos/ed 3x5 - 16th April 2011

I’m now contributing again with a purposed futured interview. I couldn’t help signing up for another one of these “tasks” as they’re interesting, fun, different and make me and I hope others think about some bigger questions for a short while. This task allowed me to perform my first over the phone interview using Audioboo, as instructed, to record and share the audio. I wasn’t sure who to interview when I signed up but in the end went for someone from a faith community, because I thought it may give a different perspective, and someone from the Jewish community, because I feel it’s an integral part of the privileged education path that I have followed and am still following. Judaism has always been a religion that prides scholarship and learning for the sake of learning, in some communities maybe too much over and above the skills required to earn a living! The immigrant history has also meant Jewish communities have always made education of their children a priority in order to have skills and work that could be transferred from country to country. Having known my interviewee, Rabbi Pete Tobias, for some time, I did not expect a religious sermon or historical lecture. I was surprised though to hear opinions and visions that are incredibly similar to many of the participants and I guess the instigators of the purpose/d project. I hope you enjoy it.
Purposedfutured Interview with Rabbi Pete Tobias (mp3)

It was very nice to receive a tweet this morning from Chris Ratcliffe (@chrisrat) to tell me I had been nominated for the Education Blog Awards 2011 in the category, “Teacher Blog of the Year” Twitter Update

Thanks to whoever nominated me, it’s the first time I’ve ever been nominated for anything like this.

I started my blog a few years back when Drew Buddie aka @digitalmaverick told me that the process and progress of the VLE I was developing at school was something that would be really useful to share with others. As time has gone on my posts have diversified a little and I am no longer involved in the VLE I started writing about. But there is plenty more to come and many blog posts that are half writen. Take a look at the contents link to see the archive.

I hope some of my blog posts are useful to other people, like most teachers who blog, I do it to share and reflect, but it is exciting when the stats hit the roof. This has only happened twice to me: once for my guide to Twitter post earlier this year which for a week was clocking 100 visits a day, and once when I published my MA research on “What gets kids on a VLE“.

If you enjoy what you read feel free to click the button below and vote for me or visit https://scholastic.wufoo.com/forms/education-blog-awards-voting/

But if you don’t click don’t feel bad. I’m up against 40 other blogs many of whom I am big fans of, as a whole they are a fantastic compendium of teachers’ experiences and achievements.

Vote for me as Teacher Blog of the Year

Purpos/ed – time to learn

Posted on February 24th, 2011 in thoughts | 17 Comments »



Purposed Badge - text "I added my voice"

This is my 500 words for Purpose/d. Another wonderful project from a group of educators looking to inspire, create debate and eventually change. I’m supposed to read the posts before mine and respond to some of the points. I’ve read some but not all, and I’ll use that as my segway to my 500 words, because I just didn’t have time to read them all. And time is surely the killer for much change and innovation in education. There’s precious time to think, to innovate and be creative, and that goes for teachers and students.


In the UK, when we learn to be teachers, we don’t learn about pedagogical theories beyond a brief look at learning styles. In a 36 week practical based course there just isn’t time. When I did my MA the largest revelation was that all the things I did anyway in the classroom had a theory attached to them. But good teachers don’t always need a theory, they just do it because it works for them or their students, it just seems right to them. And a good teacher knows what makes it right in one situation doesn’t make it right for every teacher or every class.


There’s never enough time in the curriculum for every subject. Recently I’ve seen online campaigns to save PE, RE, ICT and Computing from being removed or marginalised in the UK. Campaigns led by specialist teachers and national subject associations may seem self serving, but they do it because they care. After all remove sports and kids may become unhealthy, remove RE and kids may become intolerant, remove ICT and kids may become unskilled. I can’t disagree with the passion of these teachers who know the ‘Purpose’ and the benefits of what they teach.


I’ve been out of the classroom now for 6 months. People ask me if I miss it and how life is different. There are many differences but the biggest one is not having the guilt on your shoulders because there isn’t enough time to do everything for your students. Teachers learn to live with many kinds of guilt; the guilt of not preparing enough, the guilt of not marking enough, the guilt of ignoring a school policy, the guilt of straying from the scheme of work, the guilt of setting too much homework. What is the ‘Purpose’ of all these things we worry about?


Our education system will improve greatly when teachers can remove the guilt from their shoulders and take pride in their skills and achievements.


I subscribe to the terribly liberal but certainly not revolutionary philosophy that different students and different teachers have different needs. We need different routes, different pathways and different systems open to everyone to enable each learner and each teacher to find their own way. There’s never enough time to teach everything and one, just one, purpose of education must be to give students the skills and the passion to learn and thrive in their own interests in their own time.


What is the overall ‘purpose’ and how do we get there? I don’t know but if we are to find it we need to give teachers the room to innovate, experiment and improve and we need to give students room to innovate, experiment and improve. And on that note I’ll leave you with a video of a discussion I led on this topic at the recent Collabor8 4Change event.

As promised in my earlier blog post “Why Twitter is good for teachers – thanks to…” here is the video and some brief written tips, on Twitter for teachers. This video was part of a longer presentation I gave to an international group of teachers at the World ORT Wingate Seminar 2011 on Digital Content Creation for learning.


www.twitter.com
Twitter is not just a website for celebrity gossip, it’s a constant stream of information from the people you choose to follow. If you choose to follow teachers or people with similar interests to you, you will get a stream of information relevant to your interests.

I follow about 1500 people, most teachers and educators and some with other interests.
Following someone doesn’t mean I agree with them always, in fact I follow some people who have very different opinions to me so I get to hear different perspectives.

Twitter helps me in many ways

1. As a supportive community – people are always williing to give their support or opinions when necessary.
2. As a great source of new websites, resources and ideas – People are always posting links to great new resources, blog posts and personal experiences.
3. As a way of sharing my practice, ideas and blog posts
4. As a personal search engine – if you ask for help – people normally respond with help or ideas – though it’s not instantaneous and you sometimes need to ask a few times.

A good place to start is by signing up, having a look at my twitter profile www.twitter.com/nstone and seeing who I follow and who follows me. If they seem interesting click to follow them, you could even send them a brief message to say hi and to tell them why they look interesting.
You can also look at twitter lists to see who they are following. Users sometimes group people they follow into lists, you can see them on their profile. These lists can be great ways to find interesting people fast.

If you are a new user and scared about privacy you may wish to choose a private account – then only people you give permission to can see your twitter messages. Going public means anyone can see your messages, but it also means anyone can help you and opens your tweets up to a much wider potential audience. If you’re nervous start private and you can always change later, even for a private account, as with any online communication, don’t assume confidentiality of anything you write!

Good luck