Friday, November 27, 2009

Make it FUN!!!

Technology or no technology?

Regardless of what you use to teach... MAKE IT FUN! If you want participation people need to enjoy it. This video is proof; just watch.

Peripheral Tools

I haven't had much experience with peripheral tools, with the exception to the "Flip Camera". Teaching PE, the Flip Camera has been extremely useful, since it is so simple and user friendly. Currently we are using the Flip to film the students teaching their own multicultural games. The students will then edit the video and put it on their blog. At the time of this writing, this was not a completed process, but some students have finished and you can see it at PE period 1, period 2 or period 3.

Another class where we sometimes use the Flip camera is my Environmental Stewardship class.

Students learn to recycle by collecting items at home and then earning a little money when we take this trip. They also learn about the neighborhood composting program that is a win-win for farmers and the community. All this is done on an eco friendly solar bus which Nichada kindly provides for us.

Dangle Your Carrot

Post is crossed referenced at Mr. Dyke's Blog

What the heck am I talking about? I'm talking about a whole new way Activism. The world is opening up due to technology and this has created new innovative concepts of changing the world. Traditional methods of activism included riots, protests, debates, boycotts, etc. Yes, some had success, but when we were 'holding the stick' often it developed an atmosphere of 'US' vs 'Them'.

This new way of thinking is about putting down the stick and tangle the carrot. With technology it is now easy to gather a large group of supporters from all over the world. A group believing in the same cause, that is able to communicate easily can be powerful. A group willing to put their money where there mouth is can shift a mountain. Consumer power at its finest!

I got this idea from Carrotmob and I want to start a Bangkok Branch. Ok, here's how it works. Get a large group of concerned citizens to join and support the cause. In this case it is ethical consumerism. Approach several similar businesses and propose a competition amongst them. The winner will have all of the carrotmob supporters show up and shop there. Not only does this give the shop extra large profits on the day everyone shows up, but concerned consumers are loyal to companies making a positive difference, so they will return. As well, the money made on the big day could pay for many of the 'good' things the business implemented to improve.

Where do I want to go with this? Right now I am looking at putting together a strong team covering many skills. Then we will spread the word and build a support base. Next step is to approach businesses. My goal right now supports another goal I have been working on and that is reducing or eliminating plastic bag use in Bangkok (join the Facebook group). I want to challenge Villa, Foodland, Carrefour, Central, Emporium / Paragon, 7-11 and others to reduce or eliminate their bags. There are several ways of doing this, but I won't go into that now. However, instead of threatening to boycott if they don't do it, we reward those who do by going there in a mass gathering and buying lots of things. To take it a step further, you make it an event with media covering it and giving the business positive press. This not only helps the business, but educates others about the movement, thus building more support and possibly attracting more businesses. I am currently in the beginning stage of this and should know more in about a week. If you want to have a positive impact on the world... stay tuned.

Carrotmob Makes It Rain from carrotmob on Vimeo.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Laptops in the classroom

Is this what the next generation of teachers will be faced with... starring up at a hundred glowing apples?

Looking up at your class you see an outline of a body so you can only assume someone is sitting there, but you never see their face. You hope they are listening, but truthfully there are probably 100 more interesting things they can be doing on their computer instead of hearing what you have to say.

While you are trying to get your 'ever so important' point across she is updating her Facebook relationship profile to "It's complicated"; he is watching the latest skateboarding accident on Youtube. Another student is signing an online petition, while neighbor is in a chat room.

These are real situations some teachers face today and with increase use of digital tools the problem can certainly get worse. However, it doesn't necessarily have to be a problem. Perhaps the teacher can adapt the lesson to be more suited to using the computers. Perhaps he can encourage a chat room right there with everyone in the class and later post the chat online for the class to see. It's a way of sharing notes. I have no doubt that teaching the 'old' way will get 'real old' for students and they will switch off if the lesson is not engaging.

There are several excellent resources on the internet with guidelines to laptop management, such as Basics of Laptop Management, by John Rice. However, some methods I use to handle laptop use in the classroom are:

  • Traditional classroom management techniques
  • Lid half way down when I am speaking and really need their full attention
  • Encourage and compliment good behavior
  • Computers are a privilege not a right (this may not be the case in some situations)
  • Kids want to play games, well sometimes I send them to a game I want them to play.
  • Know what your computer has. It is frustrating to try an activity only to find out you are missing something on the computer to do it.
  • Don't be afraid of the technology; what may seem distracting at first may be used as an effective tool is used properly.

How relevant are the NETs for Teachers and Administrators to being a "Good Educator" today?

I certainly agree that education is changing and we need to keep up with the times and technology has to be embraced because it will move forward regardless of how we personally feel about it.

The Nets have some really useful skills they want students to learn such as those below:

The new NETS-A emphasizes educational administrators' abilities to facilitate systematic growth in the following categories:
-- Visionary leadership
-- Digital-age learning culture
-- Excellence in professional practice
-- Systemic improvement
-- Digital citizenship

Although I feel these are 5 very useful areas to learn, I am not sure how important the NETS are. I am not saying that NETS are unimportant, but before taking this course I haven’t even heard of NETS. So to me it is not important, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t important on another level. Perhaps administrators have used NETS for a long time, thus it would be important to use NETS to keep up with the changing times.

What do you need to know?

How can teachers and schools ensure that their students are learning what they need when it comes to Technology and Information Literacy?

There are probably as many different ways of accomplishing this as there are ensuring learning (without technology) is taking place. Since technology is constantly changing and the level of implementation varies around the world this is difficult to answer. However, to have success in this area students need to be given opportunities. A 1 to 1 laptop school will have more opportunities than a school with 1 computer lab, however, even this doesn't guarantee anything if the students are not using it appropriately.

If a school is serious about this, they need to implement an atmosphere encouraging use of technology and it might be necessary to have benchmarks at certain levels. For example, in Elementary students will learn how to type, write, internet search, podcasts, etc. In Middle school students will learn how to blog, voice threads, and do collaborative work with other schools in the world using things like wiki's or Google docs. Perhaps there could be electives such as moving making, etc.

Of course teachers should have the freedom and creativity to implement and use their own set of tools, but a few bench marks along the way can help everyone. For example, right now my environmental class, which happens to be made up of a lot of 6th graders at the moment, are doing blogs. It was great knowing that all MS students actually have their own blog already so it was easy for me to implement this in my class. However, the problem I found was the students knew the tools, but didn't know how to write a good post. It either lacked content, links, pictures, and/or a pleasant appearance. This is our first year implementing all of this so it is evolving, but it would be great to know that all MS students will have the skills to use the tools and have already learned what is required to make a good post. If you know what skills students are coming to you with you know where you can start and can go further.

At ISB we have a set of evolving tech standards. However, I am unaware of how well this is known or implemented.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Solar E-Readers

Recently in our class we have discussed the usefulness of Kindle's and newer versions of E-readers coming out. However, any truly futuristic product will have to consider the environmental impact. That's why I like the idea of these solar readers. Check out this article by Megan Treacy.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Standards... Are they needed and who should do it?

I am no expert on this subject and let me be honest in saying I hate this kind of stuff. I realize it is important and I'm glad someone is does it, but I'm more of a 'doer' and I get no enjoyment out of discussing statements, standards, and wording things in the perfect way. I like to get on with the job. Nevertheless, as a class we compared and contrasted standards from NETS and AASL Standards. There were some obvious differences between the two types of standards, but more importantly there were differences in opinion if we need this at all.

Some felt we needed these technology standards and it should be embedded in the curriculum; others felt many statements were redundant. If we are to prepare students for success (survival) in today's world of course we need to give them the opportunity develop tech skills; but is a complete overhaul needed? I feel like most schools and programs already have up-to-date effective standards and that technology standards can/should be included into already existing standards. I don't feel the wheel needs to be reinvented. At ISB we have a group called ISB21 who have come up with these standards.

So who's job is it to teach it? Many people have to play a role. Parents should be informed and perhaps lead in the role of teaching and observing tech safety. Teachers should look for 'appropriate' opportunities to included technology into their courses where it enhances the program. Schools should take a stance and ensure that teachers are reaching a basic minimum standard of technology and Tech departments need to ensure that they train the teachers.

Some issues I face in my elective is I have students from grades 6-8 and all have varying levels of tech skills. I wish I could say each grade level ensures kids reach a certain level, but that is not the case (although some grade levels are very tech savvy). The problem is we don't have the standards worked out and there is no minimal level that a grade level has to reach; thus this would be a good start. With that in mind, there are other problems; we are an international school and our population is very transient. As a result, even if we made sure every 6 grader has a blog, made movies, etc that doesn't mean that in grade 7 you could count on those skills being there. Therefore, perhaps a more worldly approach in needed. Think about typical school curriculum and how they have solved this problem. Transient students moved from USA, to Germany, to japan, etc. Did they change curriculum every time? Yes, until IB came along. One of the goals of IB, MYP, and PYP was to be more internationally minded and although the students moved around the planet, if the student went to another IB school, they were still in a consistent curriculum. Perhaps tech standards need to take this approach so as students are shifting they come with the appropriate skills for level.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Project: Operation Starship 2009

October 2009, 32 8th grade students from International School Bangkok took a journey to SPACE CAMP in Huntsville, Alabama, USA.

Throughout Space Camp students trained in similar conditions as astronauts as they prepared for their missions. All students found this experience to be more than worthwhile. I hope you, and future groups thinking of attending, will get a small sense of their experience through this video.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Screencasts in the class

Often when new computer/internet tools come along I feel like it could be useful, but is probably more trouble to learn than its worth. I often question how useful it will actually be compared to amount of time consumed using it. Rarely, does something come along where I instantly see the potential and immediately think it outweighs the time needed to learn it. Screencasts were the exception. It is easy to learn and makes learning easier for EVERYONE else. As a teacher you can tell students how to do something and it if forgotten quickly, you can show them and they learn better, but they still forget how to do it 5 minutes later. If you type up the instructions it is sometimes hard to follow and confusing. However, screencasts work by filming the screen you are using as you use it. All you have to do is send the link to the students and they have a video that shows them the instructions of how to do something. I have used it to show students how to set up their energy savings on their computer, set up a blog, print double sided, etc. I also used it to show other schools our recycling center set up. Personally, I use Jing Project and found it to be fairly user friendly.

It can be used to help with homework and assignments, but I believe it is most useful in showing students how to do something on a computer. People can learn something as simple as opening and saving files, searching on Google, uploading a picture, or even how to make a movie, blog, etc.

In our dept it can be used to get everyone (hmmm Peter) up to speed, for example we used it to show everyone how to use google docs. It can also be used to help with Panthernet.

Web-based Videos

How has the explosion of web-based video changed the teaching and learning landscape?

This is something I have totally taken advantage of. No more ordering the video and rewinding it to the right spot. Even though DVD was much better, it still had some drawbacks. Internet videos are more up to date and you can find videos on all kinds of topics for FREE. Before you would have to order and pay for a video that you weren’t even sure if it was what you wanted. Now I can view it myself and download it if I like it. I literally have about 50 or more videos for my class. I prefer short ‘to the point’ videos over longer movies and the internet seems to provide this.

Now with easy download tools, such as download helper, it makes it very convenient to build a collection of web-based videos.

Digital Story Telling

What a cool assignment to give kids. They get to make a movie about some subject they are learning about. For my course, Environmental Stewardship, this is a key piece since there are numerous issues and a big part of the solution is getting the word out to increase awareness.

I have made several movies myself, but I would prefer to show you a very recent movie I received from a student helping the Green Panthers spread the word of reducing waste by renting the Green Panther dishes.

Presentation ZEN!

I was all set to give a presentation during synergy. I had about 14 synergy groups ready to join for a total of over 140 students. The presentation was a follow up to an environmental speaker, Stuart Scott, we had the week before. I liked Mr. Scott's presentation, but wanted to follow up with more practical solutions of what kids can do.
I quickly put together some slides looking at our daily actions and then eventually having 140+ students go to Google Docs and compile a list of solutions. Afterwards, students would select 5 of the solutions/actions and pledge to do these for 1 month.
I thought I was all set, until I went to my tech course Saturday morning (3 days before the presentation). We learned about Presentation Zen and how boring presentations with only bullet points were. My project needed some serious help. I had to overall this thing and do it fast. Unfortunately, the downside is there is no fast with Zen. It takes time to find the right photos and get the right message and even the right atmosphere across. In the end I think I accomplished this.
Unfortunately I deleted the old bullet point version for comparison, but i'm sure you have seen enough of those to relate anyway. Enjoy the new and improved version.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Story of Stuff

I will use this picture in the my environment class when we do a unit on the power of consumerism. My instructions to the students might go something like this:

  • Look at the picture and what immediately comes to mind.
  • Look at the items, are they similar?
  • What the deal with the shopping cart and the trash can?
  • Can you think of items you bought that are now in the trash?
  • Is this type of behavior sustainable?
  • What are the impacts? - Depleting resources, more waste, consumer society, etc
  • Are you are part of the problem or solution?
  • What can you do to move towards the side of 'solution'?
I would follow up by showing the whole movie (taster below). I also have a follow up activity that tracks how much they consume/use in a day and how far it travels.

How has the course changed my teaching plans?

I've certainly been open to a a whole new world, but it's been difficult to embrace it all and find the time and place to use each new part. However, my classes now use a few new devices that I didn't use in the past, such as:

  1. Wiki: In Environmental Stewardship class we developed a wiki page and focused on making a difference. In one section, each student made a list of 25 changes they made to help the earth. As well, the class worked in groups to make a site for Caring Tourists in Thailand.
  2. Panthernet: I have just recently dabbled in this one. I find it a little confusing and messy, but I like what can be done with it. We have used it for PE a little in the past. However, now several PE units will have quizzes and other assignments posted there. Not to mention, I have totally revamped the Environmental Stewardship Course and soon it will all be on Panthernet.
  3. Google Docs for the PE dept: This tool is very valuable and I see much more potential with it then what I have used thus far. However, our PE dept used it to help improve our PE curriculum. Through using it we listed what we liked, didn't like, what we wanted to see in the future of our program, etc. As more of the dept added to the list we were able to record what was needed. From there we also used Google Docs to collaboratively work on the Scope and Sequence.
  4. Google Docs for PE fitness testing: One very valuable help this year has been the introduction of google docs in recording fitness results and analyzing results sooner. In the past fitness testing often ended for the students after the physical part of the test, but continued for the teacher as we crunched numbers to come up with a grade. A lot of work, not to mention paperwork, for very little feedback to the students. As well, this feedback was not given in a timely manner. With Google Docs we have the students record their scores and immediately analyze where they are and reflect on what needs to be done. This not only eliminates loads of paperwork but also saves valuable work time and most importantly is meaningful to the students. In the end we also end up with usable data that can be used to improve the program.
  5. Blogs: When we get to the multi-cultural unit, students will not only research and teach a folk activity from their culture, but they will post it on their blog for the world to see. We are also looking to do this in collaboration with another school in a different part of the world.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

MASS COLLABORATION... The True Democracy

The benefits of mass collaborative can already be seen in such things as Wikipedia and Linux. We vote for politicians to make decisions for us, but what about if we made the decisions together. According to Jono's IT blog, "the New Zealand Government in late 2007 gave the public the opportunity to directly contribute to law making, by launching an online wiki where people could make suggestions to the wording of a new police act."
A whole society building their laws together with continuous input from its people and not just a powerful few; now that's progressive.

Mass collaboration opens the doors to more creative thinking. We've all heard two heads are better than one. Well, this can be like having 2 million heads or even more. With everyone contributing towards a common goal it can not only be a huge success, but also more efficiently produced.

Are we preparing students for mass collaboration? I think we are in the beginning stages. As computers and the web become more and more entrenched in schools this will be more and more possible. Classes are now using things like wiki's and Google docs to work on things together. Some are even taking that a step further and working with classes from other parts of the world on common projects. This seems to be especially popular with classes dealing with global issues. If you are interested in doing a project with other schools in other countries go to The Flat Classroom.

It will be very interesting to see what the schools of the future will look like. Expect collaboration to be a big part of it.

Power of the Web 2

In my first post on this subject I discussed some of the more serious issues that the power of the web can help with. However, on a lighter note, I would like to say the power of the web can also be used to shot people to super stardom. Take Susan Boyle for example. She was an unknown middle aged woman who never made it in singing. She went on the TV show, Britain’s Got Talent, and blew the socks of everyone watching. But, it didn't end there; what made her so big was that the show was put on YouTube and the world could now see it. It created such a buzz that everyone was hearing about it and checking it out. In fact, it is on track to become the most popular video in the history of YouTube, amassing nearly 100 million views in its first nine days. Susan Boyle went from a nobody to a house hold name practically over night due to the tube. If you are one of the few people in the world who is living under a rock and didn't see the video, you can see it now. Unfortunately, you can no longer embed the videos of this, so here is the link to Susan Boyle

The Power of the Web

These are changing times; but haven't things changed throughout time? They sure have, but not at this rate. With current technology; especially the web, changes are taking place at an ever increasing rate; in some cases it is changing exponentially. The clearest way I can show you the power of the web is to show you this video.

Shift Happens

The web has the power to connect the world, but more importantly it has the potential to give access to everyone. Thus, the 'have not's' can access the same information as the 'have's'. For example, the 1 laptop per child site has been helping educate the 'have not's' in a way traditional methods could not. According to the One Laptop Per Child site "Most of the more than one billion children in the emerging world don’t have access to adequate education. The XO laptop is our answer to this crisis—and after nearly two years, we know it’s working. Almost everywhere the XO goes, school attendance increases dramatically as the children begin to open their minds and explore their own potential. One by one, a new generation is emerging with the power to change the world."

The web also has the power to get people involved in projects that help, such as the project above. However, now more and more people are involved in social networking sites such as Facebook. Nonetheless, even these social networking sites are now devices for change.

Harnessing the Power of the Web for Social Good

"The time has come to embark upon a cause to harness the power of the Web for social good, not just for social networking. Facebook and other social networking sites are changing human communications in ways that are as dramatic and life-changing as the printing press, the telephone, and television were in their times. Since the advent of the Internet, we have not seen such human impact as we now are witnessing with the mind-bending applications available to anyone with a computer or mobile device connected to the Web. Since Web technology and social networking are impacting so many people, in so many ways, all over the world, the time has come to raise a new standard."

I myself am even using Facebook to start a "Ban Plastic Bags in Thailand Group". Using the power of the web we can easily see build momentum for this cause.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

What's your take? Copyright, CC, Fair Use

After hosting a Earth Week design contest at school and picking the winner a discussion started about if the winning design was a copyright violation. Parts of the picture were taken from the web and the original was not referenced. The winning designer did have his own name on the design. This was a copyright issue, but we tracked down the designer and had him change that. Once that was sorted we thought the design fit under the Fair Use policy for education until we realized the designer was about to win a prize for his work and that again might be a violation. Nevertheless, the design is used for educational purposes and if needed the prize will be withdrawn.

Have a look and see what you decided.

Also check out the Earth Week video.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Thank goodness I was bullied in the 80's

Back in the good ol’ days of bullying a bully physically, and sometimes mentally and emotional, harassed his or her victim. We have probably all grown up on one side of this situation at one point or another. It’s a rough time in a kid’s life, and if worrying about school and girls were not enough, I had to find random trails home for lunch and after school every day. I had an older, and much bigger and meaner, neighbor that got his kicks out of torturing the few of us who were on this route. Each day it was a guessing game; ‘do you think he went through the softball path or the back trail. Unfortunately, these were the only two options so you had a 50/50 chance of being pummeled. Both paths were through a forest so the bully had several hiding spots. Usually the only thing that gave away the bully’s location was when you heard the screams of another boy was just got caught. Those were rough times, but I feel lucky that I am not going through today’s version of bullying. Of course, the bigger nasty bully still exists, as does the smaller, but sharp tongued emotional bully. Nevertheless, the new kind of bullying is the cyber bully.

The cyber bully may not hold your head in the snow until it feels frostbitten, but what makes this bully more powerful is there is virtually no escape from it. This form of bullying through mobile phones, emails, chat rooms, you tube, social networks, and so on, follows you everywhere. Normally the best part of your day when you are the victim of traditional bullying is getting to your house. You feel like, whew, I did it and now I am safe. But, cyber victims are never safe. Another problem is it is not normally just one bully after you, it can be a number of people and you may not even know who is doing it; leaving you feeling like you are always being watched or even stalked and you are not sure who is doing it. Obviously, this can be very emotionally and socially damaging to a student and no one should have to go through this.

So what should schools do about cyber bullying?

Based on my experience in various schools I would say that most are reactive when dealing with this issue rather that proactive. This is probably because it is a relatively new problem in society and many are not aware of it or not sure how to deal with it. I suggest the first thing to do is to change this reactive way of thinking and take preventative measures. Perhaps, this means teaching it in health class when we normally cover traditional bullying. However, I don’t think that is the most effective method. Developing a ‘social wellness’ program throughout the school might be better. This program should educate students and teachers about what the problem is, how serious it is (including the legal consequences for the bully), followed by how to recognize it and deal with it. Most importantly, students should know how to prevent it. That means having a school program that deals with this issue on an appropriate grade level basis. In the ISB middle school, synergy would be the best forum and Comm. Groups in the high school. I honestly don’t know if it is needed in the elementary school. I think this proactive campaign should be run at the same time for everyone to bring about more timely awareness and make the message clear. Then there should periodic reminders about the topic. Anything less might actually just teach students how to cyber bully and increase the problem. If a program is in place to help students and they know tips such as do not delete a cyber bullying message; instead take it to the appropriate person in the school, and then you can deal with the problem before it becomes an unstoppable mess. Students should know to report cyber bullying.
I’m curious as to stories, experiences, policies, and proactive measure others schools/teachers might have. Care to share?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Copyright… what is copyright?

What's our role as educators in copyright usage in schools?

The more I read about this topic the less I understand. Most of the articles seem to be about copyright in USA. However, I am a Canadian and I teach internationally, with no intentions of teaching in America. I’m not saying this doesn’t concern me, but is there something more applicable to my situation or a global copyright law? I live in Thailand where copyrights, patents, and trademarks are broken everywhere. Nevertheless, as an educator I want to role model the right behavior. As Cindy B put it in her blog, Our role in the Use of Fair Use, "We ourselves, as educators, need to be good models and follow the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education. Instead of "Do as I say, not as I do", it should be "Do as I do!" My problem is I don't understand what it is I should and shouldn't do.

It would seem to me like the original reason for copyright was to protect creativity and increase progress of ideas. However, it seems to have lost its way and now it actually can hinder creativity and stop progress of ideas. I assume this is where Creative Commons comes in, but I don't quite understand that either. So rather than pretend I know what I am talking about here, let's try this:

Blogs are all about reflecting and hearing other opinions and perspectives, so let’s put this blog to good use and draw knowledge from the global world. Is there anyone out there that can help me get a clearer idea of what copyright actually is? What it is used for? And most importantly, what's our role as educators in copyright usage in schools?

Don’t be shy, let me see the power of blogging.

UPDATE: While adding the pictures on to this site I decided to link them because I thought that was the right thing to do to reference the pictures. However, the copyright photo linked no problem, yet the Creative Commons photo said I could not add it. However, as you can all see it is there. Is this picture now there illegally? How would I get it legally?

Online Privacy – Is there any such thing? Part 2

Beware of the Google car...
Just like Santa, it knows if you've been naughty or nice; except it tells the world.

While reading “The Thinking Chick” blog about online security it made me think when she stating “Where did we develop this concept of what privacy means? In other cultures, how is privacy viewed?” It reminded me of the differences I noticed when I finally left Newfoundland to travel the world. In a geographically large province with only 500,000 people in total, I was used to small towns and wide open spaces. Large crowds and lack of personal space was very new to me.

The article went on to discuss issues such as a privacy of pictures on Facebook. Later she stated “do we need to rethink what privacy means?" I definitely think privacy need to be given some serious consideration. However, as I started thinking about how lack of privacy might cause some people to ‘run’ away from technology just to avoid these problems, I realized technology is chasing you regardless. It’s not just what you put online. Recently, I’ve seen people in England getting very upset because a ‘Google car’ is driving down their street filming everything and will later put this online on Google Street. So even if you isolated yourself completely from the internet they can still find you. Although, I think Google Street is very cool, I wouldn’t want it filming my street, would you?

This is a video you should all watch about the Google car. Unfortunately, it had the embedding option disables, so you will have to try the link.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Online Privacy - Is there any such thing? Part 1

Yes, there are boxes to check and terms of agreement before signing up for most things online. Then you have to type in your user name and a password before accessing information. Thus, one would think your things are secure, however, more and more I am starting to believe that nothing is total secure online. Ok, if you are posting photos up on Flickr, Facebook, or another site with a similar purpose, then you should realize these sites are intended for public sharing. Nevertheless, you are supposed to have some say in who gets to see what. It is not uncommon to hear of unwanted material showing up online nowadays, so I question if the system is working at all. Of course, this could be friends posting something about you that I you did not want posted. I really hate being tagged in a photo and everyone gets to see it before me since I don't go to Facebook everyday. I wondered why Facebook didn't allow the 'tagee' to approve it before being posted.

However, what Facebook recently did is much more serious. How can a company like this decide on its own that it will change the terms of service without consulting with its customers first. These new terms, according to Samantha MacConnel, who wrote the article 'Don't over estimate privacy of online information', would "ensure the site's [Facebook] permanent claim on personal content posted by the user. This would enable Facebook the right to use content even after a person's profile has been deleted." In other words, they own everything you posted and can do with it what they want. It's bad enough that they would have that policy, but what worries me the most is when people signed up initially they agreed to a certain terms of service and Facebook can change that without their consent.

Although, I don't think in today's set up we can ever be completely secure, there are some ways of increasing your online security. Here are 12 ways to increase your online security.

Also check out this video to see what some schools are doing about this problem. "EMPOWER THEM NOW"

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

My Digital Footprint

I teach people to think about, discover, care about and reduce their environmental footprint, but today we learned about your digital footprint. It is basically saying that what ever you put on the internet will pretty much always be there and this can eventually come back to haunt you. What's even worse is someone else can even put up something about you, such as a not so flattering photo and this can sometimes be viewed by people you don't want viewing it such as college recruiters or potential employers. This is a concern I have with Facebook as many friends will take photos that are absolutely fine within that group setting, but not so fine when published/tagged and shared with the world.

According to Canadian Marketing Blog, adults can be classified into 4 groups:
1. Concerned & Careful (21% of online adults)
2. Worried by the Wayside (18%)
3. Confident Creatives (17%)
4. Unfazed and inactive (43%)

Kim Komando, wrote in the article 'Your online reputation can hurt you' people should assess their online footprint, then remove the negative and promote the positive. So immediately I typed my name in Google and then did it again with my name in "quotation marks". There were a few people with the same name including a female toddler who I don't think anyone will confuse me with. More articles about me popped up than I expected, however, to my pleasant surprise they were all good. I found an old website I created back in university and also a newspaper article written about me in the Bangkok Post. However, these were all positive things.

The key is not to be afraid of what is on the net but to manage it and make sure anyone trying to view information on you will find a lot of things, but all positive things. I should be highlighting my 2 blogs, my wiki, the newspaper write ups.

As I become more aware of this issue, I hope I can help my students think about their digital footprint. Again they should not fear this, but just be smart and responsible about their actions. Don't upload videos or photos that could be seen in a negative way. Don't write nasty and tasteless comments. Finally, do not join up with social groups you do not actually believe it. Students might find it funny to join up with a 'hate' group, but not realize that later in life someone might ask them about this. In a related topic, the interent can unfortunately be used in negative ways such as cyber bullying. Students also need to be educated about this topic.

Tech'n While Your Down

I've experienced some really cool and new (for me at least) advantages in using technology recently. You see normally I am a very outgoing and active guy. It's quite hard for me to sit still and relax, but I've been forced to. A while back I busted me ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) in my knee. This required reconstructive surgery, whereby the take a piece of your hamstring tendon and use it for your ACL. So I had the surgery and was laid up at home for about two weeks. I later returned to work, but eventually my leg became infected. Long story short, I'm back in the hospital. I've been here for 2 weeks and have at least 2 more to go to clear everything up. Needless to say, I've missed a lot of school. However, I have not been totally out of the loop. Thanks to techonogy I have been able to stay in touch even while I lay in a hospital bed all along. Let me list the different things I have been using lately.
  1. Skype - to attend my Environmental Stewardship class when we had a guest speaker.
  2. Live feed - to attend the Technology Masters course.
  3. Chat lines - to chat while attend the Technology course.
  4. Wiki - this is actually the Env. class project. It has struggled a bit, but is building.
  5. Blog - to make Green Panther updates.
  6. Email - to communicate with the sub and students.
  7. JING - this was the coolest by far.
The JING site at allows you to capture clips and make movies on your screen. This is not like iMovie or MovieMaker. It is like when you are learning a Google application and there is a video showing you what to type, click, where to navigate, etc. So instead of typing out line after line of instructions, make a short video to show them rather then tell them. My class is struggling with their project and Wiki, so I made a video to show them how to do it then I email them the link. HOW COOL!!! Here is the link to the instructional project video I made for them.

Although I have spent many hours playing with this stuff and working though errors it has been fun. However, for me to continue using a product it does have to save me time; not take it.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Project Sketch

Travel guide for tourists who care

How many times have you met tourists who came to Thailand and wanted to see the elephants, only to be overwhelmed with a feel of guilt afterwards because they get the sense they supported something they are not proud of? Whether, its elephants, monkeys or even people there are a lot of great things to see in Thailand, but often animals or people get exploited and these are not the things we want to support. Our travel guide will help travelers determine where they want to spend their money and what causes the want to support. ISB students will try their best to determine which companies are eco friendly, socially responsible, for animal rights, and are helping the community and all that other good stuff.

Students will be in groups and each group will research a region of Thailand (North, South, North East, Central). They will try to find what tourism exists; especially sustainable tourism. Then students will devise a set of criteria/rankings for sustainable tourism. It might be a kind of star system for each criteria. For example;

Animal rights

Community development

Environmental responsible

Socially responsible

Overall rating:

Elephant Nature Park

Once the information is determined, students will display information on a wiki including rankings, videos, pictures, recommendations, links, contacts, and what you can do to help.

This information will initially be open to the ISB community, and is the basis of the project, but it has potential to grow. If successful, it can be open up to a larger audience. Other travelers can upload their information about what they thought of the sites they visited and it becomes a site for the world to use. As well, there is potential to work with travel agents to get information and give information. If this could support more of the good work that is happening in Thailand and help that industry grow, more of the ‘not-so-nice’ tourism might change their ways.

What are the students gaining from this project?

This project will incorporate Blooms higher orders of learning (including the newer version which includes using technology). For example, students will:

  • Analyze – Students examine a lot of data they find about different things to do it Thailand. Then they must validate their findings and will eventually 'mash' much of the data into one source.
  • Evaluate – students make judgments about each organization/company they research, then assess and recommend where they fit in the criteria. Students will be networking and collaborating, thus having to evaluate the skills of the contributors.
  • Create – Students will imagine and design the criteria sheet themselves. Students will create a wiki and publish information.

This project also meets the following STUDENT NETS STANDARDS:

1. Creativity and Innovation
Students demonstrate creative thinking, construct knowledge, and develop innovative products and processes using technology. Students:

  • Apply existing knowledge to generate new ideas, products, or processes.

2. Communication and Collaboration
Students use digital media and environments to communicate and work collaboratively, including at a distance, to support individual learning and contribute to the learning of others. Students:

  • Interact, collaborate, and publish with peers, experts, or others employing a variety of digital environments and media.

This project should start in April, 2009. If you are an outsider that would like to contribute, please leave a message.