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Pinterest: I’m afraid it’s time for the “Dear John ….” April 21, 2012

Posted by IaninSheffield in Musings, Resources, Tools.
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cc licensed ( BY NC ) flickr photo by Thomas Hawk: http://flickr.com/photos/thomashawk/5818386623/

Dear Pinterest,

We’ve been together around 6 months I think and I’ve given it a go. I really have. I was shy at first, but eventually plucked up the courage to ask if I could join you. Yes you made me wait a while but then, to my joy you said yes. From that moment there’s lots I’ve ‘Liked,’ plenty I’ve ‘Followed,’ Pins I’ve made and other I’ve Repinned, but … well it’s just not working out.

I like how easy you make it to Pin things; click on the bookmarklet, choose a board, add a bit of text (if I want) and that’s it. Marvellous! I also liked at first how you were always telling me what others were pinning and liking and what they thought of my pins – it helped me know whether what I was doing right and how to link with other folks … but to be honest, it’s beginning to wear a bit thin. Actually yes, maybe that’s it? It’s just too thin … no wait, shallow. Sorry!

I began to think there’s got to be more to it than this. Why am I pinning all these things? For whom?

  • You? Well I have to say you worried quite a few people on that front, but at least you realised and tried to put things right.
  • Other people then? There’s no denying you’re popular; quite the centre of attention in fact. But your circle of friends is just too … well, too girly! It’s all about cakes and clothes and, well you know I like cooking, but you’ve seen the way I dress! Yes you make it easy to share with others, but don’t you see you’re inflicting your choices on them instead of making it easy for them to choose what they take away?
  • Me? This gets to the heart of things really. Yes I can choose my own stuff and yes you let me make boards to keep it in. But darn it, you make it so hard to keep track of where I’ve put things! Finding the stuff I pinned a while ago is next to impossible; why couldn’t you just let me tag the things I’ve found? That way I don’t have to put this stuff in this drawer, err sorry board, and that stuff on that board. Sometimes I want stuff to go in more than one place … because it just should! We’re back to the shallowness again aren’t we? Find stuff, share it around, have others ooo and ahh, then it’s move on to the next thing.

So I’m sorry. I really am. You know it’s not you don’t you? It’s me. I’m too demanding and just can’t change.

Can we still be friends?


Looks like I picked the wrong year to … start a 365 project! December 20, 2011

Posted by IaninSheffield in Inspiration, Tools, Web 2.0.
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cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo by erg0: http://flickr.com/photos/erg0/5378263638/

As the New Year appears on the horizon, I watch people planning their 365 projects with a degree of envy, but a recognition that I’d be unlikely to sustain a photo a day for a whole year. I’d probably run out of steam or inspiration long before even January drew to a close.

And yet I still have a hankering to undertake a serious year-long project. But who says 365 projects have to be about photography? Might it be possible to have a crack at a 365 project with a completely different theme? Well for my 365 project, I make the rules and I decided the answer would be ‘Yes’ … and the theme would be Web 2.0 tools. Given the thousands that are out there, how hard can it possibly be to find just 365? Well OK, it is a leap year, so that’s just made it a little bit harder, but I’ll live with that.

Rather than just picking tools at random, I’ve already done the hard work of searching out the ones I thought might best suit our learning/school-based needs. You might like to speculate which ones made the cut. I first thought I might present them thematically; a week of presentation tools, then a week of something else. But in the end decided to add a little frisson of anticipation by simply launching them alphabetically! I’ll still be tagging them thematically however, so as the year progresses (assuming and hoping I have the stamina!), viewers will be able to filter those of particular interest.

Adding a few lines of descriptive or explanatory text would have been a little too easy, so since I’m less at ease in the oral medium, I’ve opted to push myself a little harder by producing a mini-podcast outlining what each tool offers. With that in mind, I also wanted to add one more layer to each post, in which I would offer a notional idea of the level of demand or learning complexity of each tool. At first I considered trying to assign each tool to a particular level on Bloom’s taxonomy, but that just didn’t seem right; I felt the level on Bloom’s is more related to the task being undertaken than the tool being used. As Silvia Tolisano observed with iPad apps, tools can be used in different ways at different times, so a tool’s position is likely to be somewhat fluid. In the end, having recently begun to read more about Ruben Puentedura’s SAMR model, it seemed to lend itself more closely to how I wanted to classify the different tools.SAMR model Moreover, regular inspection and application of a framework is surely more likely to lead to greater understanding?

Assuming that each tool could work at least the ‘Substitution’ level, my task then would be to establish what further affordances might enable it to work at higher levels. So for each tool, I’ll offer a tentative level, but hope that folks might challenge my thinking, suggesting how they think a particular tool works at a different level.

Given that each daily post will mash together different resources, Posterous seemed the easiest tool to facilitate that, so you’ll find it’s all happening at 366 Web 2.0 Tools … well, OK not quite yet, but at least there’s a page of introduction and links to some of the sources I drew on. Roll on January 1st!

No, it *is* about the tech . . . August 24, 2010

Posted by IaninSheffield in CPD, Tools.
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Learning how to learn

Listening to Jenny Ashby‘s interview on the EdTech Crew’s recent podcast today brought something to mind that’s troubled me before. First let me try to paraphrase what Jenny said

‘The learning has to come first, then the technology’

I’ve heard many people say this many times; in fact I’m certain I’ve said it myself on more than one occasion. But now I’m not so sure we were right.

It goes something like this. When we’re planning our curriculum to integrate/incorporate new technologies, we should look at the learning outcomes we intend for our pupils, then consider what technologies would be most appropriate to support those outcomes. Finding a shiny new toy and then looking to see where we can shoehorn it into our schemes of work is the wrong way around and forces the learning to play second fiddle to the technology. Well I think I’m going to swim against the flow.

For those of us who are linked in with a PLN, who’ve spent some while casting around for technologies and applications which might suit the needs of our pupils, who’ve grappled to get to grips with those technologies and discarded the ones we feel aren’t appropriate (or we can’t access from behind our firewalls/filters), then the learning can and should come first. It can because we already have a mental or physical resource bank to draw on when planning new curriculum – a lesson introducing the ideas incorporated in Newton’s 1st Law? Yep, I remember a couple of great interactive resources for that, and wasn’t there a simulation the students could do? Oh and there’s that fantastic Youtube video which shows . . . and off we go into our Delicious or Diigo links to retrieve them. But how would the same scenario play out for colleagues who have not yet progressed beyond what Somekh1 terms the ‘Routine’ stage of innovation, or even those at the earlier Orientation or Preparation stages?

Let’s consider a hypothetical colleague Jim; he’s a good teacher. Jim uses ICT for his own planning and prep, mainly Word for producing resources, Excel for keeping homework marks, PowerPoint for delivering presentations to his classes and the Internet for searching for resources. The tasks he occasionally sets his pupils involve the same tools, perhaps with Publisher being on the menu too. Jim’s got a new module to prepare for next year and as always, an important element of Jim’s planning will be the learning outcomes. This is precisely what we would hope for. But where does Jim go to include some new element of ICT? Perhaps he wants to incorporate a group activity in which his pupils work co-operatively to produce a single product for the whole group.


You see! You’re already ahead and have a couple of ideas of tools which might suit Jim’s needs, or indeed how he could make use of functionality in those he is already familiar with. But where does Jim start? Imagine lifting the bonnet/hood of your car to change a part . . . but you’ve no toolbox. If you want to do any work under the bonnet, the first step is to gather a few tools. The more complex the task you want to undertake, the more extensive your toolset needs to become. Once you have a reasonable set of tools, you start to think of new and different jobs you could undertake. Isn’t it the same for Jim? Doesn’t he need a few tools first? Some tools are more adaptable than others and should be top of the list . . . Glogster for example might be the equivalent of an adjustable spanner/wrench.

Maybe what Jim needs then is a trickle-feed of a few tools every so often and maybe to be shown how to ‘file’ those tools for future reference. Or to be linked in with colleagues in school or beyond who might provide occasional inspiration, showing what new tools they’ve been trying. Perhaps for Jim the tech should come first?

To return to the beginning then, when some people say ‘The learning should come first . . . ,’ if they actually mean that learning should be foremost in your mind, then I can hardly disagree with that, now can I?

1 Somekh, B., 1998. Supporting information and communication technology innovations in higher education. Journal of Information Techology for Teacher Education, 7(1), 11. Available at: http://www.informaworld.com/10.1080/14759399800200028 [Accessed August 24, 2010].