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site: Wikipedia – by Wikipedia
site: Academic Papers on Wikipedia – by Wikipedia
site: Wikipedia Watch – critical look at Wikipedia
site: Principles and Patterns of Social Knowledge Applications – a paper on Wikipedia
clip: Trailer 1 from “Truth in Numbers: The Wikipedia Story”

I think you have worked out by now that I tend to use Wikipedia links to help explain jargon, conceptual and technical words and issues. So, in principal, I’m a fan of using Wikipedia.

Where this gets interesting, though, is siting Wikipedia as an academic source of information.

Do we trust Wikipedia – which is produced by ‘the masses’?
Or do we disown Wikipedia in favour of academically peer-reviewed works – therefore, produced by ‘the few and elite’?

My own view is that with ALL sources, it needs to be measured – for bias, for its own sources, for relevancy, for reliability. I like using Wikipedia as a first step in research, it tells me the basics and then I dig further into the sources mentioned at the end of the article.

In my own study, the academics will not accept Wikipedia being sited, so I leave it out of the bibliography.

– That being all tertiary… should Wikipedia be accepted as source for Primary or Secondary schools?

– Is Wikipedia more up-to-date (and so ‘correct’) then those huge collections of encyclopedia that collect dust in the reserve section of the library – and requires yearly ‘updates’ that never get used?

– Wikipedia is certainly more accessable then other encyclopedia, but is that a good thing?

– Is the collective might always right when it comes to ‘truth’ – or does that lead to being revisionist? is being revisionist wrong?

Article: New Smithsonian site lets teachers and students create short historical movies — eSchool News

Site: Picturing the Thirties — Smithsonian American Art Museum

Tool: Primary Access — University of Virginia

More info on DigitalStorytelling: Educational Uses of Digital Storytelling — University of Houston; Center for Digital Storytelling

Ever been tempted to try out DigitalStorytelling for yourself, but didn’t know where to start (or have a bottomless wallet for resources)?

The Smithsonian and the University of Virginia have teamed together on a project focussing on a Modern History topic (namely the 1930’s), and because the tools and resources are free (hurrah!) this means YOU get to play with it.

Digital Storytelling is a fantastic way to engage students, teachers and just about anyone else who has ever wanted to be the next Ken Burns or Steven Spielberg. There are many different definitions of “digital storytelling,” but in general, all of them revolve around the idea of combining the longstanding art of telling stories with any of a variety of available multimedia tools, including graphics, audio, video animation, and Web publishing.

Digital stories are “mini-movies” created and edited by people like you and your students – using cameras, computers, scanners and their own photo albums. Everyone has a story to tell and new technology means that anyone can create a story that can be shown on a website or in a digital presentation.

Most Digital Stories contain a spoken story supplemented by photographs. Some contain small pieces of video footage and a musical background. Photos can be recently taken as part of the workshop or scanned in from old photo albums. — Digital StorytellingNew South Wales Country Area Program

website: What does 21st century learning look like?

Education.au offers participants an exclusive opportunity to hear, discuss and debate with leading educators and technologists about 21st century learning.

The seminar provides an occasion for educators, academics, researchers, policy makers, curriculum designers, IT industry, digital media developers who represent a diversity of views and approaches, to meet and discuss the challenge.

The program for the day will feature speakers from technology companies and education sectors providing insight about:

* What does 21st century learning look like?
* What does it mean for our institutions and learning environments?
* How will 21st century learning impact on schooling, parents, the community, workplace and further education?

Panel discussions and opportunities from the audience to interact with speakers.

website: www.ultimosciencefestival.com

Friday 21 – Sunday 30 August 2009

The fourth Ultimo Science Festival bursts into life from 21 to 30 August 2009 with day and night events, school sessions, family & kids events, pub events, talks and forums for everyone. It’s not just for geeks, scientists and students (though they’ll be there…) it’s for everybody!

The Ultimo Science Festival offers an amazing range of things to hear, see and do in National Science Week, along Harris St in Ultimo, 5 minutes walk from Sydney’s Central Railway and most events are free.

The Ultimo Science Festival is supported by the Australian Government and the City of Sydney. It’s an important event in the National Science Week calendar.

Article: In a Digital Future, Textbooks Are History – Tamara Lewin, The New York Times-Education.

Good article on the growing trend of ditching printed textbooks for online sources and e-book versions.

Two examples of governments preferring this method of distribution of knowledge is Korea’s Digital Textbook Program and the California Open Source Textbook Project.

In the New York Times article there is a quote from the superintendent of a low socio-economic area school…

“A large portion of our kids don’t have computers at home, and it would be way too costly to print out the digital textbooks.”

This is something to think about with Cloud computing and Learning (or Course) Management Software, as well as other digital resources — are we adding to the Digital Divide in our march towards -more- technology use in schools?

Article: Cloud Computing in Institutions by “cetisli”

‘The term “Cloud Computing” refers to any computing capability that is delivered as a service over the Internet. While there is no authoritatively accredited definition of the concept, one of the most frequently used definitions is the one given by Gartner, who describe cloud computing as “a style of computing where massively scalable IT-related capabilities are provided ‘as a service’ across the Internet to multiple external customers.”’ — Cloud Computing in Institutions

I know this sounds like technobabble but the basics are simple…

1. software comes to you over the internet/server, instead of being downloaded onto your computer.
2. your files are stored over the internet/server, instead of on your computer.
3. this frees up your computer to just needing to run the browser, and email – this allows you to go without a hard drive, like some of the new netbooks, so you can have it cheaper and lighter than ever.

If you are an old computer geek , this might sound a little familiar.

Back in the bad old days before PCs landed on every desk, the world of business (and engineering, and the geek world in general,) used what were called ‘Dumb Terminals‘ linked up to a massive ‘server‘ that, essentially, did all the work and stored all the files.

Do you remember Tron? The big baddy was the Master Control Program (article on MCP & friends). That’s the mainframe server. The original Cloud.

Now – if you use Gmail and Google Docs (for example) you are using Cloud Apps. The software exists only online, you access it online, and your emails and docs are saved on huge banks of servers taken care of by Google staff (in this case).

This blog is also in The Cloud. I don’t have a copy of it anywhere. WordPress give me access to the software I need to make it look pretty, and they host it. I don’t have a copy on a computer, but I can access it from any computer, with a login.

This is working in a fluid way. You are not tied to one computer. You can be anywhere, but you are right there, accessible.

Questions:
– what does this mean for books? think about the Project Gutenburg, if a text of the book is available online and a student can’t just accidently leave it at home if the class is reading the e-text.
– what does this mean for project documents? think about Google Docs, groups of students can work collaboratively on projects from the library, from home, on a weekend after a sporting event.
– could teachers use the Cloud to discuss students that might need more attention? Take a look at Google Wave and think about its use for teaching staff.

article: Here’s Why You Need an E-Learning Portfolio

Here is an excellent article about e-Portfolios. It focuses more on keeping it up to date so that you have a ready-made CV of accomplishments, but that is just as important for teachers as it is for other professionals. As student-teachers, building a portfolio offline is important, but now having an e-Portfolio online is proving to be more flexible and always ready to show your accomplishments to anyone with an internet connection – and an interest. See the two YouTube clips in the last article for some more information about how powerful e-Portfolios can be for the individual and the organisation.

For networking, collaboration, and something to show off your skills – there is nothing to beat a good, well-thought out e-Portfolio, and this article will help guide you through the basic building blocks to create a great one.

Questions:
– Reading this article, do you feel as though you have a good understanding of -what- to use an e-Portfolio for?
– Work is being done into how to use e-Portfolios as part of assessment, think about how this might be used to assess project-based work.
– Do any of your associates use e-Portfolios? What ones do they use (Linked In and me.edu.au are popular free ePortfolios)?
– If you were to set aside a little time each week for professional development, could you start by setting up an e-Portfolio?