Category Archives: netgened

The Netgened Project for newbies

Netgened in a wordle

As part of my Innovator of the Month Award, I shall be writing about some of the innovative projects that I am involved in. Please note that the current netgened project is work in progress, so keep checking out the wiki to see how it transforms. (The above wordle summarizes this post in a word cloud.)

The Flat Classroom Projects were founded by Julie Lindsay and Vicki Davis. There a variety of different projects, aimed at all school year levels . These projects are great to get involved in, especially as many educators prefer to join in existing and established global projects where :-

  1. The pressure of organizing is on the shoulders of experienced technology users and project managers.
  2. Risk taking is shared in a caring environment.
  3. A global network of educators, with similar interests and passions, can be tapped into and extended/maintained beyond the project itself.
  4. The Flat Classroom projects come with an amazing support base and a history of more than 5 years of learning and sharing collaboratively. Previous projects can still be explored and researched. There is a comprehensive teachers guide.
  5. There is full support from weekly online meetings to boot camps, keynote speakers, student project managers, teacher mentors, a social networking site for teachers and for students/teachers.
  6. There are expert advisors from across the globe for students and experienced expert teacher mentors for new teachers and much, much more
  7. Any issues and challenges that do arise especially when students, different cultures, religions and ideologies are involved are worked through with the teacher cohort. There is no feelings of blame if netiquette rules are breached, just teachable moments that are shared and solved collaboratively.
  8. Allowances for differing time zones and school years etc with some projects being offered several times per year.

The netgened project is aimed at senior students. Following is what it looks like from the student point of view:-

  1. Students socialize on the Flat Classroom Projects ning with teachers and expert advisors. They get to know each other, (especially their own team members) and enter into conversations.
  2. Each class or student is asked to prepare a handshake to introduce themselves. This could include details about their school, culture, passions, interest in the project etc.
  3. Students are grouped  in teams, preferably in interest groups on one element of the latest ­Horizon Report  and one of the netgened norms as outlined in Dan Tapscott’s book Grown Up Digital. Each team has up to 5 members mixed across the schools involved. They no longer work within their clqssroom but beyond into the amazing flattened classroom that technology enables.
  4. Each mixed group of students researches their topic and summarizes their findings on a wiki page eg Game Based Learning
  5. There are student project managers for each group.
  6. They then individually create a movie or multimedia product that portrays their topic. This movie must include an outsourced clip from a student in another school or country. The student requests go up on the wiki and the video clips uploaded to the ning page, for students to grab and add to their movie. The final movie is added to the wiki. This movie is then judged by a panel of global judges and the winners are announced in a special webinar with all encouraged to attend.
  7. It finally concludes with a student summit. Each student individually presents and summarizes their learning in a Blackboard Collaborate webinar, which is publicized globally and interested students and educators are invited to attend and participate in these summits. They are recorded and recording links are added to the wiki. This aspect pushes students well beyond their comfort zones, but gives them a real sense of achievement when they have completed it.

From the teacher point of view

  1. Teachers are required to attend weekly online meetings and if they cannot attend, are asked to listen to the recording.
  2. Bootcamps are held on a number of the online tools that are used, so that teachers can feel comfortable with these tools and learn how to use them effectively. They are recorded and links can be found on the wiki.
  3. The workflow schedule is found on the wiki and trello is also being used for workflows, prompts and scheduling reminders.
  4. Teachers add their students to a team grid on a google document, ensuring that students are spread across schools and countries.
  5. Teachers are on virtual duty to ensure that students are working in an educational setting
  6. Teachers are encouraged to be expert advisors and look after a student group(s).
  7. A google group is used for updates, questions, queries etc amongst the teachers involved.

The challenges

  1. The steep learning curve required for successful use of tools by both teachers and students
  2. Using different assessment criteria – now working with concepts of collaboration, connections, multi-media etc
  3. Students who do not follow appropriate netiquette and digital citizenship protocols
  4. Time zones
  5. Holidays, festivals, extra curricular activites – especially when many countries and schools are involved. (Every effort is made to accommodate everyone)

The tools used include: a ning, wiki, google groups, trello for workflow schedules, timebridge (for planning online meetings that will suit the majority), diigo for bookmarking, twitter, movie making software, powerpoint  for student presentations in summits, blackboard collaborate for online meetings, student summits; skype for classes that may wish to videoconference each other  etc and more

What do students learn?

  1. To  use technological tools innovatively for connecting, collaborating, creating and celebrating on a global basis. These skills will be necessary in the work force that is increasingly globalized.
  2. Netiquetts and digital citizenship
  3. Plaguraism, copyright and creative commons
  4. The use of hypertext language and other digital literacies
  5. They explore the impact of the latest technologies for education, their classrooms and global communities. The website that is built collaboratively contains knowledge, resources , case studies, experiences  and summaries for interested educators
  6. They become aware of other cultures, religions, expectations and global experiences
  7. They work in an environment alongside teachers, experts, other students and global community members
  8. Real time commitments and work schedules
  9. They establish a learning network of their own which can be taken beyond the project.
  10. Students and teachers are given the opportunity to attend a Flat Classroom Conference every second year and a Flat Classroom workshop on the alternate year. These have been held in Dohar, Qatar, Mumbai, India and Beijing, China.

Have you been involved in the netgened project or other Flat Classroom projects? What have I missed? What else do you need to know. Please email any questions to innovatorofthemonth@gmail.com and they shall be answered.

(Read more from the Flat Classroom book by Julie and Vicki)

The Student Voice reflects – the netgened project

The final stage of  the Netgened Project 2011 is the Student Summit. From Student C comes the following reflection written for this summit:-

I loved the whole project but the best thing about it this year was that we connected more closely with students from all over the world.

It is called a global project for a reason and I think we have definitely achieved that through our willingness to succeed and genuine interest in how others in countries thousands of kilometres away learn.

I was so excited when someone had fulfilled my  outsourced video request, simply because I had the opportunity to see other people’s thoughts and interpretations on the topic.

One of the hardest things for this project was the deadline for the videos.

I also liked how this project enables us, as imaginative students, to collaborate all our ideas together and at the same time showcasing our own through the movies. I will certainly be doing it again next year.

Each year towards the end of the netgened project – a Flat Classroom Project, classroom life gets frantic, the pressure is on to complete the projects and I wonder if it is worth all the anxiety, work, online meetings outside school hours, the steep learning curve for me and my students etc. School holidays and extra curricula commitments also play a role in preventing the smooth and timely completion of the project.  It also means that the final videos are not completed to a very high a standard, but the students do finish them!

Finally, we participate in a student summit in elluminate (blackboard collaborate), where students record their reflections, discuss the value of being involved in the project and share what they have learned. This can often be the biggest trigger to push them outside their comfort zone. Students prepare a short speech and create a picture collage that summarizes their involvement. An online room was duly booked and  publicity rolled out to others to join us.

Anxiety continued to rear its head as the technology in our room caused all sorts of problems with audio (despite much of it being tested the day before). Whilst the issues were being resolved, there was still a buzz in the room with students quietly rehearsing their speeches and editing them. Others were helping set up the room, adding the collage pics etc. Finally we were organised and a quick tweet brought in two interested teachers – taniatorikova and the DivineMissCasey Thank you to you both. It is great to have a ‘visible’ audience.

 The actual summit

This is where the amazement never ceases. Students are given a voice – a chance to reflect honestly! They openly talk about their love of being involved in such projects and the reasons why. This is what makes it all worthwhile. Following  is another great reflection.

Hey my name is T….. I am 16 years old. I have had the once in a life time opportunity to be a part of this global project around the world. It has been a fantastic experience, which I will forever treasure. To be able to be in contact with many schools around the world was my favourite part of this project, that not many of us would ever think of doing is so great to know.

Thanks Vicki Davis and Julie Lindsay  for introducing and maintaining the fabulous Flat Classroom Projects. I love this reflection An International Journey by Julie Lindsay on how these project started and her ambitions and goals.

E-grand virtual finale to netgened!

Arriving early for the big event

Arriving early for the big event

This was a world first! The final awards ceremony for the netgened project was held in a virtual world, involving reactiongrid in opensim, staff and students from 13 countries, an award winning author, Don Tapscott of “Grown Up Digital”,  the founders of the flatclassroom project, Vicki Davis and Julie Lindsay and Steve Dembo of Discovery Education.  The stage was set, the big screen up with slides of the winners of various categories, including the grand winner, winning a $1000 scholarship towards their education. Excitement mounted, dress rehearsals had taken place and avatars started to fly in from everywhere.  A wardrobe of gowns and tuxedoes had been specially prepared and countless hours put in by Vicki Davis to ensure that all ran smoothly. Software developers worked around the clock to ensure that the site was stable as there was seating for 200 people.

The ceremonies were to be held at 10am US time, which meant 12 midnight for the three schools involved from Australia – Claire Rafferty ‘s students from Ringwood Secondary College, Erin Neyland’s students from James Cook Boys’ School, Sydney, my students from Hawkesdale P12 College and Steve Madsen one of the lead teachers from Sydney. All teachers showed up and one of my students  ‘braved the late hour’ and quickly learnt how to survive in a virtual world. Flurogreen was elegantly gowned in green from the costume department. However, I stayed in my normal avatar clothes as I could not seem to put on the gorgeous pink gown that had been given to me.

It was an amazing adventure of collaboration and virtual team work with all participants working together to help each other ensure that all were comfortable.  Unfortunately, an unexpected and increased number of students  and attendees arrived, all wanting to change their gear and test out the animations that their avatars would produce.  This caused some problems with the stability of the site but the organizers were determined to make it succeed.

Some technical difficulties

Some technical difficulties

At one stage, I became bald, could not sit elegantly, avatars were flying everywhere and  I was drowning in some sea surrounding the island. This was a steep learning curve for one who had little interest in virtual worlds, including second life. At times humour burst forth as it was interesting to watch everyone cope with the ‘slowing’ world. As the early morning hours julie-lindsay-flurogreen-and-meset in, it was time for the Australian  contingent to retire to bed, as most of us had to work the next day.  To the credit of our Australian students, several made the finalist categories.

Brief Summary of the project Students worked in groups comprising students from other countries to develop a wiki on the emerging technologies as outlined by the Horizon Report 2009, mashed with the 8 netgened characteristics from Don Tapscott’s book, “Grown Up Digital. Don challenged students with discussion prompts and videos. Social networks were established on a joint ning and each student was responsible for completing a video, summarizing what they had learnt. Part of their video included an outsourced clip from one o f the other global students. Students came from the Middle East, USA (including Alaska, of whom some could not upload their video due to a nearby volcano eruption), Australia, Pakistan, New Zealand etc A special keynote address was produced in video format “No future left behind” by Peggy Sheehy and her students.

This highlights the fantastic opportunities and learning experiences that can now be ours, with the use of the emerging technologies.A huge thank you goes to the collaborative effort of all involved in this global project of grand proportions.

Guests commence flying in

Guests commence flying in

Getting e-ready and excited!!

Checking out the stage and big screen for the awards

Checking out the stage and big screen for the awards

Having never been one to really want to experiment with virtual worlds, I did undertake Quest Atlantis training. This is a virtual world for grades 3 to 6. Unfortunately, I do not teach the primary year levels this year, so I will not have  a chance to use this training.

Imagine my surprise when Vicki Davis announced that the netgened awards were to be held on reaction grid in opensim. Not to be left out, and having been away for a few days, I quickly logged on and set up the software and got myself an avatar. To my horror, when my avatar appeared in the world, I had donned every possible piece of clothing – trousers, socks, skirt, jacket, shirt, gloves, the lot!!! That really showed that I was a newbie! So, I quickly disposed of the trousers, gloves and other extras to give a more professional look.

This morning, I practised going to the area where the awards are to be held. To my delight, Steve Madsen, one of the leading teachers for the project, came in soon after me. Next, coolcatteacher, Vicki Davis, offered to meet us there, and we were soon teleported to the correct area. Coolcatteacher looked absolutely stunning and had been robed by the costume  department (Lucky I had got rid of my trousers and other ‘daggy’ outfits). Vicki walked us through the procedures and showed us the stage and the big screen. Talk about exciting!!!

Unfortunately, my students have deb ball training tonight and others have scouts and due to the late hour of the presentations may not be able to attend. However, I cannot wait to participate. This is a world first and so many people have been working overtime to ensure that it all works.  Thank you and congratulations to all involved, especially Vicki Davis, Julie Lindsay and Don Tapscott.

Some photos of our practise run have been inserted into this post.

More information on using opensim by Vicki’s students.

Learning the finer points of virtual life from coolcatteacher

Learning the finer points of virtual life from coolcatteacher

A reflection on “This is the edge and it just rocks!!”

Having read coolcatteacher’s great blog post  of March 11th “This is the edge and it just rocks!” and some of the ensuing comments, I would like to add my feelings about working with teachers from so many different countries, sharing staff meetings, at all odd hours of the day and night,  with them via ellluminate, conversations in skype and discussions in google docs, or  the ning or the wiki.

I just love this current  project -the netgened project. I am an Aussie through and through but am so proud to count the American participants from whichever countries of current residence, as highly valued colleagues  and friends in this  project and the preceeding projects. However, our culture is still different to the USA culture, our accents are different, our experiences are different, our outlook on life is different, our climate is different, and yes, our food is a bit different, our houses are different and our geography absolutely stunning especially in the red outback. We use aussie slang, drawl with our voices, love the great outdoors, are carefree, layback and obliging people.

Our time zones are opposite and our days ahead, our seasons upside down and our land is down under  but how wonderful that we can all get together, share, collaborate and discuss in virtual teams to unite in projects that empower our students with such great learning outcomes. My students love collaborating with the Americans and Canadians as they have an air of confidence that my students just do not possess. They can tease my students into public speaking, public demonstrations and tasting of Aussie foods eg vegemite in front of a camera.

The students involved in the project come from a diverse geographic regions and backgrounds. How fortunate we are to be led by Vicki and Julie, to be able to tap into their knowledge base and ideas, to meet and teach the students of diverse nationalities, cultures, skin colours and creeds. Many are in similar situations to me – a small rural school, classifed remote, where kangaroos inhabit in the swamp below, together with a school in Alaska, where people have to fly in or catch a ferry to get to their school and district! This project has enthused, energised,and  rejuvenated me, put me in high pressure situations, hours of hard work, but also found me facing my real class who are motivated, highly interested and also loving every minute of it. Thank you Vicki and Julie for including us, and I agree, this is the edge, even though we sometimes tipple on it, your hands are always there guiding and leading us, and it just ROCKS!