Thursday, June 25, 2009

Video Collection at WatchKnow

WatchKnow is a website in beta testing. That means that right now it is a pilot project or test site. The official site will be launched when the test is over.

It is a non-profit, online community that encourages everyone to collect, create, and share free, innovative, educational videos. The site is aimed at children but you may find good materials there.

One note: It is a collection only. There is no review process that verifies the content of the videos. I watched a history video that posited some contested information as fact. You will need to use your own critical literacy skills to assess the videos.

The goals of WatchKnow are:

* To amass a huge collection of the best free, reusable, educational videos and other watchable media, from all across the Internet--and make all of it accessible from one spot online.
* To organize this content using a unique, collaboratively-edited directory (and search, of course).
* To encourage the creation of more great educational media. So we will be holding many contests with significant cash prizes.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Dublin Street Poems

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Is it CRAAP?

Here is a nice, concise, easy to read guide to evaluating web pages from the College of Saint Benedict at Saint John's University in Minnesota:

They describe the CRAAP (Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy and Purpose) test that researchers use to determine whether they can cite a source but some of these questions are a good guide for any surfer who wonders about the information they are getting online.
"The Web is great because so many different people can contribute information. Some of the information that is found is very useful for your research papers because it is accurate, current, objective. Other information that can be found on the web is based on the person who is maintaining the webpages opinion. You must be able to recognize the difference and sift out the useful material in order to have a more accurate research paper."

I am not sure if I would call things that do not pass the CRAAP test junk. That seems a little harsh. But I would cite such sources with caution... or a note to explain why I was using that source.

Monday, June 15, 2009

monday morning :P

This is my senior project at Savannah College of Art and Design. Where my idea comes from is that every time when I am busy, I feel that I am not fighting with my works, I am fighting with those post-it notes and deadline. I manipulating the post-it notes to do pixel-like stop motion and there are some interactions between real actor and post-its. Here is the making of :

Directed by Bang-yao Liu
Music by Röyksopp (
Sound design by Shaun Burdick

Monday, June 8, 2009

poetry readings and lesson plans

Exploring Selected Haiku by Issa
Discover the haiku of Japanese poet Kobayashi Issa. This media-rich lesson examines the format, humor, and nature of haiku by Issa. Students analyze various haiku and write their own.

More at Teachers' Domain: Poetry Everywhere Collection
"Explore the power of language, look at the world with a fresh sense of wonder, and build reading and writing skills. These video segments, drawn from the PBS Poetry Everywhere series and produced in partnership with the Poetry Foundation, capture some of the voices of poetry, past and present."

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

getting ready for web 3.0

Another cross post from the Literacies Café:

This post will probably take even longer to load than usual because of the audio/visual content.

Just as most of feel we are finally getting our heads around Web 2.0, here comes Web 3.0.

There are parts of Web 3.0 that sound like a giant leap forward in terms of organizing data so that the internet is less of a great library where all the books are lying on the floor. It should make the routes to the information you are looking for more transparent and easier to follow.

There are parts of the "semantic" web that sound a little Big Brother to me.

If you use Gmail, Facebook, or Google, you will have seen the beginnings of the personalization that is part of Web 3.0. Gmail and Facebook use "behavioral advertising" -- those little sidebar ads based on keywords in your emails or your Facebook profile (try changing the information in your profile and see how the ads change). Google is starting to introduce "intelligent search" where the items that get top ranking are based less on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategies implemented by companies and more on what you have searched for before, what you have clicked on and what you have ranked yourself.

Digital Inspiration has collected a series of slideshows of Web 3.0 Concepts Explained in Plain English. I have embedded my favourite two below. The first one explains the concept clearly and simply IMHO. The second part is the "behind the scenes" look at how the semantic web is built. It is a bit techy but it explains the alphabet soup that is Web 3.0 so we will be less baffled by acronyms.

I have included Michael Wesch's InformationR/evolution video which is another look at indexing in the semantic web.

Unfortunately, you have to read all these presentations. And the Wesch video has that anxiety-producing music that seems to accompany all videos about technological change.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

learning online discussion day 2

"What will it take to help our colleagues (teachers and administrators) try technology infused teaching and learning, too?"

I've had the role of technology coordinator for about a year now at my school, which is the center of a larger, urban ABE program and I'm a teacher by training. It's been one of my primary roles to do just what the above question poses. During my experience the past year, I noticed that
several things are needed to help colleagues infuse technology into both their teaching and learning:

1. a desire to learn
2. a positive culture of learning in the school/site
3. an administration that values, and therefore plans and budgets for, hardware, tech training and development and expects tech and computer competency from staff and new hires
4. time (for change, for training, for practice, for things to grow)
5. persistance

learning online discussion

The National Institute for Literacy (NIFL - US) Technology Discussion List is hosting a discussion about Learning Online. You can sign up here.

The Discussion starts with these questions:
How does the field of adult and family literacy go forward with online learning, and what does it take?

Heidi Silver-Pacuilla then asked the discussion participants to
"make a graffiti poster today with thoughts about how the world/your world has changed in the last two years and what is impacting our work. Post words and phrases to add to the list started below."

Here is how people responded:
  • rapid changes in technology
  • expanded uses of cell phones, PDAs and other mobile devices
  • greater need for services, fewer resources
  • The policy proposal by the adult learner organization,VALUE, that adult education programs help adult learners who have difficulty reading to use technology for "auding", that is, to have text read out loud so they can get information from text, even if they cannot (yet) read it
  • Continued proliferation of mobile phones, especially more web-accessible cell phones
  • Continued (slow) expansion of online learning for adults and online professional development for adult ed teachers
  • More young adults in adult ed classes, many of whom are (more) comfortable with technology than their teachers
  • digital divide alive and well
  • lack of affordable access to tech
  • increase in social networking
  • There is a very wide range, among adult education program managers and adult ed teachers, in levels of buy-in towards & encouragement of online opportunities / online development expansion.
  • Elimination of technology trainers (and other trainers as well) in the FIRST round of cuts at a time when that technology training (and other training)is most needed.
  • With conference travel being cut way back if not completely, and face-to-face trainers being eliminated, online delivery of training will become more critical, yet the technology trainers who would be 1) most likely to deliver that instruction and 2) be the ones to train teachers to be able to access that instruction are the first to go!
  • A lot of adult education programs are blocked from access to the Internet by the policies of local school districts, community colleges and correctional facilities. The reason most often given in planning meetings at local agencies is that students will access sites considered inappropriate by taxpayers and private funding sources.
  • The digital divide is growing for our adults. If you are rural and have mountains, unless you invest in a satellite dish, you can't get a signal regularly. I have a wireless card that is occasionally good. I'm awaiting, and have been for several years, broadband over power lines (BPL). It is a new technology that is starting here in Nelson county, Virginia. If it works there will be a viable alternative for the mountainous rural people. It will be half the monthly cost of a wireless card - affordable for our students.
  • People who are peers, such as different adult ed program managers, or different adult ed teachers, can hardly bully nor beg their colleagues into "coming on board" with online opportunities. Neither bullying nor begging is appropriate. So only "the willing" folks are on board, or gradually coming on board, or learning.
  • Adult Ed teachers are very often way ahead of their program managers in their knowledge of / uses of / willingness to experiment with online opportunities. Again, these people are relatively powerless to "force" change, no matter how much "online expertise" they may personally have, or wish to gain / impart to others.
  • What kinds of gaps are we seeing developing when it comes to online teaching and learning opportunities? Generational? Length of career? Personality factors? Fear and embarrassment / humiliation factors? (I am hearing a lot of people say, "I am very far behind in the technology domain, and I don't want to reveal my weaknesses and lacks to X group [my peers, my students, my teachers]."
  • How to assess “distance learning readiness” among adult literacy students (all levels). Being computer literate is one skill set but being distance learning ready is another skill set altogether. How do we prepare our students for distance learning opportunities?
  • What distance learning models are most effective for specific learning styles and preferences among adult learners?
  • What is the importance of creating a sense of community among online students in both synchronous and asynchronous online learning environments? How is a sense of community best created in an online learning environment?
  • What tools are most effective in facilitating learner/instructor and learner/learner interaction?
  • How to effectively address the reluctance of and/or inability of both instructors and administrators alike to keep up with new and emerging technologies and/or to effectively integrate them into instruction. (Using technology in instruction is not necessarily the same as integrating technology into instruction.)
What would you add to the poster? Do you think that literacy teachers in Canada are facing similar changes in similar ways or is it different here?

Monday, June 1, 2009

feasting 2

Here are some more photos from that great night in Parkdale. The first 4 were sent in by the great, themeless photographer, Sue. The rest came from the great, experimental photographer, Nancy.

The song is "A New Name for Everything" from the album Reconstruction Site by The Weakerthans -- a beloved band from Winnipeg. I have bought a few copies of their new CD for me and my friends. You buy one too so they do not get mad at me for putting their song in our slideshow.


This a a cross post from the Literacies Café:

Here in Toronto, literacy workers used to get together quite a bit. The Metro Toronto Movement for Literacy and the Festival of Literacies used to provide us with many opportunities to meet and share professional wisdom. Neither of these organizations have been able to continue this and for a while we just stopped meeting.

Guy Ewing and Joy Lehman asked why. They asked, "Do we really need funding to get together and learn from each other?" Of course, the answer was no. They started to convene literacy workers at Moveable Feasts.
If you are lucky enough to have worked in literacy, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for literacy work is a moveable feast.

We are a party on the move.

On Friday, Johanna Pax-Milic, coordinator of the Adult Education Program at LAMP, and a photographer, invited us to an evening of photography and discussion about creativity and community.

We met at a café in the community where Johanna lives, Parkdale. The city was well represented - there were people from all corners. And so was literacy work - there were people who work or volunteer at school board, community based, network and resource programs. They were Leo, Carol, Sue, Linda, David, Phylicia, Nancy, Joy, Johanna, Linda and me.

As usual, we spent some time catching up with each other about how our work is going. And then we talked about creatvity and photography. The theme Johanna suggested was "What moves you when you’re walking in Toronto’s neighbourhoods?"

We went out and took photographs and then returned to the café to discuss what we saw and learned. Those of us with digital cameras shared our photos.

I walked with David, Phylicia, Carol and Joy. Joy used up all her film and David did not bring his camera so the three of us used mine. These are the photos we took. The first three are by David. His pictures show the rainy night.

Then Joy photographed a window with the blind and bottles. She said it was a picture of need and want. That became our theme.

We saw that the Goodwill was still open and decided to get out of the rain. Serendipity because the Goodwill is a palace of need and want. You will see that there were a few raindrops on the lens that I did not notice at first. You will see that an out-of-control witch is only $24.99. You will see need and want comes in all shapes and sizes and is always "as is." You will see why Joy is called Joy.

The photos are in the order we took them so you can see the need and want unfold as we did.

The last three pictures are of a literacy moment that made us all laugh.

If you are interested in hosting a feast or want to be on the feast mailing list contact Guy Ewing - ewingguy [at] gmail [dot] com - or Joy Lehmann - jlehmann [at] idirect [dot] ca.

The song is "Roll On Oblivion" from the album Here's to Being Here by Jason Collett --- a beloved Toronto musician. You gotta love a guy who lists Nick Lowe as an influence. I have bought a few copies of his new CD for me and my friends. You buy one too so he does not get mad at me for putting his song in our slideshow.