Flat Classroom Conference 2013


On Tuesday 23rd of July I finally met Julie Lindsay at Kapiolani park. I had come especially to Hawaii to attend the Flat Classroom Conference 2013 held at Punahou School.
The theme for the conference was ‘Thinking globally but acting local = glocalisation. The challenge was to create a pitch, work collaboratively to come up with a video product that is embedded on our team’s wiki page.
We were provided with the opportunity of visiting the Omidyar Kindergarten and First Grade Neighbourhood part of the school for ages 4- 6 years olds. I was blown away by the design of the rooms and by the amount of equipment each class had access to. As can be expected, the children were not in school but teachers were around preparing for the new year. I since found out that Pierre Omidyeawas a past pupil of Puhanou School. Omidyea was the founder of ebay. Other past pupils to note include Barack Obama and Nainoa Thompson. There are many others and many past students have gone on to be leaders in a variety of fields.
The Flat Classroom conference was a lot of fun and was more than what I expected. There were 9 countries represented and 40 schools from around the world. We were given the opportunity of working with educators on a global project. I was part of team 2 and we called ourselves Heat 2 Heart Team.
First of all we needed to develop a pitch for a global project. Then we presented this to the students and they gave us feedback. Students did the same thing and presented back to the teachers for feedback. After that we created a visual presentation of our pitch and embed this onto our wiki.
We began with 8 teacher teams but by the end of the second day it was down to just our team. So we had the opportunity of developing a video. There were 6x members on our team and this included Anitawho was an expert at video editing using imovie, Bill who had some really great ideas, Ryan who kept the memories by taking heaps of photos and movies, Hui-Mei who was an expert with podcasting and quickly whipped up our audios and myself with strengths in wikis. In and out we also had Maria who provided some administrative angles and Kumu Tai, who joined us later and gave us the Hawaiian perspective. We were encouraged not to rely on google because this was still blocked in many countries. So using google docs, google presentations etc had to be adapted. Therefore we used slideshare and wikis. Padlet and etherpad was a little clunky on the ipad.
On the final day, the students’ presentations were stunning. I felt proud of our team that we completed our product but the work of the students really blew me away. They had some great ideas. The theme coming strongly from the students was their awareness about sustainability. Remaining students created a sharing of their cultures and this was a lot of fun to watch.
I took away from the conference the idea that we can create some stunning global projects but working together is the real gift of global projects.
I enjoyed my group immensely and by the end I wished I had booked some extra time to stay in Hawaii. I have created an #fclive group on Google for my team to keep in contact and I hope that we do carry through meeting up together and even doing something together online.
I also was able to meet other teachers such as Vicky Davies,  Teresa Allen and Frank Guttler who came in as part of the Flat Classroom Team. All are stunning global educators too. I also met Emily McCarren who was coordinating the event for Punahou School. Other interesting people I met was Kumu Tai and Kumu Malia. Both celebrate the Hawaiian language and culture at Punahou School.
In Punahou school they collected rain water in bioswales for watering their beautiful gardens. They provide the children with the chance of growing their own food gardens, classrooms used photovoltaic solar panels to collect energy for lighting and the use of skylights was evident. I didn’t see paper used as much as how we use paper and one of the teachers said that most stuff is created digitally. The mountain behind the school is known as U’uonamoa and blocked the rivers. Legends share that when the Hala Tree was pulled up a new spring appeared.
The Flat Classroom conference ran over three days and each day there was a lot of educator learning. The best part was making connections and collaborating with a group of passionate educators and seeing what happens when we all work together.

Ignite- Hyperconnectivity

 
Talofa lava and greetings to everyone
I am here to share with you my learning on Hyperconnectivity.
This journey began with my learning for efellows 2011.
Efelllows are a group of educators who have been selected nationally by CORE Education. The CORE Education eFellowship Awards recognise innovative e-learning practice by New Zealand teachers.
In 2013 I have won a TEACHNZ sabbatical to continue my investigation. I am using this opportunity to meet global educators face to face.
So Hyperconnectivity. Mark Pesce says that it is access to inconceivable amounts of information. Hyperconnectivity provides a platform for a breadth of situational awareness beyond even the wildest imaginings of MI6. I have added- it is about being tethered.
Our children are born with a digital footprint. Even before birth there is online evidence as their proud parents upload their foetal images to social networking sites such as Facebook. Currently New Zealand has more mobile devices than population.
The social web allows access to inconceivable amounts of information. Early users generally put it all out there. From pictures, to videos to personal information. Currently the greatest uptake of use of social media is the over 35 year olds.
All this technology is like a tidal wave. It isnt coming. It is here now. To counter this wave, we must take the same technology as our children, use the same tools as our children. Some of our learning lies in the network not in opposition to it.
Last year we used SuperClubsPLUS, an online social networking tool for children to bring together a group of schools. We hyperconnected on line and we connected face to face in real time.
This year we connected globally via the BBC World Assembly.
When we come together and share, whanaungatanga happens. Connecting globally can extend our sharing in a positive way. As a school we are more conscious about not limiting what we are doing to within our 4 walls.
Last year as a staff we trialed Myportfolio. The greatest benefit with Myportfolio is sharing our teaching and learning practice. Myportfolio allows us to make hyper-connections and to work hyper-collaboratively.  This year we have added the Virtual Learning Network to our list of teacher tools.
The efellows award allowed me time to step back and look at what I was doing with e-learning. The award provided access to experts in the form of presenting my message and in the form of social media. I was able to take time to visit other educators and to hear what they said about Hyperconnectivity.
The award also gave me the opportunity to ask and explore some challenging questions. One was If I could see myself in the mirror- would I like what I see? Another question was with all the Hyperconnectivity that is taking place in our childrens lives, what are they giving up?
Being hyperconnected is an important part of life for many of our children. Many are permanently tethered with their own device. Tethering also gives the concept of helicopter parenting. For example with the use of Hyperconnectivity children can be tracked using GPS systems. We can track not just where they go physically but where they go online. Tracking also can be cyberstalking. How many of us as do this right now using instagram or twitter?
Hyperconnectivity gives us global connections and opportunities for global collaboration and sharing. But it also give us opportunities to trace and track. This is not just limited to us but anyone with a connection.
What about the space between the hyper nodes. Ulises Mejiasmakes reference to the space between the nodes and if this is ignored it is like a fish ignoring the water that it swims in. The space is what supports the nodes.
As an envro school we can make analogies to ignoring the space because we know that the environment is what supports us living.
As educators we must be aware of the tools that are being used. Find out and understand the legalities around working with children online.  At the same time allow and create learning opportunities that do not always need wifi connections, tracking or testing.
As part of our curriculum and policies do include activities that might not be benchmarked but yet create other connections and collaborations.
Include staff activities that are fun. Yes include Hyperconnectivity’ tools but as much as possible emphasis a balance that learning is fun. Connecting and collaborating also includes face to face experiences. –eg: I make reference here to Ignite sessions.
We as much, as our children, also need the space where we can be totally ourselves and not be connected. The value of silence is obvious to us. Just as being hyperconnected is to our children.
These are the people who have greatly influenced my thinking about Hyperconnectivity. Mark Pesce who introduced me to the term Hyperconnectivity, Steve Wheeler who I have been following on twitter for over a year. Ulises Mejias  who helped clarify the space between the nodes.
Larry Cuban who asks the hard questions regarding technology and education and questions the expense in dollars and in time.
Sherry Turkle and Pam Hook who just keep asking the hard questions.
To finish with…. Hyperconnectivity and the space between the nodes
Social software can positively impact pedagogy by inculcating a desire to reconnect to the world as a whole, not just the social parts that exist online- Ulises Mejias
You can hyperconnect with me online or make connections with me face to face.
I would appreciate further discussion around this topic.