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News & Views

Update for 12th October 2006
By Terry Freedman
Created on Thu, 12 Oct 2006, 00:57

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Conference 1

Yesterday I attended, and gave a presentation at, a conference entitled

The Digital Environment for Education -

- Obvious Propositions and Contentious Issues

This was organised by Roger Broadie under the auspices of the European Education Partnership. I won't report on the whole conference, as I don't wish to second-guess Roger about what he wants to be made public and what needs to remain behind closed doors, at least for now. I will, however, say a few words about my own contribution because it was about codifying good practice so as to make it available and accessible to others, which is what I've been talking about recently anyway.

Here is a summary of the points I made:

1. Teachers are reluctant to say "Hey, I am doing good stuff." I base this on anecdotal evidence but some big numbers nonetheless. Of the 30,000-ish people whom I estimate to have read the first edition of "Coming of Age: An Introduction to the New Worldwide Web" only about 6 have responded to my request for information about how they or their colleagues benefited from it, and most of those are apologetic in tone.

2. Because of (1), I think there is a case for "allowing" teachers to put forward things they're doing not as examples of best practice, or even good practice, but examples of any practice, in the spirit of: "I'm trying this out. I don't know if it will turn out great, but...". There is a precedent for this. On the Teacher Resource Exchange, teachers post some resources as works in progress rather than finished worksheets or whatever. Why not apply the same idea to case studies?

3. A lot of teacher research is, in effect, lost. Yes, there is plenty there: if you know where to look. A commonly accepted folksonomy of tagging, such as the one I suggested in Good Practice, Best Practice, would help.

4. One advantage of implementing proposals (2) and (3) would be that we would have more examples to choose from.

5. The official view of the world in terms of what government agencies regard as good practice is not necessarily helpful, because your circumstances may be different from those of the schools cited in official documents. Suppliers are not guiltless either. Ask a supplier to recommend a school where you can see their product in use, and they invariably give you the contact details of a school that has spent a hundred grand on the product, and given the Technology Co-ordinator one day a week off for a year in order to get the full training package. That's no good to me: I need to go and see a school that is, metaphorically speaking, just up the road. One that looks like mine, has similar problems, and which when I get there the Tech Co-ordinator is in headless chicken mode because the network just crashed. That's reality, not some Arcadia on a hill.

6. There is value in the process of identifying what is good practice and why/why not. Schools could and should engage in such processes themselves, and in England at any rate this would not be alien to the culture in which we currently find ourselves. I suggested a may into such a process in my Good Practice, Best Practice article (see above).

7. Finally, I said I think it would be great if, when you looked up a case study, you got an Amazon-type message along the lines of "Teachers who found this case study useful also looked at the following...". I then said, "I wouldn't know how to go about creating such a thing, but Leon (Cych, who was in the audience and who had been a presenter earlier) probably does. So, today I received an email from him referring me to a mash-up he's created but which he urges me to not take too seriously!

Incidentally, Leon has written a brilliant chapter on video for Coming of Age... 2nd Ed. I say "written": every time he thinks it's finished something else happens, like Google buying Youtube (which he predicted a while ago).

Web 2.0: The Coming of Age project

You can see the latest version of the table of contents at If you found the first one useful, please drop me a note to say in what way it was useful. I'll assume that you're happy to be cited unless you tell me otherwise. Please email me at with the subject header Request for information about Coming of Age.
Thanks very much in advance for your support in providing me with some information, and thanks to the peeps who have already written to me: I'll be responding individually when I can finds a spare few hours.

Every Child Matters

I recently asked people to let me have some information about what they're doing in this area, and I have been overwhelmed by the number of replies. I promise to respond individually soon.

Conference 2

K12 Online Conference logo

As you've probably seen by now there is going to be an online K12 Conference soon, which you can find out about online. It starts on the 23rd October and runs for two weeks. I'll be presenting a session in the second week entitled "Selling Web 2.0 to Senior Management". I'll also be hosting part of the closing discussion on the 4th November.

This is a great opportunity to take part, in some way, in a pioneering exercise. The idea was, I believe, first mooted by Will Richardson. It's being run by Will, in conjunction with Darren Kuropatwa, Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach, and Wesley Fryer, all of whom (apart from Will) are contributing to the second edition of Coming of Age. The first keynote to kick off the conference is being given by Dave Warlick (another contributor).

The presentations will be podcasted, so you are not tied to a particular time zone. So why not check out the conference website and think about which parts of the conference you will use, and how. The conference is themed, and some of it may be more relevant to you rather than your colleagues. Perhaps you could weave some of the presentations into a training event you're running. Check out the website and think about these things: no sense in reinventing wheels!

RSS Feed Generator: Help!

For some reason, the RSS feed generator I use is playing up. I have two main feeds: one which contains only the headlines and summaries of my articles, and one which contains the full story. The first of these is perfectly fine, but for the second one is picky, all of a sudden, about which stories it will display and which it won't. Well, life is too short to spend lots of time trying to fathom it out, so I'm wondering: can someone recommend a feed generator please? I am even willing to pay for one if necessary. It has to have these attributes:

  • Run on a Windows platform.
  • Have a graphical interface.
  • Be easy to install.
  • Be easy to use.
  • Support graphics.
  • Let me choose my own name for the feed, so that I don't end up losing all my current subscribers.

It is nearly 1 am where I live, so I'm off to bed. Thanks for reading this. :-)

What do you think? Please leave a comment.