Mozilla’s Web Literacy Standards Released


Mozilla has just released its set of Web Literacy Standards and it’s something that everyone who uses the web personally or in the classroom needs to look at and try to understand.

Many people are comfortable with just accessing the web and siphoning off what they need for the moment.  But, that’s only part of the picture.  The web literacy standard identifies three strands where you might be navigating, creating for, or participating on the web.  See the table below.

It’s not a big task.  It only takes a few minutes to read the attributes.

But, where are you?  Are you stuck on the left?  If so, there’s so much more that you could be doing.  Shift your eyes to the right.

In the classroom though, this should serve as a plan to scaffold the type of activities that you have in your classroom.

Where do you fall on this chart?  I wish that I had found this to share at the open of the #ECOO13 Conference.  It would have added so much value to just about every session that was offered.  Certainly, it should help as folks plan for ECOO14.

For more details, check the Mozilla Wiki and the Web Literacy Standard page.

Kudos to Doug Belshaw (@dajbelshaw) and team for release 1.0.

Two Posts About Real and Significant Change


I ran into two really good readings that should make anyone stop and think.  There are so many people talking about being on top of things and understanding the latest and greatest.  In this case, it’s Digital Textbooks and Learning Commons.  Absorb these  and be prepared to challenge anyone who comes along and uses the terms in a conversation to see if they are talking about real change or just saying the words.  After all, you can put lipstick on a horse, but it’s still a horse.

The Future of Digital Textbooks
Andrew Campbell’s latest post challenges the notion of what a digital textbook should be.  He addresses some important concepts.

  • Reliable Interconnected Devices
  • Customizable Content
  • Personalized Interface
  • Interactive
  • Facilitate Personal Connections
  • Integrated Assessment

These are certainly major things to consider and should help differentiate between a digital textbook and a text converted to PDF so that it can be easily shared.  My only issue that will require much further thinking is the concept of Integrated Assessment.  At this point, I’m concerned when we take assessment beyond the teacher’s personal toolkit and hand it over to a publisher or external agency.  Nobody knows a class better than the classroom teacher and there’s a real danger of one size fits all stepping into the picture.  So much for personalized learning.

Open School Learning Commons
Follow the link above or enter Dr. Charles Best Secondary School library site here.  In vogue is the term “Learning Commons” and I think it’s at its worst when it’s just a replacement for “Library” and nothing else has changed.

This site features one of the best descriptions of an open Learning Commons appears in the About page.

To be a “real” learning commons, we have to do more than add the latest devices and loosen the no talk, no foodrules of the traditional school library. The spirit of a commons – is a commonwealth of resources shared by a community.  You can call us a School Library or a Media Resource Centre or a Learning Commons, a Learning Community, a Personal Learning Network, but what is the difference?

A commons is open and generous, collaborative, cooperative, transparent and democratic. Public libraries and schools are good example of commons; treasured institutions that are the foundations of our democratic society, open to anyone who wants to learn.

Read on to get the full picture.  I think that the site describes and demonstrates just what a Learning Commons should be in philosophy and design.  It’s much more than just changing the sign over the door.  A Learning Commons is essential to a school.  It seems to me that, if you want real change within your school, you need to start there.

Thanks to both for the blog post and the web resource.  They both made me do some serious thinking.

Really Using Wikipedia


One of the great things recently is the absence of posts and questions about whether or not students should use the Wikipedia as a source for project research.  Ever the optimist, I’d like to make the assumption that teachers are finding and allowing (hopefully encouraging) the use of this very powerful tool.  As we know, from good researching, it’s not going to be the sole source but certainly is a credible source to include in the mix.

With any researching tool, though, how do you know that you’re getting what you need?  Don’t you get that nagging feeling at times that there’s probably something else that you’re missing?  Are you and/or your students really using the Wikipedia to its full potential?

WikiMindMap is a tool that map just come to the rescue.

In a nutshell, it will create a mindmap based upon a query that you send it.  And, it searches any of the localizations.  So, head to the website and choose your source.

I find that, at first blush, I get the best results from en.wikipedia.org.

As an example, I’ll choose something that I know will have lots of results.  For example purposes, I’ll choose something very broad like “Ontario”.  WikiMindMap returns the following:

Look at the results!  There are some very specific resource (wikipedia pages) that can be clicked upon for direct access to that page.  As you’d expect, the nodes with the + sign will expand to reveal even more related content.  It seems somehow appropriate that Government and Politics might be interesting…

More resources and nodes to expand!

The powerful part is that all these results fall from a single specific search.

For the student having difficulty zeroing in on a topic from the start, or as inspiration for areas that they may not have even thought about, I really like this tool.

It’s very illustrative of a searching mind or tactic.  Certainly, it’s not going to be the only place to search but it’s as good a tool as I’ve seen recently to help expand the original topic and then narrow in to specific results.

Give it a try to see if you don’t agree.

An Invitation to Edit


It was a boring Sunday afternoon and, after my bike ride, I sat down to check out the NASCAR race.  I was actually curious as to whether Goodyear was going to upset Tony Stewart with another strange tire incident.

I’d been meaning to sit down and so something like this for a while.

In the traditional software world, we run to the local software shop and plunk down some money for a package.

Then, the world of Open Source dangles the promise of everything in front of you.  Like wandering through a free buffet, software is download and tested and the best of the best remains on the hard drive until hard drive space is needed.

Today, there’s a third alternative.  Excellent programmers are making top rate software packages free on the web.  With the promise of capability with desktop cousins and only the need of a good browser and internet access, this is the new enticement.

It may also be the new reality.

Why buy or download when the resource is online?

I created this table as a starting point to compare the three alternatives.

http://dougpete.pbwiki.com/Software%20Comparisons

Consider this an invitation to visit the Wiki and add to the table.

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