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#liveunblogging @ Cal Educamp

Written By: daveski on August 5, 2011 3 Comments

I’m continuing a short but proud tradition of liveblogging on FIT but really doing it for the first time myself in a more public context, sitting here in Rm. C110 of the Haas School of Business for the full day unconference, Cal Educamp, put on jointly by Berkeley’s Educational Technology Services and the Center for Next Generation Teaching and Learning at the School of Information. As a Phinishing student in the Graduate School of Education interested in language learning and technology, I have many personal reasons to be here. But my primary interest here on FIT today is in thinking about some of the tools, practices, and opinions out there that might be of interest to language teachers at Berkeley and friends at the Berkeley Language Center.

I’ll just organize this around a bunch of topics that seem to be emerging from my little place in the unconference. And I won’t try to summarize as much as I will just raise topics, post links, and ask my typically annoying questions. 😀 First of all, though, since my new buddy Michael from the Educamp reminded me that each picture is worth at least 100 words, here’s a picture of the scene from the opening hour:


Social networking in and out of the classroom: Lots of teachers are using social networks like Facebook (wait a sec, what do people really mean when they say “social networks like Facebook”? Facebook?), or at least thinking about it. Howard Rheingold beamed in from across the bay to talk about his Social Media Classroom, which has been used for a while in the I-School and is currently undergoing many improvements–definitely something to take a look at. Many educators are also wondering how Google’s new social networking environment, Google+, is going to solve some of the privacy questions associated with Facebook, while still allowing classes and groups in classes to organize and be visible among themselves. One of the afternoon workshops did focus on using Facebook in the classroom. Maggie Sokolik of the College Writing Program, for instance, has used a closed Facebook group as an addition to her face-to-face course, and in addition to the resources on Berkeley’s course management system bSpace. A lasting issue here, though, is the issue of students’ privacy; Bobby shared links to these articles on the topic: “FERPA and social media” and “Privacy Considerations in Cloud-Based Teaching and Learning Environments“.

Differences of cultures and technology: What kinds of models of learning are built into the technologies that we employ in the classroom? And into the ways we use them? Is knowledge developed through collaboration and peer-to-peer learning, or delivered from the instructor? In what cases? What are our students’ motivations and beliefs about the roles that students and teachers should play? What does academic honesty mean, and how are cultural conceptions of dishonesty (plagiarism, for example) In a short workshop in the afternoon, Nate and Chris asked these and different questions. One point raised here was that there seems to be a division drawn between “diversity” in an international context and “diversity” within the U.S.; how do we imagine our student populations, and how do our models of culture differ based on these imaginings?

A few tools to try out: Prezi is a slideshow presentation tool like PowerPoint or Keynote, but has much less of a linear structure, has a very dynamic feel, and you can keep your presentations online (Slideshare is another tool for making your slides available online). Mindmeister is a brainstorming and mind-mapping tool that has good reviews in Jane’s writing classes; Write or Die was also recommended as an interesting way for students to see their writing. Want to have students try out making comics as a classroom activity? ComicLife was introduced as a way to do that. SurveyMonkey or other survey tools can help you to gather information about your students’ language backgrounds, goals, expectations etc. to help you build your course. Do you want to put a lesson online that’s more than a collection of links or separate media? One presentation introduced us to Trailmix, for doing just that. Of course, there’s no possible way to list even a small fraction of the tools that are out there and applicable to learning and teaching (although Peer 2 Peer University gives it a good try!). Nate pointed out that

Keywords from the unconference: We all like words, right? Listening to the talk at this event points to certain ways of thinking about learning, and how technology relates to learning, and thinking about what this event itself is. Create community in the classroom, participate in your own activities, put your ideas and products forward, know that it’s all about the relationships and not about top-down knowledge, share, have fun, explore, learn.

Coolest audio recorder award is so far going to go to the Marantz recorders that look kinda like bricks but that’s probably because they also work as Star Trek-style transporters and anti-matter devices….

What’s “un” about an unconference, really? This is an ongoing question that I’m hoping to get to the bottom of by the end of the day.

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3 Responses to “#liveunblogging @ Cal Educamp”

  1. Thirty Two on: 5 August 2011 at 2:36 pm

    i saw the picture, i read the page, and now i have no words to type…but i am interested in that audio recording device that looks like brix…

  2. Matt Senate on: 8 August 2011 at 7:28 pm

    Wow! This is an awesome post, thanks for UNblogging! (I’m totally stealing that term by the way. 😉

    Also, your tags are pretty great, did you consider adding them to the tags for this blog post or are you trying to keep a minimal tag taxonomy?

  3. daveski on: 16 August 2011 at 9:27 am

    Thanks, Matt. I’m a little behind the times in meta-languaging my own posts but I should be paying more attention, right? What kind of tag taxonomy would you suggest for a post like this?

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