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paul reid • blog » Activism
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Oct 26

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The ease of knowledge sharing via web2.0 is continually prompting me to see it as the strong driver for educational change in the new paradigm. Many educators are questioning if the industrial age institutions we work in are ready for the kids of the digital communication revolution. As we begin to understand that moncultures are unsafe as models for access I find I keep returning to a quote by Wikipedia’s founder Jimmy Wales when he was in Perth recently.

We need to learn to contribute and disagree in safety.

If “knowledge sharing is the lubricant behind the knowledge community” as Mal Bryce postulated in the panel discussion, then the engine of web2.0 is beginning to be used by educators as the agents of change. We are beginning to see a culture of sharing and creativity which is not based upon market exchange but rather an intellectual exchange.

Quote and image below via the post Mosh Pit as Innovation Model on Creating Passionate Users:

“Professionals” in any field come in two flavors: Knowledge Sharers and Knowledge Hoarders. The hoarders believe in the value of their “Intellectual Property”(IP). The products of their mind must be carefully guarded lest anyone steal their precious ideas. But let’s face it–if our only “strategic advantage” is our ideas, we’re probably in trouble.

Progress/Innovation

Mark Pegrum from UWA writes eloquently about the panel discussion here:

Mark Pesce (whose podcast and slides are available here) argued that the question “What is the truth?” has now become “Who do you trust?”. There is a potentially a clash of cultures between the Wikpedia model and the older encyclopedic model; has the culture of expertise, he asked, been out-evolved by distributed authority? He concluded by predicting a coming war between elites (who’ve traditionally possessed knowledge), special interests (who try to shape knowledge to their own ends), and communities (which are just becoming aware of the knowledge latent within them - and are beginning to use tools like wikis to harness that knowledge).

During the Perth panel discussion (a podcast of which is available), Mal Bryce, of IVEC, suggested that knowledge sharing is the lubricant of the knowledge economy, adding that information which is shared is information which is enhanced. Control freaks, he claimed, have no place in the emerging order. He agreed with comments made earlier in the day to the effect that more than anything else, it’s about changing the culture rather than grabbing the tools.

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Apr 18

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If you are planning to integrate climate change / sustainability into your learning programme in Term 2, the WA made enviro reality TV show EcoHouse Challenge may be of interest. The website contains some engaging activities and with a strong online collaborative angle on tackling the issue of living sustainably. In conjunction with Australian Teachers Of Media (ATOM), Eco House Challenge has developed a comprehensive study guide for use in secondary schools throughout Australia. The Ecological Footprint Calculator for example calculates how much space on earth you need to continue living your current lifestyle.

Here’s the premise:

EHCCan we save the planet? To find out two ordinary Perth suburban households have been wired to monitor their every eco move.

The challenge starts with a bang. Without warning four environmental hotspots, energy, water, transport and waste removal are shut down until further notice. Over several weeks, while still living their normal lives, the families must radically reduce consumption and learn to live sustainably.

I watched a preview of the first couple of episodes at Scitech the other week and the show will most definitely be engaging on many levels for teachers and students alike. It is also impressive because it is the possibly the first mainstream reality TV show to be based around an environmental issue. The reactions, both positive and negative, of the Perth teenagers to the eco-challenges they face, are something I believe all students will associate with. Watching the kids and parents having to use wind-up chargers for their mobile phones was a highlight.

The EcoHouse Challenge runs for 6 weeks on Wednesdays starting April 11th at 7.30pm on SBS. According to The Age, as well as Eco house Challenge there will be a series from ABC TV called “Carbon Cops”.

PS: Using the carbon emissions widget at http://www.greeninternet.org/ this post would have cost 0.0634lbs of carbon to produce, but I’m on Synergy’s Green Power at an extra 3c per unit, so apparently my power comes from genuine, government approved renewable energy sources.

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Apr 01

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Eduau LogoWikipedia is living proof that open-source, creative commons and web2.0 works. With vision our very own Education.AU is bringing Jimmy Wales is founder of Wikipedia, co-founder of Wikia and the Wikimedia Foundation. This self-organizing, self-correcting, ever-expanding, and thoroughly addictive encyclopedia of the future is an amazing resource for students and educators alike. I try to approach Wikipedia place in K-12 education optimistically, finding the guts to say yes, rather than approach with fear wanting to say no. Students, even primary school kids are amazed when you tell them that anyone can edit it. Triggered by a critical thinking response, they then approach the resource with a more skeptical, thoughtful eye. It will be great to have Jimmy Wales setting some valuable dialogue alight here in Australia - education.au should be congratulated for trying to engage the occupants of industrial age institutions to join, engage and participate in the discussion of our digital age. An EdNA group will be a central focus for this dialogue. Deanne Bullen sent in this information for interested digital chalkies:

Source: http://www.energylab.de/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2006/08/JimmyWales.jpgJimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, will be the keynote speaker for the first education.au National Seminar for 2007. The seminar will be held in four locations; Adelaide, Perth, Sydney and Melbourne beginning the week of April 23. Jimmy’s seminar presentation will discuss critical issues such as:

  • The culture of the online community and the implications for education
  • The opportunities for collaborative learning in a globally connected world
  • What does it mean to be discerning in the online world
  • If content can be created and distributed cheaply, what is the future for entrepreneurs
  • Who has the knowledge in today’s global community
  • Creative Commons and the public good – what are the barriers to knowledge sharing.

To access information about the seminar online go here, to register for the seminar go here.

600Px-Wikipedia-Logo-1From the authors own Wikipedia page:

Wales’ father worked as a grocery store manager while his mother, Doris, and his grandmother, Erma, ran a small private school “in the tradition of the one-room schoolhouse” where Wales received his education. Most of the time there were four children in his grade so the school grouped the first, second, third, and fourth grade students together and the fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students together.

Jimmy Wales was the first person listed in the “Scientists & Thinkers: the lives and ideas of the world’s most influential people” in Time magazine’s May 8, 2006 issue. Forbes magazine, in naming him one of the Top 25 Web Celebrities for 2007, says of Wales: “only on the Web could an encyclopedia geek become a superstar.”

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Jan 25

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UPDATED POST: via information by Ellen Finlay (ScienceVictoria):

“An Inconvenient Truth DVD offer to all Australian Secondary Schools

Paramount Pictures have announced that all Australian secondary schools will receive a free DVD copy of ‘An Inconvenient Truth’. The DVD will beInconvenient Truth released today and Jackgreen International with Jon Dee will be faxing every secondary school in Australia with the offer to receive the free DVD. The school will only need to fax back their contact details and mailing address on the bottom of the original fax.

As well as the DVD, schools and students will be able to access study guides designed by ATOM (Australian Teachers Of Media) to accompany the DVD and will be given access to an interactive website hosted by Jackgreen and Channel 10 with tools to enable students to calculate their carbon footprint. Standout schools will be recognized in a Channel 10 feature event based on the commitment of students and their families to make changes to reduce global warming.

This sounds like a fantastic opportunity for schools and science departments. Whether you agree with the contents or not, the movie is an excellent basis for debate and further exploration of facts.

More information can be found at www.climatecrisis.net. If you are unable to locate this DVD in your school in the next few weeks I suggest you contact Jackgreen International: www.jackgreen.com.au

This article determines that US Science teachers will omit one side to the global warming debate from the curriculum, because of Exxon Mobil funding. The company behind Al Gore’s film had decided to make available 50,000 free DVDs to the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA). But Science teachers said they saw “little, if any, benefit to NSTA or its members” in accepting the free DVDs.

Still, maybe the NSTA just being extra cautious. But there was one more curious argument in the e-mail: Accepting the DVDs, they wrote, would place “unnecessary risk upon the [NSTA] capital campaign, especially certain targeted supporters.” One of those supporters, it turns out, is the Exxon Mobil Corp.

That’s the same Exxon Mobil that for more than a decade has done everything possible to muddle public understanding of global warming and stifle any serious effort to solve it. It has run ads in leading newspapers (including this one) questioning the role of manmade emissions in global warming, and financed the work of a small band of scientific skeptics who have tried to challenge the consensus that heat-trapping pollution is drastically altering our atmosphere. The company spends millions to support groups such as the Competitive Enterprise Institute that aggressively pressure lawmakers to oppose emission limits.

Source: Washington Post 2006/11/24

Australian Jo McLeay has some links to other edubloggers discussing “An Inconvenient Truthhere. Watch the trailer here.

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