Grand Opening

Thank you for visiting Streaming Thought, formerly Mobilemind-ed. Streaming Thought will be geared towards educational technology and learning. My decision is based on my eagerness to truly use the tools that I “preach” about and to learn from a community greater than any that I could imagine. Okay, enough kissing butt.

Teaching, Learning & Technology Conference

Tomorrow we kick off our annual summer conference. This conference has been in flux for a number of years it seems, however, it always seems to meet the needs of its participants. We are striving to do that again over the next few days. The structure is two days of sessions and one day of collaborative work for the educators in one district. I think the extra work day is an important feature of the conference as it gives the one gift that teachers don’t get often, time. There will be instructional technology specialists on hand helping educators work with the skills or concepts they learned on the previous days. From what I can tell this is a reverse of most conferences. Conferences often offer hands-on sessions on the days prior to the concurrent sessions. I will be attempting to blog more about this conference and how it all turns out.

Second (Life) Thoughts – Part I

While I have been quite familar with Second Life (SL) for over a year now, I’ve been giving a good looking at as of late.  The following thoughts are just that, thoughts. There are still many questions to ask and seek answers to, many that will take awhile.  I’ve decided to write a series of posts related to Second Life as opposed to the one post I was brewing that was too huge. In this first part of Second (Life) Thoughts I’ll address SL for personal learning communities and how I think virtual worlds should be presented to educators.  There is increasingly more research being done on such virtual environments and I will try my best, in future posts, to address the work that is being done and the work that has been done (this is not totally new stuff).

Second Life for Personal Learning Communities
I have experienced meeting people, taking part in conversations, sharing resources, etc. “in world” as an extension of my professional (personal) learning community. I recently took part in a book discussion in SL and while the discussion was rich and engaging I realized, afterwards, that I arrived in world, sat my avatar (Tooka Mulligan) on a couch and proceeded to text chat with those present. Now I ask, was the 3D virtual environment needed? My answer is absolutely not. Though it was a fireside chat of sorts, I didn’t even notice the fire.  I was engaged in the chat.  It wasn’t the 3D environment that kept me there, it was the conversation.  The group could have used a variety of tools to facilitate the conversation, they just so happened to choose this one. The way I was connected to this group was not through SL but through Twitter.  I would have gladly scheduled a Skypechat if that’s what was decided upon.  Oh, and I got bumped from SL three times during the chat.  If it is the chosen medium I will  gladly use the tool if it is reliable.  But are we creating an divide from educators who aren’t so savvy?  Shouldn’t we bring tools to them and not them to the tools?  Meet them at their level of readiness, interest and ability?

Presenting Second Life to Educators
Recently at a meeting I attended, there was a 3 hour presentation on SL where a co-presenter mentioned that they had made notable contacts with those in the edublogger community in SL. When the same presenter then asked where else someone could make such connections my response was that I had been connected with the very same notables via reading/commenting on blogs, contributing to wikis, and most recently posting “tweets” on my Twitter network.

Sylvia Martinez over at the Generation YES Blog has some outstanding second thoughts on Second Life including the following, a quote I feel is timely:

Even now as I share my doubts about Second Life, I would NEVER begrudge someone else their epiphany. I hope educators who are having transformative experiences in Second Life continue to share them with others, but realize that it’s the epiphany that counts, not the vehicle. Providing multiple avenues for such learning epiphanies, for both educators and children, should be the ultimate goal, not to force others to re-experience your own personal transformative event.

BTW I “met” Sylvia via Twitter and not SL, in fact I’m not even sure I have met her in SL. Maybe this is coming through with a somewhat personal tone, but I’m sure others out there have the feeling that educational technologies are being forced on them. Especially our teachers.  Hardly the way to promote such a progressive technology.

What I’m getting at is not that I’m anti-Second Life, but looking at it with constructive criticism.  Shouldn’t we be demonstrating the power of virtual worlds to educators in more experiential ways?  Why not have them participate in a trial from Of Mice and Men or a body image lesson and let them assume a role to play.  Let them experience SL through meaningful interactions not by shopping for hair and clothes at Be-Dazzeled.

Contemplating MobileMind-ed’s Future

Upon returning from NECC in Atlanta last month, I have been resting up as well as tracking the online info regarding the conference. In doing so, I have been reflecting much more about my online presence. Over the past two years as an instructional technology specialist, my colleague and I have thought that we should create a space for our fellow ITS’ to collaborate on. This has not happened and I now admit if you build it and simply tell them about it (even use it in front of them) they simply will not come to use the tool.

Thus, I am thinking of writing more in a blog, either this one or another. I hate the thought of having to start another blog as I have started a few in the past. So, my thought is to roll this one into a blog about teaching and learning with technology and not solely on mobile devices for learning. There will still be that mobile learning presence in the blog, but it will be so much more. As you can imagine I don’t want to be limited within this blog and I don’t want to have several blogs dedicated to just one topic within the realm of learning with technology.

I’d love to read your thoughts on this as I contemplate the future of this blog. I am going to start posting to this a bit more regularly and you will see some changes. I’ve waited long enough to do this and I’m looking forward to connecting with you and more in the future.