Who are Your Friends on Facebook?

I don’t know about you, but I have gotten a recent flood of friend requests on Facebook. Most of them are not from family members or from folks that I truly know well. They are from “Mutual Friends“. You know what I’m talking about. You look at the number listed to the right of their request to see how many mutual friends you have and that helps you decide whether to accept them or not. Right?

When I first started using Facebook back in 2008 I thought I would use it to keep in touch with family and close friends and possibly even those folks that I had met at conferences and edtech events. But that has now grown and I find myself looking at status updates from people I don’t know at all. What happened?

The other day I logged in to update my status and check out what my FB friends were up to when I got an IM (instant message) from someone I really didn’t know.


I didn’t respond.

“when u will reply me? never?”

I know what we teach our students and our children about not replying to people that we don’t know, but I was ALREADY friends with this person. Something had convinced me to accept his friend request. When I clicked on his profile I saw only 4 common friends and the face of someone I had never met in person. I also saw that his status updates were not in English. Why was I FB friends with him?

“sometimes i see u
try to talk to u
but u never replied me
i really wonder why?
just a human i m too
not a monster”

What would you do at this point?

I was so frustrated with myself because if I didn’t want to IM with this person, I should have never accepted his friend request, yet I felt a sense of guilt for not replying.

“i think i saw u
from nice place for example
about education
about projects
i m a teacher and an engineer
and a coordinator of projects”

Feeling guilty and curious, I asked what he wanted to chat about.

“i thought
i would talk
or share somehting
but as i see u dont care
if i disturbed u
i m really sorry

I replied that he was not disturbing me, but that I had to log off and go walk my dog. (This was true as my dog had been barking for a few minutes and obviously needed to go out.)

  • Where would the conversation have gone?
  • How do you make decisions as to who you are friends with on Facebook?
  • How SHOULD you make decisions as to who you are friends with on Facebook?
  • Do you practice what you preach in terms of internet safety?

These are questions I have been asking myself for a few days. What are your answers?


The Global Education Wiki: A Companion to the Global Education Conference Main Site

Global Education Conference

The reports are in! During the week of the Global Education Conference, there were 15,028 unique logins, 8,372 hours of presentations attended, and 32,681 web site visits just this week.

It didn’t end there, though. Visit the Global Education Wiki to peruse the open projects, project directory and the archived sessions and keynotes.

You can even nominate them for a 2010 Edublogs Award in the category of “Best Educational Webinar Series”.

With thanks again to Steve Hargadon and  Lucy Gray for organizing this amazing event.

Spontaneous Professional Development

Tomorrow at the NJECC monthly meeting I’m going to speak for a bit about “Spontaneous Professional Development”. With the budget cuts in NJ schools this past year, many educators don’t have funding for PD. Our meeting this month will be about how schools are dealing with the cuts, what types of PD their districts are spending money on and of course, how we can harness the power of our networks to bring in free professional development virtually.

I hope I don’t put myself right out of business.

Here’s the slides I will be sharing along with a list of the resources I will be talking about. (Please leave a comment if you have others to add as we would all benefit from your resources.)

Feel free to follow the #NJECC hashtag on Twitter during tomorrow morning’s meeting.

Using Google Apps to Foster Global Collaborations #globaled10

I was honored to present for the Global Education Conference today. Here are the slides I shared and the accompanying links. The archive of the webinar will be posted soon at http://www.globaleducationconference.com/recordings.html

These are the links I shared during the webinar today.

Places to look for Global Collaborations:

List of Educators on Twitter:
Add your name to the list:

Educators who attended the Webinar and are looking for Global Collaborations:
Add your name to the list:

Additional Resources:

Connecting with Your Students (VSS2010)

Yesterday I sat in on several sessions at the Virtual School Symposium in Glendale, Arizona. Two turned out to be vendor driven, one never really got to the point and one truly provided some great ideas to think about.

The presenters were from the Branson School Online. Leanna Christians is the K-12 virtual principal and Christina Narayan is an elementary virtual school teacher. The theme of their presentation was the “Circle of Trust”. The idea that you don’t want anyone involved with the school to feel outside the circle. They talked about parents, students, teachers, administration and staff.

The entire time I was listening to Leanna and Christina I was thinking about how everything they were saying applied to every BAM (Bricks and Mortar) school.

Here are some of their suggestions:

  • Students need to connect with other students
    • Leadership groups
    • Peer counseling
    • peer tutoring
    • social events to build community
    • class pets (whether real or stuffed)
    • Reading buddies
    • Collaborative storytelling
    • Blogging
    • Group discussions
    • Learning Circles
    • “Gotcha” awards if the student is doing something exceptional
  • Survey families about themselves
    • They use Google Forms to do this
    • Christina subscribes to Hallmark.com for $10 a year in order to send out digital birthday cards to students and parents.
  • Administrators need to connect with the teachers
    • teachers should feel safe and free to take risks
    • admins can connect with staff via phone or e-mail
    • Administrators should make sure that teachers are competent in their abilities
  • The school needs to connect with parents
  • The school needs connections to the Community
    • College Fairs
    • County Parks
    • Career Planning
    • Field trips with other schools

In Leanna’s closing comments she said “if you don’t fail at atleast one thing, you are not trying hard enough”.

I challenge you to find three new ways you can connect better with your students and then implement them!

NEIT2010 – Croudsourcing

One of the Ignite sessions last night at NEIT2010 was about Croudsourcing. I ultimately will link to the presentation resources, but they are not yet posted. The gentleman who presented on the topic mentioned how he croudsourced his purchase of his glasses and his Halloween costume  as well as many other educational-related things.

I thought back to my Keynote from earlier that day and how different it might have been had I crowdsourced. I have somewhat of an idea of the suggestions from the group here as we worked on a public Google Doc to flesh out the list of ten skills that every student should have when they leave you.

Here’s a sampling of what the group came up with:

1 – Knowledge of reference sources

  • It seems best to consider a first-stop reference source that is age and skill appropriate and google scholar is not necessarily the tool for K-12
  • Students need to learn how to evaluate their sources.
  • There can be legitimate but biased websites.

2 – Who is the authority?

  • teaching skills to question & evaluate authority
  • snopes.com
  • Straightdope.com

3 – Digital Citizenship and Ethical use of information

4 – Where you can go to stay current? (This is a lengthy list on the Google Doc)

5 – Personal Learning Networks

  • Message Boards (i.e. Apple Discussions)
  • Social Content Aggregators (Digg, reddit)
  • Podcasts (i.e. Ed-Tech weekly)
  • Magazines (i.e., Teacher-Librarian Magazine, WIRED)
  • Professional organizations

6 – Who are your teachers? Who are your mentors?

  • Members from professional organizations
  • Do our schools have formal mentoring programs? If so, do they work?

7 – Always contemplate responding and interacting with content

  • Many of the responses will be inappropriate and many will respond inappropriately.  Who is to decide?
  • What happens when they pretend to be someone else?
  • Classroom forum or are we now working with a broader audience?
  • Time and energy is wasted policing instead of concentrating on the real content.  Who is  in charge of going back through and giving approval?

8 – You are a content producer

  • More people can produce content – and this allows people to publish content without thought to accuracy.
  • The idea of thoughtful content producers.
  • Students need to contemplate whether their content is constructive, responsible, part of a larger conversation.
  • An understanding of intellectual property

9 – How to manage your sources, notes, creations in the Cloud

  • What do you put in the cloud? Issues of privacy.
  • Problem of ownership, such as e-mail.

10 – What’s in the pipeline? (This is a lengthy list on the Google Doc)

The general consensus was that I should have included what I’ve listed here as number 11
11. Internet Safety (Managing your digital footprint)

  • http://www.digiteen.org/
  • http://www.commonsensemedia.org/
  • http://www.kidzui.com/ – friendly place for kids – kid-only content including games, videos, etc – a kid browser – commercial venture, but seems quite usable
  • How to surf the web filterless?
  • How to consider what to share – safe sharing
  • Digital footprints? Who teaches our kids what this is? Who provides the leadership on this?
  • Smart = Safe
  • Community effort – everyone has to be part of this educational process, including parents
  • Help our students create a digital footprint under our mentorship – this will provide them with a positive presence on the web, perhaps countering their Facebook presence

I’m in no way suggesting that I croudsource my next presentation, but it was a new learning experience for me to immediately hear what other educators thought and for them to discuss it from their perspective. Thanks to everyone who participated.

NEIT2010 – The NYSAIS Education & Information Technology Conference

I’m really looking forward to presenting  at the NYSAIS Education & Information Technology Conference on November 10. I put a lot of time and effort into the topic I am speaking on and I am anxious to have the conversation that is planned afterward. We’ll be using the World Cafe protocol to organize the conversation. I am confident that Alex Ragone, Arvind Grover and  Barbara Swanson are willing to help with such a large group.

The World Cafe Protocol

  1. Seat four or five people at small Café-style tables or in conversation clusters.
  2. Set up progressive (usually three) rounds of conversation of approximately 20-30 minutes each.
  3. Questions or issues that genuinely matter to your life, work or community are engaged while other small groups explore similar questions at nearby tables.
  4. Encourage both table hosts and members to write, doodle and draw key ideas on their tablecloths or to note key ideas on large index cards or placemats in the center of the group.
  5. Upon completing the initial round of conversation, ask one person to remain at the table as the “host” while the others serve as travelers or “ambassadors of meaning.” The travelers carry key ideas, themes and questions into their new conversations.
  6. Ask the table host to welcome the new guests and briefly share the main ideas, themes and questions of the initial conversation. Encourage guests to link and connect ideas coming from their previous table conversations—listening carefully and building on each other’s contributions.
  7. By providing opportunities for people to move in several rounds of conversation, ideas, questions, and themes begin to link and connect. At the end of the second round, all of the tables or conversation clusters in the room will be cross-pollinated with insights from prior conversations.
  8. In the third round of conversation, people can return to their home (original) tables to synthesize their discoveries, or they may continue traveling to new tables, leaving the same or a new host at the table. Sometimes a new question that helps deepen the exploration is posed for the third round of conversation.
  9. After several rounds of conversation, initiate a period of sharing discoveries and insights in a whole group conversation. It is in these town meeting-style conversations.It is in these town meeting-style conversations that patterns can be identified,
    collective knowledge grows, and possibilities for action emerge.

I will be missing Liz Davis, as we have used a variation of this Protocol together at Educon. But I know I will be seeing here there again in January.