Posts Tagged ‘Youtube’

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

Dr. Seuss

Learning in the Library of COETAIL a visualnote drawn by Nicki Hambleton on iPad with Adobe Ideas

Learning in the library of COETAIL small

Learning in the Library of COETAIL a visualnote drawn by Nicki Hambleton on iPad with Adobe Ideas

Let me start at the very beginning…

Back in Course 1, I found the greatest learning was through connecting. (Connect Collaborate Create). Twitter, in particular, gave me an online family to offer support, answer questions and helped me to develop. I have never been so in awe of an online platform to learn from. At times it is overwhelming and there is too much information that I try to take note of. My Evernote is fit to burst, my Instapaper unread and my Flipboard not working, but I try to stay on top of what is important to me.

It was during this time that I asked myself:

“how can I connect students outside of the art classroom?”

During one of the live COETAIL chats, Dane Watts also talked about student connections and it was in Course 1 with the guidance of my mentor Clint, and help from Vivian, Joe and many other COETAILers online, that the seed was sown for what was to be the beginning of the end of COETAIL. It has been incredible to connect with Matt and Anne, both teaching art and members of the COETAIL online cohort like me.

The Beginning of the End? Visual note drawn on ipad using Adobe Ideas by Nicki Hambleton

As I was preparing for the end of Course 4, my thoughts turned to a bigger concept. I loved the online wikis and websites that I talked about back in Course 4: how art teachers in Asia can connect through the ARARTE ning and IB Visual Art students and teachers can share their work on Mrs Anderson’s wiki.

I marvelled at the way you can be connected with like minded people and share and learn alike on sites like Deviant Art. Much as I love reading others blogs and looking at websites, the real growth comes in the interactions and activity. You learn so much from one another and it was with this thought that the idea evolved.


Having posted my plan online, Matt contacted me and asked if I would like to collaborate on Course 5 and also with Anne, both Art teachers in Abu Dhabi and China. Together the 3 of us set out to connect our students to share their art and give and receive feedback online. Matt suggested using Quadblogging, as I explained on an earlier Course 5 post, and I researched its origins and successes.

Photo Credit: SurfGuard via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: SurfGuard via Compfight cc

For me, my goals were clear:

“for students to connect online and to give and share feedback on their artwork”

“to learn about and apply digital citizenship to their daily practice”

but also:

“to see how far the connections would reach and what developed from them”

Here is the original UBD from the end of Course 4 documenting my idea:


As the project kicked off, I introduced it to all of my classes, sharing my thoughts and blog with them. They ALL wanted to get involved! The plan was to only use one class, but who was I to say no?! I had to draw the line at Grade 6, despite their enthusiasm for the project, as I knew that would take the most time and energy in educating them about internet safety, careful and respectful commenting and sharing online. I still have plans to start the new academic year blogging with all classes.

I set up the landing page to connect all classes with one another but also for parents and the wider community to see what we were doing. I think it also helped the students and teachers in the other schools to find their way! You can find it at the top of my blog as a separate page called Quadblogging.

But as the students got more involved it seemed that the goals were changing:

“how could we share our work with a wider audience and develop a student orientated space online?”


I decided to use Blogger as students already have Google accounts and it synced seamlessly with them. Talking them through the process of signing up and commenting was just the start and beyond that students worked on designing the space asking for authorship rights. This was a new risk for me as they inevitably designed, redesigned, changed layout, logo, headers and labels almost daily!

As the project developed, I found I was pulling from all four courses of COETAIL and in fact, the students were beginning to mirror my own experiences.

Mirror Me image drawn by Nicki Hambleton on iPad with Adobe Ideas

I always think far too big, but if I was to give the students a valid and authentic experience I couldn’t help but incorporate my learning from the whole of my COETAIL journey.

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The 5 rooms in the COETAIL house drawn by Nicki Hambleton on iPad with Adobe Ideas


All my classes were excited to be involved in the blogging task. I introduced it in class and sent an email explaining the project to all parents.

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It seemed the right time and place to be addressing Digital citizenship yet in a practical way alongside the lesson work. Students too were eager to get started with connecting as Ashari, Khush and Tamzine explain in my video:

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Here is the final video of how the project evolved:

From start to finish I have been both impressed and surprised at the students tireless enthusiasm and constant commitment to pushing the boundaries of online connecting. I love that I too learn from them as they find alternative (and better) ways to connect and collaborate.


Photo Credit: wizzer2801 via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: wizzer2801 via Compfight cc

From listening to my students and reading their ongoing reflections it seems clear that they have met the goals of connecting and understanding digital citizenship. We have begun to see a glimpse of what might happen as the connections grow and deepen over time too. Even though Grade 6 were not involved at this stage in the blogging project the aims of understanding Copyright stretched to them as they shared photos on a Flickr site and they discussed using music in their Stop Motion animations. It was great to see the learning flowing into other classes as a result.


Zain talks about starting a Flickr site to share their own photos

Zain talks about starting a Flickr site to share their own photos

Making Stop Motion videos and addressing music copyright

Making Stop Motion videos and addressing music copyright








With youngsters it is crucial to keep revisiting digital mindfulness as they can be lulled into a sense of familiarity the more they connect and communicate. Just the other day I found one of Grade 8 students discussing the reasons why a video should or should not be uploaded due to its unusual style and content: “Might it offend someone in another country?” “Would they understand it” “How personal to a culture is humour?” The video stayed online for little over 4 hours before he decided to take it down and rework some aspects. It is controversial but he wanted to debate the idea too. Is blogging a place for such debate? I believe that it can be if handled appropriately. Often online we are watchful of what we say and debate is rarely seen effectively and openly, so it is important we teach our students how to debate effectively and respectfully.


Did my students learn from the experience? How did my learning change too?

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Students reflected that their learning had and still is changing due not just to the project but as a result of connecting and sharing. They changed their ideas about how they could learn not just what they were learning. They are enjoying the process so much their thoughts are currently looking ahead to how they can incorporate different types of learning about art online and to a wider audience. I have learnt so much with them about how students learn best and how learning changes as they move up the school. I still want to involve my youngest Middle School students, those eager Grade 6s and, as the academic year draws to a close I would like to integrate them into the process somehow: maybe with just one blog and for interested individuals to post, yet all can view and comment?

Next year as our online learning platform takes off with all classes, there will be ample opportunities to work with students online, sharing and commenting and this may help to develop good practice and start to journey towards the ultimate goal of a more connected space for artists.


Antonio and Eric talking about using rotating teams to connect for ease and diversity of comments

Antonio and Eric talking about using rotating teams to connect for ease and diversity of comments

Reflecting the voices and opinions of Antonio and Eric, it would have been far better to have focussed on just one class. But how could I have chosen and known just how interested and intriguing the process would have been if I had not allowed all 5 classes access and involvement?

I like the idea of using teams across schools that rotate and change as the weeks evolve. This would allow everyone to receive comments and to grow the connections far better. The original Quadblogging site documents a similar process where the “quads” are changed after each 4 week cycle. With this in mind, I wonder if we can set this up online with the help of art teachers worldwide: a more focused, subject-specific version of David Mitchell’s initiative?

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Anyone interested in starting this in the new year? Please spread the word online and get in contact with me if you are interested in linking your art students to mine. It would help me and my students to start connecting further afield and bridge the gap to the classroom in the cloud.

Whilst asking the students for feedback towards the middle of the process many students suggested ways to connect beyond the blogs including via Skype. This got me thinking that we could use this more in the classroom to talk to and learn from experts. With this in mind I reconnected with a British painter, Niki Hare, via email who my students had sent questions to last year about her process of working and the meaning of her work. They are excited this year to be able to connect with her via Skype this week to ask her advice when creating abstract and emotive paintings. I cannot wait to see how their thinking changes with this connection and how Skype might broaden our learning in the art room.

Connected Classrooms? when pigs fly drawn on Adobe Ideas by Nicki Hambleton

Connected Classrooms? when pigs fly drawn on Adobe Ideas by Nicki Hambleton


Right now my students are still in the process of awaiting comments on their second post. This has taken time to await the 4 week turn around and it set me wondering if there was a more natural way for it to progress. Should students work more organically, posting as they wish or would that clog the page and lose the thread and equality? My thoughts slipped back to the idea of the website and how this would give much more autonomy for student choice.

brainstorming ideas for the website

brainstorming ideas for the website

This was where my students thinking really took off. It was only supposed to be a lesson starter, a suggestion of an idea, but they tackled it with gusto. They worked collaboratively and discussed and debated names and designs for the online space as well as offering concepts and suggestions for what they, the participants would want to see included on the space. It helped to show me that if you are thinking for kids, ask the kids! After all it is them who will be using it.

ideas for the nme and concept for a global art classroom

ideas for the nme and concept for a global art classroom

I wish I had incorporated Twitter more into the process with my students. It is difficult as it is to keep up with Twitter but I wondered if I could have created a class hashtag to share and communicate more to a wider audience. I will ask students how this might work but to quote a HS student:

“students don’t use Twitter, we use Facebook”

How can we change this practice, show them the benefit, the swiftness and versatility of Twitter? and what about the under 13’s? How can we offer them a social space that is both easy and safe to use?

Photo Credit: Mike Gabelmann via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Mike Gabelmann via Compfight cc

I wish I had thrown down the gauntlet to my students much earlier in the process, asking them what they need, want or would like in order to connect, learn and collaborate. It is always an eye opener to see and hear their opinions. Often, as teachers, we think we have a good idea of what is needed, but involving the students more in the process changes thinking and helps us step into their shoes a little more easier.

Discussion about Learning

Discussion about Learning

How do you learn discussion


Right from the start I have shared my learning on COETAIL with my senior team who have supported my journey. The IT department have been a source of help and advice and particular thanks must go to Andrew, Pete, Noah and Ben. Without them I am sure my questions and deliberations would have gone unanswered and my path would have been less clear. Paul Brogden, Vice Principal Curriculum has been following my progress online and was keen to see how the journey evolved. Perhaps now staff can see the value in connecting our students beyond our classrooms and how imperative it has been in teaching digital safety and responsibility.

Just last Friday the Tech mentors at UWCSEA met for a sharing session and I talked about how powerful an experience this had been and how much learning had taken place.

sharing COETAIL blog

sharing COETAIL blog

I would like to offer a session about connecting, to help more teachers to see the value of social networks both for them and students and how blogging can start this process. I offered this a number of years ago and the Languages department have taken it on board. The problem with our school as it is with many schools is TIME! How do you add to the already bursting curriculum without taking anything away? It has been tough juggling so many variables and ideas through the COETAIL journey but it has been worth it to see the growth in both me and my students. With our online platform Teamie coming onboard with all MS classes in August, this could help us encourage discussion, to connect more and may, in time help pave the way for more online connections.

Teamie - online learning platform

Teamie – online learning platform

As the idea continues to evolve I would like to push my learning so I can help my students find the best route through this jungle of ideas. I talked before with Noah about learning some html and with Peter about HYPE but now I am interested in web design and I have found a free online course through ALISON that might meet that wish. I have already bought my domain name, nickihambleton, hosted through Hover, but I am yet to set it up. Perhaps this will kick start that process.

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For years I have looked from afar at the work of The Harvard team’s Visible Thinking and Project Zero. I have read the book, studied the website and resources online and yearned to visit Harvard or at least take the online course. I missed out on a 3 day course with Ron Ritchhart in Asia this month and so I was excited when Matt shared the new MTV online courses. They contain a new concept – learning in teams. I am in the process of discussing this with my curriculum leader to build a team at UWCSEA to pilot this work and then take it into a PLC. Keep your fingers crossed I can participate so that I can work with not only my school but with other educators on what surely is an invaluable curriculum-wide skill.


The greatest learning for me in the whole process was:

that the students can have ownership and change your thinking

that is doesn’t matter that you don’t yet know where this is going or what the outcome may be

Talking to Emily Maclean from Chatsworth International School at a recent TeachMeet, I will try in the future to hand the project over to the students much earlier on for them to devise teams of workers to problem solve. Asking the right questions is a crucial part. It is enlightening to see how Emily can get a class of grade 5 students to devise and share an online course single handedly! She too did not know what the outcome would be or how it might evolve. Taking risks as a teacher? We should do this more often! You can read more about Emily’s work at

shared with kind permission from Emily Maclean

shared with kind permission from Emily Maclean


Could we have done this without technology? As Nick states, the main benefit of connecting online was the immediacy of receiving feedback and the ease of the connections. It opened his mind to more possibilities and helped to change his thinking. Another student laughed as she explained that we could have sent the artwork by post, waited to receive a letter or some art in return! The project might have taken a year to happen!

Nick explaining how we could not have done this without technology

Nick explaining how we could not have done this without technology

So what does redefinition look like?

Back in Course 4 I drew a seed germinating growing to a plant to represent the process of SAMR, but looking back it should be seen as a circular design much like my application video to Apple Alumni earlier this year:

As students reach redefinition it allows thinking to restart and evolve again. Following the introduction of the blogs, commenting online and forming connections has become second nature, a natural progression to gathering feedback in class and from their peers. So what next, to redefine redefinition?

Reflecting on the process made me question what difference I made to my students’ learning, but also how it redefined learning in the context of the SAMR model. Nick Coulter (TPACK and SAMR) recently shared this infographic by Jackie Gerstein:

SAMR as a framework for Education 3.0

SAMR as a framework for Education 3.0

Looking at the lower area of the graphic, my students redefined their learning about art, by connecting online and began to develop a PLN as a result. They are sharing their knowledge and ideas online and learning from others they have connected with in return. Grade 7 are uploading their demonstrations to their blogs as I speak, in order to share their skills with others and are hoping to see some in return so they too can extend their learning. They range from Photoshop tutorials to how to draw and eye, pulling together their own learning from class and their personal interests outside of school.

Grade 7 uploaded demonstration videos on Google Drive

Grade 7 uploaded demonstration videos on Google Drive

It is exciting to see how much the original idea is growing and how the students are helping to reshape it. We are still a distance from what I envisioned with the connected classroom but we are working our way towards it. With one lesson a week of art, I am not rushing it. Good things take time to develop and this is just the beginning.


Back in February, Edutopia article by Elizabeth Bostwick, talked about student voice and it was here that I realised the true future of helping my art students to find theirs in a predominantly visual context. She talks about growth mindset through community building and collaboration and about giving opportunities for our students to open up, to connect and communicate in other ways than speaking out in class allowing greater opportunity for the introverts to find their voice.

“the greatest voice in the classroom is the student’s” 

Elizabeth Bostwick (Empowering student voice through classroom culture, February 2015)

Also on Edutopia another article, “Help Students use social media to empower, not just to connect” resonated with me:

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Even though this article is over 4 years old, the sentiment still rings true. We should be helping our students to use social media not just to connect with one another but to empower them to take an active role, to participate, and to add value. Andrew Marcinek talks about student’s criteria for a PLN and to become an active member for the hashtag or group they follow.

In time I hope to work out how to get the collaborative online platform for connecting Middle School art students up and running. I am testing the water and the technical aspect of the Drawing board/Artery/The Blank Canvas/ Global Palette (or whatever it will be called) in the final weeks of term and reaching out to Twitter in the hope there are some equally keen art teachers out there ready to step in and join me. Once I have some interest the next thing will be voting on a name!

As always, watch this space………….

COETAIL: The swiss army knife of learning drawn on iPad with Adobe ideas by Nicki Hambleton

COETAIL: The swiss army knife of learning drawn on iPad with Adobe ideas by Nicki Hambleton

“never stop learning because life never stops teaching”

by Robert Tew on



What if….

Students came to your classroom already prepared to ask questions about a new topic?

What if you already knew the questions the students wanted answering?

Students already understood the new concept and were ready to experiment?

Teachers didn’t have to stand and lecture and students didn’t sit and listen for long lengths of time?

There was more time to work with individual students and help them progress at their own pace?

Students were engaged in meaningful activities right from the first minute they entered your classroom?

Could this be possible with Reverse instruction or by flipping the classroom.

Photo Credit: nataliej via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: nataliej via Compfight cc

The concept of the Flipped Classroom is not new. In fact educators have had somewhat of a rocking love affair with it over the years. From an influx of video watching homeworks to a damning of the practice by others. But is it just another fad? What if we could make it work and be of real benefit not just for students but to teachers too?

Chatting with a music teacher at UWCSEA recently Carl Jenkins asks students to ask questions at the end of the lesson submitting these on a google doc or form. He says this helps him to track their learning, to see who “got it” and who didn’t and how to plan ahead for the next lesson. What if this was a fundamental part of a flipped classroom? By reviewing a video of their own work or the demo by the teacher, they could submit their questions in advance of the next lesson or formulate a reflection that helps guide the teacher in gauging the level of understanding? How might watching a video form a stepping stone to the next concept or technique?

Photo Credit: PauliCarmody via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: PauliCarmody via Compfight cc

Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams ( Woodland Park Colorado explain the benefits of flipping the classroom in their video below:

Bergmann and Sams use Camtasia Studio to produce their videos. But beautiful and slick as Camtasia is, it also costs and there are lots of other, just as good, alternatives out there to use. Annotating your Youtube videos could work just as well as Patrick Green demonstrates here and he adds Virtual wait time to allow students some thinking time whilst pondering a thought or question..

I have dabbled with using YouTube videos to back up classroom practice or to review a process. I even tried out using TEDed for homework. TED-ed adds the dimension of watching, thinking and digging deeper asking questions to check learning and allowing some followup work. Here is one I found and used on Imagination with Janet Echelman. Have you tried using TEDed or curated your own video in a similar fashion or used an existing one? Can you see how you might use this in your teaching?

Having seen many teachers raving about the Khan Academy I took a look at the site, thinking this could be a great use for reverse instruction. Unfortunately there isn’t really much there for Visual Art and what there is is Art History orientated. It would be great if Art educators added real lessons there too.


Hand crossing fingers by Till Teenck from The Noun Project

Hand crossing fingers by Till Teenck from The Noun Project

But setting this type of homework demands trust. We must trust that students will watch the video, read the text or interact with the Q&A, post their questions or answer the quiz. It would more beneficial if we knew their worries in advance, their queries and questions, whether they are likely to struggle with the concept or skill and what prior knowledge they come to our lesson with. This all takes planning and time. The task must also be achievable work as one frustrated student posted on the comments section of a Flipped Classroom video on YouTube that they felt lost without the direct guidance of the teacher. We must know our students, prime them, instruct them and not leave them to flounder with yet another new approach.

By the nature of reversing the instruction the teacher leaves far more time for the student to practice and apply the technique or concept in class to their own work. This is crucial in an Art room context yet the demos are the most important part so they can literally see and feel the process. What might be lost through watching a video outside of the classroom? Wouldn’t we miss the discussions, the chats as a whole class? Wouldn’t students miss the opportunity to see when an experiment goes wrong or how to fix a problem – aren’t Youtube videos often too slick? Mistakes help us to learn and seeing a teacher work through it right in front of them has to be a great learning moment.

EduCanon and EDpuzzle

EduCanon allows that interactivability into the videos just like TEDed but with more punch. The key features that ensure feedback for the teacher are monitoring and question answers. I love that you are able to know which students have watched the video or not; a bit like Big Brother but in a supportive way!

Andrew Douch raves about its use in his classroom on his blog, citing the way that students cannot just skip through the content by answering the questions without watching the video. This feature ensures that all students will have watched it and you will know this. When you connect the students and the videos to you through a code, this is when EduCanon comes into its own, collecting the data and the responses for you. Reading his followup comments at the end of the blog post I discover a competitor, again free, EDpuzzle, with extra features EduCanon only has on the paid versions. Recently, Edudemic wrote an extensive article reviewing EDpuzzle as a complement to the school’s LMS or MOOC. I know I cannot wait to try one of these out. Can you see how they might be valuable in your classroom?

Death by videos

Years ago we were threatened by Death by worksheets, then in recent years Death by Powerpoint. Now might it be Death by videos?
It seems to me that they are many ways to incorporate the idea of reverse instruction into your classroom effectively and that it isnt just about watching videos or presentations. As educators we can be far more creative with this concept by switching or sliding, as opposed to flipping, the content you would normally dwell over in class. Moving the viewing and discussion out of the classroom totally would be a shame. My students love sitting on the beanbags or sofa at the front of my room talking together with me about the new idea or concept. Students benefit from listening to each others interpretations.
Do I ever lecture? No not really. Do we watch videos? Yes. Could they watch them at home? Probably.
But would it be the same experience, would they lose something?
We go to the movies together to react and experience, we like to ask questions during a lecture or talk and bounce ideas off one another as it is happening. Wouldn’t this be lost if it was switched to home and alone?

To flip or not to flip?

Photo Credit: lamazone via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: lamazone via Compfight cc

Reading online it appears flipping is much like Marmite. It’s a love it or hate it relationship. Clearly there are many teachers using it well and finding real benefit from it such as Jane MacKenzie-Hoskyn who uses a combination of Edmodo, Google docs, quizzes and videos with her IB Visual Arts class. In her words, she prefers “rather than shopping at one shop, I am happily shopping around to see where I can find the best bargain!” But reading comments on the Flipped Classroom YouTube videos and on blog sites, many teachers and students do not like it, some slamming teachers as being lazy. Another replying to the post on IncredibleArt says:

“In discussions with the colleague of mine that uses components of the flipped classroom, she has voiced the advantages as well as disadvantages. One of the disadvantages that she expressed was students not completing the assignments or listening to the lectures on the podcasts or online.” – See more at

Ownership, Assessment and Asynchronicity

The success of another strategy in education is in considering who is in charge of the learning. In Flip Love Affair, on PLP Network, Shelley Wright talks about it not being a fad but about ownership. She says:

“I’ve learned that inquiry & PBL learning can be incredibly powerful in the hands of students. I would never teach any other way again. When students own their learning, then deep, authentic, transformative things happen in a classroom. It has nothing to do with videos, or homework, or the latest fad in education. It has everything to do with who owns the learning. For me, the question really is: who owns the learning in your classroom?” PLP Network October 8, 2012


One of the main benefits of flipping lessons I can see is that students can revisit a concept or technique and work through at their own pace as explained in Aaron’s video below:

I am going to revisit videos in and out of the classroom to differentiate learning and help students prepare and revise concepts, ideas and techniques. Just this week I have set my students to watch a TED talk by JR the artist who posts huge billboard sized portrait posters of unknown members of the community. My students are in the midst of a project blending images on Photoshop to create a unique Portrait yet, being egocentric teenagers the works are all about themselves. By looking at the work of JR they came up with the suggestion to raise the profile of our support staff: the cleaners, canteen staff, the facilities and security staff who remain otherwise unknown yet a crucial part of the running of our school. By viewing JR’s website and video, formulating questions and challenges students return this week ready to put their thoughts straight into action. This leaves me time to see individuals about their own work and skill development and the remaining can start the practical work, armed with all they need to begin working.

So with all this talk about flipping, how do you like your eggs? Me, I like them scrambled.

Photo Credit: Hamburger Helper via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Hamburger Helper via Compfight cc


If you want to know more about Flipped Classroom see Knewton’s infographic below:

Flipped Classroom

Created by Knewton and Column Five Media

Connected Circles: The 3 Faces of followers by Nicki Hambleton

Connected Circles: The 3 Faces of followers by Nicki Hambleton

Out of the mouths of babes……

According to my 14 year old son Piers, there are 3 types of participants on his youtube channel:

The Watcher

The enthusiast who views and follows everything. They give credit to your work and reinforce that what you are doing is valid and worthy.

The Encourager

The encourager who “likes” your video and motivates you to carry on. These followers give you a positive boost with a comment like “Cool video” or “Love this”.

The Giver

These  suggesters ultimately take the time to consider their comment. They take you forward and give  ideas to improve your work.

As a train enthusiast, who makes videos of his model layouts as well as actual train compilations, Piers finds all these dwellers useful in their own way, but he gets the most learning from the suggesters. It reminds me in a way of Rodd Lucier’s model of Connectedness mentioned in my previous posts and how it takes time and energy for followers to connect and truly help in our development.

He says “you go on youtube to learn, to be entertained or to laugh” and the types of channels he subscribes to usually fall into one of these categories. But as his network online grows, he says it is invaluable to him “to have a community of passionate people willing and happy to share and suggest”. As he becomes a seasoned video maker, “geeking out”, he equated this new found confidence in “public speaking” on his videos to being able to present verbally and improvise during class yesterday to his peers in an English lesson character summary from Of Mice and Men. As a mother observing her teenager seemingly constantly plugged in, it was refreshing to hear how his out of school passion could impact so positively on an aspect of his school life.

It is through these conversations that we learn the true meaning and understanding of the youth and how they connect and learn. They were born into this world and sharing online with strangers is not as alien as it may be to some adults. The more we have these conversations the more we can connect appropriately and understand and integrate into their world. By discovering what makes them tick it is only then that we can truly integrate technology into our curriculum areas.

Deviantly artful

My Art students in the International School of Milan in 2006 connected and shared on, the world’s largest online art community, to gain valuable feedback. Through connecting with its participants there was a vast range of specialised expertise and amateurs all ready and willing to feedback positively, ask questions and learn from one another. It seems to be just as strong today but with a different range of focus areas than when it first started out. Now manga, anime and fan art dominate the followers, watchers and givers and Erika in Grade 8 regularly uses it as her go-to learning zone. She says she is still at the “messing about” stage and as she grows in confidence and develops her skills  she says “I am not ready to share just yet, I mostly use it for tutorials.” Posters like Naschi and Ryky inspire her through their illustrations and Concept Cookie teaches her the technical skills through tutorials. Many watchers like Erika, regularly comment on how much they value these “experts” sharing their work and often fall into the “Encourager” bracket. When Erika does post she is encouraged by these smallest of comments that someone has taken the time to post. She says, “I know it’s not a lot, but just those small comments saying “Aww that’s cute <3” or even “I love it” really do make my day. That’s one of the things I really do like about the internet.”

I wonder how we ever coped before the internet?

Erika also regularly uses Tumblr, one of the biggest visual share zones, after Flickr. So too is Instagram an extremely popular portal to view and comment on photos and to be inspired by but not in the same  way interactive way as deviantart. Behance is another visually focused site for showcasing ones art portfolio and is becoming a popular choice for art students for inspiration much like Pinterest. It is important that a community reflects the diversity of its dwellers yet keeps its focus clear. This ensures it attracts the right sort of followers and keeps the passion alive.

Quinci, an IB Visual Art student in Ghana in 2009, was hugely into digital art and at the time showed me an online community he spent much of his time on called neoseeker. There are over 600,000 participants in the neoseeker population with showcases of digital portfolios and an active forum of tips and tutorials.



Quinci spent most of his online time on the Graphics and Animation Forum learning, communicating, sharing and growing as a digital artist. Just a quick dip into one of the posts and I feel completely out of my depth. It is clearly a professional and serious place to be a part of and full of talented and intelligent individuals putting time into helping each other out. Quinci, now in his 3rd year at Design college says, “It saw a big decrease in activity around the time I started university because most of the people that frequented were getting wrapped up in other responsibilities.” His design orientated social network became a real life close-knit family where these forums were not be needed so much with the proximity of a whole university of like minded passionate individuals. There is a plethora of online communities for art to connect and share with: Promoting Art back in 2010 shared their top ones here and I wonder what new ones exist today.

I guess this sort of reciprocated learning is similar to an online forum for a writer or a coder, as youtube is for Piers and deviant art for Erika. It occurs to me, rather belatedly, that our Course 1 reading (Living and Learning with New Media, Macarthur Foundation) reflects exactly what we are doing through COETAIL:  building a network, finding like minded souls, connecting globally, sharing our passions and thoughts and learning from one another. Gradually we hope to develop from the enthusiast and learner to becoming the expert, the geek and the giver.

It is within these connected circles that we will grow as educators, become strengthened as an individual and eventually find our voice to share with to the global audience.

So this all gets me thinking…..

Connecting youngsters

How can the younger members of my art classes participate online as experts in their field – where would they feel confident?

Some of these online forums are not appropriate lounges for 11 and 12 year olds. Where do they go, where do they learn from, and most importantly where can they communicate with like minded passionate youngsters?

Currently they share within the relatively closed and protected communities of Picasa and Voicethread, sharing their photography and visual ideas and commenting on each others work to encourage and suggest with occasionally blogging.

How can we protect yet open them up to a wider network? Do any other schools have links with other classes to share and collaborate with? Would anyone know if their art department would be willing to link with mine in a sharing community.

Going viral

What appealed to me most from 21 things for the 21st century educator was the Virtual Classroom and Collaboration tools. It seems to me that both of these are hugely valuable in today’s classroom and ones that I would like to embed more effectively in the curriculum. So, with this in mind, I am about to embark on a social experiment with my Grade 7s in consultation with Andrew McCarthy, as part of their sculpture unit on Sustainability. It feels like an ideal opportunity and time to introduce the idea of connected circles to them and to expose them to the real world of social media before they throw themselves legally into the world of FB when they hit 13. I want them to reach out to the global community, to ask questions, to find out relevant information and to see how far they can connect. I would love for them to share their findings back to this community and receive feedback on their learning. The idea is only a small seed at the moment and a little risky on my part but I am willing to take it and to chance failure in a bid to utilise the resources at our digital fingertips. But I will need some help…..

Would you be willing as the time approaches to follow the class Twitter handle, use the hashtag and share their questions to your networks?

As I continue to develop the UBD planner for the unit tentatively called “Food for Thought” and the ideas takes shape, I will share the concept online.

Watch this space……



Connectedness visual note by Nicki Hambleton

As the evening of Valentine’s Day was drawing to a close, I stumbled on an article from Mashable that had been shared on Facebook and the title caught my eye:

Instagram Strangers Help Man Plan the Perfect Proposal

The story goes like this: Guy wants to propose, decides on Portland, contacts stranger through Instagram for help, guy proposes, girl accepts. Of course the article tells it much more beautifully than that and with an accompanying digital story. But what fascinated me was this connection and trust in complete strangers on what was probably the most important day of his life. I use Instagram purely as a photography sharing place, more often than not with food shots or stimuli for just great composition or ideas. Strangers follow me, I follow strangers. It is a strange concept to me but it works. However I would never have thought of connecting with others like @iamcartermoore.  When I first joined Instagram I was not sure of what was expected, the etiquette or even the point. This felt a bit similar to the “lurking” stages of the early relationship I had with Twitter. I watched, took note, occasionally posted. Carter found kindred spirit and connection with Branden Harvey, a fellow photographer and film maker  and through this random link they became life long friends.

Getting in touch with my Connectedness

According to George Siemans, “connectivism starts with the individual” and that the  “learner remains current in their field through the connections they have formed”. (A Learning Theory for the Digital Age 2004)

My relationship with Twitter follows not such dramatic or love struck storyline as Carter Moore’s but with a similar sentiment. From taking that first step of observing and reaching out, to connecting and interacting with others and developing friendships that the true power of the internet is clear. By making these connections so we grow, our reach is further and interactions stronger.

It has been a busy week with food for thought. During the COETAIL live cast on Tuesday, listening to the conversations flow, it was a statement by Dana Watts that stood out. ” We learn most by collaborating together with others”.  It got me thinking:

How do the youth of today connect and grow as learners? In what ways is this different to how we learnt as teenagers and how we now connect to grow and develop as adults?

We have always been connected it’s just our reach goes out further these days with the Internet.

Last week’s post took me back to “7 degrees of connectedness” by Rodd Lucier and that how to be truly connected we must work at how we connect and what we actively do as part of these connections. It was by initially “messing around” with Twitter and stumbling on blogs that I grew as an educator and learner – it was the most effective PD I had ever had and one that I was controlling. By scrolling through my feed often an article or link would grab my attention and take me forward. So is this the way my students learn?

It is like those happy accidents when mixing paint or doodling with an idea, or playing with the ingredients of a cake or casserole that new directions are born.
It is when we are looking for something else that we usually find something that becomes the hinge pin, the starter, the turning point. It’s like playing in the sandpit as a kid. No rules, just fun.

Messing Around in the sandpit

Whilst reading “Messing About” (Living with New Media) I wonder how youngsters increase their own learning when challenged by something that they are passionate about.

learning from youtube Minecraft screenshot

learning from youtube Minecraft screenshot

I watch my son Luca, transfixed and thoroughly engrossed in his latest new kingdom on Minecraft. He is in control of his learning, growing exponentially and to think that it all started with a brick, a little piece of lego that evolved into what is arguably one of the most successful games with youngsters. The power of Minecraft- teaching kids to dabble, tinker and mess around, find their way, share and play.

The opportunities for using and developing your creativity by dabbling and playing with ideas is not a new one. As a teenager myself, I messed with ideas and sketches, devoured books and magazines to feed my creativity and spark new direction.  Luca shows me how he is building a pirate ship on Minecraft, following a Youtube video. He is ten and he is not alone. This is the world they have grown up in. Youtube is the biggest and most extensive instructions manual on anything you could ever want.

Hamish app development screenshot

Hamish app development screenshot

In school, Hamish in Grade 7 shows me an app he is building to help support and raise awareness of our Global Concern group, PAW (Promoting Animal Welfare). In order to do this he has had to learn how to code, dabbling with the software and through trial and error discovering what it can do. He says he frequently finds information through Youtube tutorials. My eldest son Piers is passionate about model trains and shares this through his Youtube channel, connecting with strangers to share his passion. Olivia studying iGCSE Visual Art in Grade 9 uses Tumblr as her go-to site. Here she discovers a plethora of visual inspiration and artists all over the world to share and connect with. Nanako, also a Grade 9 Art student, tells me how she first “messed around” with Photoshop and a tablet to create her own art. She backs up MacArthur’s claim that it is only through interest-driven subjects that students will actively pursue and maintain this stage of learning and again her preferred method is to try things out, tinker with the software and, if need be, use Youtube tutorials to steer her in the right direction. Nanako is one of our Apple Orchard students and to whom connections across our region are hugely beneficial as an artist. She adds that this stage of learning only works if the area is self chosen and  one that she is passionate about; teens simply would not have this same level of drive in a subject or topic they are not interested in.

But it is still on Facebook that students work and collaborate together, using FB groups to ask and answer questions about schoolwork. These closed but valuable communities support their learning and give them much needed support through the social media they interact with the most. It is still the most used platform for the youth of today.

Andrew Marcinek says in his blog post, “Students get it. They understand how easy it is to connect with one another, but don’t fully realize the greater potential.” (“Help Students Use Social Media to Empower, Not Just Connect” Edutopia 2010). I still wonder why Twitter is so underused as a portal for posing questions from the youth and as their learning zone. I can see the benefit of its use in class but I am halted by the over 13 restrictions with my Middle-schoolers.

I would love to pilot Google + communities with a class or group and see how they could use it to connect and interact. But our school has not switched Google+ on for students yet, so I wonder if anyone has any other suggestions for helping young students to connect? I have ideas to connect students on Skype with an artist in London we are studying as part of an Expressive Painting unit and to link my GC PAW participants with fellow activists and animal lovers worldwide to collaborate to raise awareness.
Is FB the most popular outlet because of its “socialness”, its distractibility; “I can just look at this for a moment so I don’t have to do my science homework”. We have all done that/do this: I’ll just look at that interesting article on Colossal or take that “What city am I?” quiz instead of writing reports… or just read another COETAILer post!

So what is more important – spending time connecting with others to build your PLN and learn from them or to spend that time surfing, discovering and stumbling on something that could be the start of a new direction for you. Clearly both are valuable and we cannot progress without the opportunities for either to occur.

So where do we find the time to dabble and play in the jam-packed 24 hours we have each day?


Photo Credit: Alan Cleaver via Compfight cc

Title quote adapted from “I didn’t get where I am today” from The Rise and Fall of Reginald Perrin. Book and TV series by David Nobbs.
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