Teachers and social media

Reading professors like an open facebook, or how teachers use social media
Courtesy of: Schools.com

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Why Batman?

by Lynette A. J. Foliaki

The Caped Crusader, the Dark Knight, the Greatest Detective, the Giant Bat! These are only some of the names (not forgetting Joker’s infamous ‘Batsy’) that cartoon, film and comic book character, Batman, is known by.

I’m not an expert on Batman and I’m not even going to pretend that what I’m going to say is anything new on the character. I just wanted to shed some light on my fascination of a fictional man (Mum, I hope you’re reading this!).
If you don’t know who Batman is, you’ve been living under a rock for the best part of a century or so.

Everyone knows the story of Bruce Wayne, the billionaire socialite of fictional Gotham City, who watched his parents’ murder when he was 8 and vowed to take on Gotham’s criminal underworld at his parents’ grave. After more than a decade of physical and mental training and conditioning, Wayne returned to Gotham and took on the cowl as his alter ego, Batman. When the Justice League was formed, he had already commanded the respect of powerhouses like Superman, Martian Manhunter and Wonder Woman, who deferred to him as decision maker more than once. He didn’t hit the hardest and neither was he the fastest but he had the brilliant mind and the indomitable will that made him the leader of the League as much as Superman was.

In an episode of Young Justice, Captain Marvel offers a word of advice to Aqualad after the team had taken off without orders. He reminded Aqualad that Batman was able to stop any protests from the team with a single word. Aqualad’s response to that was ‘That’s because Batman is…Batman.’ And he was right. Batman inspires awe and a little fear even in his friends and if I was a criminal and I saw him coming at me on a dark night, I’d return the lady’s purse with a heartfelt apology before running away screaming. Or rather, drop the purse and run away screaming my apologies. All in vain, no doubt, but the guy’s dressed as a giant bat, that’s a little freaky so you can’t blame me for trying to get away.

But I’m not a giggly fan girl, I know the character is flawed. He’s dangerous, obsessive and emotionally broken. He’s been the topic of discussions by psychiatrists (in real life, what’s more) who have tried to decipher the mental and emotional battlefield that is Batman. He’s driven by vengeance and the trauma of his parents’ murder (and we all know how unhealthy that is) and his crime fighting methods can be…questionable.

If Batman really did exist, the UN would be in a tizzy trying to figure out whether to give him an award or arrest him for violating numerous human rights conventions. Maybe his description as a vigilante is more fitting than of a superhero. But no one can fault that he gets the job done and that he feels for every victim he saves. Batman may use intimidation like a weapon and may be one of the most feared members of the League but no one can say that he would turn his back on a plea for help.

It’s not just about a fictional character – it’s about what that character represents. It’s about a man with the drive and determination to push himself to the limit to do what needs to be done and to sacrifice everything, including himself, for what is right.

It’s about a man who has the confidence to stand beside so many super-powered  hard hitters, without having any special powers of his own, and still stand tall. It’s about a man who, regardless of he has suffered, opts for rehabilitation over destruction. It’s about the strength of character of a man who refused to let his worst nightmare break him but instead, turned it into his greatest strength.

Batman is about living, even when your world has turned to dust around you. It’s about fighting inner demons constantly and not breaking. It’s about refusing to give up even when life sucker punches you in the stomach and then kicks you when you’re down. It’s about knowing that it’s okay not to be okay sometimes – no one is constantly deliriously happy and if they are, there’s a medical term for that. It’s about setting goals and then soaring well above them. It’s about knowing your limitations but refusing to become limited by them.

Simply put, it’s about Batman.

Be an inspirational teacher

How to Be an Inspirational Teacher

from wikiHow – The How to Manual That You Can Edit
This article will show that any teacher can be inspirational. Inspiration, by definition means: The action or power of moving the intellect or emotions.[1]

Steps

  1. Have Empathy. Probably the greatest quality a teacher can have. Creating empathy is about bonding with your students. Cry with them, laugh with them. Try to be on their wavelength. Get to know their emotions and understand their feelings. Young people are easily stressed and sometimes under great pressure, but all you might see is anger, aggression, bad attitude or impatience. At this time you need to be compassionate and understand some bad stuff is going on in their lives. Search for the real person underneath and when you find them they will open up to you.
  2. Develop a Positive Mental Attitude. Teachers are human like anyone else; however, the stresses of working with young people especially those with attitudinal and behavioural problems can sometimes be immense. This is the time you need to be strong. To keep a smile on your face when things get tough. To see the bright side of things. To seek to find the positive in every negative situation. To be philosophical. Why? Because your attitude is contagious. You have the choice to bring a light into your classroom or cast a shadow.
  3. ‘Grow’ your Verbal Skills. Every great teacher is a great orator. If you can keep your students focused and interested just by talking to them then you are doing a great job. When was the last time you spoke about something and you could hear a pin drop? ‘Just talking to them’ means using passion, emotion, great eye contact, animated body language, voice modulation and feeling. Talk with conviction. Believe in what you say. Take your students on a wonderful journey every day.
  4. Show Respect. Respect every human being that is in your classroom. Talk to them like you would talk to your closest friends. No one is more important in this world than anyone else. A great inspirational teacher is a human being who respects everyone no matter their attitude, colour, religion, creed or country. Every one of your students has a place on this earth. You can help them make a positive impact on it too. You have the power to change their lives. The Law of Reciprocity (you reap what you sow) will ensure that the respect you give out will come back to you a hundredfold.
  5. Remember that your students are Individuals. Know your students inside and out. Do not pick on reward/punishment for all students, because they are all different individuals. Talk to your students and be involved in their lives. Use different teaching styles and strategies within the classroom, because everyone learns differently. Have options for big projects or presentations within your class. Most importantly, let your students be creative, do not limit them. Also, do not judge them. Do not have your own thoughts about them before they walk in your room, or after they leave. Look for the deeper meaning behind actions, instead of getting angry or upset.
  6. Know that teaching is a noble profession. The day a teacher realizes that they have been given a great gift – the power to change lives, is the day an inspirational teacher is born. You have a choice either to believe you are a mediocre teacher teaching a boring subject to boring kids. Or, a human being helping other human beings to realize their full potential and go on and make a positive difference in their world. Your beliefs create your world.

Tips

  • Be Different
  • Be Humorous
  • Be Kind
  • Be Patient
  • Be Respectful
  • Be Understanding
  • Be Helpful
  • Be Loving
  • Just be the very best human being you can be
  • Be Fair but discipline students, this will help you get respect, as well as help your teachings be more memorable/inspirational.

Warnings

  • Don’t be a pushover when teaching. Students may like you, but they won’t remember what you say after the course is over.

Sources and Citations

  1. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/inspiration

Article provided by wikiHow, a wiki how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Be an Inspirational Teacher. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.

USP Open Day 2011 on Wiffiti

Wiffiti is an application which is used for real-time display of text messages and tweets on big-screens for view by the public. It is very commonly used in sports stadiums, concerts, gallery openings, and corporate conferences. In fact I came across Wiffiti in one of the corporate booths at the Moodle Moot Conference, July 2011, at the Sydney Convention Centre , Sydney, Australia.


Click this link to go to the Wiffiti1!

Click this link to go to Wiffiti 2!

Once you’ve signed up for a Wiffiti account, you are able to customize your own screen, and once your screen is published, you will be provided with a code which people could use to send SMS messages or tweets to your screen. And people send these messages from anywhere in the world. Shown above are 2 screens that I made for my institutions Open Day.

Promoting a participatory culture using Moodle and web 2.0 technologies

Click on the image for presentation in Youblisher!

ICT and Pacific Islands Curriculum

Click this link for presentation in Authorstream.

Connected Trust

Watching the movie Trust the other night reminded me of the real danger that teenagers are exposed to today as computers and the internet are increasingly becoming ubiquitous. Trust is about a family dealing with the aftermath of an online predator incidence.

In this dramatic thriller, British actor Clive Owen and young American Liana Liberato play a father and daughter who struggle to mend their relationship after an online predator threatens to tear their family apart. Trust is a must-see for parents with teenage children and all educators especially those who are interested in the use of modern technology in education.

Today, teenagers are connected 24/7; they are conversing with their friends using SMS, internet forums and chat facilities. Unfortunately, however, most parents are clueless about what their teenage children are doing with their mobile phone or computer. Trust is a stark reminder that 1) new media literacies are more important today than ever before, and 2) that the teaching of new media literacies must not be left only to school teachers or a particular group of people.

Although the teaching of new media literacy skills is everybody business, it must start from home. Parents must take an active role in talking to their children about the media in general and the internet in particular. In online environments, it is totally irresponsible to assume that children will be able to fend for themselves in the chaos of things. Teenage children need adult guidance so that they able to use the internet safely and responsibly. In online environments, parents must show the same level of protection that they provide their children offline.  Just because that the child is in the next room at home doesn’t mean that he or she is safe with the internet.

The school too has a lot to do. First, it must rethink it’s literacy emphasis. In some parts of the world, including the Pacific Islands, the school and the curriculum are doing very little in the areas of internet safety and new media literacies. There is an urgent need to expand our curriculum conceptualization of literacy to include skills that people need to succeed in today’s online culture.

The Internet Safety Teens website has a lot of useful information on internet safety. For the purpose of this blog post, however, I would like to highlight the common 5-stage technique that internet predators use to lure and deceive their victims:

  • In Stage 1 of the grooming process, Internet predators typically collect information from your profile or chat, disguise their own identity, and pretend to have common interests with you.
  • In Stage 2, they typically support your point of view in online conflicts or offline arguments that you tell them about, pretend to be the only person who understands you, and become your IM or chat buddy.
  • In Stage 3, they typically ask you to keep the friendship a secret, exchange email addresses and phone numbers with you, and use more adult-oriented language and materials.
  • In Stage 4, they typically talk more about adult experiences and sexual topics, gradually introduce more sexual photos and pictures into conversations, encourage you to be sexually curious, and to believe that sex between adults and minors is normal.
  • In Stage 5, they typically use threats of violence or public humiliation if you stop communicating or refuse to meet in person.
  • In the Final Stage of the grooming process, Internet predators achieve their ultimate goal of arranging a face-to-face meeting with you.

With online predator incidences such as the one in Trust, the internet and new media can quickly become victims of blame and suspicion. Stephanie Booth has written excellent and well-researched articles on the issue of internet predators. In one blog post, she writes:

don’t panic — the media make the whole online sexual predator issue sound much worse than it is; (they (teenagers) might even be more at risk offline than online if they’re “normal” kids who do not generally engage in risky behaviour, given that most perpetrators of sex crimes against minors are family members or ‘known people’)

The Nasese continuous lightning

It was about 1 – 3 am, Monday 6th December, 2010 that I saw a continuous lightning coming from the Southeastern skies of Suva, Fiji.  It was a very warm night and apart from the clouds at the SE horizon, the sky above was relatively clear . This was the first time for me to witness such an event, so I picked up my camera, went out of the house and recorded the video below.

This odd event probably went on  for more than an hour as I was still able to see the flashes when I went to bed at about 3am.  The strangeness of this event has forced me to visit the recording in Vimeo 6 months after I had uploaded it there.

This continuous lightning event is unique for a number of reasons. First, it consisted of continuous flashes which went on unceasingly for more than an hour.  This means that there were a lot of electrical charges being built up in the  clouds of SE skies.  Secondly, there were no accompanying thunder. Since it is impossible to have lightning without thunder, it is therefore very likely that these lightning bolts were very far away.

A few searches in Google has taught me that this type of continuous lightning is not that uncommon at all. It has been observed in other parts of the world, and the most famous of these continuous lightning events, dubbed as the Maracaibo Beacon, has been for centuries used as a navigational aid by the fishermen of Maracaibo Lake, Venezuela, South America.

A blend of Moodle and Web 2.0 technologies

Learning is complex

Learning is a complex process, and to manage this complexity we’ve invented systems such as classrooms, timetables, rules, and detention. Even in online learning environments, Learning Management Systems (LMS) are put in place to ensure that learning is happening according to plan. Moodle is one LMS that many educational institutions have adopted.

From Moodle to Networks

In the past 2 -3 months, besides using our course Moodle page, my students and I also experimented with a diversity of Web 2.0 tools. Many of us signed up for an account in social network sites, and it didn’t take long for some of the students and I to meet in Facebook and in Twitter. Immediately friend requests were sent and we were following each other.

Within weeks, what started 3 months earlier as a formal class discussion forum within the closed environment of Moodle has now evolved into a complex network of enthusiastic and independent participants. We are now sharing not just Moodle forum posts but also blogposts in WordPress or Blogger, videos in YouTube and Vodpod, Tweets, Boxnet files, Flickr photos and videos, shortened URLS, and bookmarks in Diigo libraries.

Breaking the formality

The formality that we are familiar with in Moodle has become less stringent. Frequent sharing of jokes and the use of acronymns such as LOL, OMG, and LMHO has enlivened up the faceless nature of the dialogues in Facebook and Twitter.

The increase in the number of web-based tools that students are using is also accompanied by a significant improvement in the way they search for, present and organize information online. In their own initiative, some of the students are sharing their experiences with Tweet deck, HootSuite, and Symbaloo. This shows that their experiences with the internet has made them aware of the real need to learn how to manage the deluge of web information.

From novice to experts

This blend of Moodle and Web 2.0 tools is enabling students to take charge of their learning. Students display an increased sense of responsibility. For example, they put up their own Facebook “Teacher-student-mentor” page into which they meet and discuss issues related to their school work and their profession (teaching).

With the absence of the teacher’s control, the students are now seeing the need for them to assume the roles of experts, to offer advice and to lead discussions.  And they are further encouraged to improve this independence and leadership by the fact that their efforts are being acknowledged and appreciated by the members of the network. This approach is taking learning using Moodle to a new level.

Tech savvy… still need guidance!

Though young people of today are naturally tech savvy, they still need adult guidance. The teacher’s online presence makes a lot of difference to the learning environment, from the type of photos which are shared and the issues which are discussed to the number of students who actauuly participate in the discussion. It’s utterly irresponsible, especially in online learning environments, to assume that students will learn quality content and skills entirely on their own.

Fun images

This fun image of some Twitter friends was produced with the online photo-editing tool Photofunia. There are more than 200 photo effects for you to choose from. There is no registration required. It’s easy to use and it’s free.