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140 Characters in the IB Classroom

My most recent article has been posted over on the OSC IB Blogs site: 140 Characters in the IB Classroom I've re-posted it below. Visit the OSC-IB Blogs site and explore the posts on other areas of interest for students and for teachers
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"Twitter" flickr photo by Uncalno https://flickr.com/photos/uncalno/8537569665
shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

The word "Twitter" (as in a certain social media platform) has been turning up more and more in the news recently.  Twitter itself isn't new (if you're interested, you can read the history of Twitter in this post on lifewire), and it isn't new in education.  But as it is being talked about right now, I thought it might be a good time to take a closer look.

First, here are three posts and a video about Twitter basics: How to Use Twitter: Critical Tips for New Users from Wired.com  WikiHow to Use Twitter and from Twitter itself, Getting Started with Twitter.



As with all online sites and media, once you have a Twitter account, to protect yourself you MUST carefully look at your settings and privacy choices.  Read about these at the  online In the Twitter Support pages:
You can also find this information from your own Settings and Privacy page for your Twitter account. You should read through all this, and make your choices about what you want to see, and do not want to see, who can reach you through Twitter, etc. Access all this by clicking on the little circle with your avatar image, in the upper right corner of your Twitter page after you have logged in.  You might also like to read this post on cnet.com about recent changes in Twitter's privacy settings.  Barbara Stefanics recently posted on this blog about how to "Check Your Twitter Settings".

Do you know what you want to do with your Twitter account?  Read this EducationWorld post, Using Twitter for Professional Development , this one at Talks with Teachers, Why Twitter Matters in Education, and this from November Learning, How Twitter Can Be Used as a Powerful Education Tool.


"Twitter" flickr photo by clasesdeperiodismo https://flickr.com/photos/esthervargasc
/9775119174 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license
Now, you are logged in, you've checked through your settings,  you have some ideas of what you want to use your Twitter account for, and you probably  want to find Twitter users to "follow".  Here are some possibilities:

The IB has several official  Twitter accounts, and other folks have created IB centered Twitter accounts and lists:
The whole IB organization @iborganization
IB DP @IB_DP
IB MYP @ibmyp  and the #myp #mypchat search results.
IB PYP @ibpyp and the #ibpyp search results
IB Examiners @IB_Examiners 
IB World Magazine @IBWorldmag
@IBConnects PYP | MYP | DP International Baccalaureate Teaching Jobs Posted Daily. Connecting the World - One IB Teacher at a Time!

TOK Teachers is a public list by Larry Ferlazzo which collects tweets from the 23 TOK teachers listed on this page.  (The tweets you read on the list page may or may not have anything to do with education.)
IB DP teachers is a public list of 31 teachers created  by Ilja van Weringh
IB DP Geography Teachers is public list of 48 teachers created by Richard Allaway

There are many individual teachers tweeting, among them Brian Neises, MYP Workshop Leader & Field Rep; science and humanities teacher;  @themypteacher; Paul O'Rourke, Lifelong Learner; IB-Middle Years Program Coordinator; debate/public speaking, soccer coach @Paul_Niagara
This search result for our OSC blog shows many posts with ideas for using Twitter in the IB classroom.

This coetail post, Twitter for the IBDP Student: While Twitter is an amazing tool for building community, microblogging understandings, and organically developing a real-time yearbook, there’s more to be done with everybody’s favorite blue bird by Tricia Friedman, offers a few ways to "tweet like a pro in the IBDP classroom".  The post includes this interesting TedEd video "Visualizing the world's Twitter data" by Jer Thorp.(See the accompanying lesson on this web page.)



TMT, Pecha Kucha, and the Art of Liberating Restraints

My most recent article has been posted over on the OSC IB Blogs site: TMT,  Pecha Kucha, and the Art of Liberating Restraints I've re-posted it below. Visit the OSC-IB Blogs site and explore the posts on other areas of interest for students and for teachers
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 As is often the case on this blog, I am going to write about something I have just read.  EPFL is the  École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne, which is a research institute/university in Lausanne, Switzerland, specialising in physical sciences and engineering. I subscribe to their news blog as part of my general reading, and am continually intrigued by what I read.  In today's batch I learned about how Digital birdhouses make studying owls easier ("EPFL students have developed a system that can detect when barn owls fly into and out of their nests, without disturbing the birds. Their invention could soon be installed in some of the 350 birdhouses that biologists have set up in the Swiss region of Broye."),  Astronomers make the largest map of the Universe yet ("Astronomers of the extended Baryonic Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey, led by EPFL Professor Jean-Paul Kneib, used the Sloan telescope to create the first map of the Universe based entirely on quasars."),  A tool for monitoring the biodiversity of Swiss livestock ("EPFL researchers have created an online platform for monitoring the genetic diversity of livestock and the sustainability of animal farming in Switzerland. This project, which was developed in partnership with the Federal Office for Agriculture, could serve as a model for other countries."), Antibody biosensor offers unlimited point-of-care drug monitoring ("A team of EPFL scientists has developed several antibody-based biosensors that have the potential to help healthcare centers in developing countries or even patients in their own homes keep track of drug concentration in the blood."),  Understanding how technology can revolutionize humanitarian work ("A new EPFL course offers students the opportunity to learn more about how new technologies can be used by humanitarian organizations. The students critically assessed new information-sharing methods by conducting a real-life exercise using the app Civique, which was developed by the Idiap Research Institute, an EPFL partner institution.")

But the subject of this blog post is in this story about My Thesis in 180 Seconds: two EPFL students make it to the podium ("Two PhD students from EPFL were among the top three finishers in the Swiss finals of the My Thesis in 180 Seconds competition held last night in Geneva. One of them, Amaël Cohades, qualified for the international finals by coming in second. The 15 finalists, who came from universities all over French-speaking Switzerland, treated the large audience to an exhilarating look at their cutting-edge research.")
After reading the post, I wanted to find out more about TMT (Three Minute Thesis).  "The Three Minute Thesis competition (TMT or 3MT) is an annual competition held in over 200 universities worldwide. It is open to PhD students, and challenges participants to present their research in just 180 seconds, in an engaging form that can be understood by an intelligent audience with no background in the research area. This exercise develops presentation, research and academic communication skills and supports the development of research students' capacity to explain their work effectively." (source)  

A story in TheScientist, Your Thesis in 180 Seconds, from 2013 gives an overview of the competition, and its pros and cons. " 'The benefit of 3MT is that scientists who can already communicate get an opportunity to do so, and get feedback,' said Kent (David Kent, a Canadian postdoc currently studying stem cell biology at Cambridge University in the U.K. and an long-time supporter of outreach activities). 'That’s not a bad thing, but it’s not the same as teaching them how to communicate. ...I’ve got no problem with condensing concise thoughts into 3 minutes, and I think all researchers would benefit from learning how to do that,' he said. 'I just don’t think 3MT teaches you how to do that. The competition would be more useful if courses and workshops were always part of the program, he added.' "(source)

I searched for video samples of TMTs  and found 79,900 (!!!) The first I watched was Dimitrios Terzis, from the Laboratoire de mécanique des sols at EPFL speaking about "Geo-mechanical constitutive model for Bio-improved soils". (The format of his video made me think of TedTalks and how it has influenced presentation and staging.)



Then I sampled Megan Pozzi's presentation. She was the winner of Queensland University of Technology's Faculty of Education 2013 competition and the people's choice winner, speaking about her research on teenage girls and social media identity and status updates.



These TMTs remind me of Pecha Kucha,  a presentation style in which 20 slides are shown for 20 seconds each (6 minutes and 40 seconds in total). The images or slides advance automatically to keep the speaker on time, speaking only about each slide or image while it’s being displayed.   The essence of Pecha Kucha is to intentionally set limits on speakers using slideware (i.e. PowerPoint, Keynote etc.). Pecha Kucha is the Japanese term for “the sound of conversation” or “chit chat.” The format has been used in education for many years, and there is a lot of interesting writing about it. (Do a Google search for [pecha kucha in the classroom] after a few pages, use the Tools option to limit the search to the past year.) Read Pecha Kucha in the Classroom: Tips and Strategies for Better Presentations  by Richard L. Edwards, and perhaps this page for practical advise, if you are new to the format.

The video below (1 hr 25 min) from an IB World School, the International School of Brooklyn was filmed at its 3rd Annual Pecha Kucha evening on Friday, March 10, 2017. "This year there were 12 presentations from the ISB community. Through their short presentations, community members give brief glimpses into their inspiration, their process, and their work! Think of Pecha Kucha as a series of mini TED talks that highlight the amazing talent of our community. "




When next you assign a slide presentation as part of a student assessment, or when next you prepare a slide presentation for a lesson, remember to think of TMT, and Pecha Kucha, and the art of liberating restraints. Be inspired to use one of these frameworks.

Is it fake nature, or is it a story?

My most recent article has been posted over on the OSC IB Blogs site: Is it fake nature, or is it a story? I've re-posted it below. Visit the OSC-IB Blogs site and explore the posts on other areas of interest for students and for teachers.
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First, I'd like to explore the "Is it fake nature" part of my post's title:


"The 1958 Disney documentary into lemmings that won the academy award. Footage of lemmings jumping off cliffs was later found out to be faked. Edited version just showing the fake footage."

My guess is that most of you reading this post are not old enough to have watched the above television show when it was first broadcast in 1958.  (I will admit that I remember it vividly.  It was one of the first colour TV shows I saw as a child on our family's new colour TV set.)  Imagine my surprise and horror (Disney "cheated"???) when it was learned that it wasn't a "real" documentary at all, but that the lemming scene had been faked. (See Lemming Suicide Myth Disney Film Faked Bogus Behavior, The Truth about Norwegian Lemmings, White Wilderness.)

I thought about this recently when I read How Nature Documentaries are Fake: A Filmmaker’s Perspective, by DL Cade, on PetaPixel.  Cade writes:

"When you watch nature documentaries like the BBC’s famous Planet Earth series, do you take for granted that everything you’re seeing is 100% real? We wouldn’t blame you if you did, but as Simon Cade of DSLRguide explains in this video, you’d be wrong....While the amount of “manipulation” that takes place in the cutting room of a nature doc varies with the editor and how far the producer is willing to push the truth, the fact is: every nature documentary is edited to tell a story."  Watch the video below, and read the post, and think about it through the lens of "fake news".



Cade ends with a question: "Is it disappointing that nature docs, even the best ones, are at least somewhat manipulated to help tell a story and engage their audience? Sure. But the music-less 24 hour live stream called “reality” is probably not your idea of the perfect nature documentary either."

Let's check that out with a few nature live-streams. How long can you watch one of  these streams, with no story line, and little/no sound? Nature in motion: live cameras from around the world,  Audubon Top 10 Wildlife Web Cams, Explore,  offer lots of choices.  Some have natural sound, but most are silent. Some are "professional" setups from zoos and sanctuaries, and some or "home-made" setups focused on bird feeders or fish tanks. You'll probably want to choose one in your own time zone, so as not to be staring at a dark, night-time screen from the other side of the world (or, look for nocturnal animals in your own time zone!).



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To read more about this subject, see  These Are Some Of The Sketchy Ways Nature Documentaries Are Actually Filmed,
'Er, this bit isn't real': New David Attenborough series will tell viewers which shots are faked,
BBC 'fakes wildlife shots all the time': Veteran cameraman claims species 'smaller than rabbits' are filmed on custom-built sets 

And one last video.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZLpNht6YU2E
" I am shocked that many people cannot see the computer generated imagery in this scene from BBC's Planet Earth documentary. In the past the BBC has been accused of faking scenes in its documentaries. I am not disputing the camera crew was not there, because they was. I'm not saying they didn't film snakes and iguanas, because they did. What I am saying is that this specific chase scene in this video was fabricated using CGI, to enhance the drama and entertainment of the moment. " (link)

What do you think? Is a heavily edited, CGI-ed nature documentary "fake news" using free actors? Should we be looking at them far more critically than we used to? Can we use them in the classroom without very critical analysis? Should such a nature documentary move from a science classroom to the IT lab, as a lesson in how to create digital stories?