The Internet Is a Series of YouTubes

tubesThe Internet may seem like "a series of tubes"* to you if have discovered that there is a YouTube EDU, a YouTube for Schools, YouTube for Teachers and even a School of YouTube. So many tubes.

YouTube EDU is a sub-section of YouTube that contains educational content.

YouTube for Schools is a network setting used most often in K-12 schoools that, when implemented, allows a school to access the educational content on YouTube EDU while limiting access to non-educational content on is a how-to site that shows you how to use YouTube in the classroom.

YouTube for Schools brings the power of video to classrooms for free with some filtering available. Learn more here. It gives that selective access a broad set of educational videos on YouTube EDU and to select the specific videos that are accessible from within your school network. 

If you don't have a Google Account for your school, you can sign up for free here, but DO NOT sign up for YouTube for Schools using your personal account.

tubeThe School of YouTube is a new venture that YouTube says is part of their desire to make you "listen, laugh and give."  It opens this week.

Plenty of people use YouTube videos to learn as part of their Personal Learning Network. I just used a video to fix the carburetor on my lawn mower. You may have found a video on how to use a program or how set up hardware. This informal learning is a larger part of our learning experience than ever before.

The School of YouTube (like the ALS ice bucket challenge) is an attempt to raise funds in a new way. YouTube says that the school's curriculum is "uncomplicated, comes without annoying classmates and has only one easy assignment. And that assignment is that when you are done watching a
video, you must donate money to Comic Relief. Money raised from donations will go towards helping give kids an education across some of the world’s poorest countries."

The videos will feature some of YouTube’s most popular stars learning or teaching something new every day. According to a video that YouTube has released, the YouTube stars will perform a variety of tasks from figure skating to salsa dancing, baking a cake to landing a plane. The lessons will be uploaded on YouTube from September 8-12.

"A series of tubes" is a phrase used by then-United States Senator Ted Stevens to describe the Internet. It was part of his opposing network neutrality on June 28, 2006. The phrase took on a life and was widely ridiculed, especially because Stevens headed the committee charged with regulating the Internet.

Comments, Hits and the Wagging of a Long Serendipity35 Tail

I posted a piece here called "What Is Authentic Learning?" last month. It has been clicked (and read, hopefully) over 600 times. No comments on it because we still have comments turned off on Serendipity35 because of the spamstorms we have weathered in the past.

Earlier this year, LinkedIn sent me an email inviting me to post in my space on their platform. Now, I don't need to do any more blogging. Besides Serendipity35, I have five other blogs that I try to keep going, including a daily poem practice I'm doing for 2014.

Nevertheless, as an experiment, I decided to crosspost some of my posts from here to LinkedIn. That same post about authentic learning on LinkedIn has 2400 views and 140 "likes" so far. But I am more interested in the 41 comments. There were some really interesting comments - especially the negative/critical ones. There was a conversation about the topic.

Not all the reposts have gotten more attention. The next best post, "Your Data Is Big, But Is It Thick?" only has half the reach of the "Authenic Learning" post and others have only a hundred or so views (and are surpassed by Serendipity35's version).

This blog gets a lot of hits every month - for July 2014 it was 2,365,491 - but that's over the long tail of the more than 3000 posts here.

So, what does that surge on the LinkedIn version of a post mean? It's the same content. The only thing that changed is the platform. LinkedIn has "reach," a bigger audience than this blog, and a different audience (more in the business of tech than the teachin of or with tech?). I don't have any way to measure the "who" of this blog. I can look at stats about the "what" (the popular categories), the "how" (what browsers you use, what sites referred to to me), and the "when" about times when folks drop by to read. The live traffic feed in the sidebar here and our stats let me know the "where" of visitors (it's very global). What Tim and I can't see is the "why" and the "who."  Who are you and why did you drop by?

I imagine my readers as being educators who are interested in using technology - versions of myself. But I don't know if that's true. Tim will tell you that you are not clickers of ads. Tim gets the results of any clicks on the Google ads in the sidebar. He is still waiting for that to generate an actual payment for clicks and has promised me a McGoo burger and beer at McGoverns.  


Transmedia and Convergence


Imagine this: a language arts teacher asks her middle school students to translate a poem into computer code. The students use icons or letters to produce a new language and way of seeing poetry. They can also translate the poem’s code into an actual programming language, such as Scratch,  and so animate the poem. They could put the poem into LEGO Mindstorms EV3's robot-programming language to create - well, that is yet to be seen.

This is transmedia - the technique of telling a single story or story experience across multiple platforms and formats using digital technologies. It is not to be confused with traditional cross-platform media sequels or adaptations, such as a novel made into a film.

The poetry activity lets students see connections between languages, grammar and code.

Transmedia, literally “across media” may have its origin in entertainment franchises, but it is being pulled into education purposes.

It is a constructivist educational pedagogy that supports student-centered learning. It requires students to use personalized meaning-making. [8]is both valuable and becoming more and more common. While teachers like Sansing are using coding and programming in their language arts instruction, others are taking advantage of increasingly sophisticated apps and interactive media for classroom use.

Some of this occurred ten years ago in classes using virtual worlds like Second Life, and now is happening to a degree with young students building environments in Minecraft. But the retelling of a poem in a programming language is a big leap from visualizing a novel on paper or on a screen.

Transmedia storytelling emerged from outside education in the world of commercial media. The term “transmedia” seems to have been coined in 1991 by Marsha Kinder in her book Playing with Power in Movies, Television, and Video Games. The media examples she uses may be a decade old but her descriptions of how cross-platform entertainment franchises (such as “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” who have returned this year) successfully cross mediums.

In the classroom, transmedia does not seem as odd today with the multiple platforms students use to connect and communicate. They probably do that more frequently and with more enthusiasm and facility outside of classrooms. It is unfortunate that it is not being utilized more by educators.

Transmedia as a pedagogical tool with students interacting with platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or Tumblr opens up new viewpoints, and resources in a shared way that can be immersive.

It is a natural path to thinking critically, ownership of learning and the natural acquisition of knowledge.

In Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide, Henry Jenkins, founder and director of MIT's comparative media studies program, posits that it's not as simple as new media will replace old media. He says that it is more likely that new media will interact with older media in a complex relationship which he calls "convergence culture."

Transmedia might be one educational path to convergence.


Standards and Interoperability.

I'm glad that when I plug in something to my AC wall outlets, they fit and work. All my headphones, microphones and earbuds fit into my laptop and my phone. I like interoperability. I like standards.

That love of standards isn't universal when it comes to education. I've written earlier about the problems that the implementation of the Common Core State Standards has had in American schools. Standards work when everyone agrees to them.

A post on the Canvas by Instructure blog points out that this also true in educational technology. Standards for software and hardware make it possible for tools to work with each other and on multiple devices. That is not a 100% ubiquitous agreement in standards, but the percentage is thankfully high.

The Canvas LMS and others, like Blackboard and Moodle, are adopters of the Learning Tools Interoperability™ (LTI) standard which allows a better user-experience on most learning platforms.

Higher education has embraced and benefited from this standard although some applications (such as Student Information Systems) do not play well with each other or on all platforms. The K-12 world has not benefited as much, mostly because technology providers for many K-12 tools and resources have not adopted the standards.

You would be angry if that plug did not fit in the port or didn't work even if it did fit.

Google Classroom Moves Out of Preview

logoIn June, I wrote about Google's limited preview of Classroom. The new tool is not a full virtual classroom but more of a tool for teachers to stay in touch with their students, give assignments and feedback.

Now, Google says more than 100,000 educators from 45 countries have signed up to try it. They have ended the preview phase and anyone with a Google Apps for Education account can now use the service.  It is available in 42 languages.

I have suspected for a few years that Google would offer teachers access to a free content management system. Classroom does that, although in a limited way.

A teacher can post updates and homework assignments and add/subtract students from their classes and give feedback including grades. The service is being aimed at K-12 teachers. Classroom doesn't connect with student information systems. It doesn't have threaded discussions and some tools that other open source or commercial CMS/LMS offer. Well, not yet...

It does connect, as you would expect, with Google Drive and the productivity applications, such as Google Docs and Slide in the Google Apps for Education suite.

In a Google world, a student works on her Chromebook with Google’s apps to write a paper and submits it through classroom. One educational ecosystem.

So, what is the ultimate objective for Classroom? Is it designed to get schools to use Google apps rather than ones from Apple or Microsoft? Is it a way to sell more Chromebooks to schools or (via Google Play for Education) open a path to sales of Android apps and books?

Will Classroom expand to higher education? Will Google one day be offering course content? How about credits?

A video about some experiences of teachers and students who gave feedback on the Classroom preview. 

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