In the recent week I have had the pleasure of taking part  in a social network for Norwegian teachers and educators called del&bruk. Formed by Ingunn and other entrepeneurs it has seen a mushrooming of new members by the day. One of the main issues predominant in discussions are the fear of sharing. The idea is to share your ideas on implementing ICT in your lessons and hopefully find useful ideas that others have posted. I have to admit that I haven’t been good at sharing specific lesson plans yet, but I am however engaged in discussions regarding past or ongoing projects in my own work. This network has given me an ample opportunity to share concerns and enthusiasm about my efforts to implement ICT in my lessons.
Top View
An interesting article at Betchablog addresses the issue with The New Digital Divide and points out the sad fact that the ones who usually find themselves in networks like del&bruk are already into the whole Web 2.0 community and are active in an array of networks from Flickr to Twitter and bookmark using del.icou.us and attend courses in Second Life. There is a distinction between the “will’s” and “will-nots”, and the latter have many excuses why they don’t want to take the plunge. Where does the responsibility lie?

The sole responsibility relies on the individual teacher and his/her willingness to try out new digital applications and technologies in the classroom. This is the case in most schools in Norway and beyond I dare say. Personally I do feel overwhelmed myself with all the possibilities and having actually taken the plunge myself with a trusted colleague we’ve now started blogging, making digital stories and films, producing music and taking advantage of Quizlet in language classes, Tutpup in Maths and Dipity in Social Studies. It does create a lot of extra work, but the experiences we make are valuable lessons to us as teachers and it is very rewarding discussing them with others attempting to do the same in communities like del&bruk.

Life itself is in fact lived in beta, and the most important thing is to take the plunge and try new things. Teachers are often being accused of being conservative, but del&bruk is yet another example of how we do take responsibility and try to change the status of the classroom and bring us into the 21st century. It will be interesting to see how things develop and I hope I will continue to share and participate fervently.

Advertisements

This past week we started our topic on Population Contrasts as we are working on Globalization in Social Studies. I used Hans Rosling’s Gapminder as a topic starter. I set up projector and a big whiteboard – and had the bubblecharts speak for themselves before I complimented it with a lecture and follow-up questions.

Gapminder uses statistics to generate so-called bubblecharts to visualize developments and trends over time. This gives us a chance to see geo-political differences and sparks interest and debate. My class enjoyed this way of viewing statistics on population growth, birth rates, death rates and migration patterns. During and after the presentations of the various bubblegraphs and looking at particular countries and comparing them all students in the class had lots of questions and educated guesses.

Gapminder is a great tool to display human development patterns around the world and through history. It definitely created both curiosity and interest in my class.

On Thursday this week I had a lecture in Norwegian class on “Farlige Bøker”, dangerous literature in regards to the freedom of speech and violating it in different contexts and how it has been challenged in Norwegian literary history as well as in world literary history. Names such as Agnar Mykle, Salman Rushdie and Anna Politkovskaya.NRK, Norway’s national broadcaster, has a massive archive of in-house programs available for streaming on their website. The program Bokprogrammet presents different thematic approaces to literature and society. I had a specific program in mind (Farlige Bøker, 06.02.2007) that would compliment and exemplify the lecture.After a brief introduction I used a PC, projector and an online connection to stream the specific programme on the whiteboard. No asking around for a VHS cassette in case some teacher had taped the program a year ago.

I have been walking a lot during this year’s first month. It’s nothing revolutionary, nothing new. It gives me time to listen to great music – and space and time to think. Recently I’ve been thinking about my profession.

I’m a teacher. Norway’s prime minister, Jens Stoltenberg, announced in his New Years speech that Norway has to put more emphasize on education since Norwegian students and pupils alike are falling behind in European tests like PISA. Media goes bananas and tells us that our kids are lazy, dumb and not motivated for school. Furthermore, school is a joke, a playground, a place to keep our children when we work and make our way up the career ladder. And even more importantly, society blames the politicians and politicians blame schools and their teachers. There is no more discipline, teachers are not well educated and they cannot handle our children in a responsible way… Reform panic has created mayhem, it’s all chaos. Doom’s day is here.

I agree, something IS definitely rotten in Norway.

We’re too well off. We’re a playground. We’re the laughing stock of the new century. And why? We have the fatal impression that we’re all well off because of our newfound wealth. This leads to the ill conclusion among many that they’ll be okay whatever work they put into school. Look at our university system, it’s easy to sleep through it and get by, and if you flunk? Well, you’ll be okay. Of course, a handsome few make the best out of it and excel within their fields. It’s not all bleak. But many, many kids lack motivation, they see the world of consumerism around them and they are fed up on new iPods and flatscreens every Christmas. What’s the point of learning about history and science when you’ll be a real estate agent like your father? Next, parents are shying away from their real responsibility here. Unfortunately, it’s often the men. 3 out of 4 parents who are involved in their kids school are mothers… Where are the damn fathers? Are they really too busy for their own kids’ education?

The responsibility is shared for the situation. It’s society’s problem, it’s my problem and it’s your problem. We’re all in it knee deep. The irony is, we live in high times, salary is good and there’s cash flow for most people – and when a country runs well, especially in Norway we doze off in the global race of educational excellence. Look at India and China, there it is a matter of life and death. A matter of happiness and desperation. If you don’t succeed in your field you’re out of the game.

In Norway, we have the impression that we’re all in the game. Problem is, we’re stuck on level 1 for now. And who will suffer? Our kids, and then our society.

I’ll try to do my best, try a little harder everyday, teach our kids to excel, to be good citizens and above all – good human beings. And I’ll keep on walking.