Category Archives: student 2.0

“Students 2.0″ website back up

students 2.0 screenshot, new url 2012Just a quick mea culpa and news of a resurrection: The mea culpa? I let Students 2.0 url lapse in the transition from Korea to Singapore. Then I fell into several fathoms of off-web seas — three years of graduate study (and a new Masters in Ed. Leadership last year), and three years of China voraciousness — and only recently surfaced to get the site back online.

So Students 2.0 — with help from “Arthus” and a nudge from Lindsea — is indeed back up, but with a twist: it has a new address: it was .org.)

Apologies to all for that lapse. Better late than never. And it’s nice to revisit that stretch of the path.

Shiny New Ed 2.0 Video with Gratuitous Sex and Violence

From the YouTube blurb:

[Stanford Psychology] Professor Philip Zimbardo conveys how our individual perspectives of time affect our work, health and well-being. Time influences who we are as a person, how we view relationships and how we act in the world.

Interesting all the way through, but the gallery below previews  parts that should  interest educators.  See the full vid below the fold.


The blurb doesn’t mention Zimbardo’s segue into education (at the 5.40 mark) and the allegedly re-wired brains of teens.  Nor does it  mention that Zimbardo also designed the fascinating Stanford Prison Experiment back in 1971. (Hover over that link to see a popup video via my Apture plugin.)

Ed 2.0 geeks may find little new here, but the RSA Animate production values package the ideas with more bling than usual. This may be useful for tech evangelists who haven’t resigned themselves to the similar inertial laws governing schools and glaciers . Continue reading

On Student Genius, How Not to Grade a Wiki, and Making the World a Stage

clock pictureScot Aldred asks how I assessed projects like the Broken World Wiki textbook, and I tell him I haven’t the foggiest idea. It was too long ago. More to the point, he notes that since I said in my Australia keynote that whatever I did at that time led to burnout, the better question is, “How are such edit-heavy projects best assessed?” This set me to thinking of a speech I saw a brilliant Korean student give in the Original Oratory competition at the IASAS Cultural Convention in Taipei, Taiwan, earlier this month, and how it challenged a lot of what I’ve been taught is “authentic” writing instruction and assessment.

But this post is as much about that brilliant young speaker, and how he and the other young prodigies at that event need to learn to showcase their brilliance by harnessing the power of the web. So, first, that Korean kid.

The Spoken

Slouched in the back rows of the auditorium, high above the stage, I looked down on this kid approaching the podium with a bit of amusement. Straight bangs down to his mad scientist glasses, thin and slightly hunched frame, he didn’t inspire a lot of confidence. Even less when he took a few beats too many, it seemed to me, to adjust the microphone, pause, survey his audience left, center, right. Had he forgotten his lines? Finally, he hunches forward into the microphone and peers out at the audience from beneath those low-hanging bangs:

To the left: “Tick.”  To the center: “Tick.” To the right. “Tick.” Pause. “Time is passing, and you’ll never get a moment back.”

My cliche-meter activated, I’m already plotting a path to the most discreet exit. But he keeps going: “And that’s why I want to talk to you today about what we’re told is one of the great evils of student life: Procrastination.”

He belts that last word out with such surprising flair, both vocally and physically, wheeling his body in such a way that he takes in the whole audience with his eyes, that I’m inclined to nibble at his bait. I’ll give him a few more seconds.

“You’ve all heard it a million times from a million teachers: ‘Don’t wait until the last minute to start your essay. You’ve got a week: start drafting now.’ Or, ‘Don’t put off studying for that test until the last night.’ ” Pause. “But I’m here to tell you: the teachers are wrong. Procrastination is one of the wisest strategies for living the Good Life.”

The pleasure of the hook piercing the cheek. I relax into my seat to enjoy being reeled in.

The Heard

The student went on to marshal all sorts of evidence that real people often wait until the deadline to do their work, and they do just fine. He’s got me thinking of how I teach writing — the Six Traits of Effective Writing, using the Writing Process to revise, trait by trait, over a number of days — versus how I do it, and have always done it: in one sustained outpouring of words that normally begins around 10 pm with a full pot of coffee, and ends around dawn the next day at the bottom of the second pot. And yes, that day is the day of the deadline.

It worked for me in college, where my professors almost always praised my writing. And it has worked for me since, in all the (admittedly modest) ways my writing has been successful.

So why was I making my students practice a model I myself didn’t practice, had never practiced? Why was I forcing them to sacrifice on its altar so many irrecoverable ticks of the clock, and forcing myself to sacrifice hours as well to assess each of those revisions?

Pitchforks down, readers. I’m a strong advocate of the Six Traits, and sing its praises whenever the topic comes up. It’s a beautifully focused model for zeroing in on the fine points of the writer’s craft, and its internal logic makes it a baby worth keeping. My way of teaching it, though? That’s the bathwater this kid was making me think should be thrown out. (And that points toward my first gut answer to Scot: assessing wikis shouldn’t excessively weight the number of edits. It’s the quality of the final piece that should be assessed. For some writers, excellent quality will take many edits, and for others, none at all. The proof is in the pudding. If the final product lacks polish, the student should be able to show edits as proof of effort. Otherwise, ignore them.)

The Echoes

Then came the moment of the speech that lifted me powerless onto the deck, happily flapping at this young speaker’s feet: “And now let me close by warning you of your fate if you don’t procrastinate: you become that most unhealthy of things in modern civilization” — and he wheels on the next phrase, and spits it out with fire-and-brimstone perfection — “a workaholic!”

Laughter and applause all around as he speeds through the details of a life lost to obsessive perfectionism and a work ethic gone berserk, before putting on the brakes, slowing to a pause, and closing where he started, with the “Tick, tick, tick” of that precious clock that, unless we rule it, rules us: a healthy reminder that some cliches earn their status for good reason.

Toward a Bigger Stage

I left that Original Oratory event the way I had left so many others — the Impromptu Speaking, the Oral Interpretation, the Extemporaneous Speaking — at that Convention: amazed by the talent of the students, and depressed at how boxed-in it all was. That Korean student (Sung Jin J. of Jakarta International School) struck me as nothing less than a young, Asian David Sedaris, able to use his wit and verbal skills to turn his quirky physical package to his great advantage; another student, a Pakistani young man named Raheem of the International School of Manila, spoke in multiple events with such polish and intelligence I would have paid admission to see more; likewise Zach at my own school, with his Original Oratory speech about the degeneration of high school into a breeding ground for “fakes, hypocrites, and cheaters,” an institution devoted no longer to “college preparation,” but to mere “college application preparation”; and an Australian young man whose name I forget but whose speeches I never will: all of these students showed nothing less than genius. And while IASAS deserves kudos for celebrating these prodigies on the same level that we usually (and depressingly) reserve for people skilled at getting a rubber ball through a hoop, across a line, or over a fence, it still falls short of promoting them on a far broader, and at the same time far less labor-intensive scale.

You know what I’m getting at: all that genius disappears into silence or, only slightly better, onto some school website that gets ten visits a month. If they truly had the savvy popular wisdom suggests these “digital natives” do, they could be getting thousands, tens of thousands of viewers a month. And that could lead places for them.

The missed opportunity to showcase them as they deserve killed me. I approached many of them, gave them my card, told them they deserved a wider audience than the auditorium, and I wanted to help them reach it. It was all unplanned, so I cast about in my mind for possibilities: I could propose to my old colleagues at that they publish these students as guest-writers. I could see about interesting them in reviving Students 2.0. I could feature them on this blog.

But all of those ideas are more complicated, it seems to me now, than necessary. It seems to me that all those students need to do is start their own blog, or YouTube channel for their orations, and share their talents with the world that easily. When they launch, they can tell me, I can tell you, and we can all promote them and send viewers their way. And then the unpredictable possibilities of “Open Living,” to quote Alan Levine — the possible job offers, interviews, feature articles, and the million other serendipities — are given their opening. And maybe these young geniuses can be discovered before they graduate high school.

Image by zoutedrop

Students with Eyes, Let Them See: 27-Year-Old Chinese Blogs His Way to Fame

An example worth sharing to students of a kid who figured out the power of simple blogging — combined, of course, with quality thinking and writing — and blogged his way to stardom by age 27. In China.

From the excellent China Digital Times, with emphasis added:

Han Han was named as the ‘Person of the Year” in 2009 by two influential publications: Guangzhou-based newspaper Southern Weekend(南方周末) and Hong Kong-based magazine Asia Weekly (亚洲周刊). Here are some excerpts of the relevant articles in both publications, translated by CDT:

By Asia Weekly: Han Han: Youthful Citizen vs Power 亚洲周刊二零零九年度风云人物韩寒——青春公民VS权力.

Han Han is a 27-year-old author and race car driver, and his blog has generated nearly 300 million visits since 2006. He follows and is concerned with public rights defending events. On the Shanghai “Fishing” incident, Hangzhou “70 yards” incident, forced eviction incident and other events his clear and powerful writing has generated an enormous influence on public opinion. As a member of the post-80s generation, he lives authentically and freely, and demonstrates the energy of China’s youthful citizens and the hope of civil society in China.


From Southern Weekend: The Name of Han Han Means to Offend [the Establishment]

In the public eyes for ten years, he is now a household name, and still young, he is called by his supporters “Young Master Han.” This nickname is flattering and lighthearted, saying that he has style and quality, and is not a boring person. Young Master Han is an author, the only National Champion of in both field and rally car race, is an idol, and owns a blog which has the highest traffic in the world. He is so famous, that people often forget how extraordinary it is that one person has all these different titles. But Young Master Han became the Han Han that is now widely respected after he started a blog, and began writing social commentary which resonates with our time. His self-styled commentaries caused controversy, but were also widely popular. One day, even the most conservative people started to realize that this young man was not full of nonsense. Behind the 300 million clicks on his blog posts was a fresh humanist radiating the wave of freedom. [read the rest]

Regular readers will know I’ve become somewhat of an elitist when it comes to urging the young to blog, only wanting to “attract” those rare students who have the gifts but don’t seem to understand the tools we now have to manifest those gifts to the world — and this example is a case in point: Han can write well and think critically, “follows” (surely via RSS?) issues he “is concerned with” and writes about them. In other words, he’s got the gifts of curiosity, passion, a drive for socio-political engagement and reform, and an apparently wicked mind and pen. And a “humanist” to boot.

The most delicious detail in this young man’s delicious life? His secondary school held him back a year, and he dropped out of school without graduating.

Han Han was born on September 23, 1982. He won the first class award in the first “New Concept” writing contest in 1999, and was held back in his first year in the Songjian Number 2 High School in Shanghai the same year. He dropped out of high school in 2000, and published his first novel “Three Gates.” This book has sold 2,030,000 copies since then.


In 2008, he published a selected collection of his blog posts, “Random Texts.” In 2009, he published a novel, “His Nation,” a collection of essays, “Grass,” and a collection of blog posts, “Lovely Predators”…. Also in 2009, he announced he would publish a magazine “A Chorus of Solos.” [Han Han originally planned to name the magazine Renaissance, but the name was not approved by authorities.]

P.S.–To any students at my school: if you think you have this kind of talent, and want me to help you learn the simple blogging tools, come see me. I’ll work overtime with you, and it will have nothing to do with grades, homework, or GPA’s.