Learning spaces

December 20, 2011 at 12:00 am | Posted in Education | Leave a comment
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My wife and I were watching an episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition the other day. On this episode the design team built a school room in a house for two home-schooled children aged 6 and 8. These girls had an immune deficiency disease so they could not go to school due to the high risk of infection.

It was, as it usually is a lovely episode, but what got me was the school room. It was a great room with the latest technology such as laptops, an interactive whiteboard and video conferencing unit. There was science gear, art supplies and so on. What got me though were the two individual desks in the middle of the room with a laptop on each for the girls to work at. All I could think of was that it is so cliche to have school desks like this. Yes there was a table for doing art together, but those desks made it look like that was the place where work is done and done on their own.

Maybe I’m reading too much into this, but I think individual desks should not be allowed in classrooms especially children of this age. They don’t encourage interaction between students or collaboration. The video conferencing unit was great for them to interact with other students from around the world (fantastic!), but what about interaction with each other in the same room. Yes, I know it will still happen, but is it the same?

Modern classrooms should be built with this in mind. We should be encouraging interaction and collaboration. This is normal behavior in a work place, so these skills should be developed at school.

I like hearing about the learning spaces at places such as Albany Senior High School (link to Steve Wheeler‘s blog), or the different classroom layout that Andrew Churches (link to Andrew’s blog) has at Kristen School. These are just a couple of examples and there are many more. There is also probably no perfect classroom, but it’s so important now to ensure our learning spaces promote students building the skills they will need in later life.

Monday Mentions – 19 December 2011

December 19, 2011 at 12:00 am | Posted in Monday Mentions | Leave a comment

Favourite blog posts from the past week (in no particular order):

  1. From The 12 Most – This one is self explanatory: 12 Most Innovative, Inspiring, and Unmissable TedTalks.
  2. For all you bloggers out there (and those who want to get into blogging) here are some good thoughts for writing blogs also from The 12 Most: 12 Most Standard English Rules to Break When Blogging.
  3. Something to think about from The Innovative Educator: Could the key to teacher effectiveness mean dropping certification requirements?
  4. A look at Digital and Global Citizenship from Educational Origami.

Quiet in the house…

December 13, 2011 at 2:08 pm | Posted in Education | 3 Comments
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Anyone who has kids (we’ve got five!) knows that when it’s quiet in the house, it’s time to check up on what they’re doing.

My wife (@daikininz) and I have had this happen a few times lately. Our youngest who is nearly 2 has disappeared a few times recently and been very quiet.

Where has she been? The first photo will answer that…

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She has found my wife’s iPad. She has undone the clasp. She has opened up the case, pressed the button to wake it up… Slid her finger across to unlock it… Found the app (usually a game) she wants and started to play.

Did I mention that she is not yet two?!

While I was taking these photos she decided to reorganize the iPad in its case by getting it to stand up on its own. When she managed it she pumped both arms with satisfaction (see photo).

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I know iPads aren’t the cheapest device, and there is often controversy around their use in schools however, they are so simple to use, and great for motivating students. All my children love using them, and they are much simpler than standard computers. We need to seriously consider their use (or other tablets) in our learning environments. We need to give our students access to the technology or similar technology that they may be using in the future – they need to be prepared!

Continuing to learn…

December 12, 2011 at 1:31 pm | Posted in Conferences, Education | Leave a comment
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As a teacher, it is so important that we continue to learn and be willing to learn! Along with this is that we have to do what Ardis Cochrane suggested at the International Conference on eLearning Futures 2011 a couple of weeks ago. She suggested that:

teachers need to be respected as learners

This is so important for those who are involved in eLearning in some way – particularly promoting it with teachers in your school or organisation. Some teachers are nervous when it comes to using ICT and they need to be given time, space and support to learn how and when to use it appropriately.

Of course the experts also need to be continually learning, so I thought I would share a couple of the ways I try to continually learn.

  • As you can see, I go to conferences. To be honest I’ve only been to one this year. It was good, but conferences can be quite expensive so might not always be possible to attend. Conferences of course are great for networking.
  • Blogs – I read blogs, and quite a few of them. I follow blogs of academics, teachers and educational technologists. Using the RSS feeds and an RSS reader such as Google Reader it’s not too difficult to keep up with blogs. I also use an iPad app called Flipboard where I can read the blogs a bit like a magazine. It’s a good, enjoyable way to find out what’s going on in the educational world.
  • Twitter – this is probably the key way I find out things that are going on. I don’t follow just anybody. Again, I pick teachers, principals, academics and so on that relate to the topics I am interested in (education, eLearning etc). Twitter, like conferences is great for networking. I’ve ‘met’ quite a few people on Twitter that I chat to and they give me advice/suggestions etc that are very valuable. (I wrote a blog about Twitter some time ago…)

I hope this is useful to someone. I’ve also been doing some extra-mural study and just completed my Postgraduate Diploma in Education. Next year I am hoping to complete my Master of Education (eLearning). The learning continues!

As much as possible don’t keep your learning to yourself! It needs to be shared with others!

As Steve Wheeler said at the conference:

Knowledge is like love. You can give it away and still get to keep it.

Monday mention – 12 December 2011

December 12, 2011 at 12:31 pm | Posted in Education, Monday Mentions | Leave a comment
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I haven’t done a Monday Mention for awhile, and hopefully I’ll get back into it.

Today I just wanted to share a blog that I read this morning. It focuses on the state of New Zealand education. It’s a good read from Principals, teachers and Boards.

From the Leading and Learning blog: Something all principals ought to have written to their students parents

 

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