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.

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It’s not the technology’s fault!

April 29, 2011 at 10:06 am | Posted in Education | 3 Comments
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<Warning: This post is a bit of a rant…>

It is not the technology’s fault. The technology did not create cyber-criminals. Technology did not create bullies. Technology did not create pornography. Technology did not ruin education.

We live in the 21st century. It is an age of technology. We have TVs, computers, gaming consoles, PDAs, netbooks, tablets, iPads, iPods, mobile phones, smartphones, GPS, Internet, Wi-Fi and more. Yet I keep hearing from some people that technology is bad for education!

What??? Give me a break!

The technology did not just jump into an educator’s hand and say ‘use me, use me!’ The educator saw a device and chose to give it a go to help educate.

Technology is not bad for education… Poor use of technology is bad for education. Poorly designed learning tasks using technology is bad for education.

For example, you cannot just say, ‘I’m going to get my class to blog’. You need to plan it. You need to decide why you want your class to blog; what they are going to blog about; what the purpose of the task is. You then need to learn how to blog yourself. You may learn this alongside your students, but I would suggest that if you want your class to blog, then perhaps you should be blogging too. It would be good to at least know the basics of blogging first – how to set up a blog; how to write a blog post; choosing appropriate tags etc.

Keeping with the blog idea, how useful would a blog be for students who struggle to write, or perhaps cannot write using a pen/pencil? These students may thrive in front of a netbook, where they can control what is being put on the screen. They can see and edit easily without the need to mess up their work or feeling embarrassed as they need to start again.

How many jobs now require the use of technology? Computers, mobile phones etc. My guess (and it is just a guess) is probably about 95% of them. Yet we have people against using technology to educate our students?

I’ll be the first to say that technology is not the be all and end all of education. A good teacher can out-do technology any day. But I would argue that a good teacher should also now be trying to embrace technology, and encourage its use within the classroom. Teach students how to use it wisely. Demonstrate how to interact in a socially acceptable way over the internet. Help them to critically analyse information they have found to see if it is authoritative and useful.

If teachers don’t embrace technology, who is going to teach students about cyber-safety? Who will teach them to conduct themselves appropriately as well-rounded citizens of the 21st century?

Education has focused in the past on reading, writing and arithmetic. It still is now. Is this a bad thing? No. We still need students to be literate and numerate. But this is not just about pen and paper any more. It is about digital literacy. Being able to use the tools that we have to solve complex problems. We have to make sure our students are ready for this.

School leaders and Boards of Trustees need to embrace this. They need to encourage the use of technology in the classroom. It doesn’t have to be for everything! But the reality is that we live in a technological age, where more and more advanced technology is being developed daily. We have to prepare our students for life in this age!

Keeping our kids safe online

March 26, 2011 at 10:18 am | Posted in Education | Leave a comment
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I was privileged enough to go to a short talk from ex Australian detective, Brett Lee, last week talk about cyber safety. Brett spent a lot of his time as an online detective in the search for cyber criminals – particularly paedophiles. He was once asked if he would see one cyber criminal online when he went online. He said that he would see 30.

Brett had a very simple message – we need to educate our kids about the dangers of the internet. He said that they are the same dangers that you face by walking down the street. We teach our kids about stranger danger – not to get in someone’s car, not to talk to strangers etc, but we aren’t so good when it comes to the internet. The same applies when talking to strangers on the internet. People (children/teens in particular) have a strong sense of anonymity on the internet that they feel safe. But these criminals know what our children need or want to hear. They know how to ‘groom’ a child.

Brett showed one of the chats he had with a ‘stranger’. Within moments he knew he was dealing with a paedophile, however a teenage boy or girl may not be aware. They do not have the life experience and the adult instincts that adults have. They cannot know the dangers unless we teach them.

Brett normally runs a two day workshop, and I imagine this would be excellent. I only attended an hour-long talk and was really impressed.

Brett’s website is www.iness.com.au

Relevant, just-in-time learning

October 19, 2010 at 11:06 am | Posted in Conferences, Education | 1 Comment
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The key theme for me, that came through the ulearn conference was about relevance. We need to ensure that what we are teaching has meaning; has a point for our students.

For many years (many) educators have taught things ‘just-in-case’ it is in a test or examination. However these things that are taught often have little meaning on their own.

Lane Clark, in her keynote, said two very important things:

Are we teaching for their future, or our past?

Teachers often bring in relevance at the end of a topic, when it’s finished.

We need to make the learning relevant from the start!

Lane pointed out that as adults we go into a project/research knowing the relevance – why we want to research it; what is the point. But for some reason, teachers often hold off with the relevance of a topic to the very end.

Why do we do this? Is it for control? I don’t know the answer, but I know that I’ve been guilty of doing it!

Relevant learning could include real-life or authentic learning. Immersing students in a real-life situation where questions can be generated and problems solved. This is not simply placing learning within a context, but actually placing the students in real-life learning situations.

I’ll leave you with this:
Is the teaching and learning that occurs in your class relevant to your students? Is the teaching and learning relevant to today and the future?

Tsunami – Instructional Design Project

September 28, 2010 at 8:24 am | Posted in Education | 1 Comment
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wikied

About the project

Throughout this year I’ve been working on a post-graduate paper in Instructional Design for e-Learning through Massey University. This has taken up a fair bit of my time (and part of the reason that my posting on this blog has been a bit irregular recently).

As part of the paper, I’ve been working with a group of 4 others from around the country on an instructional design project. We had to follow instructional design processes to plan, develop and implement an e-learning resource for students and teachers globally to use. We had to present the resource on WikiEducator – an online resource for e-learning content. It’s a wiki so anyone can add to, delete and edit any of the content. It’s similar in design to Wikipedia.

Other tools we have used in our design project are Skype and Google Docs. Skype was used for regular online meetings. We decided to use a text chat in Skype for two reasons. Firstly, not everyone was able to voice chat – lack of headsets. Secondly, a text chat meeting allows a history to be kept, so we can go back through the log of the meeting and see what was discussed etc.

Tsunami

The context of our project is about understanding, preparing and planning for tsunami. We decided to make it slightly interactive with students taking the role of a survival agent. They are to be the experts in their area. As the expert they have to learn about what tsunami are, how they form and the impacts they can have. They also have to learn what is required to prepare for a tsunami and how to recognise the signs that one is on the way. Planning escape routes and putting together getaway kits is vital for their success. At the end of the learning resource students play an online survival game, where they have to get a town ready for an emergency.

Have a look at the resource. Feel free to use it and please post comments/feedback here.

http://wikieducator.org/Tsunami

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