Monthly Archives: December 2010

Christensen, C. M. et al. (2008). Disrupting Class: How disruptive innovation will change the way the world learns. New York: McGraw Hill⤴

from @ TecnoTeach

Next on the reading list is Clayton Christensen's Disrupting Class. Thankfully this book provides a little more innovative reading rather than putting modern terminology to old pedagogy. What is also favourable about this book is that it does not throw down your throat the old adage of 'Digital Natives' that Prensky likes to put forward but takes a wider reflection on learning with comparisons to the global business world: the world we are preparing our children to survive in.

So rather than state that today's generation are a multi-tasking generation who should learn the way they learn sub-consciously out with the school environment, it is quickly asks the questions: Is our child-centred methods of learning what will enable our children to succeed in the future. Christensen does query this briefly when he highlights that Asisan students are performing better in league tables due to their 'lecture' stye of learning compared to student-centred learning style of America who are falling further behind the league table. On the other hand, an article in the Washing Post argues the benefits of the American style of teaching as it prepares students for a fast-paced future where problems-solving, communication, collaboration and innovation are at the heart of learning, not just memorising facts and figures.

I do believe that both go hand in hand just like teaching and learning work together. Remember, you can teach but a child may not learn and a child can learn without being taught. When teaching and learning work together the educational experience is far richer. Just the same as we need to be able to have knowledge and skills as the backbone to what we can offer but we also need the ability to innovate, solve problems and work with others. It reminds me of how my own musical ability and my children's. I am a mathematical musician who reads music to perform, who uses my memory to know how a piece of music should be interpreted. Composing my own music or simply playing a requested tune is not possible if I do not have it in my memory or the notes are not there to be read. My children, on the other hand, learnt music initially by ear. They learnt by exploring all the instruments my musician husband and I had around the house. Learning to read music was a chore but they persevered and are now accomplished musicians with the ability to read and play all music styles through using the skills and knowledge they have developed over the years. They are also able to extend what is on the written script to wonderful musical treats rather than just the notes that are there. Without the skills and knowledge they would be limited in their creativity and their ability to work as a team with an array of musicians. Without their innovation and creativity they would be limited to only playing what they know and what they can access.

Teaching and learning with technologies is similar to this. Yes today's generation have the technology around them and use aspects of the technology to create, communicate and collaborate to meet their own needs. Some will be innovative and creative and some will just do what they have learnt from others. It is the job of educators to develop the skills and knowledge of children's use of technologies alongside creativity and innovation. Technologies should not just be a 'bolt on' in the classroom to make something look presentable but should be used where the technology will enhance the learning environment not duplicate what works perfectly. Christensen mirrors this view where he states that 'schools use computers as a tool and a topic, not as a primary instructional mechanism that helps students learn in ways that are customised to their type of intelligence...Teachers have implemented computers in the most common-sense way - to sustain their existing practices and pedagogies rather than to displace them' (Chrsitensen, 2008:81).

How often is the above still true for many educators who still use technology to make their learning apparently meet the needs of all learners - visual and auditory learners will get images, audio and video in presentations!!! Hands-up those that have taken this approach? I have to admit, when I started my current post as a lecturer all my primary teacher pedagogy was thrown aside as I became the lecturer that focused more on imparting knowledge to the crowds rather than teach the way that underpinned my personal classroom pedagogy. I was too centred around the educational content rather than the students' learning needs. I only began to address learners' needs after the module assignment at the end of each block where the assignments revealed current understanding of concepts. Unfortunately, my evaluation of learning was too late for current learners due to them moving to the next module. Christensen discusses this conventional teacher assessment process where 'if students haven't mastered all the material but know it well enough to get a passing grade, the students will move on' (Christensen, 2008:108).

Reflecting on my 'lecture' pedagogy, I changed my 'sage on stage' delivery to a more interactive model using the technology students had in their pockets, bags etc. Interactive teaching and learning using mobile technologies is my pedagogical style and area of research. In January I will be presenting with newly appointed professors at Dundee University's Discovery Day. This will focus on my current research using mobile devices in lecture theatres to change my delivery style, enable all students to be active in learning and to meet their immediate needs. Hopefully, in the new year, the research paper will be complete and I will be able to share many of the positive findings with my global peers.

So to finish with, educators need to always keep at the back of their minds, no matter what method they use:

If a child does not learn the way we teach we should teach the way they learn.

Christensen, C. M. et al. (2008). Disrupting Class: How disruptive innovation will change the way the world learns. New York: McGraw Hill⤴

from @ TecnoTeach

Next on the reading list is Clayton Christensen's Disrupting Class. Thankfully this book provides a little more innovative reading rather than putting modern terminology to old pedagogy. What is also favourable about this book is that it does not throw down your throat the old adage of 'Digital Natives' that Prensky likes to put forward but takes a wider reflection on learning with comparisons to the global business world: the world we are preparing our children to survive in.

So rather than state that today's generation are a multi-tasking generation who should learn the way they learn sub-consciously out with the school environment, it is quickly asks the questions: Is our child-centred methods of learning what will enable our children to succeed in the future. Christensen does query this briefly when he highlights that Asisan students are performing better in league tables due to their 'lecture' stye of learning compared to student-centred learning style of America who are falling further behind the league table. On the other hand, an article in the Washing Post argues the benefits of the American style of teaching as it prepares students for a fast-paced future where problems-solving, communication, collaboration and innovation are at the heart of learning, not just memorising facts and figures.

I do believe that both go hand in hand just like teaching and learning work together. Remember, you can teach but a child may not learn and a child can learn without being taught. When teaching and learning work together the educational experience is far richer. Just the same as we need to be able to have knowledge and skills as the backbone to what we can offer but we also need the ability to innovate, solve problems and work with others. It reminds me of how my own musical ability and my children's. I am a mathematical musician who reads music to perform, who uses my memory to know how a piece of music should be interpreted. Composing my own music or simply playing a requested tune is not possible if I do not have it in my memory or the notes are not there to be read. My children, on the other hand, learnt music initially by ear. They learnt by exploring all the instruments my musician husband and I had around the house. Learning to read music was a chore but they persevered and are now accomplished musicians with the ability to read and play all music styles through using the skills and knowledge they have developed over the years. They are also able to extend what is on the written script to wonderful musical treats rather than just the notes that are there. Without the skills and knowledge they would be limited in their creativity and their ability to work as a team with an array of musicians. Without their innovation and creativity they would be limited to only playing what they know and what they can access.

Teaching and learning with technologies is similar to this. Yes today's generation have the technology around them and use aspects of the technology to create, communicate and collaborate to meet their own needs. Some will be innovative and creative and some will just do what they have learnt from others. It is the job of educators to develop the skills and knowledge of children's use of technologies alongside creativity and innovation. Technologies should not just be a 'bolt on' in the classroom to make something look presentable but should be used where the technology will enhance the learning environment not duplicate what works perfectly. Christensen mirrors this view where he states that 'schools use computers as a tool and a topic, not as a primary instructional mechanism that helps students learn in ways that are customised to their type of intelligence...Teachers have implemented computers in the most common-sense way - to sustain their existing practices and pedagogies rather than to displace them' (Chrsitensen, 2008:81).

How often is the above still true for many educators who still use technology to make their learning apparently meet the needs of all learners - visual and auditory learners will get images, audio and video in presentations!!! Hands-up those that have taken this approach? I have to admit, when I started my current post as a lecturer all my primary teacher pedagogy was thrown aside as I became the lecturer that focused more on imparting knowledge to the crowds rather than teach the way that underpinned my personal classroom pedagogy. I was too centred around the educational content rather than the students' learning needs. I only began to address learners' needs after the module assignment at the end of each block where the assignments revealed current understanding of concepts. Unfortunately, my evaluation of learning was too late for current learners due to them moving to the next module. Christensen discusses this conventional teacher assessment process where 'if students haven't mastered all the material but know it well enough to get a passing grade, the students will move on' (Christensen, 2008:108).

Reflecting on my 'lecture' pedagogy, I changed my 'sage on stage' delivery to a more interactive model using the technology students had in their pockets, bags etc. Interactive teaching and learning using mobile technologies is my pedagogical style and area of research. In January I will be presenting with newly appointed professors at Dundee University's Discovery Day. This will focus on my current research using mobile devices in lecture theatres to change my delivery style, enable all students to be active in learning and to meet their immediate needs. Hopefully, in the new year, the research paper will be complete and I will be able to share many of the positive findings with my global peers.

So to finish with, educators need to always keep at the back of their minds, no matter what method they use:

If a child does not learn the way we teach we should teach the way they learn.

Prensky, M. (2010). Teaching Digital Natives: Partnering for real learning. London: Corwin⤴

from @ TecnoTeach

I have always enjoyed reading Marc Prensky's writings where I have connected with his thoughts and ideas. I have to admit, I was rather disappointed when reading his 'Teaching Digital Natives' due to the lack of innovation and creativity that normal comes through in his writings. Marc is now putting forward the notion of 'Partnering for Real Learning' as if it were something new. He is making out that education is still sitting in the Victorian bubble where we lecture children rather than meet their immediate needs, teach programmes of study rather than use the contexts they thrive in outside the educational environment and have learning as a one way street where we fill empty vessels rather than 'partner' their learning. Is this new reading? Is this new theories of teaching and learning? I think not!

Student-centred learning, scaffolding, facilitating learning are not new buzz words or concepts they are practitioners' teaching and learning techniques that have been put forward for many years. They are techniques that I have used with and without technology. To me, all Marc has put forward in his book is to come up with a new buzz word: partnering. Why make new words when they all ready exists and work well: a bit of a slap in the face to him advocating that technology should only be used if it changes the learning and teaching environment rather than a bolt on!!!

To be fair on Marc, there are aspects of his book that align with today's thinking and will be a book that I would suggest to student teachers to read, reflect and debate.

Here are some of the key points that I took from the book:

INTRODUCTION SECTION

* Attention - today's students have a different attention capability than other generations. This is true and true for every new generation of learners. What needs to be noted is that today's generation are multi-tasters who select what they want to focus on and block out what does not interest them. So is it short attention spans for the 'old ways' of learning, as Marc asks, or is it short attention spans that need to be trained to be more focussed to enable deeper learning?

* What students want from schools - not to be lectured, respected, trusted, follow own interests and passions, create, work collaboratively, connect and 'real' education. Again I agree with many of these aspects but this is NOT new reading. As a qualified primary teacher, active learning and meeting the needs of children were at the heart of my pedagogy; that was last century! I have always wanted children to create, collaborate, communicate and co-create with their immediate peers and those around the world. I do believe that we should let children follow their interests and passions but we need to open the doors to other avenues that might spark another interest rather than just keep a child in an 'interest bubble'. Learning is about meeting needs then extending and exploring.

Marc states that the new educational pedagogy should involve 'partnering' to enable the above. Yes that is true but again not a new concept.

CHAPTER 1 PARTNERING

Direct Instruction - teachers who lecture, talk and students listen, take notes, read and memorise. Again the term 'direct instruction' comes in many titles: didactic teaching or passive learning to name a few. Although not a new concept, what I did like was Marc's analogy of this style of learning where he referred to it as the Federal Express where 'you can have the best delivery system in the world, but if no one is home to receive the package, it doesn't much matter. Too often, today's students are not there to receive what their teachers are delivering' (Prensky, 2010:10). How often I see this in a lecture theatre where students are there but the information being delivered is not reaching the recipients. A scenario in many learning environments and one which Marc states can be changed by students and teachers adopting different roles in the 'partnering' process: student as researcher, technology user/expert, thinker, world changer, self-teacher and the teacher as coach/guide, goal setter/questioner, learning designer, context provider, and quality assurer. As you can see, not ground breaking theories of learning just written with Marc's twist of wording!

The rest of the chapters delve deeper into the ways partnering can occur in education looking at 'how' children learn today rather than how they interact with technology. If you are looking to read about ways to 'use' technology with our 'Digital Native' then this is possibly not the book you want to read. If, on the other hand, you want to look at 'how' today's 'Digital Natives' learn then this might be a book to read in conjunction with the key theorists in education to provide a balanced approach rather than a one sided view.

Prensky, M. (2010). Teaching Digital Natives: Partnering for real learning. London: Corwin⤴

from @ TecnoTeach

I have always enjoyed reading Marc Prensky's writings where I have connected with his thoughts and ideas. I have to admit, I was rather disappointed when reading his 'Teaching Digital Natives' due to the lack of innovation and creativity that normal comes through in his writings. Marc is now putting forward the notion of 'Partnering for Real Learning' as if it were something new. He is making out that education is still sitting in the Victorian bubble where we lecture children rather than meet their immediate needs, teach programmes of study rather than use the contexts they thrive in outside the educational environment and have learning as a one way street where we fill empty vessels rather than 'partner' their learning. Is this new reading? Is this new theories of teaching and learning? I think not!

Student-centred learning, scaffolding, facilitating learning are not new buzz words or concepts they are practitioners' teaching and learning techniques that have been put forward for many years. They are techniques that I have used with and without technology. To me, all Marc has put forward in his book is to come up with a new buzz word: partnering. Why make new words when they all ready exists and work well: a bit of a slap in the face to him advocating that technology should only be used if it changes the learning and teaching environment rather than a bolt on!!!

To be fair on Marc, there are aspects of his book that align with today's thinking and will be a book that I would suggest to student teachers to read, reflect and debate.

Here are some of the key points that I took from the book:

INTRODUCTION SECTION

* Attention - today's students have a different attention capability than other generations. This is true and true for every new generation of learners. What needs to be noted is that today's generation are multi-tasters who select what they want to focus on and block out what does not interest them. So is it short attention spans for the 'old ways' of learning, as Marc asks, or is it short attention spans that need to be trained to be more focussed to enable deeper learning?

* What students want from schools - not to be lectured, respected, trusted, follow own interests and passions, create, work collaboratively, connect and 'real' education. Again I agree with many of these aspects but this is NOT new reading. As a qualified primary teacher, active learning and meeting the needs of children were at the heart of my pedagogy; that was last century! I have always wanted children to create, collaborate, communicate and co-create with their immediate peers and those around the world. I do believe that we should let children follow their interests and passions but we need to open the doors to other avenues that might spark another interest rather than just keep a child in an 'interest bubble'. Learning is about meeting needs then extending and exploring.

Marc states that the new educational pedagogy should involve 'partnering' to enable the above. Yes that is true but again not a new concept.

CHAPTER 1 PARTNERING

Direct Instruction - teachers who lecture, talk and students listen, take notes, read and memorise. Again the term 'direct instruction' comes in many titles: didactic teaching or passive learning to name a few. Although not a new concept, what I did like was Marc's analogy of this style of learning where he referred to it as the Federal Express where 'you can have the best delivery system in the world, but if no one is home to receive the package, it doesn't much matter. Too often, today's students are not there to receive what their teachers are delivering' (Prensky, 2010:10). How often I see this in a lecture theatre where students are there but the information being delivered is not reaching the recipients. A scenario in many learning environments and one which Marc states can be changed by students and teachers adopting different roles in the 'partnering' process: student as researcher, technology user/expert, thinker, world changer, self-teacher and the teacher as coach/guide, goal setter/questioner, learning designer, context provider, and quality assurer. As you can see, not ground breaking theories of learning just written with Marc's twist of wording!

The rest of the chapters delve deeper into the ways partnering can occur in education looking at 'how' children learn today rather than how they interact with technology. If you are looking to read about ways to 'use' technology with our 'Digital Native' then this is possibly not the book you want to read. If, on the other hand, you want to look at 'how' today's 'Digital Natives' learn then this might be a book to read in conjunction with the key theorists in education to provide a balanced approach rather than a one sided view.

Assessing Our Glow Blogs⤴

from

 From Jack’s first blog post in August this session, I was optimistic that the class would make use of their online spaces.

Jack’s post was very short and to the point.

He wrote: 

“Hello mighty world ( that’s full of random people watching me on my blog ). Watch and see what happen’s because im full of good ideas.”

The class have now had their Glow blogs for less than four months, but a lot has happened in that short time and I thought that I would write this post as a reminder of the direction we seem to be going in.

I made the decision to allow the children to have complete control over the content of their blog posts. I was aware of how much more successful this approach is compared to directing the children to write about specific subjects when I carried out a case study of my use of blogs a couple of years ago. 

I am also satisfied that the children (and their parents/carers) recognise the responsibilities of having a blog and that they all understand the reasons behind our ‘Blogging Rules’.

These are embedded in a page on their blogs as a reminder.

Their blog posts have been very varied – some about the school Reading Scheme  , others on the subject of achievements outside of school,  or a family holiday.

Of course, there have been the inevitable football posts! Some just show random pictures , and a post from Kian about Falkirk Football Club Matches received 8 comments …  I’ve no idea of the significance of them (apart from the first one, of course!). Football has, however, inspired some super blog posts like this one from Andrew . Although Sean is a reluctant writer, he was motivated to write a great blog post  about his first time at a big football match – and delighted at the encouraging comments from teachers in other Authorities. But this comment from Jade caught my eye:

“ Well done sean,you have won my post of the week Competition,you might win again next week,if other people do a better one well you will just have to do another one but it is fine because you can win more than 3 times in a row!”

It alerted me to the fact that the children were actually reading each others’ posts. New blog posts were also appearing to back this up:

“Hello!,welcome back to the best post of the week! HERE is a link to the winner’s blog. The winner is Lewis with his post about Admivore,with an astonishing, 7 comments! he was tied with sean but he had more in his post! sorry sean, the finalests were Brooke,Anna,Lucy N,sean Lewis,natasha,Ryan R and Mason,they were all great this week so it was hard, but only one person could of won sorry everyone!”

One of the posts that was voted as a ‘winner’ was by Natasha. She had been off school recovering from an operation on her foot. It was a great way for her to keep in touch with her peers, and there are 16 comments on the post now. At the end of the post, she mentioned how much she was going to miss not being able to go on our impending trip to the Glasgow Science Centre:

“MY mum say’s I probably wont go on the trip D: because if I cant walk then I cant get to school therefore I cant go on the trip D: and if I cant then please DONT tell me what happened because if you do I’m gonna feel REALLY bad because I didn’t get to enjoy it but I hope everyone has a good time if I don’t make it”

As a result of her writing that post, the school:

  • Contacted the Science Centre and arranged for a wheel chair to be available for her
  • Phoned her mum to ask if she was available to accompany Natasha on the trip
  • Arranged for the janitor to pick Natasha up at home and drop her off at the bus that would take us to Glasgow and then meet her off the bus again to drive her home (mum doesn’t have a car).

What a nice way to end my assessment of our Glow blogging so far … Natasha was VERY pleased she’d written that post and she followed it with a Thank You to all her classmates:

“Ok i’ll start off with Thanks peeps for all the comments. I really appriciate it!!! Ive read all of them and trieing to reply to them.  Anyway WOOHOO I can go on the trip tomorrow!!! YAY The janny will drive over here then drive over to the bus. I will then limp/hop into the bus then sit down when we get there (BTW my mum has to come) and I hop/limp into the science center. Theres a wheelchair I sit in it and my mum wheels me around!!! Thanks Guys!”

There have been some great benefits to our Blogging Journey, but so far this response to one of the Glow blog posts has been the ‘icing on the cake’ :-)

Hat tip to East Lothian teachers!⤴

from

How does it feel to be unusual? If you’re one of the students, teachers or parents who’s been using eduBuzz this week, you might be interested to see that your activities – and your levels of media literacy – are now unusual enough to be something of a news story this week in the world of education.

The comments below are from Ewan McIntosh, a former East Lothian teacher, who contributed to edubuzz while with Learning and Teaching Scotland as future technologies adviser and now has wide, international consulting experience. (The bolding is mine.)

Congratulations, and thanks, to all involved.

In a small Local Authority in Scotland, thousands of students, parents and teachers have been getting together to learn and share their snow-day experiences on an open source blogging  platform. 25,000 visits a day1827 posts and 2477 comments were left throughout the three or four days of closed school this week on eduBuzz.org in East Lothian, Scotland.

….

the hat tip has to go to the teachers throughout East Lothian who, over the past five years, have come to believe in the benefit of sharing what goes on in their classroom day in, day out. That one principle is the hardest thing for people to ‘get’, and in East Lothian a significant and increasing numbers of teachers, the gatekeepers of a successful online learning community for schools, have certainly got it loud and clear. Nationally, there needs to be more of a campaign to help educators get to grips with the questions around sharing, issues that stretch beyond education and schools, and issues that too many have not yet understood. As well as being a tools issue, it’s a media literacy one above all.

If you’d like to read more, you’ll find Ewan’s full post here: What makes an online community explode during snow days?

Hat tip to East Lothian teachers!⤴

from

How does it feel to be unusual? If you’re one of the students, teachers or parents who’s been using eduBuzz this week, you might be interested to see that your activities – and your levels of media literacy – are now unusual enough to be something of a news story this week in the world of education.

The comments below are from Ewan McIntosh, a former East Lothian teacher, who contributed to edubuzz while with Learning and Teaching Scotland as future technologies adviser and now has wide, international consulting experience. (The bolding is mine.)

Congratulations, and thanks, to all involved.

In a small Local Authority in Scotland, thousands of students, parents and teachers have been getting together to learn and share their snow-day experiences on an open source blogging  platform. 25,000 visits a day1827 posts and 2477 comments were left throughout the three or four days of closed school this week on eduBuzz.org in East Lothian, Scotland.

….

the hat tip has to go to the teachers throughout East Lothian who, over the past five years, have come to believe in the benefit of sharing what goes on in their classroom day in, day out. That one principle is the hardest thing for people to ‘get’, and in East Lothian a significant and increasing numbers of teachers, the gatekeepers of a successful online learning community for schools, have certainly got it loud and clear. Nationally, there needs to be more of a campaign to help educators get to grips with the questions around sharing, issues that stretch beyond education and schools, and issues that too many have not yet understood. As well as being a tools issue, it’s a media literacy one above all.

If you’d like to read more, you’ll find Ewan’s full post here: What makes an online community explode during snow days?