Steve Wheeler, whose blog I always read, has kindly shared his recent conference presentation via slideshare.
My brief, to present at a Year 11 conference about online tools, has accentuated, in my mind, how far away we are from providing the Personal Learning Environment (PLE) at school students need in a networked society.
Your input, via comments at a previous blog post, twitter and yammer proved invaluable but also challenging, when one considers the realities for kids in our schools. Year 11 will have virtually no opportunity, in their day at school, to use a computer or the many tools available online. During this presentation, I acknowledged that the student delegates will just have to use all this stuff at home.
One kid pointed out, that even if they had DERNSW laptops, software could not be installed and many of the sites, especially social media and collaboration tools, would be blocked anyway.
I was surprised at how little they knew of the tools discussed. The students were unfamiliar with all the tools, except iGoogle.
The big question in my mind: will opportunities for innovative pedagogies and practice emerge from the Australian Curriculum?
This is the first presentation using Prezi I have ever completed; although I have started a few in the past 12 months before the pressure of being prepared for whatever conference led me to not finish (and use my blog or PowerPoint).
Prezi has turned out to be a fun tool - once you ‘get’ the concept - and I highly recommend it.
Critical comments – on form, style and content - (on this draft) are welcome. Be gentle though, this is my first time and I know my next prezi will be much sleeker. Prezi will not embed to WordPress.com blogs and the work around is to use Vodpod which looks a little dodgy. You might want to see it at the direct link hosted at Prezi.
Anyways, I suggest you click autoplay if you try the below version but it is a bit lame without the narration or music:
However, the process of drafting the presentation, for our Year 11 conference, has led to much reflection about the pedagogy possible in institutions and the need for reformation of our systems; especially assessment and reporting which drives education in our country.
You can read those reflections here.
This week, like many learning professionals around the globe, I commenced an online course to disrupt all online courses, Connectivism & Connective Knowledge.
‘Connectivism is the thesis that knowledge is distributed across a network of connections, and therefore that learning consists of the ability to construct and traverse those networks’.
After listening to Stephen Downes and George Siemens discussing what is Connectivism my understanding of this learning theory is deepening. Their differing perspectives are clearer – and very complimentary.
I’d like a list of recommended readings pertaining to neuroscience from Stephen and George.
10 things ‘a school’ can do in preparation for 1:1 (laptops) in classrooms:
1. Funding- expectations of a champagne experience from a beer budget tend to fizzle when the reality sets in. The state is providing machines and some training/support but it will not be enough. What resources can be deployed by the school? How much can the photocopying/textbook budget be scaled back? What needs to be done to the infrastructure of the school and classrooms? We are storing ‘spare’ machines, placing our TSO in the library and cutting a hole in the wall to create a servery. Most of the budget allocation should go to training staff and ongoing teacher professional learning rather than ‘nuts and bolts’ stuff. PLNs are very inexpensive options.
2. Support for staff to develop professionally – needs to be innovative, especially in the creation of time and space to learn. Using Year 10 -12 examination time (by hiring invigilators) allows staff to have extra hours throughout the year. See earlier posts in this series (faculty/teacher posts). Models of continuous learning rather than outdated one-off training programs are needed. Mostly, it is about a changed mindset.
3. Create a small motivated team to do some ‘thinking’ and ‘proposing’ – to the executive and whole staff. The team could include the librarian, a classroom teacher and member of the senior executive as well as the ‘tech brains’ at the school. This is for the committed and able, not a meeting kind of thing, more an ongoing what does our school need and where the hell is the information we need.
4. High expectations of, and from, the school leadership – is absolutely essential. If leaders can’t turn on the laptop, engage in meaningful conversation about the impact of digital technologies on pedagogy and most importantly, show a willingness to learn, fail and smile (most of the time) through the challenge, it is unlikely their troops will buy into the rhetoric. Talking the talk and walking the cliche is important.
5. Procedures and protocols and making it work - the devil is in the detail and it is essential that the practical realities of ubiquitous laptops usage is given a high priority. However, the temptation will be to focus on this rather than pedagogy. What happens when it rains and not all students have shelter at our school? What do I do if my laptop is broken or stolen? What are the rules? Mum says…but the school wont…what do I do? Where can I find the policies, procedures and protocols? In the students’ school diary, website, MOODLE? Some brainstorming sessions with students, staff and parents will raise a host of unanswered questions. Find the answers!
6. Keeping students in the loop- and explaining the expectations, challenges and opportunities the L4L rollout will provide. Have the Student Representative Council (SRC) provide leadership and be part of the formal and informal dialogue. Have staff formally and informally discuss L4L and their lessons. Distribute ideas, queries, enthusiasms and fears. Teach them about the importance of posture and raise awareness about ergonomics and best practice. All students must be able to and often access their email and MOODLE accounts. Make it worth their while to access these accounts!
7. Advocate appropriate models of pedagogy- and encourage staff to think differently about what an effective lesson format might be. Provide examples and dynamic presentations that model effective learning experiences, especially focus on the practicalities of the the beginning and end of lessons. The school must insist that an appropriate range of pedagogies are employed. PLE - the concept of a ‘Personal Learning Environment’ is fundamental to having the entire school community understand the paradigm shift that ubiquitous laptop usage (with good wireless) can facilitate. This video makes it understandable.
8. LMS - MOODLE has been in place for 12 months is important at our school, especially as we are waiting for the DET Learning Tools to be released. The DET blogging platform is in beta and eBackpack is on the horizon but our needs will not be met by these in the immediate future. The school must ensure students and staff have access and can use our systems.
9. Keep the parents & the community informed – of the school’s vision. Help them understand Web 2.0, cybersafety, L4L and digital technologies using sites like Click. Communicate using these technologies. Ask what can parents do to support? Keep the P&C updated and in the loop. Talk about practical and theoretical issues. How can my son or daughter ensure their posture is good when using their machine? What happens if…?
10. Reflection - the continuous cycle that incorporates and acts on this reflection permits failure and allows for renewal. Innovation and risk-taking are encouraged and stagnancy resisted at all costs. Everyone must be free to be critical, positive criticism with suggestions for the future, are what we all need.
There’s obviously so much more…
Once again, thanks to my PLN for their contribution via email and Twitter. The slideshow below gives you a few seconds to read each tweet.
Here’s the cream of the 100s of replies from you folks for a 4 minute - ‘best of 1: 1 suggestions’ - video.
10 things ‘a faculty’ can do in preparation for 1:1 (laptops) in classrooms:
1. Support the school’s agenda – help to make good ideas work but also shape them with positive input followed by action. HTs have a special role here in leading their faculty positively and realistically. Be collaborative and then complete honest reflection using the SWOT tool.
2. Share locally with colleagues – who work in the same faculty at a different school. Do this in a range of ways, including creating an online presence and identity for the faculty. Is there a member of the faculty who could help set up a blog or wiki or work on the school website? Support, and if necessary re-invigorate, local networks and share ideas and resources.
3. Champion student needs – and focus on what will enhance student enjoyment, engagement, learning and outcomes.
5. Conferences – ensure that each faculty member leaves the pond each year and sees what is best practice as presented at conferences. Encourage staff to present at conferences and promote the good work of the faculty and school.
6. Agitate – for professional development, resources and time. Have a plan and sell it to the Boss. Make it align (and shape) the school plan. Engage with your professional association.
7. Know your team can make a difference - and be positive. Pace yourself to do a little towards the collective faculty goals each week. Who can help you and who can you help in your faculty? Who can help your team from another faculty?
8. Revisit – ICT outcomes and cross-curriculum content strategically in faculty meeting and then set plans for action. Backward mapping is an effective strategy to employ.
9. Tech Tip of the Week – publish ideas that will help colleagues, encourage everyone in the faculty to participate in developing sound pedagogy using digital technologies. Formally share successful and failed lessons/ideas/strategies in faculty meetings.
10. Reflect – as a faculty and individual on what must change and what stays in your programs. Talk pedagogy and digital technologies, not just about new tools. Permit failure and encourage openess. Be learners. Be collaborative.
Here are the suggestions from colleagues about what a faculty can do in preparation for the L4L rollout later in the year:
This will be the first in a series of posts designed to help our whole school community gain the full benefit of the rollout of laptops.
This year there will be hundreds of laptops flooding into our school and wireless connectivity. We have been preparing for quite a while now and will continue to do so. The pace quickens though and we, each individual, needs to focus on their own particular challenge(s).
Here’s 10 things ‘a teacher’ can do prior to the arrival of the students’ laptops (apologies that some of the videos are hosted at YouTube and consequently filtered by DET):
1. Develop a PLN – Ongoing collaboration is the best way to stay up to date and developing a Personal Learning Network is essential. You really need to start now and I have found Twitter to be invaluable. Quite simply, the concept of a virtuous circle is in in operation here when you establish a PLN (and you will lose ground, so to speak, in the classroom, if you do not have a network to support professional learning).***
2. Understand the concept of a PLE – Students will need to develop their Personal Learning Environment and become independent of the teacher rather than being aliterate. Read more about 21st century learning environments in detail here. Another ‘way of seeing’ is to read about the toolbelt students will have to assist learning.
3. MOODLE – familiarise yourself with how other staff are using this LMS and build courses through preparing lessons and units of work.
4. Dialogue – talk with staff who are enthusiatic and making good progress with digital learning personally. Ask for advice and assistance. Check out one of their lessons. Ask what Professional Associations are doing to support their members.
5. Dialogue - talk with students, individually and in groups about how having a laptop will change learning and lessons. Seek their ideas. Spread the word of how they will be more independent and self-directed.
6. Delicious – You should create an account and add others to your network. Support our collective endeavours at the school to build a great collection of websites for staff to use. Seek help if you need to know more or watch this video. Do you know the school Delicious account password? Make sure you tag effectively.
7. 10 minutes – Learn how to use RSS feeds and make 10 minutes a day to check your Google Reader account for posts from Edubloggers and pertinent websites you have feeds from. Here’s a video to help. Kelli’s blog has a good post about laptops and is an example of how DET colleagues share their experiences and knowledge. Tim Hand, Elaine Talbert, Tony Searl and Melissa Giddens are DET bloggers too. Organise RSS feeds from these blogs to get started. You’ll soon find blogs specific to your subject area to have feeds from. Check my blogroll to the right for some good blogs.
8. Find free web apps – So many excellent tools and apps are available for free online. Richard Byrne and Larry Ferlazzo are two of the best bloggers for staying informed about these apps. Organise RSS feeds from these blogs.
9. DET portal & TALE – This link (if you are logged on to the portal) will take you to the L4L (Laptops for Learning) page with all the bulletins, links and info available to DET teachers. There is a FAQ. You must read this. The TALE site should be one that all staff are familiar with and increasingly need.
10. Reflect - How can students learn best in my classroom? How can we create life-long learners? Am I a life-long learner? Why am I a teacher? How can I help students to be independent? How can my classroom evolve with new tools and pedagogical ideas? How can I keep up to date happily? What risks do I need to take? What do I most need to be careful about? Who can help me? Who can I help?
I asked colleagues face-to-face, via Twitter and email what they thought we needed to do pre-laptops.
Here’s a selection of the recommendations made by my PLN for this post:
Thanks to everybody that posted a response on Twitter – cheers to you all! Interestingly enough, I made more contacts and my network expanded in the process of collecting these thoughts.
Hopefully, a good range of comments will appear at this post. I especially hope that better ideas of what should be in a ‘top ten’ list will emerges as we discuss.
***Mathematics says the sum value of a network increases as the square of the number of members. In other words, as the number of nodes in a network increases arithmetically, the value of the network increases exponentially.
An old saying puts it succinctly: Them that’s got shall get.
A new way of saying it: Networks encourage the successful to be yet more successful. Economist Brian Arthur calls this effect “increasing returns.” “Increasing returns” he says, “are the tendency for that which is ahead to get further ahead; for that which loses advantage to lose further advantage.” Source