Who is Smik?

Thursday, 16 June 2011

decommissioning of edna - the loss of a vision

On Tuesday this week we heard
edna is to be decommissioned commencing 30 June 2011 and be completed on 30 September 2011. This decision is the outcome of a recent review.

The seeds of the decommissioning go back quite a long way and will mark the end of an era. EdNA, Education Network Australia, renamed edna a few years back, has provided a range of quality and innovative services for nearly 12 years.

While perhaps it might be thought it had outgrown its usefulness, with the establishment of regional portals especially in the larger states, it is the loss of vision that we must mourn more than anything else, along with the loss of employment to a number of people, some of whom have worked on various parts of edna for a long time. For many of the smaller education systems edna "filled the gaps" with services they could not, and still do not, provide.

The extent of the outreach of edna services will only become apparent as targetted newsletters cease publication, RSS feeds that provided a range of ever updating Australian content into portals and education websites here and overseas die, and the edna calendar and edna database disappear. Other casualties are OzProjects and me.edu.au

Services like edna Groups (based on Moodle) and edna Lists (based on Lyris) will be rebadged under the ESA (Education Services Australia) with a greater DYI flavour.
See further

The vision of a cost saving service that connected with all Australian education portals (and promoted them) began diminishing some years ago as those who contributed to edna's funding knuckled under through new calls on their overcommitted budgets.

Make no bones about it, the loss of edna brings with it too the loss of an expertise in the implementation of ICTs in education, particularly in more technical aspects of service provision, that exists nowhere else. Members of the edna team provided workshops and shared expertise Australia wide.
edna provided a high quality flagship service and enhanced the international reputation of Australian education.

A sad day.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

The chicken or the egg?

That caught your attention didn't it? as you scratch your head to fathom what I am going to write about it in this post?

I don't believe that many schools that are considering implementing e-books and e-readers have given enough thought to getting their teachers "experienced" first. In many of the presentations that I have given recently about e-books I have recommended that teachers/librarians/principals set up "proof of concept" projects where they invest in a few Kindles or iPads that they can then lend to staff or students to build that pool of experienced users.

I do believe that successful implementation of an e-book or e-textbook programme relies on a shared pool of expertise/experience. If a school or education system is going to go the considerable expense of kindles or iPads or another brand of e-readers then they need to be used in such a way as to invoke a greater level of productivity than the mere use of made-from-paper books do. Teachers need to be experienced enough to feel "converted" to their use, and to be able to build a bank of pedagogically sound practices.

Many are going into e-book and e-text book programmes on the assumption, largely false, that doing so will save money. They have in mind that e-books will be cheaper because they are digitised text, so we are saving ink and paper. But make no mistake, publishers need to get their money out of this venture too. And add to that the expense of whatever device you are going to use to display the e-books. They are not cheap either although prices are still coming down, for dedicated e-readers at least.  (here's a new Kindle-like device that has just come onto the market in Australia). So we shouldn't be adopting e-book programmes on economic grounds. It would be easy to prove that, in the immediate sense, staying with what we've got will be cheaper. We need to be implementing e-books because pedagogically it makes sense.

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Friday, 29 April 2011

The end of an era

Today I am retiring. I reached that magic 65 a couple of months ago but today has arrived faster than I thought it would.

Retirement for me means the end of formal employment, but I'll still be blogging here and there. Perhaps a little more there than here, because that really is my passion.

I've been in teaching/education now for 43 years and that is a long time in anybody's language but when you add the years when I was a teaching scholar/pre-service teacher it comes to nearly 50.

I have been lucky that I have always enjoyed what I have been paid to do, and particularly, in the last 10 or so years when I have worked with Education.au/Education Services Australia, there has been considerable overlap with the work I have done and my private learning curve. Working here I have represented a great ministerial company and travelled all over Australia and represented the company twice overseas. I have worked with great people, both face2face and virtually, and been given great latitude.

So, no regrets. Don't shed any tears for me. I'm not. I'm looking forward to the future. A rosy one, with some travel coming up next week - off to Abu Dhabi to meet the new grandson, then to a crime fiction convention in Bristol, and then back to AD for my daughter's 30th birthday. And then back to OZ to deliver about 6 presentations on e-books.

So I'll be back here on this blog. Hang around.

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