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Thursday, 29 July 2010

Discuss eLearning in Schools

Announcing a new edna Group: eLearning in Schools

This group is designed to offer a virtual meeting room for teachers who are planning to introduce, in the middle of introducing or actively involved in online learning in schools across Australia.

The group is intended for primary, middle and high schools as well as VET teachers. Through this virtual meeting room, to be known as the elearning Schools Group, a Community of Practice is born and it is hoped together we act as catalysts in the development of eLearning in our schools, promote good standards, and provide a venue where group members are able to share their experiences, difficulties as well as suggestions,

In order to subscribe to this Group, you must be subscribed to edna. If you are already subscribed, log on to edna and login. Once logged in, Go to Groups at the top right of the page and click on the tab.

Do one of the following to locate the group:

  1. Scroll down the list of Group Categories and select School Education. .Click on Page 5 and scroll down to around the middle of the list to elearning in School and click to launch the group’s home page. or
  2. Type in: elearning in Schools in the Search Groups field at the top right corner of the EdNA Groups Home Page. And click Go. or
  3. Click here or this URL: http://www.groups.edna.edu.au/course/view.php?id=2579

If you are not yet subscribed to edna, visit the edna home page, or click here and click Register and follow the prompts.

The new Group is a public group, but you will need to be registered in order to participate in forums.



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Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Test your Risk Intelligence

I subscribe to a blog RSS feed from Flux at Future Lab. Today's post is about intelligent risk taking.

What caught my eye was a link to a project called Projection Point which is gathering data related to risk intelligence.

Risk Intelligence Quotient (RQ) is a measure of a person's ability to estimate probabilities accurately. People with high risk intelligence tend to make better predictions than those with low RQ.
The test consists of 50 statements which may be true or false. Your task is to say how likely you think it is that each statement is true.
The test takes about five minutes to complete.

The reader is told "This test is rather unusual in that you can score very highly even if you don’t know much. That’s because this test measures self-knowledge rather than factual knowledge. It rewards you for gauging your own level of uncertainty accurately, rather than for knowing a bunch of facts."

With the optimism of a newbie, off I went to take the test. It did take me a little longer than 5 minutes as there were some things I had to take a guess at. At the end of the test, my RQ came to 71/100 - average - disappointing: I had thought of myself as such a risk taker. But I guess in truth I am quite conservative most of the time.

You are given the choice of whether your results are added to their data collection or not.

Flux is an interesting blog to follow. It is a collaborative blog with a number of contributors, and the posts are often quite thought provoking.

Today's writer Dan Such says "I’m interested in how this relates to the complex domain of educational change – where the implications of doing, or not doing, something differently are hard to distinguish.  It is often easy to recognise the benefits and problems with a current approach to educational practice, but difficult to judge the benefits and problems of alternative ways of acting.  How good are we as a sector in making judgements about the benefits and challenges of new approaches?  How risk intelligent are we?"

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Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Are you part of the cyclone?

Just recently I read a novel where one of the characters is a 10 year old with Asperger syndrome. On Monday mornings he inevitably has a tummy ache and has to be persuaded with end-of-the week rewards to embark on yet another week in the local school. One night his uncle is waiting for him in a car outside the school gate and eventually the boy dawdles out, well behind the others, a picture of abject misery. The uncle reflects that for those who don't like being there, school is worse than prison.

Perhaps that reading experience might explain for you why an article I came across this morning, which I've just noted is quite dated, struck such a chord with me. In Innovation in education Geoffrey Maslen observed

Higher education is just one industry among the myriads of businesses and professions whose practises have been dramatically altered by the no-longer new technology and its awesome power to transform. Yet many schools across the nation have still to feel the earthquake that has rocked the world beyond their front gate..... Yet change is occurring in the way many schools are run and the way students are taught. In the far-sighted places, the upheaval began years ago and this will become a system-wide cyclone as the full impact of the reshaping of the world outside, driven by the electronic revolution, hits every classroom.

I think there are a couple of questions I'd like to know the answers to:

  •  In the first 3 case studies in Maslen's article, the children he talked to responded that they hated school.
    I wonder if schools ever really ask that question. What do kids really think about school? Is there any research?
  • My second question relates to whether the cyclone has yet hit, and whether it has swept you up with it. What changes would you describe as cyclonic? [I note here that Maslen wrote his article in December 2005, and so you might like to think about what has happened where you are in the last 5 years] Have we seen "cyclonic change" in pedagogy?

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Monday, 26 July 2010

Top 100 Tools for Learning 2010 list

Jane Hart, a Learning & Performance Consultant, and founder of the Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies  writes a blog called Jane's Pick of the Day.

In recent weeks Jane has been conducting voting for 2010's Top 100 Tools for Learning. Voting will be open for several more months, and suggestions can still be added to the list. The list will be closed and finalised on 17 October 2010.

"Voting" takes place by participants contributing their own lists of 10 top tools.
Make your contributions here. or email your list to Jane Hart

If you browse the list of those already recommended you'll be amazed at how many good things there are around.

My own list:

  • Blogger
  • Posterous
  • Moodle
  • Skype
  • YouTube
  • XnView
  • Prezi
  • Wikipedia
  • Elluminate
  • Odiogo

Currently the top 5 tools for 2010 are

  1. Twitter
  2. YouTube
  3. Google Docs
  4. Delicious
  5. Slideshare

A comparative list is available here. It compares this year's choices with the listings Jane created in 2009, 2008, and 2007.

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Practical Podcasting

I doubt that you need much description about what podcasting is, but just in case you do, here is a quick video from those clever people at Common Craft.

Here are some snippets from Australian educators about how they manage podcasting.

I have bought all members of the History Department an Easy Speak microphone, and I have one available for loan to staff or students through the Library. The microphone costs about $80.00. It connects to the computer through a usb cable, which also charges it. You can hang it around your neck and record what you say as you say it. The quality is remarkably good. I have uploaded the files I have made in my Year 12 class to our Intranet and onto my ning (both locations are only available to my students).

Here's a performance that Adrian Bruce created with his son of a poem called The Haunted House.  If you follow the links in that post, you will pick up some ideas from Adrian about integrating audio production into the classroom. Be sure to check out the Ace Podcasts created by his students.

Alastair Gumley sent me the following examples of podcasts and vodcasts being produced by teachers and students in an ongoing project..

For General Podcast and Vodcast (was work-in-action) for students and staff - some YouTube items are "secure" and not accessible by general public for AUP reasons: https://sites.google.com/site/pod2009site/ 
For LOTE Teachers: https://sites.google.com/site/lotepod09/ 
For Science Teachers: https://sites.google.com/site/learninkscipod/ and http://www.pageflakes.com/learninK/30117866

From another teacher:

I have been using podcasts in one of my classes for several years now, some are just free ones I have found online and others I made myself using "audacity'.

Making the podcast is quite easy but time-consuming as you need to organise your 'speech' , edit out mistakes etc. The biggest mistake I made early on was to make them tooooo long, anything over about 10mins. and the attention span of the students begins to wander!! Short, sharp and clearly spoken and if you can add in other voices even better.

Some of mine are combination of my voice and extracts from radio podcasts etc.

I initially did them to help one dyslexic student but found they were useful for all the class in catering for different learning styles and toprovide variety in the content input. Some students really liked them as used them for revision etc. Other really didn't make that much use of them. Have used them in class to help student practice notetaking, for revision before some  assessment and to provide extended content that I didn't have time to do in class time.

If you need to check out what you are allowed and not allowed to do, in terms of copyright, then check the Smart Copy website.

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Friday, 23 July 2010

Generation C??

This looks to me like an attempt to enable commentators to use the rest of the alphabet, but perhaps it helps us understand the characteristics of this generation a little better.

Just recently the Pew Research Center, talking about the "Millenials" defined recent generations as

  • The Silent Generation - born before 1946
  • The Baby Boomers born 1946-1964, a population spike that end when the birth control pill went onto the market
  • Generation X - born 1965 - 1980 - at first they were known as the "Baby Bust"
  • The Millenials - born 1981 - 2000, the first generation to come of age in the new millenium

Other definitions that have been used

  • Generation X - 1965 - 1980
  • Generation Y - 1970s - early 2000s , also known as the Millenials, the Next Generation, or Generation Next
  • Generation Z - born late 1990s - late 2000s (perhaps to 2012), typically the children of Generation X

The wikipedia article says that Generation Z is
highly connected, many having had lifelong use of communications and media technologies such as the World Wide Web, instant messaging, text messaging, MP3 players, mobile phones and YouTube, earning them the nickname "digital natives". No longer limited to the home computer, the Internet is now increasingly carried in their pockets on mobile Internet devices such as mobile phones. A marked difference between Generation Y and Generation Z, is that older members of the former remember life before the takeoff of mass technology, while the latter have been born completely within it. Generation Z members are described as impatient and instant minded, and tending to lack the ambition of previous generations. They appear to be an introverted and aloof generation, since most prefer not to spend much time with real people. Psychologists are claiming an "acquired Attention Deficit Disorder" or "acquired Autistic Spectrum Disorder" since their dependency on technology is high and attention span is much lower, as opposed to previous generations who read books and other printed material, along with watching live television.

Now we are seeing a new term for those who will "come of age" in approximately 2020 - Generation C. It is a term that seems to be gaining quite a high level of currency already, although I have only just come across it. Today I found it here.

In the course of the next 10 years, a new generation—Generation C—will emerge. Born after 1990, these "digital natives," just now beginning to attend university and enter the work- force, will transform the world as we know it. Their interests will help drive massive change in how people around the world socialize, work, and live their passions—and in the information and communication technologies they use to do so. 

Trendwatch says the C stands for "consumer generated content", Australia's itNews says they are really the internet generation and that the C stands for "content, connectivity, creativity, collaboration and communication". Confusingly there's also a claim in that article that they will be middle aged in 2020 (are you middle-aged at 30?)
Some are using it as another term for the "digital natives", and extending their date of birth back to about 1986.

They have

  • a love of content creation and 'mashing';
  • the tendency to form active communities rather than remain passive;
  • a gravitation toward social media sites where they can participate in discussions about different ideas and get involved in cultural conversations;
  • a desire to be in control of their own lives, and a contentedness with complexity;
  • a desire to work in more creative industries and be less restricted by rigid social structures.
  • And here's another term that you may not have come across, but it certainly defines many of us: the sandwich generation: simultaneously caring for parents and for children.

    Whatever we call them, the generation that are in our schools and universities now will force change in our education systems, both in the pedagogy, and in the physical environments. The schools and universities they teach in should be very different to the ones they are in now as students.

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    Thursday, 22 July 2010

    Creators rather than consumers

    One of the features of web 2.0 that educators have still not really taken advantage of  (in droves anyway) is the opportunities it provides for both themselves and their students to step out of the web 1.0 world where we are basically consumers, into the web 2.0 world where we are authors and creators.

    The push technology of web 1.0 ensured that most of us saw the internet as a great big library, full of up-to-date information, searchable, not always trustworthy or correct, and copy-able. We have talked about developing in ourselves and in our students critical literacy skills that enable them to select information which they can then re-purpose in projects and assignments.

    Web 2.0 provides an abundance of tools that enable educators and students to become creators of knowledge, to move from their basic understanding of a topic gained through web 1.0 technologies, into a space where they create knowledge and share with others. It is this that will lead to the development of 21st Century Skills, particularly Creativity and Innovation. The literacies we develop here are essential for 21st century learning.

    The web 2.0 activities can be both collaborative and individual and include

    • creation of a wiki
    • conversion of a set of photos, showing the progress of an activity, into a photo journal
    • blogging on a regular basis
    • creation of podcasts
    • creation of e-books

    It is important to realise that skills in these areas are not an overnight achievement. Like anything else, proficiency relies on the activity being repeated several times, the skills being honed to a point of efficiency, and the final outcome being high quality.


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    Wednesday, 21 July 2010

    Connecting with students through podcasts

    This post, and perhaps the next one or two, is inspired by an article in eLearn Magazine titled Connecting with e-Learners through podcasting.

    The author, Heather Zink, begins

    Online instructors often struggle to find ways to connect with students on a consistent basis through a means other than written discussion such as forums and emails.... Podcasting offers an opportunity to connect with students and enhance the instructor-student interaction. It also provides an avenue for instructors to meet students at a time most convenient for the student with information that can be repeated as often as the student needs.

    The article provides a suggested strategy for developing a series of podcasts, and advice about design, time management, and preventing podfading.

    CMIS at DETWA has a very useful page on Podcasts in the Classroom for those who are yet to embark on a podcasting journey. It gives resources to check out.

    Me.edu.au has quite a large community where you can check out items people have been bookmarking.

    I often listen to podcasts such as those on Radio National at EdPod, not as podcasts but as audio files.

    I am interested in examples of Australian educators (in any sector) using podcasts, and also of student- created podcasts, so leave some details in a comment or drop me an email so I can add to this topic in a future post.

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    Friday, 16 July 2010

    Fighting the myths about technology in education

    Have you subscribed to DERN yet?

    Don't know what it is?
    DERN "lives" at the ACER (Australian Council for Education Research)
    The Digital Education Research Network (DERN) is a network of researchers scholars, leaders, experts and colleagues interested in research about education and the use of digital technologies to improve teaching, learning and leadership. It focuses mainly on Australian research although not exclusively.  It was launched in March 2010.

    Each week former CEO of Education.au Gerry White, Principal Research Fellow, Teaching Learning and Leadership at the ACER writes a blog post in which he points to, and comments briefly on, some recent research about technology in education.

    This week's blog post Technology in education myths dispelled relates to some research released by Walden University and undertaken by Grunwald Associates that focusses on the drive towards teaching 21st century skills and tackles five myths about the use of technology in education, particularly those that make assumptions about which teachers are more likely to embed technology in their pedagogy.

    Gerry's DERN blog is providing a very useful service, and I look forward to my weekly dollop of something to think about

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    Thursday, 15 July 2010

    How much do you have in common with the Millenials?

    The Pew Research Centre earlier this year released a report that looked at the characteristics of the Millenials (Generation Next).

    The report is about the generation that constitutes young Americans in their late teens and twenties (ages 18-29). It found that already distinct characteristics are emerging. Not only will they be the best educated generation in American history, they are confident, self-expressive, liberal, upbeat and open to change.

    The report compares the characteristics of the Millenial Generation with those of Gen X, the Baby Boomers, and those older than 65, whom it refers ot as the Silent Generation.

    Set in American culture, this report may be, but there is no doubt some of its conclusions are also relevant to other Western cultures such as Australia. For educators it may help to explain where young parents are coming from.

    The report summary contains some interesting charts and diagrams.

    On the site there is a video to watch of the launch of the report and an interesting quiz to take: How Millennial Are You?
    For the record, I'm not very Millenial at all: scored 36 out of a maximum of 100, but what else can you expect from a Baby Boomer on the cusp of being Silent?


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    Monday, 12 July 2010

    Technology in the Tropics 2010 - QSITE FNQ

    The Far North Queensland Chapter of QSITE has been kind enough to ask me to be their keynote speaker today. I'm also conducting 3 workshops.

    If you are interested in looking at my presentations here they are:





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    Friday, 9 July 2010

    Inspiring and Engaging today's learners

    A presentation I gave earlier this week at the CEGSA conference here in Adelaide reminded me how much I enjoy the contact with learners.
    These admittedly were teachers, and we were talking about getting them started in blogging, a favourite topic. But it was lovely to feel that I had given them some direction and at least started them on their journey, or, in a couple of cases, re-started them.

    If my presentation doesn't open as an embedded file, then find it here

    A post today from eSCHOOL NEWS talks about making students forget they are in a classroom and I wonder how many teachers have that as their aim.

    Inspiring and engaging today's 21st-century learners, who have grown up surrounded with digital media and are used to having instant access to information, requires flexible resources that change with students' needs. When teachers can leverage multiple technologies in a resource-rich classroom-supported by top-notch professional development-students forget they're in school and instead become excited about real-world applications of the lessons they are learning.

    Check the post for yourself and the list of eSCHOOL NEWS articles that explore the topic.

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    Thursday, 8 July 2010

    Free e-books offer at World e-book fair

    I'm following the e-books theme this week.

    World eBook Fair has a campaign called Liberating Literacy this month.

    They say

    "Our goal is to provide Free public access for a month to 2 Million eBooks. During the rest of the year you may continue to download your selection of about 750,000 PDF eBooks by joining the World Public Library. Annual membership is only $8.95 per year."


    On a lighter note you might enjoy this YouTube video - It's a Book!

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