Happy Australia Day – Aus Mac Ed

We have celebrated Australia Day, 29 January, in style. Google Australia did us proud!

The same aussie day was chosen for launch post of the Aus Mac Ed group blog.

Paul writes:

As promised I’ve been working on a multi-user blog for Australian educators using Macs and iPods (and iPhones). The goal of AusMacEd is to bring our vibrant discussions about the huge potential of Apple based solutions in Australian education out onto the internet in a pro-active and web2.0 manner.

ausmaced.jpg Nice one Paul! :-)

Come on over, and join the conversation.

Of course, that’s not all there is!Digital Chalkie mascot

Australia Day also saw the news that Edublogs Award Nominee DIGITAL CHALKIE will continue in 2007.

If you aren’t familiar with Digital Chalkie, drop over and read a little about its success and enjoy the interesting contributions in this group blog.

Apple Conference – Day 3

Actually I’m exhausted, though not much wiser for three days of conference-going. Day three had its moments – good ones actually. I’ll share some with you!

Great Leadership Workshop led by Westley Field from MLC, Sydney and Keith Anderson, PLC Perth. Thanks for keeping the focus on blended learning, not just e-learning and technology. Both schools have a strong strong link to deep thinking coupled with creativity.

Westley shared Frank Crowther’s ‘Strategic Foundations’ with us as an enabling mechanism for transformation. These are made up of:

School vision – clear, shared and meaningful
Distributed Leadership
Success – promoted
Step-by-step – taking people on the journey

We heard about the PLC approach to strong, blended differentiation.
We heard about an MLC approach to building communication and community. A step-by-step approach has allowed them to reach significant milestons ……and desired outcomes.

Martin Levins of The Armidale School followed with a strongly focussed session where the key message for me was “creativity is the next literacy” (echoing Marco’s message). (Martin has emailed me to let me know that this quote is derived from that insightful and humorous presentation of (Sir) Ken Robinson at the TED conference in Monterey, CA. I highly recommend catching up with the TED talks, if you haven’t checked them out previously.

As Martin says:

Learning is the focus, not ICT
Give laptops to all your teachers, and expect creative work in return from some
Be a progenitor of dialogue
Leaders need to champion good work
Employ good, people-oriented staff

Best response to the teacher who says “I don’t like change!” :

Well, if you don’t like change, you’ll like ‘irrelevant’ even less!

Apple Conference – Day 2 Rocks

Led off by Greg Whitby, we had several sessions today that genuinely gave us the opportunity to review and reflect, and find some future directions. After asking some hard questions, we were fortunate to have some indepth case-studies, from different parts of Australia, showing how some successes were achieved.

Leadership is about asking intelligent questions. One of the most important questions to consider is  what niche schools have in the life our students. The issue is relevancy. Students, as we know from the inspirational presentations of Marco, are finding new ways about going about the learning process. Even in our mainstream schools with mainstream curriculum, students are embracing Web 2.0. So in looking at the future of schooling we can make good use of School 2.0 planning and ideas to challenge and reshape our focus.

We can run with Greg’s framework:

Enhancing student learning outcomes by individualising and integrating learning “learning with each other”

Leading

  • Building leadership teams and fostering innovation
  • Demonstrating new ways of learning and modelling good practice.

Supporting

  • Investing in the appropriate tools for learning
  • Making schools more inclusive – new models.

Growing

  • Investing in individual professional growth and learning
  • Opening the school to the world – the world to the classroom, e.g. learning community’s projects.

Good day for collaborative thinking and learning! for leaders!

Apple Conference – Marco Torres

marcos.jpgURGENT! URGENCY! From the heart! from Marco Torres

These senitments encaspsulate the vision and energy that drives his purpose and the acknowledgement of the learning needs of his students. It doesn’t need me to decribe the amazing creativity of his students. His own websites tell the story only too well.

Some ‘one-liners’ that make the point:

“We are arguing about the rearrangement of the deck chairs on the titanic”
Inspired by Einstein … “never memorize anything that you can look up”
“Some of the projects our students have done have changed policy”
“Let the students design their learning and discover their learning needs”

and for us in Australia……..”Los Angeles has more secondary students than Victoria”

We must create the opportunities for students to demonstrate learning – in a multimedia environment.

The importance of a visual, multimedia environment was amply demonstrated by a ‘tactic’ that Marcos has used at conferences.

Hand everyone a small card and ask them to list three major events that have had an impact on their lives. The result from all of these has been that ALL events have been visually recorded ones – and included the following in the top five: ‘man on the moon’, ‘bomb at hiroshima’, ‘image of kids running from naphalam attack in Vietnam’, ‘JFK assassination’, ‘ Challenger explosion’, and ‘Google earth’. This is a really good PD activity!

Better still was Marco’s example of the importance of sound as well. Take a paragraph out of Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech. Which one has the impact? The paragraph or the audio sound that we all know so well. Marco has asked students to change the text version- and it gets to look something like a ‘tag cloud’ style paragraph. This tip is just the kind of thing that design students work with when studying graphics – but still an effective strategy to make a point!

The power of image and the power of sound is what it vital.

Marco quoted Edna Mole: ” Be distinct or be extinct”.

His goal? To develop responsible citizens! and maybe college graduates.

Does your project have wings?

The new world needs creativity. We are connecting kids not machines!

Connect all the pieces: Family, Community, Peers, Personal.

So regardless of the education environment you find yourself in, you have three options. Which will you choose?

QUIT COMPLAIN INNOVATE

Apple Conference – very boring leadership strand!

I failed to mention that I had registered for the Leadership Strand of ITSC. The conference offers a range of quality strands, and having spoken to some of my colleagues, the overall impression seems to be that there is something worth learning in all the strands so far.

I did have a chat with some good leaders taking part in my strand – a quiet chat – because so far we have not really had anything worth dragging us away from our busy schedules. While I enjoyed Stephanie’s talk – I could just as easily have missed it, as the message was pitched at those who are still coming to understand the changes in our digital world.

Hopefully all those registered for the Leadership Strand are awake to this fact! Nice to see StudyWiz. Nice to meet with other colleagues. Nice to hear some things they are doing in diverse parts of Australia. Seen it before at other conferences. All nice. All good. But as far as ‘leadership’ goes – NOT INSPIRING. NOT CHALLENGING. JUST PLAIN BORING.

I dread boredom – thank goodness for wireless access and the opportunity to multi-thread my own actions and my own learning.

Tomorrow may be better as Greg Whitby will head off the leadership strand tomorrow. His message at the end of the day was to assure us that he will turn our thinking on its head. ……. Not mine – I work with Greg!!

But at least I might have some fun watching some other leaders squirm OR we will actually engage in some really searching dialogue in response to the challenges that he will put before us.

By the way, can you possibly explain to me how come there is no apparent co-ordination of live blogging of the event? How in a Web 2.0 world are there so many people at an Apple Conference taking notes on paper? How is it that there is not an agreed ‘tag’ to identify outputs from the 3-day conference? And tomorrow we are going to ‘discuss’  how to share information?? Why aren’t we bursting with ideas after one day?  Why aren’t we sharing our images as we go, by posting on Flickr and using the same shared tag? Why aren’t we sharing with the global network rather than deciding how WE are going to share with each other. Some of these things I would understand for a ‘normal’ conference – but would expect more from Apple.  These comments of course only apply to my strand. Perhaps it is the esoteric nature of ‘leadership’ discussions that is the issue.

This is just all ‘so yesterday’!  so far.  Tommorrow might be the direct opposite. I hope so :-)

Apple Conference – StudyWiz

Study Wiz is a virtual learning environment for schools, designed to make e-learning intuitive, and practical for students, teachers and parents.

Stephanie Hamilton asked: “How do I provide flexibility in learning – the sandbox of creativity – when I also want to provide managed secure spaces for our students, with managed and collaborative learning environments?”.

StudyWiz has just been released, and the interface offers a highly intuitive and ‘encouraging’ interface – coupled with a host of Web 2.0 tools for interactive learning. For example, a blogging tool, and a podcasting tool allows the best of e-learning. There is much more. This is an Australian product, being marketed to the world – and a current favourite of Apple.
Pick up a brochure outlining the features of StudyWiz. Even if you are not going to use the product, use the features of StudyWiz to evaluate the directions of your own learning management system.

Stephanie explained that today’s challenge is creating a 21st century learning environment that engages students…and prepares them for life and success in the 21st century. StudyWiz might be another step in the right direction for you. No matter whether you use a product such as this, or use Web 20 online products exculsively – the thing to remember is the multiple needs of the students and the total flexibilty needed.

Cost? Open source? International Standards? SCORM based? (You need to be able to share flexibly).

Can you track how long a student worked on an assignment? Can you track the conversation? Can you capture the dialogue happening? With real data, you have much more powerful ways of creating learning goals and engaging parents in the conversation. This is REAL formative assessment 24/7, in a multi-threaded learning world of our students.

The greatest power of products such as these is for promoting reflection by the teacher. We have to reflect on what it is we are doing, what it is we are asking, and what it is we are explaining!! Our minds all work differently, and until we acknowledge this, we will not make progress in 21st century learning.

Apple Conference – Sydney

Keynote Speaker, Stephanie Hamilton (who joined Apple in 2000 and leaving Austin Independent School District, designing and building 21st century learning environments for 110 schools) and presented the opening session of Apple’s 17th Innovative Technology Schools Conference.

Stephanie provided the ususal inspirational talk that sprang from that important message that we are all trying to communicate to our teachers and school leaders:

  • The only constant in life is….. CHANGE
  • Lifelong learning implies…..CHANGE
  • The road to the 21st century school is paved with ….CHANGE

She addressed all aspects of this change: changing technology; changing learners; and a changing world.

She asked “when you produce a really long document in wordprocessing, do you print it out for proofreading?” A groan of recognition hit us all – yes, we are indeed digital immigrants.

So we are working within a timeshifted world – even out technology tools have radically changed. Kids today have bypassed email, at a time when teachers are just catching up. “Email is so yesterday”! ! Yet how often do we allow students in schools to use IM. Schools still ban mobiles, and “that’s like holding back a tsunami by holding up your hand”!!

How do we take these technologies and make use of them? It is about the difference in the way we learn versus the way technologies are facilitating THEIR learning.

What is their (learning) nature?
Creative, Mobile, Multitasking, Collaborative, Productive

They are prolific writers, but we just don’t know about it, because we don’t move in the spaces they move. They demonstrate these learning characteristics, but we don’t always see it (think MySpace etc) Yet these elements are what a good employer will be looking for, and are checking profiles online as part of the employment process!
They naturally enjoy multi-tasking – today we are more likely to call this ADD. Is this the new normal?
The issue is we need to look at when it works for them, and when it works against them.

Think of there learning as ‘multi-threaded’. We approach them on one dimension, yet they have receptors to take in information on 4 dimensions! We are missing opportunities to communicate with them. Look at the way they can learn – not how we can teach.

Stephanie quoted a figure from the American Library Association: By 2020 information will double every 15 minutes. How long are our teaching periods? What facts will we teach if the information doubles three times in that teaching period!
What a fantastically challenging concept!

For those currently engaged in this discussion via edublogs Stephanie did not actually present anything new, but she did provide an invigorating reminder that there are many aspects of the digital change that we must keep in mind, and provided a few nice points that we can use effectively when encouraging new digital immigrants!

A Final Point……………

Digital Native Learning Infrastructure…..incorporates…. keynote.jpg

          • Knowledge Creation and dissemination
          • Creative exploration
          • Highly collaborative, Interactive and Ad-Hoc
          • Software solutions are expressive
          • User/Student Centric
          • Total Opportunity of Ownership