Learning and design in your library

Following on from my last post, I was really lucky to do my presentation after Kevin Hennah, and help put library design into the context of the digital changes that are impacting on 21st century learning. We did try to Ustream the event, but it wasn’t one of our successful efforts :-)

However, I know that the all the wonderful people that were there for the day were all putting an enormous amount of energy, care and thought into planning their renovations, extensions, or new school library buildings. Here’s the presentation slides – I know that some people are looking for some of the hyperlinks.  Thanks to everyone in Cairns, and for making me feel so welcomed so far up north.

[thanks to Kim Cofino for some of her inspirational images. Kevin Hennah is going to drop in and visit Kim in a few weeks. Fab.]

Horizon Report – K12 at last!

The Horizon Report 2009 K-12 is here!  Naturally I’m thrilled to bits, for professional and personal reasons.

Firstly, because the Horizon reports, that have been released since 2004 and which have provided critical information for educators about emerging technologies and their impact on  society and education – has now released its first report for K-12.  Horizon.K12 focuses on emerging technologies for elementary and secondary learning institutions.

Secondly, I was so lucky to be included on the Advisory Panel of the K-12 Report. Just being part of the process was amazing – but seeing such a breadth of information, and engaging in the process of filtering was an education in itself.  Much material was covered, as we read, filtered and sifted priorities – we’ve seen what didn’t make it into the report – so maybe we got to know what might come next :-)

While there are many local factors affecting the practice of education, there are also issues that transcend regional boundaries, questions we all face in K-12 education, and it was with these in mind that this K12 report was created. The hope is that the report is useful to educators worldwide, and the international composition of the Advisory Board reflects the care with which a global perspective was assembled.

Information on all the Horizon Reports may be found, and downloaded, at
http://www.nmc.org/horizon.  The Horizon K-12 Report may be downloaded here.

Connect and inspire – oh yeah!

Yesterday I had the wonderful opportunity to attend an ACEL conference held at the University of Wollongong (a hour and half drive from Sydney). This conference, around the theme of Tech-savvy Leadership and Learning, drew a good crowd. It was impressive to see a large number of attendees from the Department of Education Schools, who attended as part of an exercise in creating knowledge networks who could continue learning about innovation with ICT during the year.

The keynote speakers included key researchers from the University of Wollongong, who shared their work and their perspectives on learning in a digital age. I always appreciate hearing about research, as this adds significant value to our more anecdotal reflections on day-to-day classroom happenings. We test, experiment, play, get creative with pedagogy and researchers help us prove we are on the right track!

However, a number of us chatted between sessions, the more digitally savvy, social network connected attendees, and we were a little troubled by some statements made about social networking and digital learning. Some of the ‘push’ of the conference was ICT, PD, and the horrors of cyberbullying. For those coming new to new media, they needed to hear about the power of personal learning networks – but I’m afraid I might have been the only one to mention this.

One keynote speaker actually stated that ‘you can’t make friends via social networks like Facebook’. I shook my head, and wondered about all the wonderful professional contacts I have made via social networks – and the excitement in meeting them eventually F2F – building on professional respect, collaboration, sharing of resources and more.

This is not a new outcome at conferences – we are starting to see a digital divide emerging in that some people believe they can talk about and research digital learning environments and social networking without actually being active participants in that world!  I like to see keynote speakers who can share their online digital identities with us, and prove to me that they really do understand the architecture of participation that is learning in our new century.

Nevertheless, it was a fabulous day. The attendees were very enthusiastic as far as I could tell. Thank you to Julie Reynolds, Principal of Cedars Christian College, who invited me to present a session at this ACEL conference.  Julie’s enthusiasm, and that of her staff, was so wonderful. They are really working hard to make their school 21C friendly!

I guess what I tried to say in my presentation is to remind people that passion as to drive our connections – and that we cannot operate effectively in working with technology without social networking. I believe that PD is NOT the single answer – creating connections and promoting a shift in our mindsets is even more important. In fact, without flexibility, experimentation, collaboration, and innovation driven by our dialogue ‘with the crowd in the cloud’ it must might all be for nothing.

There is not much you can say in an hour – not really!  So it was very nice to have people take the time to come and chat afterwards and say that they felt inspired to try! That’s the key thing – try – and the rest will take care of its self.

Here are my slides!

For those who visited earlier, thanks to @slideshare for fixing the embed problem. Twitter teams are the frontline of service!

E-teaching and motivation

Motivation is the theme of this video on learner-centered technology use. The American Psychological Association (1993) outlines four dimensions of learner-centeredness. Motivation is one of these four.This video, which is part of a larger project investigating learner-centered teaching with technology, highlights the need for motivation and engagement with technology. The use of the technology advertisements is designed to highlight the engagement produced by technology and media.Can education compete with that? If so how?

more about “E-teaching and motivation“, posted with vodpod

It’s Time to Change Learning

I couldn’t resist sharing this from Kaplan University :  “It’s time to use technology to rewrite the rules of education. It’s time to learn how you learn so we can teach you better.”  Well, I know it’s just advertising….but it is a great discussion highlight.

more about “It’s Time to Change Learning“, posted with vodpod
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The 2008 Edublog Awards!

My Nominations for The 2008 Edublog Awards are:

1. Best individual blog : Teaching and Learning Design – Dean Groom

2. Best group blog: Information Literacy Meets Library 2.0

3. Best new blog: And Another Thing – Sue Tapp

4. Best resource sharing blog: CogDogBlog – Alan Levine

5. Most influential blog post: The future of online learning – 10 years on – Stephen Downes

6. Best teacher blog: Cool Cat Teacher – Vicki Davies

7. Best librarian / library blog: Tame the Web – Michael Stephens

8. Best educational tech support blog: Mobile Technology in TAFE – Sue Waters

9. Best elearning / corporate education blog: Jane’s E-learning Pick of the Day – Jane Hart

10. Best educational use of audio: Audio Recorder

11. Best educational use of video / visual: The New Media Literacies

12. Best educational wiki: Web 2.0 Cool Tools for Schools – Lenva Shearing

13. Best educational use of a social networking service: Horizon Project 2008

14. Best educational use of a virtual world: Skoolaborate

Labyrinth of information



Understanding – that is what I believe we are about in education – helping kids engage with information, culture, experience, to build personal knowledge and understanding. In passing across my RSS reader last night I encountered a post by Sheila Webber that set me thinking once again the whole of helping students develop the skills to ‘do things with information’. Sheila writes about ‘abstracting’ which is a topic that has been reintroduced for her Masters students.

In the course, the students read an article in advance, then in the session they briefly go through some key points about why abstracts are useful, what the differences are from an introduction, indexing etc., and how to write one. Then the students draft an abstract in class, swap it with their neighbour, read their neighbour’s abstract and make at least one positive and one critical comment. Then of course they have a discussion about the issues.

Here’s the crunch. Sheila says

Being able to read through something, pick out the key points and present them clearly is a good skill to have in the workplace, not just for study, I think. It is also useful in focusing on how articles are structured, and thinking about how you might identify the key points as a reader.

Now my mind jumped across to our classrooms. Besides the normal curriculum activities that are intended to introduce content to students, hopefully in such a way that they can wrestle with ideas in an authentic way (think project-based learning), there is the problem of their evolving skill-sets.

The relationship between a person with a question and a source of information is complex. We ask our students constantly to be ‘doing things with information’ including constructing new interpretations, new versions, new representations of information that they have trawled for in books, magazines, and rather more often in digital resources. Yes, Google still gets a good workover.

What we need to be doing more of is emphasizing the methods for constructing appropriate representations of information. This is more than referencing and critical thinking. It is honing the skill to summarize and articulate the content, meaning and purpose of a body of information or knowledge that is being absorbed or incorporated into the thinking activities taking place in a student’s head. Do we do enough of that?

It is important that we remember to incorporate methods for modelling both the construction and deconstruction of information. As students learn this skill, there thinking will become more flexible, and their minds will eventually be able to abstract information concisely and efficiently.

At school we are constantly exploring ways to promote construction of information. There is much to be learned about this problem in our digital age. I have a sense that we are not addressing the issue well enough yet. I think we all need to learn a lot more about this area because of the demands of 21st century learning.

Gary, our chemistry teacher, and member of the Powerful Learning Project Team, has been spearheading an initiative for doing things with information in Chemistry.

Gary has deployed Mindmeister, first up, as a tool for organisation and reflection of content. This online mind – mapping tool has the added advantage of collaboration. Gary’s students worked in teams to pull together information on different parts of their topic. This was revision work. This was collaborative note taking. This was far more effective for distilling information for the students. the tool is interesting as it allows more than one student to be working on a mindmap. Gary’s secret? get different groups of students to focus on different parts of the mindmap. This is step one in learning to ‘do things with information’ ! One day, these kids might be able to understand what’s involved in abstracting!

Bonus: And get this!! If you plug in your Skype information you will be able to call other people who are also editing the mindmap. If you have a pro account you can take the map offline for some Google Gears functionality.

History – coming to a phone near you!

Michael Arrington writes about a new interface for delivering history information through World History. I am going to enjoy the reaction of history teachers to this product! if only because they will have to fast-track their 21st century understanding of how students ‘source’ their history information :-)

Even if it is drawing content from Wikipedia, as Michael suggests, the fact that the company is also developing an iPhone application highlights the fact that change it taking place under our very noses in a pretty significant way!

It seams the product is still in private beta, but the idea is that you will use the map to find a location you are interested in and see historical events that occurred there visually. Even set a date range and see just the events during those years. For more information, check out the demo videos here.

Quotes worth keeping

Learning happens through connections

We learn when we connect ideas, people, thoughts. This isn’t new, but the more I’m in a connected world the more I realize that it’s through connections that learning occurs. Is it just me? Or should we not be teaching students how to connect information to create new knowledge.

Jeff Utecht New Schools