Fix education now please!

I have a feeling that people have been trying to ‘fix’ education, one way or another for a long time, and perhaps that desire to ‘fix’ has become  even more urgent with the digital technology revolution. Whatever your take on the changes that need to happen, it is always a good thing to see organisations such as schools, education departments, and governments take that challenge seriously (rather than as yet another opportunity for political mileage).

I’m no politician that’s for sure – not at school, not anywhere. I tend to say what I think which can get me into trouble at times. The problem is, when passion drives your concerns, it means that it is not always possible to wait and wait and wait….

ICT in Learning Symposium

So I must say, I was delighted to take part in some small way in the activities of the Strategic ICT Advisory Service activites of Education AU.

The primary purpose of SICTAS is to undertake a series of studies in a broad range of areas to investigate the current and future impacts of emerging technologies and to provide strategic advice to assist policy makers to address the implications of implementation of new technologies in education and training. The target audience for this research will be senior policy advisors in the Australian Government as well as State and Territory government departments. The schools sector, vocational education and training and higher education sectors will benefit from the advice provided.

The key investigations are:

While I had to turn down my invitiation to take part in the  Think Tank activities last year, I was there in Sydney for the National ICT Symposium. The opportunity to workshop intensively with leading educators and administrators from around Australia was an outstanding way to start of Term 2. This sort of conversation is rare in my daily work and reminds me of the vital need we have to create a culture of conversation at the school level to help focus our ICT developments in order to empower 21st century learning.

Dean & Al

The discussions were intense, and challenging. The key summary points can be found at ICT Symposium wiki. While the key points are captured, the real telling of the story can be found in the pictures of the day and the new connections/alliances formed to further our common goals.  I met up with my favourite two men – Al Upton (primary teacher  from SA, and virtual worlds designer)  and Dean Groom (all round smart guy, co-conspirator in our upcoming publications and Head of Learning Design at Maquarie Uni) . Jo Kay (Jokaydia owner and design consultant) and Bronwyn Stuckey (Quest Atlantis) completed the Jokaydian “get real” team!

I also loved the chance to talk with Moodleman (aka Julian Ridden IT Knowledge Services Manager at Riverview College).  Just imagine if Moodleman and I worked in the same school??  The world would maybe change :-) I was also delighted to meet up with Tomas Lasic, the other Moodle and e-learning guru who hales from WA. Wow Tomas, you are tall in real like as well as online!

Raju Varanasi

Many participants came to Sydney from around the country. A small group of us had some really interesting professional conversations with Raju Varanasi, General Manager, Centre for Learning Innovation within the NSW Department of Education and Training. Raju has the opportunity to provide seriously important opportuities for learning initiatives in our State, and as such he is pretty much abreast of what is possible, what the challenges are, and what processes we should adopt to facilitate innovation and change. It was delightful to work with him – and he came up smiling even after the Jokaydians threw every possible challenge at him to consider.  Raju returned for another dose of  discussion with the most exitable group of all (you are always excited when you are full of ideas and challenges!) and as a result Raju has invited us to spend time with his team to provide input into his planning programs. Cool!  The power of networking and the opportunity for conversation and robust discussion at such events is critical and so very helpful for moving things along.

Gary Putland

The work of EducationAU in this field is always vital in Australia. For me it was again a good chance to catch up with Gary Putland (General Manager, and the gentleman who HAS to fix his newbie icon in Twitter!)  and Kerry Johnson (fellow Jokaydian). These people and all the Edna Team – some more of whom I was able to meet – play a vital role on our behalf!  Though many teachers don’t realise it, we are lucky that they are passionate about the future of ICT in education on our behalf.

My summary?  It’s a long way before these  conversations happening ‘at the top’ reach the leaders in our schools, our middle managmenet, and our classrooms. But to be realistic, things have progressed since 2006 when I started in this whole Web 2.0 thing. Now we are having national conversations that understand that the digital agenda is not only about hardware and infrastructure, it is also about the digital connectedness of students and teachers. How we move forward will depend on how we connect through our social media, as connectedness (more and more) becomes our curriculum and our professional learning construct.

Kerry Johnson

As money pours into connection infrastructures, computers in schools, wireless networks, 3G device connectivity, the days for discussing the pros and cons of one-to-one computing are over.  Every school should have a myriad devices connected to the intrawebs – psp, itouch, netbook, laptop, whatever!  What is now needed is ubiquitous connectivity – not locked down access.  Through these myriad devices we can transform the frameworks for learning – catch up with the kids in their technology timeline, and at last deliver learning and teaching in ways that are relevant to their furture.

The issues and challenges in all this, and the debates that must be had to ‘win the day’, are the topics for another blogging day.

It was great to get a group of people together in one room, from around Australia, who actually understand the complexities and imperatives. Well done and thank you EdnaAU for the chance to participate in your day.

By the way – take note!  The words Web 2.0 were not mentioned all day!  Roll on the future.

Empowering New Learners

In this film, Heppell makes his way through London, describing his vision for schools, meeting with kids , and exploring ideas for learning design and integration of technology in 21st century learning.

more about “Empowering New Learners“, posted with vodpod

Read the book AND watch the video

Why do we need school libraries? Well of course I have lots of reasons why we need school libraries – but the reasons are wrapped up with why we need to change school libraries!!

I am not going to go into that in this post – because I will be talking about this topic and 21st century learning on Wednesday next week, up in Cairns, to a gathering of people involved in spending some government money on school facilities ( I will probably have something to share after that day).

Hopefully they will see the importance of fantastic 21st century learning facilities – school libraries have a significant role to play in facilitating good learning.

The merging of technologies, new media, social networking, interactivity, gaming, virtual learning, web 2.0…all reasons why school libraries are needed and why they have a vital role to play – if we change them.

One of our key roles is promoting literacy and an innovative use of creative spaces and places (real and virtual) that empower reading and writing.

Check these out!

The 21st Century Librarian

The Future of Reading: The Digital Librarian  – “In a Web Age, Library Gets a Job Update” – third in a series of articles from the New York Times looking at how the Internet and other technologies are changing the way people read. School librarians have transformed into multi-faceted information specialists who guide students through the flood of digital information that confronts them on a daily basis.

Oops, they changed the video feed..so you’ll have to jump over to the website to take a look!

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

How WE learn

So from the history of the internet to this refocussing on learning – a great interview from Michael Wesch about harnessing collective intelligence rather than teaching content. He is an advocate of ‘anti-teaching’, seeking too inspire with good questions. Google becomes a tool for testing possibilities. Social media is also about learning possibilities. But don’t get it wrong – it is also about more work! more commitment! more active involvement in collaborative learning. He also raises the use of RFID on a campus, for creating learning opportunities. This I like!!

more about “how WE learn“, posted with vodpod
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Presentation power online

Thanks to a post from Elizabeth Clark, I’m excited to say that I agree with her that 280 slides has wonderful potential for teachers and students alike. In fact, this will become a key teaching tool for me in 2009, as I get my students away from desktop applications and into collaborative online tools.

This is a great place to start. Kids are all too familiar with powerpoint, youtube, and …..uh,oh , google images. How do we make the use of these tools more organic?

For my own presentations, and theirs – this is the go! Why?

Because 280 Slides is a free web-based service where you can “[c]reate beautiful presentations, access them from anywhere, and share them with the world.” It allows you to

  • import existing PowerPoint presentations
  • access your presentations from any computer with an internet connection
  • use media from services like Flickr and YouTube
  • use built-in themes
  • automatically save and recover your presentations
  • download your presentation to PowerPoint
  • publish your presentation on SlideShare, e-mail it, or embed it in a website
  • create your presentations on the web in your browser without downloading any software

I totally love that it works basically the same way as blogs, wikis and nings – use a url or upload an image to put it into your presentation. You can search YouTube or Vimeo to add some multimedia, as well as uploading something.

So students can make their movies, store their images – all online – then embedd them into their presentation – and download, upload, share and …… so the online conversation continues with the power of cloud computing.

Good one!

Beginning our Powerful Learning

This morning 5 wonderful teachers and myself began our journey into Powerful Learning in the 21st century.

We are attending the official launch of the Australian cohort of the international Powerful Learning Practice program being run Sheryl Nussbaum Beach and Will Richardson.

Welcome to my fellow teachers from Joeys, and enjoy the next 12 months on this wonderful rollercoaster pedogogical journey.

Posted by email from Heyjude’s posterous

How well do we know our students?

Quick read of Student Blogging from Michael Rees who is working Web 2.0 into his Web Applications course, a new subject introducing the students to the creation and scripting of interactive web sites and the basic technology behind Web 2.0, was very illuminating.

For their last blogging task he asked the class to nominate three Web 2.0 sites they find useful., I was fascinated (as he was) in the results of his survey.  We should perhaps consider checking with our students a little more often too?