Future Learning



Last week I attended the 2nd Future Learning and the Digital Student Conference in Wellington.  I haven’t used Storify before and wanted to review my notes and what I had heard and discussed at the conference.  There had also been quite a rich Twitter back chat stream so I decided to try synthesising some ideas via Storify.  I suspect this is a little long and wordy and it only covers the first day but here it is…

Unfortunately the embed code is an iframe and as WordPress doesn’t support iframes you will have to make do with the URL! 



Life outside the school walls

Le Dentiste 


Do you sometimes feel that your whole life revolves around school, education, our students, the lesson you are teaching next, the next round of reports, marking?  It is often difficult to gain some perspective and remember that there is a world outside school.  We also sometimes get very wound up about the fact that “we have no time” to do anything but meet the daily demands of our work, like improve our practice, read about what other teachers are doing in other schools or go to conferences.  I was reminded this weekend of an analogy made at a conference a couple of years ago about our reluctance sometimes to keep up with new approaches to teaching and learning. Imagine you went to the dentist, you walk into the surgery, there is an old uncomfortable leather chair that has two settings; upright and flat.  Instead of bright shiny, clean instruments the dentist has the sort of equipment that you remember from your childhood.  There is no injected anaesthetic or even any mouthwash, there are spitoons on the bench …. I don’t need to go on.  Would you be horrified that this dentist had apparently not moved with the times, was not taking advantage of the benefits that technology and advances in his field could offer both him and his patients?  Wouldn’t you EXPECT a dentist or a doctor or any other professional with whom you have interaction to be abreast of modern methods, technology, thinking, science?  I would.

I found this article, “Virtualy Reality display lets fire crews see in a blaze” in the New Scientist and marvelled at how this technology could help save lives and these sorts of advances are happening and being used in creative, humanitarian ways all over the world and in all sorts of professional spheres.  Now I know that teachers are not in the business of saving lives …… but we are in the business of changing lives.

April 2012

Ooh, a long time since the last post but it has been a busy term and now it is the holidays I have a bit of time to catch up on reading.  The content in this blog resonates with me and sort of follows on from my previous post. http://mgleeson.edublogs.org/2012/03/10/when-it-comes-to-technology-teachers-need-as-much-scaffolding-as-students/ I am  the “IT Teacher Coach” at my school.  In short, this means that I am often only one or two steps in front of some of my colleagues and probably several steps behind others! However, the upside is that I have 6 hours of dedicated time a week which gives me some opportunity to do some research and be able to help and support my fellow teachers using and integrating technology and Web 2.0 tools in their learning programmes.  I also lead an “elearning” group as part of our Professional Development programme and Reflective Practice and am trying to work out the best way to facilitate this group.  They are all willing conscripts and very keen to learn how to develop their own expertise and how they can implement the tools into their lessons, but the constant reprise is the lack of time.  We are luckier than most teachers in that we have 30 minutes each week dedicated to PD but by the time we leave our classes, get to the designated room and assemble we are down to maybe 20 minutes and it is never enough – our discussions often go well into lunch time. Last term we spent most of the time discussing the benefits of blogging and so I asked my colleagues to set up their own blog as part of learning more about what blogging is all about – my argument being that if teachers don’t know how to blog, how can we expect our students to do it and what is the point anyway? I provided them with several links to other blogs and to blogs that blogged about the benefits of blogging and It led to some robust discussion!  I am hoping that they have all had time this holiday to add some posts to their own blogs and reflect on how they could help their students in their learning.  So what about next term?  Well, I would like to look at the benefits of using Social bookmarking to share resources between colleagues and students.  We have an LMS at school and one of my aims is to encourage more teachers to use this with their students.  I think it is important that the teachers know how this can work to their advantage as well as to their students’ advantage. So as part of the group I have set them up with a virtual classroom and am showing them the tools that they can use.  At the end of last term we briefly looked at using the Quiz Box and Evaluation tools to get the students to reflect on what they had learned and for the teachers to find out how much the students had learned.  I have been using this tools with my classes for a while and have refined the sort of questions to ask to get the most effective answers although I would still not regard myself as any sort of expert in this area. However, I made the basic error of forgetting how much learning I have done over the last two years in this regard and blithely talked about how easy it is to set these quizzes up quickly flicking through the quiz on the Whiteboard and expecting my colleagues to keep up. This is not something I would do with my classes so why should I expect to do it with my colleagues? I realised when they asked me what sort of questions to ask and how to set it up and “could they have a template?” that I really need to think again about how to approach these sessions.  I am keen that they are collaborative, discursive, interactive sessions, that I am the “guide on the side” and not the “sage on the stage”, but I also realise that in such a short time when my colleagues are pushed for time between timetabled classes, tutorials, writing reports, preparing lessons and marking work, I maybe have to do a bit more directing. Maybe I have to scaffold the sessions more and maybe I also have to push for more time to be made available for teachers to learn the skills that we are expecting our students to have.  Yes, kids today have lots of technological know-how but they don’t necessarily know how to use it most effectively for their learning.  Teachers need to also understand how they can use technology to effectively for their own learning and professional development and in their teaching.