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Archive for March, 2013

From the Apple Distinguished Educators Institute, March 2013

Posted by jturner56 on March 31, 2013

Having spent the past week at the Apple Distinguished Educators Institute in Bali, apart from the most impressive locale, hospitality and array of impressive educational technology thought leaders and teachers, what did I actually takeaway?

Firstly, the value to all in getting educational technology leaders and teachers in one spot with one focus – to advance the use of learning technologies for empowering and transforming learning. From increasing Twitter connections to just being able to sit in on conversation of wider value. Something that happens all too rarely for a variety of reasons. Hats off to Apple for making this happen.

On a software level, the opportunity to see how powerful software such as Keynote (as a creative tools) and iBooks (as a professional publishing platform accessible for all teachers) can be. To consider how iTunesU might work with other elearning platforms, and to gain insights into App creation using hitherto unknown software such as Hype or widget sites such as Bookry.

Presentations and discussions also reinforced some of the pathways already in place at our school, such as the C.R.A.P. design principles (Contrast, Reinforcement, Alignment and Proximity), the value of TPCK and the importance of Action Research to generate evidence.

New thoughts arising included

  • the need for new thinking on how best to align different digital resources (desktop labs, 1:1 laptops, mobile tablet, BYO etc). With iBooks author requiring MacOS to publish only for iOS devices, the relationship requirements are changing. But then again so too OS relationships. All schools have finite resource capabilities and need to be clear on learning priorities in fast changing time.
  • how can a school best leverage its creative talents which at times are individualistic in focus within standardized requirements and bureaucratic responsibilities. This may well involves issues of learning spaces, learning teams and learning leadership and is as applicable to students as much as teachers.
  • increased appreciation of the importance of coding literacy and awareness as a bedrock of creativity in the digital age, both individually and as part of teams.
  • an increased appreciation of the potential of table technologies for assisting disabled students who previously would not have been able to personally control their learning progress. From Japanese design stylus to touch software new doors are being opened.
  • further to this the increasing evidence of literacy progress in young students through tablet technologies is gaining momentum.

As part of the institute all attendees were involved in generating their One Best Thing for sharing beyond. While my OBT is more to do with structures and alignment, I explored the technology requirement associated with using iBook Author to publish the book Digital Learning Infusion at Canadian International School of Hong Kong. From this I am analyzing the new publishing potential of teachers able to be their own formal publishers through Apple’s iBook store. This will include the transforming nature of the process behind the publishing of a book that has been formally recognized as indicative of an Apple Distinguished School.

Finally, though, I remain concerned with the inhibiting nature of most industrially-designed school environments and the relative lack of valuing beyond the individual however impressive. But with the hope, commitment and energy on display at the ADE institute one can only remain full of optimism.

 

 

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Classrooms are evolving and so are students…

Posted by jturner56 on March 22, 2013

“Classrooms are evolving and so are students. Learning is very different from the way older generations may have learned. Whether the presence of digital technology helps or hinders remains open for debate.” So where is the debate?
http://specialsections.suntimes.com/education/prek12/7931047-555/pros-and-cons-to-learning-in-a-digital-age.html

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Digital Literacy Workshops in Doha

Posted by jturner56 on March 8, 2013

This week I was fortunate enough to be invited to lead teacher workshops as part of the ICT in Education Conference at the College of the North Atlantic in Doha, Qatar (see http://webit.cna-qatar.edu.qa/ictconf/2013/ for more)

It was a well run conference with some excellent keynote presenters on robotics (Daniele Benedettelli and Dr. Ethan Danahy).

What I learned or had confirmed was

  • that teachers are interested and willing to progress their level of digital literacy to add value to the educational experiences they provide to their students.
  • in any workshop, as in any school, there are a range of expertise that has to be accommodated. Students supporting each other, and communicating with each participant to determine their needs, are crucial aspects of any digital literacy approach
  • the potential of Google apps to democratize learning was apparent. While I don’t like to advocate any one software, the value of Google apps to support higher-order thinking as identified by Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy and the ISTE NETs was a clear take-way for me. This was amplified by the no-cost and personal account uses of Google.
  • I remain concerned that in many schools the traditional limitations of problems with access to technology, support for new ideas, and conflicting priorities, hold back teachers and students. This seems to also be linked to trust concerns at all levels. Perhaps with powerful software, such as Google Apps, and a lessening of centralised controls, such as through BYOT, new dynamics and values for creation can emerge to finally overcome this. The feeling of hope in all participants was noteworthy. It will be in the end a leadership issue.

Where to? Like the movie Field of Dreams we as educators can only hope to build opportunities and hope our students come to what’s offered. So too for school leaders and system administrators. Teachers are not, and should not, be viewed as passive tools. They can lead by example if supported. We need to celebrate the small progresses and not just expect external deliverance.

 

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What Spielberg’s Lincoln can help us understand about education

Posted by jturner56 on March 1, 2013

(Spoiler Alert)

Last weekend, having sat through Spielberg’s Lincoln, I was taken by how it spoke to political thinking whatever the issue. While acknowledging the historical inaccuracies and the essence of it being an interpretation (how this is different from any other history writing I leave for others), and also acknowledging the power of Day-Lewis’ take on the character, I want to just look at what the political process of abolishing slavery through the US constitution can tell us as we debate educational change.

First point is that slavery / universal suffrage touched Lincoln’s soul to a level where he was willing to risk political failure. Success (and in Lincoln’s case greatness) came at great risk (as subsequent events clearly demonstrated).

Second, he lived in practical times and understood what was attainable and where opening such doors might lead. So, while driven by his soul, compromise was a central part of his political ability. He knew he had to touch others in many and varied ways while being true to his bigger picture commitment.

Third, the vote only succeeding by two votes after great political machinations that were dubious to say the least. Reminded me of when 1:1 laptops first came into schools on a very close vote. Only history will tell us what is valued.

We cannot expect all to be on board with any change, but by better understanding risk, compromise, boundaries and history we can better see the power that is education and the future we wish for all. We need to look inside as much as outside when weighing up our advocacy.

We sometime can get lost if we just narrow our line of sight to either  individual practical matters, school community dynamics or wider societal role of schools. It is through combination that we can educate.

This was reinforced when I was talking with fellow teachers who I am working with on Action research projects. I asked them to reflect on what their core reason for undertaking action research into digital learning was. To find better tools? To find better ways to use such tools in class? To find better teaching and learning practices? To change to school’s view. To influence educational approach. Through such questions we can hopefully define our fields of inquiry and action.

As we consider how we might wish to effect educational change, how far as educator are we willing to go, and which boundaries (real and/or perceived) do we work within? Will we ever see a Lincoln in education?

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