Sunday, December 30, 2007

Recording session 2 and editing

After a busy weekend spent writing and re-writing scripts to make sure they meet the exam specs, I got a few more recordings done today. Usually I like to get the scripts to the speakers a day beforehand so that have a bit of time to familiarise themselves, but today we had a couple of speakers reading 'blind', so to speak. But surprisingly few fluffs, which meant very little editing was required in Audacity. I haven't organised the PD sessions yet (I think I'm kind of hoping everyone will forget!)

Got a bit more of my kG pages done today. The Musings page is taking up a lot of time, but it seems to be the only way I absorb what I'm reading. As I type up comments (and I'm quite a slow typist!), I seem to have time to process the information and I'm trying to connect it to my own context as much as possible. I haven't really promoted the page, other than to put it in the shoutbox, because I'm not sure anyone would be interested in my incoherent ramblings.

Things are going slowly on the Hot Potatoes page. Unfortunately, the keyboard on my laptop got possessed by some demon at the weekend and started throwing random letters all over the page. I thought I'd found all the gremlins dotted over the page yesterday, but found a couple more this morning. Just sudden strings of sdfsdf 123123 fgdgd appearing out of the blue. Needless to say my laptop's with the technician right now, so I have to get all my usq stuff done at work.

Anyway, that's enough. I'm off to a hen night!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Recording sessions

I ran the first of the many, many required recording sessions today for the listening website. I'm glad there is such a good vibe in my department. We're the most understaffed and over-student-populated department, but there's never any shortage of volunteers for projects like this. Today, I particularly noticed an awe (read 'fear') some of my colleagues have of the machinery in the recording studio. In reality, the equipment is so good it's almost plug-and-play. It's a question of putting the green jack in the green jack point, the red jack in the red jack point, plug in your mikes etc. Although I think I might have lost some kudos when someone said "What are those leads" and my reply was "They're officially known as 'the dangly bits and you have to make sure they're not dangling before you get started!"

We use the Coomber here at college. It's quite funny because the recording studio has two rooms, one of them filled with mixing desks and the like. It's never used! As soon as people realised they could get the quality they need from the little black box, they abandoned the mixing desk. Although I must admit, I'd love to be shown how to use it. Just so I can tell the grandkids "In my day we used to have these great big desks for recording...."!!!!

Unfortunately, I've shot myself in the foot with my knowledge of Audacity! I told people as they were recording, if they fluffed, just take a short pause and carry on because I could do all the editing afterwards at my desk. I waxed lyrical about how easy and user-friendly the program was and now I have to give PD sessions on it. I couldn't say no because these people had given up their break to help me with recording, but I am so stressed at work already trying to do 2 jobs! AAAAAAAGGGGGHHHH!!!!!

Monday, December 24, 2007

kG page on my reading summaries

I've transferred my reading summaries to a kG page now called Musings on FET8611 Readings. Hopefully now I will use the blog to focus more on the how the course is going. I don't know whether to publicise the fact or not on kG. I'm not sure the page will be any use to anyone and they might think I'm just trying to score kG points! What to do????

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Change of tack?

I'm in 2 minds about my system of summarising the course readings on my blog. It's the location rather than the method that bothers me. And I think it means I'm not using the blog for the kind of reflection that Peter requires for assignment 3. I'm loathe to give up my digital summarising however! It's actually very effective. But I think I might create a wiki page for my musings on my course readings. And if I get others to add their musings, better still!

Money can't buy me love, but it can buy me nice gadgets!

I've been catching up on my reading of the discussion postings and adding a few of my own today. 21 unread posts for module 2 alone! Have done about half the required reading so feel able to add a few points. Ironically, what I end up posting just comes from my own experience and I didn't reference any of the reading I spent hours doing (other than a quick reference to Moore's Law.) I feel like I want to prove that I have done the reading, but at the same time I don't want to twist what I'm saying just to squeeze in a quotation from so-and-so. I suppose, when it comes to writing up final reports, I'll be more able to show evidence that I have done some research.
Another thing that struck me today is that my financial situation does actually affect my participation in this course. With reference to the fusion devices, I was reading postings from a few people talking about their latest gadgets. My mobile phone is 5 years old, and has no extras! And it's likely to be a lot older before I get a new one. I'm so unfamiliar with these new devices and their capabilities. I'm a real learn-by-doing person, and unless I've actually used one and become savvy with it, I'm not comfortable talking about it. I don't think I'll ever be an early adopter - I'll always be a laggard. Admittedly, it's not just financial - I'm not a risk-taker either.
All this talk of gadgets has made me realise how little I know about the technologies out there. There's a cluster of course members proudly listing all the things their PDAs can do, and it's all way over my head. I think that maybe I thought I would gain a knowledge of these things in the course, that maybe we would have some kind of directed discussion on particular technologies. But it's really a lot more general than that. There's very much a feeling of everyone doing their own thing and talking about there own thing, and I'm quite out of the loop. I realise that the nature of this course is that I should use this as a stimulus to go and do some research, but I can't really find the motivation. If I actually owned the technology and had to use it, that would be different. The only other motivation I think I would have was if research and discussion on actual devices was required by the course. I don't think that this would be too difficult to build into the structure of the course, but I suspect it's against the ethos of what Peter's trying to do.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Learning Community

Nothing specific to report, just some general musings. I've been looking at the discussion boards and the goings on in the shoutbox in kG, and everyone is getting excited by the upcoming Christmas break. Now for me that doesn't really mean anything as I'll be working as normal since Christams isn't celebrated here. But a thought did flash across my mind that things would go quiet on the course and I'd have nobody to play with! Logging in to kG when I get to work has just become a habit these days. Even if I don't plan on adding anything to my page, I like to keep an eye on what's going on, and I always worry about someone having contributed to my page and not being acknowledged.
If you had asked me a couple of years ago if I would enjoy this kind of learning set-up, the answer would have been a categorical 'No!' I was always very much a keep-your-head-down-keep-yourself-to-yourself kind of student, perhaps because that's the way I was taught. I struggle to think of any groupwork we did at school other than science projects.
Worse still, as a student, if I found some brilliant reference or got the answer to a question that people were struggling over, I would keep it to myself just to make sure that when I handed my work in, I'd get the best mark. And my friends did the same!
So what's changed? Why am I enjoying being part of this learning community? Will have to get back to you on that as it's time for class.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

2020 visions

Access the text

I'm amazed at how much I hated reading the future scenarios. Pretty much the same way I feel when my husband is watching sci-fi on the telly and refuses to change the channel. As soon as the writers in these articles started their future stories, I just switched off. It's not that I don't want these changes to happen - I'm all for progress. In fact, a lot is already happening. Just can't put my finger on it. But I did find a few interesting quotes.

Technologies and Learning (Ruzena Bajcsy)

"Future technology must live in a symbiotic relationship amongst teachers, students, parents and society at large."

It's important to realise it's a two-way thing. Both aspects gain from each other. But I work with quite a few people who feel threatened by technology and see it as a parasitic relationship. Technology in the classroom will slowly suck away the need for a teacher.

A day in the life of a young learner: A 2020 vision (Milton Chen, Stephen Arnold)

"Technology helps overcome the two enemies of learning: isolation and abstraction." George Lucas

I'm not sure what way we should understand 'abstraction'. Does he mean learning out of context. With technology, we can create simulations and scenarios that place the learning in a conext?

Vignettes About the Future of Learning Technologies. (Chris Dede. Introduction by Bill Gates)

"I believe that the motion picture is destined to revolutionize our educational system and that in a few years it will supplant largely, if not entirely, the use of textbooks." (Thomas Edison, 1913)

This made me think 'What if we're equally as wrong with all this elearning?'!!!

.."software personalizes the learning experience, connects all the components, and emancipates publication for targeted and effective interaction."

Again, I'm not sure I understand the phrase 'emancipates publication'. Does it mean I can publish my own customised material for my own specific audience?

"The objective: obtain and create knowledge at the right time, in the right place, in the right way, on the right device, for the right person."

This highlights how carefully planned and targeted elearning has to be. Not an easy task. But I question his use of the word 'knowledge'. Does he mean 'information'?

Next Generation Learning Systems and the Role of Teachers. (The Learning Federation)

"The process of learning will dramatically extend from 'teacher push' to 'learner pull'."

I believe that this is already the case in many learning situations. Why did the learner initiate the learning process in the first place? If you're talking about compulsory education until the age of 16, then the change to learner pull is an uphill struggle and is where most work needs to be done in terms of curriculum development. It doesn't just have to be through the use of technology, although that would speed up the process and is likely to stimulate more interest. But it's like Richard Clark's argument that the media doesn't actually matter in the learning process. To go back to the reason for engaging in a learning situation, if it is wholly initiated by the learner who has his own agenda, then that student is more likely to be further towards the 'learner pull' end of the scale anyway. Motivation is the real battle. See the section below by Will Wright..

"Instead of being forced to move all learners forward at a uniform rate, teachers will be able to move each individuals forward at a rate consistent with his or her measured performance in each area."

Now that's the Holy Grail, as far as I'm concerned. Teachers are generally forced to aim for the middle ground in a class of mixed abililty. And if we're honest, every class is a class of mixed ability. And how many students fall outside the middle ground? The brighter ones are bored, and often begin to resent becoming the class helper when they finish work ahead of others. The slower ones will always feel frustrated at being rushed ahead. One good thing about the Independent Learning site I co-manage for our department is that students can work at their own pace. They re-do exercises to improve scores because they care about how their overall gradebook looks, even though a teacher rarely sees it. Students don't constantly have to compare their performance with the others in the class. Sadly, all this means nothing when it comes to the final exit exam. Teach to the test is still the mantra where I work.

"Professionals at all levels will need to continuously upgrade their skills." I constantly complain about the nay-sayers where I work, but in fact, I realise I'm just lucky that I enjoy the technological aspect of my work, and that I see PD as an opportunity to break from the routine. But if I didn't, then I too would be very frustrated if I was constantly being forced to learn new skills in an area that didn't interest me.

2020 Classroom (Ulrich Neumann and Chris Kyriakakis)

"Little has been done to design the content to take advantage of the potential of new delivery mechanisms. Technology up to now has been viewed as a way of reaching a larger audience, and not as the enabler of new learning paradigms."

I'm not sure that I agree that technology is viewed only as a way of reaching larger audiences. That's only one aspect of it. Most teachers using technology in the classroom don't see it in those terms, I believe. It's more a case of 'How can I use this technology to enhance the learning experience of the 20 kids in front of me right now?' However, I have to agree that in my situation the pedagogical aspects of using technology are almost entirely neglected.

"From an educational viewpoint, the use of sensory immersion has never been investigated."

I beg to differ! The total immersion method has been widely researched in the TEFL world. It is successful because it uses so many of the senses - sight, sound, smell , every sense that you use when you are out and about in a culture.

A Curmudgeon's View for Technology in Education (Randy Pausch)

A few words from someone who just accepts that this is the way things will be. Interesting research on how computer games are used to calm down hyperactive children without them knowing they're being conditioned. See the next section and the quote from R. Stanley Williams!.

Encompassing Education (Diana Walczak)

The author is referring to a future scenario, but based on three pedagogical priniples that have been around for a long time - at least since I did my teacher training!

  • customise the learning process

  • utilise the senses and experience more

  • foster a heightened sense of curiosity

Future of Education = Teachers + Technology (R. Stanley Williams) If you jumped here, click here to return

Warning. If technolgy is wrongly used, he envisages "a future in which teachers in elementary schools use immersive technologies as digital Ritalin."

I've been known to put a very disruptive class on to the department's independent learning website for no other reason than that I know it's the only thing that's going to keep them quiet. Guilty as charged!


Motivational Technology (Will Wright)

If you jumped here, click here to return

"Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire." (WB Yeats)

"Try to prevent a motivated student from learning and you'll find it's just as hard as educating an unmotivated student."

Feeling Guilty

Been so busy at work recently that I haven't been able to pay much attention to studying. It's amazing how quickly you start to feel guilty. I know that defeats the purpose of distance studying, that it's flexible enough to fit in around my work schedule, but you can't help feeling that you're never going to catch up. Admittedly, I had time to study yesterday as it was a holiday from work, but it was also my wedding anniversary so I thought "No way!" Obviously I'm not feeling as guilty as I thought I was!!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Google Jockeying

Educause site on Google Jockeying

Joyce kindly volunteered to be the Google Jockey for our Wimba session Dec 11th. (Have a look at her kG Google Jockey page) Wow! The speed. Talk about thinking on your feet, and keeping up with the flow of conversation! I can see the benefits in a course like this with such a diverse range of subject matter and so many varied interests among all the participants. Of course, there's always the danger of getting 'lost in hypertext', the temptation to follow a link and then lose your focus and forget the main purpose of your initial search. We covered this issue in FET 5621 when we were evaluating websites. ****FIND REF*******
I'm not sure I could apply it to my current context although I'm definitely in a technical environment that would support it. My students just wouldn't be up to it. But someone (Kate, I think on Joyce's facilitated page) mentioned having a dictionary or thesaurus jockey. Now that could possibly work.) Anyway, well done Joyce!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Wimba session number 2!

Access recording of session

Nope, still not impressed with Wimba! The session was actually very useful and people kept asking relevant questions that I wanted to know the answers to, but then the sound would start cutting out (you know, like when people do that trick with the microphone?) I didn't even hear Peter's answer to my question about how complete our project needs to be. Thankfully, the sessions are recorded.
Apart from the technology issues, I'm glad that I'm getting happier speaking in those sessions. For the session on the 8th, I didn't have a mic and I was relieved, until my mate went and got one from a neighbour. Damn! But it really does add to the experience, and it's a bit unfair to put the onus on other people. Added to that, there's already enough multitasking going on, and it's easier for both Peter and the course participants if queries are coming in in mainly the same format (either text or audio.)

Monday, December 10, 2007

Learning Spaces

Access text

Malcolm Brown

Summary: the need to converge qualities of Net Gen students, current learning theory and IT in the design of learning spaces.

Technological advances have given the physical classroom a new set of functions, and these have "sparked interest in new pedagogical approaches." Statements like this grate on me for some reason. I don't believe that the 'new' pedagogical approaches say anything strikingly new. Today, the learning opportunities have increased, the venues have changed but the pedagogical principles aren't that new. The move from transmission to constructivism was already well under way before the elearning revolution. It's almost 20 years ago that the UK made a fundamental change to the curriculum (from O level to GCSE) to include more practical work, more projects because we learn better by doing, not just be listening and memorizing. How old is that Chinese proverb: “Tell me and I'll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I'll understand.”? And by the way, who said that??

I do agree that the digital age has increased the possibility of informal learning: "Net Gen students, using a variety of digital devices, can turn almost any space outside the classroom into an informal learning space." And that the learning space does not have to be physical. A virtual space is "any location where people can meet using networked digital devices." These meetings can be synchronous or asynchronous. Learners can inhabit more than one virtual space at a time, often multitasking.

I'm beginning to feel that we may go to far with all this. Brown recommends that we
connect the various kinds of "learning spaces (classroom, informal, virtual) as a single integrated environment." He goes on to comment that "the end of the class meeting marks a transition from one learning mode to another." So where does it end? There were recently reports from the BBC that even primary school students were too stressed, that they were constantly being put under pressure to do well academically. Can we ensure that if we provide these wide-ranging learning opportunities and spaces, that students won't feel under constant pressure to be working on something? I feel it too doing this course. The only way I don't feel stressed is to not turn my laptop on. If I say I'm just going to check my mail, or new forum posts, that never turns out to be the reality! Can the natural world not also provide learning opportunities? University of life and all those other cliches!! I'm 100% pro technology that increases learning opportunities any time anywhere, 100% pro education for all made possible by the application of technology. We just have to be wary of the consequences on the learner.

Is It Age or IT: First Steps Toward Understanding the Net Generation

Access the text

Diana Oblinger and James Oblinger

"One generation's technology is taken for granted by the next."

- I'm actually surprised that at the time of writing, Oblinger's statistics showed that children spent almost as much time playing outside as they do using screen media [1:58 v 2:01 ]. (2.2) I thought it would be less.
- I think the ability to multitask, a characteristic of the Net Gen is a positive thing and reflects the world of work.
- I hadn't thought before about the increase in ability to use non-text expression. I had just moaned about the decrease in text expression! ..."their text literacy may be less well developed"...(2.5)
- The comments of students surveyed in this report surprise me in their maturity: "Learning is based on motivation, and without teachers that motivation would cease to exist." (2.3)
-I'm not sure some of the differences (between Net Geners and pre-Net Geners) Oblinger talks about are actually differences. eg They learn better through discovery than being told. Wasn't that always the case? See also 'First-Person Learning' later (2.12)and positive correlation if students interact with material (2.13)
or they expect rapid responses. I'm not a Net Gener but I always hated having to wait for my teacher to return homework or exam results. (2.5) See also comment (2.13) "They crave interactivity - an immediate response to their each and every action." I think if you ask the average primary school teacher, you'd get the same comment!
- Is it depressing or exciting to think "For the Net Gen, the Internet is like oxygen; they can't imagine being able to live without it."? (2.9)
- Age or IT? "Individuals who are heavy users of IT tend to have characteristics similar to the Net Gen" "The difference may be in experience." (2.9, 2.10) Duhh!
- "They don't think in terms of technology; they think in terms of the activity the technology enables." (2.10)I hate to use the car analogy again, but I think in terms of the comfort, speed fuel efficiency of my car rather than the components of the engine.
- I'm surprised again to read that "Year after year, face-to-face interactions are ranked by all students in either first or second place." (2.11) Something to keep us from going too far the other way.
- I love the computer-as-door analogy..."device as an entrance to a social space." (2.12)
- What many of us already know "Digital Natives...are bored by most of today's education....the many skills that new technology [has] actually enhanced...which have profound implications for their learning..are almost totally ignore by educators."

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Another lost weekend!

Been a busy beaver this weekend. Friday was the Wimba session. Not an outstanding success from my point of view. I got thrown out of the session twice (by the technology, not Peter) and each time it took 10 -15 minutes to get back in. I was on someone else's computer because I wasn't at home, so I don't know if that was the problem. But I had no problems with the Elluminate session. I also felt the Elluminate software was more user friendly but I think now I'm just biased against Wimba because it didn't like me! There's another Wimba tomorrow (I'll be late for it but it's the best timeslot I can fit in) so we'll see if it was just a temporaty blip.
Got a bit more reading done, but can't make up my mind if posting my summaries on the blog (like I did for Resnick and Hawkins) is really the best way for me to go. It's time-consuming too.
Got my progress report and proposal in to Peter, and very quick response. I'm delighted Peter has accepted my proposal because it's a project I'm going to have to do anyway, and it's going to take an enormous amount of time. I'm not sure how I would have managed if I'd had to do a different USQ project on top. Might even have had to give up my squash!!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Clever technique from Natalie

I noticed today that Natalie was teasing people, offering to answer questions if they contributed to her page on LMS. Effective technique. I also liked the technique of section headings which are questions inviting people to share their experiences. I'll have to find a way of integrating this into the Hot Potatoes page.

Ten Lessons for ICT and Education in the Developing World

Access the text in USQ

Robert J Hawkins
World Links for Development Program - The World Bank Institute

A Changed World With Unchanged Clssrooms - I read about this so many times that I realise how lucky I am to be in a teaching environment that is actually moving with the times (for those teachers who wish to move along with it!)I haven't seen a piece of chalk for 3 years. Also during that time, my students have had full access to computers and the Internet in every lesson. Oh the luxury!

"Information reasoning" - "a process in which reliable sources of information are identified, effectively assessed, understood, contextualized, and communicated to colleagues." Hawkins refers to this as a necessity for today's workforce in the Networked World, but it is now also a classroom requirement. It describes what we expect from our students in their project based learning tasks.

Hawkins notes that "knowledge workers need to be flexible and able to learn quickly as work environments continue to change dynamically." This also applies to the academic context, particularly in the system of colleges where I work. First, labs with desktops for every student, then regular laptops, then tablet pcs, then a new brand of tablet pcs this semseter. First digital projectors, now smartboards. The core textbook has also been digitised to be used with the smartboards. Personally I love it but I can see how it could be very frustrating for some.

"One of the key failures of many past programs was that schools were provided with expensive equipment but with little or no support for teachers' professional development"... How often have we heard that, although from personal experience I have seen people unwilling to request training, or not attending available training, because they fear all of this is going to add to their workload. Keep your head down and your mouth shut!!

What a perfect analogy for a slow Internet connection "like a fire hose dangling over a thirsty traveler in the desert that releases only drops of water into his parched mouth."

Amazing lengths some people and communities have gone to to assist in the implementation of the World Bank Program. I particularly like the idea of training the students to be their own computer technicians.

Ministries of Education partnering with local/national telecoms in a win-win situation.

Spreading the costs by community involvement - another win-win.

ICT and broader educatio reforms: Hawkins states that many ministries see computers as a stand-alone subject requiring a curriculum focusing on basic computer skills" but "the integration of the Internet into the broader curriculum is where the real learning gains will be made." I've just had a class where my (very, very weak) students had to complete a small project about a particular film star. I handed out the task and zipped my mouth. All biographical details, spellings, translations, pictures, everything were to be found using the Internet and the final product produced on a ppt. I had 100 questions in the first 2 minutes (I answered none of them) and barely a question after that. 2 hours later, I received 20 (grammatically-mangled but readable)ppts on the life and times of Michelle Yeoh! Not to mention 2 hours when a notoriously difficult class never once stopped working.

Hawkins continued

Lack of incentives to effectively use the technology in the classroom.

  • curriculum is rigid
  • curriculum is overloaded. This leaves no time to innovate
  • exams are the focus.
    Teach to the test. "If it's not going to be tested then it must not be important." Nicely describes the last place I worked, although there is still a large element of that in my current position.

"Computers by themselves bring very little to the learning process." What happens is people without adequate training (either in the actual tools or methodology for integration) have a go at using computers for their teaching, it's a disaster, so they blame the use of computers for the lack of success in the lesson.

Training: I have witnessed such reluctance to be trained when the opportunity arises. Some is due to unwillingness to change because it's too much work, but some is due to a genuine belief that technology detracts from the teaching. Hawkins states "Any teaching-training program should help teachers see past the technology to the pedagogical and educational gains that the use of technology will bring to the classroom."

"Many teachers...initially feel threatened by the loss of control in the classroom as students, who are usually more adept at using technology, can quickly access information and challenge the teacher's role as the sole font of information." (****FIND REF - BROWN, I THINK, FROM SHIRLEY'S COURSE)

"In countries where learning resources are limited and teachers never dream of having a fully stocked library, let alone the Internet." If you have the Internet, you don't need the fully stocked library so desperately!!!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Rethinking Learning in the Digital Age

Access the text

Mitchel Resnick

..."the declining cost of computation will make digital technologies accessible to nearly everyone....from inner-city neighbourhoods in the United States to rural villages in developing nations"

If politics don't come into the picture. Depends on the regime. Look at the vast amount of aid pouring into war-torn countries, none of which reaches those who need it most. Not so sure about Resnick's optimism.

I agree that it's very often the case that "the technologies are used simply to reinforce outmoded approaches to learning." What I have witnessed in these instances is often due to later of teacher PD in the new tecnologies ie I'm not really sure how to use PowerPoint so I'll put a few of my notes into a ppt, project it and read it out to the class as usual. At least my supervisor can see I'm using the technology.

.."ideas about and approaches to teaching and learning remain largely unchanged"
I have to disagree on this one. Constructivism is making great in-roads, in my opinion. Learner autonomy, independence etc etc. I think people are adopting these new approaches more and more. Just because they are not educated in how to merge these ideas with technology does not mean that there hasn't been a positive turn in what it means to teach and to learn.

There's a great debate that goes on in our college about English teachers Vs content teachers (yes, the word stress on content is very important!!) Only English language teachers here are expected to have full teacher training and are constantly being pushed to upgrade their qualifications. Not true for the non-English teachers. Strange, don't you think. Anecdotal evidence suggests that this results in a lot of transmission teaching. I'm just wondering about the generalisations Resnick is making. What kind of teachers has he observed? What kind of teacher training have they received?

Whole-heartedly agree "we need to move beyond these information-centric views of computing and learning."

Must have a re-read of Clark(***FIND REF) who created a storm by saying that the medium used to teach something didn't affect the learning that occurred.

Computers are "a new medium through which people can create and express." Like the finger paint analogy! He boldly goes on to say "the computer is the most extraordinary construction material ever invented...Computers can be seen as the universal construction material." So he's a big fan, then?

Discussing what people should be able to do on a computer (digital fluency) reminds me that my students are second language learners with a weak command of English, but all the software they are expected to use here at college is in English. It's a whole other hurdle.

...being digitally fluent involves not only knowing how to use technological tools, but also knowing how to construct things of significance with these tools (Papert and Resnick 1995). Surely there must be some scope for allowing learning activities to be designed by a 3rd party with more experience and using them with the students. I don't think you have to be such an expert to meaningfully integrate ICTs into your teaching in some way. Does knowing how to use a class textbook most efficiently mean you have to be able to write one?

Will resume tomorrow!

Resnick continued

The "digital fluency gap" I'm wondering how serious a problem this is. I can drive a car, but I don't know how the engine works really, and if I have a problem I go to the expert. But I can drive a car. Isn't that the point?

"We need to reform educational reform." Absolutely.The issues here where I work are cost, the right expertise, man hours, cultural appropriacy, length of time to do it properly, trialling, willingness to accept initial failure, willingness to deal with those who fight for the status quo, etc etc. You can see why it doesn't happen!

I think Resnick would approve of the project-based learning push in my department. We already meet the criteria: "Students can become more active and independent learners, with the teacher serving as consultant"...."we should focus on themes and projects that cut across the disciplines, taking advantage of the rich connections among different domains of knowledge"...."students work on projects for extended periods of time"...

"we need to transform curricula so that they focus less on "things to know" and more on "strategies for learning the things you don't know." This ties is within Siemens (***FIND REF) "knowing where" not "knowing what". Why memorize the capitals of the world if I know there is a source of that information somewhere that I know where and how to access when I need it?

Industrial Society - focus on natural resources and manufacturing
Information Society - focus on info
Knowledge Society - transforming info into knowledge and managing that knowledge.

Creative Society (Resnick) - focus on our ability to think and act creatively.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Old friends and new

This is going to be one of those things that I spend ages pondering over. Got in touch with a member from a previous course who's also doing this course, to ask if she will join our workgroup. Never clapped eyes on this person but based on communications in the last course, seems like a good friend and part of my USQ team! In the same way, there are others I've never met that I know I won't get on with in a workgroup situation. Are these valid assumptions about these virtual coursemates? Do we reflect our true personalities online? Do we 'adjust' our personalities to appear like the people we would really like to be? Or is it impossible to hide your true personality no matter how hard you try!
I'm also amazed at the speed with which some form of connection can form, based on the flimsiest of reasons. Basically, if you make the effort you can build up a solid support network really quickly. And I think the earlier the better. If not, it could be like being the high school student who joins the class one month into the semester and it seems like everyone has already found their gang.
And of course, there will be the Lone Rangers. Before I started distance learning at USQ, I would have put money on being a Lone Ranger myself!
If you're interested in these online networks, have a look at Janet's page on Social Networking Software. She has a link to Carolyn Foote's blog that also provides interesting reading.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Working on OneNote

Didn't get much time for USQ today as working on college project involving students using MS OneNote 2007 to record their reflections after completing a week-long project. Have to learn how it operates myself before I can start telling the students what they need to do. And to think this is a school holiday. Perhaps could add sth to the kG OneNote page but its 2003 and looks quite different. Would I have time to start another one?? Planning to add something to the Hotmail page in kG. This is just a note to remind me!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Finally found a bit of time!

National Day weekend in the UAE which means a four-day weekend and a chance to do a bit of work. Had a look at Janet's blog and realised I really need to get moving.
Over the last couple of days I've been working on adding to my facilitated page on Hot Potatoes. Took over this page frodm Philip. One this course in particular, it feels like I'm preaching to the converted. It also seems a bit simplistic. Other pages seem a lot more technical and advanced. But I suppose it might be useful to someone somewhere.
I was happy to see a couple of people added to or commented on the page pretty quickly.
I made a small contribution to Janet's page on grammar and punctuation errors, an area I'm ore comfortable in than emerging technologies. Hopefully that situation will have changed by the end of this course!

This course has been a bit of a rollercoaster so far. I'm extremely interested in the topic, and it's more than relevant in my work. I was so impressed with the Elluminate session last week that I immediately asked the edtech supervisor if I could trial it with students. No go unfortunately, but the potential is huge. It's the audio/voice aspect that is particularly appealing. My students are very oral, and for the most part lack confidence in writing. The chat facility in Blackboard doesn't appeal to them because they prefer speaking to writing (particularly typewriting.) Still fingers crossed the audio chatroom will become an option for them soon.

But it's hard to squeeze it all in. Very behind in the reading and starting to panic! Got a Greek test on Tuesday - not revised at all.

More tomorrow.

Saturday, December 1, 2007


I never realised how much I depended on structure and idiot-proof instructions before. I'm feeling uneasy about what exactly it is that needs to be done. However, I think this is going to be a useful experience for me and I'm being a bit of a hypocrite. I constantly nag my students about wanting to be spoonfed. Let's see if I can walk the walk!