Category Archives: education 2.0
I don’t pretend to be an expert on the topic of blogging, education or otherwise. Some blogs get more traffic in hour than I have reached in the last 8 months. But this is what I know from being a non-entity to almost 14,000 hits in less than a year: the writing content is the easy bit of blogging, building up a community to support your blog is where the challenge actually lies. So unless you happen to be a celebrity, in which case you have a ready-made brand, you are going to have to expend effort building readers and commentators for your blog.
What’s your purpose?
Before you even decide to set up a blog you need to ask yourself your purpose. Why are you blogging? Can you sum it up in a sentence or a blog post? Knowing why you blog is important because if you don’t know why you are blogging, you won’t know who the community of your blog is and what you will be blogging about.
Authentic voice – don’t try to be all things to all people
This blog is written from the perspective of a student teacher based in New Zealand. Therefore my posts are related to becoming a teacher with occasional forays into topical educational-related issues in the New Zealand news. I don’t pretend this blog is in anyway written by an expert in educational issues which I hope is part of its charm. I’m taking you on my journey from a student teacher to a real teacher. A life in transition makes for great blogging material, so think about where you want to go as well as where you are right now.
Who is your community?
Knowing who will be reading your blog is important because you need to find ways of tapping into that community. For this blog I the know readership is going to be other student teachers, NZ-based teachers, some overseas-based teachers, teacher education lecturers, my friends and *touch wood* school leaders who are wondering what the teacher who applied to their school has put on that website she listed on her CV (the more tech-savvy ones scanned the QR code on the cover page). Because I know who my readership is I tailor my posting to suit their schedules. You might notice that my blog posts always go out in the evening New Zealand time and I don’t tend to post on a Friday or Saturday night. There’s a reason for that, it’s when I know New Zealand teachers will likely be surfing the net.
Find your community
Ok so you know who your community is, now you need to find it. I suggest you start small. Facebook is a great way to get initial blog readers who will most likely be your friends. Twitter will be the way you start reaching people you’ve never met. Getting incoming links from other blogs is a great way to drive one-off traffic but what you really want are subscription hits. Subscription hits are from people who like your content enough to put you in your RSS readers. Finally incoming searches are the hits generated when the google formulae decide your popular enough to be number 1 in that area. Case in point.
Engage with your community
There are literally millions of blogs on the internet why should I read yours? Content can only get you so far but engagement with other users will get you even further. Comment on other people’s blogs, always respond to comments on yours, link to other people’s writing and most importantly let social media work for you. My blog readership only took off when I started using twitter effectively and participated in a teacher challenges. Guest posts are a great way to drive new readership into your blog and also a great way to generate interesting content.
All this engagement doesn’t count for anything if you don’t have great, regularly updated content. Decide on a posting schedule and stick to it. Even if you aren’t generating much in the way of visitor numbers when you start keep posting. If you are engaging with your community then the visitors will eventually start arriving. In March this blog generated less than 700 hits for the month. I now get that number a week because I kept persisting and had content which makes people want to read the blog and more importantly share with others.
Great post titles
What’s in a blog title? Quite a lot if you want visitors. Gone are the days where I’ll use witty titles for my blog titles. Instead I try to use phrases that people will type into search engines when thinking about the topic, what people would want to click through to from twitter, what people will retweet and even use hashtags in the title. What can I say? I’m a social media junky but that’s where my community is.
Finally personality goes a long way
I try to keep my writing as real as possible. I’ve written about the good teaching days, the bad teaching days and everything in between because it is that personal connection which drives the community. People want to connect with a person as much as they want to connect with your ideas.
For a great list of tips check out master blogger @kathleen_morris wonderful advice on blogging for students and teachers.
Right now that I’ve got your attention hear me out. I can assure I will still be blogging, tweeting and generally living my life through a browser. However while reflecting on my e-learning philosophies and practice for a job application I suddenly had a thought, why don’t we just call it learning?
I’ve been using the internet to learn for almost 15 years which means I’ve spent more time learning with an internet connection than I have without. In fact I’ve been online so long I can’t imagine going back to learning only through textbooks and an individual teacher’s knowledge. So why do we persist in using language to describe this sort of learning as new and somehow unorthodox?
Is it a generational thing?
I understand that there is a need in the market for people with specific skills using ICT to learn and you betcha I’ll be working that angle in any job application harder than the contestants on a photo shoot of New Zealand’s Next Top Model. More importantly e-learning can mean different things to different people. Does using a computer automatically mean someone is learning? Nope but neither does using a pencil, a whiteboard marker or a chisel.
As an learner here are some quick diagnostics I use to gauge a person’s interest in e-learning.
- If a teacher can’t point to a digital presence that either they or their students created, then they are not interested e-learning.
- If a teacher can’t name a blog that they follow, then they are not interested in e-learning.
- If a teacher can’t name an app they’ve recently implemented into their teaching, then they are not interested into e-learning.
Right now the biggest hurdle I see in effectively e-learning into teaching practice is that there are too many people waiting to be taught when the most effective learners, e or otherwise, know that learning is an ongoing process not something that occurs only in a classroom.
Case in point telescopic texts.
I found telescopic texts on twitter the night before I was teaching shared writing session on using describing words to make. I had a quick play and decided it suited my learners’ needs so the next morning I flung the website up on the classroom’s two-touch and bang that’s something in my teaching arsenal. Will I use it all the time? Nope. But that just in time learning is what e-learning is all about. See an idea, give it a go. If it is great, keep it and share it. If it’s a lemon, ditch it.
For the purposes of this tool I knew my students learning needs were to go beyond answering the who, what, when, where, why and how in their recount stories and start to add adjectives to make their stories more interesting however doing it on paper is kind of boring and messy. Being able to construct sentences which they could unfold on screen was the hook the students needed to starting thinking about editing their work which was the focus of their learning for that session. The students were so enthralled that they begged to ‘play’ with the sentences before school the next day.
This type of learning seems so natural to me, a quick 15 minute scan of my twitter feed yielding ideas relevant to my practice as teacher. I didn’t need to be told to learn or show up at a time or place in order to learn from an expert because I built up a community of people who support my learning. The opportunity for me to learn is never more than 140 character tweet away.
The question is should this sort of self-directed learning, professional or otherwise, be the exception or the norm?
I’m guessing if you are reading this blog, then you don’t need much convincing.
But shouldn’t everyone in the business of teaching should be constantly be in a process of learning? The rate at which knowledge and technology is expanding is so rapidly that anyone choosing to stand still is in effect choosing to slip behind. An e-learner knows that to be successful in this environment you need to take initiative, build and contribute to communities of knowledge and most importantly be open to learning anywhere from anyone at anytime. Aren’t these the sort of traits we should be encouraging in all teachers not just those who choose to put an e in front of their learning?
Because at the heart of it e-learning isn’t about learning technology but using technology to learn.
The focus needs to move from the technology to the behaviours and habits of mind that enable effective learning. E-learning by its very terminology puts the technology ahead of the learning. Granted learning-e doesn’t roll of the lips as nicely as the alternative but the implication of using terms like ‘ICT integration’ or ‘e-learning’ is that using technology in teaching practice is somehow special or different. An optional extra that the ICT coordinator takes charge of or something individual teachers put the effort into if they have the time, not something that should be at the heart of everyone’s teaching practice.
When I hear people joke they don’t know how to programme the VCR/DVD player or say that they don’t have the time to spend on integrating ICT what I hear is that they are not interested in sharing and connecting with the world outside the classroom.
In short they are not interested in learning.
Perhaps I’ve stumbled upon my philosophy of e-learning, it should be so ubiquitous that we don’t need to think of it as a special category of learning anymore.
As far as I am aware, this blog is the only one of its kind on the internet one written from the perspective of a student teacher in a New Zealand Teacher education programme. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of students studying to be teachers up and down New Zealand. What’s more I don’t get any extra grades or formal credit from my university for writing this blog which begs the question what sort of freak writes about this stuff on the internet? Don’t I have something better to do?
The short answer to these questions can be found here in a brilliant post that whatedsaid wrote on making thinking visible, I want to make my learning visible to others.
Why do that? We have schools and universities for reason, to sequester our young minds off in a safe environment where they can make mistakes free from the judgement of others and emerge at the end of the process with a nice piece of paper saying they are a learned individual. I’ll acknowledge that I’ve taken a pretty big risk to go against the grain and put my learning out there on the internet for anyone to read.
But here are some reasons I write my blog:
- To share - My motivation for writing Teaching the Teacher has always been a desire to share my knowledge with others. Right now I don’t much about teaching, but I know what it is like to learn to be a teacher in New Zealand. If my writing benefits others; a student teacher looking for information, a faculty member trying to improve their course or an associate teacher who needs their memory jogged on what is like to be a student teacher, then this makes me feel like this blogging endeavour has been worth it.
- To learn – This was very much an unintended benefit of blogging but the act of writing posts and deciding how I wish to organize my thoughts but has also made me think about how I will encourage future students to organize their learning. Moreover the comments that come through will challenge me to think more deeply about what I am writing about.
- To encourage others to blog – I’ve written before about the benefits of blogging for student teachers. Someone has to be the first one so why not me? I’m hoping that some student teacher somewhere will see this blog and go, “hey that’s a good idea I should do this” and then take what I’ve started and make it better.
- Managing emotions – aka I blog on the internet for free therapy. This learning to be a teacher thing is a huge roller coaster of emotions. Being able to write about the process of becoming a teacher has been beneficial not just in terms of working through my feelings but also having a support network that will write back (so thanks dear commentators, your kind words do mean something).
- To effect change – on occasion I write topical pieces on education. I don’t have any delusions of grandeur that what I write has huge effects on the education system, it is just a small teaspoon in a vast ocean of knowledge. But if a teacher education provider goes, hey we really should think about the way their we get our students to document their professional practice or to get the general public to think a bit more conceptually about technology in education then that’s a good thing.
I’m not sure how many people read this blog and sometimes it does make me feel a bit uncomfortable at first when people I meet in real life can literally read what’s going in my head (especially when then they start talking to me about it) but I really value being able to share and learn with others.
So that’s why I’m the freak put my learning out there on the internet for all to see.
I’ve gone to a few conferences in my time and have noticed that often the best learning takes place in the bar afterwards. Enter Educampakl. Based on the Barcamp conference, Educamps are conferences in which the participants generate the content for the day. I find it amazing that teachers will give up a Saturday to spend time learning and growing together. Nobody was required to be there, and yet we were there.
Connections or content ?
Sure big conferences with key note speakers have their place, but there were plenty of high-level discussions from smack down to @taratj‘s awesome work on Minimally Invasive Education and google apps for teachers. However what I really valued was getting to meet people IRL that I had been interacting with online and playing with the technology. Going to educampakl also helped with operation job search insofar as the schools with teachers in attendance, in particular senior leaders, are now on my radar of schools I really want to work at.
What is awesome about #educamp is that content is user-generated which means someone who has yet to graduate can make just as meaningful contribution to the teaching as they do in the learning. I might not be a digital native but definitely consider myself one off the first of the boat in IT. There are also teachers at educamp with many years of experience and I get to pick their brains on how to incorporate technology into teaching because they understand the teaching business far better than me.
Educamp entrance is a gold coin donation ’nuff said.
Being able to walk out
Educamps come with the freedom to walk out if the session is not serving your needs. I was mucking around on the periphery of one session when I got tapped on the shoulder by (@sumich I think) and asked if I wanted to have a go at a DIY garage band with a couple of ipads, a router and a speakers. How cool is that? I could have spent hours playing around with that app but nice ipad user wanted their device back. Being able to walk out of sessions got me to thinking. What would happen if students had the freedom to go to another classroom if my teaching wasn’t suiting their learning needs, would they stay? Would yours?
Why don’t we do this sort of stuff more often?
Ask yourself how much time in staff meetings/PD is based on procedural stuff delivered by lecture-style sessions and how much time is spent generating new ideas and trying out new learning tools? What would be a more effective use of teachers’ time? Are flipped staff meetings the answer or do geeks just learn differently?
People often look at me a bit funny when I say I’m doing my teaching diploma online through University on the Hill and some of them will often say what I’m assuming most are thinking ‘how can you learn to be a teacher online?’ More so when they find out I live within walking distance of another university which offers teacher education. In fact there are three university providers of teacher education in Auckland and I still ended up going online with an institution in another city.
So why did I choose to study online through a university that isn’t even based in Auckland?
The short answer as to why I chose the University on the Hill is because they said yes first. A longer story can be found back at the application phase. Simply put I found out through the interview process that the university I thought was my first choice was actually my second.
I’ll admit I took a huge risk taking the road less travelled when there was a safe, some would argue better, option available.
Going down this route has also come at a costI’ve missed out the social aspect of being a student and the support that this offers.
Seeing the facebook interactions there’s an obvious camradrie there between the on-campus option of this course in comparison to online students. I’ve made some friends through my diploma but the friendships aren’t as strong as the ones I made the first time I was at university because when my course buddies and I get together it is once every few weeks for the purposes of study rather than just generally hanging out between classes.
But there is a good side to this.
No campus politics.
During my first degree I served two terms as Vice-President of the Students’ Association which meant I was up to eyeballs in campus politics. Don’t get me wrong, I learned a huge amount from being involved with my Students’ Association and made some life-long friends along the way but I was stuck very much within a bubble and felt a bit disorientated once my term was over. However this time I around I’ve literally distanced myself from being sucked into serving on committees, negotiating with various campus factions, supporting causes and the pressure that goes along with being responsible for an organisation with a $10 million turnover in order to focus on my studies.
But there are a whole bunch of reasons I enjoy studying online.
- I like being able to study when and where I want. If there’s something I’d like to go to during the day time, a class at the gym, meeting up with a friend or just life getting in the way then I don’t need to worry about missing classes.
- I really like that I can engineer placements to suit me. Because there are just handful of students in my city I’m not competing against course mates for placements at desirable schools. Both times my university placement office has put me in my first choice of schools. Placement number 1 was ace and placement number 2 seems to be shaping up as a cracker.
- Finally the big one, no commuting. In fact on cold and rainy mornings when I don’t want to get out of bed I’ll fire up my laptop and study in my PJs until noon.
Underneath this apparent slothdom a whole bunch of learning is taking place due to the extra time I have to devote to my learning. There’s blogs to visit, twitter chats, #RSCON3 and #twecon to participate in. Alongside the regular studies my days are spent interacting with real teachers, university lecturers from the otherside of the planet and children from different countries via social media. Through the beauty of tabbed browsing I can virtually be in several different places at once. While I am inside the university listening to lectures, I can be visiting a class blog in Australia while facebooking another course mate and tweeting with a university lecturer in Scotland.
Physically learning outside of the university has forced me to adapt my learning, and I think it has done so for the better.
I probably would never have started writing this blog or entered the world of twitter if I had been on campus because I would have carved out some sort of niche for myself inside the university bubble. But when I look at who I interact with on twitter and the people who comment on my blog I realise that being out of the university sphere has pushed me further into the world of teaching which is the place I want to be.
In reality I think that online learning is really no different to campus learning insofar as you get out what what you put in. I know that this style of learning is not for everyone, I wouldn’t have handled the isolation and probably didn’t have the self-discipline to cope with the rigours of this course when I was younger.
But now that I am in the second half of my diploma I find myself thinking ‘how can you not learn to be a teacher online?’
Last week I went on another treasure hunt called locating my course content.
My hunt looked something like this.
First I need to find the content. In one course the content isn’t labelled clearly and isn’t sequenced properly while in another course the modules didn’t get uploaded by mistake (which wasn’t rectified until the end of the day) leading to confusion for myself and other students as to what we are doing this week.
Content is finally located but I need to download and save multiple documents in ppt, pdf and doc form resulting in several types of applications needing to run in order to access content.
‘Why can’t the content just be there in the browser?’ I thought to myself.
I need to write a blogpost on dance resources but first I need to download a word document to find the template to use.
‘Why can’t this task be in wiki form?’ I grumbled.
I also needed to take part in a series of discussion forums which are hidden in different parts of the course management system from where I had to download several powerpoints of information.
“Why can’t I respond where the content is like a blog comment?”
Sometimes learning online feels like I have a stack of unstapled documents thrown at me and it was my job to try and make sense of the jumble before responding and engaging with the course content. Granted I’m a university student, and a graduate one to boot, so probably shouldn’t expect everything spoon-fed to me. However I can’t help but think that through its platform the university is modelling what digital learning is and that model is often one of frustration and disengagement as a learner. We wouldn’t expect this in a physical space why is it ok in a digital one?
But there is some good stuff, I really enjoyed the video footage that some courses are using while some lecturers have been really effective in facilitating student discussion in the forms.
So rather than have another whine-fest I thought I would turn the problem around and ask: what makes effective digital spaces for student learning?
- Easy to navigate – Is your content easy to find? Is it easy to read on a screen? Can you print it out? Is your information organised in any sort of sequential order? Does the first lecture link up easily to the second lecture? Is there are central point where you can go back to if you get lost? Do you have RSS feeds enabled so students know when content is uploaded? What about email updates? Can content be accessed on mobile devices?
- Interactive – Obviously students need to be interacting with each other but it is great when academic staff members are there interacting with students rather than virtually lecturing to them. Students really enjoy it when academic staff members take the time to respond to bulletin boards, it makes us want to respond back. Engaging with elearners in your teaching practice should be changing your pedagogy for the better.
- Collaborative - Think about the way you assign digital tasks, writing content on bulletin boards/wikis/blogs is one thing, getting students to respond to each other and give feedback on each others work is better.
- Personalized - What might seem intuitive to one person is probably cumbersome to another. I much prefer reading my content in browser form while some students prefer to print it out. Course platforms should reflect this.
- Easy feedback mechanisms - Students get that human beings (not to mention computers) aren’t perfect. But there should be an easy way to report any glitches in your system through a feedback button so that problems can be rectified quickly.
- Multimedia – The technology to upload or stream lectures is there and quite powerful. Set up a youtube channel where users can make comments on the lecture as well as listening to it. As an online learner I find having to focus on a lengthy powerpoint presentation that was used in lectures without any other information quickly leads to disengagement from my course material.
- More blending between offline and online students - I really enjoy interacting on my course’s facebook page but it could be expanded. You know all those little conversations that students sometimes doodle to each-other during class on paper which you might think off as off-task behaviour? Get them to put them online by setting up a twitter hashtag for courses where people can start tweeting conversations from lectures. Doing so might bring in people from other spheres of the education system into your course conversations and suddenly you have a powerful learning tool.
- Open – As I’ve been going through the process of writing this blog and having long since swallowed the red pill with regards to twitter, I’ve been blown away by how much of my learning takes place outside of varsity but also by how much learning we hide behind both physical and virtual walls. What if we opened learning up? What if students from other cities and other countries could drop by on a virtual classroom? What if instead of having students have several associate teachers assigned over the space of their teaching qualification, they could have hundreds of people to call on for advice and guidance on becoming a teacher?
How to do it?
To be honest I’m not a fan of the clunky course management systems like blackboard, cecil, knowledge net etc. when nimbler web 2.0 platforms that encourage user interaction like blogs, dropbox, youtube, twitter, google docs and facebook already exist. However I understand that as a blogger I’m pretty out there as far as putting my learning online for all to see and read. Nevertheless there are privacy settings which institutions can utilize when using web 2.0 platforms but the problem is of course that platforms change rapidly. Will facebook go the way of myspace now that google+ is on the scene? Not sure but I do know the systems I was using to communicate five years ago, msn/yahoo messenger, aren’t nearly as popular these days. In fact neither applications are installed on my computer right now.
What do you think an effective digital learning should look like and feel like?
Looking behind the attention-grabbing headline of Orewa College forces parents to buy ipad I would like to stop for minute and introduce everybody to my laptop.
She’s a Dell Inspiron 1420 that I ordered online back in 2007. The colour? I wanted something a bit different and for reasons unknown I went for a bright pink. I guess that decision goes on the ‘boy was I wrong’ list, right above The Macarena but just below the skirts over trousers phase.
My laptop and I have had our issues in the past but we are now coming up on four year mark. Yes the insprion is clunky, heavy and at times is prone to temper tantrums but yet our relationship endures despite the battery making the device a lot less portable these days.
It’s not as though I’m against upgrades.
I wouldn’t say no if someone offered me a macbook pro to use instead of this computer. I love gadgets but when the decision between a plane ticket somewhere awesome and a gadget comes up the plane ticket wins every time (though I’m pretty sure they had to wipe my slobber off the floor in the apple shop in New York).
The reason I’ve outed my laptop is because I think its important for people to realize that in order to take part in digital learning you don’t need to have all the new toys to play with it. Despite my love of social networking I don’t own an iphone or any sort of smart phone, in fact my mobile is a basic nokia but that’s ok. Right now I can access the internet, word process, edit videos, download and edit photos and faff around with itunes which is what I need to learn. As I mostly learn at home the lack of portability isn’t really a huge problem for me. If I was studying on campus, then I would be upgrading my device rather than coveting a plane ticket to India.
Looking at the letter Orewa College actually sent home to parents it doesn’t actually state that parents have to purchase an ipad but it does stipulate the school was moving to 1 to 1 devices. However students can bring in their own device or purchase the ipad2 which the school is only recommending as a device for those not sure of what to buy. Furthermore the school is looking for a way to work out a payment plan. This is entirely reasonable to me, the school acknowledges that the cost is high for parents and is trying to work out a cost effective way of getting devices into classrooms.
However reading through the your views section of the Herald and the comments on stuff I find myself in despair at the number of commentators that think learning online or via social media is just a giant waste of time. I am going to come out and say that aside from my regular studies, which I am completing online, I learn just as much if not more from my use of social media like twitter and this blog. I simply can’t imagine a world in which I have people from around the world interacting with me and shaping my thoughts on teaching and learning. My teaching practice will be richer from this experience.
Because it is not about the technology, it’s about the learning.
If I was a parent and went into a school where the classroom looked like it did when I went to school, I would be very concerned. In a generation we have gone from information scarcity to information abundance and as a result the knowledge and skills that made a successful learner when we went to school are completely different for today’s students. If your school isn’t engaging with this new world then you should start asking questions as to why your children are being left out. Because not being able to successfully engage with online learning: being able to frame questions, analyse information, connect with others and produce content, will make your children illiterate in a medium where the only constant is change.
At the guts of the problem isn’t that Orewa College wants to introduce 1 to 1 device into its classrooms, in fact they should be getting a massive round of applause for doing so, it is that the funding of this learning always seems to be someone else’s problem when it needs to be a collective one. We shouldn’t be pitting parents against schools to get technology into classrooms, the rest of our society needs to support moving our students into this digital world. It will be interesting to see if the funders of the New Zealand Institute report into New Zealand’s ‘failing education system’ decide to put their money where their ideas are around e-learning. Likewise perhaps the New Zealand government could follow South Korea’s lead towards a paperless classroom by putting a tablet into the hands of every New Zealand school student by 2015.
Because it is not about the technology, it is about who pays for it.
So here’s my turn.
This is the first computer I remember playing on an at my school, an apple macintosh where we played games like Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? One of the students on my last placement remarked that computer’s memory is now less than 1 mp3 file. This made me feel very old so best we move on.
In year 9 I had typing class which was probably the same way my mother learned to type, over a typewriter with a surly typing teacher who insisted on using covers over hands so we weren’t cheating at touch typing. Consequently I didn’t learn to type until year 12 when my family purchased a computer at home that had a typing programme and word processing.
Once I learned to type I could move ideas around, write half-finished sentences, paragraphs and come back to them later. Suddenly writing went from something I avoided like the plague to something I enjoyed doing. Technology changed my classroom discussions from, ‘I’m sure there’s some interesting ideas in here but I can’t read them and your spelling needs work’ to having a dialogue about my learning.
That was huge.
Then in 1997 I was the first one of my friends to get the internet. My father purchased a 28k modem, a speed which seems positively glacial now but a new world opened up to me. I could keep in contact with a friend who was doing a student exchange in Sweden, search for information to help with my assignments, and at the risk of outing myself as a complete nerd, I was a usenet frequenter and also built sites on geocites.
IT WAS AWESOME.
So when the opportunity arose to do an Information Technology and Education paper during my second year of university I was in. The year was 1999 and this paper was the first paper that my university offered that was entirely online with most course material flying back and forth over email and discussion boards. Despite being an online class, most students still showed up on a Saturday morning to muck around in the computer lab. We liked the idea of online study however we were still so attached to the idea that learning must take place in a classroom at a certain time. Nevertheless we were all enthusiastic about the internet was going to do for student learning, it was going to be huge.
And it was huge, just not in the way we had imagined.
While we were busy using html code to build websites so that students could learn at home it hadn’t occurred to us that the students would be the ones building the sites. No we were too busy mucky around with FTPs, making picture links and coding frames (remember those) to even start imagining that sort of stuff. We spent a lot of time talking about the advantages and disadvantages of using online communication in education and we also spent a lot of time talking about the digital divide. In general our approach was that the internet was a great tool for teachers to communicate with students we hadn’t quite worked out that students would be the ones building and consuming knowledge. But then we were using altavista as our search engine and Napster still lived.
Fastforward to 2011 and while the internet might have changed considerably in that time my teaching studies online to find that actually not much has changed.
- I still write essays in word documents which although I can now submit via email are posted back with handwritten comments on them.
- I still have exams where I write regurgitate memorized answers to essays.
- I have to fill teaching experience forms by hand.
- I don’t attend lectures but sometimes I feel like the modules are lecture notes from the campus option have literally been cut and pasted into documents for online students to read at their leisure.
There’s a lot of buzz around the term digital natives, kids and teenagers who have grown up with easy access to computers and the internet. Most of them can use technology, or at the very least aren’t afraid of trying the technology, but have they learned how to learn with technology? I’m not sure they have. Being able to source information is one thing, being able to define your problem, critically think about where your information comes from, communicate your thoughts and reflect on the process is another.
Which is where teachers come in, we might not know it all any more (not that I think we ever did) but we do know about learning.
Knowing about how people learn and how to create the right conditions for learning continue to be essential. Because the great rub about ICT is that isn’t about mastering the tools because the tools we are using now will likely be obsolete in 5 years.
Knowing how to learn with technology?
That’s a very powerful, yet highly underrated concept, which first and foremost requires that you use technology to learn.
A hearty round of applause for @HORansome philosopher, currently completing a PhD on the epistemology of Conspiracy Theories, and a most excellent afternoon drinking compadre from my first university experience for his sublime organisation of the 2nd #twecon.
For those not in the know, #twecon is a conference in which anyone with a twitter account can present their ideas. Topics are highly varied however the rules of #twecon are very strict.
I can be a bit wordy at times so found the 840 characters a harsh word limit, but that was an important learning process as this paper went through numerous iterations.
In the spirit of brevity I hereby present my paper to the 2nd #twecon
My paper resulted in some discussions about whether the provision of education is linked to parents ability to contribute to the labour market, who the knowledge repositories within our society should be in this new paradigm and whether our perceptions of teachers, good, bad and indifferent is based on sampling errors.
Some of this discussion came from other #tweconers while some came from my twitter followers an interesting example of different spheres interacting with each other.
If you are looking for an example of education 2.0 this would be it. People coming together in the digital space and learning from each other. Very fluid and definitely driven by user content.
The only regret of this format is that there are no conference drinks afterwards. So instead I raise my glass to (the soon to be) Dr Dentith.