Tag Archives: students

Teachers today on Youtube – how do you rate?

Is the picture of teachers in this video fact or fiction?
Let’s have a look at some of ideas here.
Firstly, teachers today work in a world that is fast-paced and rapidly changing.
Do we realise this fully?

Teachers today work together to facilitate, innovate, coordinate, participate, investigate, advocate and illuminate.
How are you doing so far?

Teachers today may have limited autonomy, opportunities and resources…
Is that true? Does that make you feel uncomfortable?

but their possibilities are unlimited; they are leading, shaping, finding new approaches, new technologies and discoveries.
Sounds exciting.

Teachers today instil curiosity, extend possibilities, make connections, engage students, excite learners to solve problems of the new generation.
What are the problems of the new generation?

Teachers today overcome obstacles, embrace change, redefine education, are fluent in technological tools, are aware of global concerns.
This is a huge job and an amazing responsibility.

Teachers today are challenging students …
to find solutions;
to find their voices;
to change the world.

I’m interested to find out how teachers react to the messages in this video.

To quote a teacher recently:
‘Where does the academic fit into this?’

Isn’t it time we opened up our vision of what our role as teachers today is?

While you’re at it, have a look at Digital World: Kids today

Thanks to Judy O’Connell for putting me onto these videos.

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What are we telling our students?

I found this on Rob Jacobs’ blog.

What does this tell us as educators?

Think before you speak negatively or label a student. Try to find the best in the student. Encourage students to run with their passions, to have a go, to accept difficulties as challenges, to chill out.

We all ‘fail’ at something sometime. If we help students view their ‘failures’ as opportunities for growth, they’re learning the most important lessons in life. Learning from mistakes – you learn to think/approach things differently, to persist, to empathise with strugglers; you move forward, after a while you realise that’s the path we follow if we walk the path.

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Kids to tell schools what to teach

Calling all students! Edutopia has created a competition asking students to express their opinions about which skills they think their school should teach to help them succeed in life. Recognising young people’s expertise in technology, Edutopia has asked them to submit their opinions in the form of a 60 second video.

The competition closes October 15, and favourites will be published. There is no prescribed format for the answer to the question: ‘What do you think is the most important skill to learn for your future and why?’ – only that it is posted on YouTube and tagged ‘edutopiaskills’. Kids require proof of parental consent and must provide parental contact information. I’m puzzled about the choice to use YouTube, considering that YouTube is blocked by many schools.

I’d really like somebody to supplement this with adults’ guesses about what the kids would say. I’m not sure if I would be able say with any certainty how kids would answer this question, or how they would present it. Would it involve technology, social skills, financial know-how, health issues, emotional intelligence, practical knowledge, or??? I’m hoping that many kids would find transferrable skills and experiences the most valuable. I can’t wait to see the results.

What about learning that would be considered as a waste of time at school? Some might say that their whole school education was a waste of time. Most would isolate learning that they found unengaging or irrelevant. I could certainly make an extensive list of learning that screamed irrelevance: having to look up statistical facts about yawningly boring facts in a Victorian year book; sheep and sewerage; other things that I’ve successfully wiped out of my memory bank.

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Art Education 2.0

Art Education 2.0 is a global community of art educators exploring uses of new technology.

Art Education 2.0 is for art educators at all levels who are interested in using digital technologies to enhance and transform art teaching and learning experiences. The aim of Art Education 2.0 is to explore ways of using technology to promote effective art education practices, encourage cultural exchanges and joint creative work, and support artistic projects, curricular activities, and professional development opportunities deemed important by our members.

When you sign up, you can avail yourself of all the usual socialnetworking options, for example, you can invite friends, upload photos or videos, or start a discussion. At a glance from the homepage you can see current projects, forum discussions and recent blog posts. The format is well organised and easy to read, eg. the post ‘Sir Ken Robinson & creative thinking’ , a post about Ken Robinson’s well-known TED talk, ‘Are schools killing creativity?’, is followed by several clearly displayed comments. I suppose, what I’m trying to say, is that it’s all there, and it’s easy and enjoyable to browse. A late night for me recently while I explored the blogroll – always dangerous to jump into hyperlinks, branching out evermore into oblivion.

New Web 2.0 resources in the right-hand navigation offer such delicacies as Andrew Douch’s video on the benefits of podcasting; Vizu, an interactive poll that can be added to a website or blog; 12 seconds, where you can record and share short videos about what you’re doing or where you are, etc.

On the left, there’s a chat option, featured websites, an option to share photos or videos, a section with a blog called ‘educational paradigms’, which includes posts such as ‘Keeping your teaching experiences fresh’, ArtsJournal , where you can check out daily art news, and more. You can also join groups, such as ‘first year art teachers’, or ‘Voicethread in the artroom’.

Digital art is popular with students, and teachers can get support for this by joining ‘Digital design’ . ‘Teaching animation’ supports teachers in a discussion of ideas, strategies, and tools for teaching animation.

I’ll definitely be telling my art faculty about this supportive art community. Makes me want to be an art educator!

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Blogging about blogging; and before you know it, I’m thinking about PLP

What do young people think about blogging? Let’s have a look; here’s what one 18 year old has to say. This one happens to be my son, but I don’t think that prevents him from representing his generation:

‘People no longer are just able to blog, but blogging is increasingly becoming accepted as a legitimate medium of information; albeit quite different to others. At the cost of the credibility associated with major news services and other more traditional ways of getting our information, a whole new world is opened up- of personal opinion, a perspective into the lives and experiences of others and original creativity. When subjective experience and opinion is sought over objective fact, blogging becomes a medium very difficult to beat.’

Here’s the recognition of the value of the input, not of academics or editors, but of people like any other people, all contributing to whatever kind of information is important to them. Here’s a preference for what people have to say about something, for collective advice by people who care about their interests.

Technical applications are seen as enabling more direct ways of communicating, showing, connecting.

‘Photographers can take photos of their home city or holidays and post them on Flickr, along with geotags (so that people may see exactly where the photos were taken); performing artists can upload audio or video recordings of themselves on services such as Youtube to increase their exposure; political commentators can by series of hyperlinks to other blogs and news services critically analyse current affairs and provide explanations, arguments and challenges to what is reported in traditional established media. All of these forms of expression can be directly embedded into blogs, providing an individual with a space in which to express themselves- in the case of writers, musicians, etc…, to publish their work for free (or close to it)!’

All in all, there’s a noticeable excitement about the possibilities and the connectedness; about the possibilities for the individual’s self-expression. But could you imagine a similar passion from a young person if asked to talk about the possibilities in school education? What do you think? Are students encouraged to become involved in socialnetworking for learning? Are they encouraged to use Web2.0 applications to present their ideas and opinions? What do you think?

With this in mind, I’m thinking ahead to my school’s involvement with the Powerful Learning Practice program, and looking forward to making a difference to the mindset and teaching habits of teachers (including my own). Jenny Luca posts about PLP from the Learning 2.008 Edubloggercon conference in Shanghai:

‘Why do I feel alright about where we are? Because we are at least being proactive and have ourselves involved in Powerful Learning Practice . We are going to be immersing our staff in a learning community, and community is going to be what drives change. It’s not a discussion about the latest Macbook Pro that is important. It is a discussion about the connective relationships our students can form and learn from that is going to be the tipping point for many of our schools.’

‘Connective relationships’ – this is what it’s about. Information becomes meaningful through our relationships with people. Learning becomes meaningful through connective relationships.

If you’d like to read more of the authentic, passionate literacy that springs from real interest and involvement, read the rest of this new blog.

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Sharing pictures – We are the library

I love the sharing that’s going on now with information, pictures, videos, wikis, etc. Picture Australia, wants to recognise the outstanding contributions of its Flickr members, so they are introducing an award, which will be given once a month to an outstanding contributor. You can read about it here, and you can view the first winner’s pictures – 228 of them!

If you want to play your part in telling the story of Australia, read this.
This is a wonderful example of the new way of sharing information and of becoming part of the information itself. I imagine that young people would be interested in contributing to The National Library of Australia’s archive of pictures, and in creating a current pictorial record which will eventually be history.

In participating in this project, students will be encouraged to licence their images with creative commons. What better way to learn about copyright and the choices for owners and users of created works. Students will also need to learn how to supply detailed titles, descriptions and tags for their photos.

This is another example of authentic educational opportunities. There are many of these if we look out for them.

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Learning through discovery at the Melbourne Museum

The Discovery Centre within Museum Victoria makes research interesting and hands-on. A young person can wander in and spend a few hours without realising that it’s been a learning experience. Let’s say you came in and browsed some of the 2,000 plus natural or cultural objects available – not just on display in cabinets and drawers, but also available to touch and examine – then you’d be able to delve into a little research in a number of ways; you could:

have a close look at these objects under magnifiers or video microscopes;
use the reference library of books, journals, education kits, DVDs or videos;
browse through the extensive collection of online resources on public computers;
and you could always ask a staff member for help.

When I visited the Discovery Centre as a student of teacher librarianship, the staff were eager to help, but not eager to supply a quick and easy answer – they encouraged students to find information and answers for themselves, pointing out resources available and suggesting ways of searching. The research process becomes a challenging discovery task, well supported by the excellent variety of materials and resources. It’s great to find research modelled in such an enjoyable way.

The Discovery Centre’s website is user-friendly, and offers an ‘Ask the experts’ section. If you have something you want identified, or you need help with a research project, you can email the museum’s information experts, either with a general request, or an identification request. Every week, there is a ‘question of the week’ published on the website.

I think this is a valuable resource for primary and middle years students. It’s great to take research out of the classroom, and into such a dynamic and resource-rich environment.

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21st century learning

‘Our students are changing … but schools are not.’
This is a leitmotif of a professional development program, Powerful Learning Practice (PLP) run by Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach and Will Richardson, which will run in Australia soon, and in which our school has the privilege of participating.

As stated on the PLP website, ‘Powerful Learning Practice offers a unique opportunity for educators to participate in a long-term, job-embedded professional development program that immerses them in 21st Century learning environments. The PLP model is currently enabling hundreds of educators around the country to experience the transformative potential of social Web tools to build global learning communities and re-envision their own personal learning practice’.

As a result of our participation in the Web2.0 program through School Library Association of Victoria, we were invited by Jenny Luca, who is organising the Australian contingent of the 100 educator-strong global cohort , to join the 7 or 8 Australian teams of 5 educators per school. We almost jumped for joy, but remembered our respectable standing and did some mental leaps instead. After all, how long had we been passionate about transformative learning environments, recognising the potential of emerging web technologies in engaging students and creating global learning communities? And how difficult it is to create a voice that is heard above the clatter of the old school machine? How helpless and ineffective we often feel, like door-to-door evangelists in our own schools, with the door being slammed in our faces, people telling us they have their own god, or that they have no time to listen. At best, we’ve ‘converted’ small, isolate pockets of educators but not had any significant effect on the school community.

Now we have the opportunity to take part in a program based on a highly successful pilot carried out in Alabama and supported by internationally recognised practitioners of 21st century learning technologies. Not only has this given us the opportunity to formulate our thoughts in a proposal to the principal class, but it has also created interest from staff, led to conversations where we have had to explain and justify the cause, and opened up planning for a collaborative team. Suddenly we had something that was worth doing across the school, that was supported both from the top and the bottom. We weren’t isolated any more!

Two of us were able to attend the initial talk by Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach at Toorak College this afternoon. I was excited to meet Jenny and Sheryl, and they were as passionate and inspiring as I had expected. Sheryl was amazing – stepping off the plane and straight into the talk, her body clock still at 3am, and engaging the audience with her passion and ideas. I asked her how she managed to deliver an hour-long talk after travelling halfway across the world, and she said that her tiredness was evident in her slower than usual speech, which, for us in Australia, was a comfortable speed to follow.

I thought I’d mention some of the things that stood out for me as I listened to Sheryl’s presentation. Firstly, she emphasised that 21st century learning, although based on technologies, was primarily a human network. These technologies enable global connections and wisdom of the crowd. Sheryl gave the example of Twitter as a means of finding the best information about buying a new car. I suppose it’s an extension of the network of friends and colleagues people turn to when looking for a good car, or finding a good plumber, only the global aspect facilitates expert knowledge more effectively. In a fast-changing world, where the information today will be outdated tomorrow, rather than teach memorisation of content from a single text, we need to teach students how to work collaboratively. As Sheryl said, ‘don’t think computers, think innovation’. Our students need to be able to be productive, self-directed and effective communicators, understanding digital communications, and not be overwhelmed by the fast pace of change in their lives. It’s not about the tools, the technology, but about learning.

Sheryl challenged us about the relevance of school education, and spoke about the low percentage of students who thought that what they had learned at school would be relevant to their future lives. She spoke about the learning that takes place outside of school within the networking communities of young people. We saw Darren Draper’s film that asked educators if they had been paying attention to students in their classes, if they had been watching them or listening to them, and challenged educators to use the technologies that these students loved in order to teach and engage them.

What inspired me, towards the end of the talk, was Sheryl’s prediction that members of the PLP cohort would eventually have the courage to be bold and challenge the status quo. How true, that, in order to inspire change, we have to model it. As Sheryl said, ‘you can’t give away what you do not own’. I’m ready to share what I’ve learned. I’m not learning to keep. It isn’t much, and so I’m also ready to keep learning. We need to keep up with the pace of change. We hope to help diminish the digital divide – between those who know how to collaborate digitally, as the world shrinks through global connections, and those who don’t. Our job is to prepare students to be responsible, global citizens. We need a change in pedagogy, playing to students’ strengths instead of their weaknesses (ie. what they don’t know, what they’re not good at). We need to cater for different learning styles. We must become 21st century educators. These are the main ideas from Sheryl’s deep-reaching talk today.

What I’d like to say to teachers is what I read on Darren Draper’s excellent blog, when he talked about Kevin Honeycutt and one of his ‘favorite quotes regarding teachers and our relationship to our students: “We’ve got to be willing to play where they play… even if we don’t feel comfortable.” ‘

I’m looking forward to an enriching, collaborative, global PLP experience.

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Is school bad for kids?

Further to my recent post about open assessment tasks and true learning, you may want to have a look at Clay Burell’s posts on his blog Beyond School. I suppose I’m late to discover Clay but I figure others will be able to share my new discovery. Here’s what he says in his post entitled ‘Beyond school’ : on the death of genius for the sake of college’ (he’s talking about young people’s time being taken over by ‘education’:
‘I mean the ones who are so over-scheduled with schoolwork, homework, SAT test-prep cram schools, and all the other madness that keeps them focused on memorizing the data and pounding out the grunt-work, one assignment and one GPA-increment at a time, year in and year out – from what, grade 9? Or is that too late to begin worrying these days? – that they rarely have time to pull back and reflect on anything at all’.

I can’t help thinking back to my primary school years; for some reason memories of those days keep coming back as a kind of lost paradise, and what stands out is the time spent in idleness. And during that idleness, whether it be walking home from school in the slowest way possible, or sitting in a tree, creating a cubby house – a long-lost sense of freedom full of possibilities, ideas and dreams is evoked. So much time to reflect, time that is taken up now as an adult with adult responsibilities, and sadly, for many young children, this is also the case. By the time they’re in secondary school, the freedom is gone, the dreams taken over by instruction, the self-initiated learning through curiosity replaced by delivery of prescribed content during the school day, and fulfilment of prescribed homework tasks at home.

We would do well to remember that our students were awake to the wonders of the world as very young children – not knowledgeable wondering, but eager to experience, keen to ask questions. But do we, as teachers, ask young people what they’re interested in, or do we make their learning relevant to their world? Do we give them time to reflect? Is reflection valued?

Clay Burell, some time ago (not sure when), set up Students 2.0 to give young people a voice. In the ‘About’ section of the blog, he talks about the past paradigm of schools being effective for the times, but not so any more:

‘For decades, students have been stuck in classrooms, behind desks, being told how and what to learn… However, we have now entered a new age: an age where thinking is more important than knowing, where thoughts out-do the facts. Borders are melting away; project teams collaborate across the globe and intelligence is being continually redefined. The world’s information is at our fingertips and anybody can publish their thoughts for virtually no cost… Everywhere, we see changes: with how business operates, how people interact and how success is accomplished. There is unfortunately one place that remains unchanged, the place that could benefit most from the changes we see today… the classroom.’ He then explains the purpose of the blog: ‘This blog is an attempt to give students a voice in where the future of education is headed.’

I looked up some of the individual blogs of the students involved; it’s great to read what they have to say, their ideas, etc. Here are some of them:
Two penguins and a typewriter
Love and logic
The bass player’s blog
Betaphor

Newly ancient
(archived)

Another thing I’d like to get off my chest:
if we as educators are working towards integrating Web 2.0 tools in order to engage students and create authentic learning, then we drop all that at year 11 because we have to focus on preparing students to regurgitate prescribed curriculum content so that they can get the highest scores and get into university, etc. then it’s crazy. Surely we need a bigger change. Surely this is a mindset change. Otherwise, we’re doing a little Web 2.0 here and there, then we say, hang on, we just have to go back for a bit; this is really important. Just doesn’t make sense.
Does anybody see a bigger change to the whole system in the near future? Is this really going to happen unless we change our assessment criteria?

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#17 Library 2.0


IMG_2068.JPG

Originally uploaded by David Warlick

I haven’t slept well for the last few nights. I’ll tell you why. I haven’t been able to let go of a significant stuff-up in a job interview for the position of teacher librarian in a secondary school. It still astounds me that, when asked how I would engage students in reading if money were no object, I completely forgot to resource the collection! No mention of buying books! My library would somehow engage young readers bypassing a collection altogether.

I blame my present conversion to all things Web 2.0. Seriously, it’s almost as if a vibrant collection of resources is taken for granted. But, to be fair, when I analyse my giant faux pas, I would have to say that we all know, and have known for some time, that school libraries need a fantastic variety of all things readable, countless copies of every author, genre and style. But it’s not enough! One of the other questions that challenged me during the interview (an excellent question) was ‘how we get to know adolescents’ at our school. I think this is one of the most important questions, because if we don’t think about how we are going to understand young people in our schools, then we’re buying books for ourselves, then our programs are for a mismatched audience, our money is spent in vain.

During the course of this Web 2.0 journey, we’ve had a taste of the world that our students more authentically inhabit than we do, a world we have to force our way into perhaps, so as to have an insight into the question ‘how do we engage young people in reading?’ After crawling into Facebook and MySpace, feeling our way through Flickr photosharing, and other Web 2.0 applications, it’s impossible to ignore the fact that we’re living in a new information landscape, one where interacting and sharing understandings, views and knowledge is the purpose behind everything we do. David Warlick noted a graduate student’s comments about school in his blog,

“There’s not really an avenue at school for me to share, or publish my own stuff, or especially get feedback from people all over — That’s really the only reason I rush home to do MySpace so much.”

I think the reason I omitted to talk about the provision of books and concentrated on Web 2.0 applications, is that, like Will Richardson, I see this generation as a read/write generation. It’s not just about reading – it’s about reading and sharing opinions and ideas about what we’ve read with our friends.  If we provide books, then we should provide the opportunity for socialnetworking amongst students. Teachers should not be the sole audience. Young people care about what other young people think. This is what Library 2.0 is about – innovation, people and community building.

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