Sunday, August 23, 2009

The wikification of Fiona

Along with over 150 participants from 29 countries Rocky and I have registered for the Learning4Content 29th Online Workshop. Wikispaces has been my wiki of choice for the past few years and was the software we selected to develop the Software for Learning wiki. Regardless of wiki preferences, what attracts me the most to these online spaces is the potential for user generated content and everything that goes with it...creativity, collaboration, exploration, risk-taking, learning...

I am looking forward to learning about the Wiki Educator environment and exploring it's potential to support online collaboration specifically the
OER Commons for New Zealand schools.

If you are interested in signing up the workshop starts on 24th August, commitment is approximately 4-5 hours over 2 working weeks.

As I write I see another NZ participant, Jo Fothergill has posted a comparison between Wiki Educator and Wikispaces on her blog.

See who else is enrolled and sign up here.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

"Inquire with a travelling mindset..."

"Inquire with a travelling mindset" analogy used by Claire Sinnema while exploring teaching as inquiry with Team Solutions facilitators recently. Useful and timely messages from Claire in light of some of the confusion between teaching as inquiry and inquiry learning, that we have experienced as schools move towards implementing the New Zealand Curriculum (2007).

Image Attribution: 'je dois apprendre aux curieux'

More from Claire...

The NZC(2007) describes some ways of thinking about teaching and learning using evidence based approaches, "the kinds of teaching approaches that consistently have a positive impact on student learning" (p.34) and also thinking about teaching as inquiry, a way of 'being' or the underlying attitudes that influence our practice.

Focusing inquiry is about:
  • Prioritising what is most important: "Every 10 minutes matters"... image the impact on student learning if those 10 minutes every day of every week are added up over the years a student is at school.
  • Learner diversity
  • National and community curriculum aspirations
  • Information and data
  • Individual group needs
The above can be informed by research however the value of a teacher's past practice should not be overlooked. What good are the approaches, principles and mechanisms in the research? Why inquire if we know what works?  

"Because context matters... inquiry is important"

As Claire shared some examples from her own experiences and observations I found myself making links to how e-learning and pedagogy (NZC, 2007, p.36) can also provide us with many and varied opportunities to inquire into the teacher actions that promote student learning.
A wonderful example of this can be viewed on Helen Rennie-Younger's wiki
Helen shares both her inquiry and student learning and effectively models how e-learning can make a difference to her practice and student learning.

Further reading that may be of interest -  Effective Pedagogy in Social Sciences: Tikanga ā Iwi: BES, Aitken and Sinnema (2008).

"Approach Teaching as Inquiry as we would approach travelling to new places..."

Claire left us with the following message inspired by Alain de Botton's, The Art of Travel...
"To inquire with a travelling mindset!"

From the book...

“What, then, is a traveling mind-set? Receptivity might be said to be its chief characteristic. Receptive, we approach new places with humility. We carry with us no rigid ideas about what is or is not interesting. We irritate locals because we stand in traffic islands and narrow streets and admire what they take to be unremarkable small details. We risk getting run over because we are intrigued by the roof of a government building or an inscription on a wall. We find a supermarket or a hairdresser’s shop unusually fascinating. We dwell at length on the layout of a menu or the clothes of the presenters on the evening news. We are alive to the layers of history beneath the present and take notes and photographs. Home, by contrast, finds us more settled in our expectations. We feel assured that we have discovered everything interesting about our neighborhood, primarily by virtue of our having lived there a long time. It seems inconceivable that there could be anything new to find in a place where we have been living for a decade or more. We have become habituated and therefore blind to it.”
Alain de Botton, The Art of Travel (2002)

Image Attribution:'Atlas, it's time for your bath'

Friday, June 5, 2009

"Teaching as Inquiry"

In my last post I explored the relevance of teachers developing the confidence to approach new technologies with an inquiring, open mind and learning about the technology within a context that is connected to their current classroom practice.

Also for those who are considering how twitter might be useful in an educational setting...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

"life is too short to edit video on an iPod"

Continuing from my last iPod Post... we have since visited a class at Bernadino Elementary who also have the 1-1 iPod and Fisler Elementary that have a 1-to-1 24/7 laptop programme for grades 3-8.

While I have acknowledged the challenge that the teachers in California face in relation to their curriculum what is important for me is to attempt to consider what we have observed and the possibilities for integration in a New Zealand context (for our students), specifically in relation to our curriculum (NZC, 2007), what the evidence tells us about student learning and the potential for e-learning and effective pedagogy (p.34-36).

iPods on student desks

I would like to suggest we avoid a debate on ipod vs laptop/desktop but rather dialogue that focuses on the purpose and how does access to different technologies add value. Thinking about my own practice and what I know about New Zealand teachers, I can see huge potential for iPods because of their portability and flexibility to access the web plus recording and storing data in various formats (note to Apple - iPod needs video!) the same time life is too short to edit video on an iPod.

What are some of the potential benefits?
  • Access and choice for students and teachers...Web, resources, tools, applications, quality digital content...when they need it.
  • Greater flexibility and possibility:
- for students to direct and pace their learning (set goals, receive feedback and identify support options)
- for parents to communicate with, respond and support their children and teachers
- for teachers to design learning opporunities that are relevant and effectively integrate digital content.
  • Potential for teachers to stretch themselves pedagogically and explore new and different strategies for teaching and learning based on what they know about their students.
  • Potential for students to develop a clearer understanding of the learning process and confidently communicate how this impacts on them as a learner.
What are some of the factors that can influence this?
  • Professional development for teachers - meeting needs, collaborative, building capacity and sustainability. This also includes supporting teachers to be confident users of ICTs. By this I do not mean attending workshops to learn how to use the tools rather a variety of opportunities (planned, facilitated, informal and just-in-time) to learn about the technology within a context that is connected to current classroom practice. Developing the confidence to approach new technologies with an inquiring, open don't have to know how to use every Web 2.0 tool in the book.
  • e-Learning and effective pedagogy - Teachers PCK, knowledge of teaching approaches that consistently have a positive impact on student learning.
  • Classroom environment, access to a variety of technologies depending on purpose.
  • Infrastructure*, school leadership, commitment and beliefs of all stake holders.

*Fisler has over 500+ laptops supported in their 24/7 programme, the school district supported maintenance of the network, all software and personal files were stored on a central server, there is an onsite, full time technician, students can walk in and loan a laptop if needed.

More video and feedback to here.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


I am often disappointed when technology is condemned for our woes and I suspect that most of the time if we look further we will find what is important is people and relationships. Our visit to Carlsbad High School to meet with Doug Green and his broadcasting students demonstrated explicitly the importance of this for me today. In the mist of all the technology there was a wonderful buzz of students working collaboratively, all very clear of the purpose and what was expected of them. In California schools are required to work to a fairly prescribed curriculum and it takes an innovative and brave teacher to engage student learning through technology as exemplified by Doug Green.

Each morning the students produce a live show which is broadcast to an audience of over 3000. We were welcomed by senior students Jerry and Riley who confidently guided us through each part of the process. Student are responsible for all of the production and they have covered local school news and events to stories with wider impact such as the recent bush fires where their work was picked up by local TV stations and broadcast to millions statewide. This morning's broadcast seemed to run like clockwork and was totally student led and driven.

The students are very aware of the responsibility they have to produce balanced stories and the role the broadcast has in connecting many of the different interests and groups that make up their local school community. Students are expected to learn all of the roles from writing, editing, production and presenting and pitch at least 2 stories every six weeks. These are critically reviewed and assessed by Doug and they are provided with clear feedback. The students believe that CHSTV is responsible for developing a real sense of community in their school and has has developed their abilities as critical viewers and processors of information, including their ability to communicate in the many and varied situations they find themselves reporting from.

Jerry describes the impact of the broadcasting course on student learning (apologies for the background noise)

We were privileged to hear directly from some of the students (including Jerry) who were part of the team responsible for a yearlong documentary project called "We Must Remember", the story of sixteen American high school students who discover the horror of the Holocaust while producing a film about the Holocaust. The film was originally produced to be used as a teaching resource so students would be able to experience its impact through a perspective of others of a similar age. Doug and the students are traveling to Croatia next week for the films release, it will be featured in film festivals internationally during 2009, and in 2010 it will be distributed to schools across the United States. A trailer and further information is posted on School Tube

The experiences shared by the students at CHSTV have had a very real impact on their learning and have taken it way beyond the classroom. The mutual trust and respect between Doug and his students underpinned everything we experienced today and we are looking forward in the hope that their documentary will be released in New Zealand.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

One-to-one iPods

Reo and his friends from Central Elementary in San Diego talk about learning with an iPod. Watch Sandra as she quietly demonstrates how to record, which Reo and Kyle had yet to discover, but it did not take them long! My 'roomy' on tour @suebrownnz has already requested a class set from her boss, me... I'll take a class and a set!

The school discovered that the improvement in basic facts had increased markedly since students had been using the ipods.
Students are using the iPods offsite and uploading once they returned to school using iBlogger.
The bubblewrap app. was created by a kiwi!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

"watch this everyday, or we'll know"

Connie is passionate about making a difference for her students at Central Elementary in San Diego. She teaches the students from 4-5 years of age, preparing them to enter school at age 5-6. Her integration of technology has been a steep learning curve but the benefits have impacted on students and the wider community in ways not first envisaged.

For the majority of students English is a second language. To support families whose children will be starting school and to lessen the impact of the long summer break, Connie along with her fellow kindergarten teachers, produced a multimedia DVD to support families and their students. It includes the teachers modeling counting, alphabet, days of the week, shapes etc. This is sent home with every student along with other goodies, crayons, paper etc and they are encouraged to "watch this everyday, or we'll know" says Connie. The purpose of the video was originally to assist students with preparation for entering school and to help support their parents. Connie reported that as a consequence children arrive at school more prepared, often recognising the teachers from the DVD and more confident and aware of the exceptions for their learning...learning is not a secret!

Parents are also more confident to support their children and have become more actively involved in their school community. For Connie the technology provides another strategy to support her practice and an opportunity to "grab" her students and she has continued to push the boundaries with her use of e-learning...what drives her to make a difference for her students?

"This is how James learns."

For all the differences between the schools we visited today the similarities were perhaps even more pronounced. Both Carol Anne McGuire, New Village Leadership Academy and Elaine Wren, Echo Horizons have responsibility for working with students and supporting their colleagues to integrate e-Learning into their practice. The impact of having dedicated teachers in these positions seemed to link much of what we saw in today's school visits.

While both Carol Anne and Elaine acknowledge this is a collaborative effort (dependant on the support of their individual school's leadership and beliefs about the role of e-learning) the impact their support was having on both teacher confidence and student learning was evident. Similar to New Zealand, working collaboratively, ensuring access to support and relevant professional learning and removing barriers for teachers, were all identified as important to effective integration of e-learning.

The following clip features students who have had access to the one-to-one laptop programme for the past 2 years. Accessing the technology and the confidence with which they utilised it for their learning was noticable and at times scaryingly innate! (Thanks to Ash for sharing his video to pick up some of the gems I missed.)

Elaine from Echo Horizons describes how specialist teachers collaborate and use technology to provide rich learning opportunities for their students and continue learning themselves.

How might having a dedicated e-learning specialist teacher working in your school make a difference for teachers integrating e-learning? If you already have someone working in a similar role, what is it that they do in this role that makes a difference for students and teachers?

Delicious Library

James from New Village Leadership Academy was introduced to us as Carol Anne McGuire's right hand man. I recorded him talking about Delicious Library as I had not yet seen an example of a school who had utilised it to manage their school's library database and loans. The video is not as zoomed in as a screen capture however James does such a great job of describing how they have set up this system in their school, I am confident that you will 'get the picture'.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

e-Learning and pedagogy

I have been following Michael Wesch online, many of you may be familiar with the videos he has created with his students exploring the impact of new media on society and culture ( "The Machine is Us/ing us" and "A Vision of students today").

While the ideas that they explore are significant, what also challenges me is thinking about Wesch's application of new media in his practice. See a previous post "There are no natives here" Again I would recommend that you invest some time and watch "A Portal to Media Literacy".

Last week Wesch posted a link to some work created by one of his students Kevin Champion. I have watched this video a number of times since ( embedded below) and have enjoyed thinking about the concepts Champion explores around connectedness, the impact of new media and the breaking down of barriers in education that are now possible as a result.

" In education, this is seen in the emphasis on cross-disciplinary, multicultural, holistic, and interdisciplinary studies. It becomes clear that no one discipline and no one perspective can provide all the answers. Over the last 50 years, this theoretical connectedness has been expressed in the physical world through media. Television, cell phones, and the internet have added both a new level of connectivity and new ways to connect." Kevin Champion

What continues to capture my thinking is the question of how Champion's use of new media to explore, share and create his understandings, may have been supported by the teaching actions of Micahel Wesch? During repeat views of the video I have tried to identify links and examples that may reflect effective pedagogy in the NZC specifically e-learning and pedagogy (p. 36).

This exercise has continued to extend and challenge my thinking around "the changing role of the teacher and also our understanding of elearning as a pedagogical practice"...and also what this might mean for how we use assessment to both provide feedback and inform future action.

For me this has been a useful next step from 'A Portal to Media Literacy' and the concepts of what it means to be a teacher in this century. I plan to use this example to further explore the concept of e-learning as a pedagogical practice with colleagues.

Many thanks to both Michael Wesch and Kevin Champion for their inspiration.

Friday, April 10, 2009

"Whoever comes is the right people"

Last year an unconference was coordinated in Auckland by Suzie Vesper. You can listen to feedback from participants on the VoiceThread below. We have had a number of informal requests to repeat this get together or 'unconference' so have decided to hold it again on Saturday May9. The venue will be open from 10am -4pm and in the spirit of an unconference there is no registration, cost, or required time to attend.

What is an unconference?
We have set up a wiki page with more information here. You are invited to add your details to the wiki
as it could be useful for people who are thinking of attending to have some idea of who might be there and areas of interest. There is no commitment as we are acknowledging the openspace rule... "Whoever comes is the right people".

There will be updates on the wiki closer to the day. You can keep up-to-date by joining the wiki and clicking the 'notify me' tab at the top of the wiki page to set up notifications. There is also a hash tag in twitter you can follow by searching #may9 from Twitter. This will show you updates about the unconference and can also provide you with some idea of who might be attending and topics they are interested in exploring.

The unconference is very much about giving and receiving, while I admit that there will probably be a few geeks there (not looking at anyone in particular... lol) this will be a valuable but relaxed opportunity for participants to learn. If you have been thinking about using some of these new technologies and have questions, this might very well be the place for you on #may9!

Images from last year's unconference.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Lunchtime conversations still reign!

Received an email from a friend recently, quote... "Man I didn't know whether to tweet, to delicious , blog or spam you"...however today's impromptu lunchtime chat with friends proves face2face still rates when it comes to my personal learning network.

This from Jenny Pope in the lunchroom today...Apture a very cool Web 2.0 tool that works with most blog platfroms, wikis etc... to "integrate reference guides, images, video, maps, music, documents, presentations". I have integrated Apture into this blog post to demonstrate some of these options. (Note: when you add video you can also control the timing ie: identify a part of the video you want to display).

Lots of opportunities here for teachers to develop interactive learning objects online and for students to make connections and apply their learning in new contexts. I am especially attracted to the potential of including multimedia and other Web 2.0 applications.

Also includes a Twitter Viewer which lets you embed your Twitter stream and the Twitter experience on your sites and across the web right next to relevant content on the page (...say that fast in less than 140 characters!)

If anyone has examples of how teachers and students may have been utilising Apture please leave a comment and links on this post. I am keen to see how you have integrated and hear from you on the impact on students' learning as well as your teaching.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

'Learning Everywhere'

As I synthesise some of my thinking (and hyper-linking) from the last three days of the Learning@School09 conference the three keynotes from Andy Hargreaves, Pam Hook and Wes Fryer have provided both an anchor point and many springboards for my learning.

If our students “are messages we send into the future”, how do we best prepare them to succeed in a future that is increasingly unknown? Within the context of his book written with Dennis Shirley, The Fourth Way, Andy focused on the importance of investing in people and community to better develop more creative and inventive individuals, better prepared for the changing global economy. Stories from both industry (Nokia) and education (Tower Hamlets) demonstrated the improved outcomes and possibilities that can be achieved as a result of communities “connecting to the best they have been” while investing in people, through building stronger schools with increased community engagement and support for each other.

A focus on collective responsibility and communities setting high standards for achievement, in contrast to individual accountability, has proven to have a greater impact on student learning. These examples reflect the concept of Ako in Ka Hikitia and also Pam’s questioning of where and how learning takes place… “learning at school verses learning everywhere”. ICT enables students to “bypass teachers altogether” and we were reminded again about the evidence that class sizes and ICTs alone have little impact on student achievement. What makes the difference is quality teaching – what happens when we change our practice based on the evidence? ...and how can we utilise the technology and online environments to support learners more effectively as demonstrated by Wes in the final keynote? (see conference blog).

As a result of the conference keynotes (and the many conversations with others attendees in between) my thinking has predominantly been anchored by the importance of the collective responsibility for student learning. Amongst the many, many springboards the following stand out for further exploration and thinking:

Read - Visable Learning (Hattie) and The Fourth Way (Hargreaves and Shirley)
If you have access to EBSCO a preview by the authors can be downloaded from Educational Leadership, Oct 2008, Vol. 66 Issue 2, p56-61

Explore - Hooked-on-Thinking Pam and Julie’s wiki

ParticipateThe e-Learning Research Network online discussion Hattie and ICT Implications

Stumbled on the following video while writing this post. How is this a metaphor for the history of education?

Friday, February 20, 2009

A Portal to Learning@School

Last year I created a public portal to the uLearn08 conference in my aggregator, Netvibes. This was useful as I was quickly able to scan updates from the numerous conference feeds including blog posts, tweets, photos etc. Also able to share these with virtual attendees and others who could not be there in the flesh with some interesting consequences (see Reflections and Connections post).

I have created a portal for the Learning@School 09 Conference in Rotorua next week to keep track of the various conference channels and 'back chat'. I have previously blogged about the value of using an aggregator to manage online learning and maybe a conference portal could also be useful if you can't make the conference and want to personalise the conference channels you follow.

Looking forward to seeing my virtual learning network face-2-face and also collaborating with Rochelle Jensen to facilitate a few breakouts. Rocky and I are very excited to be working together over the next couple of years and will be utilising the Software for Learning wiki to learn more about how teachers are utilising e-learning to support student learning.

See you all next week,
Hei konā

tags technorati :

Monday, February 2, 2009

Welcome to the Eastern Block e-Learning Cluster

Welcome again to Willowbank Primary, Point View Primary and Somerville Intermediate who together form a new ICT PD cluster for 2009, Eastern Block e-Learning. Today was the cluster's launch at Point View School. I have posted some photos on Flickr embedded below. As promised links to online resources explored this morning have been posted on my Delicious, a Social Bookmarking tool, which enables me to save my bookmarks online. I have included a brief descriptor for each however please contact me if you have any questions.

Thanks again to Suzie Vesper who joined us on skype. You can access Suzie's blog here, I would recommend that you add this blog to your reading list. Suzie also highlighted the website ICT PD Online the learning community area that provides support for schools involved in the ICT PD Cluster programme. Instructions for joing ICT PD online can be downloaded from the cluster wiki here.

Finally I would like to acknowledge the teachers from each of the cluster schools who stepped up and shared their knowledge at the taster sessions today, it was appreciated. If you have links and resources to support your sessions links can be included from the cluster wiki. If you need support with this contact me or your Principal.