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!)...at 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 mind...you 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 come...pictures 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.