Concluding thoughts

Posted: February 4, 2012 in Education, Reflection

So guys and girls, this is going to be my last post for this blogging experience of ours. Of course you will be free to add your comments right up until Feb 8th. I will also leave the blog running for some time so that if you want to refer back to this blog, you will be able to do so. Just a few stats for you: this blog ended up with 25 posts and 1,054 comments from you … well done for that! Most importantly many of these comments have really shown me your enthusiasm and your excitement to learn a bit more. I think this was the real scope of this exercise. I sincerely hope that the interest which this has sparked will be augmented and will propagate throughout the schools you will be teaching at.

I was really very positively impressed with all your comment contributions. I would like to thank you for all that you have shared, for your insights, and for your tips. I have, as I expected, learned a lot from you all.

Thank you.

It is indeed with a pang of regret that I will not keep on blogging on this particular site and that I will lose touch with you all. However for those of you who want to keep contact and maybe make use of some stuff which I share, remember that you can always follow me on Twitter or over my own personal blog site. I haven’t posted for some time on it, cause I was a bit busy with this:)

I would also like to remind you to please, please fill in the evaluation form which can also be accessed directly from the course VLE. I would really appreciate if you could dedicate some time to that please. All your remarks and comments will be very useful for future courses. I wish you all luck with your teaching practice and your future teaching career. May you all influence someone’s life positively.

Storify your information…

Posted: January 18, 2012 in Tools

For those of you who have started using Twitter just now, and for those of you who want to keep a thread of all that is happening in one particular event I suggest the use of Storify… In the spirit of networking and creating social stories, Storify offers you the possibility of pulling information which is publicly available online, and over popular social networks like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc. and organise the content in a story form. It’s a great tool which is freely available online. You can try your own Storify stories, with your own students or a particular kind of topic which you would be interested in.

“The great driver for technological innovation has been the historic increase in connectivity.” Please check out and comment on this video.

Designing for a purpose?

Posted: January 18, 2012 in Education, Resources

Clark Aldrich one of the world’s most prominent speakers of designs of Virtual Worlds, Simulations and Serious Games has declared that “The educational knowledge we deploy and measure is more dependent on what is easy to author than a societal desire or need”. This applies a great deal to the resources I find that we, as teachers, tend to produce and work with.

It only takes a minute to realise that the Web is just the tip of the iceberg of resources that can be used by everyone to learn… and to teach. And yet we still notice that in many classrooms, (not all and I do not wish to generalise), we still keep making use of the same old resources we were used to seeing back in our ‘good, old days’ when we used to complain how boring school was getting.

If you look at schools like Quest to Learn , you will understand what I am trying to say. This school, markets itself as the “school for digital kids” – their description states – “Through an innovative pedagogy that immerses students in differentiated, challenge-based contexts, the school acknowledges design, collaboration, and systems thinking as key literacies of the 21st century”. But in short this is a school that uses games and play to teach and to learn.

If you look at their plans, at their syllabi, at the curriculum which drives them, there is no NASA technology involved. There are no resources which cannot be repeated or done elsewhere. There are only resources that are very carefully designed with a  purpose. There are lessons designed in the interests of the kids who want to be involved in a creative and innovative way. This is not a matter of saying… “oh I am really doing my best… I did so many handouts… what else do I have to do?” Maybe the answer to that question might lead you to think in a different way, to start thinking about the real needs of your students and not the needs of the MATSEC exam which they will eventually choose to sit or not sit for… so start thinking, start looking and exploring and find the right design which suits your students.

I just came across this blog post… Karyn’s Erratic Learning. In summary this blog discusses the way resources are designed. This morning I actually said: Do not use technology just because it is there… now I actually echo this blog, and say… Do not use the technology simply because it is “nice” or cool or trendy or because it is what you should be doing and what you should be using.

USE TECHNOLOGY BECAUSE YOU NEED IT. When the technology becomes part of our lives, pretty much like the household gadgets which we can no longer live without, then you will find that you cannot really work without the essential tools built around technology.

However the blog post goes further… it says that in just pretty much in the same way as pet food is marketed, all colourful and seemingly much more appetising, in reality, most of that food contains enough additives and preservatives that might harm the pet rather than be of benefit. People might buy the pet food because it looks nice, but functionality-wise it might lack. This is rather similar to the way certain resources are planned, marketed and distributed. Certain resources that might look “nice” might not have the functionalities which bring out a higher kind of learning, building skills and competencies which are more adequate to living and working in today’s society.

What sort of ‘functionalities’, in your opinion, would be adequate for living and working in today’s society?

After some of the brief tutorial sessions I had today, I remembered a book which I have recently read and which I believe is quite a good read for people who are interested in making a change. This book is called ‘Out of our minds’ and the author is Sir Ken Robinson. For those of you who have never had the opportunity to listen to Sir Ken Robinson, I recommend that you stop for a bit, and listen to his talk. It is just 17 mins of your life but they’re minutes well worth investing in.

I especially like one of his comments in this video… he says: I meet all kinds of people who don’t enjoy what they do. They simply go through their lives getting on with it. They get no great pleasure from what they do. They endure it rather than enjoy it and… wait for the weekend.

The book discusses this recurring theme. It also discusses the revolution that is needed in learning and in Education. As I mentioned during class, we are past the era, when as teachers we can just produce a handout, a textbook, walk in with the airs of a person who knows it all – because none of us really knows it all – and expect to be applauded in class. We need to work hard to make things work inside a classroom.

I mean this is not really Education per se, but I find it relates to many of the things we do – when I say we, I mean we as students, and we as Educators or teachers. We somehow have lost our craving for all that is playful and fun. We endure lectures, we endure assignments, we endure work, we endure teaching and finally we even mark on our calendars the next vacation day. Maybe I am slightly cynical at this point, maybe I am generalising, and maybe there are those out there who take great pride and pleasure in what they do. I would like to hear some comments on this matter, maybe links to sites and blogs that prove this generalisation wrong, or maybe some solutions (if any really exist) to this impending challenge.

Blogging for a different classroom

Posted: January 16, 2012 in Reflection

Welcome to this blog. Periodically I will be posting new posts and you can have the possibility to react and post your own comments in response. Blogging is meant for reflection, and also for discussion. This is a free space where you can voice out your thoughts and ideas. Please use it… help make this blog a better tool for our collaborative classroom.