Category Archives: ICT

uLearn08 Workshop Presentation

Here is an abridged version of my uLearn 08 workshop presentation, minus any audio or video content, activities, links and of course the all important commentary. If I have time, a slidecast version will be added in the future.

Any feedback would be welcome either here or on SlideShare.

View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: 2.0 web)

ICAS Computer Skills test

Today I saw for the first time an ICAS (International Competitions & Assessment for Schools) Computer Skills 2008 test. Take a look here for yourself if you have not previously seen one:

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Wow. Once again I am amazed by how different people’s perspective of the role of computers in teaching and learning is. This is a test of computer skill knowledge only, and very MS Office’ish at that. What purpose does it serve?

My biggest fear is that parents will see this test and think that the use of computers in schools consists of a skill based programme where children are taken through a prescribed list of skills to learn.

Can you imagine, “No sorry class, you don’t make podcasts until year 5. Today we are gong to look at how to change the font, size and style.” Eeeeek.

I hear you say, “But those children will need to know how to do that in order to get a job and…” Really? How can you be sure what technology will be around in 2020? That is when today’s year 6’s could be finishing a degree at university…

Technology is their for us to support learning. To engage and motivate students. To allow them to connect and collaborate. Find information, reorganise, compare, create, share. Not because someone has decided that it is a skill they need, but because it is helping them to learn.

We shouldn’t learn about computers, we should learn with them.

Networking, links & teachers.

Today I had a really good discussion with some other staff from school. We were discussing the best solution for pooling together the wealth of information teachers often collect individually to help facilitate a new learning context, especially web links and tools.

The discussion came about from the teachers’ use of forums, used to generate discussion around their personal goals, progress and feedback from mentors, of school and EHSAS cluster goals.

The forums are starting to be used for more than just of goals, and teachers are throwing in web links and ideas, not directly related to the forum topics. You know what it is like, throw a bunch of teachers in a room and they’ll talk shop, jumping from one idea to the next with a bit of personal news thrown in. Transfer this to a forum environment and you know what I mean.

Does this unorganised jumble of links needs to be addressed? Reorganised to allow easier access to the links? Or should we just leave it as is?

Some other questions raised:

  1. Do teachers want to have a list of elearning resources (i.e. web links) gathered for them before a context of learning is about to begin?
  2. Do teachers generally find these resources a week before they need it, when the plan it, or just in time?
  3. How do they access or find them? Word of mouth? Delicious? RSS? Googled?
  4. Should we expect teachers to understand RSS? subscribing? news readers?
  5. Do we need to teach specific skills related to the use of online forums?

Lots of questions and to be honest, we came up with no one-answer-fits-all solution, or if there even needs to be a solution.

What is important is that teachers are engaged and active with online forums to support, improve andss share their classroom practice. That is just great!

eLearning and ePortfolios

I presented to a group of Hawke’s Bay principals today on how how my research and implementation of eportfolios is beginning to effectively pull together the strands of elearning, assessment for learning and the NZ Curriculum. This will be increasingly so as the process of facilitating learning through eportfolios is increasingly embedded in the teaching and learning process.

eLearning ePortfolios

View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: assessment formative)

When putting this presentation together I used the coloured pencil as a visual metaphor for the themes and elements of elearning, assessment for learning and the NZ Curriculum. There are lots of different coloured pencils out there just like there are lots of options for designing your schools curriculum delivery model…

iPhone – now the perfect eportfolio gadget, Part 2

My earlier post about the iPhone and its suitability to be the hub of the ePortfolio or even your PLE, has taken another turn as the Apple rumour mills get into the “What’s going to be available for Christmas 2008?” mode.

9to5mac.com this morning wrote UK report claims iPhone nano for Christmas on their website. Pictured above, the phone will cost £150 and be available on prepay. Sounds promising if it is to be believed.

This would certainly get me interested as the iPhone in its current pricing configuration is not really achievable for use in education and therefore in my ePortfolio plans. But as prepay and a one off purchase price, that would be great… if it were only true…

Just like the MacBook touch rumours… or here. Looks to good to be true, but wouldn’t it be cool?!

Developing Digital Portfolios

I have just read this article:

Developing digital portfolios: investigating how digital portfolios can facilitate pupil talk about learning.
Kate Wall, Steve Higgins, Jen Miller and Nick Packard
Centre for Learning and Teaching, University of Newcastle, UK.

Technology, Pedagogy and Education
Vol. 15, No. 3, October 2006, pp. 261-273

As part of this research project I read a lot of articles in the areas of eportfolios and assessment for learning. Like anything you read, be it a magazine article, novel, or newspaper, as you are reading you can immediately connect (or not) with the text and message. This article was one of those. Throughout reading it I found myself nodding my head and murmuring consent to the ideas and concepts it was discussing as they mirrored some of the central aims of my research.

If you are interested in eportfolios, assessment for learning and thinking skills I thoroughly recommend you source a copy of this article.

Some ideas the conclusions that grabbed the attention of my highlighter:

The combination of a digital portfolio and thinking skills has been revealed to be a powerful one with plenty of scope for development in the primary classroom.

The reflective nature of the pupils’ comments regarding their learning and achievement as part of the digital portfolio gives valuable evidence to support formative assessment theory.

…a digital portfolio has the potential to create independent learners who are responsible for the collection of their own evidence of achievements across the curriculum and this process has impact on the pupils and how they perceive themselves and their learning.

Another couple of reasons why this research interested my was that it included many quotes from students. The students’ voice really gave the article added authenticity for me and less academic blah.

Finally, the fact that this research was undertaken with primary aged children was a breath of fresh air as the majority of research and published articles are predominantly secondary of tertiary education based.

iPhone – now the perfect eportfolio gadget?

I have previously blogged about the potential of the iPhone as a tool for generating and uploading content and reflections to your ePortfolio. This was before the release of the iPhone 3G and the brilliant WordPress app for managing your WordPress blog. This is a pretty nifty app which has been described in more detail here, here, here or here.

There is plenty of evidence of bloggers using the tool and helping with it’s development. You can view these posts, such as this from the highly respected Dr Helen Barrett and others. The really great thing about this web app is that it also works from your iPod Touch too, as long as you have updated to the v2.0 software.

(Don’t worry if you don’t have a WordPress driven blog, there are still 13 other options described here for blogging using the iPhone or iPod Touch).

This web app and others (10 million apps in total were download in the first weekend) designed for the iPhone and Touch really hold the potential for the educational benefits of these mobile tools.

While the iPhone carried with it the hype, anticipation and desirability, it is still a device which lacks in certain areas.

But for me, the learning potential lies not in the hardware, but in the apps that are being developed to support learning. This of course is not a new concept at all, the technology should not drive what you are doing. It gets me really excited to see that a concept that wasn’t really practical or workable a few months ago has been made possible with the arrival of the iPhone v2.0 software and the WordPress web app.

What I would give to be able to afford a class set of iPhones (or iPod Touches!) to really explore this phase of elearning..

Any sponsors out there..?

ePortfolio Presentation

Today the Wellington Apple Bus Tour visited Russell Street School as part of its tour of Wellington, Masterton and Palmerston North schools to see ICT in action.

It is always a pleasure and an honour to share and discuss what we value in our school and also give the students the opportunity to present their learning to a new audience.

I had the responsibility of sharing the school’s background and development in ePortfolios, where this may be headed in the future and an overview of my research – all in no more than 20 minutes!

I remembered this post from Ewan McIntosh’s blog:

…so in future TeachMeets the rule of No PowerPoints will stand, of course, but be coupled with “anything you want to show must be online and linked to from the TeachMeet wiki page“.

A great concept and one that more conference organisers and speakers should adopt. So here is the presentation… sorry no audio commentary.

Let me know if anything needs further explanation.

We don’t have computers at school…

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I came across this article in a local community newspaper at the weekend. I have blurred the details of the school but have highlighted the most interesting part for me.

My first thought was, “Yikes! How can a school have such an opposing philosophy on learning in the 21st century than my own?”

The school’s own website (does not seem to have been updated since 2005) states:

We do not have computers in the school for use by pupils.

Then continues:

We believe that the human relationship between teacher and child is the key to healthy learning. Only another human being can respond to expressed interest, fire with enthusiasm, and lead by example.

I have no arguments with those concepts!

Older pupils in the upper school however, not only have access to computers, but are encouraged to use them. Many pupils use the Internet to research Main Lesson topics, and several have had success with web page design. Computing is a useful skill, which can be picked up quickly when it is needed. The life skills that we teach here – social, artistic and intellectual – cannot be so easily assimilated and are vital for a fulfilling life.

I am a little confused now. Do they use computers or not? If not, is it really because, as suggested in the article,

…we don’t think computer literacy is a skill that takes seven years to learn.

Woah there! Computer literacy is forever changing, sometimes on a daily and certainly a weekly basis. Take the release of the iPhone 3G this week. The incredible capability of this and other smart phones has pushed the boundaries of computer literacy to different levels and meaning. What about the continual development in Web 2.0 tools? A site I subscribe to has countless new tools or sites to look at every week.

Are we preparing our students for life in the 21st century if we deliberately plan not to include computers in our learning? I think not.

By the way, could you live without a screen for a month?