Tuesday, March 31, 2009

21st century educators

Following up on all the other blogs on 21st century learners, I did a bit of web surfing, looking for ideas of how to engage staff more into using ICT in their teaching. Each year, there is an increase in the number of students who use ICT in their leisure time. A student who does not use a mobile phone is a real rarity. Yet, many staff still teach the way they were taught. I am continually experimenting with the students on adult education courses. For me, it’s a way to practice & hone my ICT skills and I am privileged to be teaching staff. The staff on DAE courses are a group of committed tutors who are passionate about teaching but most importantly also open to new ideas. One of the formative presentations on the adult learning DAE course is to present a short session on one adult learning theorists. This year, I have asked them to do this using the pecha kucha approach. There was some trepidation when I suggested the idea but great buy in after I presented the session on ‘lifespan development and adult learning’. Everyone is now looking forward to the sessions.

Some of my approach is listed in David Warlick’s blog on 12 ways to become a IT literate educator (found via via Marian Thacher’s blog ). Many of the suggestions revolve around sharing, learning new skills together, experimenting and then evaluating and sharing the results with others. Which works well when staff are in a course together. One of the primary objectives of the DAE courses is for staff to network & learn from each other.

What of other staff? Marie Jasinski’s article archived on the Australian flexible learning network provides some direction. The three components of integrating innovation are the innovations, the innovators & adoptors & the organization. The type, attributes, market needs, benefits & pedagogical impact of the innovations need to be taken into account. There is a chasm between early & mainstream adopters & therefore there needs to be support to bridge the knowledge & also the technology vs pedagogy chasms. The organization needs to have a culture and systems that include infrastructure leadership, commitment & be able to provide adequate support. These guidelines provide a bit of a wake up call for me & for the staff development team.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Using Audacity

Several years ago, I downloaded Audacity the free, open source software for recording & editing sound. However, I have only used it to record the occasional voice clip & to play back digital recordings for purposes of transcription.

I attended a lunchtime session a couple of weeks ago by CPIT Japanese language programme, Henk de Groot on how he used audacity to create audio files for his teaching & student learning.
The session was well attended & Henk provided very good hints including
how to convert recordings from analogue sources, in most cases, it is less time consuming to just re-record in digital!

-best to use a microphone that is not multi-directional and a cheap one works just as well as a really expensive one.

-size of sound files – mp3 smaller & no difference in quality for voice compared to .wav files which are 6 – 8 times larger.

Henk also showed us how to edit an audio file and to especially view the file as a visual pattern. Deleting, cutting & pasting and cleaning up the file was demonstrated. Viewing the file as a visual pattern a good way for me to understand how to handle audio files as I am much more of a visual than an audio person.

To save the file, it was best to export as an mp3 file using another free programme that had to be downloaded once and stored on to you C drive. Clear instructions can be found here.
I am now more confident in using audacity :)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Edubloggers to follow

Have set aside one day a week to concentrate on ‘research’ of which mlearning is one. Have been able to put some time to writing three research proposals for funding, one of which is now delivered and awaiting on a decision. The other two are in the draft stage with one due in early May & the other in early June. Also contemplating if I will fill in an application to obtain funding to get across to the US of A for mlearning 2009 as conference attendance funds are low at the moment due to the current economic climate.

This morning, I did a catch up on mlearning to see if there would be new activity in this area. Two bloggers stood out, Jacqui Sharp & Jamin Lietze. Jacqui Sharp has two blogs, one on web 2.0 in education & the other on ICT in teaching & learning. Jamin, a primary school teacher is evaluating eportfolios for use by his school. He does a comprehensive job.

Both are passionate teachers New Zealand teachers which is a good sign for the NZ ICT scene. Their interest in ICT is sparked & fed by the work they do with their students. The both blog regularly, providing examples of their work & using visuals to good effect. Both provide me with good examples of how to set up interesting, exciting to look at & useful blogs. I will use these blogs as examples when I do my usual guest tutor spot on the CPIT ICT Certificate in Adult Teaching course. Not only to show examples of teachers blogging but to provide evidence of the ICT work that young primary school kids are being exposed to as soem of these will be our students at polytech in a few years to come.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

21st century learners

Last week, one of our CPIT staff developer Robin Graham ran a lunch time Better Teaching session on learning design.

The concept was part of Robin’s work at the University of Gloucestershire on extending her work on ‘design for learning’. Design for learning was a project supported by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC ) in the United Kingdom. The evaluation for the project provides an overview of what took place & some of the findings. The Australian Universities Teaching Council also conducted a project on learning design. Some exemplars for various activity focuses provide examples of the visual way in which a focus on learning activities removes emphasis on content & channels lesson plans towards assisting student learning.

One of the books recommended as a background to learning design was ‘Rethinking pedagogy for the digital age’ which has limited reviews on Google books . This book is by Helen Beetham & Rhonda Sharp provides a good overview of how teaching & learning has moved from associative to cognitive / constructive towards situative / participative paradigms.

Siemen’s latest blog provides a link to A Handbook of emerging technologies in learning which is also available as a wiki. Again a good overview of how society is moving but education is still stuck in an increasingly disjunctive model. Learning is moving from ‘content to process' & from 'knowing to being'. Education is still premised on teaching content.

Then this week, via Will Richardsons’ blog comes an article by Margaret Weigel, Carrie James, & Howard Gardner in the inaugural issue of the International Journal of Learning Media on Learning: Peering backward & looking forward in the digital era. It’s one of the many projects emanating from Project zero a long term research project on how people learn. The article contains a good table that summarises the way in which learning has changed along with the associated shifts in pedagogies & instructional & cultural media. In summary, the article proposes:

Going forward, learning may be far more individualized, far more in the hands (and the minds) of the learner, and far more interactive than ever before. This constitutes a paradox: As the digital era progresses, learning may be at once more individual (contoured to a person's own style, proclivities, and interests) yet more social (involving networking, group work, the wisdom of crowds, etc.). How these seemingly contradictory directions are addressed impacts the future complexion of learning.”

Monday, March 16, 2009

21st century skills

As a follow up to last week’s blog, the article from Dean Shareski commenting on Stephen Downes caused me to reflect more deeply on my work with students compiling their eportfolios on social networking sites.

Dean was writing about the 1 minute videos that were being produced to apply for the best job in the world and Stephen was commenting on how very few young people ten years ago would have the skills to produce the videos and yet, now, it is a skill that is crucial in the best job in the world scenario. How many of the young people who produced these videos learnt how to do them at school? As an example, my son is an adept video producer. In the last couple of years at school & at university, he produced a slew of videos with his friends – some of which garnered prizes at the annual university ‘ed woods video’ awards. How did he learn how to video? Well there was one 5 day ‘holiday’ course when he was 15 & the rest has been via doing, sharing ideas & skills with friends etc. From this, he then went on to become actor, director, producer, video editor, camera person, sound recorder, sound remixer etc.

Following on to working with my students on their eportfolio, the latest tutorial this week was for me to check on their progress (good work by most) but the main questions from students was not on how to use the technology but on what constitutes a good eportfolio. So the students, after one short introductory session & a couple of weeks to play with the concept have grasped the usefulness of eportfolios & now want to make the most of their opportunity to gather, collate and showcase their work.

What of tutors & educators? Ray Tolley reports on the ongoing work in encouraging educators to adopt new technology. He writes:- “Mal Lee in an e-mail reminded me of Clay Shirky's book, 'Here Comes Everybody'. In reply I quoted back at him one of Shirky's many conclusions: ‘Revolution doesn’t happen when society adopts new technologies– it happens when society adopts new behaviours.’ Until schools (and for that matter all learning institutions) begin to adopt new behaviours in terms of Teaching & Learning styles and until teachers begin to demand the technologies that will support this new thinking we will never experience revolution. “
I have introduced the concept of eportfolios to a few tutors on Diploma in Adult Education courses working on individualised learning projects. So far, no takers!! They prefer to stick with a traditional paper based report. However, I will work on this. If tutors themselves experience the excitement, creativity and sense of freedom tempered by responsibility that students using social networking sites for eportfolios are experiencing then they will be more open to the idea of introducing eportfolios to their own students.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Trades students as users of technology

A couple of interesting blogs / presentations / articles on perceptions of students as users of technology were timed at the exact time I started off another group of students on the mlearning project last week. This is a small group of full-time bakery students who I am asking to evaluate several web 2.0 sites for the purposes of compiling eportfolios.

Janet Clarey’s blog provided a good overview of multi-generational learning in the workplace . Will Richardson then recommended Ken Robinson’s book, “The Element: How finding your passion changes everything” as part of his blog on personalizing education .

Many of the observations in Janet Clarey’s blog link in well with my observations from the last couple of years about young people and technology. In particular, mobile vs computer literacy, digital learners, young travellers using technology and boy racers. So it is great to be able to read them in one place & especially to see that digital natives vs digital immigrants has been put to rest.

The group taking part in the evaluations have just started on a one year Certificate in Baking programme. I am asking them to evaluate vox, multiply & comiq by collecting photos, short video clips & recipes that will provide evidence of their journey from novice bakers to being able to bake a good repertoire of products. All have taken to using the technology very well and I am already fielding interesting questions on how the sites may be made more useful, user friendly and visually attractive. The students range in age from school leavers to ones in their early thirties. A couple needed a bit of help to get started but all the rest were conversant with desktop protocols. All the below thirties have social networking sites but not all use them regularly. Everyone has a mobile phone & several have high end smart phones.
I will be doing the official evaluation of the three sites with the students just before Easter, so it will be interesting to see how each of the sites do.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Mobile internet devices

Mobiles, netbooks and cloud computing are all identified as the top ten trends for ICT in education, the future of the internet and the latest NZ horizon report via Derek Wenmouth's blog.

Mobile internet devices (MIDs) are a progression from netbooks. These devices do not have mobile phone functions but provide easy access to the internet. Nvidia has announced the launch of a range of MIDs including a US$99 HD Mobile Internet Device called the Tegra.
The Tegra MID delivers 720p and 1080p video playback, full Wi-Fi & 3G connectivity, software that supports web 2.0 applications, software solution that includes MS Windows CE OS & long battery life.

If the price tag of under US$100 eventuates and the device actually makes it into the NZ market, this will be a good device to trial for our mlearning pilots. The main advantages will be the cost (less than for netbooks) and the ability to surf the web. I will plan to trial a blended type course using the technology. In particular, to find out how distance students & students in several geographically separated sites could work together on projects that could assist with better learning.

Added to the above is news that Nokia might be getting into the laptop / netbook market. Nokia’s newest smart phone, the nokia n97 is being promoted as the nearest thing a mobile phone gets to being a computer. However the price at €550 (NZ$1340) before taxes etc plus a lukewarm review will mean that this is beyond the reach of all of the mlearning pilot target student profile.