Monday, October 08, 2007

Evangelising etechnology to the NZ polytechnic community

I presented a couple of papers to the union of staff in tertiary institutions (ASTE) conference last week. A well attended conference with participants from throughout the ITP sector. It was great to be able to meet committed educators, all passionate about teaching and learning. It made for a very friendly and convivial conference.

I presented keynote on using cognitive apprenticeship principles to teach baking – really to encourage tutors to be more reflective about their practice plus to explore what sort of teaching philosophy underpins their teaching. Also to delve more deeply into how good teaching is about constant refining and commitment towards meeting the needs of learners and the context the subject has to be applied to. Plus links with my teaching practice and my Phd research on how apprentices are learning via belonging, becoming and being bakers.

The other paper was to encourage the use of e-technology into tertiary teaching. I took the approach of using e-technology for tutor professional development as a starting point. If people become comfortable with writing on their own blog, using an mp3 player to store their favourite music and use RSS feeds for their own research, then these skills and knowledge percolate eventually into their teaching practice. I have found that it is important for digital immigrants to be comfortable with the technology before they start to use it in their teaching. I think that this stems from the role of teachers and their need to be ‘in control’. It is a big step for many teachers to take a sideward step and allow their students to lead the way. Personally, I learn a lot from young people about the way in which they use technology to enrich their lives. I also have learnt that it is up to us teachers to take the lead into guiding students in to how to also use technology to enhance their learning experiences.

I used several clips from youtube as part of the presentation. These include the one on the rise of Web2.0, the use of technology in teaching and a mlearn2007 promotional clip. Also links to the various blogging, wiki, personal portal and aggregator sites that I continually use as part of my day to day work (teaching, research, learning) and the mlearning project. Including these links & working through the presentation was a way of modelling how to use etechnology not only in teaching but in one’s professional development.

I was conscious that many teachers resist the use of technology in their teaching. The concept of ‘bridging the chasm’ by Moore is something that I relate to. I am not sure whether the chasm is continually deepening, or if more user friendly hardware & software creates a ford across the chasm. The ubiquitous use of mobile phones must help bring more digital immigrants into greater contact with technology. The mobile phone is already helping to bridge the digital divide between the developed and developing nations. Maybe the mobile phone is also helping in a small way to bridge the early adopter to early / late majority to laggard (Alan Atkisson calls them renunciate curmudgeons!) chasm.