Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Deepest Cornwall ...


An exciting day set up for tomorrow ... I am in deepest Cornwall not far from 'The Lost Gardens of Helligan' where I, a large group of Cornish teachers and another large group of Cornish children (The children come from the Bishop Bronescombe School in St Austell.) are going to use some advanced ICT to investigate invertebrates and plot their positions on EDA machines and upload the data to Google Earth. The engine that will drive all of this is called WildMap ( with its partner WildKey). As well as this the children ( and their teacher helpers) are going to be recording sounds and impressions of what they find as .wav files so that they can be used for podcasts which will be developed during the afternoon using the Softease Podium software.

All very exciting ...real datahandling for an authentic purpose.

PS Weather Update for Cornwall 31st January ( near here ) is rain and a bit more rain.

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Tuesday, 29 January 2008

ICT Register Conference



Loughborough was the venue today at the ICT Register Conference - Making Connections

It was blasted off by a keynote sessions from Russell Prue, Award Winning ICT Evangelist, Author, Inventor & Entrepreneur and most ably followed up by Dr Baldev Singh, Imagine Education Director.

Russell's handouts can be found here.

John Sutton's presentation on podcasting can be found here.

Bits of my presentation (the videos etc) can be found here.

The Keynotes and Showcases focused on:
Creative use of new technologies and software tools
Creating new virtual and physical learning environments
National and international partnerships
Strengthening pedagogy through ICT
Web2.0 technologies


The web site for the event will soon be updated with the presentations. People attending were very open to the notion that we needed to move forward ( and quickly) to get the best from technology for the students/children in the system at this moment. Procrastination was NOT the order of the day. Inspired people ready to do inspirational things.

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Monday, 28 January 2008

McAlevel

'Please can I have a McChicken Sandwich, Medium Fries, Fresh Orange and two 'A' Levels'.

Hmmmmm !!

I suspect that Man United will be the next to offer , followed by ***** ( just fill this in for yourself).

It reminds me of the 11 life rules ( though I am not sure why!!) attributed to BG but really ...it's an excerpt from the book "Dumbing Down our Kids" by educator Charles Sykes. It is a list of eleven things you did not learn in school and directed at high school and college grads.

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The Horizon Report 2008


I have now read my way through the Horizon Report and my first take was emailed to friends over the weekend. The Exec Summary will get you going and then it would be good to check out the section on 'social operating systems' ... there are some really key phrases in there that we should use when talking about web based apps.

There is a section here about Social Graphs ( a new one on me) :Thoughts on the Social Graph (Brad Fitzpatrick and David Recordon, August 17, 2007.)

This article discusses the need for a social graph that exists outside of systems like Facebook, so that applications can take advantage of the fact that you already know who your contacts are.


If you have time or the will ... this should get you thinking as it dwells on the very nature of Learning Platforms and begines to ask: Is a social Network a LP??

.... and from here ... read the bit about Collaborative Virtual Learning Environments.

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The Capetown Open Education Declaration

Reading through my feeds yesterday I picked up on John Connell's post about The Capetown Open Education Declaration.

It begins:

Unlocking the promise of open educational resources
We are on the cusp of a global revolution in teaching and learning. Educators worldwide are developing a vast pool of educational resources on the Internet, open and free for all to use. These educators are creating a world where each and every person on earth can access and contribute to the sum of all human knowledge. They are also planting the seeds of a new pedagogy where educators and learners create, shape and evolve knowledge together, deepening their skills and understanding as they go.


While I recognise the potential and intent of the declaration there are all sorts of questions that tumble into my mind as I read the rhetoric.

To begin with I am struggling with the definition of 'resources' and my mind flicks back to the English government's attempt to build a database to store the available resources during the 'eLC' bonanza. It was called 'Curriculum Online' and cost millions of pounds sterling but (as far as my knowledge and research tells me) did not reach the parts that it was supposed to reach in spite of considerable publicity. The Year One report in 2004 painted a sketchy picture from a sketchy survey but the conclusions were not optimistic that the money had been well spent. The final report was equally unenthusiastic about the use of the portal by 'ordinary teachers'.

With the coming of Learning Platforms and VLEs there are various groups who are valiantly trying to get content together and share it. One of the main groups to come forward in this regard is the National Digital Resource Bank ( pity it is national but it is a good start). NDRB works on the basis of a content sharing community, members can contribute in a variety of ways, the key ones being contributing content that they own and supporting the work of mapping and SCORMing harvested content.

This is what the Regional BroadBand Consortia have been trying to do with various amounts of success for some time now. It will be interesting to see how GLOW and Learning Northern Ireland deal with the matter of content and how their concept will fit with the Capetown Declaration.

But this is all about content and not resources ... or is it? As I have said I am confused by the definitions. It could easily be argued that many of the resources on Internet can be used in an educational context.

What I really want, and wanted to read, is about the making available of powerful, motivational tools to author and document the knowledge so that it becomes accessible to a wide variety of people in the widest possible way.

Looking down the list of organisation signatures leaves me with the feeling that there is one group missing ... the people who have, on the whole, got us this far, the software producers. What of them in this plan?

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Saturday, 26 January 2008

MyCBBC - an institutional social network

I am just not sure whether or not to laugh, cry or just wonder! I knew it was coming but reading through links in feeds yesterday alerted me to its imminence. Both the Mail and the Telegraph (and I suspect others) give warning of its approach and also hype up the anti by asking the questions 'should your money be spent on this?'.

The new social network site called MyCBBC will have a lower (?) age limit/range of six years. As far as my limited research goes I am led to believe that this is well catered for at the moment by Club Penguin.

So is this venture the institution of the BBC reaching out to a young audience in their space or is it an institution going out of its remit? Or... does the concept fulfill the idea of choice in all things?

From a user point of view, in the end, it won't matter. Children and their parents will have a look at both and will make up their minds what they want to do and which they want to use. I suspect it will not be an either or it will be a both and lots of others as well. Some will live on because their use will justify it, others will just drift slowly away ...a process of evolution. How many people already have 'lapsed' identities spread all over Bebo, MySpace, FaceBook etc. ? You stick with those that work for you and maybe dabble in some others. I really object to the idea that one size and site fits all ... to be honest, that is where I am currently having difiiculties with VLEs and LPs.

The BBC insists that the site is designed to encourage discussion of the Corporation’s shows and will help raise awareness among youngsters about the risks of using the Internet. ... it is being developed at a cost of £200,000 ( a mere drop in the ocean when you think of the money spent on BBC Jam) and will be available to some 1000 users from April. Is it a self fulfilled prophecy?

Let's just wait and see ...

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Learning ... on Saturday morning

Do you ever walk into an institutional space and watch what is going on ( or participate in it) and recognise it as a learning space rather than a teaching one?Do you get the sense that it is learning that is the centre of things and not teaching and that the motivation to learn comes from deep inside the learners because everything else is right?

How come this is so? At which moment for the individuals was the tipping point reached so that they began to take the responsibility and, just like a good parent, at which moment did the institution begin to let go?

Have our educational institutions got this 'letting go' built into their ethos or is it so very, very clear who is in charge?

And how does this fit in with the concept of virtual spaces? When do you stop pushing and feel the pull?

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Thursday, 24 January 2008

Economist Debate

I have been following with much interest the Economist Debate which had the proposition 'Social networking technologies will bring large ( positive) changes to education methods, in and out of the classroom'. The pro view has been strongly put by Ewan McIntosh and the con by Michael Bugeja. The debate is now over with a resounding win for Ewan's pro stance of 62% to 38%. The wonder of the debate was the number of comments and participants from all over the world expressing views that gives me much optimism for the future for our young people. What needs to happen now is the debate and discussion needs to be turned into action and the education leaders in countries around the world need to be directed to the debate and they need to listen and do.

The time has come the walrus said to talk of many things - 'Alice in Wonderland' - Lewis Carroll

Procrastination is not an option ... the longer we wait for action the more our young learners will become disenfranchised by our institutional systems and the harder it will become to support and help them in their quest for a personalised education process.

PS

Ewan McIntosh the 'pro' speaker has added a comment to his own blog which has caused me some disquiet. I have complete belief in the proposition of the debate and recognise the strength of his argument but fall short of agreeing with him about the voting. I do actually think that in this sort of online environment that there will be a 'swing' towards a 'pro' vote for any discussion based on the forward thinkingness of any online ideas ( sorry just can't think of a better word than ideas at the moment). The people who engage in these debates and those who watch from the sidelines are, I feel, at this time, going to be those that are media/network and (obviously) online savvy. They have found their way to an online debate and are involved in it. People who perhaps would be interested in the debate but do not regularly engage in online interactions are (!!) just not represented and I have the feeling that they would be veering towards the 'con' camp.

This is no way detracts from the power and strength of the argument and the quality of the posts in discussion. Just let's not get too hooked up on the votes cast.

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Frontline - Growing Up Online

Since 1983, FRONTLINE has served as American public television's flagship public affairs series. Hailed upon its debut on PBS as "the last best hope for broadcast documentaries," FRONTLINE's stature over 25 seasons is reaffirmed each week through incisive documentaries covering the scope and complexity of the human experience

This is the US version of Panorama and it is interesting to watch their take on the whole idea of 'Growing up Online'

I would be very interested get other people's views on this.

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Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Music, me and the power of blog feeds

Trying to get my head together this morning to begin real work I am sitting here browsing my 'feeds' as you do when your brain really won't focus and you sense that the longest and darkest days of the year are past - even if it was only yesterday - forever the optimist !!

I turn my attention to Scotedublog and look for something quirky to catch my attention and gather in my brain and the name of 'Simone White' lights up my eyes. My sort of music. Obviously John Connell's as well.



In the past my feeds (and if you have read my blog for a long while you will have listened to this) have lead me to Oh Laura and more recently to Tasmin Little.

Would I have got to them without my 'feeds'?

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Monday, 21 January 2008

The Transparent Canoe


I have just had a virtual discussion with Tricia about the use of the phrase 'The technology should be transparent' and she pointed me in this direction.

The transparent canoe is a wonderful vehicle, it can't be seen yet it is a reliable form of transport.

The technology we use in our lives and in our opportunities to teach should be just like this ... available but not intrusive ... it should allow us to work/play/function efficiently.

Oh for a transparent education system!

(Thanks to Pete Yeomans for the original viewpoint)

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Saturday, 19 January 2008

FaceBook (again)

A BBC report into data protection indicates that the Information Commissioner's Office is investigating the fact that it is difficult to clear all the data from FaceBook accounts and that deactivation is just that and this does not remove the data from FaceBook's servers.

The report says: "Users who wish to completely delete their information must, according to the automated response from Facebook's Customer Service, “log in and delete all profile content". and it goes on to say : "An individual who has deactivated their account might not find themselves motivated enough to delete information that's about them maybe on their wall or other people's site."

This needs to be read with the post below about FaceBook.

Is this paranoia? Is it a 'witch hunt' against something that has gone viral and is 'anti-establishment'? The social networks we have are in infancy and what is there today will undoubtedly not be there wearing the same clothes in the future and so it is right to worry about the ownership of the data.

At a seminar session at BETT last week I asked an assembled group of BETT visitors, mainly teachers, how many of them had opened up their FaceBook page (if they had one) or created one and had shown the students how to make the page as safe as possible. Out of the 80 or so listening to me ONE person said that they had done that.We need to teach people how to be safe. We do it for Road Safety. We spend a fortune on drugs awareness. We have not yet got to grips with personal safety in social networks ... and we need to now .

I have said these things before and feel the need to say them again !

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Friday, 18 January 2008

A breath of fresh air ...


I have had the most wonderful two days working with my PGCE students at Leicester University School of Education. They are wild, sceptical, enthusiastic, scathing, interested, bemused, excited and imaginative (amongst their many other characteristics). Being with them reminds me about why I care about these things. A group of young(ish) people not afraid to take risks and not afraid to fail. I just feel so optimistic about their steps forward and am excited that they will go into schools armed with the 'necessary' but not constrained by it.

We spent time talking about creativity and ' Excellence and Enjoyment'. They listened/watched Sir Ken Robinson's presentation at the TED conference in Monterey and, what is wonderful ... they 'got' it.

They experimented with software and websites and could see that creativity didn't sit separate from the curriculum but was an essential part of it. And they saw the connection between home and school and that learning was everywhere.

Wonderful !

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Wednesday, 16 January 2008

FaceBook

An extremely interesting article in the Guardian re FaceBook which I just draw your attention to and make no comment on ... though I expect many people will !

This, I notice, was followed up by Ben Williamson on the Flux Blog (FutureLab).

Josie Frazer on her Blog 'SocialTech' puts forward an almost balanced view.

Interesting times !

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Monday, 14 January 2008

Gadgets and Gizmos

I wrote last week about the idea of teaching children/students how to get the best out of their gadgets and gizmos rather than banning their use.

Trawling my feeds today to try to keep up I came across this on Danny Nicholson's 'Whiteboard Blog':

Students today can’t prepare bark to calculate their problems. They depend on their slates which are more expensive. What will they do when their slate is dropped and it breaks? They will be unable to write!”
Teachers Conference, 1703

Students today depend upon paper too much. They don’t know how to write on slate without chalk dust all over themselves. They can’t clean a slate properly. What will they do when they run out of paper?”
Principal’s Association, 1815

Students today depend too much upon ink. They don’t know how to use a pen knife to sharpen a pencil. Pen and ink will never replace the pencil.”
National Association of Teachers, 1907

Students today depend upon store-bought ink. They don’t know how to make their own. When they run out of ink they will be unable to write words of ciphers until their next trip to the settlement. This is a sad commentary on modern education.”
The Rural American Teacher, 1929

Students today depend upon these expensive fountain pens. They can no longer write with a straight pen and nib (not to mention sharpening their own quills). We parents must not allow them to wallow in such luxury to the detriment of learning how to cope in the real business world, which is not so extravagant.”
PTA Gazette, 1941

Ball point pens will be the ruin of education in our country. Students use these devices and then throw them away. The American virtues of thrift and frugality are being discarded. Business and banks will never allow such expensive luxuries.”
Federal Teacher, 1950

For proper attributation, these quotes are apparently from David Thornburg’s book Edutrends 2010: Restructuring, Technology and the Future of Education (1992).


Anyone want to write one for the 'gap years' and 2007 please ?

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Sunday, 13 January 2008

Presentations at BETT


On Thursday morning I did a presentation on schooling in the 21C and challenged the audience to really get to where their children/students were! The venue was a challenge ... about 50 seats with open widows all round. There was a crowd about 4 or 5 deep outside leaning in ... very exciting. You can read and comment here. A full video of the presentation can be found here.
On Saturday morning 12th January I did a presentation to an animated audience in theatre C . I really enjoyed myself! You can download the presentation from here. You can watch the full video here (thanks to James Watson).

You can see the rest of my BETT photos here.

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Friday, 11 January 2008

TeachMeet08


Currently sitting here at TeachMeet drinking the beer having paid with some nice paper tokens and even got some change.
18.00 it is and we await with bated breath ... Ewan has started at exactly the moment.

Number one is on the stage ... NCSL ... Leadership Library ...Stuart Sutherland
This is the first of the 7 minute sessions . Some great resources for innovation education and the concept that you CAN teach it. THe url is inside NCSL.

Second up is Andrew Roland from RM and he demos the Asus minibook ... Ewan asks about education use of the minibook. Roland sites Dudley examples

Third up Geoff talking about ULearn ...world wide project resource... has geo-tagging.

In 2032 we will not be comming to TeachMeet Teachmeet will be coming to us.

Ian Usher pops up to talk about Moodle and discovers that Flash Player was not working ... but ... he sorted it and got multiple cheers (tech rules okay)

Viv Bailey was up next talking about Softease's new product Honeycomb and had to get onto her laptop which is a PC ... (the technology again) and really picked it up well and got on with the examples.



Yacapaca was up next but didn't look quick and easy to me.Pity !

15 minute break for compulsory beer drinking !

On to unit 2 ... battery dying ... will get back to this later.

Recharging ... did my bit on ictopus by holding up bits of paper and card and then giving out lots of cards.


Sorry but at this point I ran out of energy and retired to Pizza Express for a carbo boost.

You can see a range photos from the TeachMeet here ... or simply type TeachMeet08 into Flickr.

A big thanks to Ewan and all the sponsors for this session ... meeting and greeting and beer was great. These sort of sessions must become fixtures in any exhibition or conference where like-minded people physically meet. Not sure how the Flash Meeting or the meeting in SL went but for me they are very important as flying round the world is not the very best CPD option I can think of.

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Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Panorama - One click from danger

I missed the programme last evening but, thanks to BBCi, I am watching it now, as I type this post. I have been a bit disenfranchised of late with this flagship of the BBC since the 'WIFI' programme that caused so much fuss so I am hoping for more facts and less 'TV'.

The programme is still scaremongering and any parent watching it would be forgiven if they immediately dashed up the stairs and dragged any computers that were there from the bedrooms - but does give some really good advice, if you can see through the hype. It is quite clear that what is needed is a concerted education programme in our schools. We should just get on with some positive education, showing young people how to stay safe. We spend a fortune on road safety, drug awareness, anti-smoking, safe sex education etc. - this is the 21 Century safety campaign we need to get on with it not leave it up to peer 'hearsay'. If we do this we will be seen to be letting down our young people.

Our children are intelligent and media savvy we need to discover what they know and don't know so we can help them to get the safe best out of their social networking.

The problem is that our teachers probably are not up to speed on the technology and so there is a blanket 'WOW DANGER', we don't want to go there.

So a real education programme, quickly, for the teachers first. Young people need practical help on how to protect themselves online ... we must do it now before this hype gets in the way of all of the good that can be done.

If you missed the programme there are still five days left to download it to BBCi.

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BETT and ICT on Teachers TV

Just as a reminder for those of you who are UK based that this week is BETT Week at Olympia in London and to celebrate this Teachers TV is having an ICT week.

On Friday evening at TeachMeet08, also at Olympia, I will be doing a nano, 2 minute, slot explaining ictopus to the group assembled.

For those of you who are not able to attend there is a FlashMeeting and a session in SecondLife if you wish to join in.

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Saturday, 5 January 2008

Every child to 'get' Internet access at home

The Guardian reports that the Government has a plan to give every child internet access at home.

In the report Jim Knight, the schools minister, said: he is in talks with companies such as Microsoft, BT, Sky, Virgin and RM to help close the widening achievement gap between pupils from the richest and poorest families...

In the interview Mr Knight says: .... that the government was putting pressure on IT firms to bring down the cost of equipment if internet connections are in effect made compulsory for nearly six million children.

It is the 'made compulsory' bit that interests me. How so can access to the Internet be made compulsory ... the implication being in homes throughout the land? ( England that is !!) Interestingly it all seems to be about reporting rather than learning.

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Emily Sanderson - a girl in 120,000

Sharing Good Practice is the printable but also online magazine of ictopus(ICT online primary user support)a support service for primary education.

This week the whole of the magazine is devoted to the celebration of how online connectivity is changing children's lives. Written by Robert Hart, Director of Research at Intuitive Media Research Services it give a research based indication of the enormous potential opened up to young people by carefully constructed, protected social networks.

An interesting statistic from the research shows how little of Emily's time is spent 'connected' at school. It also shows that she has all of the equipment necessary to connect wherever she is. ( except at school of course because children are told not to bring their 'gadgets' with them into the school environment)

My question is just how does this post fit in with the previous one ?

If you are not an ictopus member, just sign up. It is free!

PS
Geoff Dellow in a post to the ictopus site wonders:
Is this not about an organisation that has provided the facility for children to communicate with each other but not with adults. This worries me - yes with each other but surely far more important with adults as well - or is the great monster pedphilia lurking. Surely children need contact with more adults not less. Schools are already a very artificial enviroment with few adults.

PPS

If you go to the ictopus SGP blog site you can read Robert Hart's response to Geoff.

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Thursday, 3 January 2008

How to get it so, so wrong !!

I was alerted this morning by my friend Steve Taylor to a BBC report from England's Children's Minister Kevin Brennan where he says '...electronic toys, music players and phones often appear in schools as the new term begins. Children often bring the fascinating gadgets they were bought as Christmas presents into class, but these can cause disruption and hamper learning. Teachers can and will confiscate such items if they see them being used in lessons.'

The idea that some of the powerful tools that children now have access to at home are essentially disruptive and hamper learning almost says it all. It is no wonder that our young people feel that they 'dumb down' to go to school and that many of them feel that the tools that they have at their disposal do not actually meet their needs.

As part of the report the General secretary of teaching union the NASUWT Chris Keates said: "Every year some youngsters arrive back at school with MP3 players, mobile phones and electronic games. This can be a real headache for teachers when they are trying to get everyone settled down to start learning. Teachers would be grateful if pupils just brought a pen."

So as we move further and further into a technological age one of the 'influences' on educational policy sees the major tool for learning as a pen.

The report goes on '... Some schools have a "no gadget" policy where all non-educational equipment is banned ' . So who says what and what isn't educational then ? And who defines 'gadget'?

You can read Ewan's take on the report here.

I feel so cross about the whole thing. We need a 21st Century education for our young people !!

PS ( just as an aside)
I have been alerted to the fact that the Minister for English Education who wants the gadgets kept out of English schools is in fact the MP for Cardiff ... isn't that in Wales?


PPS

A Presentation at the BETT Conference and Exhibition, January 9th by Mike Sharples continues the debate.

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