Tuesday, 16 December 2008

So now what do we Do

Just read the most recent blog post by David Warlick regarding the use of web2.0 tools and other emerging learning tools, all of which are technology based. He talks about a "significant knowing-doing gap", i.e. the gap between knowing about the tool, and actually using it in education. His post goes on to list the main contributors to this "knowing-doing gap". These include time, money, age of hardware, ignorance of technology, etc. The same old same old. This of course made me think about the challenges we face here in "God's Own". The reality is, these are issues for education institutions all over the world, not just NZ. The challenge is, if NZ schools want to be a leading light in education, world wide, then we seriously need to consider what we are doing about these challenges. Too many teachers are using the excuses I read in David's blog. How many of these are valid, and how many are just a cop out. What are we doing to address and remove the barriers for teachers and what are we doing to address the issue of teachers who refuse to change, and use ignorance as an excuse. Name another profession where ignorance is an excuse?

Finding the solutions will not be easy, but the reality is, WE HAVE TO FIND A SOLUTION, for the sake of our children and education in New Zealand.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

eTeacher Training

We have recently had our eTeacher training , which was held from 3 December to 5 December at Tauhara College in Taupo, NZ. The first day was for eTeachers from the Volcanics cluster where we focussed on developing our online spaces, uploading content, etc. This was a time to spend simply thinking about our teaching, and having time to work on our lesson content. The afternoon session began with a presentation by Trevor Storr (ePrincipal - AorakiNet) on what content or activities in an online environment would really engage our students. Trevor did his presentation via VC from Waimate High School. The presentation was thought provoking and really got us all thinking about what a good online course looks like, and what we needed to do to ensure that our students were engage in the learning.

On the Thursday and Friday, we were lucky to have Chris Allott McPhee from the VLN with us to run the video conferencing training and we were also joined by our colleagues from TaraNet and CoroNet. The CoroNet contingent included one of my fellow ePrincipals, Jan Collier. Sue Winters, an ePrincipal mentor, was among the participants as she will be trying her hand at eTeaching in 2009, team teaching L3 Calculus with Jane Liu from Tokoroa High School.

Well, I have to admit, that this was the best eTeacher training I have been on. The presentor was great, but this was comlplemented by input from the teachers. The enthusiasm and willingness to share experiences and
knowledge was brilliant. There was a real focus on student learning, with working out how to use the VC gear secondary. I remember my first VC training. We were all so concerned about the technology and getting this part right, that there was not a lot of time to focus on the teaching and learning aspects. I think we benefitted from the fact that there were experienced eTeachers within the group who could share their experiences. There were also teachers who had never received any formal training on VC, but who had been teaching via VC during the year. This was an opportunity for them to learn and to reflect on how they would do things differently in 2009.

We were also able to VC with eTeachers in the Taranaki and in Hawks Bay. Rachel Roberts (ePrincipal - TaraNet) demonstrated, via VC, the use of Adobe Connect and how it could be used as an alternative tool to VC for synchronous interaction. We also saw how the technology could go wrong as Lynda Walsh-Pascoe's group in the Hawks Bay could see us, but could not hear us. After a bit of help from Asnet, we managed to get the sound sorted and the three way VC continued. Just being able to "hook up" with other eTeachers, doing their training was awsome and strengthened that feeling of community that was developing within our group.

Next year I think the eTeacher training will be in the Taranaki. I am looking forward to that, and meeting up with more like minded teachers.

Web 2.0 is everywhere

I know up to now I have been pretty quiet on web 2.0. This is not because I did not think it was worth commenting on, but because I am actually still trying to get my head around it. It is vast, it is changing and it is out there - in more ways than one.

Check out this slide on web 2.0, and tell me what you think.

Monday, 1 December 2008

An eLearning vision

This is my attempt at linking pedagogy and ICT in an endeavour to provide an eLearning Vision for the Volcanics cluster.

What became clear to me as I put this powerpoint together was the non-sequential nature of learning, and the non-sequential nature of ICT integration and development. I have asked the question whether the ICT comes first, or the PD comes first. Michael Fullan suggests that they need to happen together, which makes sense - learning by doing. However this does not follow the business model of getting bang for buck or a return on ICT investment, where we first analyse the need, then purchase the asset based on the benefits (returns) of purchase. This begs the question - "How do we measure the return on investment in education, and therefore how do we measure the return on our investment in ICT?". The whole reason for the powerpoint is my perceived need for a cohesive approach to ICT integration across the cluster. Imagine my shock and horror, when I opened a random file on my computer this morning to find the Goals set for the old VolcanicsNet in March 2005. There are a huge number of similarities between what I am advocating now, and what was put forward in 2005. So my question is WHAT THE HELL HAVE WE BEEN DOING FOR THE LAST 3 YEARS?