Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Notes on personalised learning environments for NZ secondary schools

Speculative thoughts on a personalised learning environment for NZ schools.

A truly personalised learning environment would consists of: a platform, a paradigm, and a pedagogy (The 3 Ps).

Some features of the Platform:

Digital - Seems pretty straightforward but ... everything is digital. I join, I sign-in, I aggregate, I share, I create, and I'm assessed digitally. (This "I" should probably learn how to type as a pre-requisite, it replaces penmanship and is part of an expanded digital literacy. How young can you learn now to type? Primary school?)

Data - Curriculum (in NZ, NCEA standards) is incredibly valuable - it creates the matrix through which I can track my progress. Personalisation depends on being able to view your learning accomplishments, your requirements, and your needs and interests from a birds eye view in relation to what is considered accomplished in a particular subject area. Collecting aggregating, and presenting this data is large part of this; as is protecting it. But it's not "data driven", in the sense that this is not about algorithms dictating to me. It's not Spotify, but it might be Pandora (in case you're a music geek.) The fact that I'm also creating digitally means I'm creating more data. This requires a big-data strategy. Big Data is not just the realm of scientists; but it does require computational expertise to be applied. Schools not only need pipes to carry data, they also need expertise. We need fully digital hi-tech librarians perhaps.

Social - School is a social experience. My peers are there to help and support me (this is behavior that teachers and community need to model online ... please!) They may be at different stages in the same journey, and are connected via strong and weak network bonds (see: interpersonal ties). Social includes the community outside of school. Yes, real people in real life. Just because it's all digital doesn't mean I don't get my fingers dirty.

Visualization - data about me needs to be able to be viewed from a variety of perspectives, and in ways responsive to the needs of the user. For example, an administrator, a counselor, a parent, and a teacher may wish to view data in a variety of formats that are relevant and make sense to them. Visualization needs to be in real time. It's not about surveillance. I don't see this as tracking progress in the traditional sense. It's about mapping. How can I help steer you towards resources, goals, and people? How can I know you and the thousand others?

There is definitely an ePortfolio like element to this, but the problem with the current ePortfolios I have observed are that they are not much more than content management systems for user generated documents. There is no intelligence built into them, they are tied to the desktop, and they are begrudgingly social. The platform needs to be geo-spatially aware and mobile as well because we are creating modern learning environments where learning and support for learning may be targeted towards specifically designed architectural spaces (the majority of school buildings in NZ were built between 1950 and 1970). Being geo-spatially aware also alerts the user to the proximity of peers. I will "check-in" to the library and "check-out" digital books. The point is to pair devices and their owners.

This is a quick brain dump, not a plan, or a blog post even. Add your thoughts in the comments if you care to.

Next up ... The Paradigm.



Further reading about Modern Learning Environments

Friday, April 04, 2014


#edchatnz is a group of New Zealand teachers who meet on Twitter every second Thursday at 8:30pm NZ time to talk about teaching and technology. They're also using blogger to capture the twitter stream that ensues as well as summarizing the evenings discussion. Here's their latest discussion:

edchatnz: Networking 101: The Topic: Networking 101: Why bother networking as a teacher? How does networking affect your teaching? 

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Pond, Network for Learning portal

Pond is being promoted as a hub for digital discovery and participation, where educational resources can be accessed and shared more easily and effectively. While I appreciate that it is handy to have some reputable sources (and hopefully ones' that encourage Creative Commons licensing) that are by default searchable through the site, I'm also hoping that Pond will also allow users to aggregate from other resources as well. NZ seems to be sorely lacking in the development of a social platform for teachers to use to help with planning around our particular curriculum requirements and if Pond can fill that gap I think it will be a great investment for education generally and an invaluable space for teachers.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

#glass Interviews

Series of recorded Google Hangouts by Alexander Hayes of his interaction with the Google Glass Explorers Community and other related contacts from industry, research and affiliated organisations. The intent of this research activity is to gain an understanding of the key motivations, experiences and understandings that these individuals gain from engaging with this emergent wearable technology.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

University of Auckland dips toe into MOOC waters

The University of Auckland has teamed up with pilot MOOC platform FutureLearn and is expected to start delivering some courses on the platform shortly. FutureLearn is a private company wholly owned by the Open University and with over 20 UK and international university partnerships, as well as institutions with archives of cultural and educational material, including the British Council, the British Library, and the British Museum. It's a small step for the University which has been in the past, according to various statements by vice-chancellor Stuart McCutcheon, hesitant to jump on the MOOC bandwagon. It will  be extremely interesting to see how this pans out over the back-drop of a university which seems to be increasingly in a phase of creating new physical spaces with both the demolishing and rebuild of the Science faculty and the purchase of a significant space in Newmarket

Monday, July 04, 2011

Civic Engagement at NetHui

I recently spoke at the NetHui conference in Auckland on the topic of Civic Engagement (see post below this one). This is a video of that session; Russel Brown spoke first, then I come on at 21 minutes.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

ownership blues (or, diversity rag?)

A few nights ago the "public service broadcaster" TV One had prime minister John Key live on the evening of the governments latest budget. They employed a very weak trope to fill this half an hour: an average white family, 2 kids + dog and mortgage, asking questions to the prime minister from location in their suburban home. In another stroke of brilliant political television the prime minister had been prepared prior to the event with background economic information on the family on the other side of his monitor, as he quite freely confessed. When asked by the scruffy Close-Up presenter Mark Sainsbury how the budget was going to impact them financially the father sort of shyly responded "actually ... not much". Wow! This was to be a thrilling people's counterpoint to the smug pinstriped accountant now sitting in the highest seat of power in New Zealand@!!!! Not. Our public service broadcaster? Controversial budget during tough economic times in a continued global recession plus an upcoming election ... and this is what the public service broadcaster came up with in the face of having the governments leader in the studio. Oh boy :-(

I'm increasingly distressed by the sense that the New Zealand public sphere and subsequently our democracy is a failed modernist experiment in need of revision. Television in New Zealand is truly depressing; and the level of commercialism we seem willing to tolerate just cripples our pride and deepens our inability to grow as a nation. I actually believe that what holds us back from being the truly innovative and sustainable country we would like to believe we are, is the rampant commercialisation and almost total international ownership of our media. When a government comes to New Zealand that can return the media landscape to a more equitable diversity of ownership and use of media, then we can start again on moving forward politically and socially.