Friday, August 15, 2014

Liberal Arts Education in 50 years

Some interesting thoughts on the future of higher ed liberal arts education. If change comes from below then perhaps we should model at Secondary level.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

The story so far ...


I'm past the half-way mark on my Diploma of Teaching (Secondary), but I'm so new to the realities of teaching that it's hard to even post about it at the moment. I've gone from despair and doubt to a feeling of emerging confidence that I can actually do this, and do it well. I've recently been reflecting a bit on my own story, on how I got to this point.

My life has been inspired by life-long love of learning. But it wasn't always so. This desire for learning is with no thanks to last centuries’ New Zealand school system; designed as it was to fail fifty percent of us, I was actually part of it’s detritus. A series of fortunate events has enabled me to right this wrong to the point where I now find myself highly educated and on the other side of the coin.

I remember a poem I wrote for a literary magazine a few of us burgeoning English literature students started at the community college I attended in the US after leaving New Zealand. It likened my school experience to that of grey lemmings (a reference to the dreary NZ school uniforms), the bit where masses of lemmings are forced over the cliff due to overpopulation (I now appreciate this as a misconception around lemmings, but the imagery still stands).

I've come to realise that my passion for education is actually grounded in this experience of systemic failure and my personal narrative of overcoming it. My emerging educational philosophy can be summed up in three ideas and actions: to be committed to a community of learners (including students and educators); to display a passion for my curriculum areas; and to be constantly innovative in my pedagogy. Commitment, passion, and innovation - that's what I'm working on developing through this process, and that's what I think eventually I will bring to education in New Zealand. 

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.

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Reference: 

Further reading about Modern Learning Environments






Friday, April 04, 2014

#edchatnz

#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