Both professionally and personally the future of education interests me: my work at Warwick and my two primary school-aged boys. I know from my experiences in both these areas that schooling and teaching does not work, certainly not for everyone. So, what are we to do?
Do we, as Graham did, encourage children to drop out and explore other avenues? Whilst it worked for him, and other successful people like Sir Richard Branson, it could quite easily have gone the other way. It’s not enough to add more technology on to old teaching methods … as Graham says, “since when did teaching become a delivery system? … but to engage in all aspects of education from the support staff and students are given, resources availability and appropriateness, to the spaces we have to work in and with.
Far too many questions, far too few answers. But, so long as we’re asking the questions, we’ve raised awareness and, hopefully, we can begin to bridge the gap between what we want (or need) and what we have. Yes?
For the moment I’ll have to settle for Graham’s tweets and engaging with him on Twitter, and now this TEDx Talk:
As a parent of two lovely and very bright boys aged 4 and 5 (or, as they like to say, nearly 5 and very nearly 6) I feel the pain of all parents who don’t think the schooling is capable of adapting to all possible levels of children’s capabilities within the defined age/year structure that children are subjected to.
My 5 year old (year 1) has a reading age of a year 3 child, and is doing sums (numeracy) of year 2 and sometimes year 3. Yet his teacher has him doing number-bonds to 10 … something he could do 2 years ago. He’s been stuck here for a year already, not because he’s not developing, but because the school doesn’t think he can do it. He brings a new book home to read every other day from school and has read it within 20 minutes of getting home, he can answer quite difficult questions on the subject, characters, locations, emotions, etc. of the story. He writes lots too. Loves it. Continue reading →
Next week is the 2014 Blackboard Teaching and Learning Conference in Dublin. The programme looks very comprehensive and has 6 streams in motion, which means it’s going to be very difficult to attend and cover all the sessions I want to attend – which means I’m going to have to be very selective about what, and who, I see.
Here’s my first impressions of what I will try and see –
Wednesday, April 30.
Keynote / Prof Stephen Heppell. I have met and talked with Prof Heppell on numerous occasions (at Learning Without Frontiers in 2011 and during my time working at Bournemouth University) and know that his unique perspective and style will make this keynote both interesting and hugely profound on the issues affecting education today. This is one session you do not want to miss. Continue reading →
The advance of mobile devices into our everyday lives continues, and doesn’t look to falter any time soon (if at all).
As educators and facilitators we talk and plan and design and write about implementing and using these devices (phones, tablets, etc.) as either part of the learning process or as an ancillary device, something additional, to where we want the learning to take place. But are we taking the students’ needs and hopes and desires into account when we do this, or do we think we already know and plough ahead regardless?
As I said in the ‘Improving Learning with Mobile Technology’ eBook “If children are spending more and more time connected online, then it stands to reason that some of this time will be in class. In your class? What are you doing about it?”. This is why the article in Research in Learning Technology – ‘‘I don’t think I would be where I am right now’’. Pupil perspectives on using mobile devices for learning – is relevant and important … it highlights the students’ perspective in a comparison bet ween two academies where mobile devices are encouraged in one and banned in the other.
I find myself listed among friends and colleagues who I look to and respect in the community of learning, including (but not limited to):
Shelly Sanches Terrell
Each essay/response has come together, independently, to form a common theme around the advances in technology and how we choose to use it; devices, networks, content, teaching, collaboration, etc. Continue reading →
This guide, written in collaboration with many organisations including Apps For Good and the Gates Foundation, is “aimed at educators working with young people within schools, colleges, universities, work based learning, formal and informal learning settings.”
“The guide aims to be practical and hands on, but is not exhaustive. Innovative uses of Facebook are being developed all of the time and as such we have created a Facebook for Educators Page run by educators for educators, to share their experiences and recommendations across the UK and beyond.”
By looking at how Facebook is already being used it reports on how it could be used to
support subject teaching across the curriculum,
support out of school hours learning,
encourage informal social learning,
enable easy communication between students, teachers and parents, and to
Here Stephen writes with his daughter Juliette Heppell, herself a teacher at Lampton Academy in London, and this short page outlines the main events on using Facebook with students, and the do/ don’t mentality we all ought to consider. Examples include:
Do … build a separate teacher page for your “teacher” presence.
Do … keep your teacher and personal page very separate
Do … post pictures of school/lessons/trips – even diagrams you put on the board (snap them with your phone and post them) – it reminds students that you are there, generates a pride in the school and reminds them that this is not a vaccuous space!
Don’t … ‘friend’ students yourself – not even as your “teacher” presence.
Don’t … accept complete ignorance of Facebook as an excuse for dangerous school policies like blanket bans – instead offer to be an action researcher, and try it out for a year.
The full list covers much more than this, and has a ‘healthy’ caveat of “don’t ever think you can refine and evolve these simple notes without talking to your students – they will know of problems and dangers you are unaware of, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t model safe behavior for them.” A great resource and one you should be mindful of.
While this article is a good summary of art and design use of ‘studio space’ and how Facebook is a better medium than most traditional VLEs, it highlights the basic conflict of internal (owned) vs. external (unregulated) tools while offering a brief insight into how other disciplines ‘could’ use the social network (not for networking purposes). The study found that “the interviewees in this investigation perceive educational benefits based on the communicative potential of Facebook. The diversity in the form and pattern of use posses less of a challenge for not all Facebook activities promote communication and it would be possible to focus on those that do.”
It continues by saying that “in addition, it may not be possible to convince all students who perceive Facebook only as a social space, that there are educational benefits in exploring what this SNS [Social Networking Site] offers in terms of interests groups and other useful information” and that a dedicated student induction (oh, another one?) would help address concerns over how it should be used on a granular level.
Official citation for this article is:
Souleles, N. 2012. Perceptions of undergraduate Graphic Design students on the educational potential of Facebook. Research in Learning Technology20: 17490. http://dx.doi.org/10.3402/rlt.v20i0.17490
This article is published in the AJET (Australasian Journal of Educational Technology) and has a good amount of data to support the assumption that students would use Facebook as part of their learning:
93% of surveyed students had an active Facebook account.
78% anticipated that a Facebook page would facilitate their learning by increased interaction with students and instructors.
81% engaged with the Facebook page at some stage during their studies.
76% would recommend Facebook for future cohorts courses while only 51% thought that it was effective (effective at what though?).
The question I have is how are the learning materials structured to students who did not have a Facebook account (those who did not want one for various personal reasons) were not unduly restricted in their learning?
The article states that Facebook as a “learning aid suggests that it has the potential to promote collaborative and cooperative learning” but further study is required to investigate how it can enhance the learning outcome.
Official citation for this article is:
Irwin, C., Ball, L., Desbrow, B. & Leveritt, M. (2012). Students’ perceptions of using Facebook as an interactive learning resource at university. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 28(7), 1221-1232. http://www.ascilite.org.au/ajet/ajet28/irwin.html
Another good academic journal article on a study into the “effects of teacher self-disclosure via Facebook on anticipated college student motivation, affective learning, and classroom climate”. The study concludes that “certain forms of face-to-face self-disclosure can have disastrous effects on teacher credibility” (i.e. personal details, photos, etc) and that “teachers can strategically reveal pictures, quotes, and personal information that present them as competent and trustworthy instructors who have the students’ best interests in mind”.
Of course, this isn’t news to most of us – apart from keeping the student-teacher relationship purely professional in a classroom and teaching/learning environment we must replicate this in any online environment, social network, email exchange, IM chat, etc). In saying that some forms of self-disclosure by the teacher could help foster a closer professional relationship it must be argued that some forms of disclosure (the paper does not give examples here but I assume to mean some personal details that students to not need to know as opposed to overtly personal details, bordering on the kind of things that constitutes an employer disciplinary hearing) could harm the relationship: “students reported that teachers should self-disclose appropriate information.”
Official citation for this article is:
Joseph P. Mazer, Richard E. Murphy & Cheri J. Simonds (2007): I’ll See You On “Facebook”: The Effects of Computer-Mediated Teacher Self-Disclosure on Student Motivation, Affective Learning, and Classroom Climate, Communication Education, 56:1, 1-17. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03634520601009710
This post is summed up nicely in this quote (but please read the whole post as there is much more here):
“In the main, the Facebook page, which is run by and for the students without tutor involvement, is centred on support for learning and skills development and in every case I saw, answers to problems that emerged from discussions were factually correct. In addition, the students offer one another impressive levels of support and encouragement. From the evidence of their own Facebook group, then, students are not unwilling to work and learn collaboratively.”
But what of the etiquette and/or training the student were given to using these systems? Are they instructed or left to their own devices? Are they given an outline of how it should be used, and when and for what purpose? This then raises the question, for me anyway, should we use Facebook at all, but if we do how at do we go to prescribe what & ow I is used.
“I am left wondering therefore if there is an unspoken etiquette at play here – a set of norms which, in attempting to use social networks for tutor:cohort interaction, we as educators are somehow transgressing?”
This paper is an “attempt to use a Facebook group as a course website, serving as a platform for delivering content and maintaining interactions among the students and between the students and the lecturer.” The paper deals quite strongly in the student experience and student satisfaction of the use of Facebook, but this does not mean that it is an academic success, it just means they liked it. You can’t even look at results from class tests or end of course assessment to see if it’s a success either, there are too many variables to be included to know whether it was a good cohort or the technology applied that made the difference.
The Facebook Groups was “designed in a way that encourages participation and interaction on every single post uploaded to the group” but this in itself does not mean learning has been achieved, does it? The paper does conclude that the learning “environment itself is not solely responsible for the creation of learning dynamics”.
“This is the first generation of people that work, play, think, and learn differently than their parents … They are the first generation to not be afraid of technology. It’s like air to them.” – Don Tapscott
This powerful video has some of the worlds best educators and thinkers outlining their view on the ‘future of learning in a networked society’, including the likes of Stephen Heppell, Sugata Mitra, and Seth Godin:
Again, here are a few choice quotes that I like from the video, but watch it yourself for their context and many more I didn’t have time to write down:
“We are probably at the death of education right now. I think the structure and strictures of schools, of learning nine-to-three, working on your own, not working with others, I think that’s dead or dying. I think learning is just beginning” – Stephen Heppell
“There’s a very big difference between accessed information and school, they used to be the same thing. Information is there, online, to anyone of the billion people who has access to the Internet. So what that means is that if we give access to a four year old, or an eight year old, or a twelve year old, they will get the information if they want it.” – Seth Godin
“You don’t actually need to know anything, you can find out at the point when you need to know it. It’s the teachers job to point young minds towards the right kind of question, a teacher doesn’t need to give any answers because answers are everywhere.” – Sugata Mitra
“The textbook of the future is going to be delivered on connected devices. What that means is the incredible amount of data that students have always produced, when they studied, are now capturable and usable.” – Jose Ferreira
“You can’t imagine in a world where you sit down to do an exam and you ask yourself the question ‘I hope there are no surprises in the paper’. And your teachers think ‘I hope I prepared him for everything’. How would that prepare you to then go out into a world that everyday is going to surprise you? Learning prepares you to cope with surprises, education prepares you to cope with certainty. There is no certainty.” – Stephen Heppell
In light of last week’s FOTE12 event in London, I found this excellent video from Prof Stephen Heppell, talking about the education system in Australia (and a dire warning to the English education system at the same time):
“Schools are these extraordinary intellectual powerhouses that are at the heart of our future – connecting them up is essential if we’re going to bring the collective ingenuity of those minds together. But it’s that ability to crowdsource so many smart people, so many keen children, so many extraordinary communities and families, so many professional teachers. I’m in awe of where this all going to go in the next decade.”
“This isn’t about how much money you’ve got. This isn’t about what your parents do. This is about have you got the ingenuity, have you got the horse power between your ears, to really make a difference with this? And I’ll tell you what, we’re going to need every single kid on the planet, every single kid, to be part of this. What we can prototype with the NBN (National Broadband Network) is what ubiquitous learning looks like, what we can prototype is what learning looks like when everybody has access.“
[emphasis above is mine].
I’m sure we’re all aware of what resources can do for learning, where everyone has the access and ability to learn from what’s available, but it’s also about how these resources are introduced, managed, implemented, and ‘taught’ that makes them work for everyone (MOOC anyone?). From the above video and from a little reading I’ve done around the NBN and Stephen’s work in Australia it really does sound like they’re trying hard to, and already achieving, good results from this initiative.