4th Plymouth e-Learning Conference 2009 – Day 2 Keynote

May 7th, 2009 by Dirk Stieglitz

Sorry, the quality is a bit low but that was the source material we could get.

Personal Learning Environments have happened

January 10th, 2009 by Graham Attwell

There has been some discussion lately questioning why Personal Learning Environments have been so slow to take off. I think this misses the point. PLEs are here. they are being used every day by thousands of users all over the world. True, there is no branding saying PLE. And the PLEs differ greatly, technologically and in how they are being used.

PLEs were never about developing a new generation of educational software. PLEs were about a change in the way learners used technology to support their learning. PLEs were about reflection on different sources and contexts of learning. PLes were about learners taking control of their own learning. PLEs were about collaborative and social learning

Web 2.0 and social software has facilitated that happening. Be it Facebook or Ning, blogs or Wikis, Webquests or social bookmarking, it has taken place. Not every learner is progressing at the same pace and has the same confidence in developing, configuring and using their PLE. Why should they? Learners move at different speeds in different contexts and at different stages of their lives and learning journeys. Learners have different personal preferences for the tools they use for learning and the mode of learning they prefer. Learning takes place in different contexts – institutional and workplace. But the changes we talked about when we first discussed the idea of the PLE is happening all around us.

Of course it is true to say that institutions have not supported that change – if they have recognised it at all. Institutions remain wedded to control and management models and the LMS or VLE suits that purpose. However, the slow move to web services, the slow adoption of standards and increasing interoperability are making it easier for learners to utilise institutional course provision within their PLE.

But the big change will not be through the univeristy and schooling systems. The big change will be as work based leaners and learners not enrolled on any institutional course use technology to support their learning. Of course that will not be educational technology as such. It will be tools like Diigo or PBwiki, Twitter and WordPress. This does pose a question as to the future role of educational technology. Essentially the adoption of the PLE has passed educational technology by. The cutting edge of the so called educational technology community is no longer with the developers or systems administrators. It is the pedagogists, the teachers, the facilitators and the learners who are leading development. And that is as it should be.

Social Software, Personal Learning Environments and the future of Education

September 4th, 2008 by Graham Attwell

I accepted an invitation to do a keynote presentation at a conference on Web 2.0 at the University of Minho in Braga, Portugal on October 10th. What I dinn’t realise is that they wanted me to write a paper. I am not so keen on formal papers these days – I far prefer multimedia but I finally got down to it. I greatly enjoyed readng up for he paper and quite enjoyed writing it – though am frustrated at all the things I did not say. And I still find the academic text format a bit stifling. Oh – and I hated doing the referencing (though that is my fault – I should have done it as I wrote). Anyway here is the paper. I am trying to out in scribd to see if this makes sense as a way of blogging a paper.

If you prefer you can download the paper here – portplesfin


July 4th, 2008 by Cristina Costa

Yesterday this link arrived at my twitter channel via @ewanmcintosh. (isn’t twitter fab? 😉 ) Another great talk by Sir Ken Robinson. I didn’t expect it to be less than true inspiration after the last talk I had watched from him as part of the TED conference.

Yesterday evening, I finally was able to play the talk on my laptop. It was not only inspiring, it was extremely encouraging and thought provoking. The main message was, in my opinion, not to change the educational system, but rather to come up with a new one that will actually meet this age’s essence: individuality and diversity; customization and creativity.

Sir Robinson speaks about us aiming at the wrong challenge. It is not how we can make something better, as it is not about constantly reforming a system that was designed for a different age; It is about forming a new, or rather, new ways of helping us discover our natural talents. Our “geniuses” are being oppressed by education – isn’t it a pure antithesis of what we think education should be granting us?

And this brilliant speaker goes on with a brilliant thought I truly believe in: people do their best when they do what they love… when they are in their element. Isn’t it so true? Does it happen to you too? It does to me and it has always been so in school, at work, in everything I do. For instance, I hated when I had to memorize things I didn’t understand. My head would spin just to think about the electrons, atoms and molecules that, according to the teacher, were there up the air but whose point I always missed to see …so abstract it was, and so little skill the teachers had to explain it in a way it would make sense to ME. And as apparently it made sense to the others, I felt I should just shut up and set my mind to spend boring weekends at my desk trying to memorize words and sentences I couldn’t make out, but which would grant me a passing mark. On the other hand, I liked languages. I tried to understand the grammatical structured, examine the exceptions, observe how people expressed themselves, analyze  how language is cultural and experience related, how it also influences the way we think, etc. I was always fascinated by it. Learning languages is an ongoing challenge. And I always enjoyedit. As I did enjoy computer classes too. I therefore relate truly to the thought that when people discover what they can do, they become someone else, they transform, they bloom, they exceed what they thought to be their limits.

Trying to meet the future with ideas of the past is not the answer. We have to look at nature and learn from it. We need for once and for all to move from the industrial to an organic paradigm that will help provide the appropriate conditions to seed the right learning environments. Environments in which each learner will be valued and able to develop his/her genius in a creative way. And then I loved the way Sir Ken Robinson describes creativity: Original ideas with added value.

And he finishes with this amazing quote from Benjamin Franklin “All mankind is divided into three classes: those that are immovable, those that are movable, and those that move.

So, Let’s MOVE people! It’s about time.

Behaviour management, lesson preparation and the importance of confidentiality – all you need to be a teacher in Gerrards Cross

April 29th, 2008 by Graham Attwell

Here is a curious story from the Guardian web site.

“A school is employing sixth formers as supply teachers because of a shortage of qualified staff. Chalfonts community college in Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire, pays its 16-, 17- and 18-year-old sixth formers £5 for each 50-minute class they take. The 24 teenagers follow teachers’ lesson plans, instructing 11- to 16-year-olds in subjects they may no longer take themselves.

The school trains them in behaviour management, lesson preparation and the importance of confidentiality. An older adult is with them in the classroom, but may not be a trained teacher and does not take the lesson. The school is thought to be the only one in the UK to have taken this approach to supply teacher shortages.

…..John Bangs, head of education at the National Union of Teachers, said there was “every argument for older pupils to mentor younger ones”, but they should not be used as “quasi-supply staff”.

The Department for Children, Schools and Families said the system was acceptable “as long as the sixth former is under the direction and supervision of a qualified person and is adhering to the lesson plan devised by the class teacher”.”

As regular readers of this blog will know I have no problem with the idea of peer learning. But if the students are doing the work of teachers why should they not be paid the going rate for the job. 5 pound an hour is a rip off. And still more curious is the schools idea of what training the students need to teach – behaviour management, lesson preparation and the importance of confidentiality. Nothing about teaching and learning. Or rather ‘teaching by numbers’. Is this really what makes a good teacher?

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