Written by David on February 28th, 2014.
Working in many classrooms with many teachers I am often regailed with reasons why elearning can't happen, or the level of activity is always low. The reasons most often given are: the kids do not have the skills to do the task. Its too complex. They are only young etc In truth it is the teachers holding back the students and not the other way round.
This video I took of three students from a school last week demonstrates the capacity that students have for picking up essential elearning skills quickly. I taught these three students how to open multiple tabs, browse through the resources on one website, in this case Educreations and then find the embed code for the resource. They then had to copy the code and switch tabs and then create a widget in their class wiki and paste the embed code into the wiki and finally check their work. So the task sequence was:
Locate wiki from favourites
Create new tab
Locate Educreations from favourites
Browse lessons in Educreations
Open selected lesson
Open Embed code
Copy embed code
Switch to Wiki tab
Select appropriate page to edit
Click on Edit button
Place cursor on appropriate place on page
Click on Widget option
Open "other" widget option
Paste code into box
Press save to create widget
Press save again on page save option
Verify that the appropriate resource has been copied and pasted into the appropriate page
The students concerned are Yr2 students in the fourth week of term 1. They have now been charged with teaching their peers this routine and I have no doubt that they will. So now that we can see that Yr2 students can learn and repeat successfully an 18 step sequence, what is holding you back?
I was approached in the recent school holidays to give a guest lecture on e-learning to the Post Graduate Diploma ITE students at Massey University. My schedule is pretty full this term, so Graham and I had to do a bit of jiggling with our respective schedules in order for me to speak to the students. Today I gave the lecture, the audience were very attentive and I hope as they start to form their own personal pedagogies and classroom management strategies, I have given much food for thought about how our connected kids are wired differently, how our students are predisposed to multi-media content and how gaming is genuine problem solving.
Next steps? I would really like to work with Graham and his team to integrate e-learning into their teaching programme so that the teachers that emerge qualified from Massey already know how elearning works, how to integrate it into their class programmes and how to manage elearning in their classrooms.
I have been making a range of free tutorials recently. As I have been creating them I have been publishing them to my You Tube channel and then promoting them via my Twitter account. Last week I also posted a link to some of my tutorials onto the Facebook pages of the app developers. One in particular got back to me, Explain Everything and have asked if they can use my tutorials about their product on their showcase page. I, of course, accepted and now my videos are on the Explain Everything page. So if you want some tutorials made to help other learn how to use some app, web resource or programme, just let me know and I will add it to the list.
I have been creating a range of tutorials for my YouTube channel over the last couple of weeks. Earlier this week I completed the last of my Haiku Deck tutorials. If you do not know this tool, it is an epic tool for learning and I highly recommend it. Today I was checking the stats on my YouTube channel and I have been approached by Haiku Deck themselves. They have seen what I have created and love them. They have asked if they can publish them via their own social networks and have created a playlist on their own YouTube channel of my tutorials. Great stuff.
The team at Haiku Deck had this to say about my tutorials:
"I wanted to reach out and let you know that we were all quite impressed with them and their effective balance of thoroughness and conciseness."
I call that an endorsement. You can check out the tutorials below.
I have spent the day in Hamilton at the WPA Catch Up Day conference. The WPA is the Waikato Principals' Association and they have a day such as this once a term. Today I was asked to present two sessions for the Principals. The day was well attended with over a 100 delegates attending.
In the first sessionI wanted the Principals to reflect on student engagement and elearning's role in facilitating this. I wanted to make the point that it was Mohammed who moved to the mountain and not the other way round. I illustrated how almost every facet of our society has undergone massive change precipitated by the Internet. The traditional methods, avenues and controllers of information have all undergone a seismic shift, all except education. We have access to more and varied information from a wider range of sources, we have almost unlimited access to music, we can create and publish content online and have audiences of millions. But education alone is still bucking this trend, we continue to deliver learning in almost the same way as we did 30, 50 even a hundred years ago and we wonder why we find it harder and harder to engage students who live in the multimedia, multithreaded world of the Internet, to work in the linear paper based world of learning.
In the second session I spoke about the importance of intellectual property in relation to elearning. I highlighted some of the strategies I have developed and implemented in different schools to induct new staff into school, to raise the base level of competency with elearning for existing staff, the importance of tutorials to teach a consistent skills set and how teachers can capture their own good practice to help others learn and observe how elearning is being integrated and managed in other classrooms. Finally I spoke about how important it is for schools to mandate elearning reflections and to share resources, lessons, activities, exemplars etc to a common source such as an LMS or closed wiki so that all staff can grow from the collected knowledge of all staff in the school. The last element of this complete and managed approach to building a sustainable elearning environment in a school was a managed exit strategy for departing staff.
I have been encouraging a dispersed group of people throughout New Zealand to work together on a collaborative time lapse project, the last effort a slice in time was all meant to happen between the same 30 minutes on the same day. I still really like this idea and want to explore this further. Our second project is the altogether looser focus of "autumn" I have spent the weekend photographing sequences for my contribution to the final product. I will be using these clips in another movie I am putting together just about Auckland. At this stage I need to work out how I can export higher quality clips from Lightroom using the timelapse plug in. I expect I will have to export the images individually and then assemble them in Quick Time and then edit them in iMovie, for the moment. Clunky.
The slice in time project has now been edited and launched I asked for collaborators to my initial idea back in March. For a first effort it is not bad. We are congregating around the #nztimelapse tag and are already planning a second collaborative effort. This time we are thinking about the colours of autumn and will edit the video so that the colours are going through the spectrum. Here is the first effort anyway. If you want to be involved either follow the #nztimelapse tag or contact me. Feedback on this initial effort is welcomed.
Over the last couple of years I have been creating a suite of resources to help teachers to integrate elearning tools and activities into their classroom plans. The purpose of these tools is to provide teachers with ideas to get them started with elearning in the classroom, links to web sites and software programmes that can be used to deliver the learning, apps that also facilitate the same outcomes and finally a growing suite of interactive tutorials with which teachers can self train or provide support to their students to enable the elearning workflow in the classroom to be as smooth as possible.
One of my most popular breakouts at the Ulearn and Learning at Schools conferences was my 90 tools in 90 minutes presentations, a rapid romp through 90 free elearning tools available to teachers to use in their classrooms, this presentation included a brief overview of how I had used the tools in classes at differing age levels. Although popular, this presentation on a practical level for teachers only really provided them with a list of tools that could promise elearning potential, it did not provide them with the additional support they needed, which is why I have abandoned that presentation and have been concentrating creating and providing resources for schools that support and guide teachers, it is after all what they need.
I have been developing my support tools further, but now creating exemplars and in class support materials for teachers, to provide a whole package of elearning support. Below are some screen shots of the kind of work flow I am providing to schools from lesson plans to outcome exemplars via tutorials, classroom management strategies and support materials. A one stop elearning shop service.
In the screen shot below you can see the 7th activity planned around the topic of weather, using elearning tools. The teachers can use these ideas as a springboard into a direction of learning that the class wish to follow or they can use the ideas to scaffold them through the continuum of lesson plans. Each activity illustrates what apps, computer programmes and websites could be used to facilitate the outcome dictated by the initial learning intention of the school curriculum document.
I also produce documents to help teachers provide a scaffold to the students so that they can focus on the learning rather than the mechanics of producing content with elearning tools. The aim of this resource below is for the students to focus on the content each broadcast should have, the structure and the duration. Once the template for the storyboard and the characters, see the video at the end, has been created, this scaffold below is designed to focus the students on content and the production time should be short, less than 20 minutes, meaning that this activity can easily be a daily event for the duration of the topic. In addition the requirement to create content quickly, creates a model and system that can be applied to other learning areas throughout the year.
And finally I am now producing exemplars of what the learning activity could look look like, using the continuum illustrated above and supported by the interactive tutorials that provide just in time support to teachers and students alike.
I follow the social media guru, Linda Coles on Linked In. She is always sending out notes and information and today she sent out a post talking about 'digital body language.' I read her post today and immediately wanted to share it via my networks as the content has a significant resonance with digital citizenship and how students should behave online. I really liked her use of the term 'digital body language.' You can see her check list of appropriate positive body language actions below:
Do use a greeting and sign off with your name included.
Follow Dale Carnegie’s advice and always use the other persons’ name when addressing them.
Don’t use all capital letters; it’s the digital equivalent of shouting at someone.
Respond to connection requests with a brief “nice to meet you” message just as you would if meeting someone offline.
Do get back to those that have made the effort to reach out to you digitally. You wouldn’t ignore them in person.
Watch your spelling and grammar. It really is your digital body language so make it top notch.
Avoid lots of exclamation marks, you look angry !!!!!
Use the smiley face icons to help the reader understand your tone.
The list is simple and if we all take time to reflect, common sense, but in the instant world of social media and the Internet, it is all too easy to dash something off and offend the recipient, even if we did not intend to do so. Linda's advice is timely for the business professionals that follow her and also very pertinent to our students who need to develop much more finely attuned 'digital body language' in order to thrive and succeed on the Internet of the near future.
I was chatting to Luke in the South Island on Twitter on Friday night, when I mentioned to him a time-lapse project I have been mulling over throughout the summer. Luke said he was really keen to be involved, so for a brief moment in time Twitter lit up with others wanting to be part of the project. I have added a page to my Amazing Journeys wiki and this will be the base that we will collaborate, problem solve and create from. The project is currently set to run on Easter Tuesday, April 2 2013 if all goes to plan. You can follow our progress on the wiki and here on the blog.
So why have I included this personal pet project on an education blog? For me one of the key elements that make elearning such an engaging medium in the classroom is the facility to collaborate and problem solve that the technology enables. Within minutes of posting the idea to Twitter, several people expressed immediate interest, the concept intrigued them and over time more and more have also requested to join. Agreed, this project is not going to strike a chord with everyone, but those that are interested will want to get involved as it speaks to them at some level. I think that we should as adults reflect on this. If we get excited at the potential to be creative, collaborative and in egalitarian way all contribute to the project as a whole, why do so many teachers find this kind of project so hard to facilitate in their classroom. This project could just as easily be a class based one, just think of the literacy involved in the collaboration alone, let alone the visual literacy, the problem solving, the promotion, the evaluation and the sense of community that it will engender.
What are your thoughts? Want to emulate this in the classroom, need some buddy classes? Let me know and let's do it. But let's do it as time-zone slices, lets get 24 schools in different time-zones to all to a time-lapse of mid-day in their time-zone all facing North. Or some such similar focus.
I have been having a dialogue with Jacqui on her blog site about how to maximise the learning potential of iPads or tablets in general in a classroom. As a result of this collaboration Jacqui wanted to cross post one of my posts so that her readers to could see what we have been discussing. You can see what she has to say and what she wanted to post of mine here:
Many years ago I issued a challenge to my friends to share their journey to work, I had recently broken my arm, it was a complex break and I was in a cast for three months and had to stop cycling to work. So I walked to and from work.
I had always enjoyed looking at what I passed on my bike commute, but the slower pace of walking made me appreciate all the more wonders that we pass every day in our cars and hardly acknowledge. Once back on the bike I determined to record the amazing journeys we complete every day. I strapped a video camera to my bike and rode to work and posted the film and at the same time set up a wiki and a challenge to my friends to record their amazing journeys. You can see what they shared on my Amazing Journeys wiki.
With the advent of the iPad this challenge has become much easier. I have been a fan of time-lapse photography for a long time and create short time-lapse videos for fun in my spare time. But time-lapse is a great tool for the classroom to record change over time, how clouds move, how shadows change etc that what was once the preserve of specialised equipment can now be in the hands of every student. So my app of the week this week is Time-Lapse a free iOS app that easily allows you to create time-lapse videos with your iPad.
I have decided that for the next few days I will use this app to record my amazing journeys. The bike has gone these days, I do miss it, and I now commute all over Auckland to the schools I work in. Below is my amazing journey from Pinehill School to home, complete with a snarl up on the Harbour Bridge!
My challenge to all of you out there with an iPad is to create your own amazing journey, it took me three bits of gaffer tape to secure my iPad to the windscreen and the dashboard, I set my time-lapse to play back at 25fps and to record at 1fps or 60 frames in a minute. My 45 minute journey turned into a one and half minute video. So go ahead, create your own, share your links to your own video in the comments of this post and I will embed the video into my Amazing Journeys wiki. Who has the most amazing journey to work?
I have been working with several schools recently where I am encouraging the leadership team to become an integral part of the feedback process on students wikis. A couple of schools have asked me to design virtual "stickers" that the SMT can use to award students for their virtual work. Below is an example of one my stickers being used on a Year 1 student's wiki page. The student concerned is delighted with the feedback and the sticker they have now got on their wiki.
I have just written an article for Interface Magazine about how to best use an iPad in the classroom. I wrote the article in response to my own observations about how iPads are being used and also in response to a blog post written by Tom Whitby, who did the Emporer's New Clothes task of stating that a worksheet is still a worksheet, even when it is on an iPad. This echoes my own observations with teachers who use an iPad in their classroom. They tend to use this high tech device to deliver low level learning. The trouble is to the casual observer, it looks great to see engaged students working enthusiastically on their shiny new iPads in a classroom, but what learning is happening? I have also been part of a conversation with Jacqui Murray who was sharing her thoughts on the best apps for a classroom. I shared my thoughts on formative assessment and publishing, points which she agreed on.
When I work with teachers who are using iPads in their classroom, I get them to audit their apps and to ask so what? questions of the apps. I need for them to know the learning and formative assessment potential of each of their apps. If the apps is unjustified busy work, it is scrapped. I then introduce this concept I have developed called layering, where the best features of one app are used to create content that can be enhanced in another app. I get the teachers to base the learning intention outputs around the workflow of several apps.
You can see what I mean in the video below. If you are struggling to get the best out of your iPad or are having trouble creating a sustainable blended elearning environment in your school, please contact me for a free initial consultation meeting.
David has been a specialist in the field of elearning for over 12 years. He has presented on elearning at conferences in Europe, Australia and New Zealand. His consultancy work includes education and business clients. READ MORE
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