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Interface magazine

Written by David on July 21st, 2010.      0 comments

Many of you know about and read Interface Magazine.  Many of you will also know that I write for them regularly and this year this has become a more formal affair.  I have just spent the morning writing my latest article for the magazine, which is going from strength to strength.  It recently won magazine of the year, so it is nice to be writing for a magazine that gets that kind of accolade.  For those of you who do not know about Interface, take some time to visit their site.  They publish most of their articles there.  I thought that I might also link to the articles that I have written for the magazine this year from this blog post.  So for your edification and delight here are the 4 articles that I have written this year for Interface magazine, magazine of the year 2010.

Issue 22 term 1 - 2010

Issue 23 term 2 - 2010

Issue 24 term 2 - 2010

Issue 25 term3 - 2010

Topics: Interface

“I fear that they learn despite us…”

Written by David on July 19th, 2010.      0 comments

collaboration station-1024x802(copy)

Slide 21 from David Jakes’ presentation “Would you want to learn here?”


The title of this post is a quote from a principal of a school that I used to work with many years ago.  His statement was voicing a gut feeling that he had about a sense of disengagement displayed by students from the learning environment he and his teaching staff were creating.  The integrated learning model he was developing was designed to to do the exact opposite and engage and enthuse his students.  At the TED Global conference in Oxford this week Professor Sugata Mitra would seem to give some weight to this principal’s statement.  Professor Mitra has been conducting experiments with students and computers in education for the last 10 years, working with porly educated slum children in India.  A report of what he shared at TED Global can be viewed here. In essence he has shown that when students are allowed to learn in a truly collaborative manner, they master computers and knowledge rapidly, without teacher input.  This has huge implications for education and e-learning.  Professor Mitra said that when a teacher was present, or if the students were in a traditional class setting, these inputs acted as an inhibitor to their learning, but when the students were free to collaborate without a teacher present and not in a formal class setting, they shone and solved problems collectively, quickly and with great success.

“I think we have stumbled across a self-organising system with learning as an emergent behaviour,”

If the above statement is true, then what are the implications for teachers in mainstream schools?  It would seem that genuine collaboration, focussed on what the students want to learn and discover is key.  We as educators have known this for a long time, but what do we do about it?  I love the image above, it could be seen as a metaphor for the average classroom set up in schools all over the planet.  One PC to cater to the needs of 30 plus children.  Conventional teacher wisdom says that nothing of any worth can be created with just a single PC in a class, the current trend is for small student to computer ratios and ideally 1:1.  But look again, this image oozes collaboration, the seating and layout is the key here and is a model that should, I think, be copied in classes everywhere.  Create collaborative learning spaces with the computer as the central enabling tool to facilitate this.  Interestingly Professor Mitra says that his project…

” …doesn’t work if you give them each a computer individually,”

The NZC states that students learn best through shared activities in an environment where there is a community of learning where even the teacher is seen as a learner.  Professor Mitra’s students succeeded because they wanted to work collaboratively to solve a goal, not becuase they had been told to do so.  The desk arrangement above would only be successful if the students were working on something that they had a vested interest in.  Ask yourself these questions:  Does your computer layout enable collaboration?    Does collaboration in your class mean that students work on the topics you set?  In New Zealand we are lucky the NZC has given us the lattitude that we need to address these issues, but how many of our colleagues are still frozen, possum like, in the headlights of tradition?  As I wrote earlier this year,” it is the pedagogy. Stupid” Classroom mangagement, and a fundamental shift in teacher pedagogy and not the perpetual search for the e-learning tool silver bullet is the recipie for e-learning success in a classroom.



The impact of e-learning

Written by David on July 2nd, 2010.      0 comments


I have been working with Lesley for term 2 of this year.  When we first met she admitted that she was not a power user of computers or any e-learning equipment for that matter, but knew that they had potential for positive outcomes in learning.  I was working with Lesley today, reviewing her e-learning work for the term and planning ‘where to next’ for next term.  As part of this review and forward looking  process, Lesley started to reflect not only upon the tremendously positive impact that the use of Glogster has had upon her students and their learning outcomes.  She also shared the tremendous impact that integrating e-learning has had upon her own teaching pedagogy.  She almost went as far as to say that her pedagogical shift has been a renaissance in her teaching practice.  I was so impressed by the passion and energy that she has shown, that I asked her if I could video her and get her to say to camera what she had shared with me.  If you need to use this video to inspire your reluctant staff, please do.  I think that Lesley is an inspiration.



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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