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Why?

Written by David on July 20th, 2011.      0 comments

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There were two articles in the New Zealand Herald yesterday that caught my eye. One was about student disengageent and what can be done about it and the other was about e-elearning and how e-learning can be used to improve student engagement and learning.  It was all very depressing really and has sparked off more questions than answers.  These articles instantly reminded me of Stuart Middleton’s statistics from his 2010 Learning at School keynote.

Out of this I am again reminded of the following quote I heard but can not recall the source: “Of all the governmental,  commercial and industrial sectors, education is the only sector that commissions its own independent research and consistently fails to act upon the overwhelming evidence for change.”

The internet has been and continues to be, a massively disruptive technology.  Look at what is happening to industry sectors such as news, music, books etc.  They are all undergoing massive changes and education sails on mostly oblivious or conciously ignoring the societal changes happening around it as a result.  It is as if we are saying; if the education system of my father’s generation worked for me, it is damn well going to work for you! (despite the fact I was bored too!)

We know that there is massive underachievement in New Zealand schools.  Students do not suddenly disengage in year 10, therefore every teacher in the system from pre-school to Year 13 is part of a process that produces this disengagement.  Yet, collectively, we do nothing about it. Do we believe that it does not happen in our school, but the school down the road?  Both of the Herald articles point to e-learning as a tool to re-engage and make authentic learning opportunities for the students.  Yet, overwhelmingly,  teachers still resist changing their pedagogy.  Why?

Is complacency at the heart of this?  Subliminally are we as a profession saying to the students in our charge; I choose to be here, but you have no choice, so get used to it?  I hope not, but we do a pretty poor job at marketing learning to our students.  Maybe we should put a little more PR spin into our lesson planning, making the efforts we are asking out students to make a lot more explicit.  Sounds like relevance to me.  Are we also not walking the talk we espouse in class?  We want our students to be innovative, to be life long learners, to collaborate, to be resilient.  Do teachers really demonstrate that in their classroom pedagogies?  When it comes to integrating e-learning teachers tend to be resistant to change, insular, and traditional.  Why?

We keep seeing articles about disengagement, we see class disruptions increasing.  I think that the two are related.  Students do not not want to learn.  With the wealth of information at their fingertips via the Internet they have started to cut out the middleman, us.  In an agrarian export economy such as New Zealand’s we need to ensure that our next export boom is the innovation potential contained in the brains of our students.  It is up to teachers to start to be the change, not to wait for permission from the torpor at the top. We need to re-engage our students in their learning by making it engaging relevant and authentic to them.  E-learning is the key to that innovation.

This is yet another clarion call for change.  But is anyone listening?  Who amongst you has the appetite for change, to be challenged, to re-engage all of our students for the benefit of us all?  Ultimately the failure of our students is a societal failure, one that will make us all the poorer morally and financially.

 

Swiffy

Written by David on July 12th, 2011.      0 comments

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The guys at Google Labs have just released this great tool to enable SWF files to be converted into HTML5 format, which means that flash videos can now be played on i-devices such as ipod touch, iphone and ipad. What is really cool however is that as part of the service a QR code is created so that these self same devices can scan the code and link to the resource to be viewed immediately as a test, the link only lasts 15 minutes however.  Once you have ascertained that the conversion has worked, you can download the new HTML5 file and then upload it to your chosen site. This will prove to be invaluable in an e-learning situation. I am now going go away and devise some scenarios where this facility can be used efficiently.

Check out the QR code I have created, using the AddThis plug in for Firefox, above and play the SWF animation on your i-device courtesy of the HTML5 conversion.
 

Building e-learning sustainability

Written by David on July 11th, 2011.      0 comments

One of the conversations that I have with school leaders is how they can engage with e-learning, without becoming experts in the tools.  As the most stable element of a school community, principals tend to stay a while; it is imperative, I argue that principals have more than an overview of the whole e-learning plan in their school, they need to actively manage it.

In the past I have seen principals simply delegate the whole project to a keen lead teacher in school, who then has all of the intellectual property for the project.  In time this lead teacher gets poached and then leaves!  The school looses momentum and has to start again.  I argue that the mere fact that a school invests in training and equipment is not enough. The sum of money invested in equipment plus the sum of money invested in teacher training does not equal two, it equals an awful lot more.  It is the value of the ip that is locked into a teachers head as a result of this investment that needs to be actively farmed and protected in order to build a sustainable e-learning model in a school.

Principals and the entire SMT need to see their role in managing e-learning as central to the sustainability of the integration of e-learning and the pedagogical shift that then follows.  I often hear principals say that they do not have the time…  This article from the Connected Principals blog is a timely reminder that all stakeholders need to get on board with e-learning and actively manage it.  This article helps by defining what they regard as the 7 golden rules for technology in schools.

I would want to add that schools should create systems where ip is actively farmed and resources created to build a CPD programme for new and existing staff.  I would also say that an induction programme for new staff is imperative.  With the long lead in time for new staff to arrive it is possible to insist that staff get up to speed with your systems and programmes prior to arrival in school.  An intranet/lms with video tutorials and resources in place for staff to access from outside of school would facilitate this.  Interactive tutorials provide an accurate and timely blueprint of training that is created for new staff.  This releases existing staff from having to sit along side new staff once they arrive  Finally as staff leave then a robust exit strategy needs to be put in place in order to ensure that as much of the ip owned by the school is retained by the school.

All of the above are financial checks, management systems and procedures that a management team can implement.  They can be implemented without having to get into the specifics of e-learning, but will ensure that e-learning capacity and momentum are maintained within the institution of the school.  It will ensure that staff can come and go without the school loosing momentum and ensuring that the significant financial investment that schools are making is not dependent on the passion of one or two members of staff, but can be shared with all members of the learning community that is a school.

 

ABOUT US

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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