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Global Collaboration

Written by David on September 29th, 2011.      0 comments


I have been working with Helen from Woodford Schools, Plymouth, UK for a number of years.  Back in 2007 we started to collaborate between our schools in New Zealand and England.  We used tools such as Skype, Dim Dim, Skrbl to collaborate and I spent many late evenings remote teaching her students in the UK from my desk via web cam here in New Zealand.  The students were not at all phased at being taught in this manner, it was the adults in the room in the UK observing this who had the hardest time!  The collaboration only worked because the two of us at either end of the asynchronous communication plan had energy, vision and drive to see it through.  We had never met, but decided to write and present a paper on our collaboration.  We presented at the VIASL IFIP3.5 conference at the Charles University, Prague in June 2008.  You can read about that here. We wanted to prove that remote teaching and asynchronous collaboration between students could work in a meaningful manner.  I have always been and remain fascinated by the potential of remote learning to reach out to students in remote locations to enable a rich, bespoke and meaningful curriculum for them.  I am currently working on a side project to facilitate such opportunities for students, I am currently dubbing it a school of passions.

I am now about to embark on another round of  remote collaboration with students.  Again I am working with Helen and this time Megan from Wakaaranga School in Auckland.  Our aim this time is to see if students can collaborate, negotiate, design and construct a game in Gamemaker.  They have already been organised into teams of four, two students from the UK and two from NZ.  This team of four will be designing and collaborating asynchronously.  A wiki has been created for them as a staging post for them to share their work.  It is from here that the students will collaborate.  The students will work on their Gamemaker program once they have agreed the objectives and plans for the game, locally on their computers, then usin tools such as Jing or Cam Studio they will take screen shots of the work they have done and submit those to the wiki.  They will then communicate with each other using Talkwheel to monitor what the other groups are struggling with, to share ideas and successes.  However, rather than typing their messages the students will be recording their messages using Audioboo so that they will in effect be leaving ansaphone messages for all to listen to via a hyperlink.  The project is all prepped and is about to commence.

I have to say a big thank you to Patrick at Talkwheel who has been very supportive in setting up student accounts for us and providing me with some training and also to Kate at Audioboo who has offered her help towards this project too.


Room 13 Marble Run

Written by David on September 28th, 2011.      0 comments

I have been working with the Intermediate team at Waiau Pa School all year and in term 2 and 3 they have been building an epic marble run that runs around the entire class.  The class was split into four teams and each team had was responsible for the marble track on that wall.  They had to design a track that linked in with the other tracks on the adjoining walls.  This is their end product:



Twitter Principals…

Written by David on September 27th, 2011.      0 comments

My latest article for Interface Magazine has just been published.  The online edition has been out for a couple of days, but the hard copy landed today.  You can read the article here:




You can also collect some principals from my Twitter list.


Guest Post - Education, Traditionalism and Technology

Written by David on September 22nd, 2011.      0 comments

This post has been written by Lindsey Wright

As technology continues to make its way into classrooms, some
teachers and administrators push back and resist changes that in the
outside world have long been accepted. Advances in technology,
particularly the Internet, have made permanent changes in almost
every sector, mostly to nods of approval. With the exception of some
outstanding examples like online college courses, education is the
only sector that maintains strong resistance to these developments.
Why is this?

Traditionalists as Teachers

The education system is one of the last strongholds of a very strong
sense of traditionalism. While teachers new to the field are more
open to the integration of technology in learning, it’s important to
remember that these new teachers are part of a generation who grew up
with computers and digital technology in their daily lives. When they
graduate and begin teaching, they’re met by a vanguard of teachers
and administrators whose own first contact with technology may have
been chastising their own children for wasting time on video games.

Thanks to continuing cuts in education funding and elimination of
teaching positions, the newest teachers are often the first ones to
be cut, leaving older teachers who view technology as a time waster
rather than as an educational opportunity. These same educators are
likely to also put education on a pedestal, and see it as something
above and separate from all other sectors, something to remain
unsullied by the perceived taint of technological advance. No one
contests that teaching the next generation is an extremely important
charge, the reality is that with technology playing a crucial role in
every other aspect of our lives removing it from the education
process does our children a great disservice.

Researchers in Belgium recently conducted a study that looked at how
teachers’ beliefs impacted the use of computers in the classroom. The
researchers stressed that most teachers’ beliefs and attitudes are
established before they ever see pupils of their own. In fact, a
great deal of their attitudes about teaching and learning are set by
their own experiences as students. If teachers’ beliefs about
teaching are rooted 20 years in the past, how can we break through
and embrace the realities of today’s technological advances and the
potential they have as teaching tools?

Additionally, and partly thanks to cuts in education funding, some
teachers fear being replaced by technology. Some may have concerns
about promoting technologically facilitated learning for fear of
becoming expendable and even superfluous. After all, if learning can
be outsourced to a computer, what need do we have for human teachers?
Truthfully, these teachers have nothing to worry about. No computer
can replace human understanding and, while a computer may be able to
successfully administer a math test or proctor other simple quizzes,
it can’t help personalize math teaching to each student or grade
interpretive essays.

Getting Past the Traditionalist Mindset

How can we get traditionalist teachers onboard with technologies in
classrooms? As teachers who’ve been in the system longer retire and
are slowly replaced with teachers who grew up using technology, the
system will eventually even itself out. However, this is a slow
process and not one likely to benefit today’s children. Instead, we
need to focus on encouraging our current educators to become more
comfortable with the technology that’s already available. By
promoting workshops to give teachers a chance to interact with the
tools in a hands-on manner and present a strong focus on the benefits
these tools provide, we can convince more of today’s educators.

By demonstrating the positive learning outcomes technology can
facilitate and what benefits it can provide students (especially
those who don’t respond well to more traditional teaching methods ),
teachers may be persuaded to move past limiting traditionalist views.
It’s important to emphasize to teachers and administrators that
adding technological tools to schools is not simply for the sake of
promoting technology, but because students need the opportunity to
learn the skills that will be a part of their lives as beyond school.
The benefits of educational technological tools are countless and
traditionalism for the sake of traditionalism is just as problematic
as technology for the sake of technology.



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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