Black tie not required June 4, 2012Posted by ianinsheffield in Resources, Teaching Idea, Uncategorized.
Tags: badges, formal learning, ict quests, informal learning, non-formal learning
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In a recent assembly I introduced ‘Digital Quests‘ to our Y7s to Y10s; they’ve come a long way since the first conception (via San Francisco even!). The idea of undertaking learning beyond the classroom, away from teacher guidance and support and without the possibility of conventional certification would be quite new for many of our students and as a consequence influenced my ‘pitch.’ Given the aforementioned link with Badging, you’ll not be surprised that featured significantly, however I wanted to attempt to set the context within which learning in this way would be located. Describing the what, where, when and how of Digital Quests was fairly straightforward, but the why …
The findings from my dissertation suggested that our students have a rather skewed view of learning, influenced unsurprisingly heavily by their experiences in school. Although some will take music exams, karate gradings and so forth, school provides the bulk of their formal learning. The students I interviewed during my research displayed no appreciation that in fact the majority of their learning actually takes place through informal or non-formal settings. Since Digital Quests fall in the realm (I’d suggest) of non-formal learning, I wanted to try to illustrate the importance of this learning domain, for them now and into the future as lifelong learners. That’s when I chanced upon a highly informative graphic produced by Jane Hart which illustrated many of the facets of the three learning domains, though largely in the context of learning in the workplace. With Jane’s kind permission, I adapted it with the intent of using it to (hopefully) help our students appreciate a little more about the wider circumstances within which they learn. [And I think I'll shamelessly claim that as a contribution towards our Learning to Learn agenda ]
My hope was that students might entertain the possibility that there are alternatives to the formal learning which seems to preoccupy them and that actually non-formal opportunities were deserving of greater consideration. The crucial factors are bounded by the purple outline which encompass learner autonomy and choice. In other words one of the ‘whys’ of Digital Quests (and other non-formal possibilities like MOOCs, P2PU, gaming/coding communities etc) was that students could choose the what, where, when and how of their learning … something they rarely have the opportunity to do within the formal system.
What would you do with a gift horse? March 29, 2012Posted by ianinsheffield in Uncategorized.
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If you work in an IT Support Office, you’ll probably get about half a dozen calls each day which start “Hello, is that Ian? How are you today?” That’s enough to know it’s going to be a sales pitch from a cold caller. How things go from there would be a whole new post, but that’s not what this one’s about.
A few weeks ago I got a call from someone who was very much more to the point than normal, less polished, clearly not working from a script and offering us something for free. No, not the normal ‘free,’ free free. He asked if he could drop by and show me the online, web design package he was developing and the trials of which seemed to be going well in a local school. Perhaps we’d also be interested in giving it a try? Now like everyone else, my time’s precious and when cold-callers phone and start with “Our representative will be in your area next Tuesday and was wondering what time it would be convenient to call to show …” they … well, let’s just say Mr Happy is not at home to cold calls. But this one was different, from a student currently studying at a local Uni. and it definitely piqued my interest.
The following day, Steven came along and demonstrated his application. Before things got going I was sceptical, (those who know me well would say that’s default!) but prepared to give it a chance. Though the delivery lacked polish, I have to say I was more than impressed with what he had achieved: an easy too use, slick, sharp, well-featured online web-design package, suitable for students from KS3 onwards (or earlier?). There are several aspects Steven is well aware need further development, but what I saw, first and foremost, it worked and worked well! Here I’ll attempt to provide a quick intro within the five minute limit in Jing:
[Darn it if I can't get a Jing swf video uploaded to Screencast to embed. Tch!]
How would I see this being used in school? Well at it’s current state of development, I’d be happy to use it with any class as an introduction to web design – it’s already a useful application in its own right, but also could be used as one element of a comparative study. Finding different examples of web design tools for students to consider can sometimes be problematic – here then is a possible solution. It might be that our IT department isn’t in a position to take this forward in the short term, so I thought I’d pitch it more widely.
Couple of things to bear in mind: the option to ‘publish’ the site and extract one’s content is awaiting implementation and whilst Steven continues to develop his project, we can’t get at the accounts our students might create. Just things to think about and as Steven is only too keen to explain, this is definitely a work in progress, but I’m happy to assist in whatever way we can to help him move his project forward. In fact how powerful might it be for a group of students to provide him with sufficiently robust feedback that might help steer further developments? Working with a designer on a particular product? Not the kind of opportunity that arises too often?
If you’d like to be put in touch with Steven or want to know more, DM me your details (@IaninSheffield) or drop a comment below.
Gary’s social media counter – just interesting? Or maybe more? December 5, 2009Posted by ianinsheffield in Uncategorized.
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A while ago I came across this interesting widget produced by Gary Hayes which shows the exponential rates at which new technologies are expanding.
On Gary’s site, the counter is ‘live’ and constantly ticking over from the second the page loads, or you can click on one of the tabs to ‘jump’ the count forward by a day, month etc. I wanted to show the counter ‘live’ here on the blog . . . Gary very kindly provides an embed code or you can download the swf file, but apparently WordPress.com doesn’t allow embedded swf – boo, shame
Anyway, interesting though that is in its own right, and useful as it might be for illustrating a point in an ICT lesson, I thought the widget might offer other possibilities:
- How about in Maths lessons – take some readings over time, graph the results and try to work out the equations generating the figures? (Gary’s blog provides the sources behind the figures so you might want to view the widget away from the site!)
- Taking readings from a dynamic display is itself a skill which science (or Maths) teachers might want to develop in their students.
- PSHE/Citizenship teachers might want to discuss possible implications of the figures.
As the innovator that you are, you can probably think of lots more possibilities. If so, why not add a comment to this post and let’s share the vibe.
Where to begin? October 3, 2009Posted by ianinsheffield in Uncategorized.
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Well it had to happen sometime and to be fair, it’s been long overdue. I guess I’ve dabbled for some while – keeping journals about bike touring, blogging as part of the evidence base on the Masters course I’m currently studying on, microblogging through Twitter. So I guess I’ve nibbled around the edges. But that still doesn’t explain the big leap. I’ve now reached the point where I’ve read enough educational blogs by other worthy folks that it’s helped me focus my mind on what’s important for me. I’ve distilled that down to three things:
- As a means of reflection – to get down my thoughts about what I’ve done, what I’ve read and what I’ve seen others do. To be able to revisit and review these ruminations at a later date ought to prove illuminating – hindsight as they say . . .
- To provide the opportunity for others to read and hopefully comment on my ideas, thereby providing further stimulus and the opportunity to clarify my thinking.
- To provide a place to review tools, resources and techniques and benefit from the previous points.
I’m also clear that I have no desire to dilute my musings here with any of the frippery I might ‘pen’ in other places – it’s edtech and learning or nothing.