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An innings to be proud of? April 12, 2011

Posted by IaninSheffield in CPD, Musings.
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I just wrote a post across on Posterous into which I embedded an interactive timeline showing some of the theories of learning developed during last century. (Would have done it here if WordPress had allowed the embedding)

a century of learning timeline

A century of learning

As I constructed the timeline summary, I found myself reflecting on a couple of things. Firstly how little I knew about learning theories prior to the research my Masters lead me to. Sure I’d heard about a bit about Multiple Intelligences and knew some of Bloom’s Taxonomy, but very little else. The history of developments in learning theory was an area perhaps beyond the scope of an already jam-packed PGCE. Furthermore 40% of the learning theories included in the timeline have been developed since I began teaching in 1981 – my PGCE could hardly have helped me learn about what was yet to be uncovered!

Now during the whole of my career, I felt obliged to keep up to date with developments in Physics specifically (since that is what I taught) and Science more generally. Actually it was no obligation; I loved my subject (still do) and keeping up to date seemed just a natural part of being a Physics teacher.  But what about the last bit? The ‘teacher’ bit? Why didn’t I keep up to date with developments in my chosen profession? Apart from those undertaking further study, does anyone? Shouldn’t there be a professional responsibility to keep up to date with developments in theory and pedagogy? And if so, how would we manage that?

Horizons near and far … February 12, 2011

Posted by IaninSheffield in research.
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The 2011 Horizon Report1 was released recently, so it was time to revisit the timeline summarising the predictions made by this yearly ‘state of the nation’ style annual report.  Each year the New Media Consortium and EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative explore emerging technologies and their ‘potential impact on  and use in teaching, learning and creative inquiry.’

Last year I created  a timeline summary of the findings to help see which predictions were coming to reality and to explore the extent to which our school fits in with the developing trends and emerging technologies.

2011 Horizon Report timeline

2011 Horizon Report Timeline

Clicking the above image will take you to the interactive full-size, scalable version.


Year 2011 on its own

I then thought I might focus in on 2011 to see the extent to which our school is adopting the technologies predicted to be of significance this year.  Mobile technology in the form of phones and e-books feature heavily and it is right that we should have begun our first tentative steps in exploring the affordances of this tech.  Our iPod Touch study is well under way and we should have the infrastructure in place (enterprise wireless solution)  to support connection of student devices in the near future.  Our library is undertaking a study of e-books and what place they might have within our provsion of learning resources.  Use of a few QR codes in public places around school is barely even dipping our toes in the waters of augmented reality, but it begins the process of awareness raising amongst our community.  The potential offered by educational gaming continues to suffer little penetration in school with few colleagues aware of its potential.  This is one area which really needs a champion before it can gain credence with colleagues.  An increasing number of schools and teachers are beginning to recognise the impact that blogging and wikis can offer both for collaboration and providing an audience for student work as evidenced superbly by the work taking place at Heathfield CPS and many other schools. Another area we have yet to explore more fully and another which would benefit from a passionate advocate.

In the previous post, I also looked at the range of technologies emerging in the reports to consider the penetration they are making into our school:

Technology penetration in school

Technology penetration in school

A little bit further foward, but not as much progress as we might have hoped for, owing to one or two technological challenges which became manifest.  Time to get stuck in!

I often wonder where we are on the spectrum of adoption across the whole range of schools. Are we behind? Doing OK?  I try to rationalise things by saying that what matters is what’s right for us and what our aspirations are for the learning of our students … but then again, I sometimes wonder what those aspirations are based on.  I clearly need to think and talk about this much more. Damn the Horizon report for making me think!

1Johnson, L., Smith, R., Willis, H., Levine, A., and Haywood, K., (2011). The 2011 Horizon Report.
Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.

Scanning the Horizon – follow-up July 11, 2010

Posted by IaninSheffield in research, Web 2.0.
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I’m delighted that the kind folks at NMC responded positively to my request and were supportive of my modest attempts to summarise the data from the Horizon reports since 2004 in a different way using Timeglider:

Horizon Reports

Horizon Reports in Time Glider

Exploring the emerging technologies highlighted in successive Reports since 2004, we begin to see two distinct aspects emerging:

  1. The technologies and infrastructure upon and with which we can support learning and
  2. The applications and techniques enabled through that infrastructure

Whilst many of these technologies have become mainstream and our students are increasingly using them in their lives beyond the school gates, it is probably fair to say that their penetration into classrooms lags some way behind.  But that’s a generalisation so I attempted here to assess (subjectively!) to what extent those technologies (most appropriate for K12) in the reports have penetrated across our school:

Penetration of technologies into school

Penetration of technologies into school

I suspect the majority of schools would provide a similar return – how about yours?

This picture would doubtless change however,  if we focused on the classrooms and lessons of ‘early adopters’ – those teachers who are not only aware of the above, but have begun the process of exploring how and in what ways we can exploit these tools . . . or indeed if we should.

But we know that many students carry and use Internet-connected, application-rich mobile phones, yet these powerful devices must remain hidden in class.  Wireless networks, at least in secondary schools have become more robust, yet it’s rare to find a school which allows its students to use their own laptops, netbooks and iPod Touches on them.  Most students, even as young as five and six (through sites like Club Penguin), use social networking tools to play and communicate with one another, yet these sites are often filtered by schools and/or local authorities.

Why is that?  Can school and formal learning really be so disconnected from our everyday experience?

I think that’s probably a topic worthy of its own post.

Scanning the Horizon July 3, 2010

Posted by IaninSheffield in CPD, Inspiration, research, Web 2.0.
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Each year, the New Media Consortium, in collaboration with EDUCAUSE, produce and release the Horizon Report – an exploration by a large group of leading forward thinkers what technologies are likely to be of influence in the short (this year), medium (2-3 years) and longer (3-5 years) terms.  Predominantly aimed at Higher Education, there is still much for my sector (Primary/Secondary Ed.) to learn from the suggested emerging technologies, the key trends and the challenges we’re facing.  Begun in 2002 and available in digital form since 2004, the previous editions are available to download and distribute under a CC license.  Even better is that the last two years have seen the release of a special K12 edition of the report.  This year I noticed that NMC had considerately made all previous reports available in a single PDF – the ‘boxed set’ version.  And that set me thinking . . .

Wordle: Horizon Reports 2004-2009

There’s a heap on interesting information in here which could stimulate further discussion . . . but encouraging colleagues who don’t share the same passion(?) for ICT that I do to read and analyse that whole archive was a non-starter.  So I began thinking how I might summarise the main findings of all the reports and also begin to explore the chronology of the emerging trends and how accurate the reports have proven over the course of time.

I thought a timeline application might suit, so scanned back through my Delicious links, finally settling on TimeGlider, an online offering which satsified the first criterion of being free and also offered most of the other functionality I was chasing.  I decided that in addition to the six significant technologies each report focused on (2 for each term), I’d also include the key trends which influenced these choices.  Much cutting and pasting later, the data is in TimeGlider, but here’s the rub.  The CC licence under which the reports are released allows for duplication and redistribution in full, but not for derivative works.  So is what I’ve done a ‘derivative’ work?  Since I’m not sure, before I publish the timeline, I thought it would be wise and courteous to contact NMC and see what they think . . . so we’ll wait and see.

Think the next post is already writing itself itself and could go either of two ways . . .