Dean’s not sure what he’s doing

A Graphic a Day #3 of 30 -‘Im not sure what I’m doing’

There are some people who just come out with posts that reflect the collective thoughts of so many. I love reading Dean Shareski’s blog. I met Dean at NECC, he was so down to earth and insightful. In this post he is talking about the idea that the power of all of us is greater than one of us – a phrase often used by Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach. Andrew Church highlighted an interview with her from Ulearn in New Zealand this week which is well worth a listen. I had to appologise to Sheryl, as I dropped her a Skype message about the NECC proposal we’ve put in – she was presenting at the time. So even when presenting, she’s still connected.

He is also talking about the power of a networked learner. I had discussed digital story telling ideas with other educators via Skype, and the collegue at my school I worked with yesterday, Lucy Gresser and I had spent time on Skype talking about it this week.

I did some visual exploring with Jo Kay, had several conversations with people in Twitter, talked to Annabel about up coming History teacher events amongst other things. I finally met Bron, who’s supported my students via Ning and Skype, and provided my staff – and now will provide even more staff professional development in Quest Atlantis and presented with in Unconferences. I read a pile of blogs updates from people like Sue Waters, (who does so much for so many all the time – and is the anti-yeah but) while sitting in traffic on the great Sydney mobile car parking system that continues to fail everyone daily.

I’m at the point now where I think that the very idea of ‘collegues’ and ‘my network’ is a storming idea for me. Collegues are those that inspire, support and celebrate with you. Judy O’Connell and I are about to write two books in a series for an educational publisher –  and our office will be Skype, Second Life and Google Docs. The people you turn to to learn, ask questions. I noticed a Twitter post this week from Digialmaverick in the UK (another person like Dean that I seen to identify with) where he said he now asks his ‘network’ questions, not Google.

Im not sure about my colleagues

That really hit it home as I ended, what I have to say was a disappointing week in the geographical sense. Having ‘colleagues’ who organise online without any power/pay requirement balances out so much of the day to day – and I really think that tools like Twitter, Skype and Second Life are recharge stations for those who get what 21C should look like. I’m sick of people thinking that things I believe in, and believe have to happen if schools do not turn into museums (trapping my own kids inside) is in someway extraordinary, abnomal and not applicable to them.

A student said to me this week, after the project I did recently for a Commerce co-hort –” are you going to do more that that? I got 18/20, the best mark I ever got.” The sad reality is that I’m not and his teacher  won’t. His ‘yeah but’ teacher maybe lacks the time (yeah but #14). Maybe that teacher could do better studying his students needs and asking question in more appropriate places.

The student had the same teacher, the same content, but the context changed and the relevance changed. I learned that context and content from my colleagues online and like Dean, just pass it on. But I know why I do that. That makes me and Dean smart.

Building the capacity to change a school first requires the people in it understand how technology changes their capacity to change.

So I guess I don’t want to use the term PLN or Personal Learning Network – it makes people sound like some component of a ‘device’, and the people I know (online) are anything other than divisive.

So to get comfortable with the irony of that … I’ve decided that they are all colleagues and that is how I shall refer to them from now on, just to avoid any confusion for the ‘yeah buts’.

And the best part! It really does’nt matter when I go or they do – they will still be the same – just getting smarter as Dean so well talked about in his post. I think that 21C students will also be like that as they leave high school and start college and University. The effort and cost is so low.

Graphic-a-day #2 of 30

Dan Mayer asks ‘How easy would it be to take short cuts’. I read this a while ago, tracked back from Chris Lehmann, and its something that during a discussion today, that kept ringing in my head as the conversation was laced with conflicting pressures over loyalty and responsibility.

I work at an extraordinary school, doing extraordinary things with learning – in extraordinary times.

I think that the choices I’ve made in being part of that have been the right ones – most of the time. Anyone making hard choices knows self-doubt, trepidation and fear – yet you make them anyway.

There is a huge personal, spiritual and emotional cost involved, from the first time you question yourself as a teacher and realise that we are actually at the beginning of learning again.

The challenges kids face today are infinately more complex than even 5 years ago, trying to identify these, and find solutions – in a system that isn’t intended to allow you to do that is hard.

Seeing the efforts of others – is a constant ‘energy recharge’ – that those making the easy choices are unaware. There is a spirit of co-operation that transcends culture, geography, religion and wealth. From the most underfunded comes advice to the most affluent and visa versa. Conversation is the currency, and students are the investment houses. The recharge outlet is called Twitter, Skype, Gtalk, Google Reader and Second Life. We hear and see things that makes us believe that it is possible through the fractured conversations in the metaverse – despite our localised reality.

Within the confusion of our present culture, we are faced with opportunities the like of which we haven’t known. And I believe that our present ‘crisis’ has a lot to do with the fire and water through which we must go if we are to grasp those opportunities and make the most of them. This is of course just one of many situations where the global community is struggling with the question of the local option – and where, of course, multiple ambiguities can be found which muddle up the moral dilemmas.

One of the phrases and tactics used in advertising to get the maximum out of workers used to be – “if we don’t get this done, then we’ll loose the client”. That mentality still strikes me as ridiculous. Firstly, the was rarely a ‘we’ – as they mean ‘you’, and secondly, the client was never ‘yours’ but theres. There was never an ‘all for one and one for all’ bargain between us.

There are multiple reasons that something could or could not get done – and often quite beyond the control of the poor sap that was being told it. I heard it a hundred times, but never saw a client walk because some designer didn’t knock out that logo colour variant by 4pm.

I think its the same is schools. School will go on regardless of one person. Its not one persons school – but the sum of all the passion, effort (or lack of) between all the participants. If there’s one thing that I feel administrators need to do – above everything else – if find out who is making the hard choices – like Dan Mayer – and if what he’s doing, is something that you want – then for goodness sake – also look at how he’s doing it and don’t try to apply 20th Century Management Strategies to demand or retain that. That won’t build the capacity needed to get from ‘storming’ to ‘norming’.

Time served is is not the most essential criteria to make judgements on teachers pay or conditions – if you are talking about 21C schools, and I think one of the biggest challenges to the way school systems are operated. If time served was the secret to success, then how come all those experienced, institutional executives just wiped out trillions of dollars of the world economy. Anything is possible it seems, but change starts with a choice. I made mine.

K12 Online – Heppell’s Keynote

From the K-12 Online Conference that is on NOW, Stephen Heppell.

There’s not much to say, the K-12 Online Conference is on, and is fast becoming the cover girl for online learning and professional development. This is a video that every one with kids going to school, or interacting with kids needs to watch.

From the site ….

Presentation Title

“It Simply Isn’t the 20th Century Any More Is It?: So Why Would We Teach as Though It Was?”

We are in the throes of a financial crisis unparalleled on our lifetimes, and at the same time in front running 21st century schools around the world learning is seeing a transformation that seemed unthinkable in the dark days of 20th century factory schools.

As we move to a new tomorrow built on mutuality, collegiality, communication, community and ingenuity can we learn anything from the colossally expensive financial collapse of Wall Street, the City of London and many of the world’s financial centres.

In three sections, and in a conversational, intimate style, Stephen examines the certainties that stare us in the face from past learning projects that clearly mapped a new world of 21st century learning; he reflects on the impact on technology on the world around us, including the financial world, and ponders on what this means for education, for learning, and for the necessary pace of change as we experience the death of education and the dawn of learning.

Sony homes in PS3 based Social Power


It might not be news to some, but Sony has been inviting the hardcore faithful into Beta tests of ‘Home’. 

Sony claims Home is comparable to Second Life, as a virtual community of PS3 owners living together in both public and private environments.

Users will be able to login, chat with both text and speech and play casual games together such as pool, bowling and even embedded arcade machines. And when the old stand-bys grow stale, users can invite one another into other PlayStation Network titles outside of PlayStation Home.

Every user will have their own virtual apartment to decorate with furniture, their trophies from various games (see: achievements) and content from their own PS3s. Since the initial limited showings, but a fair amount of talk, this ‘world’ is certainly aimed at ‘pull’ technologies. The user has some ability to decorate and move around, however unlike Second Life, Sony decides what is in, out and what you can do with it at this stage.

The proposed interface for navigation is not suprisingly a virtual PSP. Sony claim to be selling 280,000PS3s  a month. At this point Home is supposedly ‘free’ for PS3 customers.

The gamer hardcore (who hnd out in forums) are however a little unconvinced, as recent ‘sneek’ peeks still don’t allow gamers to meet in themed areas. So if you are into Call Of Duty, then your ‘sim’ is not likley to be themed as per the game. Instead, a central plaza offers bollwing and pool.

Jack Buser from Sony commented

“The real reason for the game space being there is to give you an excuse to do something to meet people,” he said. “Take pool. It’s just like playing pool in real life. You do it to hang out with friends. Maybe one out of 10 times you play pool it’s actually to get better at your game.” 


The graphics are going to be slick – the PS3 is a very powerful machine, but how much ‘free’ content will exisit and how much ‘paid’ content remains a mystery. How and financial system works is not clear, nor any mention of connection speed – and the curse of Second Life – lag.

Right now the limted Beta testing is leading Sony Forum types to talk about Home as ‘vapourware’ – as there is little more than a few screen shots and a promotional video to go by – and that has been around for a while – there seems no rush to announce a date. But that is not common in this sector of the market.

Given the endless console wars – this is however an area that Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo are all exploring. However, content – as Linden Labs know, is king.

Developing an experience that adds to the gaming experience is the product to be sold here – and that is directly linked to commercial interests or not just Sony Playstation and it’s developers – but also it’s wider interests in music, film etc.,

It ‘s not clear how Home will be rated in terms of ‘age’ and ‘safety’ so again hard to suggest where it might fit into the spectrum of virtual worlds right now. Once again, this is very much the challenge of all online communities right now.

PSPs and PS3s are very powerful machines, and have a solid following. This further illustrates how ‘big entertainment’ (Sony pulled out of buying Club Penguin, leaving Disney to do so) – are actively hiring bright thinkers, gamers and social networkers to talk about and develop their product.

The media age is creating new opportunities – and game developers learn about social aspects of gaming – over and above providing a 2D web portal to ‘join a game’. We can’t really tell kids anymore that ‘you can’t make a living out of video games – as quite clearly – you can, and a very good one.

As one forum post commented on Home’s dribble feed of information

Among my worries- people generally don’t “behave”. If you’ve played WoW, Second Life, or to an extent XBox Live you probably know what I mean. Also, ads? This looks like a *very* expensive system to maintain, and if it’s (mostly) free, that means I foresee a lot of ads, possibly to the point of pushing users away. Only way to avoid that would be really expensive add-ons, like the clothes and furniture, and then you don’t get as many buyers, and you’re back to square one. So we’ll see about that.

Commercial advertising or click throughs are the lifeblood of the internet. One advantage I think Second Life has always had is that the user owns the IP, and in that regard to choose to take or leave anything they see, and in that regard you can make a living out of Second Life. Perhaps more significantly for students, they can break into Second Life Development – far easier than they can Sony – and on their own terms.

Nintendo is rumoured to be getting social. Animal Crossing for the Wii will be an MMO/social networking title. It’s no great surprise – in a few short years, Animal Crossing has become one of Nintendo’s most-loved and top selling franchises (over seven million copies sold) – mostly sold in Japan. And Nintendo is quick to talk about it as a ‘communications game’ – will pull technology being used to draw users to it.

The cross-over between console, mobile computing, mobile phone, laptop, desktop, plush toys, action toys has happened.

 Its a convergence that has been made possible by read/write technology over TCP/IP – and is spilling over into all devices that can push out a wifi signal. It is not a question of ‘if’ but ‘how much’ and ‘where’ these things will be accessible from. Everything and everywhere seems to be a reasonable assumption at this point, But there is a snag for society. As Beth commented on an earlier post -“ it further divides the have/have nots – the tech savvy and the not.”

Consoles are pervasive with Australian school age children.

While PS3 is expensive, XBOX360 is also another LIVE console – and as supply issues get sorted out towards the Christmas season – both Sony and Microsoft will wage further price and feature wars – inching ever closer to the console being a ‘social’ experience – as the price point falls.

As we debate – media literacy  and global citizenship s – I think that running a private Teen Second Life Island looks like very simple thing to do in light of what is fast arriving from the commercial sectors. Developing re-useable ‘teen’ content in online spaces has to happen – as teens will be using these spaces after school.

But as many adults don’t play games – and are not used to putting out personal information with ‘strangers’, then there is a huge void between what ‘we’ think and what ‘they’ think. Adults often have no idea of using a 3D Graphical User Interface full stop, and when using a computer – monotask. Kids don’t.

Music, social trends, social networks, video games, movies and fashion have blended into ‘life’ – and that life is online – in a continual conversation – that can be remixed, re-packed and re-used.

If schools and teacher think that some ‘tenure of authoriity’ based on decades of autocratic classroom management will maintain ‘school values’ then I see a very worrying time ahead – for students as their classroom ‘learning’ drifts further and further from their social learning – but at the same time, access to this is based on having, as Beth said, Tech-savvy parents that can afford it.

Healthy Meals for kids

Rethinking approaches to teaching with technology starts with re-thinking the way in which we learn. I previously talked about going on an ICT Diet, so this post is about what could in a healthy classroom.

Rather than ask the student questions that relate to explicit content, how about putting the content together ahead of time and get students to pre-prepare for class?

One of the most critial elements of running a project is the Driving Question. In an ICT classroom, that is a double edged sword, as you should by now be asking questions that they can’t Google the answer.

Heres an example of why I mean by a healthy classroom question.

“How has the way we think about war changed since Gallipoli” for example (HSIE in Stage 3). Here is the outcome from the syllabus (standards).

  • Research significant events in Australia’s history, eg Gold Rush, Federation. Students choose one of those events and write about life from a person’s perspective during that period of time, eg a miner, a war correspondent, a soldier, a child.

There is no one answer to that question, it’s pretty Google Proof. But how they answer the questions should promote the use of Wikipedia and Searching, but not rely on it as ‘the answers’.

Students of course would just offer personal opinions at the outset, based on a general understanding of war and ANZAC cove. If the teacher then goes on to think about the ‘end’ product, then there will be elements of other syllabus outcomes that need to be demonstrated in the project. Let’s assume we go straight from the syllabus on this one point for now.

The end product has to be given to the students. “I want you to go an make…” is not as powerful as asking them ‘what could be a great way of answering this question’.

Rather than plod through a time line of Australian’s at war, create a timeline and share it with the class. If you select the ‘content’ key elements from quality sources, then it is fairly easy to embed them into the timeline or in PBL terms – ‘entry document’.This can be a mix of text, textbook references, video and audio. It allows the teacher to engage students by appealing to their individual learning styles. It also gives them a good idea of what you are ‘expecting’ to see, read or hear.

Don’t stomp on their ideas! – If they want to make a podcast, then that might be a skill they need to learn along the way – but encourage them out of the boring old standards (MS Office).

Even the best student needs a scaffold, so put enough in the timeline to indicate the kind of learning that they will need to do to meet the goals of the teacher – though these goals do not need to explicitly outlined to the students.

So now you have a question, have given students the opportunity to think about the way they are going to represent their answers and some formal pre-class reading.

Next, construct some discussion object, that check for understanding of what to do. Most often this a rubric, but it its key characteristics is to allow students to self-measure – which is a vital skill.

Moodle could do that, or so could a forum online. “If you were going to war, what would be five things that you would have questions about – before making a choice to go to war or to lobby against it”

By encouraging students to generate their own questions, you can check that they did the reading, if they understood the issues etc., From that you can get them to collaborate and share their questions with each other. Are there any common questions, which question stuck you as surprising etc., This is giving teachers hard evidence as part of the formative assessment process. To be effective, you have to learn how to ask questions that will promote reflective answers.

At this point, the power of online discourse communities kicks in. Students will not be in a herd, some will the asking simple questions, others will ask more complex one – perhaps bringing in social, cultural and ethical facets. This watershed, gives the teacher an ability to compare the student to a taxonomy.

Being able to apply what they are saying to what you would like them to say requires some skill. Each student needs to know from the outset, if what they are about to ask/do is too easy or too hard.

During the project, you can ask them specific questions – if you think that they are not covering enough ground, but again, make them interesting and reflective rather than list, find, identify things.

The power of using a scaffold and prepared language model to do this means that any feedback you give them, can be understood and applied by other students. This creates in-built peer assessment. If you are using a forum to do this, then it is simple for students to see who is doing what, and they will model ‘where next’ to a large degree from what they see.

That requires the teaching students how to set goals, and write about reaching them, and giving them feedback using informal online spaces – not marking.

As you didn’t ask for low level answers to start with, then it is quite hard for them to head for copy and paste, as all the questions – and answers are fundamentally reflective and justified by the individual, not the group. Teachers need to keep a running record of this activity and growth, so developing a new formative assessement record is critical – but it’s not complex. The ‘teacher’ journal can be replaced with an eJournal.

As the project moves forwards, the teacher needs to ask each student questions to steer them through each of the ‘learning gates’ or re-direct them. Ideally, reference a student who has gone through a gate and ask the student who missed it to suggest why they missed it the first time. Linking their learning to each other is very powerful and motivating. It avoids saying ‘you are wrong’.

Like VET based vocational learning, I don’t think learning is yes or no anymore but merely a competency. Some answers or obviously fixed – ‘”What is the formula to measure the area of a circle” but giving them a task in which they find and apply that formula is a milestone in achieving a greater goal.

Teachers like to mark things, but marks in this context don’t work, its easy to mark the ‘area of a circle’ formula, but thats no reason to hold onto it forever. Context and information fluency is more important.

There is no harm in letting kids take another shot. So rethink what you consider to be summative assessment. Of course you can’t do that if you have given the answer already – and that happens because a lot of questions are geared towards having an answer.

Ultimately, you will cover the content, and the students will collaborate, but doing to so to meet individual goals. More complex management of groups is required if you are indeed forming ‘groups’.

You end product could be something like a dairy entry – how a soldier felt when first signing up for war, and what he felt like after being there for a short time. They could then write a letter as a elderly person, reflecting on how war has changed – or not changed, by reflecting on evidence and the questions that they raised. Of course along the way, you can still drop in a test. Moodle is great at 10 minute ‘oil dips’. Tests do motivate students, but they are not truely reflective of ability in collaborative environments.

Presenting to someone from the RSL, gives the whole project validity and passion. The questions the students created can be directly commented on by the ex-serviceman, there is a personal, authentic connection. A student just presenting a slideshow about ANZACs will merely contain linear facts.

The evaluation at the end of the presentation, is critical. It could be done by students recording a Podcast, and having a conversation about their questions and the things they decided were reasonable answers. They will not only present their work, but learn from critical feedback. So even being assessed does not have to be a once only affair, it’s okay to make summative assessment something other than a ‘test’ or a ‘hand in’.

The teacher will have a comprehensive formative record of EACH students progress. They will be able to easily demonstrate a growth in the learner, and a one to one conversation. One key indicator if the project design is individualized and comprehensive is that the end products will be different!

This automatically allows for differentiated learning and encourages creative solutions. Eric Gill (typographer) said “The artist is not a different kind of person, but every person is a different kind of artist.”

Presenting learning in interesting ways and encouraging interesting, creative use of ICTs to solve authentic projects create engagement and builds effective critical thinkers. Its healthy for the school too, as students are ‘busy’ learning not ‘busy’ looking to entertain themselves with poor behaviour – a symptom of boredom in my view.

Green Up – Presentation or Conversation?

I was talking with Lauren tonight about the Green Up Project. This project was designed while Lucy and I were at the New Tech Foundation Workshops back in July. We set out back then to create a project that targeted digital literacy, as well as the Geography and English outcomes (standards).

I wanted to push students into a discourse community, and was really interested to see what that would look like. I chose a Ning to create it, but then we could have used something else. We planned from the outset that this project would include the entire grade of 160 students in one project – rather than three classes working on the same project, but not connected in any social way online.

This was the first project that Lucy and I had designed – and was greatly supported by Sac, the Geoography teacher, who has an amazing, calm, collected and connected empathy with students.I think that Lucy and Sac thought the idea of the project was crazy. Certainly the other schools at the New Tech Workshops were thinking and saying it.

The project had some ideas in it that I thought were really important.

  • Teaching students to start working as independent writers
  • Building an online extension of the classroom collaboration
  • Being able to support and mentor students – after school in a virtual classroom
  • To scaffold and build a reflective writing process
  • To expose the ‘true’ underlying ‘literacy of students’
  • To make the ‘tech mastery’ low – but interesting enough to engage students
  • To bring in teachers from my PLN to act as student mentors
  • To give students a sense of global audience when presenting their learning
  • To evaluate a discourse communities effectiveness in transforming learning in a short time frame.
  • Can students read a political blog, learn content and then apply that learning to reply to the political blog in a mature and relevant way.

So back to the start of this post. I was talking to Lauren about ‘curriculum’ and she asked me what my school role is. My role is Head of Information Technology – which supposedly has no official connection to curriculum. I am supposed to be liason office between the school and the Catholic Education Office IT Department, and assisting teachers with ‘technology support’.

But here we are replying and talking to students most evenings online. But it’s not me at all. Its lots of people who daily give me feedback, ideas, support and inspiration. Some I occasionally ‘talk to’, others I talk to all the time. But that is what makes a project like this possible.

Without bringing people like Lauren, Sue, Angela, Judy, Jeff, Ewan, et al into the group, dropping them right in the middle of the action – I would not have learned as much as I did in a few weeks and neither would the students.

It takes a lot of effort to manage a collaboration on this scale – but that is what the students liked so much – it was on a massive scale, and so there was always a new post, a new comment or new video to look at. Just like developing a PLN for teachers, doing it for the students added a significant change to the learning.

It is fitting then that today a group of students did their final presentation. We Ustreamed the event – and again, the people in the PLN repeated the Tweet, and helped in the set up stage testing the stream, Skype etc. So I don’t think that I’m ever working alone – and neither are the students.

While there was an in-room panel of pundits to watch – the real power of the event was that the students were so very aware that they we’re online and publishing their digital reputation. They did a fantastic job.

Reece showed how his group used Second Life to explain and demonstrate their project. Student showed how they used Animoto and Sony Vegas to create a video to discuss the issues. Students had rehearsed (some better than others) their presentation – and were so nervous. While all this was happening, the back channel gave comments and support – and Jeff (who’d done a full day, plus a parent evening in Great Falls MT) – was chatting to students, which really settled them and brought home just how global education can be. Jeff is an amazing guy – the kind of teacher I really want my kids to spend time with and would fill my school with (if I had one).

If you haven’t checked out his blog – go drop in and give him your support, he’s making some great changes in his school – and once again, like many, he’s doing it for the kids, not because it’s his job

So this project stated with an Englishman a Fijian and Australian. During the life of it, the students were taught by Americans, Australians, New Zealanders, a German and a Scotsman. (and the teacher in the classrooms).

It was so fitting then, that the presentation was streamed to the people who have been giving up their time to offer advice and support for the last few weeks – it was really important to us to have your there.

Anyone can sign up for a Ning and make kids join it. The ‘shift’ happens when a project is designed to achieve much more than that. The was no way when we planned it, that we could ever imagine how much the students would get out of it, how much advocacy they would show for their own learning and how quickly they raised the bar in their skills. This is not because I am ‘good at IT’ or ‘know about computers’ – it’s because those driving the project understand that the tools are useless unless they are connected to a conversation.

That’s the message in the photo.

You might be in the same room as others, but the conversation is usually somewhere else – but almost certainly it is digital.

Its is so hard to explain to people how important this is to the success in the classroom. Making a Ning does not create anything new, unless you not only understand how technology can change learning and are participating in it.

My concern is that people mistake the technology used as being the key factor in it’s success. That is wrong. It is that the technology that connected people and shifts the curriculum itself.

Signing up a class on Ning does none of that. It is far more complex than that. Im not sure how to articulate that …

The final thing I’m going to post on this is a Podcast with Lucy and some of the kids. We’re now moving onto another project – that is again designed to shift the kids enthusiasm and skills to a higher level.

Setting the stage

A quick snapshot of the sandbox in Skoolaborate where kids are working in their TeenSecondClassroom project. A 2 minute Shakespeare play that they are going to post onto in a few weeks. It’s great to see how they are approaching this. Some building film like sets and other who have been looking at more traditional stages. They are just beginning to consider textures … I just wish we had more than an hour a week, but at least it is in the timetable!

Thanks Rebecca! Love your work!

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ICT – Habit of the decade

How can we tell if what is happening in the ICT ‘computer’ room is adding value to learning? Perhaps what is going on is actually so un-demanding, un-creative and un-inspiring that students are spending their time doing an computer based activity, rather than using the computer to communicate what they have learned, what they are learning, and what they need to learn. Is the ICT activity too boring, or too frustrating.

It is quite possible that our use of ICT ‘computer rooms’ meets the needs of the ‘scope and sequence’ and that we can justify that we are meeting the ‘outcomes’ or standards, but at the same time making these activities entirely passive and one-dimensional.

One characteristic of this is that the end product that is handed in to be ‘marked’ looks amazingly similar to the next one or that the task is actually the same as searching for information in a text book then completing the exercise at the end of the chapter.

The hour spent in front of the computer rarely allows any individual exploration of earlier classroom experiences in a way chosen by the student. Students are given a task to perform, which begins and ends with the sound of the bell, each student doing the same thing – as that suits the rubric and grading. We don’t seek new ways to do this either – we stick to what we know.

This is the tragedy of a decade plus habit of using computers to search, retrieve and paste information.

It is based on the idea of select, apply and justify – in the classical notion of Blooms taxonomy. This manifests as a linear activity, and not a cyclic one. It is not until they get to the end that they learn that they didn’t include something, do something etc.,

In comparison to the number of teachers, the number of teachers who are preparing ‘digital resources’ are still alarmingly small. The number who are ‘sharing’ them online with their is even smaller. Unless a student can revisit the classroom lecture later, then chances are much of the ‘content’ in the power point is forgotten over time. It’s not hard to share a power point, but it is hard if you can’t realise the benefit to students. Its not a ‘teacher resource’ – it only has a value when it becomes a ‘student resource’.

Joe Dale’s work in podcasting with languages is an excellent example of using EdTech to take learning beyond the bell and present content way beyond the requirements of the ‘program’.

But by an large the student experience is not like this, but a passive, repetitive, un-challenging one. It has virtually no relation to how they could use technology to demonstrate their learning. It favours a narrow band of learning preferences and excludes others – simply because the ‘scope’ is limited by the teacher’s ability or willingness ‘shift’ the pedagogy.

There is no imperative to do this of course, unless as a teacher you see the benefits to students and are willing to re-think a decade old habit and thats what this presentation is about – taking a look at what ICT looks like in your classroom.