The Cool Blend for Learning

The meta-verse seems to generate so many ‘new’ variations on any given theme these days that no one should be hard on another for mixing their descriptions, acronyms or buzz-terms. One reason for this is of course to make those dreaming up new terms discoverable through search — as search rewards those who generate new content. This post is about re-generating better courses from what has worked well in the past using cycles that are well proven in Blended Learning.

Regardless of your enthusiasm for one technology over another, or which pedagogy you believe best suits you and your students, there is one factor which separates a ‘fresh blend’ from one stewing on the stove of in-difference. I mention this because often courses are simply ‘rolled over’ like turning a bed-sheet rather than given a damn good airing. Another problem is that way too many EdTech’s tour the planet like some 70s prog-rock relic band churning out crowd pleasers.

The solution is quite simple: Each time a course is run, it goes though a development cycle in order to identify improvements, efficiencies and better experiences. This is fairly basic stuff for Educational Developers (ED)– they are used to pulling things apart, doing a spot of design thinking and coming up with new solutions. If you are not an ED-type, then you can still play along … when you’re reviewing your course – or thinking of a new one — then you should be looking at this list of elements in order to ‘blend’ your face to face efforts with your digital efforts.

  • Time (face to face vs online live / archived /pre-recorded lectures)
  • Place (online discussion circles, small group collaboration, virtual webinars, consultations)
  • People (guest lecturers, existing video/audio, off-campus and on-campus connectivity)
  • Resources (eReserve, digital collections, curations, playlists, online readings)
  • Activities (online quiz, collaborative production, self-paced, blogging)

Blended learning promotes good preparation and decision making about the course design and embedded technological components. As improvements are made to the technology itself, new opportunities are presented to enhance the learning experiences of students and to optimise the construction and maintenance of courses and resources.

So before you get carried away with cool-words flashing across Twitter, consider that creativity and ‘out-there’ thinking does not create the kind of robust improvements and revisions that often see success in business, products and … education. With so many exciting things going on, the cool courses are the ones which get regular maintenance and evolve with the times.



Be what you want them to be

There is a lot of desperate nonsense online in relation to games and kids aggression.

Even the much cited Eron criticism of TV found a 10 percent debatable correlation between kids and tv watching related aggression, whereas they found fifty percent of kids aggression results from family interaction. The adult she sees everyday is the model of what she is supposed to be.

Thus means that whatever game they are playing, is not going to have the biggest impression, it’s parent behavior while the game is in focus.

You can tell kids what you don’t like, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be less interested in it. Remember too, this is a fantasy, and in a fantasy imagining fighting zombies or burning down a forest is interesting. The best model for parents is to calmly lay out an argument, not yell an opinion.

This is much better than seeing you freak out with anxiety. It’s also why kids won’t play games in school (even if you call it edu) in the same way they do at home. In school, playing minecraft doesn’t affirm who they are so much as it shows them most teachers don’t understand games … and them.

This becomes obvious when I see YouTube videos of teachers bossing kids around in a classroom (playing minecraft) too. I don’t see them building mutually respectful arguments for gaming any more than non game interested teachers … it’s just “bang, hey kids, were going to play minecraft” … as they attach behaviour and imagination cuffs to be the power broker. Terrible in every level.

This isn’t modeling what teachers want kids to be, it’s partly frustration with the system and in some things I’ve seen … a dubious pedagogical basis for gaming. Banning games is simply the opposite reaction (much favoured by school leaders stuck in their own fantasy hyperbole of what constitutes media literacy).

Similarly, I’d argue parent anxiety over minecraft (or other) as being addictive our violent, won’t show any change because a kid plays at school (should someone actually research it with a valid method). It hasn’t before in studies of other media, so why would minecraft be different here?

Modeling who you want them to be requires cultural acceptance of games as a unique media form that plays a significant economical and societal role.

Parents will take games and virtual worlds seriously when schools do.

When it becomes a discipline such as media studies, english or computer science, then it will get further. Right now it seems the focus is in furthering the agenda and/or bank balance of a few enthusiasts.

But the is some hope. Numerous free online courses (moocs) allow parents to explore games and learning from a research base. And why should parents not join them?

Plenty of gaming teachers are actually unqualified too, in terms of “accredited to teach”. So give it a go,  model an interest, ask questions of your kids and explore what interests them.

Personally, I think this is much better than hoping the teacher has any deep grasp of gaming (for transformational play). I seriously doubt “gaming” will be a timetable event outside of novelty or attention seeking any time soon.

Be the expert you’d like them to see. There’s are dozens of courses starting in October, all free, and all backed by University grade content. That will impress your kids much more than anything else. You are their parent. You don’t have to pay, or even like the games they do, but it’s a good idea to know why from some of the world’s most respected scholars like Jay Clayton.

Learning about the metaverse: free PD for teachers

Imagine your in a week long professional development programme. Lets see if I can sell you a seat in mine.

“Building a PLN with Web2.0”

The session runs Sunday to Sunday, and were expecting you’ll be working from 6am to 11pm, but you can choose what hours you keep entirely. In that time you need to find around 200 people in social networks that have a common interest in education, and introduce yourself. There is no room allocation, campus or learning system required to attend the course.

The assessment task-

You have analyse and decode anything they say or share in the context of your classroom – finding evidence that any of it is valid now, and prioritise that which will be needed in 5 years.

By the end of the week you must have had at least one new idea, and helped ten other people to realise theres. You must create, maintain and share a cyber-bibliography of at least 100 things, justifying why they are related to your idea, and find 100 more from everyone elses, that relates to yours, but not duplicate it.

The test-

The final test is a 300 word blog post demonstrsting media literacy and deep research over the week to answer the following question “what will online communities look like in the future”. Grades are not issued, so you can select your own (if you think they are an indicator).

There is no class list, or prescribed reading or software for the course, and class will be held entirely online, in any space you choose.

Before you take teachers into virtual worlds, think carefully about the task, so when you attempt to explain the metaverse, they have a realistic task to work on, lets not pretend otherwise.