Creativity, Curiosity, Consideration, Consistency Part 3

Science Cafe Seminar @ 21st Century Kaitokudo
Image by skasuga via Flickr

The final part of this three part look at how we got here, looks at engagement.

In just a few years, Web2.0 has re-energised teachers to discuss and share ideas about learning frameworks on a global scale. Learning is changing on a global scale, the personal learning network is the learning management tool for many educators. These teachers see more than software and more than the internet. They see an opportunity to recreate learning frameworks, adapt technology and the re-engagement of students. The generosity of these people allows the rest of us to understand how they are doing it, and to me, these people demonstrate some common traits.

How effective 21st Century teachers tap into student interest.

  • Creativity: Cognitive skills applied to creating and making using technology – that the activity allows interest driven opportunities to remix, remake and construct understanding by ‘doing’.
  • Curiosity: Enquiry approaches, not knowing all the facts and not needing to have all the answers. Encouraging students to ask their ‘own’ questions is more important than answering the teachers’.
  • Consideration: How students learn using technology. How they collaborate, what it means to be a global citizen and develop an ePortfolio to build a positive digital reputation as a life long learner. Preparation for examination and assessment, balanced with our responsibility to adequately prepare novices to become life long learners.
  • Consistency: Establishing pedagogical ‘norms’ that allow students to learn inside frameworks that support learners, using relevant language, protocols and mediation.

Insistence that a teacher has to include ICT in an assessment task is just a bad idea if they are not able to do it. It doesn’t matter if the school is instructional based, inquiry based, under or well resourced. If schools are going to use the Internet, and offer students access to information and services on it – then these are criteria in which they can assess their learning frameworks. We simply need to admit that might have to start again, to accept that building planes in the sky is not working. We may need to accept that we are no longer able to teach effectively with ICTs until we re-evaluate how we use them in the 21st Century Context.

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Mumbai – Twitter Feeds


I am sure everyone, as they wake up or get in the car to go home will have heard about the events in Mumbai today. It was a hot topic on Twitter Search all day. About 6 months ago, Will Richardson was telling a story about Wikipedia and how it reported new on the Bharpour more efficiently than new channels. It was interesting to note that as I hit Twitter Search for the first time and used the #mumbai tag, there were 20 more results each time I pressed refresh. Some reporting the news, some reporting on the mass media’s interpretation of events, and local sources posting emergency phone numbers. At one point, people talked about how the mass media had gone soft on it’s coverage – but at the same time talking about how the authorities were attempting to remove the #mumbai tag from Twitter.

It is amazing to me, that in only a few months, we can once again talk about another news vector being more efficient (I’m not saying accurate) at publishing that even the ‘masses’ that edit Wikipedia.

Perhaps Twitter isn’t a news outlet. If not then it’s the worlds biggest ‘rubber necking’ event for sure.

During the same day, I read Annabel’s post about the situation of internet access in rural cities – talking about her recent professional development event in Mildura, Victoria. It is amazing to think how dis-connected even Australian society is in terms of access to information, and at the same time how important we don’t dis-connect our society.

Given the changes in just 6 months, it really makes me wonder how we will be reading the news in the next 6. Hopefully the news will be better than this though.

As pointless as cleaning graffiti from a skate park

image: Anthony Theobold

There are somethings that I now consider to be as pointless as cleaning graffiti from a skate park when it comes to Educational Technology.

There are also different types of ‘pointless’ too. Some are pointless as in the very near future they will be so ubiquitous in life that we can hardly call them a mastery skill. Others are pointless as the incumbent hierarchical management frameworks built up over decades, suffering what Clay Shirky calls the ‘tragedy of the commons’. As the tide of teacher-relevance retreats back from incumbent management structures, we are seeing growing and strengthening personal learning networks.

Here are my top 10 pointless activities.

Pointless#1 – Teaching ‘Office’ as a mastery skill. Its a life skill to work the basics, but it is not a value add when leaving school to join the work force.

Pointless#2 – Presenting a Slideshow if the speaker reads any of the sentences in it to you. This is why Beavis and Butthead knew more than anyone what made a great MTV video. Don’t present it – I’m gonna start drifting off within 5 minutes

Pointless#3 – Attempting to explain what Classroom2.0 means, if they have not heard of Web2.0 in the first place

Pointless#4 – Trying to develop anything for which you do not have control. If you’re immediate conduit to success is via someone who fits ‘Pointless#3’, then two things will happen enventually.

  1. Your original idea and effort will be mis-interpreted and not allow you do what it was you thought they understood you were going to do.
  2. It’s mis-understood, but is sufficiently ‘out there’ that anyone that they talk to about it will be impressed enough that they won’t need to talk to you anymore. This is the transference of IP by proxy.

Pointless#5 – The act of reading and writing online must generate a sense of audience for students. If they have no audience beyond thier immediate geographical walls, then publishing online will not develop the skills needed to participate in the global discourse of the future.

Pointless#6 – Seeking (or Googling), then pasting into Office. Bernie Dodge has been telling people this for decades – well before read/write interwebs. Don’t do it – it is low level, boring and repetitive. If you can’t ask questions in a computer room for which the kids Google the answer – then get out the room.

Pointless#7 – Students being made to watching teachers use technology – or watching step-by-step quides in powerpoint. If you can figure it out, then spend more time figuring out how to create interesting activites with it and not worrying about ‘if’ they can use it. If you can, you can be sure they can.

Pointless#8 – Wikis – Unless you know the value of the discussion TAB.

Pointless#9 – Class Blogs – if all they ever do is write in limited text types (report being the obvious). Also pointless if you don’t have an effective model to scaffold the growth of the writer. Pointless if they never comment or get comments. Pointless if they do not reflect activity that can be HEARD, SEEN, LINKED IN. Blogging as a diary is just a glass diary.

Pointless#10 – Claiming to use Web2.0 without also being an active participant in a global Educational Technology community, sharing, learning and willing to deal with the multi-time zone nature of an effective personal learning network. Kids who have no choice but to spend their time with you. However – you have a choice – walk the walk, don’t go through the actions. Make a BIG noise.

Finally, I’d just like to say, that maybe the graffiti is actually beautiful, that it is personal, inspiring and replaces the cold, unfeeling concrete below. I like to look at the local skate park in the morning to see what’s been added. As long as it’s being added I think the day will be good. When I see the guys with the water blasters – I think what a waste of time it was. And that Miss ‘Bel makes me surly too.