Sunday, November 23, 2008

Lifelong learning

I am in the process of writing a literature review on "informal personal online learning networks". I decided that lifelong learning will be a central idea in this review and began reading 'The concepts and practices of lifelong learning'.

I realised that I had a very narrow view of the concept and there are elements that I have never entertained. Some ideas I am grappling with at the moment are:

  • Lifelong learning can be thought of as elitist. The concept is that the individual will drive their own education and access opportunities but not that the government will provide those opportunities (as opposed to the policy of lifelong education). If this is the case then only those people who can gain access through their economic or social position will have access to quality lifelong learning. This brings up the whole question of equality.
  • Lifelong learning can be linked with social control. If you accept the notion of lifelong learning then people accept they must adapt and change. This clouds out the other issue of questioning the direction of the change. Deleuze says that one of the features of societies of control is the idea of perpetual learning.
  • Lifelong learning is essential in the 21st century because of the changing learning society spurred on by changes in science and technology.
I still see the value in lifelong learning and think that greater emphasis needs to be placed on the equity issue. Maybe if we face this issue then the issue of power and control can be addressed also as people learn to evaluate and question change before adapting it.

This has really made me think about the fact that this concept 'lifelong learning' needs to be understood in detail before being claimed to be of benefit for our students or ourselves. I am a lifelong learner and I embrace the concept more now that I have begun to explore what it means, the inherent pitfalls and the opportunities for making the concept of value for all, not just the select few.

These are my initial musings. I am just starting to explore this issue, I am sure many more ideas will come to light so I reserve the right for this post to be seen as my grappling with ideas not making black and white statements. :)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Engagement of our students

Today I spent some time watching videos put together by Michael Wesch. Many will know his now famous video The Machine is Us/ing Us. He has made a series of other videos about students engagement in school and a fascinating lecture which expands on his simple videos. Below are some of the key messages I pulled out of these videos.

Michael Wesch from Kansas State University put together the video A vision of students today (4:44min) after observing a level of disengagement in tertiary students he wasn't happy with. This video inspired a similar video for junior students A vision of k12 students today (4:09min)

In a presentation at the University of Manitoba entitled A portal to media literacy (1hr) Michael Wesch expanded on the initial video explaining how it came about and discusses the use of digital literacy to enhance student learning.

He asked his students:
Who doesn't like school?
Over half put up their hands.

He asked his students:
Who doesn't like learning?
No one put up their hands.

Michael Wesch also talks about the common statement made by teachers that

Some children are not cut out for school

He then makes the point that School is Learning

Is it fair to say:

Some children are not cut out for learning?

The power of the learning environment is discussed, with the question "What do the walls say about learning?"

He says that the traditional classroom may say:

"To learn is to acquire information
Information is scarce and hard to find
Trust authority for good information
Authorised information is beyond discussion
Obey the authority
Follow along"

This just is not the case for 21st century learning.

What does your learning environment say about learning?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The power of sharing ideas

I had a good day yesterday. The best part of my job is listening to teachers share their successes and ideas. I spent yesterday at Outram School and every teacher I worked with walked in with something they were proud of to share with me. What a buzz!

I had one teacher who had been exploring the use of glogster to make posters explaining algebraic equations. Another teacher had made her first digital story with PowerPoint on a Mac and then using the easy 'make movie' function to turn it into a Quicktime to post on her blog. The next teacher was buzzing from a workshop she attended at ULearn facilitated by Amanda (heymilly) on 5 frame storytelling. She had started with two frame stories with her 6 year olds and was delighted with their achievements. We discussed the next steps and how digital storytelling can enhance and enable oral language in students and the resounding "That's so exciting" could be heard emanating from the room. Another teacher had made the most remarkable printed storybooks with her juniors where their original artwork had been scanned.

Wow! All this after just one year in the cluster! I remember my first visit to the school where I met with some very uncertain teachers. Uncertain about their ability, uncertain about how useful ICT is for learning, uncertain about the cluster. I am really looking forward to watching these teachers' journey continue over the next two years.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Now for a post about nothing...

I have been reading some photography blogs and one had some tips for photographing pets and I thought I would have a go with my lovely Jessica...

Monday, November 03, 2008

2009 e-Learning teacher fellowships

The 2009 e-Fellowships have been announced and I am very excited that a close friend and colleague, Esmay Sutherland, has been awarded an e-Fellowship for next year! Esmay will have an exciting year working alongside the talented people at CORE Education on a research project incorporating movie making and literacy. Who knows... I may even be able to get her blogging!

I have always said Pine Hill School Leads the Way! and this definitely is the case with effective teaching and learning with ICT. Pine Hill School is a small 3 classroom school and has had two teachers awarded e-Fellowships over the last three years. Not bad for a small school at the bottom of the South Island.

Update: Here is the official press release
Blogged with the Flock Browser

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Saturday, November 01, 2008


Over the last two days in Dunedin we have held our annual Kidz @ Conference. This is the third year this event has been running and we seem to have ironed out a lot of the kinks. One of the aims for this year was to make sure that the students' work made it online, the last two years this has been a bit of a mission but this year I think we cracked it!

The theme for this year was "I have a dream". Students attended four sessions through out the two day conference learning how to use various technologies: I Can Animate, Garage Band, Lego Robotics, Beebots, digital photography, movie making, green screen, Google Sketchup, Scratch and Wikispaces. And making new friends across the various schools attending. The key to the conference is collaboration, communication and technology.

The Kidz @ Conference is a remarkable two day event for those students lucky enough to attend. There are only places for 100 students (year 5 or 6) and teachers can attend with the students to sit in on the sessions as professional development. The buzz of excitement is contagious. On the first day the students arrive and are given their conference packs and a t-shirt. They then file into the lecture theatre at the University of Otago College of Education where the conference is held. One student was heard to exclaim:
Wow! Look at the seats!
Every part of the conference is an event for the students. After rifling through their packs they were entertained by some very cool dudes from the John McGlashan School band .

These young men from the band then spent the day at the conference running sessions called "Jam with the band". Students could learn how to play their instruments and have their jam session recorded. These sessions can be found on the wiki.

The theme of this year's conference was apt. The Kidz @ Conference has been a dream of the organisers for a very long time and was realised in spectacular fashion this year. A big thank you and well done goes to all the session facilitators and conference organisers who come from schools and education institutions around Dunedin and volunteer their time for free to put on this event. It is a privilege to be involved and I look forward to next year's event.