Learning happens

I’ve spent the last eight school days participating in a ‘camp’ program at my school called Creative Communication. I’ve had the pleasure of working with 21 very special girls who have all made an effort to extend their thinking and contemplate how we communicate in today’s world. They’ve been exposed to actors like Brian Nankervis (or Raymond J Bartholomuez to those of you who remember one of his stage names) and playright Joanna Murray Smith (a former old girl from Toorak College). They’ve listened to me rabbit on about social media and how it can make a difference to their lives, and we’ve skyped with Karl Fisch to discuss the origins of ‘Did you know? – Shift happens‘, and Garr Reynolds, who helped them to understand the value of communicating effectively when presenting your ideas. (I may elaborate on Karl and Garr’s sessions over the weekend). It’s been full on, and culminated in them working on a project idea that would reflect some of their thinking.

The above video, made by Kate, was a link featured in Passionfruit, a magazine published by one group using ISSUU.

I hope you visit their publication, and appreciate that they got this together in just over a day. They were originally thinking of doing a print publication, but decided to go with an online version knowing that it had the potential to reach an audience much wider in scope than just the school community. Another group produced a great video about the effect of technology on student lives, and will be posting to YouTube. I’ll definitely feature it here when it goes up. Others started blogs about things they are passionate about, and most said they think they will try and sustain them.

I do hope that this experience has helped them to understand the significance of sharing their work publicly. Yesterday we watched Chris Anderson discuss Crowd Accelerated Innovation in his TED Talk, and I tried very hard to get them to understand that these ideas apply to them. They don’t have to wait until they finish their university degree to get themselves noticed. As Garr Reynolds told them, we can all make a dent in the universe if we go about it the right way.

(By the way,  thanks to Derek Wenmoth, I’ve just been scanning the latest Horizon Report focused on Australia and New Zealand. Reading this confirms my belief that helping my students understand the value of sharing their work in online spaces, and making connections with experts and others interested in their passions, is what I need to to be doing. Stuffing content down their throats might help them pass an exam, but it won’t teach them the skills they need to be successful in today’s world.)

Thanks girls, it was a pleasure sharing this time with you. Hope you felt the same way. : )

The Horizon Report: 2009 K-12 Edition

Educause and the New Media Consortium have just released the K – 12 Edition of The Horizon Report. Horizon Reports always make for interesting reading, as they predict the time to adoption of many of the emerging technologies finding their way into the fabric of our teaching. Horizon reports usually have as their focus higher education institutions. This report has K – 12 education as its focus so their evaluation of likely adoption in Primary and Secondary education is especially interesting.

One of the very interesting observations they make in the findings is that assesment and filtering impact on the degree to which some technologies can be adopted in school settings. It’s the old story of assessment driving curriculum and affecting adoption of new ways of doing things. There is no doubt it is difficult assessing someone’s efforts commenting on blog posts or their participation in ning networks. And yet these are valid pursuits that can lead to real engagement in learning. Filtering is another issue; the unfortunate fact is that impressive tools like Voicethread and Ning are often classified as ‘social networks’ or ‘chatrooms’ and filtering software prevents them loading in some schools. I’ve had to go to my network administrators to have blocks removed and I’ve heard the same story from many other educators.  

So, what are the findings, what are the trends to watch?

Time to adoption – One year or less

  • Collaborative Environments
  • Online Communication Tools

Time to Adoption – Two to three years

Time to Adoption – Four to five years

I don’t know if I totally agree with their findings. I’d find it surprising to see Nings become mainstream in the next year within school settings, given that most of the educators I know stare at you blankly when you mention the word. Unless we some some major investment from Government to support  Professional Development for teachers in the field of new technologies, I just can’t see mainstream adoption in such a short time frame.

Take a read for yourself. It’s well worth downloading and showing to your school administration. Congratulations go to Judy O’Connell who served on the advisory board of the project.  

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