Monday, February 27, 2012

Transformative learning in times of crisis: Possible or not?

The Caledonian Hall in Kilmore Street, Christc...Image via Wikipedia
First, a thought for those in Christchurch as it has been a year since the February 22nd earth quake. A friend said “This week for us will be dominated by the 22nd - as we look back over the last 12 months. It’s been a seriously hard year for all who live in Christchurch, but as with any hardship and loss, we learn from it”.

A few bloggers posted immediately after the event in Feb 2011 about possible 'silver linings', and even transformations to the way education and business would be conducted in the future (see for example, the report from Douglas HarreDerek Wenmoth's post, and one by Lisa Galarneau). However, I wonder if, as the quakes continue, the conditions are conducive to enabling the necessary shifts in three dimensions - psychological (changes in understanding of the self), convictional (revision of belief systems), and behavioral (changes in lifestyle) (source). This, for me, was a catalyst for thinking about knock-on implications for learning and teaching in areas of the world where there are natural disasters, political unrest, and/or poverty.

BRISTOL, UNITED KINGDOM - FEBRUARY 24:  School...Image by Getty Images via @daylifeBandura (1963) asserted that most learning is shaped by our experiences and we are likely to imitate, and in part, replicate what we have participated in - especially in times of stress or extreme discomfort. For education and training, this means, in the words of the oft used cliché is 'we teach as we have been taught'. The question arises, how can support be offered to educators in stressful contexts, such that adverse experiences may prove transformative? And alongside this question, when your life is in peril do you have the luxury of being "critically reflective of those beliefs that become problematic” (Mezirow, Jack et al. (2000) Learning as Transformation)...or is it a necessary part of survival and re-invention? Without such shifts in understandings, belief systems, and behaviours will we ever be in a position to have a significant impact on policy and the shape of education (including teacher education) in future years?

Would be great to hear your thoughts :-) Please comment below.

Education online (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)
education onlineeducation online (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

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Monday, February 20, 2012

Inquiry learning - from knowledge to understanding

Jane Nicholls recommends, "another video for your toolbox, this time one from NZ Curriculum Online". Jane goes on to say that if you are an educator working with an inquiry learning approach with your students, or who would like to consider doing so this video "explains the heart of inquiry better than I have heard before". "Vic Hygate explains how she carefully focuses her planning, then uses events and provocative statements to make inquiry relevant and fully engage her students". Vic Hygate opens the video by saying:
The biggest difference for me as a teacher with ‘inquiry’ is it’s that shifting your students from knowing about their world to understanding their world - and understanding is so much more than knowledge!

Jane leaves us with the following question: 'How do you use inquiry learning to move from knowledge to understanding?".

Please click this link to view the video.
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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Publishing a book made easy as ABC...but there's a hitch

Nick Billowes shared this via email today, and, while I have some reservations (see below), I can see why he's excited by the potential.

Nick posted: "I have seen the future... well a small glimpse of a small part anyway! Now I am risking, once again, being told that many of you have "been there, done that" already, and indeed blogged about it in the middle of 2011....Just take a quick look (link below) at something extraordinary that is a way into the future of "publishing" through the "cloud".

Imagine students (now) writing to this format or doing their reflective journals for you (and the world should they wish) to be reviewed at leisure on an i-device...
English: The iPad on a table in the Apple caseImage via Wikipedia
Might I suggest another quantum leap in "text" and language development as well as authorship and publishing to a global (or selected) audience... user generated content rulzzz.....

Accessibility issues may also be well covered with the capability of readers, multimodal content delivery that meets learner needs/capabilities and scaling that help to create a customised environment.

Very exciting, I think, if you can get past the issues of proprietary products and see into an e-empowered future.... The simplicity of this (free) application is simply breathtaking. Enjoy as you bubble with excitement at the possibilities...."

I love the ideas, and it would be great for anyone to be able to develop such interactive resources to share online, and which can even be set for elements to update automatically. Wow!! However, one of my main reservations came at the end of the video (and Nick does mention getting around the use of proprietary kit), is that the fully functioning, multimodal of the eBook is only accessible on an iPad.  DK, after saying "It is a sexy bit of kit - really lowers the barriers to publishing", lists some other barriers below:
"- you're still restricted to their themes
- it only runs on 10.7 OS
- plus you have to be aware of the limitations of publishing through the Apple channel only:
- you have to be a recognised business / author to sell anything through there (you need an ISBN #)
- apple takes the 30% cut
- once on the store you can't sell it elsewhere
Not to be a naysayer as it's a great piece of kit - all moving in the right direction for others to enter the market and loosen the reins a little ;-)".
See for yourself in the video below. Would be great to read your thoughts too.
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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Braille uncovered: 15 facts you should know

Jasmine Hall shared this great article entitled 15 Facts to share during braille literacy month (January - so I'm a bit behind the 8 ball!!). The article, as you might expect has some fascinating facts about Braille. I was not aware, for example, that there are 3 different grades of Braille " with 1 being best for those just starting to learn Braille and 3 for the more familiar", and that there is "“Braille for feet” that assists the visually impaired in knowing the boundaries of dangerous areas". Alongside these facts, are the implications of not being Braille literate, which include (US stats):
Earlier studies noted that visually impaired persons who first learned to read using the Braille system hold a 44% unemployment rate. By contrast, those more accustomed to print media - or incapable of reading Braille, as it were - sat at a staggering 77%.
Braille PDA (by Humanware)Braille PDA (by Humanware) (Photo credit: sinosplice)
And the other observation that struck me was "Since so many teachers know little to nothing of Braille, this results in a reduced literacy rate and more academic struggles".

I would recommend having a read through, even if you are not working directly with folk who are visually impaired or blind.
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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Untangling notions of the flipped classrooms

Having done a wee bit more research around the Flipped classroom that centre around videos, I found this rather thought-provoking blog post by Jackie Gerstein entitled Flipped classroom full picture: An example lesson

Jackie quotes Harvard Professor Chris Dede (Global Education 2011 keynote) who said the following about the flipped classroom . . .
I think that the flipped classroom is an interesting idea if you want to do learning that is largely based on presentation. You use presentation outside of the classroom. Then you do your understanding of the presentation and further steps from the presentation inside the classroom. I think it is a step forward. It is still, in my mind, the old person.  It’s still starting with presentational learning and then trying to sprinkle some learning-by-doing on top of it.  I am interested more in moving beyond the flipped classroom to learning by doing at the center than a kind of the intermediate step that still centers on largely on tacit assimilation.

It is also worth reading "Setting the flip straight" (Aaron Sams), who writes:
Educators should always continue to evaluate the efficacy of an adopted model of instruction. This goes for Flipped Class, Inquiry, lecturing, Unschooling, or whatever educational model you use. I have been a teacher for 12 years, and I have modified my instructional practices every year based on my own reflection, feedback from students and emerging educational practices.

He goes on to caution that the flipped classroom is way of thinking about learning...and teaching, rather than a specific way of doing things, that are reliant on specific technologies.

Jackie then provides a detailed step-by-step example that shifts away from the didactic presentation model to one that focuses  "on the students’ personal experiences, interactions with other students, and acquisition of tangible life skills". Well worth having a look at, as it has some really practical hints (including the use of mobile devices), as well as images of the students participating in the activities.

Examples of other users of the flipped classroom approach

Other posts about flipped classrooms

Monday, February 6, 2012

Great news for the deaf and hearing impaired communities in NZ

This post was shared by Eddie Reisch in early January - a great start to 2012

Sky launches captioning on 13 channels

The post reads

"It’s a giant step forward for the deaf and hearing impaired communities on February 1st 2012, when SKY Television launches closed captioning on 13 popular channels.

SKY has been working on the launch of captioning for several months; the project required considerable technical design as well as investment in hardware and software to enable closed captions on the following 13 channels:
  • Animal Planet,
  • Disney Channel,
  • Disney Junior,
  • TCM,
  • TV1,
  • TV2,
  • TV3,
  • Cartoon Network,
  • Crime & Investigation,
  • Discovery Channel,
  • Nickelodeon,
  • UKTV
  • and National Geographic.

It’s a service SKY is pleased to offer, Chief Executive Officer John Fellet commented: “This is a service we’ve long wanted to offer to SKY customers but have held off offering until now while we tried to gain funding from New Zealand On Air, as TVNZ and TV3 currently do.  I know this new service will be very valuable to the deaf and hearing impaired - while it is a niche audience, it’s a step towards more equal access and we are delighted to offer it”. Closed captioning information will be displayed on the on-screen electronic programme guide (EPG). Viewers can elect to enable closed captions for a single programme, or make a global setting to show closed captions whenever they are available. Viewers can even search for content screened with closed captions.

Last year a Captioning Working Group was formed, with members from the National Foundation for the Deaf (NFD) and Deaf Aotearoa.  Louise Carroll, NFD’s Chief Executive Officer and Captioning Working Group Chairperson welcomed this initiative, saying;

Example of a television broadcast with closed ...Image via Wikipedia“We are absolutely delighted with SKY’s decision to provide captioned programmes on 13 channels. This is a huge step in improving access to over 700,000 hearing impaired and deaf people in New Zealand.

The limited number of captioned television programmes and movies, made internationally and in New Zealand, is an on-going access issue for people who are deaf and hearing impaired. We congratulate SKY Television in removing this barrier to access for many Kiwis and we strongly encourage broadcasters to consider the needs of all viewers equally.”

SKY will continue to evaluate the viability of providing further captions on additional content and channels as the information becomes accessible.     
youtube close captionyoutube close caption (Photo credit: itjil)

Closed Captions are available on MY SKY decoders. SKY Digital decoders can display closed captions through Teletext if the television supports Teletext."
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Safer Internet Day and an insight into the eSafety portal

Safer Internet Day 2012 presents the perfect opportunity for education establishments and parents to work together on addressing the potential opportunities for young people to use the internet, while remaining safe. The description from the site reads "Safer Internet Day (SID) will take place this year on Tuesday 7 February 2012 with a theme of  ‘Connecting generations and educating each other’, and the slogan Discover the digital World together…safely!'". Well worth checking out.

The eSafety portal, as you might expect, offers a wide range of tips and resources around how your learners, and you, can stay safe online. There are some useful resources, and, while some of them are free to access, some require you to pay a subscription. You can 'try before you buy' with a 30 day trial.

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