Visions of students today

Did you notice?

Week two of our EDC3100 course included a link to http://visionsofstudents.org/

Did you notice that most of this presentation was made of other presentations?

No, not snippets of other presentations, WHOLE other presentations. Each snippet includes a whole presentation, a whole article, hundreds of digital artifacts, each one of value.

I’m blogging about this in case you missed it – and even more importantly, so I can go back and look closer when I have time to.

This may be my last unit of study, but it will not be the last thing I learn. Once I am finished I have a whole list of things to go back on. I will finally be free to learn!

Prezi

I just wanted to say a quick thanks to Scott Corry for his blog post introducing me to Prezi. While I had seen this only a few weeks ago, I had yet to look into it, and Scott’s presentation reminded me to do just that.

I have now created my first Prezi presentation on Display Technologies, part of the course I will be delivering next on Digital Technologies. Obviously, there’s a lecture to go with the presentation, but all of my talks are interactive, so no words with the show 😉

While it took a little while, it didn’t take so long as to make it any more complex than MS PowerPoint. In fact, I imported the PPT presentation I made a couple of years ago as the starting point.

The only thing I didn’t like was the fact it doesn’t seem to play .gif files, but I can work around that. The new ‘Prezi’ presentation is much more dynamic and much better at holding the attention than the previous version.

Prezi is likely to replace PowerPoint’s in my current delivery methods, a new tool in my educational toolbox.

Thanks Scott!

Life Happens

I’m behind and trying to catch up.

I’ve just read our lecturers post about the automatic marking  he intends using on our blogs. It may just save me a mark or two because it gives me the opportunity to move my dates around a little 😉

I don’t see this as cheating, it’s not. The work is still being done, only the unrealistic time constraints are being slightly manipulated.

Why am I running behind – well, David points out the major reason in his blog – Life Happens – still recovering from storm damage (our roof will be refurbished in the coming weeks and parts of our ceiling will hopefully be repaired under insurance) I had a call a couple of days ago about the suspected heart attack of a friend, and I have uncovered the unethical practices of a fellow teacher. Each thing has required my time, none could wait.

Stay tuned for my next post about educational ethics….

A journey through ICT’s

As part of my studies at USQ, I need to submit an “online artifact”.

Please follow this link to “Teaching & Learning: A Journey through ICTs” and learn a little about ICT with me.

There are many links to videos, educational research, software and websites which you can follow if you choose. Following the website without deviation will only take a few minutes. If you then go back and want to know more you could follow all the links but I’d suggest you will need to put aside a couple of hours (plus a little time for those fabulous learning tangents you will find without my help).

Classroom dinosaurs

As is often the case when I seek knowledge, I’m off on another tangent.

I’ve been thinking about online learning for quite some time now, but have been nobbled by other priorities.

I have been thinking today, maybe the classroom will soon go the way of the dinosaurs? Don’t discount it just yet, consider these points first.

Prior to the commonality of literacy, all learning was via osmosis. Initially we learned by our own mistakes, but we also shared that learning with others using verbal and cognitive skills.

When we gained literacy, it was shared, mostly through the religious sects, it was a skill of the clerics (ever wondered why administration is considered clerical work?). Literacy was shared only with the upper caste of society as a way to manage the lower classes.

With the invention of the Gutenburg Press (intended to increase the hold of the clerics), mass produced books which enabled the classroom we think of today to come into existence changed the way we communicate. Not only bibles were mass produced.

When is the last time you saw your son or daughter read a book for pleasure, what about their friends? How often did you and your friends read books when you were their age?

Take a look at this timeline. 640 years after the moving type press hits the west, the internet comes into existence (1989). Here we are a couple of decades later and communication is changing just as dramatically as it did with the advent of the mass produced book.

Instead of stamps and ink, I email. The proliferacy of my writing has increased tenfold, but often the content is short and direct. I read the works of scholars by downloading their research and electronic versions of their books. I pass my students notes, printed from electronic documents, that I could have emailed them much more easily. I share my thoughts online through blogs and social media.

My education is currently very much self-managed. At the University of Southern Queensland we use a Moodle Virtual Learning Environment, I haven’t been to the Uni since the day I enrolled, and even that turned out to be an unnecessary trip. At the University of Edinburgh we use the MOOC provided by Coursera. I’ve even started setting up my own college pending an increase in knowledge that rests only on the next close horizon.

If I created a few podcasts, and arranged some video interaction, could I just skip going into the classroom? That is exactly my intention with the Interfaith College.

To take this one step further, for all the questions asked again and again by a plethora of students, could I just create a faq (maybe even a video faq) response that could be used again and again, thereby saving me time and effort and making the whole job of teaching just that little bit easier? Can I partially automate some of the systems to enable ‘on demand’ training for my students? Could I even automate the assessment and thereby keep teaching long after I have passed from this world???

Personally, I think some of this may work, but I foresee the classroom continuing to be needed by some students. I expect those students are very likely to be disappointed once the bean counters crunch their numbers. Why build a school when you can lease an IP & URL for a billionth of the cost?

As educators, do we really have any choice other than to get involved in online education? In only a short time we will be presented with two options: e-education or no education.

 

See also: A range of invention time lines – I have used parts of these to point out how recent the semi-conductor is, how new computers are, and that my Grandma drove a horse.

Become a ‘coder’

One of my colleagues pointed me to a web resource which I have found quite intriguing this week. The message is quite simple ‘learn code’.

Many years ago, almost in a past life, I wrote code. It started with Electronics Australia in the mid-70’s, sending me code which I typed into my computer (a commodore) in basic. Soon after I was writing my own programs, in basic, and later Amigabasic, and even other languages I have long forgotten such as ‘C’. I was a wizard in DOS and became an amateur hacker, breaking encryption codes (albeit only the very simple ones) and dialing into the backdoor access of several bbs’s used by hackers, phone phreaks and others now often quantified as nerds.

Several years later I found myself writing machine code. No language, straight to the microprocessor. The mirco’s course I took was only six weeks long. I sometimes wonder if it was fortunate or unfortunate that I went on a career tangent from there.

 

Vague memories of skills long forgotten and a person that no longer exists. I digress….

Code.org is a site which suggests “Every student in every school should have the opportunity to learn to code”, and you know, I totally agree. I’m not quite sure if we’re there yet, but if we are not, simply wait 5 minutes.

How much better would your resources be if you could write code?

Now for the great bit – there are some basic exercises on their website to get you started, and some videos to encourage your students.

I haven’t looked deep enough yet (a lack of available time), but I expect this will be a great starting point for my next chunk of study. I’ve bookmarked it and will return around May when time becomes a commodity I can afford to spend on myself once again. A little basic code and I’ll be podcasting, understand my Moodle site better, and hopefully regain an in depth understanding of computers which has slowly been eluding me by a greater distance each year for the past two decades…

Next stop – 

Synapse: The University of Bristol Student Science Magazine has written a review about this fee MOOC here.

My current PLN’s

Personal Learning Networks

My current PLN’s are extensive, they are something I have been using since well before I became an educator, and in the many fields where my interests lie. They encompass online, print and in person formats.

Many of my original PLN’s involved technologies which have now fallen from use, bulletin boards (prior to the internet), newsgroups (prior to email lists and social media), and many learning groups that once upon a time occurred in person.

Geeks is one PLN I use to gain access to a wide range of study. One of a series of websites dedicated to sharing information in various forms of media and through discussion forums. It is a members only site where I have been able to access a wide range of information on theology, philosophy, education, history and social sciences. From a simple chat on a specific subject tot he ability to access university lectures in video or audio format, this is the place I go to find the things I cannot locate on Google Scholar.

I have been using Yahoo Groups since before it wore that name. When I first used this service it was called eGroups, it then changed hands to become OneList before being purchased by Yahoo!. This service provides free hosting for interest groups of any sort. Its primary service is as an email list, but it also offers file and image sharing, member polls, message archiving and database tools. I operate several groups here, including one of the largest online English language Interfaith forums in the world and several others related to esoteric and theological study. While email groups like this have suffered with the advent of social media, they still exist and can be active an interesting at times.

Linked In has become a very good tool in recent years. It also incorporates interest groups that are wide and varied, but is more business related than most other online PLN tools. This means I can (and have) join groups related specifically to my fields of study in my location, such as the Australian Radio Communications Industry Association and Innovation in Vocational Education and Training. These allow me to have a greater input and discover more information of local relevance than many other PLN’s.

Facebook also provides the ability to create groups. Being social media, I use this less is a business sense and more in other fields of interest however it is still of note as part of my collection of PLN’s. Facebook works well in a ‘push marketing’ style where it is possible to produce memes or posts and receive feedback from personal contacts through this site.

Twitter also works as ‘push marketing’, though I have found it quite limited at this stage. It allows microblogging of 140 text characters which I find insufficient to express an idea thoroughly, however I do use it on occasion to announce a link to blog posts that are located elsewhere. Twitter is a bit like SMS when it first arrived, abrupt and almost always insufficient in content. Needless to say I am not yet a fan.

I also use this blog, and my blog at the Interfaith Church to distribute information that I have gleaned from my own research.

irl – or ‘in real life’ I have been published in a couple of journals (magazines really) which are dedicated to social sciences. As they are unrelated to education, I won’t provide the links here, but they have served to increase my standing and thereby my involvement in those areas of study.

At work we also regularly share our own findings from study and experience. Our lunch table conversations and irregular meetings have been one of the greatest forms of learning for me in the field of education. It is not uncommon for me to return to my desk to find an interesting article on education or my teaching field of electronics, or for me to share something similar with my colleagues this way. This usually engenders some form of discussion and group learning.

Being involved in our industries Technical Advisory Committee provides yet another PLN for me where I can discuss current topics about education in our field and have an impact on the learning of others on a wide scale.

Outside of the education field I have often been involved in weekend conferences and usually attend a few of these each year. This provides me with the ability to pass on information through workshops and/or lectures as well as receiving new information as a participant in the workshops/ lectures of others. The next such conference is a Peace Education Forum in Toowoomba.

Of course, this is not all of it. I have teachers who are friends too, most of who work in very different fields, and other educators that may not specifically identify as teachers (Priests, technical specialists, etc.). My students also teach me a lot and are a very necessary part of my overall PLN, as are many of my friends who are willing to sit around until the wee small hours in philosophical discussion.

I hope this provides some idea of what a PLN is to me, and maybe provides you with some new ideas.

 

Post Script: I forgot to mention the University of Southern Queensland, the University of Edinburgh and The Great Courses (formerly The Teaching Company) who all provide me with great learning opportunities and add to my PLN.

RSS Feed Readers

A new exploration today. RSS Feeds.

Many years ago we had usenet, then newsgroups, this now seems to have been reinvented as RSS Feeds though I expect that’s not entirely true…. RSS Feeds track changes in webpages as well as disseminate information, something that it now appears is easy to track, especially when in comes to pages that change often, such as blogs and events pages.

Many RSS Feed Readers appear to be web based, but I prefer my content to come to my computer with the least possible effort, so I did a little research.

Omea Reader is one of the most popular and functionally simple RSS feed readers. It can be downloaded and operated for free and, in fact, can be used as a feed reader as well as a direct link to web pages. It was easy to install, but I didn’t need all the extra functionality it provided, I just wanted a basic feed reader.

A little more searching and I find that Outlook 2010, which I already use, has an RSS function. Simply find it, add the URL, and all new content is automatically delivered. Exactly what I wanted, and without worrying about learning new software. You can read about how to set this up at blogmines (with a bit of video content), or at Device Magazine which I found slightly simpler.