UCOL Workshop feedback – Reconceptualising Learning and Teaching for the 21st Century Learner

The pictures below are of the feedback given after the workshop by UCOL staff. The outline of the workshop and other resources can be found at this location: http://effectivepedagogy.wikispaces.com/1.+UCOL+Workshop+Plan

UCOL Workshop Feedback

Students and Technology – What the students want/value. What we are doing wrong.

While I find this infograhic informative, it also reveals what we need to be doing in order to move forward. To me it shows how strong a hold traditional pedagogies have in our classrooms. The high use of technologies such as projector and document camera highlight how delivery of content is still the focus of our practice. The fact that when asked, if technology was used effectively, only 19%  (of 3000 students surveyed) agreed that technology was being used effectively and was appropriately embedded within the learning process. Out of the 3000 students surveyed, 55% of the students had smartphones, yet skills such as audio-creation, geotagging and eportfolios were amongst what students wanted to learn more about.

We are not doing it right!

Cattle fence – How LMS is restricting teacher development and creativity and student learning: An opinion

“ICT has penetrated tertiary education, but has had more impact on administrative services (e.g. admissions, registration, fee payment, purchasing) than on the pedagogic fundamentals of the classroom.” (OECD, 2005, p. 15)I would like to start this forum post by drawing an analogy between cow’s in an electric fence and teacher’s teaching using an LMS.

Saturday morning 5 am, 24th July 2011, Hamilton, New ZealandA farmer walks a herd of cow into the pasture that is fenced off from the surrounding patch. The cow’s know their limit and stay away from trying to make their way into new pasture. The electric fence has taught them this! If you dare to make the mistake of trying, the fence will get you!  After maybe trying for a while, the cows finally learn their place and live with what they are given. The farmer herds them back to the shed for milking and after a few weeks of doing this the cow’s know the routine and their way around the farm (perfect conditioning). They would make their way to the shed and back to the patch for grazing. Their life slowly becomes ‘making it to the shed for milking and back to the patch for grazing’.

Relating this back to the topic of my blog: Cattle fence – How LMS is restricting teacher development and creativity.

Don’t get me wrong, when I say the electric fence teaches the cow’s what the boundary is. There is no electric fence when teachers use the LMS per se. However we are very well aware of how people behave when a new technology is introduced, especially in teaching: apprehensive, fear, what’s the point, I don’t need it, what I am doing works for me and my students, I don’t need to change anything …. we have heard it all – I argue that these factors form the invisible fence for the academics who are just starting to try new technologies in learning and teaching. They find refuge in using the LMS because it is very well supported by the institute, help is only a phone call away! After using the LMS for a few weeks, technology is not bad or difficult to use in teaching after all! Just as the everyday expectation from the cows’ is to be milked and grazed (this routine conditions them) – the use of LMS over a certain period does the same for the teachers. While the invisible electric fence is at work every step of the way. Again just as the cow’s try and break for new pasture, the teacher’s do the same, they go out and explore on the web, however the process of exploring something to materialising may never eventuate. The invisible fence gives them a shock every time they try and finally settle for LMS – where the invisible fence is to some degree negotiated for by institutional support available.

Impact on learning and teaching

Technology itself is not capable of bringing change to teacher pedagogy. While its role in the process of scaffolding teacher pedagogy is of importance, unfortunately technology alone is not the answer to problems relating to learning and teaching. Now, relating back to the opening quote, absolutely, yes, it does not change anything for the teacher or the students rather just makes things easier to manage and control.

Let’s take Moodle for example: the underpinning philosophy is social constructivist but can we positively say that that’s how teachers are using it, absolutely no.

“….. technology is not being used innovatively in education. It is both a strength and a weakness that technology can sit quite comfortably within current approaches to education; it is a strength that we can stay with those educational practices we are most used to, but this is also its weakness.” (Reeves, 1997, p. 220).

While LMS has the potential to enhance learning, the lack of pedagogical knowledge of how to use it perhaps causes more harm than good. By encouraging staff to use an LMS are we in fact nurturing the invisible fence? In my opinion, yes we are and worse, I feel that we are limiting creativity and teacher development as well.

Stat: MootNZ11 Martin Dougiamas while talking about pedagogical progression in using Moodle, outlined that almost (anecdotal) 90% of the users are stuck in the repository phase – meaning use of the LMS is to transfer content.

How often are we likely to come across a new web service on LMS? Probably never! How often do you think we’ll come across other academics who are doing things differently and offer the opportunity to learn from? In my experience of working with academic staff and staff development for over 8 years, for some, the LMS becomes the ‘internet’, it becomes the whole world. This thus creates a fence that keeps the staff from exploring further, exploring the whole world because for them the LMS is the universe. The seductive templates, modules and ease of use factor binds the staff in habitual practices, uploading pdf’s, creating forums that will probably be never used. And before you know it, you are instructing your student’s what to do. This of cause does not sit well with adult learners, taking instructions again!

I myself have a few problem with LMS’s. I first started using LMS in my first year of teaching in 2003 and for me at the time, the LMS meant the whole world, it was the next big thing. I would spend more than 6 hours I day creating things on Moodle … as you do because it is so easy. And after a while you find that design is what is driving your teaching. Everything you know about education goes out the window and whatever is available in LMS becomes the driver. The biggest of all problem for me is student ownership of their own learning and control over the content they create. Helen Barrett (2011) outlines the four critical elements for selecting technology while implementing student portfolio (Student-generated content – they own it, let them manage it.):

  • “online space for students to store their work that is either initially owned by the student, accessible after graduation or can be easily transferred to a student-owned space any time (individual documents must be accessible by URL) – Digital Archive
  • online reflective journal (blog) where students can keep a contemporaneous learning record, with the ability to contribute evidence in audio, video, images and text from mobile devices or computers (individual blog entries need to be “tagged” or assigned classifications for ease of retrieval) – Electronic Documentation of Learning
  • an online system to aggregate and present evidence (artifacts and rationale) of achieving “gen-ed” student outcomes plus requirements of specific majors – Showcase/Presentation Portfolio
  • a data management system to collect and aggregate faculty evaluation data of students’ summative portfolios – Assessment Management System”

(Barrett, 2011, n.n)

I would like to add to this list another element that is perhaps equally important:

  • student’s ability to network with other students and experts from around the world to build a personal learning network – Connection (Connectivism) – Personal Learning Ecology
The core element underpinning the five factors above is student-ownership – ownership of their own learning, community and content.Question: What happens to all the content generated by the students in your course in a LMS at the end of the semester?

While the list above is for teachers to consider while implementing student portfolios, it could be also be used by the teachers for their own development.

Some good discussion here: http://www.markdrechsler.com/?p=712Reference

Barrett, H. (2011, June 2011). Generic tools requirement for e-portfolio development. http://blog.helenbarrett.org/2011/05/generic-tools-requirement-for-e.html
OECD (2005). E-learning in Tertiary Education: Where do we stand? www.oecd.org/dataoecd/55/25/35961132.pdf
Reeves, T. (1997). Evaluating what really matters in computer-based education. In M. Wild & D. Kirkpatrick (Eds.), Computer education: New perspectives (pp. 219-246). Perth, Australia: MASTEC.

Education is no rocket science!!

Education is no Rocket Science!!!

A couple of years ago, a friend who is a doctor and have to say a bit up himself, asked me what I did for a living. We schooled together and there was a bit of a history between us. Anyway back to the question, what I did for a living – I answered, I am in education. My friend who shall remain unnamed answered back, It’s not rocket science is it? You work in, stand in front, talk and your job is done!

Well my reaction to his first question :-# – education is no rocket science – Damn right, it is Not Rocket Science, in fact it is harder than that and I went on to explain:

Every component in a rocket has a predictable behaviour and you know as a scientist exactly what you can expect from it – the exact outcome. It remains the same every time. Thus assembling a rocket is a simple matter of putting the components together carefully, making sure that the output from one component feeds into the the next that is attached to it the right information. However in education, each component (student) is uniquely different, they can not be controlled, as a matter of fact, they should not be controlled and the outcome from each is absolutely unpredictable! If I were to assemble a rocket using these components, it will be a damn hard task, don’t you think?

My friend – speechless! He it seemed had just landed from the land of arrogance and full of ego!

In my 8 or so years in education, I have to say that teaching is probably one of the most difficult job, if it is done right. Each student in the class is uniquely different, they have their strengths and weaknesses and each will react differently to a certain task. In my experience, just as a scientist has to build a link or relationship between each component he/she assembles, we as teachers have to do the same every time and everyday. A rocket scientists job is done when he/she knows exactly what the relationship is, however, a teachers job is never finished! He/she has to keep building and working on this relationship every given time. That is of course, the teacher is not just standing in front of the class talking as my friend perceived it to be.

The reason why I have written about this experience now and not when it happened is because earlier this week, I attended my institutes annual teaching and learning symposium and the keynote reminded me of the importance of ‘RELATIONSHIP’ in education. I don’t see the differences between the students as a weakness and that I as a teacher have to bring it to uniformity rather I see it as a strength that if nurtured in class could enable us to learn from each others experiences and knowledge and this action enables the relationships to be established. If these conversations were to happen frequently, you are assured that the links between the components will start to form and this will enable you to build a spaceship that is UNIQUELY different. Where each component is not programmed rather act on their own accord and regularly improve their own performance as they continue learning.

TPACK 2.0 – The framework for learning and teaching with Web 2.0 tools

TPACK 2.0 – The framework for learning and teaching with Web 2.0 tools

>Models for Reflection – ePortfolios


Gibbs’ Reflective Cycle (Read the original post)


  1. Description – What happened?
  2. Feelings – What were you thinking and feeling?
  3. Evaluate – What were the positives and negative of the experience?
  4. Analysis – What did you understand/learn from the experience?
  5. Conclusion – What else could you have done?
  6. Action Plan – if it happens again, what would you do differently?

(Picture source: http://distributedresearch.net/blog/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2008/05/gibbsmodelreflection.jpg)

Peter Pappas’ Taxonomy of Reflection (Read the original post)

Very closely aligned with Bloom’s Taxonomy.
  1. Remembering
  2. Understanding
  3. Applying
  4. Analysing
  5. Evaluating
  6. Creating

(Picture source: http://peterpappas.blogs.com/.a/6a00d8341d880253ef0120a7a4dd53970b-pi)

>CAME Project kicks off

>Last week I took the first lot of students from the Certificate in Automotive and Mechanical Engineering course through Google Apps and Blogger. We had about 20 students in class and they all had their own laptops. I wasn’t at all ready for this. David Clarke (lecturer in the course) gave me a call early Monday morning asking if I could do something with the students the same day. I was anticipating this but later in the week. I am happy to report the 2 hour session however went smoothly and I managed to achieve what was very quickly planned.

I have since put together a wikispaces resource centre for students. This will make the next session later this week easier for me. Here is the link to the wikispaces website.

Yesterday we gave out Dell Mini 9 Netbooks to a select group of students. It was very interesting to observe how excited and quick the students were to to jump on the net. The Netbooks which were given out were pre-configured hence it made it easy for the students to be connected. I have to say the first site they all opened (most of them did) was Youtube. It is suprising to see how Youtube is replacing Google as preferred search or reference website in the younger generation. The Dell Minis come with a built-in camweb, bluebooth, and Wifi, the only problem with it is limited storage space (it has a 8 gig main drive storage).

The storage space shouldn’t be a big issue since students are making extensive use of Google. However we have supplied the students with a 8gig SD card so they can use this to store any video and pictures they may take during to course. Students are to use Picasa to storage pictures and Youtube for videos.

The aim of this project is to embed technology on the learning process hence enabling students to create their own content. Students use this content to create an eportfolio which they submit at the end of the course for assessment. We are also hoping the students will continue working on their portfolio in the courses that follow.

In all we have more than 80 students in this course. They are divided into 4 groups and each group will be looked after by one of the four teaching staff. The students however go through a rotation, all four teachers teach different topics in the course.

Last week I attended a session where students were to present their findings on safety (personal safety in a work environment). Almost all groups had drawn very neat pictures to relay the message, unfortunately the students did not have any equipment to digitally capture this. They could have used the webcame on their netbooks but the problem is, the webcams on these netbooks are facing the user every time, it is fixed.

I sent out a request to the head of department, asking for fund so that we can buy 8 of the compact digital video cameras that doubles up as a camera. I was so delighted to see the support, the head of department approved the purchase in a few hours. So this is what we bought for the students to use to capture what happens in and outside of the classroom.

I’ll be shortly adding another page in the wikispaces site: Using the JVC HD Video Camera. I bit about the compact vidcam, Full HD, easy upload to Youtube, 8 Mega Pixel still capture, 90 minute battery life. 3X digital zoom. Only problem with this model is it doesn’t not have much built in storage. We now need to buy SD cards, it can take up to 32 gig. This in-fact could play to our benefit since the Dell Mini 9’s have a SD slot, hence it will make it easy for the students to transfer files from the camera.

It is an exciting project and a first in the trade school. The four staff involved in this project so far have enjoyed the journey and appreciate the change from the old way to new way of teaching. Early indication from students has been good so far. Most of them have bought the laptop and the use in class has been good.