5 strategies for successful technology integration in higher education

This is just a summary of Steve Wheeler’s post from his “Shaping Education for the future” series, with a few of my own comments.

Professor Wheeler suggests five strategies that institutions of higher learning will need to put in place, in order for digital technologies to become as successful as pen and paper:

  1. Technology will need to become more transparent.
  2. Universities will need to provide better support for academics.
  3. Teachers must understand the relevance and application of new technologies.
  4. Teachers will need to develop confidence in the use of these technologies.
  5. More research into the use of new technologies is essential.

Without paying attention to each of these, it’s unlikely that you would really change teaching and learning practices on any meaningful level. For a better understanding of the concept of “new” technologies, consider reading George Veletsianos’ “Emerging Technologies in Distance Education” (free PDF available), even if only for the first chapter on defining “emerging technologies”.

From the comments of the original post, Stephen Bright has added another list of considerations, which I hadn’t come across before, but which added more insight to the problem. He suggests looking at Rogers’ five characteristics of innovation, which may also impact the adoption of technology in the classroom. These include:

  1. Relative advantage. The degree to which an innovation is perceived as better than the idea it supersedes. The underlying principle is that the greater the perceived relative advantage of an innovation, the more raid its rate of adoption.
  2. Compatibility. The degree to which an innovation is perceived as being consistent with the existing values, past experiences, and needs of potential adopters.
  3. Complexity. The degree to which an innovation is perceived as difficult to understand and use.
  4. Trialability. The degree to which an innovation may be experimented with on a limited basis. If an innovation is trialable, it results in less uncertainty for adoption.
  5. Observability. The degree to which the results of an innovation are visible to others. The easier it is for individuals to see the results of an innovation, the more likely they are to adopt.

I think that this is especially important when considering the introduction of new, or emerging, technologies into the classroom. We not only need to consider the practical implications in terms of support, but also understand that we are introducing something innovative, the immediate implications of which may not be visible. Without evidence of a direct positive change, it may be difficult to get buy-in from those who are not already sold on the idea. Understanding how people perceive the new technology may help us develop strategies to win them over.

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2012-03-05

  • I will be giving a short presentation as part of my contribution to the SAFRI session currently being held in Cape… https://t.co/5JFyW8L4 #
  • Busy with SAFRI 2012 but had to get out for a walk today https://t.co/B6j0tZUp #
  • A summary of some really innovative ideas in the education space http://t.co/7dHljHNk #
  • Born This Way Foundation: guided by research http://t.co/9bgH8A96 #
  • We’re All Criminals http://t.co/NJ0w8y60 #
  • Why humans have computers, and chimps are stuck with sticks http://t.co/88Polrtr via @zite #
  • Hi Anne Marie. This looks interesting. I’d love to hear what progress you make. https://t.co/QrRs81f5 http://t.co/fwJ3FpSZ #
  • This looks way cool (Google set to revolutionize mHealth and medicine with Google Glasses?) https://t.co/CqNMeOFp http://t.co/bO1DinmD #
  • #SAFRI2012 Day 2 has kicked off with the Tiger Mother leading the sessions on research project development #
  • #SAFRI2012 Too often we get caught up in the “doing” but then we lose sight of the “being” #
  • #SAFRI2012 Create the space in which personal creativity is allowed to come through #
  • #SAFRI2012 Be open to the possibility of change #
  • #SAFRI2012 has begun. SAFRI is an initiative to develop capacity in medical education & research in Africa. Welcome to the new 2012 fellows #
  • @SRoyPhoto no holiday, but teaching on a course and need to stay over for the duration, just in Newlands so not far #
  • @SRoyPhoto still here, going to be away for a few weeks, but maybe when I’m back? Must catch up on your time in india #
  • @SRoyPhoto Hey man, nice pics 🙂 #

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-07-04

  • U.N. Report Declares Internet Access a Human Right | Threat Level | Wired.com http://bit.ly/ivNke2 #
  • #saahe2011 officially over. It was a wonderful conference made possible by the participation of health educators from all over the country #
  • Papert http://bit.ly/mggi6R. Being a revolutionary means seeing far enough ahead to know that there is going to be a fundamental change #
  • Papert http://bit.ly/le70h7. The impact of paper in education has led to the exclusion of those who don’t think in certain ways #
  • @dkeats When people are “experts” in a domain they can be blinded to great ideas in other fields and so miss opportunities to drive change #
  • @dkeats Agreed. I’ve had to work really hard to convince people in my dept that I’m not the “computer guy”, I’m the “education guy” #
  • Innovation is about linking concepts from different fields to solve problems, its not about doing the same thing with more efficiency #
  • “How do you learn enough of the words to make sense of the discipline?” #saahe2011 #
  • Presentation by David Taylor on the use of adult learning theories #saahe2011 #
  • Jack Boulet speaking about the challenges and opportunities in simulation-based assessment #saahe2011 #
  • Mendeley Desktop 1.0 Development Preview Released http://ow.ly/1ueXSs #
  • Social media is inherently a system of peer evaluation and is changing the way scholars disseminate their research http://ow.ly/1ueXMA #
  • @dkeats Wonder if the problem has to do with the fact that much “ed tech” is designed by Comp Scientists, rather than Social Sci? #
  • @dkeats Also, people have the idea that LMSs have something to do with T&L, & then struggle when it can’t do what they need it to #
  • @dkeats To qualify, the problem isn’t resistance, its misunderstanding. The conversation always ends up being about technology #
  • There’s a huge difference between “learning” & “studying”, not in terms of the process but ito motivation & objectives #
  • @thesiswhisperer conf is for health educators, mostly clinicians, many of whom are amazing teachers but for whom tech is misunderstood #
  • In a workshop with David Taylor, looking at using adult learning theories #saahe2011 #
  • Blackboard is a course management system, it has little to do with learning. Use it for what its designed for #saahe2011 #
  • Trying to change perception that technology-mediated teaching & learning isn’t about technology. Not going well #saahe2011 #
  • Just gave my presentation on the use of social networks to facilitate clinical & ethical reasoning in practice contexts #saahe2011 #
  • Deborah Murdoch Eaton talks about the role of entrepreneurship to innovate in health education #saahe2011 #
  • Social accountability is relevant for all health professions (healthsocialaccountability.org) #saahe2011 #
  • Charles Boelen talks about social accountability at #saahe2011 keynote, discusses its role in meeting society’s health needs #
  • First day of #saahe2011 over. Lots of interesting discussion and some good research being done in health science education #
  • Concept mapping workshop turned out OK. Got a CD with loads of useful information…a first for any workshop I’ve attended #saahe2011 #
  • Many people still miss the point when it comes to technology-mediated teaching & learning. Your notes on an LMS is not teaching or learning #
  • At a workshop on concept mapping, lots of content being delivered to me, not much practical yet #saahe2011 #
  • Noticed a trend of decreasing satisfaction from 1-4 year, even though overall scores were +. Implications for teaching? #saahe2011 #
  • Banjamin van Nugteren: do medical students’ perceptions of their educational environment predict academic performance? #saahe2011 #
  • Selective assignment as an applied education & research tool -> gain research exp, improve knowledge & groupwork #saahe2011 #
  • Reflective journaling: “as we write conscious thoughts, useful associations & new ideas begin to emerge” #saahe2011 #
  • Change paradigm from “just-in-case” learning to “just-in-time” learning #saahe2011 #
  • Benefits of EBP are enhanced when principles are modelled by clinicians #saahe2011 #
  • EBP less effective when taught as a discrete module. Integration with clinical practice shows improvements across all components #saahe2011 #
  • Students have difficulty conducting appraisals of online sources <- an enormous challenge when much content is accessed online #saahe2011 #
  • Looking around venue at #saahe2011 10 open laptops, 2 visible iPads (lying on desk, not being used), about 350 participants…disappointing #
  • EBP isn’t a recipe (or a religion), although that is a common misconception #saahe2011 #
  • Prof. Robin Watts discusses EBP and facilitating student learning. EBP isn’t synonymous with research #saahe2011 #
  • “A lecture without a story is like an operation without an anaesthetic” Athol Kent, #saahe2001 #
  • Kent drawing heavily on Freni et al, 2010, Health professionals for a new century, Lancet. #
  • #saahe2001 has begun. Prof. Athol Kent: the future of health science education #
  • Portfolios and Competency http://bit.ly/jfFpfU. Really interesting comments section. Poorly implemented portfolios aren’t worth much #
  • @amcunningham I think that portfolios can demonstrate competence and be assessed but it needs a change in mindset to evaluate them #
  • @amcunningham will comment on the post when I’m off the road #
  • @amcunningham Can’t b objective as I haven’t used NHS eportfolio. Also, its hard 2 structure what should be personally meaningful experience #
  • @amcunningham Portfolios must include reflection, not just documentation. Reflection = relating past experience to future performance #
  • @amcunningham Your delusion question in the link: practitioners / students not shown how to develop a portfolio with objectives #
  • @amcunningham Also spoke a lot about competency-based education and strengths / limitations compared to apprentice-based model #
  • @amcunningham Very much. Just finished a 4 day workshop that included the use of portfolios as reflective tools in developing competence #
  • Final day of #safri 2011 finished. Busy with a few evaluations now. Spent some time developing the next phase of my project. Tired… #
  • Last day of #safri today, short session this morning, then leaving for #saahe2011 conference in Potchefstroom. It’s been an intense 5 days #
  • Papert: Calling yourself some1 who uses computers in education will be as ridiculous as calling yourself some1 who uses pencils in education #
  • Daily Papert http://bit.ly/jKlVmn. 10 years ago, Papert warned against the “computers in education” specialist. How have we responded? #
  • Daily Papert http://bit.ly/m7rfYY. Defining yourself as someone who uses computers in education, is to subordinate yourself #
  • YouTube – Augmented Reality Brain http://bit.ly/kcZWXy. When this is common in health education, things are going to get crazy #
  • @rochellesa Everyone needs some downtime, especially at 10 at night when you’re out with your wife 🙂 Seems like a nice guy, very quiet #
  • @rochellesa The large policeman he’s with isn’t keen tho. Mr Nzimande has asked 2 not b disturbed. Understandable when u want to chill out #
  • I’m sitting in a hotel in Jo’burg & Minister of Higher Education Blade Nzimande walks in and sits down next to me. Any1 have any questions? #

The use of innovative technology in clinical education

A few days ago I gave a presentation to our faculty on the use of innovative technologies in teaching practice with specific reference to clinical education. I’ve been using Prezi a bit because I wanted to explore alternative ways of doing presentations. Here it is:

Note: the percentages are the result of surveys within my department, and are not generalisable to any other population.

Innovative practices in education (colloquium)

Last week I attended a teaching and learning colloquium at Granger Bay, near the Waterfront. It was organised to showcase some of the teaching practices being used at the 4 teaching institutions in the Western Cape. I was fortunate to be invited to present one of the keynotes on Friday morning and since I’ve been thinking about PLE’s lately, that was the focus of my talk. Below you can see the graphical notes taken by Ian Barbour of the 2 keynotes of the conference.

[nggallery id=25]

Here are my notes from the 2 days.

Innovation through foundational provision and extended programmes: future trends, threats and opportunities (Professor Ian Scott)

It can’t go on with us doing “more of the same”.

Higher education is elitist, with a tiny proportion of the population being recycled through the system.

We are moving towards mass participation, with all the associated problems that this brings

Innovation = taking new approaches, doing things differently from the mainstream (creative solutions to problems)

The main difference between HEI that do well and those that don’t, is the attention of the institution (Carey, 2008). There is effort and professional accountability, systemic enquiry and research

Success = developing strong foundations and completing the qualification well. Not just about access. It’s dependant on complex issues e.g. teaching and learning approach, affective support, material resources

Future challenges in academic development:

  • Meeting the needs of the majority
  • Low participation and racially skewed
  • Poor and skewed graduation rate after 5 years = 30%
  • Under 5% of black youth succeeding in HE (unsustainable)
  • Makes little sense to continue on our current path, given the above stats

Who should extended programmes serve:

  • Mainstream students who are now failing or are dropping out for learning-related reasons
  • The majority of students who are not graduating in regulation time
  • But EP’s are reaching less than 15% of the intake, even though it’s a majority need (how can we justify the status quo?)

What can be done?

  • Extend the reach of EP’s in their present form, with a focus on improvement?
  • Move to a flexible curriculum framework with a 4 year degree as the core?
  • Can foundational provision be successful with limited student number, and if so, what are the limits?
  • How does this sit with the need for expanding the programmes?

If success is dependent on small numbers, we have a big problem

Institutional differentiation: Looked at stratifying HEI’s, but who would end up in the “bottom” levels. Moved towards “reconfiguring the institutional landscape” through mergers. But there is a danger of institutions losing their way, and not sticking to their mission. Is this a distraction from the central goal of producing more, good graduates?

Implications

Will differentiation lead to further polarisation of the student intake in terms of educational achievement? Because educational achievement is not potential, and is still polarised along racial, socio-economic lines.

Will there be pressure to remove EP’s from “research” universities? → which will result in less funding and educationally disadvantaged institutions becoming the “new mainstream”

Are these bad things?

To what extent can structural change, in itself, make a difference? Are there any alternatives?

Building student confidence through a class conference in an extended curriculum programme (Maryke Meerkotter)

Some students are resistant to the concept of evolution (in biology)!

Initially, 45 students split into groups and given topics for poster presentation. But it was too open.

Next year had more specific guidelines, with more focused topic (53 students), and individual talks about their own poster

This year, conference was very specific. 87 students, so much more structure was needed i.e. specific mammals were assigned to individual students. Questions had to be answered to prevent cut and paste.

Initial intent:

  • Relieve lecture stress
  • Students to engage with “irrelevant” content
  • Raise awareness of importance of course content
  • Allowed students to take ownership of the content, especially when assigned individual animals
  • Practice oral presentation
  • Exposed to poster making skills
  • To have fun trying something new

Initial scepticism and advice:

  • Doubt that it would succeed
  • Too much unnecessary work
  • Needs a good relationship with class, as lecturer should be confident that students can perform
  • Some envisioned chaos, so needed clear guidelines
  • Some advised no rewards, but students appreciated being acknowledged

Setting guidelines:

  • Holiday assignment
  • Written and verbal communication of assignment tasks
  • Guidelines about poster and oral presentations
  • “Computer literacy” = Powerpoint
  • Specific questions needed to answer in poster and presentation
  • Lecturer created a poster as an example, in subsequent years take the best examples of previous years
  • Provided rubrics for evaluation
  • Minimum requirements for posters, and not part of evaluation, so students who could afford more weren’t advantaged

Evaluation:

  • Oral presentations marked by lecturer and teaching assistant (reliability)
  • Audience tested at the end of each session (to ensure attendance of non-presenting students)
  • Posters were peer marked, using similar content as the marking group (each student marked 3 other posters anonymously)

Administration:

  • Assignment of topics
  • Find space for posters to be displayed
  • Due dates for posters to be mounted
  • Loading of oral presentations prior to talks (use email, caution with flash drives, time constraints)
  • Lecturer needs to listen and mark at the same time
  • Students were assigned posters to mark to avoid students marking their friends work

Empowers students to take ownership of course content, especially the “boring” courses. Recommended for small classes

Introducing concept mapping as a learning tool in Life Sciences (Suzanne Short and Judith Jurgens)

A lot of diversity in the course, in terms of student population

Some of the problems:

  • The gap between school and university
  • Testing of concepts reveals confusion
  • Basic concept knowledge is inadequate, lecturers want to make assumptions about what students come into the course with
  • Poor literacy levels for required university levels
  • Low levels of student success
  • Low pass rates
  • Unable to manage the large volume of content
  • Textbook content is “unfriendly”, not contextually relevant, language is inaccessible
  • Poor integration of knowledge
  • Don’t see how biology fits into scientific study
  • Don’t apply knowledge and strategies from other subjects, concepts are compartmentalised

Hay, Kinchin and Lygo-Baker (2008). Making learning happen: the role of concept mapping in higher education.

Concept map: an organising tool using labels to explain the relationship between concepts, the links making propositional statements of understanding. Can be interesting to see how different “experts” in the course see it differently. We need to first negotiate our shared understanding of the course before we can expect students to understand it.

Rationale:

  • To “deconstruct” faulty knowledge acquired at school and reconfigure it
  • Better grasp the relationship between all areas of study
  • Empower students with a learning and knowledge construction tool
  • Facilitate better use of the textbook

Don’t rely on one source

Facilitates textbook use:

  • overview of concepts and relationships
  • awareness of learning strategies
  • active use of resources
  • Assists with knowledge construction:
  • identified major concepts and links
  • identified gaps in school learning
  • useful as studying tool
  • knowledge construction can be individualised
  • Enables evaluation of student learning:
  • view of student understanding “at a glance”
  • encourage discussion of concepts and categorisation

Difficulties:

  • time consuming
  • high levels of collaboration between staff
  • not all student work visually / spatially
  • takes practice to do well

A genre based approach to teaching literacy in a university bridging course (Taryn Bernard)

How do structure a writing course to develop academic literacy, including other cognitive skills in the first year, among diverse student groups?

Students compartmentalise knowledge and find it hard to integrate into other courses. How can this be addressed?

Students want to feel as if they’re dealing with university-level content, and not high school content

Genre:

  • Text-type e.g. journal articles, books, essays
  • Abstract, goal orientated and socially recognised way of using language, limited by communicative purpose and formal properties
  • Social code of behaviour established between author and reader
  • “A term used for grouping texts together and representing how writers typically use language to respond to and construct texts for recurring situations”

Students need to be introduced to the “culture” of academic discourse

Genre-based pedagogy:

Student learning is affected not only by prior subject knowledge and by approaches to learning but also by the ability to deal with text genre (Francis & Hallam, 2000). An understanding of generic conventions increases success at university (Hewings & Hewings, 2001).

It’s important to validate prior knowledge, and many don’t see the purpose in academic discourse. Students sometimes feel it’s “too complex”

Quantitative literacy courses for humanities and law (Vera Frith)

UCT recognise information literacy as being an important graduate attribute

Quantitative information must be addressed in the disciplinary context

The more that content is embedded within a real-world context, the better

Students can be confused between focusing on the context, as opposed to the content e.g. placing emphasis on what they should be learning, with the contextual framework being used

The impact of horizontal integration of 2 foundation modules on first years knowledge, attitudes and skills (Martjie van Heusden and Dr. Alwyn Louw)

Earlier introduction to clinical placements have a significant influence on students professional development, especially in communication

Research assignments for first year med. students at SU:

  • Identify conditions
  • describe disorder
  • use correct referencing
  • submit to Turnitin with only 10% similarity allowed

Did knowledge improve? What about attitudes and motivation? Did it transfer to the 2nd year?

Research assignments contributed to improved student attitudes

Saw an improvement in writing and research skills

Assignments promoted self-esteem, increased background knowledge and allowed students to ask informed questions

Foundation matters: issues in a mathematics extended course

Important to be aware that students come into the course with mixed abilities, which affects how they perceive the course

Language support for communication skills of foundation Engineering students at CPUT (Marie-Anne Ogle)

Students ability to study is crippled by their lack of confidence in their ability to speak well

Problems:

  • Students don’t speak or hear English often
  • School teachers don’t give presentation training
  • Student lack self-esteem / confidence
  • Students don’t have an understanding of their own problems
  • Only 1 language lesson/week in a very crowded timetable

Rules:

  • Transparent goals
  • Everybody must talk
  • Students choose the subjects they want
  • Intensive reading programmes to support this
  • Students manage their own library
  • Students take over the class towards the end
  • Fun for self-motivation

“The limits of my language mean the limits of my world” (Ludwig Wittgenstein)

Use of clickers in Engineering teaching (Daniela Gachago and Dr. Mbiya Baudouin)

Useful because:

  • Results are anonymous, instant, recorded for later
  • helps to increase attention span, keeps students focused
  • Every opinion counts, not just the correct one
  • Works well with interactive learning and teaching style
  • Direct feedback about students conceptual understanding

Good feedback tool for students, identifies misconceptions instantly that can be addressed immediately, students also become aware that others have similar problems i.e. they’re not alone

Important to use equipment to stimulate discussion

Mazur sequence (see also this transcript of Mazur presenting on using technology to engage students, as well as this video presentation).

You can forget facts but you cannot forget understanding

Use of clickers must be must be accompanied by discussion

“The more a lecturer talks, the less a student understands”

Students enjoy the experience of using new tools in class, very positive response, but they do need a short introduction

Challenges:

  • System takes time to set up, and technical troubleshooting not always easy
  • Can waste time
  • Questions need to be changed often
  • Type of question asked needs to change
  • Can have “clicker fatigue”

Using clickers as a tool in classroom instruction to facilitate student learning (Mark Herbert)

Focus not on what student don’t know, but what they require to develop into successful practitioners of the discourse

Students exposed to how knowledge is constructed, structured and communicated

Lecturers facilitate student learning

Students must prepare for lectures (but do they?)

Constructive feedback given regularly and as soon as possible

Class attendance improved

Student interaction can stimulate learning. Students will often find the correct answer when discussing among themselves, without lecturer involvement

Student confidence increased as a result of using clickers

Innovative pedagogical practices using technology: my personal journey (Ingrid Mostert)

Blended learning model for ACE in mathematics

Bulk SMS (e.g. Frontline)

Off-campus access can be hampered with slow loading times, different to intranet

Someone else has already solved the problems that I have. The more people who know about my problem, the quicker it’ll get solved.

Moodle has a module for mobile access, which allows students to participate in forum discussions through a mobile interface

Can use mobile tech to conduct surveys. Is there a cost for students? Yes, but it’s minimal relative to SMS

Sharing experiences make the load lighter

Exploring the extent to which clickers enable effective student engagement (Somikazi Deyi, Edwine Simon and Amanda Morris)

Use real world events / contexts to make coursework relevant. What is important to students? Use that as a scaffolding for the course content

Planning is important

Students engage more deeply with complex questions. We should challenge them and raise our expectations of what they’re capable of

Difficult to draw conclusions after one session. Need to follow trends over time

Realise that other people have different perspectives and world views

Try group voting as opposed to individual voting

Posted to Diigo 06/14/2010

    • Remember that innovation requires no fixed rules or templates — only guiding principles
    • If you’re not having fun (or at least enjoying the process) something is off
    • Always question authority
    • Make new mistakes
    • Reconfigure space whenever possible
    • Ask questions about everything. After asking questions, ask different questions. After asking different questions, ask them in a different way
    • Ensure a high level of personal freedom and trust
    • Learn to tolerate ambiguity and cope with soft data
    • When you’re promoting innovation in-house, always promote the benefits of a new idea or project, not the features
    • Think long term
    • Involve as many people as you can in the development of your innovation initiative so you get upfront buy-in
    • Deliver each important message at least six times
    • Don’t focus on growth. Growth is a product of successful innovation
    • Develop a process of trying out new concepts quickly and on the cheap. Learn quickly what’s working and what’s not
    • Know that attacking costs as a root problem solves nothing
    • Seek diversity of viewpoints. Get people together across functions
    • Don’t make innovation the responsibility of a few
    • Pay particular attention to alignment
    • Do your best to ensure that linear processes give way to networks of collaboration

Posted to Diigo 05/23/2010

    • Connections is a about the process where the human mind takes the same letters of the alphabet but puts them together in a unique way to create something that far more compelling than the parts that went before. All the components for innovation existed. The magic was in the connecting.
    • do something that introduces new connections into your routine today.
    • I believe that the best way to learn about the world is by connecting with it
    • Before we work with our students on using these technologies, it is important that we work with them to be strong digital citizens
    • Work with your kids (as a teacher or parent) and teach them how to be responsible.  Teach them that it is okay to communicate when things are not great.  They are going on the Internet either way; will you work to help them prepare for it?
    • there appears to be an understanding of supporting learners in constructing their own meanings and understandings, rather than passively consuming materials
    • there is a real excitement about the potential of using multimedia for learning, once more not just consuming but creating audio and video
    • many teachers also seem to understand the Learning Management Systems and Virtual Learning Environments are for managing students, rather than providing an active tool for learning
    • Many teachers, whilst aware of the possibilities of new media, say the education system makes it difficult for them to change existing tecahing and learning practice. The reasons vary but include lack of infrastructure, lack of understanding and support from management, an overly prescriptive curriculum, lack of time, and rigid and individualistic assessment practices
    • Can teachers themselves initiate such change bottom up through introducing new technologies and pedagogies in their own practice. Can we drive change through modernising teacher training? How effective are projects in embedding change? How about ‘innovation champions’? Can we persuade managements of the potential new ways of tecahing and learning offer?
    • This is not going to be an orderly change from ‘old’ policy and practice to a shiny new world of technology enhanced learning. It will be messy. the problem is not the modernisation of schools, but rather that our schooling systems are increasingly dysfunctional within our society and increasingly irrelevant to the way many young people communicate and develop understandings and meanings
    • A mutual respect between teacher and student must be created to ensure that there is an opportunity for optimal learning
    • 1. Kids need to feel safe
    • safe to make mistakes, share thoughts, and know that their ideas will not be attacked or ridiculed
    • Trust must be apparent for students to succeed.
    • 2.  Students are cared for as people first
    • We always need to teach kids FIRST then curriculum.  Remember that.  Always.
    • If you enjoy what you do, have a sense of humour, and can laugh in your environment, you will do better and enjoy what you do
    • 3.  Opportunities for fun
    • Staff are encouraged to allow students to use Ipods in the classroom to not just connect with the outside world, but to also just let kids listen to music while they work.
    • Allowing students to use them responsibly in the classroom while respecting the learning of their peers is just one way we can create a better environment for students to learn
    • 4. Ideas and opinions are valued
    • Even the most famous inventors have failed before but we have to show students that even when they fall short, it is all a part of the learning process.
    • Kids need to have the opportunity to show their understanding in a way that is meaningful and relevant to them
    • 5. Opportunities for individualized learning
    • 6. Understand their knowledge and guide them to further their learning
    • I do not believe that “marks” are the best basis for this because they do not give any feedback for growth.  As teachers, it is our responsibility to give strategies to improve learning and help them further their own learning
    • 7. Student as a leader in the classroom
    • It simply can mean that they have the opportunity to show leadership in areas they excel and are passionate in
    • I appreciate learning at all times, even if it is from a child.  Not only will students appreciate that they have taught their teacher something, they will go out of their way to further their own learning to ensure that it happens again
    • 8. Opportunities for all to reflect
    • Time has to be given to students where they can self-assess their learning and put their ideas together
    • It is not the avenue that is important, but the opportunity
    • Find time in the busy school day to let students reflect on what they are learning
    • Through writing this post, I realized that this is not JUST an environment that we should try to create for our students, but for all those that we work with
    • When I design, facilitate, or moderate webinars I come from a social learning perspective, which means that participation is key. I get rather uncomfortable if a session is filled with me talking to slides because I feel I’m not engaging my learners, and King backs this up so neatly, saying

      “discussing the material with others actually transforms how we think about it… During such interaction with another, we clarify ideas, negotiate meaning, develop new skills, and construct new knowledge: thus, learning becomes a by-product of that interaction” (1997, p. 221).

Gnome-shell on Ubuntu

I’ve been playing around with Gnome-shell on Ubuntu over the past week or so and am still trying to decide if I like it. It’s going to replace Compiz in the next generation of the Gnome desktop and the idea is that it’s supposed to enhance productivity by creating an innovative user interface that more easily exposes the day-to-day tasks of the user. But besides some pretty cool transitions between virtual desktops, an “overview” of the running tasks, and some additional shortcuts in the Activities panel, I’m not sure what else it adds.

I know that it’s going to improve with time and I’m hoping the developers include more features that actually challenge the current desktop paradigm like KDE has done with their 4.x release. I do like my desktops shiny so I’m happy to see Gnome finally moving in that direction, which is why I’m not going to get all upset about the fact that the developers are breaking with tradition to try something new.

Check out this tour of Gnome-shell for details of the features and screenshots. If you like to play with bleeding edge tools, I’d recommend installing it and playing around for a while. It’s stable enough to get an idea of how it’s supposed to work and you might just like it enough to keep it.

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