End of School

In his recent post “End of Web“, Dean Groom explains his thinking behind an alternative reality game as a sandbox for professional development in 21st Century Learning. The essence is this: “if you want teachers to learn about enquiry/technology then use this as something to ground it.”

It’s often struck me that professional development in education ironically reinforces the old chestnut “do as I say, not as I do”. I’ve also observed that despite the importance that educators place on independent learning, they tend to be poor models of it.

In “World Without Walls: Learning Well with Others“, Will Richardson writes: “In our zeal to hold on to the old structures of teaching and learning and to protect students at all costs, we are not just leaving them ill prepared for the future, we are also missing an enormous opportunity for ourselves as learners.” He goes on to exhort teachers to “…engage with these new technologies and their potential to expand our own understanding and methods”. Continue reading

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Teaching in a Disintermediated World

In his recent post “Cutting out the Middleman“, Chris Betcher asks, “Who are the educational middlemen?” In other words, who faces the chop if disintermediation affects education as it has other industries? I have a few thoughts on this subject that I’ll share here.

In about 2000 I attended a presentation by Alan November in which he forecast some dramatic changes in education. Teachers found this confronting until Alan clarified that he believed that the information revolution would create a need for more teachers, not less. How do we reconcile this prediction with the disintermediation trend? Continue reading

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Engaging learners in Moodle – part 1

I recently joined a colleague and her Year 7 students during a lunchtime detention that she imposed to make up for a lesson ‘lost’ in her absence. While she was away, she had expected her students to access the well-documented instructions and excellent resources that she had posted to her Moodle course. Instead they complained to the substitute teacher that they didn’t know what to do. There are, no doubt, a number of factors contributing to the students’ helplessness. The question I’d like to explore here is; why hadn’t her students explored the contents of her Moodle course and how could we redesign it to make this more likely? Continue reading

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Infuse it!

In the posting titled “I don’t want to integrate it, I want to embed it!“, Jeff Utecht wrote that the word ‘integrate’ gets on his nerves. I’ve also pondered this for some time because it gets on my nerves too. But I’ve come to the conclusion that the word ’embed’ is also inappropriate. To embed is to fix (an object) firmly and deeply in a surrounding mass. The image that accompanied Jeff’s posting was perfect it must be said. What I don’t like about the analogy is that the technology remains a separate (and in the image, an immutable) ‘thing’, an opinion shared by other commenters. I agree with Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach (and others) that technology ideally should be like heat or air. That’s why my word of choice is to ‘infuse’, which means ‘to fill or pervade’, whilst ‘fusion’ means ‘the merging of different elements into a union’. Isn’t the fusion of Learning and Technology what we’re striving for? Which makes me wonder: if mass and energy are equivalent (E = MC2), are understanding and learning also (U = LT2), where T = Technology?

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Cyber Safety

Even before the recent cyber bullying bruhaha at another Sydney girls school, we’ve been taking cyber safety pretty seriously at Kambala. Initiatives have included presentations by Greg Gebhart to staff and parents and Tom Woods to Year 10 students. In pastoral care we are endeavouring to raise student awareness of cyber safety issues, such as the importance of keeping personal information private, especially when using social networking services like Facebook. The problem with such initiatives is that they tend to be sporadic whilst students are online daily. In an effort to keep these issues ‘in their faces’ we’ve set up a ‘Cyber Safety’ course space on our Moodle site with a prominent link on the site’s front page. More importantly, we’ve begun to embed topical videos using the News Forum on the site’s Front Page where it is virtually impossible for students not to see them. Besides the ‘Wise Up to IT‘ series produced by the ACMA, we’ll be using videos such as the one embedded below. Any recommendations of other quality videos on the topic of cyber safety would be gratefully received.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hOwpGF1SOQM[/youtube]

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Embed RSS feeds into a Web page

In the March/April 2009 (not May as stated in the screen cast below) issue of Learning & Leading with Technology is an article explaining how to create custom RSS feeds using a tool called Feed2JS. This screen cast demonstrates how to use Feed2JS to create a ‘library’ of RSS feeds using the Moodle Book (non-standard) module.

[flv]http://jimhagen.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/Feed2JS.flv[/flv]

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Moodle News Forum – did you know?

One in a series of mini-tutorials originally emailed to busy colleagues.

  • All courses in Moodle have a News Forum.
  • Only the teacher can post news and announcements in a course’s News Forum.
  • All students enrolled in a course are automatically ‘subscribed’ to the course’s News Forum.
  • Anyone who is subscribed to a Forum automatically is sent an email of any posting to the Forum.
  • You can learn more about the News Forum here: 
    http://docs.moodle.org/en/News_forum
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Moodle Calendar – did you know?

One in a series of mini-tutorials originally emailed to busy colleagues.

  • Each Moodle course has its own calendar and the teacher can record events in the calendar.
  • When a teacher creates various activities (e.g. an assignment where students upload work), the deadline for that activity is automatically entered into the course calendar.
  • When a student logs on to Moodle, the calendar automatically merges every event recorded by every teacher in every course the student is enrolled in (and a teacher’s calendar does the same for all the courses taught).
  • Upcoming events in the calendar are also highlighted in the ‘Upcoming Events’ block.
  • You can learn more about the calendar here: http://docs.moodle.org/en/Calendar
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Moodle Blocks – did you know?

One in a series of mini-tutorials originally emailed to busy colleagues.
  • You can modify the ‘blocks’ that appear on the left and right sides of your Moodle course/s (e.g. the calendar block).
  • You can move blocks up and down or left and right by clicking the arrow moodle_arrows1  icons (or clicking and dragging for Ajax enabled interfaces).
  • You can hide blocks from students by clicking the eye moodle_eye icon.
  • You can remove blocks from the front page of your course/s by clicking the delete moodle_x icon.
  • You can’t actually ‘delete’ a block; rather, it is simply returned to a blocks repository.
  • There are many blocks that you can add to your course simply by selecting them from the blocks repository that always appears (when editing is turned on) as the bottom block on the right side of your course.
  • You can learn more about blocks here: http://docs.moodle.org/en/Blocks
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