Sunday, February 28, 2010

To the crazy ones

Steve Wheeler wrote this on his blog (link here) and I think it makes me think:

"Are you considered a little crazy? Are your ideas looked on with scorn, or with mild amusement? Well, don't give up. Twice I have come across the same quote today, in two different versions, and I now think that someone, somewhere is trying to tell me something. So I share it here with you. I'm not sure whether this is even the complete quote, but it's one that really inspires me, and the words also turn up within the amazing portrait by Dylan Roscover of Apple guru Steve Jobs (link):

Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently.
They're not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo.
You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. But the only thing you can't do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward.
And while some see them as the crazy ones, we see genius.
Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.


And here's the 'Think Different' video"

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Modern Life?

true?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A Teacher's Guide to Generation X Parents

Susan Thomas writes an excellent article here [link] on how to work with well-meaning but demanding moms and dads.

She use the generational stereotypes to explain behaviour of parents that teacher might and do face.

She also offers some advice, which I think is rather useful...

Listen to Us
As insufferable as we can be at first contact, listen to us first. We may look and act like adults, but there is a part of us that still feels like a neglected kid inside. Paying attention to our concerns may be a little more time consuming, but the effort will pay off. We're loyal allies, and we love to be helpful.

Include Us
Invite us to teach in the classroom for an afternoon. Or assign students free-choice homework one night a week, to be completed with a parent. Many Gen Xers are genuine intellectuals with interesting ideas and hobbies. We'd love to share them!

Put Us to Work
We share your passion for making schools more successful learning environments. Besides letting us help you in class or share a homework assignment with our kids, harness our energy by asking us to help plan a field trip or do background research or otherwise help you prepare a class project.

Give Us Limits
"I let parents know that I'm always willing to listen to their concerns, but that there are certain issues that are negotiable and others that just aren't," says Shelly Wolf Scott, an administrator at Brooklyn's Rivendell School. Parents are not allowed to alter their children's classroom placement, curriculum, or administrative decisions.
They are, however, permitted to offer information about their child that the school might not know and that could assist in making such decisions. "This group of parents seems to respond well to those boundaries," she says.

Work with Us
"Parents don't seem to know how incredibly carefully all teachers and administrators think about their children," says Lynn Levinson, assistant director of Upper School (and a parent of two) at the Maret School, in Washington, DC. "I always reassure them that I know how many conversations have revolved around these children and their classmates, so I know that it's the right decision, even if I'm not happy with it as a parent."

Food for thought as I tackle a couple of parents' meetings in the next month.

Labels: , , ,

Be a Doer

Set yourself a goal.

Set yourself a deadline.

Define success at the start.

Make a plan to make it happen.

Build a team to help you.

Get the team to sign up, head and heart, to the plan.

Understand there will be hurdles, barriers. Accept them. But defeat them.

Work each day toward getting things done. A little can do a lot.

Keep the end goal in your mind at all times.

Understand the importance of your energy. Your stubbornness. Your persistence.

Half way through a project is always the lowest point. You are neither at the start, nor at the end. Energy dips, morale is low. Have a day off.

The next day remind yourself why you started it in the first place.

Focus. Focus. Focus. But focus on the most important thing.

Tell the world what you are doing.

Tell the world your deadline.

Celebrate progress. Any progress.

Never give up.

Look back at how far you have traveled. It will surprise you.

It will also tell you that you are closer to your goal than ever before.

Keep going.

Then one day, after many, many days, you will complete your goal.

You got there in the end.

Your words and your deeds are one. Most people in life are just talkers. But you are a doer. Well done.

written by David Hieatt from the Do Blog [link]

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

What is 21st Century Education?

taken from 21st Century Schools and makes interesting reading (link)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

e-Learning?

Is there a new role for learning?

Does e-learning differ from learning by more than the medium?

Can e-Learning be a combination of self-study, online resources, community/group projects, interaction with an instructor, assessment and transfer? or is this the same as learning?

Is e-learning about providing more than learning at specific times?

Is the provider's role to help individuals make the best of the learning that's available and to access it on-demand?

Is e-learning providing an environment in which people can work and learn almost seamlessly?

Is it more about managing the climate for learning than just the content for learning?

So many questions and so little time to research and experiment.

Labels: , , , ,

Friday, February 12, 2010

ICT and Education: 10 Trends

Taken from WorldBank Blog (link) and written by Robert Hawkins

In the spirit of the new year and all things dealing with resolutions and lists, I submit below my first blog posting for the EduTech blog (checking off a resolution) with a discussion of 10 Global Trends in ICT and Education for 2010 and beyond (joining the crowded space of lists in this new year).

The list is an aggregation of projections from leading forecasters such as the Horizon Report, personal observations and a good dose of guesswork. The Top 10 Global Trends in ICT and Education are:

Mobile Learning. New advances in hardware and software are making mobile “smart phones” indispensible tools. Just as cell phones have leapfrogged fixed line technology in the telecommunications industry, it is likely that mobile devices with internet access and computing capabilities will soon overtake personal computers as the information appliance of choice in the classroom.

Cloud computing. Applications are increasingly moving off of the stand alone desk top computer and increasingly onto server farms accessible through the Internet. The implications of this trend for education systems are huge; they will make cheaper information appliances available which do not require the processing power or size of the PC. The challenge will be providing the ubiquitous connectivity to access information sitting in the “cloud”.

One-to-One computing. The trend in classrooms around the world is to provide an information appliance to every learner and create learning environments that assume universal access to the technology. Whether the hardware involved is one laptop per child (OLPC), or – increasingly -- a net computer, smart phone, or the re-emergence of the tablet, classrooms should prepare for the universal availability of personal learning devices.

Ubiquitous learning. With the emergence of increasingly robust connectivity infrastructure and cheaper computers, school systems around the world are developing the ability to provide learning opportunities to students “anytime, anywhere”. This trend requires a rethinking of the traditional 40 minute lesson. In addition to hardware and Internet access, it requires the availability of virtual mentors or teachers, and/or opportunities for peer to peer and self-paced, deeper learning.

Gaming. A recent survey by the Pew Internet and American Life Project per the Horizon Report found that massively multiplayer and other online game experience is extremely common among young people and that games offer an opportunity for increased social interaction and civic engagement among youth. The phenomenal success of games with a focus on active participation, built in incentives and interaction suggests that current educational methods are not falling short and that educational games could more effectively attract the interest and attention of learners.

Personalized learning. Education systems are increasingly investigating the use of technology to better understand a student’s knowledge base from prior learning and to tailor teaching to both address learning gaps as well as learning styles. This focus transforms a classroom from one that teaches to the middle to one that adjusts content and pedagogy based on individual student needs – both strong and weak.

Redefinition of learning spaces. The ordered classroom of 30 desks in rows of 5 may quickly become a relic of the industrial age as schools around the world are re-thinking the most appropriate learning environments to foster collaborative, cross-disciplinary, students centered learning. Concepts such as greater use of light, colors, circular tables, individual spaces for students and teachers, and smaller open learning spaces for project-based learning are increasingly emphasized.

Teacher-generated open content. OECD school systems are increasingly empowering teachers and networks of teachers to both identify and create the learning resources that they find most effective in the classroom. Many online texts allow teachers to edit, add to, or otherwise customize material for their own purposes, so that their students receive a tailored copy that exactly suits the style and pace of the course. These resources in many cases complement the official textbook and may, in the years to come, supplant the textbook as the primary learning source for students. Such activities often challenge traditional notions of intellectual property and copyright.

Smart portfolio assessment. The collection, management, sorting, and retrieving of data related to learning will help teachers to better understand learning gaps and customize content and pedagogical approaches. Also, assessment is increasingly moving toward frequent formative assessments which lend itself to real-time data and less on high-pressure exams as the mark of excellence. Tools are increasingly available to students to gather their work together in a kind of online portfolio; whenever they add a tweet, blog post, or photo to any online service, it will appear in their personal portfolio which can be both peer and teacher assessed.

Teacher managers/mentors. The role of the teacher in the classroom is being transformed from that of the font of knowledge to an instructional manager helping to guide students through individualized learning pathways, identifying relevant learning resources, creating collaborative learning opportunities, and providing insight and support both during formal class time and outside of the designated 40 minute instruction period. This shift is easier said than done and ultimately the success or failure of technology projects in the classroom hinge on the human factor and the willingness of a teacher to step into unchartered territory.

These trends are expected to continue and to challenge many of the delivery models fundamental to formal education as it is practiced in most countries. It will be interesting to reflect back on this list at the end of the year to see which ideas have gained the most traction; and what new ideas will make a list for 2011….

Friday, February 05, 2010

Hunters and Farmers

I loved this post by Seth Godin on his blog (click here):

10,000 years ago, civilization forked. Farming was invented and the way many people spent their time was changed forever.

Clearly, farming is a very different activity from hunting. Farmers spend time sweating the details, worrying about the weather, making smart choices about seeds and breeding and working hard to avoid a bad crop. Hunters, on the other hand, have long periods of distracted noticing interrupted by brief moments of frenzied panic.

It's not crazy to imagine that some people are better at one activity than another. There might even be a gulf between people who are good at each of the two skills. Thom Hartmann has written extensively on this. He points out that medicating kids who might be better at hunting so that they can sit quietly in a school designed to teach farming doesn't make a lot of sense.

A kid who has innate hunting skills is easily distracted, because noticing small movements in the brush is exactly what you'd need to do if you were hunting. Scan and scan and pounce. That same kid is able to drop everything and focus like a laser--for a while--if it's urgent. The farming kid, on the other hand, is particularly good at tilling the fields of endless homework problems, each a bit like the other. Just don't ask him to change gears instantly.

Marketers confuse the two groups. Are you selling a product that helps farmers... and hoping that hunters will buy it? How do you expect that people will discover your product, or believe that it will help them? The woman who reads each issue of Vogue, hurrying through the pages then clicking over to Zappos to overnight order the latest styles--she's hunting. Contrast this to the CTO who spends six months issuing RFPs to buy a PBX that was last updated three years ago... she's farming.

Both groups are worthy, both groups are profitable. But each group is very different from the other, and I think we need to consider teaching, hiring and marketing to these groups in completely different ways. I'm not sure if there's a genetic component or if this is merely a convenient grouping of people's personas. All I know is that it often explains a lot about behavior (including mine).

Some ways to think about this:
  • George Clooney (in Up in the Air) and James Bond are both fictional hunters. Give them a desk job and they freak out.
  • Farmers don't dislike technology. They dislike failure. Technology that works is a boon.
  • Hunters are in sync with Google, a hunting site, farmers like Facebook.
  • When you promote a first-rate hunting salesperson to internal sales management, be prepared for failure.
  • Farmers prefer productive meetings, hunters want to simply try stuff and see what happens.
  • Warren Buffet is a farmer. So is Bill Gates. Mark Cuban is a hunter.
  • Hunters want a high-stakes mission, farmers want to avoid epic failure.
  • Trade shows are designed to entrance hunters, yet all too often, the booths are staffed with farmers.
  • The last hundred years of our economy favored smart farmers. It seems as though the next hundred are going to belong to the persistent hunters able to stick with it for the long haul.
  • A hunter will often buy something merely because it is difficult to acquire.
  • One of the paradoxes of venture capital is that it takes a hunter to get the investment and a farmer to patiently make the business work.
  • A farmer often relies on other farmers in her peer group to be sure a purchase is riskless.
Who are you hiring? Competing against? Teaching?

Labels:

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

The Cove

Labels: , ,

New Pedagogies For The Digital Age

Check out this SlideShare Presentation by Steve Wheeler

About me

I am an African living in Scotland. A son, a father, an ex-husband, a boyfriend, a teacher and friend trying to piece together the stories that my God, my parents, my ex-wife, my girlfriend, my pupils and my friends are telling me, so that I can tell my own story. Thanks to all for your support and advice. I still love good coffee and popcorn.

Archives

Links

My del.icio.us bookmarks