“Education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire.”

–William Butler Yeats

eLearning is not about technology, that is the role of  ICT.  The focus of our energy is th  is the role of digital tools  in contemporary learningThe early ideas of adding technology to conservative classroom practice did not work, teachers could not do it given the restricted access and technology barriers in place, and more importantly, most could not see the value in learning outcomes from adding technology. Then we tried integrating it, but this came back to the same issue, the curriculum was not designed to take advantage of what digital tools could allow.  There is little value placed on collaboration and communication when we only look to measure individual performance.  There is no need to connect to the outside world when all the content you need is in a text book.

Now  that schools have much better access and infrastructure, can a change take place which really reassesses what we do in schools and why? is it possible to disrupt education in the same way that the worlds of music, media, publishing and books have been disrupted by technology to take on new forms, better suited to the world we are in now?

Some of the developments which are part of   eLearning, and which are increasingly a part of the conversation are:

  • Radical Innovation
  • Personalised and Collaborative learning
  • Disruptive Technologies
  • Reinventing and transforming schools. 

How can educators work to reinvent and transform schools? The barriers of old practice and values, institutional inertia and fear of change have to be broken down. If change won’t come from political will or entrenched education authority, perhaps it will come from the groundswell of teachers who can see the need to match education to student needs for the present and the future.

A few things we can try:

  • Engage with curent educational research and discussion such as the work around Blooms Digital Taxonomy, the development of new literacies  and the place of collaboration in learning.
  • Consider ways to develop creative thinking with students
  • Identify appropriate digital tools for 21st Century skills  including creativity, collaboration,  global citizenship and higher order thinking.
  • Contribute to professional discussion in whatever context is possible, be it a blog, an online community, a teach meet or the staff room.

Creative Kids

Cybersafety.  You can see the students inwardly sigh at the thought of another adult telling them about the dangers of the Internet and social networking. Anyone over the age of 25 has no “cred” in this subject. We just don’t understand……respect for self and others is the real message, online or in face to face relationships, it is the same, but how to get that message across?

So, we decided to invite our secondary school students to give the message to other students, . Our students were invited to create a video to share with others, they could create  a movie, an animation, extranormal or lego animation or use any other tool. We created a a shortlist of 9 entries and had a big final judging night last night. We  had Year 6 and Year 7 students as the judges and an audience of parents, teachers and  students numbering over 100.

What a great success, the work was amazing in its range of topics and media, from an animated Facebook game to a powerful film about  the loss of social relationships from too much computer time. The winning entry had the message that bullying is the same whether it is verbal, physical or cyber.  The students presented their work and were so clear in their thinking, and enthusiastic in explaining their work, it was a great pleasure to watch.

Most of all, I couldn’t help admiring their creativity in harnessing multimedia and technology to get their message across. Great stuff.

Delicious Dilemma


I love Web 2.0 but sometimes I hate it too!

I upgraded my Firefox browser to V 4.0 only to find there are no  Delicious Tools available on the menu bar.       Grrrrr..

Delicious is one of my favourite tools, I have all my bookmarks there and I use it as a network to find good information from others. We have included it in the Web 2.0 Course for Sydney CEO Teachers as well because it is such a useful way of organising information and really demonstrates the use of tagging.
So… now I have a choice, do I try to uninstall Firefox 4.0 or go through the round about steps of saving a bookmark via a Delicious site visit every time?

The curse of free web 2.0 tools is the lack of stability and reliability, this isanother example, but that doesn’t reduce my frustration!

iLE@RN Projects

How do you work with teachers to develop contemporay learning? What Professional Development opportunities have the best outcome? There is no one model for all times and all people, but eLearning Action Research projects have been working very well for teachers and students in Sydney Catholic Schools.  The projects are based on the iLE@RN modeliLE@RN2

Projects based on this model are designed to have students develop skills for the future, and to learn how to create new knowledge and to contribute to learning communities .  The iLE@RN model provides the framework, teachers use digital tools to personalise the learning and engage students.

How exciting to work with teachers at this time of year to start the new iLE@RN projects in the 3 regions in the Archdiocese of Sydney.  So many great ideas, so much creativity and innovation, all based in good learning practice.

The future of books


How reading is changing.

Linking reading with writing becomes seamless when you use eBook technology.  What a great idea t o have Secondary students create eBooks for Primary Students to read. I am looking forward to seeing how the iLearn Project at St Josephs at Oatley progresses.

On the larger topic of eBooks and reading, this is an area of such fast development, how do we see where it is going. The recent Apple conference highlighted books as the next area where disruptive technology will have an enormous impact.
Dr William Rankin ( University of Abilene)  ran an interesting session on the future of books at the conference, he forecast that books of the future will be

  • Social and will help to help progress information sharing and creation
  • Customizable, users can mix chapters, content, media types
  • Augmented , allowing users to experience the reality of what you read about, related to user context
  • Collaborative, allow reader to connect and contribute
  • Interactive
  • Media, multimodal
  • Mobile
  • Portable between devices, each device will remember where you re up to

The past is a rich resource but disconnected from the future, it has no meaning
Rrankin twitter

Thanks to Juliette Pantaleo for sharing this find from Ted Talks

Mobiles and Maths


Mobile Phones and maths.

A  study in the USA by KRC Research found

  • “84% of middle school students would rather clean their room, eat their vegatables, go to the dentist, or take out the garbage than do their math homework ”  

This is a quote froman interesting study of the use of mobile phones for learning maths in Grade 9 can be found at the K- Nect site. The program focuses on the use of mobile phones to assist students to learn maths.  The results of the program have been reported in DERN (Digital Education Research Network).
Results include

  • ‘Students feel more successful in math and demonstrated higher levels of maths proficiency’
  • ‘mobile devices within instruction … increased student engagement in school and learning
  • The mobile devices encouraged both problem solving and a collaborative approaches to learning and teaching.

The school supported students who did not have smart mobile phones to ensure that there was no digital divide for students. The use of mobile phones can bring together 21st Century Skills,  challenging learning and digital literacy.  Does anyone know of a project or classroom here where mobile phones are being used for learning maths or science?

End of term reflection

Term 1 has gone, I haven’t managed to keep my blog going on a regular basis, once the work ramped up during term. How do people manage this all the time? I don’t know, but perhaps the daunting white space of a blog just gives us writers block, however  the restricted characters of Twitter invite a quick observation, much less demanding.  I admire the dedication of those who blog daily, or even weekly, but I don’t think I can  make that level of excellence.

What have I learned?

There are areas which are generating a lot of interest and discussion right now including:

  • The future of books and how hard copy text is related to literacy, eBooks and multimedia
  • The move to personal devices, particularly the educational use of student’s own mobile devices such as phones
  • Mobile learning, iPads, iTouches etc, is this a return to cool tools at the price of creative learning?
  • The importance of the why, the belief of the learner, is at the heart of success.

There is a lot to think about in all these areas, but the Digital Citizenship areas such as cyber bullying continues to be a focus for wider society. How do we put all this together into a basket called eLearning?

Learning from others

What a great community of learners there are in Web 2.0 . I am exploring an interest away from the world of education,  a good thing to do, out there in the non teacher world! I am learning about underwater photography and a bit of marine biology thrown in. I have been using FLickr and exploring Groups, leading me to find people who post helpful comments, provide entire banks of scientifically named photos of fish, and encourage each other to learn. I am a very raw beginner but I am loving it, and it is good to see what we talk about in eLearning  is actually alive out there in the world.

Catch some great underwater photos at these locations Snorkeling around the world and for an amazing bank of photos of NSW fish, scientifically named  Richard Ling has an amazing collection of photos Fish of  NSW. A special thanks to Richard who sets his image licence  as Creative Commons with attribution.

Richard Ling's Mosaic Leatherjacket

i is for images

Just reading an article about the iGeneration, i for interactive, students who are growing up in an interactive world, not a bad generation name, but it could also be i for images, kids are in a very visual media environment.
So visual media leads me to photography. I have caught up with Chris Betcher’s blog, he has a great set of photography tools, his enthusiasm is great to share.

Chris mentioned Project 365, taking a photo a day. I am joining up, it will help me learn more about iPhone photography I hope, and be a lot of fun as well.

So today I have started with a photograph which has been uploaded to Facebook. I haven’t yet found a quick way to get it to Flickr for the blog widget,  I ‘ll try to learn that next.

office colour

office colour

What motivates you to learn?

Many discussions with parents have revolved around the question of “how do we motivate our child to want to learn/work hard/ achieve? I found it hard to come up with an answer that didn’t seem trite or dismissive. The student just wasn’t interested, or lacked engagement. How could I help? Was it my teaching? The course content?
Student motivation and engagement are now a major focus in contemporary learning. If we personalise and contextualise the learning will we motivate and engage? Are these the crucial foundations for perserverence and resilience in learning. Does it have to be fun?
Perhaps the only way to learn about engagement is to use myself as an example and observe how I learn.

So I am on a new learning curve into photography and Web 2.0 as a new aspect of my personal journey.
I have a camera which will take underwater photographs and had an opportunity last year to try it out. The result was a new interest and excitement about this new field. I have perservered through techinical issues and have learned a lot about Flickr and photography. I am still learning and I know nothing compared to others.

One of the best things has been discovering the Groups in Flickr and making contact with other people who like underwater photography and will help me answer questions. This is really what Web 2.0 can do.
My interest is now expanding to mobile learniing and photography, I am now curious to see where it will take me, and how long my motivation will continue to lead to engagement and learning.

What did I learn today?

I have revisited my blog and added the Flickr widget. Now I have photos available.

I found a great blog post from Wes Fyer to improve my blog , must try to follow this advice.

A good start I think,  what are you learning about this week?