• 19Jan
    Author: Katherine Pisana Categories: Education, Educational Technology Comments: 1

    “A teacher that can be replaced by a machine should be.”

    ~ Sir Arthur C. Clarke

    20090119-postThe accessibility of education must be a primary focus of all educators, for education is worthless if it is not shared and applied in a way that allows all of us to work together to make life not only livable, but enjoyable, enriching and prosperous.

    During his talk at the Lift Conference in Geneva, Sugata Mitra discusses the implications of the remoteness of education as it relates to primary education. He puts forth the following questions:

    Is it true that the more remote the school, the lower the quality of education?
    Where is educational technology better suited at this stage of its integration – remote areas or urban centers?
    Can technology alter the acquisition of values?
    Can education be self-organizing?

    Mitra found that the motivation of teachers was directly correlated to the quality of educational delivery. This brings us back again to the foundation of Teacher as Inspire-or. If you do not derive joy from your work, if you do not believe in what you are asked to teach, if you do not see the possibility inherent in the passing on of information and the support of the cultivation of knowledge, how can you teach anything?

    If you are told by your Department Head that you must start using technology in the classroom because your faculty is falling behind in the polls, in the rankings, in the ratings (or in whatever popularity contest you participate for the sake of funding and politics) but you do not believe in the connecting power of technology, how can you inspire its use?

    Is educational technology really ‘over-hyped’ and ‘under-performing’? Can we really come to that conclusion if we haven’t really given it a chance? How many teachers who have been asked to begin working with educational technology (and educational technologists) have really given it (and them) a chance? How many have considered the student ‘s perspective when coming to their premature conclusions? How many have acted out of fear?

    There is something to be said for walking through life with a child-like innocence. It allows one to look through the eyes of an open, curious and light-hearted perceiver. It allows one to make choices from a place of flexibility, acceptance and promise. How many teachers do you know who teach from a place of fear and ego? How many do you know who inspire?

    “We need a faster processor and a better mouse.”

    The Hole in the Wall Project – a phenomenal example of the spirit of humanity. How could you not want to help inspire?

  • 10Jan
    Author: Katherine Pisana Categories: Education, Educational Technology Comments: 5

    20090110 postAs part of the “What is a Learning Object anyway??” series (I’ve just decided we’re going to have a series!), I wanted to talk about the attributes of a learning object today. We started off considering the definition of learning objects because, as in any learning process, if we don’t understand the meaning of the words being use to describe a new concept, we won’t get very far in grasping the ideas. So, assuming that you understand the definition of an admittedly abstract term yet to be definitively defined by the industry (!), let’s move on to an RLOs (Reusable Learning Object’s) attributes.

    In essence, any learning tool can be a learning object – depending on how micro or macro your perspective. There is, of course, the issue of granularity, in which the more focused the material or content of the learning object, and the more independent is it (can it be used at various levels of study or within different contexts), (and certainly considering its accessibility), then, the more easily it can be slotted into a sequence of other learning objects to create a broader learning experience. That’s where the reference to ‘reusable’ becomes relevant. For example, if I wanted to create a lesson about French irregular verb conjugation,  I would want to break the concept down into digestible chunks (or modules, or blocks, or however you label ‘learning bits’). After all, if you’ve ever studied French as a foreign language, you’ll know that there seem to be more irregular verbs in the French language then regular ones! Besides the point though, I know…

    So, the following is a learning object about the attributes of learning objects. In addition to including numerous references on the topic (for those interested in further reading), you are also provided with a list of examples of the various types of content that can make up a learning object. (If you have more examples, please share what’s worked for you!)

    One could say that a blog also falls into the category of learning object although often spanning broader topic areas. I realize that we’re not broaching the concept of credibility of source, reliability of information, etc. with this example, but at this point, let’s just try to get our minds wrapped around the idea of what a learning object can be. With that, here’s the RLO I mention above:

    Get Adobe Flash player

    And, as a lighter addition, I also wanted to provide another example of a learning object – this time, one that talks about podcasts and how they can be used as time savers:

    Get Adobe Flash player

    Both of these learning bits were created using SproutBuilder – once again proving that you don’t have to be a Flash expert to create Flash content 🙂

    (If any of you have created Sprouts for educational use and you’d like to share them, feel free to send me information about them so that I can publish them here too! It would also be great to hear your experiences of how well (or not) they worked in achieving your teaching goals.)

    From: Virtually Scholastic

  • 04Jan
    Author: Katherine Pisana Categories: Education Comments: 2

    4 Jan 2009Education should be inspirational. It’s a lot of hard work to learn – lots of lessons, lots of falling and scraping your knee before you learn how to walk. That’s true with everything new – baby steps at first, eventually leading to leaps and bounds. What we don’t talk about enough in schools is how to keep going when it gets tough. There seems to always be an insinuation at every level of education that the goal of every student is to be the best, get the highest grades, make the most impressive presentations, win the most prestigious awards, but not much talk about the important stuff – the point of learning.

    Some teachers try to get students thinking in this direction by asking them to think about what kind of learners they are. However, unless you understand learning theories and know how to analyze your survey results and actually apply them to your life, these sorts of exercises are usually just abstract multiple choice games. Before asking the learner to reflect on what kind of learner they are, how about helping them understand why they’ve chosen to learn something in the first place.

    I don’t know if I would have chosen to go to business school if I were to go through my under-grad again. Of course, the choices about my past that I would make now are irrelevent because I’m a different person whose gone through many experiences that have molded my perceptions. But I think the point I want to make is that I don’t think that, knowing what I know now, I would necessarily choose the ‘most marketable’ program of study. Perhaps I would expand my mind and my imagination and choose to study something that stimulated my inner passions rather than my desire for future wealth and prosperity. After all, money in the name of money becomes quite an empty goal in life.

    So, back to inspiration. If we don’t have inspiration to learn, learning won’t take place. At least, not the learning that counts. Not the learning that enables the student to carry knowledge with them throughout their lives, build upon it layer by layer and cultivate a perspective of wisdom that will eventually enrich the world. Anybody can learn how to memorize facts for a test, but WHO CARES about your scores in the end? Yes, I know. The universities you’re trying to get into care about your scores. I know. The world we live in won’t compensate you just because you are inspired. But…what if we put more energy into figuring out what we love to do and a bit less into following the herd?

    In case you need some, here is a little inspiration for you…

    Get Adobe Flash player

    From: Virtually Scholastic