Posts Tagged ‘ict’
Sometimes I get asked to give talks at seminars. I have a standard reply: I try not to give talks because not everyone is ready to listen.
Recently, I was asked to give a talk on game-based learning for an ICT seminar at a local institute. As my schedule was packed, I suggested that they watch my TED talk and we could video conference if needed. The organizers preferred that I be physically present.
I pointed out that the seminar was supposed to be about the power of ICT in education and that we would be using ICT while talking about ICT-mediated strategies. The organizers did not relent, nor did I.
I do not believe in giving only talks about ICT. I prefer workshops where we can uncover the whys, hows, and so whats of ICT, roughly in that order. A seminar is not the best way to do this.
So if any of the organizers read this, know that I said no on principle. And thank you for reminding me why I stick to my guns.
… you read about an e-book service being launched in Singapore and its distinguishing feature is that it also offers assessment papers.
Sure, this appeals to the market, but it indicates the sad state of the market.
This article and another I am highlighting below were from yesterday’s Digital Life. Click on the images below to see larger versions of segments of the articles. If you have a Straits Times online subscription, see article 1 and article 2.
It is equally sad to read another report of a school that claims to have a system in place for home-based, self-directed learning that allows teachers to block students from visiting other sites or playing games.
If the teacher is using a whiteboard and PowerPoint, how is this home learning? If the teacher restricts sites that students might be able to visit, how is this self-directed learning? For that matter, read the excerpt above and tell me what really distinguishes the home learning from school.
I’ve said this before, but I’ll say this again: If you are going to use ICT and not change the way things are done, don’t use it. The students and teachers may not be in the same venue, but if the pedagogy does not change, then I consider that technology abuse.
It’s that time of semester for me to resume teaching.
First up on my list is the elective MLS118 which starts tomorrow. It’s meant for school ICT heads and is just labelled “Information Technology” in the handbook.
I don’t like the sound of IT because communication is missing. IT, like PowerPoint, has a transmissive feel to it. ICT is more about two-way communication and leveraging on opportunities to collaborate.
I have gone further by defining my course as being about Planning, Articulating, Leading and Sustaining Change with ICT. It’s a mouthful so occasionally I abbreviate it to Enabling Change with ICT.
I used Edmodo, QR codes, Skype and various Google Apps last semester to promote change via social, open and mobile forms of learning. This time around I am simplifying the assignments and bringing in video game-based learning (vGBL).
Rather than just read, talk, share or videoconference about change, I would like to my participants experience elements of change. By doing so, I hope that they will be better able to relate to the concepts of change and adopt/adapt models of these concepts in action. It’s about making concepts real.
To provide these shared experiences of change, we will be playing various video games. (I normally do this with preservice teachers for the ICT course.)
These games are deceptively simple and addictive. But they will also reveal elements of systemic change if my participants think deeply enough.
Here are some questions I am thinking of asking my participants to reflect on:
- Why do you think you were asked to play those games?
- What might students learn from such games?
- How might teachers incorporate such games into teaching?
- How might teachers integrate GBL into their teaching without playing games?
- What do these games have to do with change?
From set 4 of this wonderful gallery of quotations on educational change.
by Bird Eye
This semester I am trying something a bit different.
Every academic group in NIE has an e-champion to represent their group at meetings. I have two issues with this practice. One, the e-champions may be appointed and therefore not necessarily willing participants. Two, the meetings in the past have been largely administrative or serve to disseminate information.
What I would like to do instead is build and maintain a support group of innovative teacher educators who want to meet to share ideas and discuss issues. Meetings once a month or every two months is not enough. But trying to schedule more regular meetings is difficult when everyone has schedules to keep.
So I have opted to meet informally over lunch and tea with the appointed e-champions and any other teaching staff who are excited about integrating ICT. My plan is to start with informal meals and deals every fortnight. The participants are free to attend or not.
I hope that the gathering of like-minded folks will not only provide support but also fertile ground for ideas to be seeded, nurtured and enjoyed. If necessary, we can extend our conversations to an online space so that we are not constrained by time.
This attempt at community building is not going to be easy, of course. It might just fall flat and I might fail at this attempt. But I am going to try and I am certainly going to learn from the process. I have already had one tea session and the insights I gained from just one e-champion were priceless!
I doubt that my student teachers notice it, but I take pains to customize the “stock” PowerPoint the ICT tutors get by 1) making them more visual, 2) removing unnecessary text, 3) correcting grammatical errors and 4) making them more consistent within a session and between sessions.
It can be time-consuming just to do just one of these things, but if I had to choose just one, I’d just make them more visual. While my learners are older and should be able to take in more text, many of them are what some call millennials or Generation F (for Facebook). They don’t just read text (in short bursts and blocks), they also read images, sounds and video. My class in particular comprises of art, home economics and music teachers. There is a lot more performance-based learning in these fields.
Even if some my student teachers prefer to read, their students will be a different lot and need to be taught differently. Teaching such students more visually and experientially is the way to go. I am not trying to be a cool teacher educator; I am trying to be a relevant one!
So I changed the text-only e-activity on cyberwellness so that it included not just images but also Voki avatars. I tried to make the tired PowerPoint look more appealing by proving thematic images on each slide. Doing this also allowed me to model how to use and cite Creative Commons licenced images.
I’m also trying to make learning more experiential and owned by the learner.
We have started playing video games so that we have shared experiences on game-based learning (GBL). This is not preceded by any readings on GBL so that they discover what they know and don’t know about it. Then only do they start filling knowledge gaps with information by way of online text and videos.
I am also getting groups to co-teach the course with topics of their choice so that they not only do what teachers are supposed to but also take ownership of their learning. I get them to read, watch or and discuss my “presentations” instead of just listening. I ask them to reflect in group-owned blogs so that they learn on their own time and from one another.
What am I going to try next? Dropbox for file distribution and sharing. This way we can sync the files on our computers and phones!
This is a rant.
Background: Every semester we will get feedback from student teachers that they don’t learn enough technology from our ICT course even though tutors emphasize that the course is about technology-mediated pedagogy instead. Every semester tutors will say they have no time to pack these tools or TELs (technology enabled learning) into an already packed curriculum. Every semester I urge tutors not to think linearly.
My stance is this: We should not limit ourselves to our capacity to teach; we should exploit our student teachers’ capacity to learn. We do this by giving them as many opportunities to share and teach (they are training to be teachers after all) and by embedding the content in the social process, the technology and the pedagogy.
As of last Friday, we are just two sessions into the ICT course. My class is sharing a wiki, they have signed up for blogs (they have selected Posterous and Blogspot), and they have interacted with MindMeister, Voki, Slideshare, embedded YouTube videos, LinoIt and ProProf Quiz. We use this to write, reflect, brainstorm, listen, read, watch, record, assess, etc.
If they read my blog and decide to monitor it by RSS, you can add another tool to the list. If they choose to join me as I bookmark socially with delicious, add yet another tool to the list. I am sure that they are already on Facebook, but we haven’t taken advantage of that educationally. Yet.
Is anyone who plays the numbers game keeping count? I’m not because these are natural or new extensions of how we should be teaching and learning. If teachers-to-be don’t know what the current digital tools are or how to use them, it is pointless to harp on technology-mediated pedagogy. Or worse, they limit themselves to what they already know (e.g., PowerPoint and possibly “interactive” white boards) and the associated pedagogy of didactic delivery.
So how might teacher educators try to address the issues of dynamic content, rapid tool evolution and progressive pedagogy?
- Be a deep user of the tools yourself. Skills learnt from one tool often transfer to another.
- Select tools that are intuitive to use. Most are and your “intuition” grows with frequent use.
- Embed them in meaningful learning (not teaching) activities. The tool should fade into the background.
- If you must design teaching activities, get your student teachers to teach one another. They learn much more that way.
- Strategically rise above the activities and discuss with your audience how you integrated the technology in the activities, warts and all.
Ah, that was cathartic!
The teaching semester resumed for me yesterday, after a one-month delay thanks to the YOG. It’s great to be back teaching. Correction, facilitating and modelling. Cajoling and tinkering. Stimulating and pressing.
I only have one class to nurture this time round as my administrative responsibilities are heavy. But what a motley crew they are promising to be!
We were in the new Games Lab (ECL2) because no other lab was available. (Does no one want to use the newest and most flexible learning environment?)
We were here only because last Friday was a holiday and we had to make up for it. We’ll be back in a normal lab soon. But my class will also visit other venues to reinforce the fact that you can learn anytime and anywhere as long as you have a mobile, Internet-connected device.
Well, almost any such device. Phones and iPads are still not good for content creation. So those that did not already collect their NIE-provided laptops or bring their own were not able to edit the wiki or the shared online mind map.
But they shared what devices they brought and they are editing the shared spaces furiously (I am getting a slew of email and RSS updates). I cannot wait to read their group blogs! I’ll have to remember to remind them to pace themselves, but it is always a joy to see such motivation.
Dr Cheah Horn Mun, the director of ETD of the MOE, responded to a contributor to the Straits Time forum who asked, “What’s the update on digital learning?”
Horn Mun was a colleague of mine in NIE before taking the post in the MOE. I wonder if he (or one of his people) will read my blog entry as I have a critique on his response. I have nothing against him, of course, as he is a really nice guy and I think I know where he is coming from. I realize that he has to represent an organization, so his personal views may be clouded. It is the content of his reply that I critique, not the person.
I am glad that he informed the public about financial assistance schemes for bridging the technology divide [see text blocked in green]. I am also glad that he mentioned the cyberwellness efforts in schools. We in NIE have introduced this concept in our ICT course a semester ago and made it part of a graded assignment so that new teachers are aware of the concept.
In trying to provide a succinct reply, it was not possible for Horn Mun to list all the schools and all their ICT and “digital learning” efforts. But I was left wondering why the usual suspects keep appearing. Are there no other schools worthy of mention?
Why don’t stakeholders (parents in particular) know what is happening in schools with regards to ICT integration? Why do they have to wait for limited and selective coverage by the press? Every school should be proudly publishing its efforts in its Web 1.0 school site, or better still, taking advantage of Web 2.0 to regularly update the school’s blog, Twitter or Facebook account.
Perhaps most schools have little to say. Why? In my opinion, they are not, as the director of ETD wrote [see text blocked in orange], “well resourced with the computing infrastructure and digital resources to harness ICT for learning”. It might appear so administratively on paper and on VIP visits to schools, but the reality is that most schools do not yet have early 21st century tools in place because of industrial age hangovers.
Yes, a few schools have 1:1 computing programmes and campus wide wireless networks. The majority do not. A few more schools have IWBs and “special” rooms. But these tools and venues are of little use (and little used) if pedagogy does not change with the times.
How do I know? I have friends and former trainees who are school principals, heads of departments or teachers. I follow teachers on Twitter, Facebook or their blogs. As a supervisor, consultant and teacher educator, I visit schools regularly and make it a point to ask about their ICT infrastructure and actually see the rooms. I do school-based research and collect uncensored information from teachers about their schools. Finally, I was a teacher before I was a teacher educator, so I know how most teachers think and react.
Teachers will complain that the infrastructure is not in place. They are right but it will never be in place because technology changes so rapidly. Instead, they could use what the students already have or think of ways to work with businesses and the community to get what they need.
Teachers complain of a lack of time despite efforts to reduce curriculum time for more innovative instruction. The integration of ICT does make lesson planning and implementation more complex, but it does not have to be overly elaborate or time-consuming.
One thing I model for my teacher trainees is how to facilitate ICT embedded activities that are only 5-15 minutes long. Think about how you might conduct a 5-minute brainstorming session using a collaboratively generated online mindmap. Think about 10-minute learning stations that students visit and where they search for information, solve mini problems (that are part of a larger problem) and reflect on them… all using iPod Touches and a wireless router. Think about a concept that no one, including the teacher, is sure about and everyone uses their iPhones or netbooks to instantly get information from the Web and then have a class discussion to clarify that concept.
What schools should invest in are technologies that will support pedagogies and strategies that last. Pedagogies that build upon experiential learning, problem-based learning, case-based learning or game-based learning. Digital learning then becomes learning that is enabled, not just enhanced, by critical, powerful and meaningful forms of technology.
So what exactly do schools need? Wireless Internet access anywhere in school and mobile computing devices like iPod Touches, variants of the Nintendo DS, Sony PSPs, smartphones or netbooks. Do schools have these in place? Most do not. Do some students already have some of these kid-friendly devices? Yes, they do and half the need is potentially fulfilled. Are most schools taking advantage of this? No, they are not. They need to put technology in the hands and minds of the learners. After all, we are in their service and preparing them for their futures, not our past.
So it there digital learning in schools? From my point of view as a teacher educator, a researcher and a concerned parent, I’d say certainly not enough.
Did you read last week’s Channel News Asia report on how Singapore schools plan to devote 20% of curriculum to use ICT to support learning?
I did and so did Swee Kin, a former colleague of mine, who now lives and works in Dunedin, New Zealand. He twittered his reaction:
30% in 1997, 20% in 2010 – Schools plan to devote 20% of curriculum to use ICT to support learning: http://bit.ly/ambUWf
His tongue-in-cheek remark was in reference to how we as teachers back then had to reduce syllabi by 30% in order to accommodate relevant forms of technology. In a follow up reply to me, he wondered if this accommodation might drop to 10% in 2017. Hah, who knows? It might!
What I’d like to see drop to 0% was the example that CNA chose to use as technology: “interactive” white boards [see screenshot, click to see larger version].
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. IWBs are expensive and they do not change pedagogy for the better. Even though they could serve as bridges to other more powerful and meaningful technologies, they leave teachers largely in their comfort zone. So they stay put. Embellishing tired, old pedagogies with IWBs does not make them new or effective.
Yes, some teachers might call students to walk to the front and manipulate something on the board, but how is that different from what was done with a chalkboard or whiteboard? How is it more interactive, engaging or meaningful? Why don’t learners have access to resources all the time with ICTs like Internet-connected netbooks or iPod Touches instead?
IWBs are a form of IT (information technology), not necessarily ICT (information and communication technology). Just because a teacher is using it at the front of the classroom does not mean the students are getting the message. That “C” is all important because it enables us to chat, critique and collaborate with learners, teachers and experts inside and outside the classroom. When married with progressive pedagogies, ICT can develop creative and critical discourse.
I also take issue with the role of ICT to “support” learning. ICT should also be used to also enable learning instead of being relegated to merely enhancing it. We use ICT at work everyday to enable work, so why not in school?