Scratching about with planning

Work on redevelopment of EDP4130 came to a halt over the past couple of weeks because there was other work that needed to be done immediately. That, and the fact that I spent a few days scratching around with some ideas about the revisions, resulted in silence here. Now that I have completed a couple of other jobs, both related to EDP4130 and the review and accreditation process, I can try to do some more work on the revisions before I head off on leave to travel for several weeks.

For as long as technology has been part of the general curriculum in Queensland (and across Australia) it has fitted the pattern of what is often referred to as Design and Technology. The mantra of the national curriculum statement that appeared in the late 1990s was “designing, making and appraising with materials, information and systems”. That was variously interpreted and linked with other curriculum areas in different states. In Queensland, the 3 verbs of “design, make, and appraise” became 4 nouns – “investigation, ideation, production and evaluation” – but there was a broad consistency. Information and ICT figured in the curriculum but was not central.

In 2012 the development of the Australian Curriculum has progressed to the point of releasing a document on The Shape of the Australian Curriculum: Technologies that proposes two subjects, Design and Technologies and Digital Technologies. The first of these will require some adjustment in our preparation of teachers but shares much with what is already in the technology curriculum. The second represents new ground, including concepts about computer hardware and software for which we are not currently preparing our graduates. It will require more substantial changes to enable graduates to approach teaching about concepts that many of them will not have been exposed to in their own schooling.

Because the proposed scope and sequence for Digital Technologies includes basic concepts of computer programming – linear, branching and looping instructions – which will be new to our teacher education students I wanted to introduce those concepts in a way that would quickly build the basic concepts they need but could also suggest how they might approach the teaching of the same ideas in schools. Thus I came to be literally scratching about with Scratch, which provides a visual programming experience that is simple enough to be accessible to children and sophisticated enough to support teaching the important programming concepts.

Having decided that Scratch is likely to be a suitable basis for developing the important programming concepts I need to devise a workable plan for that component of the course. We run a 13 week teaching semester but students are out for 3 weeks of professional experience placement, leaving 10 weeks of actual course time available in 2 blocks, each of 5 weeks. For students studying on campus there are 3 hours of class time each week, conventionally divided into an hour of lecture (whole group in a large space) and two hours of tutorial (groups of 20 to 30 in smaller spaces). If Digital Technologies is to have equal billing to Design and Technology in the future curriculum then allocating one tutorial hour to each (and some suitable balance in the ‘lecture’ hour) would seem reasonable. That would allow 10 hours of class time to introduce students to computational thinking and the essential programming concepts via Scratch or otherwise. That’s not a lot of time but it will have to do.

There are possibilities other than Scratch that may deserve exploration so it will be important to allow some time for that. Students are likely to come to these classes with different background experience and skills so some flexibility in that exploration would be appropriate. If there are students with prior coding experience or access to particular hardware and software they might be able to tackle more ambitious projects. Possibilities for exploration might include building games with GameSalad or Stencyl, making simple apps for smartphones using Infinite Monkeys, coding with Google blockly, learning a ‘real’ programming language with Codecademy, or one of many other rapidly evolving options.

My first thoughts about how to block out the time are along these lines:

Class weeks Activity
1 – 3 Introduction to Scratch using ideas from the Scratch site resources
4 – 5 Common project using Scratch – prescribed outcome
6 – 7 Individual project using Scratch – free rein
8 – 10 Exploration of alternatives – breadth and/or depth

That pattern should ensure that everybody develops fair familiarity with Scratch, including some ideas about how to structure learning with it. It should also provide opportunities for exploration of multiple alternatives (breadth) or selecting one alternative and completing a simple project (depth).

Because a proportion of the students take the course entirely online it will be necessary to develop any materials and activities to support that mode. Students on campus will have the opportunity to attend classes in a computer laboratory where they will be able to obtain support as and when they need it.

That’s the core of my plan for that part of the course. Materials will need to be developed and some form of assessment designed but that will take a little longer.

Read More

WebQuest update

Among the components of the 2011 & 2012 offers of the course that I thought I wanted to retain for 2013, albeit with some changes, the WebQuest seemed to be a clear keeper. It models the use of a tried and tested method of making ICT integral to student-centred learning and teaching in the course. Based on feedback from students in 2012 it appears to have worked well as a way of exposing some issues that arise around technologies that trigger a variety of responses based on differing values, and it raised awareness about a technological issue that is likely to affect the lives of many students in the course and about which many of them, by their own account, had very limited knowledge before working through the WebQuest, which addressed several of the course objectives as revised for the 2013 offer: 

  • Demonstrate understanding of technology as a human activity
  • Demonstrate knowledge and skills relevant to the content of technology education
  • Demonstrate understanding of how ICT can be integrated to enhance learning in technology education
  • Demonstrate knowledge of course content using appropriate modes and conventions of expression with attention to spelling, grammar, punctuation and bibliographic referencing.

In marking student submissions in 2012 it became apparent that some of the instructions about the process and what was required for submission might have been clearer. Some students struggled to address the marking criteria within the 200 word limit for each of the 3 response segments. The responses had been deliberately specified as short in order to encourage students to focus on the key ideas and to limit the volume of reading and writing necessary for them to engage with the discussion forums. Short responses were also expected to assist the markers. 

Thus the work required to tidy up the WebQuest was relatively simple – clarify the instructions to assist students through the process, and simplify and clarify the marking criteria to improve the reliability of the activity as a method of assessing learning against the objectives. Checking and updating of links to online resources provided in the WebQuest was also required but that part of the renovation would be best done just before the start of the 2013 offer so that resources would be as up to date as possible. I also wanted to ensure that the WebQuest would display in a readable fashion on any device from a desktop computer to a smartphone so some work on the HTML and CSS might be required.

There had been some comments about students suggesting that verification by screenshot ought not be necessary for students attending class on campus and participating in discussion there. Although there is some validity in that comment, I was also aware that many students had commented in their assessment submissions that this was the first time they had learned how to grab screenshots and they thought it was a useful skill. On that basis I decided to retain that requirement as part of the effort to build and reinforce useful ICT skills.

My memories of where students appeared to have difficulty with the process and with the marking criteria were reasonably fresh so it was a relatively simple matter to work through the sections of the WebQuest making adjustments to address the known issues. Whether those will cause different issues will be revealed when the activity runs again in 2013. In the meantime the WebQuest content is tidied up, saving last minute checks to links just before semester begins. 

The structure of the WebQuest is based on that promoted by Bernie Dodge on his original WebQuest site. I built the pages in DreamWeaver with a simple stylesheet to handle the presentation. When I tweaked the site in 2012 I was thinking about mobile and included some media queries to deal with different screen sites. Changing page width in browsers on my iMac produced the expected adjustments to presentation, including rearrangement of navigation elements, but when I checked the updated site on my iPhone it preferred to present a ‘zoomed’ version with the full-size site in miniature. That was workable with ‘pinching’ but not what I wanted so I dug around my personal site and borrowed the ‘viewport’ code I’ve been using there. A few more tweaks to the media queries got that working well enough for now – more changes may follow when I have time and more knowledge – and opportunity to test on more devices. The tables that I used for the marking guide had multiple columns that did not squeeze down well for display in readable text on a small screen. Rather than try to replicate a previous effort to reformat a wide table of research supervision, I opted to rework the table into a vertical format.

The revised CSG WebQuest is now pretty much ready for use in 2013. It will be necessary to check and update links to resources and integrate it into the Moodle space for the course before the semester begins but, unless I have some brilliant idea for change, it is otherwise done.

Read More

What to retain?

One of the first decisions to be made in the process of course redevelopment is what to retain from what has gone before. In other words, I need to identify what should be kept because it worked reasonably well and what adjustments might be made to improve it for the future.

EDP4130 has a history that should not be ignored in planning for redevelopment. The first offer in 2011 borrowed much of its content and activities from EDU1471, which had been offered some years previously across 3 campuses but not online. The online offer required for EDP4130 was a significant difference that influenced planning and implementation of the LMS (Moodle) space. Based on that experience some further changes were made for the 2012 offer.

Thinking about how various parts of the course worked (or didn’t) can be informed by my own reflections on the experience, comments from colleagues who worked in one or other offer, records of activity in the LMS, and data from student evaluations of the course offers. Some of those sources are loose but should suffice for some guidance about what to change.

Because I developed EDU1471 immediately after spending a year at Purdue I designed the assessment to be distributed through the semester and linked closely with tutorial activities. That had multiple benefits with an on-campus course. Students saw relevance in attending classes that bore directly on assessment, much of the work was actually completed in class and small pieces of work submitted one week could be easily marked in time for return in class next week. That kept students attending and ensured that they knew how they stood as the semester progressed. The major assessment piece was a class project involving collaborative development of curriculum materials that were contributed to a shared resource pool, accompanied by an individual report on learning through the process. Students saw the assessment as relevant and manageable. From my perspective designing the key assessment items first was a useful way of specifiying expected outcomes and I was then able to design learning activities to support their achievement.

In developing EDP4130 for 2011 I retained as much as possible of the tutorial activities and related assessment from EDU1471. The WebQuest about infant formula that I had developed for EDU1471 seemed dated so I constructed a new one around Coal Seam Gas but did not include it in the assessment for 2011. I did retain an activity in which students developed design briefs, exchanged them for response, and then reported on that process. I was able to manage that for online students using a database in Moodle but handled the on-campus classes in the classical way. I retained a resource review activity and assessment from EDU1471 but worked it in Moodle using a database and a peer review assessment module. I added a quiz early in the semester to drive engagement with the curriculum documents and some relevant reading. The whole class curriculum project and report was retained essentially as it was configured for EDU1471 with online students working in forums with a database and wikis if desired.

The checklist approach in the peer review assessment produced high marks. That coupled with good marks on the other assessment items produced a distribution with more high grades than the faculty and university authorities liked so some change was indicated for 2012. Other issues arose around management of some activities, especially the large group curriculum development, for the online students. Again, some change was indicated for 2012. Overall students had a very positive response to the assessment pattern with evaluation comments running 12:1 in favour of the pattern of several small assessment pieces across the semester. Students also responded positively to what they saw as the relevance of the assessment activities to their learning and future work as teachers.

For 2012 I retained the quiz as a simple means of encouraging students to engage with key content. They recorded an average score of 12.5 out of 15 (83%) which some might regard as high but it caused me little concern if it meant that students became familiar with important course material. I also retained the design brief activity but, in deference to my understanding of the USQ push toward Digital First, I designed it to work entirely online for all students using a pair of databases in Moodle. I dropped the peer review activity around resources because it had inflated marks and tweaked the WebQuest about Coal Seam Gas to replace it as an assessment item. Student engagement with the optional because not for assessmentWebQuest in 2011 had been minimal but making it assessable was expected to encourage engagement with the important ideas about the values dimensions of technology. Because the whole class curriculum project had been awkward to manage online I made that item an individual curriculum development project and report with the option for students to work in small groups of up to 4 members. However, the requirement to contribute the materials to a shared pool of resources (collated through a Moodle database) remained. To retain the benefits of collaboration for all students I added requirements to demonstrate the effect of a Personal Learning Network (PLN) and of sharing work in progress through a Virtual Learning Design Studio (VLDS) hosted in the Mahara eportfolio system.

Student responses to the course in 2012 were mixed. Although the pattern of assessment was very similar to that in 2011 the changes resulted in a wider spread of grades and more disaffection among students, which seems consistent with students seldom complaining when they receive good grades. Some on-campus students expressed unhappiness about needing to complete certain tasks online, although others took the opportunity to reduce class attendance. Some students appeared to have difficulty with interpreting assessment requirements and criteria although others managed very well. Comments on student evaluations pointed to the need to ensure that criteria are clearer and that assessment details are easily found. Some careful thinking about the design of the Moodle space for the course will be needed. The final task was seen as large, though in reality it was no larger for a student than in previous years, and complex. Comments about needing to access multiple pages for information possibly related to information about the PLN and VLDS components and, if those are retained for 2013, care will be needed with designing clear pathways through the material. Comments in the actual assessment work submitted by students seemed to suggest that they found value in all parts of the activities, including the PLN and VLDS, but perhaps those comments were calculated to encourage the marker to reward them.

Although much of the course was designed around the assessment and related learning activities (directed reading assessed by the quiz, WebQuest over 3 to 4 weeks with a 600 word report, design brief exchange over 2 weeks with a 600 word report, curriculum materials and 1500 word report developed over 5 weeks) there were other resources provided to students. They included brief notes about the course content, recordings of presentations (in multiple formats – M4V [with video] and MP3 ) accompanied by PowerPoint slides and handouts, weekly guides to activities and links to other resources. How much use was made of these is difficult to determine because not all are trackable in Moodle and where material is provided in multiple formats it is difficult to aggregate records of access. However, examination of available activity reports suggests that some students access most of the material but many will have been selective, especially toward the end of semester when they were focused on completing assessment.

So, what have I learned and what should I retain for the 2013 offer?

Based on the student evaluation data there seems to be support for a distributed assessment pattern to spread the load, provide formative feedback through the semester, and avoid ‘high stakes’ items like the final piece worh 55% in 2011 and 2012. Students appreciate assessment that they see as relevant and for which the criteria are clear and instructions easy to follow. The quiz (in some form), WebQuest and design brief activities should be retained though some adjustments will be in order. The large final assignment seems not much favoured by students and the advent of systemic curriculum design initiatives like C2C and online sources of teaching materials like Teachers Pay Teachers suggests that in future teachers are much more likely to find themselves adopting and adapting existing or found materials rather than engaging in ab initio curriculum development. The assessment work in EDP4130 should probably recognise that shift and focus on the work of locating, curating, analysing and adapting curriculum materials rather than development from the blank page – if that ever really happened. There did seem to be value in the PLN and VLDS activity but the VLDS could be simplified by having students work in smaller, more manageable groups and both would benefit from being introduced from the start of semester as part of the professional approach to working rather than later as an assessment requirement.

There is probably a continuing need for some recorded material but front loading that early in the semester may encourage its use. By end of semester students are focused on completing assessment in all their courses rather than accessing new material that may not be directly related to assessment. Multiple formats that support access using mobile devices received some support in the student evaluations and should be retained. There were also requests for more easily printed material (PDF) and there might be value in looking at means to produce notes and other text material in multiple formats to support web access, printing (PDF) and eBook readers (ePub and mobi).

That seems like plenty to think about for now.

Read More

Redeveloping EDP4130 Technology Curriculum and Pedagogy

This semester I have some time set aside to work on redeveloping the course that I’ve been offering to 4th year Primary specialisation students in the BEd since 2011. The course, EDP4130 Technology Curriculum and Pedagogy, is intended to prepare students to teach the Technology Key Learning Area. It is offered on 3 campuses (2 in 2012 because of low numbers on one campus) and also entirely online.

For now in Queensland the Technology curriculum area is defined by Queensland Studies Authority documents based on the 2003 syllabus but the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority is working toward development of Australian Curriculum documents beginning with 2012 consultation around a draft shaping document.

I have good intentions of recording the development process here but how far that goes is yet to be seen. I had intended beginning this record last week after meeting with the Learning Innovation Teaching Enhancement (LITE) team to discuss my plans but was not well and also busy with other stuff. The LITE Team seemed to think that my existing course was in good shape. The notes they provided following the meeting included these comments:

This course is exemplary and references most of the AITSL and QCT standards relating to ICTs as well as the Good Practice Guidelines.  Learning activities and assessment tasks develop appropriate concepts and metacognitive skills.

Personally I might not rate it so highly. There are some parts of the course that appear to work well and some of those were borrowed from a previous course (EDU1471 Technology Education) that was offered from 2002 until 2006 to prepare students for the same curriculum area. Other parts of the course did not work as well as I had hoped in 2012 and some students expressed dissatisfaction with aspects of the course in the evaluations. Some of those were changes made from 2011 to 2012 to address issues with the distribution of grades and other matters from the 2011 offer. There is work to be done to improve on what was offered in 2011 and 2012.

In addition to that, the ACARA shaping document includes digital technologies as about half of the content alongside the more traditional Technology KLA ideas around design. The digital technologies element would introduce basic ideas about computer science, including the rudiments of programming, for which our graduates are not being prepared at present. It would be prudent for any redevelopment of the course to address those aspects and I’ve already made changes to course objectives to accommodate that.

I’m also interested in what can be done to move the pedagogy of the course forward. I’ve been providing recorded lectures but I’m not sure how much use those attract from students in a course with no final examination. Perhaps it’s time for a change in that department. It’s certainly time to think about more flexible access to course materials and activities with increasing numbers of students having access to mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. I’m also interested in what might be done with gamification, specifically through the use of badges or similar approaches as part of the assessment regime.

That provides me with plenty to think about as I wrestle with redevelopment. One of the first things I’ll need to do is consider what has worked well and should be retained, perhaps with some adaptation, and what has not worked so well and should be dropped or subjected to major renovation. Beyond that I’ll need to think about what new developments might be possible in the time I have to work on this.

Read More

SITE 2012 Day 4

The keynote on the final day of the conference was delivered by Mark Milliron, Chancellor of Western Governors University. This was a clear case of ‘save the best for last’ and was a lively presentation on building out the new generation of learning. Although the presentation included little that was new it was put together in a clear and compelling package around ’emerging insights’: tune the blend, mobility matters, get serious about play/simulation, move from social to learning networks, and leverage high engagement technologies. The presentation was laced with interesting stories and pithy advice such as ‘tune the blend to make the human moment precious’ – that is, use technology to take the base load so that human engagement is used to maximum advantage. It was engaging enough that we opted to stay for the second hour of conversation, much of which focused on the mode of operation of Western Governors University as an online university focusing on competencies and using curriculum content which is curated from other sources rather than built to order.

In subsequent sessions I attended presentations on social media  and Web 2.0 applications in education, learning theories related to Twitter, building video content using Flash, teacher networks, and a technology integration course for preservice teachers. The most interesting of these was the presentation by Tom Carroll and colleagues about Teachers Learning in Networked Communities (TLINC) 2.0 which pointed to some potential around development of professional learning communities and/or personal learning networks for teachers as a path to addressing issues of retention.

The connection by SITE to SXSWEdu provided access to the SXSW Startup Crawl as edutainment for the early evening. A small group of us visited a series of sites around downtown Austin to enjoy hospitality and exposure to software startups. Although few, if any, of them had direct relevance to education the experience did provide some interesting insights into the culture of software development, the playful workplace culture that characterises such enterprises, and the potential for creative approaches to software in activities including education.

As usual, SITE has provided a mix of interesting papers from colleagues working at the edge of new developments and opportunities to catch up in informal settings. The challenge will be to find ways to implement some of that in our own context once I return to campus.

Read More

SITE 2012 Day 3

Making it down the I-35 for an 8:30 start with the keynote rather than rushing for a 7:30 SIG meeting allowed for some extra sleep and a less frantic start to the day. The keynote was provided by a panel of 4 Deans – 2 from the USA, 1 from NZ and 1 from Israel. Each gave a brief presentation, followed by a period of questions directed to the panel. Many of the challenges faced by education faculties were similar across contexts. For example, the Deans from both New Mexico and NZ spoke about the ways in which they are engaging with indigenous populations and all faced challenges with rapidly changing technologies and the drive, for varying reasons, to take their offerings online.

In the hour following the keynote I met with Matt Koehler to discuss the visit that he and Punya Mishra will be making to Australia for the TTF National Support Network meeting on 15 and 16 March. We talked about the project and its background, what had been achieved so far, the evaluation framework, and what might be expected of Matt and Punya during the Sydney meeting. Fortunately I had received recent updates on the planned program for the 2 day meeting and a summary of the research outcomes that I was able to share as background for their thinking about the content of presentations.

In the session before lunch I participated in a panel of editors of journals in the field. In addition to JTATE, the panel represented the other SITE journal, Contemporary Issues in Teacher Education, the ISTE journals, Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education and Journal of Research on Technology in Education, and Computers in the Schools. The panel briefly outlined the focus of each journal and then engaged in a Q&A session with the audience who were mostly interested in how to get published.

Over lunch I met with Debbie Sprague, outgoing Editor of JTATE, to catch up on the status of various papers in the journal system. We looked at the various parts of the system I will need to use to manage allocation of reviews, posting of decisions, and preparation for publication. An issue has recently gone to press and there are enough papers accepted for the next issue. Beyond that we are looking for content and, depending on what comes in post-conference, may need to encourage some authors to submit.

During the afternoon I attended a session about transitioning from traditional face-to-face to online for teacher education with a focus on preparing teachers to work online in K12 settings. Most of the afternoon was in a 2 hour symposium, What would John Dewey do?, in which Punya Mishra, Matt Koehler and their team from Michigan State presented on how they designed and implemented their Master of Arts in Educational Technology program.

The poster and demonstration session ran from 5:15 – 6:45 pm after which I had been invited to a reception arranged by the Iowa State group at Iron Cactus. Majella joined me for Tex Mex cuisine and an evening of interesting conversations with some USA friends from SITE, graduate students from Iowa State, and Niki Davis and her Dean, Lyndsey Connors, from Canterbury University in Christchurch, NZ.

Read More

SITE 2012 Day 2

My time at SITE has been busy enough to negate my good intentions of compiling this report on a daily basis. Here I am at lunch time on the final day and I’m just now finding time to make some notes about the second day of the conference proper.

I started the second day early, attending the TPACK SIG meeting to catch up on developments in that area and to accept one of 4 SIG awards for my paper – Looking for evidence of change: Evaluation in the Teaching Teachers for the Future project – presented the previous day. The TPACK SIG awards took the form of a large coffee mug, a ‘Thompson’, named in honour of Ann Thompson, a former president of SITE and and early mover on TPACK.

The Tuesday keynote was presented remotely by Larry Johnson from the NMC Horizon Project and was shared across the Internet with the SXSWEdu conference down the road in Austin and the COSN conference in New York. The focus of the presentation was on rapidly changing technologies, the Horizon Report, and implications for higher education. Mobile computing and tablets are the near horizon focus for 2012 and represent trends that we need to accommodate in planning for revisions to courses and programs.

I managed to attend several parallel sessions through the day. They addressed topics including using TPACK to analyse teachers’ task design in a Swedish 1:1 setting, evaluation of a 2 year PD project in Nevada, extreme learning (including adventure learning), digital storytelling, idea videos, and authentic learning in instructional design (presented by my former doctoral student, Jay Wilson). The take home lessons were about variety and creativity in the ways that teacher educators and their students are working to build capabilities for learning and teaching with ICT. There is clearly no single solution but many different tools can be used to achieve useful outcomes.

Two hours of the afternoon were devoted to presentation of our symposium with 4 papers about different aspects of the Teaching Teachers for the Future project. The symposium was organised by Chris Campbell from University of Queensland and other presenters included Matthew Kearney (UTS), and Jason Zagami (Griffith). Jason presented over Skype. My contribution to the symposium considered redesign of EDP4130 Technology Curriculum and Pedagogy to make TPACK and ICT integration more explicit.

The SITE welcome reception from 6:30 – 7:30 pm was followed by the Leadership Summit dinner from 7:30 – 9:30 pm. After 14 hours of conference it was time to call it a day.

Read More

SITE 2012 Day 1

Our hotel breakfast was simple, bagels and cream cheese, but slower than anticipated and traffic was heavier than on Sunday so we were late for the SIG meetings which started at 7:30 am.

Welcome and keynote followed at 8:30. Jim Bower, a computational neuro-biologist from University of Texas at San Antonio, provided the keynote. He pitched at the conference theme about exponential change and ran through some of the usual material about rates of change in population, computing power, and other technologies. He made strong points about the unsuitability of lecturing as a mode of education, originally introduced to solve problems of scalability in medieval universities but no longer relevant when information is so easily accessible from the Internet. The final part of his presentation dealt with the educational website, Whyville, he has developed for kids. The site provides for learning by working independently with simulations to collect data for analysis to drive the learning. There were some interesting examples of how kids, faced with the implications of the data they had collected, could learn through solving problems in the simulated world.

In the first parallel sessions I attended the first part of a symposium about TPACK investigations conducted in various parts of the world. The session was coordinated by Petra Fisser from Twente and included presentations about TPACK research from Ghana and Tanzania. In the next session before lunch I was part of a panel in a discussion with intending authors for the Journal of Technology of Teacher Education.

Over lunch I attended the meeting of the SITE Consultative Council as incoming editor of JTATE. The meeting discussed international initiatives of SITE and the appointment of new Associate Editors for JTATE.

Following lunch I presented my first paper for the conference – Looking for evidence of change: Evaluation in the Teaching Teachers for the Future project. The paper presented some comparisons of national data from the first 2011 TTF survey and data from USQ collected in that survey and in previous work from 2009 and 2010. The analysis found that USQ had significantly higher scores than the national means on most of the measures in 2011 and that there had been some significant increases on common items from 2009 to 2011. That seems to be reason for optimism about the work being done in our program and may have resulted from the reintroduction of an ICT pedagogy course (EDC3100) and the introduction of online offers exposing students and staff to more work with ICT with a resultant increase in confidence. I was fortunate to have the paper recognised by awards in the TPACK SIG and the general conference awards.

For the balance of the afternoon, before the SITE Executive Board meeting at 3:45 pm, I was able to catch presentations about evaluating the use of interactive whiteboards in Pennsylvania schools, a classroom observation tool for assessing ICT integration, a description of ICT use in a cohort doctoral program at Arizona State, and the use of video activities for learning literacy and content in Dutch primary education.

After the Executive meeting we had time to join the participants in SXSWEdu for an open air reception in Brush Square Park in downtown Austin. By the time that was done we had completed another 12 hour day and it was time to rest and recover.

Read More

Microsoft TEI at SITE 2012

I spent Sunday at the SITE – Microsoft Teacher Education Initiative meeting. It was a very full day, beginning with breakfast at 7:30 am and concluding with dinner at 7:00 pm. We arrived back our hotel after that around 9:00 pm.

The formal program began after breakfast, at 8:30 am, with a short introduction from Mike Searson (SITE President) and Jim Ptaszynski (Microsoft Senior Director, World Wide Higher Education). That was followed by an introduction to Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) provided by Punya Mishra and a sample teaching case with video clips being developed for teacher educators by Mark Hofer.

Those presentations were followed by a sequence of three parallel sessions presenting ideas for workshops in specific areas – Social Studies Education (Cheryl Bolick & John Lee) and English Education (Melanie Shoffner & Marshall George), Mathematics Education (Joe Garofalo & Robin Angotti) and Science Education (Janice Anderson & David Slykhuis), Games & Simulations (David Gibson & Robin Angotti) and World Languages (Yan Zu, Gregory Shepherd & Mike Searson). I landed in the A series – Social Studies, Mathematics, and Games & Simulations. Each session ran for 90 minutes and included varying degrees of audience participation. Each was condensed from a fuller version and had sufficient content to make a full day workshop with material that highlighted the possibilities for making ICT integral to learning in the relevant area.

As incoming Editor of the Journal of Technology and Teacher Education I was a member of a panel of journal editors moderated by Gerald Knezek. Discussion focused on the research objectives and approaches that might be appropriate for evaluating the TEI and how the work should be disseminated. In addition to JTATE the panel included representation for ETR&D, TechTrends, JDLTE, Computers in the Schools, and CITE.

Following a wrap up by Jim Ptaszynski and Mike Searson the day ended with social interaction and dinner.

This was the first trial of the proposed package for the TEI workshops. It is to be trialled again at University of North Carolina in May and then launched at ISTE in June. The package appears to have real potential and might be a good follow on from the Teaching Teachers for the Future project in the Australian context. I’ve suggested that possibility to Jim Ptaszynski and will contact him with information about the TTF so that he can brief Microsoft representatives in Australia.

Read More

SITE 2011

From 5 – 13 March I travelled to Nashville, Tennessee, to attend the 22nd International Conference of the Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education (SITE). The conference attracted almost 1200 delegates representing more than 50 countries, which was heartening for the society in a time of restricted financial support from many universities in the USA and elsewhere. I am grateful to the faculty for support to attend the conference which I have been attending annually since 1998.

Because of my involvement in the management of SITE it is always a busy conference for me but this one was especially busy. I participated in an IFIP WG3.3 conference on the days prior to SITE, attended various meetings of SITE committees, was involved in 2 meetings about a UNESCO sponsored EDUSummIT to be held in Paris in June, and participated in 5 presentations.

IFIP (International Federation for Information Processing) is an international organisation established under the auspices of UNESCO in 1960. It operates through 14 technical committees of which the third (TC 3) deals with Education. Each TC has a number of working groups. WG 3.3 Research on Education Applications of Information Technologies had been invited to SITE and had arranged for a workshop on Research in digital technologies, futures and education to be held on March 6 & 7. Prof Niki Davis, currently at University of Canterbury, had  arranged for me to be invited to the workshop which was focused on reading and critiquing papers by participants with the intention of developing them for journal submission. In addition to the papers I had already submitted for SITE I prepared a paper, ICT access and confidence with applications among pre-service teachers, for this conference with Romina Jamieson-Proctor and Glenn Finger (Griffith) based on some data we collected in 2010. During the workshop I was proposed for full membership of WG 3.3 and am awaiting confirmation of that by TC 3.

My formal SITE conference activity commenced with the Executive Board meeting on 7 March. Other activity associated with my roles in SITE included attendance at the meeting of the International Education SIG, attending the Consultative Council meeting where Joke Voogt (Twente) and I presented a short discussion paper on developing the international profile of SITE, representing the editor of the Journal of Technology and Teacher Education (for which I am an associate editor and was acting editor during part of 2010) on a panel of editors, attending the SITE leadership dinner, and introducing the IFIP keynote panel. In my role as a SITE Vice-President with responsibility for international development I also participated in two meetings about the organisation of a follow-up EDUSummIT to be held at UNESCO headquarters in Paris in June.

I contributed to four refereed presentations at SITE this year:

Albion, P. R. (2011). Come the Revolution: Pre-service Teachers’ Access to, Attitudes toward, and Skills with ICT. In M. Koehler & P. Mishra (Eds.), Proceedings of Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education 22nd International Conference 2011 (pp. 74-81). Nashvillle, TN: AACE.

Albion, P. R., & Erwee, R. (2011). Preparing for doctoral supervision at a distance: Lessons from experience. In M. Koehler & P. Mishra (Eds.), Proceedings of Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education 22nd International Conference 2011 (pp. 82-89). Nashvillle, TN: AACE.

Erwee, R., & Albion, P. R. (2011). New Communication Media Challenges for Supervisors and External Doctoral Students. In M. Koehler & P. Mishra (Eds.), Proceedings of Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education 22nd International Conference 2011 (pp. 252-259). Nashvillle, TN: AACE.

Sprague, D., Albion, P. R., Ferdig, R., Maddux, C., & Leins, J. (2011). Publishing in the Journal of Technology and Teacher Education (JTATE). In M. Koehler & P. Mishra (Eds.), Proceedings of Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education 22nd International Conference 2011 (pp. 1680-1684). Nashvillle, TN: AACE.

These and other SITE conference papers will be available from the Education & Information Technology Digital Library to which the USQ Library subscribes. The second paper has already been accepted for the 2011 edition of the SITE Research Highlights book and the first is still in review for that publication.

The Tuesday keynote was Yong Zhao who spoke about Students as Global Entrepreneurs, from a USA perspective but with broader implications, concluding with encouragement  to invent a job, not find one. The gist of his message may be gleaned from his blog. On Wednesday incoming President of SITE, Mike Searson, presented his keynote on Bucky’s Map and Global Perspectives in a Digital Age, encouraging consideration of how our perspectives on the world are developed and may be made more global. The Thursday keynote was delivered by a panel of IFIP WG 3.3 members and introduced the work of IFIP and the working group. The final keynote on Friday, The Great Educational Reset of 2011: Mobile, was delivered by Cathleen Norris and Elliot Soloway with the core message that personal devices that are truly mobile, not merely ‘carry along’ like netbooks and tablets, can enhance learning by increasing time on task. They described results from the USA and Singapore where students using mobile devices recorded improved performance on standard tests.

I was able to attend a variety of interesting presentations including one by USQ masters student, Penny Neuendorf, from Canberra Institute of Technology. I had supervised Penny’s masters project but had not previously met her. I was able to attend several presentations about TPACK (Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge), which is the framework being used to underpin the DEEWR-funded national project, Teaching Teachers for the Future, in which the Faculty will be participating through 2011 and into 2012.

The major messages that I brought away and that may have wider relevance for the Faculty were around TPACK, the potential of mobile devices for learning, and the effects of globalisation on education at all levels. I will be reflecting on these themes as I consider revisions to courses and would welcome the opportunity to engage in conversations with colleagues who may share interests in these topics.

Read More