Sydney Symposium – The Future of Teacher Education and School Leader Education

From 26 July – 29 July I attended the 2010 Sydney Symposium – The Future of Teacher Education and School Leader Education at Macquarie University. This was a small working conference to which I had been invited by the organiser, and former USQ colleague, Prof. Ian Gibson. Attendees came from Australia, New Zealand and the USA, and included teacher education academics, some of whom I know well from SITE or elsewhere, and representatives of professional organisations such as the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership.

Papers for the symposium were refereed and then made available for reading prior to the conference to facilitate discussion. Following the symposium there is to be opportunity for revision of papers based on the discussions and the revised versions are to be published in a book following a further round of peer review.

The symposium program was split into two broad sections of two days each in which the focus was first on teacher preparation and then on development of leaders. The program was a full one with a succession of presentations and small working groups that produced notes in shared documents during working sessions following one or more presentations on a subtheme. The working session on the final morning collated that material into recommendations that will be made available more widely following some post-conference editorial work to produce a coherent document.

Although many of the symposium participants shared an interest in the educational application of ICT that did not dominate discussion though it did influence and inform it. Ken Kay for the Partnership for 21st Century Skills was a presenter and ideas from that area influenced thinking around the tables as did ideas from AITSL, the NSW Institute of Teachers, and education systems, mostly from NSW, that were represented. The final document, when it is available, will be a useful prompt to thinking about future development of our programs.

I presented a paper that was co-authored with my younger daughter, Hannah, and provided an intergenerational perspective on the development of educational leaders – Successful succession through shared leadership: Preparing a new generation of educational leaders. The paper looked at leadership succession from the perspective of a millennial female looking to balance work and family while preserving opportunities for career advancement. Issues of work-life balance and opportunities for part-time workers to engage in shared leadership were discussed with a positive audience response.

On the final afternoon of the symposium I was able to participate with other attendees in site visits to Macquarie ICT Innovations CentreMLC School Burwood, and the NSW DET Centre for Learning Innovation. MLC, which has had a 1:1 laptop program for several years and favours openness and education rather than a locked down filtered network, was particularly interesting. More and more schools are moving to 1:1 computing and, regardless of the outcome of the pending federal election, we need to be thinking more about what differences in teacher preparation may be needed to respond to this trend.

Teachers decide what changes they will make …

David Jones spotted my comment on his post about the need for a third way and writes about the need for academics to feel in control of change in teaching and learning. That links with some reading I was doing yesterday in the process of preparing for my S2 course.

I was digging around for material to support a few comments about the value of professional conversations among educators when I came across a paper in which Meister (2010, p. 883) cites Barth (1990) as having argued

that teachers make decisions hundreds of times a day; yet they are excluded from important decisions that directly affect them, which produces feelings of inefficacy and isolation that erode the profession. Furthermore, because teachers are not closely involved in the decision-making process, they are not committed to the goals.

My own experience as a classroom teacher (8 years) and school principal (9 years) resonates with that. Implementing any change in a school was difficult, if not impossible, if the teachers were not willing parties. Only occasionally would they need to actively oppose; most times passive resistance, doing the least possible, would render an unwanted change largely ineffective. On the other hand, if teachers were on board with a change they would go well beyond the call of duty to ensure its success.

Life as a university academic is very similar in respect to change. Top down, compliance-driven processes seem to predominate. The academic response is typically to do the least possible to produce superficial compliance. Meanwhile, for those things that they value and for which they have some sense of agency they are prepared to commit vastly more effort.

Life is so much easier if we are prepared to believe that most of the time, most people are trying their best to do the right thing. Trust us until it is obvious that there is a problem and then deal with that rather than try to forestall every possible deviance by regulation. Even when we do make a wrong move we are mostly happy to learn how to fix it and move on.

Reference

Meister, D. G. (2010). Experienced Secondary Teachers’ Perceptions of Engagement and Effectiveness: A Guide for Professional Development. The Qualitative Report, 15(4), 880-898.

ACEC 2010

From 5 April – 9 April I was in Melbourne to attend the Australian Computers in Education Conference. ACEC is held every second year under the auspices of the Australian Council for Computers in Education (ACCE) which comprises the relevant teacher professional associations in each of the Australian states and territories. ACCE is itself the major Australian affiliate of the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). The conference attracts teachers from across Australia representing the variety of systems and sectors, together with a good representation of teacher educators interested in ICT and a sprinkling of international participants. For me it represents an opportunity to network with teacher educator colleagues from around Australia, hear first hand from teachers about how they are implementing ICT in classrooms, and enjoy a variety of interesting keynote presentations from Australia and abroad. I am grateful to the faculty for the support which assisted me to attend ACEC 2010.

I was co-author on two presentations at ACEC. The first was a paper reporting on the survey of TPACK preparedness that Romina Jamieson-Proctor, Glenn Finger (Griffith) and I conducted with final year students in 2009. That paper won a ‘highly commended paper award’ which was presented after the keynote on Thursday morning. The second was based on the work of doctoral student Kitty Ho and reported some results of her study of ICT use by Home Economics teachers in Hong Kong.

The conference proper began with a reception in the trade expo area on Tuesday evening but I opted to attend the Leadership Forum which ran from lunch time on Tuesday and discussed the implications of the Australian Curriculum for ICT in schools. The forum began with input from the manager of curriculum at ACARA, Evan Arthur (DEEWR) and Don Knezek (ISTE CEO). The draft documents of the Australian curriculum include ICT among 10 general capabilities and describe a continuum with 5 dimensions and benchmarks at years 2, 6 & 10. Evan Arthur noted that the Australian government had moved to provide equipment and connectivity for ICT in schools but that curriculum and pedagogy were also required. Don Knezek spoke about the move in the USA to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and especially engineering education in k-12 education. This was a theme that Don and others had addressed at SITE in the previous week. The focus in this US effort is not so much on ICT as on high level (21C) skills that use ICT. Discussions in the forum tended to focus on whether ICT in the curriculum should be represented as a general capability, a discipline area or both. On Thursday I was also able to attend a lunch time meeting of a reference group established as part of an Australian Council of Deans of Education project to secure some of the funding available under the recently announced ICT Innovation fund associated with the Digital Education Revolution.

Wednesday (Day 1 of the ‘real’ conference activity) began with welcomes, some awards and a performance from the drum line of the Australian Youth Band. By the end of that there was no excuse for not being awake for the first of the series of keynotes.

  1. Alan November began by inviting participants to turn on their mobile phones and respond to a question about the origin of the mass in trees by texting a code to a number or selecting an option from a web page. Most of the audience selected an incorrect answer which was shown to be consistent with performance of Harvard graduates and US school children on understanding of photosynthesis. His point was the disconnection between school learning at all levels and understanding relevant to the real world. His presentation went on to challenge preconceptions about how education works and included provocative claims such as that the delay in feedback means that homework has failure designed in. The remaining keynote/plenary presentations provided a variety of perspectives on ICT in education.
  2. Michelle Selinger presented snapshots of projects from around the globe that addressed digital equity in developing countries.
  3. Sylvia Martinez presented on the “92% solution”, so called because her GenYES project has used students, who represent 92% of the people in a typical school, to facilitate teacher learning about ICT in the context of their own schools and classrooms.
  4. Adam Elliot told the story of how he produced his Oscar-winning animation, Harvie Krumpet. Other than the brief mention of digital technologies toward the end of his presentation there was no obvious connection to ICT but it was a powerful and vastly entertaining story of success through perseverance and small steps which may be a metaphor for changing education in response to ICT.
  5. The presentation by Gary Stager on Friday morning was vintage Gary, beginning with a walk down memory lane about the glory days of Logo, laptops at MLC, and Gary’s links to that. He progressed to challenging and provocative comments about ICT in education, pronouncing the debate on 1:1 over and characterising interactive whiteboards as pre-Gutenberg technology that reinforces the dominance of the front of the room, suggesting that some teachers doing brilliant things with IWBs is not sufficient reason to give every teacher an IWB and that, on that argument, we should give every teacher a chainsaw because some teachers would do brilliant things with a chainsaw.
  6. In the final keynote, Chris Betcher spoke about ‘change, creativity, curriculum, community’ from which my take away message was the question: “Could education be more like Mythbusters than Who wants to be a millionaire?

In selecting breakout sessions I tried for a balance between those presented by teacher educators and/or researchers, and those by teachers grounded in schools and classrooms.

Paul Newhouse based his presentation, which won the best paper award, on research that he has been conducting in WA on assessment of performance in subjects such as PE using video and other digital tools. There were several presentations from a group at UNE who have been working on measuring learner engagement while working with ICT and another on the interaction between teacher beliefs and their planning for lessons. Each of these prompted thinking about how the ideas might be applied to my teaching and research at USQ.

The school-based presentations that I attended shared some common themes around 21st century learning (based around authentic problems/projects, supported by a variety of ICT, collaborative knowledge generating rather than regurgitating) and an evident trend, at least among the schools represented at ACEC, toward 1:1 programs – currently using laptops but with frequent discussion of smaller mobile devices. I came away from each one wondering how long teacher education can continue as a largely ICT-free zone with a substantial proportion of ‘stand and deliver’ in face-to-face or online mode. If it is true that teachers tend to teach as they are taught then it must be time evolve our practice to better represent what appears to be the emerging practice in many schools.

Those with an interest in experiencing more of the flavour of ACEC 2010 can visit the conference web site and/or review the #acec2010 Twitter stream.

SITE 2010

From 27 March – 4 April I travelled to San Diego, California, to attend the 21st International Conference of the Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education (SITE). With around 1200 delegates representing at least 56 countries, despite the global financial crisis this was still one of the best attended and the most international SITE conference I have attended since my first SITE conference in 1998. I am grateful to the faculty for support to attend the conference.

The conference proper started on Tuesday, 30 March and ran until Friday, 2 April. However, my first involvement was with the executive meeting that I attended on Monday as former SITE Vice-President and Chair of the Information Technology Council that comprises 15 special interest groups. Although SITE President Gerald Knezek described my position as ’emeritus’ my major role at this meeting was to ‘channel’ current chair of the council (Sue Espinoza) via Skype because health issues prevented her attendance in person. I substituted for Sue again during an 8:00 am walk around of SIG meetings on each of the first 3 days of the conference, and at the IT Council meeting on Wednesday evening where I again ‘channeled’ Sue via Skype while co-chair Ron McBride conducted the meeting.

On Thursday evening I attended the SITE leadership council meeting comprising the leaders of each of the 3 major councils and the SIGs. My major role there was as one of two nominees put forward by the election committee for the position of SITE president. Elections for president are held on a rotation with the successful candidate serving as President-elect for one year before assuming the office of President for 2 years. I was honoured to have been nominated but the successful nominee was Mike Searson of Kean University in New Jersey. Following the dinner I was invited by the current president to take leadership of a SITE effort to extend international links – a role I was pleased to accept and look forward to working with.

The presentations that I was involved with were scheduled for Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. The Tuesday presentation was a roundtable conducted with the editor of the Journal of Technology and Teacher Education for which I am one of 3 associate editors. I will assume temporary responsibility as editor during April and May while the editor is unavailable due to health issues. On Wednesday I presented a paper co-authored with Romina Jamieson-Proctor and Glenn Finger (Griffith) with a focus on assessing development of preservice teachers’ TPACK confidence. Attendance was disappointing because it had been scheduled against TPACK presentations by Punya Mishra (one of the originators of the model) and Judi Harris (another high profile presenter) but the other presenter in the session was engaged in similar work and we made a useful connection. On Friday I presented a paper based on the work of my doctoral student (Kitty Ho) on Home Economics teachers in Hong Kong.

The four daily keynotes comprised 2 individual speakers and 2 panels. On Tuesday Allison Rossett of San Diego State spoke about the challenges she faced in her switch from face to face teaching to teaching online. The take away message was the way in which reconsidering her courses revitalised her teaching. On Wednesday Erin Reilly of University of Southern California spoke about remix culture with numerous examples of tools and techniques used by the younger generation to express themselves using remixed media and how we might respond to that in our teaching. My Twitter stream included these points: “remix requires considering original source in relation to a new context”, and “remixing is not a solitary occupation, community, collaborative, hunter-gatherer, remix for learning”. The Thursday panel presented international perspectives, mostly from Asia, on the adoption of ICT in schools and the Friday panel looked at the ‘E’ (for engineering) in STEM. All were thought provoking.

The highlight for me was probably Chris Dede’s (Harvard) presentation on Teaching and Assessing 21st Century Skills. My Twitter stream from that presentation summarised the main points for me as: “Chris Dede 45 sec version of his message – ICT is changing life, education? not so much”, “people better than machines at problem solving expertise & complex communications”, “teacher preparation must include opportunities for creativity and collaboration”, “new literacies are not technical but 21C – collective intelligence, play, networking, etc.”, “problem finding before solution, team comprehension, meaning from complexity”, “teaching through situated learning and transfer”, “apprenticeship, legit peripheral participation, hifi not important unless essential for task”, “immersive interfaces – MUVEs, VR, ubiquitous computing – Science Jan 2009”, “assess sophisticated performance using rich observations not paper & pencil tests”, and “schools resist evolution, requires transformative approaches or disruptive innovation”.

Other sessions of note for me covered such topics as TPACK (Charles Graham & colleagues on measurement and Judi Harris & colleagues on the Learning Activity Taxonomy which promoted a “Shift in use of technology from affective to intellectual engagement” (Twitter stream)), EduSummit Call to Action in which Chris Dede noted (from my Twitter stream) that “evidence of effectiveness is not in top 3 reasons for adoption of innovation” and “top 3 ease of use, trusted recommendation, cost” and Don Knezek (ISTE) commented that “it may be more important for students to see teachers engaged in learning than demonstrating existing competencies”.

Among all that intellectual activity there was time for fellowship with colleagues and “Dinner at Indigo Grill http://bit.ly/bUMEVg“.

The key ideas that I brought away from SITE that might have wider relevance for the faculty were mostly based around the work on 21st Century Learning, TPACK, especially the learning activity taxonomy, and some ideas for courses I am preparing – EDU8111 Emerging Environments for Learning (S3 2010) and EDP4130 Technology Pedagogy and Curriculum (S1 2011). As in 2009, there was an emphasis on the need to see ICT, and other aspects of teacher development, as part of an ecological system in which the various components interact in complex ways rather than exist as standalone changes.

Digital Literacy

At the 29 July meeting of Academic Board there was discussion of a proposal to change the document describing qualities of a USQ graduate to include mention of digital literacy. I remember the discussion clearly because there was a proposal that digital literacy be replaced by technological literacy, against which I spoke on the basis of technological literacy having a well established meaning, at least for technology educators and some engineers. The concept was one of the mainstays of the technology education course I taught from 2002 until 2005 and will emerge again when a similar course is offered from 2011.

Some members of Academic Board appeared to struggle with the meanings and distinction because they were, until then, unfamiliar with the terms which were not well defined in the proposal. The proposal was passed and digital literacy is now among the qualities expected of a USQ graduate but it seems likely that many of those who will be required to ensure the quality is developed may be unclear about what it is they are facilitating.

A document that I came across today via the Sixty Seconds newsletter from education.au provides a useful definition of digital literacy and more. Hague and Williamson (2009) “use the term digital literacy to refer to the skills, knowledge and understanding that are required for digital participation” (p. 4). Although the document is pitched at digital literacy in school education it does provide some useful starting points for discussion, including a model of the processes that might be required for learners to demonstrate digital literacy through communication and enquiry.

Reference

Hague, C., & Williamson, B. (2009). Digital participation, digital literacy, and school subjects: A review of the policies, literature and evidence. Bristol, UK: Futurelab. Retrieved September 30, 2009, from http://www.futurelab.org.uk/resources/documents/lit_reviews/DigitalParticipation.pdf

Ignorance – curse or blessing for teachers?

A couple of weeks ago, not long after the release of the Queensland Education Performance Review, I was engaged in conversation with some colleagues about the recommendations in the report. As teacher educators we shared concerns about the capabilities of some graduates and, while we recognise the problems inherent in graduating teachers with deficiencies in literacy, numeracy and science, we are sensitive to the implications of testing for registration, including that teacher education programs are somehow failing to ensure the quality of graduates.

One of my recollections of my first years of teaching in Queensland secondary schools is of sharing a staff room with a senior, in both years and level of teaching, English teacher who was widely respected by students, parents and colleagues. This was a woman who had started her career as a pupil teacher in the days before teachers’ colleges, when teacher preparation was a matter of apprenticeship to a master teacher. One of the things that had surprised me about her was her forthright admission that she had a problem with spelling. Her solution was to ensure that she was never far from her dictionary. Knowing that she had a problem and taking steps to deal with it appropriately meant that it was seldom, if ever, an issue in class.

As I recalled this in the context of talking about the qualities of graduates from our teacher education programs, it occurred to me that possibly the greater risk attached not to graduating teachers who might be unsure of their knowledge but in graduating teachers who, despite deficiencies in their knowledge, were confident that they knew their subject well. That brought to mind a statement that is often a subject of mirth, even ridicule, but which contains some important grains of truth:

as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns — the ones we don’t know we don’t know. (Donald Rumsfeld)

Perhaps it is the “unknown unknowns” that should cause us most concern in the preparation of teachers. As a teacher of chemistry in schools, despite having several years of university study of chemistry culminating in a masters degree, I was seldom prepared to face a class without brushing up my knowledge to ensure I was comfortably on top of the topic of the day. As a principal and parent what concerned me most was not a teacher who may have had some uncertainty and made sure to get things right, but those who exuded ill-founded confidence and shared their ignorance with their class.

In the information age, when the available information on almost any subject is expanding at a rate much faster than we could hope to absorb it and much of it is almost instantly available at the touch of the screen on a handheld device, why should we assume that teachers need to know everything about their subject? Might we be better served by teachers with good basic skills, the humility to admit their ignorance of much beyond the range of everyday use, and the skills to seek out and critically apply the knowledge available on the networks?

SITE 2009

From 28 February – 8 March I travelled to Charleston, South Carolina, to attend the 20th International Conference of the Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education (SITE). With around 1100 delegates representing at least 40 countries, despite the global financial crisis this was still one of the best attended and the most international SITE conference I have attended since my first SITE conference in 1998. I am grateful to the faculty for support to attend the conference.

The conference proper started on Tuesday, 3 March and ran until Friday, 6 March. My first involvement was with the executive meeting that I attended on Monday as a SITE Vice-President and Chair of a council that comprises 12 special interest groups. My executive responsibilities required me to attend (briefly) each of the SIG meetings held on Tuesday and Wednesday, chair the council meeting on Tuesday evening, and attend the leadership council meeting on Thursday evening.

The presentations that I was involved with were scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday. I presented a refereed paper co-authored with Jay Wilson of University of Saskatchewan and based on his EdD project which I had supervised. The second presentation was a session conducted with the editor and other associate editors of the Journal of Technology and Teacher Education for which I am an associate editor.

The four daily keynotes <http://site.aace.org/conf/speakers/> this year were all good. Cristin Frodella (Product Marketing Manager, Google) spoke about “Erasing the Lines: Cloud Computing and the Digital Natives” with a focus on how applications on the network rather than individual computers can contribute to meeting the challenges of the 21st century. Her presentation provided evidence of some of the new capability when, because snow prevented her making it to Charleston, she presented via Skype from her apartment bedroom in New York. Tom Carroll (President, National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future) spoke on “Pathways to 21st Century Teaching” emphasising the need for teacher education to respond to an environment of continuing change by shifting from teacher preparation to education workforce development. He suggested that, of three things necessary for 21st century organisations, schools are good at cultural transmission, poor at adaptation and hostile to innovation, and noted that despite evidence in popular culture (such as the evolution from the solo Drs Kildare et al to the teams of ER et al) of a move towards working in teams as the norm, teaching remains largely standalone. Aaron Doering (University of Minnesota) spoke about “Designing for Learning: Engaging Students and Teachers from the Arctic to Australia” and demonstrated the benefits available from what he has styled as “adventure learning” with learners following the activities of expeditions around the world. Niki Davis (Professor of E-Learning, University of Canterbury College of Education, New Zealand) spoke about “The Co-Evolution of Information Technology and Education – It has to be Taught!” and presented an ecological view of the adoption of ICT in Education.

Other sessions of note for me covered such topics as 3D virtual worlds and simulations (relevant to my work on the ALTC grant), Web 2.0 tools in education, ePortfolios, digital storytelling, and online communities in teacher development. Each of these helped to fill in gaps in knowledge and/or identify new ideas that I need to consider more carefully.

The key ideas that I brought away from SITE that might have wider relevance for the faculty were mostly based around the keynotes delivered by Tom Carroll and Niki Davis. The first emphasised the need to shift our perspective from preparing teachers who may not remain in the profession with what we think they might need and towards ongoing development of the educational workforce as it responds to continuing change with a focus on working in teams rather than as individuals. The second emphasised the need to see ICT, and other aspects of teacher development, as part of an ecological system in which the various components interact in complex ways rather than exist as standalone changes.

SITE 2008

From 1 – 9 March I travelled to Las Vegas to attend the 19th International Conference of the Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education (SITE). With around 1350 delegates representing at least 40 countries, this was one of the best attended and the most international SITE conferences I have attended since my first SITE conference in 1998. I am grateful to the faculty for support to attend the conference and especially to my colleagues in the FOE1000 team (Catherine Arden, Henriette van Rensburg, Penny Green, Sarah Davey Chesters, Andy Yeh and Peter Evans) who kept the course moving along in my absence.

The conference proper started on Tuesday, 4 March and ran until Friday 7 March. My first involvement was with the executive meeting that I attended on Monday as a SITE Vice-President and Chair of a council that comprises 10 special interest groups. My executive responsibilities required me to attend (briefly) each of the SIG meetings held on Tuesday and Wednesday, chair the council meeting on Tuesday evening, and attend the leadership council meeting on Thursday evening.

All three of the presentations that I was involved with were scheduled for Tuesday, so that was a busy day. I presented two refereed papers. The first was based on some work being done in the ALIVE / Web3D Exchange project being undertaken at USQ with Carrick Institute funding. The second was co-authored with my daughter, Hannah, and was based on the project work she completed for her MEd at USQ. The third presentation was a session conducted with the editor and other associate editors of the Journal of Technology and Teacher Education for which I am an associate editor.

The four daily keynotes this year were all very good. Barbara Means spoke about the analysis of instructional artefacts as a strategy for evaluation and professional development. She made some strong points about the advantages of authentic assessment as compared to sometimes facile pencil and paper tests and described approaches being developed to make such assessment more achievable. Gerald Knezek spoke as incoming president of SITE with a strong message about how teacher education needs to have a global perspective and how SITE might contribute to that agenda. The double act by Punya Mishra and Matthew Koehler was the smash hit of the conference. Using their work on technological, pedagogical content knowledge (TPCK) as background, they spoke about the “wicked problem” of teaching and the need for teachers to be creative in designing learning experiences. Their keynote is now available online and is worth viewing both for their creative use of the PowerPoint medium and the content, which is highly relevant to the development of our new programs. The final keynote on Friday was given by Antonio Battro from the One Laptop Per Child program and looked at the experience of the OLPC program which is now being rolled out in several countries. We in Australia, and especially in teacher education, need to give some thought to how education in our country might respond to developments in which, within a year or two, every school child in Chile will have a personal laptop from Year 5 or so.

Other sessions of note for me covered such topics as ICT standards (the revised ISTE NETS), e-portfolios, 3D online environments, and LAMS. Each of these helped to fill in gaps in knowledge and/or identify new ideas that I need to consider more carefully.

Key ideas that I brought away from SITE that might have wider relevance for the faculty were:

  • Comments from US presenters that their teacher shortage might result in effective out-sourcing of teaching by bringing in teachers prepared elsewhere. The Phillipines was mentioned as one prospective source where programs are already gearing up by preparing teachers to work in China with the US market seen as more demanding but achievable. Are there opportunities for us, direct into the US market or via partnerships?
  • The impact that technology (ICT), especially when it is ubiquitous as in the OLPC program, has on the nature of teaching and assessment and how our programs might respond.

The 21st century information environment

A little more than 10 years ago universities were graduating teachers who would work in schools where the principal information challenge was access. Now that most classrooms have networked computers with Internet access, the information economy of education has been inverted and the information challenge has become one of selection rather than access (Albion & Maddux, 2007).

When it is possible to reach out over wireless networks and access information where and when it is needed, new understandings of knowledge and learning emerge. To what extent is knowledge now an artefact of the network(s) by which we are connected? Downes (2006) has noted that there are tasks, such as building an aircraft and flying it across an ocean, that cannot be accomplished by any individual but require a network within which the necessary knowledge resides. Siemens (2005) regards learning as “primarily a network forming process”.

Shifts in the understanding of knowledge and the technologies by which it is built and accessed must affect our understanding of learning and education.

In an information-rich environment, education is likely to be less about accumulating information, whether transmitted from others or constructed, and more about transforming it in ways that make it more useful” (Albion & Maddux, 2005, p.305)

Traditionally assessment has sought to measure the knowledge held by an individual learner or the ability of the learner to apply knowledge that is available in memory or other sources. If knowledge is in the network, what might it mean to attempt a measure of the knowledge held by an individual in isolation from the network? (Albion & Maddux, 2005, p.307)

We are designing a program which will accept its first students in 2009 and from which the first graduates will begin teaching in 2013. The evolution of our information environment will continue over that time. How do we best prepare educators to work in an environment in which they will not be dispensers of information so much as guides to how it can be accessed, selected and transformed? Can we evolve our own practice to reflect the new realities?

References

Albion, P. R., & Maddux, C. (2007). Networked knowledge: challenges for teacher education. Journal of Technology and Teacher Education, 15(3), 303-310.

Downes, S. (2006). Learning networks and connective knowledge. Instructional Technology Forum. Retrieved March 13,2007 from http://it.coe.uga.edu/itforum/paper92/paper92.html

Siemens, G. (2005). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. International Journal of Instructional Technology & Distance Learning, 2. Retrieved March 13, 2007 from http://www.itdl.org/Journal/Jan_05/article01.htm

This, that and the other

It’s Sunday night and I’m just now trying to pull together some thoughts about some things that I started reading on Friday night but have had to let wait because I had more pressing work and social engagements. Now I’m wondering how to make any sense of what is a very mixed bag of posts I marked as I came across them. Perhaps the only way is to work through them as I come to them and see if some pattern emerges from the apparent chaos.

On Thursday (Friday AEST) George Siemens at elearnspace posted the PowerPoint file from a presentation he gave at Manitoba about Connectivism and Web 2.0. I pulled that down on Friday evening and flicked through the slides. I don’t recall any major surprises, but it brought the key ideas together in one place and there were some interesting variations on the theme. A day later he posted a version with audio produced in a Flash format using Articulate. I haven’t had time to listen all the way through yet but I expect it will round out the text in the slides into a more coherent picture of current thought on the subject.

James Farmer at incorporated subversion has picked up on a post from Chris Bigum about Lemmings and similar phenomena in which he argues that secondary schooling is a form of organised child abuse – in the sense that by operating selectively it inevitably condemns a large proportion of students to being labelled as failures. I worked in secondary schools long enough to recognise that there is an element of truth in there but that it is by no means universally true. Still, there has to be a better way or arranging education in an age when rote learning of yesterday’s knowledge is less and less relevant.

David Warlick and Wesley Fryer each share some thoughts about teacher preparation for technology (ICT in our terms) use. Warlick writes about learning to use tools in the context of solving problems rather than because somebody thinks that learning specific tools might be useful sometime in the future. That certainly works for me and ought to work for our students if we can get past the “tell what I need to do to pass” approach that many adopt, whether from pragmatism, boredom or other reasons is hard to know. Fryer picks up on article about The New Teacher Education from the current issue of Educational Researcher. He raises a long list of questions on the basis of his reading of the article which I will need to read before I can get further into this.