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Showing posts from January, 2014

22 Questions ...

I have been sent two separate challenges in regards to the 11 question meme, one from +Ian Guest and the other from +Steve Brophy. Although I have already engaged with this meme elsewhere, I just could not help but respond. So instead of choosing one set of questions over the other, I have decided to simply answer all 22 questions. Therefore, some of my answers may be shorter than you or I would like. However, I am always here to continue the conversation some other time ...
1. What teacher had the most influence on you and why?I would have to say Karl Trsek, my Year 12 English/History teacher. Not only did he have a breadth of knowledge, about history and the world - demonstrated by the fact that he wrote his own texts - but he also challenged the way I thought. 2. During your career, which student (without naming them!) most sticks in your mind and for what reason?I think that it is the student that doesn't necessarily fit in with the status quo, not necessarily academically, ra…

Some Reflections on Uncertainty

So, it is Week 3 of 'Rhizomatic Learning' and the focus is embracing uncertainty. The questions posed are How do we make embrace uncertainty in learning? How do we keep people encouraged about learning if there is no finite achievable goal? How do we teach when there are no answers, but only more questions?
One of the many things that struck out from my first day back at school was the statement that, "a student's perception is their reality". The argument being made was that how you present yourself in the beginning has an effect on the rest of the year. This sort of thinking often leads to people donning a tie, graduate teachers trying to be sterner than they would like and teachers creating overly structured lessons all in the attempt to start the year off on the right foot.
The big problem with all of this is that we take such measures in the attempt to control everything around us. We presume that if we wear a tie, if we keep a few students in at lunchtime, if…

The Real Non-Negotiable is ...

With the start of the year comes the routine pitch to staff and students about non-negotiable expectations. I understand that we need to have expectations. Those collective values that bind us together and put everyone on the same page. Those values that lay a foundation on which learning can occur. However, how these non-negotiables are presented to staff and students has a considerable impact on what sort of learning this is and how these expectations are taken up and carried out. This includes the reasons we provide for such expectations, the manner in which they are presented and most importantly, the length of the presentation. Sadly these speeches and spiels are given with little thought to convincing and instead focus on pulling everyone into line.
Towards the end of last year I attended the AEU's 'Active Training' Professional Development Session. During the discussion of the consultative committee and staff meetings, one of the union presenters suggested that these…

Minor Education, Towards a More Independent Learning

There has been a lot of debate in Week Two of Rhizomatic Learning revolving around 'enforcing independence'. Although some of the debate has been about the choice of words and other such technicalities, a lot of the discussion has emanated from the contradictory nature of forcing something that focuses on freedom and choice. I myself have already posted about the matter, in which I suggested that the only way that this could be possible is within a situation where the learning is their own servant and master. After some great feedback from those in the course, it was pointed out to me that education is full of impossible ideals that we never quite meet. Something I myself have posted about elsewhere. What our focus should really be is about using such prompts as the mantra that guides us, rather than the hard and fast rule that drives us. So instead I have changed tack. Here then are a list of thoughts and ideas that may not achieve 'enforced independence', but definit…

Digital Publishing - My Foray into Project Based Learning

BackgroundOne thing that I have learnt over time is that there is no silver bullet in education. However, there are some things that work better than others. The problem with this though is that you do not always know what the ideal solution is until you are in the midst of learning and teaching. 

I have taken a range of ICT-based electives for a few years now. From Pulp Publishing to Multimedia. One of the biggest changes that has occurred during this time has been a transition from teaching ICT to teaching through ICT. One of the consequences of this change has been the search for the best way to teach technology without actually teaching the technology. One of the answers that I have found is the notion of Project Based Learning. 

I first stumbled upon Project Based Learning via a post from +Rich Lambert looking at the difference between Project Based Learning and Challenge Based Learning. After exploring a range of free resources provided by BIE, such as Rubric for Rubrics, and inco…

New Year, New Beginnings

Sadly, one of the first things that teachers often do is get their class lists at the start of the new year and start critiquing it, looking at who they do and don't have, making judgements about what the class will be like, long before the class has even had a chance to take shape. The question though is what impact does this have for students and their potential to prosper? I understand that it is important to be prepared, to know who is walking through the door, but when does being prepared come at the sack of the child? I believe that with the new year comes the opportunity to provide students with a new beginning, to start again, to break out of the mould.
Although it can be a good thing to have long term relationships with the students, reinforced through interactions in and out of the classroom, this can also sometimes be a constraint. In developing rapport, we often create an understanding of who the student is - sporty, reader, gamer, social and the list goes on. Added to …

Grades and Limits, It Just Ain't Life-Long Learning

So, it is Week 2 of 'Rhizomatic Learning' and the focus is enforcing independence. The questions posed are how do we create a learning environment where people must be responsible? How do we assure ourselves that learners will self-assess and self-remediate?
Whenever we talk about student-centred learning this discussion usually revolves around creating authentic situations through which students can take responsibility of their actions. However, what is not often spoken about is how to enforce this learning. It is usually assumed that if you provide the right situation to grow - fertilized garden bed with plenty of sun and water - then growth is guaranteed. What is significant about words like 'enforce', 'must' and 'assure' is that the choice to not participate, to refuse, is taken out of the equation. The very term 'enforce independence' seems antithetical, contradictory.
Now I am not sure how to 'enforce' such independence, but I will a…

What Came First, the Movie or the Book?

I recently started my first MOOC focusing on Rhizomatic Learning and the topic for Week 1 was 'Cheating as Learning'. After seeing Michael Petroni's film adaptation of Markus Zuzak's The Book Thief today and it got me wondering, is seeing the film before reading the book cheating? Does the book come first or are they both completely different?

It is usually argued that the book has primacy. Why else would the film be described as an 'adaptation'? The very term suggests that the book has some sort of pride of place, that it is the thing that is changed for a new medium. However, what is often denied is the place of the adapted text to be a text-in-itself. For example, can you watch the film Tomb Raider without having played the game? Can you listen to Cedric Gervais' remix of Lana Del Rey's "Summertime Sadness", without listening to the original album version? What is the place of the adapted when considering adaptations?
After discussing the f…

PLN, a Verb or a Noun?

When we think back through our learning, there are always those aha moments, those situations, that have a lasting impact. Such moments come in many shapes and sizes, maybe an odd passage in a book or a random video seen online. So often though they have an impact that is far beyond their intended purpose. A recent moment that has had such an effect on me was +Alec Couros' simple suggestion made during an interview with the +Ed Tech Crew that everything can be a resource online. By approaching resources in this way, our understanding moves away from being an actual object, lets say a textbook, to a resource as being a way of seeing something. In this sense, a resource stops being a noun, something named, ordered and categorised, and instead becomes a verb, a way of approaching something, interpreting it, questioning it. In much the same way, PLNs can be thought of in much the same way. 
So often we limit ourselves by seeing PLN's as something made - contained and organised - ra…

Cheating, Survival and New Beginnings

This is my response to the task for Week One of the Rhizomatic Learning Course on P2PU focusing on the topic of 'cheating on learning'...
There is a call from a certain group at the moment in Australian education about better recognising Western traditions in Australia's history and society. A certain bias that is being brought to bare by the new Liberal Government. See for example Tony Taylor's article in The Age. One of the things that this got me thinking about is the forgotten history, the voices denied air, subordinated, all in the attempt to create a stable tradition. In Kevin Donnelly's case, this Anglo tradition is based on place of Christianity in our culture. Yet when you dig deep it could be argued that it was not 'Christianity' that laid the foundations of much of this great nations, rather it was those who had to resort to doing whatever it was they needed to do to survive, whether it be stealing a loaf of bread or pinching a pocket watch. The c…

The 5-Minute Teacher, One Step at a Time

I was led to +Mark Barnes' book The 5-Minute Teacher by +Peter DeWitt in post in which he talks about letting go of control and trusting students in the classroom. Barnes' book outlines a way of teaching where instead of lessons being consumed by long, elongated lectures, they are led by brief, interactive instruction. Barnes states in the blurb that it is all about maximising learning in the classroom. This is a a bit of a misnomer though, in my view, because although shortening the length of instruction in very important to the book, the real premise behind it is a change in philosophy from a teacher-centred to a student-centred classroom, revolving around 100% engagement of each and every student. Some of the wider changes that Barnes grapples with include a focus on observation, rather than more structured assessment, the use of technology to engage, rather than more traditional methods of communication, providing students an avenue for self-discover, rather than simply ha…