How do we help our colleagues to embrace technology in their teaching? Following on from my blog post ICT…What has it ever done for me?we need to focus on the person rather than the IT.
Tech nervous teachers have been in denial for years. They know, somewhere deep down that they “have” to use computers somehow and become threatened and defensive when discussing it. In this situation, typical approaches include panic-purchasing subject specific software or trying to shoe-horn in a “research-on-the-Internet/PowerPoint thing” or similar.
Invariably this ends up as a “bolt on” exercise that is only loosely linked to learning objectives resulting in a poor experience for both teacher and learner. This will then reinforce their negative ideas about ICT. Watch as your colleague retreats into his/her shell muttering about going back to “ways that work”.
What they need is something that innovates rather than automates. Something that revolutionises rather than interferes. It is a great temptation to introduce technology into lessons and topics that are already successful…….Don’t……….. Leave the good stuff alone, its already working. Instead, get them to pick their worst lesson. The one that they dislike teaching or are bored with (we all have at least one….mine is circuits in yr 11….dull, dull, dull…been teaching it the same way for years…needs to change). If they don’t enjoy it, you can be pretty sure that the kids don’t.
Once identified you need to go and get all of the resources for that lesson and shred them…worksheets, notes etc…… all of them. Then write down the learning objectives, sit down with your colleague and two cups of tea/coffee/gin and rebuild a lesson, using ICT, from the objectives up. They are the subject/teaching experts and will know what needs to be learned. You are the tech nerd and will know a variety of tools and approaches that will work. The resulting plan will be relevant, more interesting and better than the old lesson and your colleague will hopefully have ownership of it.
You will have identified any specific training that they need before it is delivered and may have agreed to be there or even team-teach it.
At the end of the exercise, he/she needs to have a definite example of an ICT based lesson that has improved their teaching.
I threw away the planning today and had a great time experimenting with word clouds.
Friday afternoon…half term break tomorrow…Neither I nor Year 8 had any appetite for the spreadsheet tasks that I’d scheduled so we closed the door and played with Wordle and Worditout.
Our school has an Eisteddfod looming, so we wordled the set poems and created a display for the (until then empty) Eisteddfod display board.
I got lots of reaction amongst year 8. Happy to be “off piste” they started bouncing ideas around……
One of the set poems is Tyger Tyger by Blake. Once Wordled, the prominent words are Tyger, Hand, Thy, and Dread. This prompted a discussion as to why “hand” was so big, leading to a group reading of the poem and a reappraisal of its meaning…all quite independent of me I might add. I was only there to validate their conclusions.
The second group discussion occurred when they started to drop song lyrics into the program. I was biting my lip when one girl proclaimed that her beloved Sugar Babes lyrics seemed “a bit shallow” compared with the poetry.
Some moved on to clouds describing themselves whilst others produced lists of random words that they found amusing but a really good idea was born when a passing catering teacher wandered in (under the pretence of booking the room for later in the term but obviously just bored with goings on in the catering department). We realised that we could use the program to visually represent the proportions of ingredients in a recipe without all those tedious quantities and units. Far easier to follow and no weighing out. So here follows the recipe for sun dried tomato bread!
Tillerman…at the helm of the popular sailing blog Proper course has invited people to contribute to a joint writing project…..This month’s subject..The worst sailing innovation ever. So here’s my tuppence worth!
Worst sailing innovation ever?…The Cabin.
As soon as you put a lid on a boat it stops being a boat. It becomes: a shed, a mobile home or an excuse not to go sailing.
There is nothing about a cabin that improves the boat, it merely compromises the crafts ability to sail and gives you more room to weigh yourself down with stuff you think you might need but probably never will. It changes the primary purpose of the boat from fun recreation to lifestyle accomodation.
Ok Ok…I hear you…”what about transatlantic voyages?”…”what about cruising into a quiet anchorage at sunset knowing you can spend the night in seclusion…away from it all….” blah blah blah ….Most of us never do that….Most of us have a boat that is at least 50% bigger than we actualy need or want..
A trailer-able open boat can be kept in the drive ready to be whisked away for a days sailing pleasure on a whim. After a few years of such fun the inevitable thought crosses your mind “if i got a slightly longer boat with a cabin, I could stay over and sail more…….”
RESIST….the result will be either:
A boat that is slightly too heavy to trail and rig without increasing amounts of forethought and planning and slightly too cumbersome to handle on land without help. Help that would rather be doing something else (like shopping)
A floating fibreglass apartment in a marina that is just slightly too far away. You make special efforts go as much as you can but spend most of your time onboard tidying up or doing those “small” maintenance jobs. (like putting in more lockers to hold the shopping)
In both cases you will:
Spend more money.
Feel guilty about both of the above.
Cabins stop you sailing and are the worst innovation ever.
The Author in his cabinless boat off the coast of Mid Wales (Aberystwyth)
I’ve been considering using some screen capture-to-video software for teaching and I’m quite impressed with Jing. It basically records whatever you do on the screen, includes a voice-over then saves it as a flash movie (or m-peg4 if you pay for the pro version) you then either upload the file to Screencast for embedding or linking
It seems to work rather well.
I recorded a (rather badly and hastily made) video to test it…spot the obvious mistakes….
I’m thinking that it would be a good start to the staff ICT training that needs to be done this year. Obviously I will ask someone who actually knows how to use a computer to record them..
There is a bit of a delay to the start when the piccy disappears..be patient…its a virtue
In response to comments: Yes that is my home desktop..yes that is my boat (well one of them)
I was reading a blog on i09 about the issues surrounding a post apocalyptic data store…a sort of cheat code/walk through for survivors, enabling a rapid return to a technological age. Difficult to achieve of course…many writers have examined the idea. My favourite, John Wyndham in “day of the triffids” predicts that a population reduced by 90% with an ever-present mortal threat would revert to stone age inside three generations.I love this sort of stuff.
It was the mention of likely lifespans for current storage media that caught my eye:
Hard drives were never meant for long-term data storage, and so relatively little effort has been putting into determining their maximum possible lifespan. Other common formats, like CDs and magnetic tape, are generally estimated to only last between five and ten years, particularly if poorly preserved, which is a reasonable assumption in most post-apocalyptic scenarios. Flash drives, as well, probably can only be counted on for about a decade.Very few of the world’s data centers – where the internet’s workhorse servers are housed – are built to withstand natural disasters, and even fewer are built to be self-sustaining in the event that humans get distracted by the end of the world. Under those conditions, data would likely degrade quickly.
Ignoring the apocalypse ( and I intend to) There is a distinct possibility that I will outlive the data that I am accumulating so what am I to do? Will the precious images of my children’s formative years be destined to hop eternally from cloud to cloud as servers get backed up and upgraded?
Will I have to periodically re-back up optical storage media as it rusts in the racks? The crisping photos of my young grandparents have already survived 50+ years in the bottom of a drawer…how long will the digital copies of them last on the family website? I feel like my storage devices are spinning plates waiting to fall unless constantly tended (literally the case for a hard disk)
I can’t abide the thought of my documents becoming ghosts of ghosts of ghosts of ghosts of g
Does the digital footprint we carry through life slowly die away like some kind of aura?…an echo of our own mortality…. or will it be more like a forgotten garden, running to chaos.
Will we have to decide upon which of our data should be “permanent” and devise strategies to make it so?
Where is my diamond crystal memory lattice?….or…must I engrave my legacy, in binary onto a tablet of platinum.
Rather a worrying blog post here Clicky by PatrickJ, implying that Google is filtering images of the new Apple iPad from its searches. It does appear to be true …I tried it…A search for “iPad” produces many old images of pre-release mockups and artist’s impressions but no actual piccies of the real thing…all this after a week of the most intensive online media coverage. Using Bing gets you plenty of images quicky.
Is Google suppressing coverage of the iPad because of an impending Google branded tablet rival?
The other blogs see this as proof of the Google tablet development rumour. I’m more worried about the active “content curation” rumour.
I was saved by technology again this weekend!. In Weymouth for my son’s sailing development squad training, it was hastily arranged that we should all meet up at a certain restaurant at 6 ish. We had to check into our hotel first and time was tight so we raced off from the sailing Academy.
No idea where the hotel was so I replied to the “we’re expecting you” text that I’d received this morning with the line #satnav and immediately got the postcode to put into the TomTom. Arrived at hotel to find that the electronic door lock/smart card writer software had not turned up for work that day so all doors had to be opened with the master card which was, rather inconveniently chained to an assistant manager. This slowed down check-in somewhat.
Late, we raced off again into the cold night heading for the centre of town. “Where is the restaurant?” asked my son…”absolutely no idea” I replied…never fear. I Googled the place on my Iphone and got an address..tapped current location…then directions and got turn-by-turn instructions to follow. Of course, I could have just phoned the restaurant or one of the other members of the party…but we both agreed that it was more fun this way. We arrived, slightly late, and had a great evening.
It occurred to me later that all the detail that I had needed was the name of the restaurant and the time. I had expected to be able to find the other information easily and I had the option to phone and cancel at any point. My new-found ability to communicate on a whim has changed the way that I behave. I no longer have to plan in so much detail and arrangements can be altered up until the moment that it is finaly decided what is actualy happening.
This is all good stuff but It illustrates a major change in the way we interact. My band of ageing technophiles recognise this shift, but for the Iphone generation it is hard wired in.. base model spec. The ability to easily change plans has a profound effect on their sense of commitment to each other. They agree and don’t mean it. They plan in the knowledge that they may never have to follow through. This has a knock on effect on trust which precipitates the need to communicate even more. Constant texts reaffirming what was a confirmed arrangement.
Some of my best experiences have come from situations where I’d agreed to do something, didn’t fancy it on the night but went ahead anyway because i would have been letting others down if I’d cried off. These days, everything is fluid…nothing is decided and the only crime is not letting everyone know what you intend to do in the next 5 minutes.
Ok….social experiment…I’m going to arrange a drink down the pub next week ..turn my phone off, set the Email to autorespond and wait to see who turns up.
Our beautiful school sits on a hill at the edge of a small town set in rolling green countryside. A narrow drive connects us to the main road which quickly turns into a dual carriageway and the mighty M5 motorway is just 2 miles away. From Junction 5 the world is your oyster….
This works fine…until 16:00 when the pampering hoards arrive in space inefficient 4x4xfars. They hover,circle and park in ever more inconsiderate ways to plot their early escape, silently bickering and jostling whilst avoiding eye contact with each other.
As the charging herd of released children reaches the car park and is hoovered up into the waiting fleet, the whole circus begins again. Too much traffic trying to force its way down a tight lane, ill fit for the purpose.
This senario is echoed in my ICT lessons. From any desk in the school any one person can travel to the farthest flung parts of the Internet and use resources and tools that were a dream only a few years ago. When the whole school is trying to drive up the virtual motorway and bring back video streams, wiki page posts, google docs updates, emails, interactive web pages, VLE components etc etc…all these packets have to negotiate their way down our narrow country lane of a 8mb ADSL line (max!…currently running at 1.8mb)
When she’s waiting for her work to download, I see the same look in Felicity’s eyes as her mother at four o’clock. “get your stupid website out of the way of my history coursework” instead of “move that filthy Skoda, its blocking the Porsche” same argument…its all about the bandwidth.
In the next few years, all we will care about is the speed of our connection to the cloud.