Curriculum innovation as an educational technology trend

David Jones notes that in his institution there are interesting innovations but these are constrained by the set curriculum, that doesn’t fit the needs of the students.

Is it possible/plausible/desirable for a University course to have a “more flexible and open” curriculum that seeks to encourage and enable double-loop learning amongst the students?

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What’s REALLY going on in higher education?

Brian M Lucey critiques an article in the Irish Times about education and academic research practices in Ireland, reflecting that students as consumers and the notion of value chains are outdated.

The notion of students as a consumer is a flawed metaphor : it is at best incomplete as the ‘consumption’ of higher education gives utility for decades. Asking students partway through their degree to critically evaluate its benefits is akin to asking someone if they enjoyed their meal after the bread rolls have arrived. There are much much richer metaphors for education : the one we like is that of an orchestra, where together the students and lecturers co-create a work which reverberates then and later. The world of music is full of examples where new work is rapturously approved on first iteration but thereafter is seen as shallow, derivative, and falls into disuse. It is also full of slow burners where audiences and critics react with a ‘huh’ or worse a “WHAT” but over time the beauty and utility of the work is seen by the community. Note that in either case the orchestra etc needs to be technically proficient and willing to work hard and the conductor know where they all are going…

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Nobler than the Noble Profession

Angelo G Garcia reports from the Philippines and profiles Edgar Madlaing work as a teacher, encouraging students with voluntary activities too

He says the most challenging aspect of this profession is seeing former students who used to fail change their lives for the better.

I realize I can’t do everything for them. As their teacher, I get frustrated when I know I did my best and gave most of my time to the job. My take home pay cannot even take me home. Most teachers here in the Philippines can relate to this predicament,” he laments.

For Madlaing, the most rewarding part of being a teacher is the successes of his students, knowing well that he was somehow part of that success.

“It’s a great feeling to know that behind these stories of success, is a story that Iam part of. Many former students of mine who have become successful in their careers come back to say ‘thank you’. For example, former CAT Officers of who entered the PNPA(Philippine National Police Academy) and PMA are now successful officers. They claim that their dream to become ‘an officer and a gentleman’ started when we first met during their CAT days,” Madlaing shares.

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Service Learning in the pre-k3 classroom

Michael Shaughnessy interviews Vickie Lake and Ithel Jones about Service Learning where they have looked at a range of early childhood development theorists and note that

Service-learning allows teachers to see children in a variety of learning experiences, not just the traditional “school” experiences. In some cases it may confirm in a teacher’s mind that there are developmental issues that need further investigation. However, some teachers have also found that integrated learning or non-traditional learning has opened their eyes to children’s strengths.

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The myth of online community

There has been a lot of research looking at real and metaphorical online communities as more and more people have started using the web and interacting with others through their connections and interests. Dr Mark William Johnson examines what is a community and whether online ones really exist (beyond their software definitions)

The conflation of the word ‘community’ to create equivalence between the online community and the ‘face-to-face community’ is particularly suspect. So much more happens when people are together: the life-and-death realities of existence are encountered in direct and practically ineffable ways. Online, and the nature of ‘community’ is reduced to text messages made in a strategic way by individuals seeking to maintain their position within the ‘online’ (and face-to-face) community.
I think it’s a mistake to think of such a thing as an online ‘community’. What happens online is strictly ‘strategic’. My tweeting of this blog entry is a classic example: I seek to gain the attention of those I know, and I wouldn’t be so bothered unless I could see some strategic advantage in it for me. I don’t believe I am alone in this egomania!
A very interesting take on community was provided by Stephen Downes in the #change11 week he led : Knowledge, Learning and Community

Open Resources: Transforming the Way Knowledge Is Spread

D Guttenplan in the New York Times reviews initiatives and progress in open educational movements, noting that its not just about content but how it is being used and also how it could be financed:

Economics are one barrier to the growth of open resources.

“Our business model is floppy,” said Fred Mulder, a professor of O.E.R. at the Open University of the Netherlands, pointing out that as more material becomes available free, universities will need to find alternative sources of revenue. “If you don’t ‘close’ education in certain ways then you are out of business.”

The US recently held an Open Education week – more info at Why Open Ed Matters

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Technology in Australia’s Schools: The Scene in 2012

Mal Lee recently wrote an article for The Australian Teacher magazine reviewing the effectiveness and waste of technology spending in education with an incisive look at the realities teachers, principals and institutions encounter:

The ‘ICT expert’ approach has been characterised by its disregard for the individual client’s needs, their readiness, each school’s unique context, the ever changing market or the finite common life cycle of all the instructional technology.  The ‘one size fits all’, top down approach that paid little or no regard to the needs of very different teaching areas coupled with the decision making being made by ‘expert’ technology committees and bureaucrats imagining they could anticipate the market combined to provide failure after failure.

Those failings and the waste continue today and are evidenced authority after authority, school after school in relation to the DER funding. You know your situation, the plusses but also the mistakes made. In 2012 with the notebook as a technology fast disappearing from the market education authorities are still insisting it is the solution.

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#change11 Getting to know you: introducing Jaap Bosman

Contributed by Liz Renshaw

Photo of Jaap smiling I would like to introduce you to Jaap Bosman. Jaap lives in the North West of the Netherlands in a polder built in 1930. 😉

It is 4 metres below sea level. At university Jaap studied Pedagogy and majored in the Philosophy of Science. He has been teacher, trainer and a book publisher.

Jaap is now the editor an educational site called Kennisnet at http://about.kennisnet.nl . Kennisnet is the public educational organisational that supports and inspires Dutch primary, secondary and vocational institutions in the effective use of ICT. Jaap’s speciality is soft skills: http://softskills.kennisnet.nl/

Jaap says that as an editor

I am always looking for inspiration and information and that is why I am in the MOOC

Jaap finds abundance of information is not a bad thing. He sees it as a blessing and chooses and selects the resources he needs for his job.

Jaap believes that building a network or PLE means that you must be trustworthy and send messages of value. Also he likes to ask questions. He sees it as being human and recognises the importance of answering questions, responding and adding personal messages.

He finds that most of his friends and people he connects to are using Twitter and Facebook so as an editor he uses these tools to communicate.

In the Change Mooc  he found that some presenters did excite him but he was really happy with his fellow students. Jaap’s post on this topic can be found at [http://connectiv.wordpress.com/2012/02/02/change11-teacher-roles-and-mooc/.

If you follow Jaap’s blog you will see that he always uses pictures.  His pictures are always intriguing and leave readers pondering their meaning and connection to the writing.

He believes that pictures are important. Words can tell a story, but pictures [http://jjbs.wordpress.com/] will tell so much more. Jaap’s minor at university was was “Images and words” a combination course of literature, arts and history of arts.

I would like to thank Jaap for agreeing to provide a profile for our Blog Calendar.

Reflections on #realwplearn chat: Breaking Down Silos

David Kelly regularly takes part in the weekly #lrnchat on Twitter and also #realwplearn . Their recent topic was silos and he notes that many learning professionals have already encountered risks of organisational silos where similar information can exist in different areas to solve similar problems – performance support is only taking account of one at a time, but bears the cost of both.

The question of silos ultimately comes down to one of culture, and can be defined by how you ask the top most question about information sharing. Are you asking if you should leave the door open, or are you asking if you should open the door? The latter reflects a silo mentality. If you want to break down silos, you’ve got to start by leaving doors open, both metaphorically and literally.

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Can learning run deep?

Doug Stowe looks at the difference between integrated thematic instruction and project based learning, reflecting on where uses of technologies might be applicable

My own observation is that as students mature, particularly reaching 7th and 8th grades, they become less engaged in fantasy, and more difficult to successfully engage in things that are not real. That is why I think we need to come up with some great, noble, compelling notions to drive student interest. What are those notions? We may need to listen to them for guidance.

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