Professor Yashwant RAMMA in Le Mauricien writes about the changes and how they might impact students in Mauritius, noting that the majority of ICT use in schools has been mostly PowerPoint. He looks at contextual knowledge, pedagogy and technology – noting that concepts across different areas of knowledge are not connected in teaching areas.

Technology can serve the purpose of helping learners make sense out of nonsense (all the stuff they have to study). We should not forget that a classroom is composed of learners of different abilities, normally categorized in three groups: low, average and high abilities. This means that a teacher can expect that learning will occur if only he/she engages learners…

There is also a fascinating discussion in the comments questioning the impact of technologies in learning in other parts of the world and what is the value.

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Funding awarded for Sierra Leone health partnership

From Kings College London news, their Global Health centre has been awarded a grant to improve health professions education in Sierra Leone.

The partnership will draw on the expertise of staff from across King’s Health Partners to work with staff at COMAHS to develop revised curricula for all programmes, provide training in modern teaching methods, equip classrooms and develop proposals for new training programmes. This will involve visits by medical, nursing and pharmacy educators to Sierra Leone to conduct needs assessments and hold curriculum workshops, as well as provide distance mentoring and support.

The project will also use an online learning platform called MedicineAfrica

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OLPC Applications in Burkina Faso

ecowle from Tulane University reviews the status of the OLPC program in Burkina Faso. There was a workshop held in 2008 but the outcome of the discussions was that OLPC was not appropriate to be integrated at that time.

The OLPC would not be useful in Burkina Faso for many reasons. Foremost the current infrastructure, i.e. bad connectivity, lack of energy, etc., could not support the OLPC. There are no resources available for technical maintenance of the laptop, and there are other problems within the educational sector that are much more pressing (lack of school rooms and bad working conditions for teachers).

The post also reflects on the importance of learning practices and methods in addition to technological considerations

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Ending the ‘tyranny of the lecture’

Dennis Pierce in eSchool News reports on the work Professor Eric Mazur who describes how he changed from his traditional physics lectures, recognising the value of peer-peer interaction.

Educators need to transfer information, he said, but students also need to do something with this information to make it stick—not simply parrot it back during a test, but actually assimilate it and take ownership of it, so they can apply this knowledge in a different context. If students can’t do that, he said, then they haven’t really learned anything.

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Maine students don’t feel challenged by their coursework

Mal Leary of Capitol News reports on a recent study which surveyed students about how they feel about their coursework and what forms it takes. Many students said they found it not challenging enough.

 Education Commissioner Steve Bowen said schools are working hard to make use of technology to provide that individualized approach. He said the department is looking at ways it may help by developing some advanced courses that could be offered online to schools that cannot afford to develop an advanced math or science class for a handful of students.

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College Beyond Grades

Elise Young posts on Inside Higher Ed, about a new book by Ken Bain which explores student learning and how this has been affected by changes in higher education.

today’s education climate makes it difficult for teachers to avoid fostering surface or strategic approaches, he says. “A lot of traditional education does in fact foster a very strategic or surface approach to learning rather than that deep approach.”

For example, advisers perpetuate the strategic approach by telling students about certain courses they must “get out of the way.”

The Original Flipped Classroom | Peer to Peer Review

Barbara Fister looks at MOOCs and flipped classrooms and wonders about the pedagogy of instructional lectures. She suggests that libraries are the ultimate flipped classroom

They are designed for engagement, self-directed learning, and experiential education. They are the antithesis of the comforting simplicity of the textbook and the condensed overview of the lecture. In libraries, students find themselves in a swirling stream of ideas. We’re there to help, but they have to do the swimming.

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Lance Christian Johnson:

“I’m a public school teacher, and as we all know, that means that I’m in the business of indoctrinating children.  By the time those kids leave my class for the last time in June, I can assure you that they’re all thinking exactly the way that I want them to think.  No matter what their political/religious/ideological positions beforehand, come that last day they have all succumbed to my will.  I get a particular ghoulish delight when I know that they have thrown out all of the values that their parents have given them.  Oh, and I should probably point out that I get my Marxist/Socialist/Nazi/Communist/Sith marching orders from a secret cabal of liberal elites, which includes Jimmy Carter, Bill Ayers, Rosie O’Donnell, Jane Fonda, and Colonel Sanders.”

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Lost professors: we won’t need academics in 60 years

Chris Lloyd predicts that the number of academics across Australian universities will return to 1950s levels in 60 years time, noting his own challenges in digital environments today

These days, I design new courses by trawling the web for the latest content, topical examples and exercises. I feel more and more like a dispensable middle man between freely available content and captured students. More worrying, I strongly suspect I am not the world’s best translator of free content into course materials.I deliver the course to the students in a big hall. Here is another insight. Try as I might to inspire and engage, I am not the world’s best lecturer either.

He speculates on how students will access free content, selecting the best content for their needs, also noting that the need for increasing cost-effective delivery may have similar impacts on research

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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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