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Archive for April, 2011

Recently, I heard Jamie McKenzie give a talk about Digital Nativism and the impact of technology on our students. Jamie is a published author, and probably best known for his book titled; ‘Just in Time Technology, Doing Better with Fewer‘. In his talk he spoke about the ‘delusions of our digital age’ and the importance of teaching our children to read in between the lines. Here is a wonderful example:

Critical literacy has taken on a whole new meaning for teachers. As advertisers look for new ways of persuading and marketing their products, teachers seem to be ever increasingly subject to tackling the side-effects of their methodologies. Marc Pensky first coined the term ‘Digital Natives’ in his book; ‘Digital Natives: Partnering for Real Learning‘, where he explains that the children born into the digital age have realities based on their perceived world,… their created world,… their technological world, and the partnerships between this reality and the technology we employ, is how we as teachers must engage our students.

The above advertisment brings about several ideas. The first being that we understand the importance of questioning everything we see, asking whether what we see is it reality or not. The second is the feeling/s we associate with a company portrayed as helping others – BUT are they helping others? Or are they helping themselves? What is the bottom line?….. In the end, is beauty still the focus of this commercial?

It is a very exciting time to be a professional in education. Shaping the nature of schooling in our reality today is not something that we can be complacent about, or even base our shaping on the previous idealisms of the 20th Century. Let’s really revolutionise our thinking, right from the development of learning environments to the technology and structures we employ. But at the same time let us be cautious and decerning about what we do. Jamie McKenzie says;

“…Schools can ill afford to squander scarce resources on frivolous, untested gimmicks and gizmos. We are emerging from a foolish experiment with just-in-case technology – loading up classrooms with equipment.

This decade will be remembered as a time of discernment – a period when teachers, parents and school leaders all demand smart buying, smart deployment and smart program development.”

When we get our children thinking about our world, and what is happening in it, we get creative responses even more powerful then the message that they intend.

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With the release of the iPad 2 in Frankfurt the other day, I was amazed at the queue outside of the Apple shop! It went for more that half a kilometer and this was at 4:30pm. It got me thinking about the use of the iPad 2 within all levels of schooling.

In my last post I spoke about Gaming in Education, though I have no doubt that the iPad can facilitate the higher order thinking skills needed, I also thought of this as a replacement for the laptop in schools. Computer technology has become a necessary tool for both home and school learning – it keeps us connected, allows us to explore and to share our ideas, and does not constrain our learning to a 9-3 timeframe.

A huge impact on schools and systems is the financial ramification on the up keep of this technology. I don’t believe that it is viable for schools or school systems to pay for new technologies to be used on a mass scale (i.e. 1:1). Some principals and system leaders may argue that it is our duty to supply these, particularly for families who are constantly challenged with the cost of educating their child/ren. I argue that it is a government responsibility, where tax deductions or even subsidies can be given to families to help absorb this necessary this cost. The Rudd Government Laptop Initiative in Australia, beginning in April 2009, saw a huge investment into the one-to-one laptop scheme for Grade 9-12 students, as well as the Digital Education Revolution Funding for all schools K-12. Though this major injection into the economy has been received well, I don’t believe that the impact of this will be felt for many years. I believe that this was a turning point in the nations history, where we will see the greater development of tertiary industries in the years that follow, transitioning us from the depleting primary resource sectors to a more technological and scientific based country.

Greg Whitby, Executive Director for Schools for the Catholic Education Office Parramatta in his blog BYOT (Bring Your Own Technologies), gave a very interesting account into the need for more personalised technologies for student use. In examining the iPad 2 I think that it has many of the bugs worked out, where; the VGA adaptor and ability for Flash files to be played on a projector has now been rectified. And the ability to connect to the Smartboard (IWB) via wifi has been fixed.

I do think that there are some limitations with these however. The constant connection to an iTunes account (rather than a Time Machine backup to a server is an issue), and the inability for international students to use existing iTunes accounts is a REAL problem (when moving from one country to the next). However I like the ergonomics and classroom environment it promotes, particularly when they are flat on the table. However I think this is a good option too:

Any which way, I recognise that these are a wonderful tool for learning and can’t wait to see how they will impact the teaching and learning, and ultimately the outcomes of our students. Please click on the link below for a wonderful video on iPads in Learning:

http://images.rnews.com:80/media/2010/10/6/video/3R123769.mp4

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