Tuesday, June 28, 2011

interactive textbook - examples and direction

‘Interactive textbook’ are not a new concept, as this example shows.  Commercial options include dynamic books, an online ‘repository’ accessed via institutional LMS, Blio as an interactive reader and for the ipad, there is Inkling. PC world reports on several other ipad initiatives including scroll motion and CourseSmart.  However, these are still mainly reconfigured textbooks with the usual text book type layout and embedded links to videos etc.

What is the future for textbooks? 21st textbooks could also be imminently “personalised and mashable” something that will take some working on.  Neverending books is one approach, bringing in social media, to working through a text book and access to a constantly up to date textbook. Another is Symtext, allowing multiple ways to access a book either as text, podcast or video. Bill Gates reminds us about the need to include 'self - assessment' opportunities/ software in next generation textbooks.
How can interactive textbooks on a tablet enhance students learning? From the above, we can distil a few pointers:
  • It HAS to be interactive PLUS be intuitive to navigate through.
  • Should provide opportunity for students to do some form of self assessment.
  • Students should also have the option of creating their own content – either text, graphic (sketch, mindmap, photos, annotated photos), audio or video (again with annotation options).

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Core breakfast session - Cathy Wylie on competent learners project

Cathy Wylie, Chief researcher from the NZ Council of Educational Research (NZCER) presents on the latest on the longitudinal study from the competent learners project. The project tracks 500 learners from the age of 4 1/2 (1993) to the present when they have mostly left formal schooling with some engaged in work.

The presentation is on 'building learning identities'. Still over 400 involved so very important corpus of data over the course of learners' school life and beyond. Data collected at ages 5, 6,8, 10, 12, 14, 16 and 20 with a focus on collecting data of educational influences on children's lives. Tried to study the wide range of influences on student's eventual competencies, so included early childhood ed. class experiences, family resources, out of ed experiences, friendships, values and thoughts for future.

Focus of the  age 20 phase was pathways for NCEA. How to determinative are early competency levels? What role do school and out of school experiences play? Explored role of school leaving age, role of NCEA, other factors from school years formation e.g. engagement in learning, prior competency levels and role of advice. Also looked into learner experiences in tertiary institutions and or employment, learning dispositions, current relationships, activities, financial situation, optimism and future thoughts.

401participants with structured phone interviews and self reports completed on line in 2009. 2008 data from MOE on school qualifications and post school study and face to face interviews with 29 in late 2010 to provide more insight into the 'less well-lit' pathways from school.

Sample from Wellington region with higher proportions of moderate-high family income, maternal qualifications and more pakeha-european sample. Currently, 63% in study, employment without formal study - 28% and neither studying or employed 9%. (69% unemployed/sickness, 31% looking after a child). 11% of sample had experienced unemployment between 16 and 20.

Findings include, relationship with family better than at 16, friends and partners remain  important. Leisure usually spend with friends and family. 2/3 enjoyed sports for fun, texting friends, reading, surfing the  internet (daily use not frequent), most used alcohol.

84% have undertaken post school study supported by employment and loans. almost all thought they would need further study towards a qualification in their adult life, gaining new knowledge and skills valued, employment also a site of learning and choosing the  wrong course of study, not completing it, or deciding not to study the  main source of regrets since leaving school.

Leaving school provided more independence and choices but 61% felt apprehensive. Those who left school with less than NCEA 2 had lower student engagement and motivation levels and found it hard to work out what to do when they left school. Second chance education supposed to open some learning and employment doors if links are well structured and supported. Many who do second chance 'yo yo' between work and course and do not complete. many need much more advise and support post school and at school to gain from formal study. therefore many left school without 'learning identities'.

Positive learning identities include sound learning habits built though good school engagement, support from  school, parents and friends, teachers advise and seeing learning as having its own rewards and useful to  meet future goals.

NCEA level 2 and NQF equivalents are reasonable signals for readiness for some complex transitional arrangements as it represents good level of both attitudinal and cognitive competencies.
Lowest early performance can be improved. 1/3 with low reading and 1/4 with low maths at 8 and 10, obtained NCEA level 3. Factors that make a difference include enjoyment of reading, having leisure interests (not computer games), no bullying /victim experience, family income moderate or more, no adverse events, positive family relationships, friends in adolescence who are not drinking, partying etc.

To shift performance, teachers play  a role with importance placed on knowing children as individuals,

Final report due out in a few weeks but the entire series of reports found at educationcounts site.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Earthquakes in Christchurch - again!!

Well, just as we thought things were settling down and people were preparing for a long and hard winter, the earth decides to move again (as forecasted). On Monday, we were hit by a long, rumbly 5.5 (upgraded to 5.6) just after 1pm. All the people in my office were beavering away at our computers and when the rumble started to increase and the shaking intensify, we all dived under our desks. One of my colleagues two monitors crashed on to the ground and desks were covered in the usual white dust that comes off the ceiling panels. After the shake subsided, all of us got together to figure out if we should evacuate. The alarm did not go off, so we continued as per normal, working through another small aftershock before we were told the polytechnic was closed. I left on my bike just after 2pm.

The 6.0 (upgraded to 6.3) came on just as I was cycling past the public hospital. The shaking was strong enough to cause me to come off my bike and pedestrians near me all fell to the ground. I could see the road ripple and the buildings and trees sway plus feel the earth shift beneath my feet! After making sure an elderly women pedestrain was OK, I made my way home, through traffic jammed Riccarton Road with all the traffic lights off and people milling around on the footpath as their buildings and the Westfield Mall were all evacuated (from the first quake). Got home to find out how strong the quake was and to txt my son and daughter to make sure they were both OK. Then rang friends out Sumner way (no replies but yesterday found out they were OK but very shaken about).

There have been a host of earthquakes since, keeping everyone on alert with many occuring in the early hours of the morning (a 4.7 yesterday at 3am) and a 5.0 this morning just after 6.30 am, visually displayed here for each day. The Eastern suburbs have weathered the main impact with liquefaction and flooding adding to no electricity, water or sewage facilities. Living on the Western side of town, it all seems to be a long way off :( No work yesterday and today but should be back to work tomorrow to help with the usual tidy up (books fell off shelves in the library) before students return to the campus on Monday. Using the time to catch up on a large pile of journal articles, collected over the summer, many through a Routledge 'open access' month in April? for education journals.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Learning by failing

Stuart Middleton  blogged last week about his experiences as a ‘first generation’ university student and how he learnt from failing a his first year at university.
A good follow up to my reading of the furtureored blog where where were two postings on learning through failure and the role of failure in constructive learning.
The above blogs gave me some food for thought, as my experiences as a teacher of tutors, has brought home to me that some tutors are more empathetic with students. Especially if they had experienced some form of ‘failure’ at school. For instance, many of our trades tutors, ‘fell’ into an apprenticeship due to not completing school cert. while at school. So many of them have gone on to complete other academic endeavours, but their memory of not doing well at school, remains with them. For many of these tutors, using 'failure' to motivate young trades students to aspire to better results, is one strategy I have observed in trades teaching. Learning by making mistakes, is therefore a useful strategy, in a supported learning enviroment.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Future of learning (education)

Just settling back into things at work this week. A few articles from last week and this week to mull through and digest on the future of education.

First up, an article from the Guardian via Thom Cochrane, on ‘smartphones killing personal computers’ . A somewhat ‘one sided’ viewpoint, supporting the rise of the ‘smartphone’ with the comments providing a bit of a wake-up call. My take is that very very soon, the smartphone will be the one piece of hardware that does everything device. However, at the moment, not quite there yet, especially with mobile access to the web still comparatively expensive in NZ. Access to wifi has improved considerably though and one of the proposals for a ‘new’ Christchurch City is to ensure there is freely accessible Wifi throughout the city centre. Tablets are the main compromise at the moment, obviating one of the major disadvantages of smart phones, the small screen. Having now enjoyed reading off my Ipad, I am not too willing to read off my blackberry. However, a recent trip to China and Singapore, reaffirmed that reading Asian script off a small screen is actually quite reasonable as you can fit more characters on to a small screen then words using alphabets.

Next up, an updated ‘future of education’ brochure via email from Knowledge Works Foundation. Glossy and attractive layout, detailing a series of ‘trends’. They propose five ‘trends using ‘buzz words’ These are increased focus on skills required of all learners for – pattern recognition (the visual web), the ‘maker’(user/consumer created) economy, the new civic discourse (rise of democracy through citizen action), platforms for resilience (increasing flexibility and creativity to cope with rapid change), ‘amplified’ organisation (extending human capacity through technology requires new ways to do things) and ‘altered bodies’ (new understandings of how to link biological brains with technology to improve outcomes e.g. for the disabled). Also summarises the impact technological change has on individuals, organisations, systems, society, economy and knowledge.

And their latest blog, summarises the key trends from the New Media Consortium report for schools. These are the challenges posed by the abundance of information off the www to educators; school resources becoming more and more based in the cloud; technology continues to profoundly affect the way we work, collaborate, communicate, and succeed; expectations of ubiquitous computing are now commonplace; and innovation and creativity are increasingly perceived as high value.

Things have shifted in the last 5 years with regards to access to the mobile net and these changes are reflected in how we make use of both the hardware and software as tools. Deploying these tools cause us to change the way in which we do things, leading to a loop of manufacturers/developers, working to meet percieved consumer demands. In the end, as summarised in the future of education brochure, it's the human innate drive to 'play', tweak, innovate, improve which will always make things interesting and slightly unforecastable. It's this 'unknown' that makes life always interesting for all of us. Perhaps, to 'prepare' the next generation for the future, requires little intervention in the form of nurturing our children to keep their sense of curiosity and wonder, for education to NOT quench our desire to experiment and learn.