Monday, February 29, 2016

GPS Doodling - uses in Vocational Education

This article came up on the Stuff website tweaked my techy muse. The cyclist, Stephen Lund, has been using his bike rides and his GPS to create GPS doodles. Stephen presented at Tedx and archives his doodles on strava. In the course of a year (20150, he has accomplished 70 doodles!! All completed through cycling around his home city of Vancouver.

There is a creative aspect to GPS doodling, but also a great deal of planning to plot the route before executing the ride. The uses of similar technology in education are numerous. Students, on field trips' could undertake similar trips, either as plotted on the GPS by their tutor, or to create their own 'piece of art'. Learning outcomes include important practicing of spacial skills and learning is made all the more powerful when authentic examples are availed through GPS guided field trips.

Will now have a chat with tutors who may find the idea useful :)

Monday, February 22, 2016

What' trades learning' and pedagogy can learn from music pedagogy

Came across this via the facebook page I follow intermittently. The page is looked after by the current band master of my school band. 40 plus years since I left school, the band continues it's strong tradition of excellence set by the first band mistress, playing a leading role in nurturing young people through learning  music and the discipline and camaraderie fostered through long hours of practice required to attain excellence.

Thestrad webpage focuses on supporting string players, with good resources on practice, technique, teaching music and collation of articles on repetitive practice and the need for effective practice. All in, a good resource of pragmatic responses to assist the learning of complex skills.

I had a look at other resources for learning music and came across some books including one on piano pedagogy.

At the CPIT library, there is a scholarly book on teaching piano – Teaching performance: a philosophy of piano pedagogy by Swinkin and published by Springer in 2015.

The book provides background (some historical) on approaches to teaching piano. The aims of the book are detailed in the introduction. Chiefly the book undertakes to try to resolve 2 dilemmas. One is to bring to the fore, the difficulty in studying music as language, the other is to push teaching of music beyond the technical, to instill greater intellectual depth, emotional sensitivity and interpretative skill in musicians. Unfortunately, I have yet to find an equivalent for trades pedagogy. So, there is a gap in the literature to be further investigated :)

Monday, February 15, 2016

We have the technology - book overview

Brief overview of the book: We have thetechnology: How biohackers, foodies, physicians, and scientists are transforming human perception, one sense at a time by KaraPlatoni, published 2015 by Basic books.

Generally positive reivews from Kirkusreviews which also provides a list of similar books.

This book is an interesting read. I borrowed the book from the local library and took it along with me on a long weekend / biking holiday. Then did a re-read when I got home as there were snippets throughout the book requiring further attention.

The book’s premise is the challenge the world as we perceive it, through our senses. There are chapters diving deeper into each sense – taste, smell, vision, hearing, touch including the ‘meta sensory’ perceptions of time, pain and emotion. Then 3 consolidating chapters on virtual reality, augmented reality and new senses.

The introduction opens with details of the fringe activity of bio-hackers. People who connect themselves to electrical / digital circuitry to add a new sense (e.g. an embedded compass) or augment a sense. The concept of ‘reading’ what happens in our brains to ‘writing’ what it may be saying, is also introduced. In short, we are on the difficult and complex journey towards being able to unravel the impulses in our brain, and translating them to control exterior devices. Of use, especially for people unable to use their limbs or unable to communicate.
In the chapter on taste, the hunt for ‘another’ taste beyond salty, sweet, sour, bitter and unami is detailed. Scientist postulate there is a ‘fat’ taste, a’calcium’ taste and a taste for ‘fullness’. The idea being that the body will intuitively seek foods which it is missing and through taste, eat foods high in the absent elements. Overall, a really good overview of how we taste and the history of research on finding out how we taste.

The next chapter focuses on smell. In particular, the ways smell brings up memories. The chapter details therapies used with dementia patients. Using significant smells, patients are encouraged to articulate their memories triggered by certain smells. Of note is the cultural / generational significance of certain smells. As will all aspects of life, the smells we are exposed to when we are young, are predicated by our life experiences. 

The vision chapter provides details of attempts to augment vision for people who have lost sight. State of the art therapies are introduced and the long process of developing practical application for theories and the refining of visual prosthetics makes for an interesting read. Various prototypes are described and discussed.

Hearing chapter provides details on the work undertaken to try to ‘read’ how the brain handles language. If ‘reading’ can be worked out, then ‘writing’ to it may also be deduced.

In the chapter on touch, surgeons using ‘robotic’ arms are used to illustrate the role of tactile senses in navigating our world.

The chapter on time is somewhat intriguing. It details the movement towards making a clock, that will measure time for 10,000 years.

The pain chapter undertakes to try to understand if emotional pain is similar to physical pain. Why do we suffer from ‘broken hearts’?

Following on, the chapter on emotion explores the cultural desensitisation in some cultures to expressing emotions. How does each culture ‘feel’? Cross cultural studies are detailed with emphasis on comparing how Eastern and Western cultures 'feel'.

The two chapters on virtual reality and augmented reality detail the latest research into these areas. Examples are provided of how virtual / augmented reality has been used to assist American troops with pre-preparation for the realities of overseas postings into stressful environments or to assist with recuperation from post-traumatic stress following deployment.

The final chapter is on ‘new senses’, returning the book’s trajectory to where it started at the beginning. The example used is the inclusion of ‘electro-magnetic’ detection into human sensations portfolio.

It might be some time before any of the above technologies infiltrate the educational sector. The challenge is the cost of developing these technologies and the context specificity of much of human learning. Virtual reality and augmented reality have been around for over a decade, but what we have seems to be only small applications into education. As with other innovative technologies, the research and development dollars are in the commercial, health and military sectors. Slowly, the technologies filter to education which tends to not have the R & D $$ to support large scale and expensive developments. Granted R & D takes place in the university sector, often building prototypes useful for learning as a by-product of applications for other sectors. However, some way yet for VR and AR to become mainstream in all sectors of education.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016


Thinking through as to a direction for project surface tablet. One of the main ‘success’areas with tablets has been the use of the tablets to take videos of students learning practical skills or learning dispositions through roleplay. Included is the aspect of peer learning and feedback. So students use the videos as a springboard for learning not only the skills or dispositions but important aspects of judgment required to maintain reflective practice.

This bookon peeragogy, via a 2013 posting on Arlington Education Foundation referring to a holistic approach to technology enhanced learning, provides some suggestions for ways forward with regards to enhancing learning through peer learning. Although set in formal school contexts, the ideas and discussions are transferable across to vocational education.

The online book is basically a collection of ideas / resources from various American teachers who seek to improve learning through implementation of peer learning and peer production. It’s the peer production part which we really need to move along with.

So, instead of providing feedback etc. the next step is to perhaps have students develop a how to ‘guide’, using their original videos as source material. The ideas included in the book are ways to organise student groups, activities suitable, organising learning context, assessment suggestions etc. Technology tools suitable like forums, wikis, real-time meetings, MOOCs etc are discussed.

I will try out a few of the ideas with our project tablet teams, to extend on what we have begun and to continue to improve on our learning-centred approaches as supported by introducing ‘situated technology enhanced learning STEL’.

Monday, February 01, 2016

Using Sway

Sway is a microsoft free online presentation and storytelling app. I had a play last here when it first came up and found it quite user friendly. Since then, the sway team have been busy putting up examples and the examples offered are now more varied and interesting.

Although not the best example (it is structured as a scroll down) the content in this sway on the future of education is thought provoking.

Resources are now up for educators in the form of a sway, plus microsoft office has resources here and here as well providing examples for use of sway.

There is a positive review from Australian teachers blog and  jonathanwylie has a tutorial with examples.

In my own context, sway represents an opportunity to showcase ones work or for students to compile multimedia content. Sway is generally easy to use and hows promise but requires time to learn. As with other presentation tools, it is important to 'storyboard' before embarking on forming the resource.