Thursday, January 10, 2008

Doing IT Differently - H: What's Missing?

What will be different at HC in 2008?

H: What's Missing?

In this series I've focused on changes in the Computing learning area. Of course there are also new initiatives in other learning areas and I hope to write about some of those over the next few weeks.

In the last post of this series I'd like to touch on a couple of things I think are still missing if we are to engage all learners in education that leads to purposeful futures.

The first is Social Foresight or Futures Studies. We need to empower students with the knowledge and tools to be able to predict likely futures and create preferred futures - both personal and societal. However we have done little in this area and it has not been a priority in current course development work. This must change.

In the Computing area there are several avenues for exploring possible and preferred futures:

  • Robotics
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Technological solutions for current local and global challenges
The emerging field of Integral Futures might provide a way for students to use 4 Quadrant Integral Theory as a framework (see F: Conceptual Frameworks) to map possibilities.

The second is Spirituality. Spirituality is recognised in state and national educational policy but progress in this area has been slow until recently. We need to look for opportunities to address:

  • students' sense of deeper meaning, connectedness, purpose and place
  • spiritual literacy and spiritual expression
  • inspiration and wisdom
  • mindfulness and stillness

Above Maslow's need for self-actualization is the need for self-transcendence - a need to be of service to humanity and the planet. Today's global challenges provide many opportunities for expression at this level.

Previous: G: Blended Learning

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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Doing IT Differently - G: Blended Learning

What will be different at HC in 2008?

G: Blended Learning

Blended Learning involves the use of multiple learning environments - usually some combination of physical/face-to-face and online/virtual approaches.

Over the last few years we have gradually expanded our use of online/virtual technologies for learning, teaching and assessment - both in the range of technologies and the number of students involved (see below).

Our range of physical/face-to-face approaches has also expanded over the same period to include team teaching, coaching/mentoring, workplaces, simulated work environments, open/flexible learning, regional annexes and others.

HC students and teachers in the virtual world Skoolaborate - 2007

In 2008 we will attempt to provide more seamless physical/online blended learning environments for all computing students (and several other courses) 24/7 whether they are on campus, at home or even in some workplaces. These environments will involve the following:

  • A formal online environment where the class can store and share documents, discuss topics, pose questions and collaborate. We will use Moodle and ELGG services hosted off-campus and MS SharePoint Portal hosted on-campus.
  • Presence and communication where students and teachers can be seen to be online and exchange information and files 24/7 as required. MS Office Communicator will be mandatory for all computing students. Other systems commonly used by students are Live Messenger, Google Talk, Facebook/Myspace, SMS... (Email is infrequently used for communication by the majority of students.)
  • Virtual worlds where students and teachers can meet, complete tasks and create through personalised avatars in persistent online environments. We will expand our use of Skoolaborate and we also want to rent some education space for teachers to meet interested parents.
  • Game worlds where students can roleplay, complete tasks and create new environments. We will expand our use of Neverwinter Nights begun in 2007 - and also our use of serious games such as PeaceMaker also trialled in 2007..
  • Mobile Learning where students use mobile phones, game consoles, MP3 players and laptops to engage with course materials on and off campus.
  • Mobile Desktop and RSS where students can integrate their online identities and interactions - educational and social - in a one-stop-shop. We will promote Google Desktop and Facebook although students may choose another service.
  • Networked Learning where students connect - and hopefully engage - with professional communities of practise in their learning area. We will promote the Bloglines and Google Reader aggregation services although students can also bring RSS feeds back to Moodle, ELGG or even Facebook.

Previous - F: Conceptual Frameworks Next - G: What's Missing?

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Doing IT Differently - F: Conceptual Frameworks

What will be different at HC in 2008?

F: Conceptual Frameworks

The shift in focus from information to knowledge and understanding - and even wisdom - has emphasised the need to highlight concepts, conceptual lenses and conceptual frameworks in curriculum design - as well as learning and teaching. (eg see Concept-Based Curriculum and Instruction by Erickson)

However, although conceptual frameworks are used by educators in research and curriculum design they are not as often given to students to help them make their own connections.

Over the last few years a number of colleagues have supplemented their teaching of the usual topic or subject based concepts (eg 'values', 'texture', 'evolution' or 'sustainability') with more integrative frameworks such as Senge's 'systems framework', Gardner's 'multiple intelligences framework' and Wilber's 'four-quadrant framework'. The response from students has been very positive.

In 2008 we plan to introduce integrative frameworks to computing students - particularly those doing interactive media involving Student Directed Inquiry (see previous post). We will continue to use integrative conceptual frameworks with students in English, Media and our academic achievement program.

Integrative conceptual frameworks help students to:
  • move their thinking to the metacognitive level - thinking about thinking

  • make sense of transdisciplinary inquiry - required in the Student Directed Inquiry course

  • make connections to their existing knowledge and understanding

  • know what they don't know - and know where to find out

  • transfer learning to new situations - and cope with rapid change

  • understand the importance of worldviews - and the need for collaborative inquiry
Exactly how we will use integrative conceptual concepts with computing students still needs to be worked out...

Previous - E: Assessment of, for and as Learning Next - F: Blended Learning

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Sunday, January 06, 2008

Doing IT DIfferently - E: Assessment of, for and as Learning

What will be different at HC in 2008?

E: Assessment of, for and as Learning

Over the last three years we have had a close look at our assessment practices clarifying the pros and cons of formative and summative assessment - assessment OF learning, assessment FOR learning and assessment AS learning. (See also Assessment is for Learning - Scotland)

Key Assessment Principles have now been integrated into the K-10 Tasmanian Curriculum and the Post Year 10 Curriculum Framework - as well as into the learning, teaching and assessment practices of many teachers. Note that Tasmania uses criterion-based assessment with competency-based assessment for vocational courses.

In 2008 we will more formally implement, for a larger number of students, a range of assessment practices that we have successfully trialled over the last few years

  • self and peer assessment - students will be supported to use a number of self assessment tools designed to facilitate assessment AS learning. A key part of this process will be reflective online journals (blogs and microblogs) - reading, writing and commenting.

  • formal assessment - existing courses have been redeveloped and new courses written to incorporate a broader range of formal assessment processes: folios, logs, presentations... while the traditional end-of-course written exams have been shortened or even eliminated in some cases.

  • course assessment options - with a focus on personalised student learning comes the need for greater flexibility in assessment options. Computing students will be able to negotiate to be assessed against the most appropriate course well into the teaching year. For some this might mean assessment in national vocational modules as well as a TCE course for the same class.

Previous - D: New Curriculum Next - F: Conceptual Frameworks

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Thursday, January 03, 2008

Doing IT Differently - D: New Curriculum

What will be different at HC in 2008?

D: New Curriculum

During 2004/5 a new Curriculum Framework was developed for years 11/12 and in 2006/7 courses were written and new initiatives were trialled based on this Framework. Parallel with this process Post Year 10 education is being restructured with an integration of Senior Secondary Colleges and TAFE to give a multi-campus Polytechnic, a multi-campus Academy and a Training Enterprise as part of the Tasmania Tomorrow strategy by 2009.

In 2008 we will implement Computing courses re-developed based on the new Framework as well as the new course Student Directed Inquiry. In our case Student Directed Inquiry (SDI) will be offered in the broad area of Interactive Media and will allow students to conduct transdisciplinary inquiry in areas of personal interest. The aim of the SDI course is to "promote learning skills and ways of thinking essential for the development of self-directed, self-managing, lifelong learners in the 21st century."

Teachers and students will work closely with a programmer with extensive experience in the games industry who visited the college during 2007. Although this course does not begin until February 2008 six students have already formed a production team and have had long planning meetings!

A key feature of our curriculum implementation in 2008 will be that learning will be personalised and will not be rigidly bound by syllabuses, timetables, assessment or classrooms. These structures will be interpreted as frameworks only - students and teachers will be able to determine the exact nature of their own learning, teaching and assessment.

The focus will be on student learning that creates:
  • Insightful learners who can access, apply, transfer and create knowledge;
  • Individuals who are self-directed and ethical;
  • Citizens who are engaged, active and responsible in their community; and
  • Forward thinkers who can apply their skills and understanding to successfully participate in work, society and future learning.
Previous - C: Social Learning Next - E: Assessment of, for and as Learning

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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Doing IT Differently - C: Social Learning

What will be different at HC in 2008?

C: Social Learning

A number of colleagues have already started using Web 2.0 tools with their students or other educators. A couple of classes were even assessed on their social bookmarking and MySpace pages. A few English students created MySpace pages for fictional characters they were studying and MySpace layout and content was assessed in some Media subjects. The majority of students on campus had MySpace pages.

In 2008 selected social learning (web 2.0) tools will be integrated into learning, teaching and assessment for a large group of students.

  • Social Bookmarking - students will be encouraged to keep and share bookmarks online using The college has already established a number of accounts for some learning areas eg journalism, game design, learning2learn, multimedia
  • Research - Google Notebook will be used for making, collating and sharing notes while researching online.
  • Journals (Blogs) - students will post to online journals - tagged according to topic and/or assessment criteria - and students will read and comment on other student journals or international blogs. A number of customised services will be provided including Moodle and ELGG - or students can use another service and provide an RSS feed for class aggregation.
  • Microblogging - particularly recommended for students engaged in student directed inquiry projects - using Twitter or Jaiku.
  • Social Networking - students will be encouraged to establish a digital identity and presence that will get them "hired not fired". Facebook will be the preferred site for linking students on campus and for specialist groups established for some classes. 43 Things may be used by some students to set learning and life goals.

A number of services will be used to aggregate various feeds for students and teachers including Google Reader, Bloglines and ELGG. At this stage there is no extensive use planned for wikis in 2008.

Previous - B: Personalised Learning Next - D: New Curriculum

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Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Doing IT Differently - B: Personalised Learning

What will be different at HC in 2008?

B: Personalised Learning

2008 will be the first year that Tasmanian students beginning year 11 will have a well developed and formally submitted Personal Pathway Plan indicating their educational and vocational intentions. Pathway progress will be reviewed and plans adapted if necessary before the end of 2009/10 as part of the qualification process for the new Tasmanian Certificate of Education.

In 2008 all students who are doing a Computing subject at HC will develop a Personal Learning Plan where they will map out the learning, teaching and assessment they require for their chosen pathway. Within their timetabled computing course time students will be able to navigate through a number of learning options such as:

  • teacher directed tasks
  • student directed tasks
  • teacher and student presentations
  • online tutorials, presentations, expertise
  • small group and one-to-one tutorials
  • social learning options - see later post
  • assessment options - see later post
Student attendance will be recorded from both attendance and participation - face-to-face and online. Students will be required to show evidence of a minimum participation of 5 hrs per week. This can be done in a number of ways:

  • formal attendance at sessions - recorded ftf and online
  • weekly online journal (blog with desired privacy settings) - RSS feed to teacher
  • Microblogging using Twitter - RSS feed to teacher
  • Social learning activities - RSS feed(s) to teacher
  • Learning folio - tagged documents with RSS activity feed to teacher
  • weekly email

Students and teachers will manage learning, teaching and assessment through the college Portal, college Moodle, college ELGG, RSS aggregators and/or other negotiated ICT tools and services (eg IM, Google Apps).

Previous - A: Team Teaching Next - C: Social Learning

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