Archive for the ‘*What is?’ Category

The Game Learner – are you game?

My colleague, Colin, has struck out with a new blog focusing on games based approaches to learning. This from his ‘about’ page:

…my particular interest is computer based games but it includes everything from roleplays to quizzes and puzzles and much much more. Games can motivate learners by engaging their imaginations, giving them control over their experiences, challenging them, enabling them to experience authentic and relevant activities and providing multimedia stimulation. I’ve been exploring the use of games in learning for a couple of years now in my work with the Flexible Learning team at the Canberra Institute of Technology…

The Game Learner » About

[image: margoconnell]

What Colin didn’t mention was the fact that he has been researching games through his Masters study; and this blog is, I think, a useful and necessary addition to the edubloggersphere!

Onya Col – will add to my feeds! 🙂

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Wiki + QR code = Semapedia

Reposted from OTN@CIT:

This from the del.icio.us tag via sparkered.

A QR code generated from Wikipedia for use in physical spaces, equals Semapedia.

I tried it out using the kaywa reader and now have the Wikipedia entry to liminality on my phone as I write. 🙂

It works like this:

Explainer

Image: Semapedia

Imagine some of the applications, if you will:

  • quick lookup of definitions (those that apply to one’s workplace perhaps)
  • find out more about an artist, locale, music band, suburb…
  • orientation information within an institute or business or…

At present this is set up for Wikipedia and other ‘Wikisites’. If opened up to Wikiversity, Wikieducator, etc the possibilities are motivating!

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Around about and some 'yarnin up'

Phew! Time flies when lots of things are happening at once! Heads up about a conference happening next week…

I’m off to Adelaide next week for the Action Learning Action Research Assoc (ALARA, formerly ALARPM) national conference. It’s set to be an invigorating event, as the theme is ‘Moving foward: Aboriginal ways of knowing and doing’, with the sub-themes of health, environment and education.

Logo

The Assoc has just published a pre-conference edition of it’s journal with some wonderful think pieces leading into the conference, which is running 8-10 August (next week!). The journal isn’t available online until much later, so I thought I’d give you a little taster, so you can get a sense of what the conference will cover and who will be engaging in the discussions.

Judy Atkinson writes about what she’d do if she was Prime Minister, in relation to the abuse of Indigenous children (see the recent report here):

In the medium term, if I was the Prime Minister, I would build a community strengths based approach into all that I do, advancing education at all levels. The strengths based approach would provide educational opportunities for Indigenous Australian to acquire skills so they can work with their own people, and others, for healthy early childhood development, education for lifelong learning, and education for healing (ALARj pre-conference special edition, 2007, p.90).

A full version is available via Judy’s work website, the Gnibi College of Indigenous Australian Peoples, Southern Cross Uni.

I wonder how Julie Bishop’s national curriculum masterplan and Rudd’s education revolution make room for Indigenous ways of knowing and doing?

Another piece by Vesper Tjukonai, titled Where First nations’ languages maintain the health of the lands and her peoples, English fails, uncovers how language (is dominance, its death, its power) plays a vital part in reforming our (cultural) ways to re-establish connection to land, to people, to one another. Vesper descrbes in depth the origins of the English language as its colonisation of other languages to strongly illustrate how the power of language can protect histories, hide voices and preference groups in our society. In one part, Vesper says:

English is a ‘vehicular’ language, observed French sociolinguist Louis-Jean Calvert. it is a language of conveyance and commodity. It is the utilitarian currency of the market place. it serves the interests of the speaker, rather than the holisitc needs of a community. In contrast, indigenous langauges are ‘gregarious’. They fster belonging, support relationships, nuture diversity, cross boundaries into liminality and accommodate the ‘inexplicable’ and ‘ineffable’ (ALARj pre-conference special edition, 2007, p.94).

How does this apply to our current efforts with literacy and numeracy I wonder?

Just some thinking points that I’m hoping to take in more of at this conference. I’ll blog some of the related presentations, conversations etc too, here and at the ALARA website itself.

Stay tuned!

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Education revolution: a battle between terminology and rhetoric

Under Labor’s plan, schools will be able to pool capital grants to form School Trade Precincts to provide concentrated state of the art facilities to teach kids in a variety of disciplines. School Trade Precincts will also be capable of bringing together a critical mass of expertise to focus on areas that are important to the State’s economy such as mining related occupations, service and automotive industries. Priority will be given to these projects when a group of schools has consulted with industry and where a precinct includes facilities aimed at addressing an area of skills shortage. In Western Australia there are shortages in the construction, transport, hospitality industries as well as the mining and resources sectors.

Australian Labor Party: Federal Labor’s $284 Million For West Australian Trades Training Centres In Schools Plan

Huh? I’m confused, and I’m sure it’s not just because it’s Friday! If anyone, ANY one can tell me that this picture – painted by Australian Labour’s Kevin Rudd – is wildly different from our current TAFE system, I’ll eat the proverbial!

Seriously, tell me where the “education revolution” is? I think Rudd and his shadow ministers are battling with their terminology around the notion of a revolution. Here’s some definitions:

Now, I can see how things might be a little confusing, don’t you? Let’s see, revolution as a violent and radical change to a society; revolution as a circular or circulating motion; an orbit; cycle; recurring period of time . . . geez I feel like I sound like a stuck record!!

Come on Mr Rudd, is that the best manifestation of a “revolution” you can do? Let’s add re-inventing the wheel too while we’re at it!

How about making an outright commitment to our well-trained, over-worked and under-valued TAFE teachers and fueling the flame for debate in support of your existing, internationally recognised national education and training system, rather than fluttering around like a candle in the wind.

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Nanocasting: short, sweet, informative

Podcasts are often too long and predictable to hold my attention. That’s why I started making impromptu nanocasts this morning.

By definition, a nanocast is:

* 5 minutes or less in duration.
* Impromptu, not scrpted.

Jay Cross @ Internet Time Blog

Anatomy of the human ear. (The length of the auditory canal is greatly exaggerated in this image)

(Image: Anatomy of the Human Ear, Wikipedia)

Jay Cross shares some good ideas about nanocasting: bite-sized podcasts. I agree; I’m not a big fan of the lengthy podcast – and my guess is that unless you’re an auditory person who can hold your attention to lengthy and focused listening, I’d say not many others do! YouTube is testament to the fact that we are a predominantly visual culture (also see for example Ways of Seeing by John Berger from 1970s), feasting and consuming with our eyes.

I’d add Jonathan Finkelstein to the list of nanocasters; he usually podcasts (and vodcasts) about 1-2 minute pointers relating to online interaction in synchronous learning environments to great effect. He usually uses a “hook” – mostly a metaphor. He also draws together real-time and asynchronous tasks, events or activities, so that each “nanocast” is not taken in isolation.

My short post on literacy can also be further reflected on here; being able to transform various chunks of information into not only knowledge, but a contextualised, social and participatory experience, is for me the real art of designing for learning in the 21st century. As an ed designer, I’m always looking for ways to do this in my collaborations with teachers, that draw on informal learning settings and workplaces (especially relevant in VET) as well as defining/translating learners’ needs.

There are a couple of key elements I’d add to Jay’s notion of a nanocast:

  1. including appropriate imagery with the audio clip can act as an initial “hook”, giving the listener a visual reference point while listening (satisfying our visual wants).
    1. I’ll qualify this from a user’s perspective: When I’m listening to audio, I do tend to surf at the same time – essentially getting other things done as I’m listening. I usually can’t sit still and just listen!
  2. adding some key dot points or an intro sentence (as Cross did) outlining the content of the podcast can also be a hook.
    1. however, if you title your pod/nanocast appropriately, that may be all the hook you need!
  3. I reckon being able to interact with a podcast in some way can also add value, and you can do this by:
    1. responding to a podcast using the comments feature
    2. responding to a podcast with your own podcast and cross-linking
    3. using a service like Chinswing to link all relevant podcasts together (in a channel) in a linear , asynchronous “conversation” – building you a bigger picture of the discussion as it progresses.

I’m conscious of the type of information we provide and consume via our social software tools and services and often wonder if we really do enough as educators to model our expectations of the benefits these tools have to learning. Recording a 1-hour lecture and podcasting it, is not necessarily better, only different. Where’s the “hook”? The context? And indeed, the learning?

There are practical examples that exist, like Teachers Teaching Teachers and CommunitiesConnect, where audio has a definite purpose and meets specific needs.

I reckon we need to first become better at identifying needs then work at applying the appropriate technology to meet those needs. So too, as educators, we should be teaching learners to better identify needs – in our reality however, it’s often a case of consume (or even produce!) first then think about it some other time – where IS that some other time, when we are always so “busy”?

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