Tuesday, May 23, 2006

eLive 2006 - Alan November Keynote

eLive 2006
Alan November – Keynote 1

{I’ve never tried this before, but I typed this up as Alan spoke and I sent it straight to Blogger from Word using the Blogger plug-in. This is the first time I’ve tried this directly from Word, so I hope what you see is roughly similar to wat I typed… or indeed that it can be seen at all!}

originally uploaded by DavidDMuir.
Overheard Alan November talking to Stuart Robertson before the session started – he described disenchanted pupils complaining about having to read Macbeth. They were amazed to discover that you could download Macbeth and listen to it as a podcast – Shakespeare never meant it to be read in the first place! Alan suggested to the pupils that they could download it and mash it up with interviews with pupils, teachers, parents, whoever to create their own podcast on themes in Macbeth or whatever… Brilliant! And the session hadn’t even started. :-)
“The past is over”
- George Bush.
Instead of telling children what we know - start asking students what they know.

There is a huge gap between what children do with technology at home compared to what they do in school. Very hard to find a school where they are being more creative with ICT than children are being at home. Number one application was MSN – what do schools do? They ban it. Why? Alan thinks it is fear.

We are trying to bolt technology onto what we do already, so we can use the computer as a £1000 pencil, but doing stuff we don’t do – like talking to others, we don’t do that.

Many children have their own sites. In schools we use the Internet. Children do the Internet – they want their lives there! We should ask them what they do with the Internet at home and ask ourselves why we block it. We should use things like MSN creatively and give them a role model of good use. When the school blocked blogging – two girls Alan asked went straight home and created their own. Give role model of appropriate use. Have schools become the learning police? We say we are doing it to protect children, but they are using it at home! Alan doesn’t understand this.

IBM in a day generates 10 million instant messages – communication is the number one application of computers outside education – yet we block it in schools. Alan’s son got on MSN and organised his school friends to do each others homework – Alan’s son did Spanish, someone else did Maths, someone did English… Collaboration is a very important skill to learn, but we don’t do it in schools.

If you are desperate for knowledge – you will learn.

What is the problem? It is not technology. There is more access to technology now than ever – at home and at school. Problem? Rise of India as global economic power – in part due to their online education programme? What skills do people need when the economic power is shifting? No need to travel to plant to be chemical engineer – can do it by communication technology. Also See Wikipedia on Thomas FriedmanThe World is Flat.

Who owns the learning? Victorian model – the teachers own the learning. Alan showed a picture of a school where every pupil has their own office/cubical. The pupils were there an hour before school started. Children are usually in bed an hour before school because the teachers aren’t there. If they own the learning, it’s a different ball game.

We need a new job description of teacher. We need people who can work with children – and {...missed this next bit, but according to Will it included: "...diagnostic skills, teachers who can understand data about how children learn across a wide variety of subjects, and how to personalize instruction".}

Children are social and children are territorial. They like to be with and interact with other children. If they have their own space (like a primary pupil’s desk) they personalise it, they make it theirs. In the school he described (in San Diego) pupils own the learning. Big emphasis on collaborative learning and self-directed. Removed dependency culture. Highest test scores in the state! Takes time though.

Have to change time, space and how people relate. In the San Diego school – they get the one teacher for four years. This changes the relationship. The teacher is responsible for getting students to the end point, not just the end of the year. Students take the test when they are ready, they don’t have to wait for the class to be ready. We can move away from the model where children are all on the same page at the same time.

Alan described asking a child working on the computer what she was doing. The pupil politely told him, “Can’t you see we are working here?” – They owned the learning, they were working collaboratively and were not afraid to rebuff unwanted interruptions.

These changes will take a long time (Alan recons two decades). Now though, we should be making videos to send home to explain to parents what we are doing and why. Ask them if they really want their children to stay with them all their life!

Step 1: Teach Critical thinking and the grammar of the Internet:
Enter “miserable failure” in Google! Good demonstration of Google’s algorithm. This is a Google bomb! Remember the research shows that people only look at the top ten hits. Or try Octopus and look at the number 1 hit in Google for the endagered tree octopus! How many 12 year olds will believe this? Teach children to decode the Internet. The real revolution is Information and Communication – drop the T for technology. Teach teachers to design new assignments not to use the technology. Don’t say to students “Go on the internet.” If they go – they will be manipulated by people who know how the Internet works. Switch to Ask.com and Answers.com – so much better than Google for schoolwork. {He may explain later why! - He didn't :-( }

Google doesn’t decide things – it’s a cupboard, computers and algorithms. We need to teach children to be critical thinkers. Easywhois.com is one way to find out who own sites.

We still teach as if print was the main information source. Number one source of information for pupils is not library or books or handouts – but the Internet.

Step 2: Teaching children to connect to the world.
For example
This limits search to academic sources in Japan. Important to see other versions of history. Toyota is bigger than General Motors! GM was the biggest company on the planet when Japan was in ruins. The assignment then becomes why is the viewpoint in Japan different. Then you get Skype or MSN and connect to a Japanese school. Teach children to communicate. Their powerpoint is then presented to the world – not just their classroom.

Children want to communicate with the world. See Fanfiction site (or MySpaces, or Bebo, or…) Why do children use pseudonyms on Fanfiction? The children’s work is reviewed by peers. By not using their own names, when they get bad reviews, they can see it as their work being criticised – not them. Compare that with schools! Pupils choose their own names. Anonymity can be bad, but can be used creatively. On Fanfiction – look at the first published and updated dates. Teenagers are revising and reworking their stories all the time.

Step 3: Our expectations are too low!
Time and boundaries are not important now. Told story of English teacher who doubted that the pupil could have written the stuff on the Fanfiction website because she never handed in her homework. The pupil said she had to make a decision – publish for the world, or publish for her teacher. For her, she wanted the world!

Skype: globalearner
November Learning has more of this stuff.

The session was videoed and hopefully a link will be provided soon. {No sign yet. :-( - DM}

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,


Gordon McKinlay said...

I am very impressed. I should take you to every seminar I attend then I won't have to take any notes ever again!

Jim said...


If you talk to Will R. or Alan tell them I said Hi, and that they should bring me with them to Scotland next time so you and I can talk about Furl and Delicious!



David said...

Hello Gordon

I warned Ewan that you might be having a word with him. I think he said the East Lothian was planning to give every pupil a blog space next year. If I heard him right, would that be useful ammunition for you?

Glad you found the notes useful.

Hello Jim

It would be great to meet you. Hopefully you'll get to come over here sometime, or, with a bit of luck, I'll get to come over somewhere near you.

From your blog it looks like your presentation went well. And "It’s Not Your Father’s Internet" - what a brilliant title. :-) I certainly noticed a few new hits on my guide coming in from your wiki, so at least a few people have been inspired by you to try new things.

Susan said...

Thanks for the notes for those of us who couldn't make it to Scotland!
I tried the doing the “World War II” host:ac.jp Hiroshima search mentioned in your notes. I wonder if Alan has tried it - most of the results were from the American School in Japan - not exactly the 'different viewpoint' I was hoping for

David said...

Hello Susan

Interesting. See the danger of trusting sources without really checking them. :-)