Monday, August 14, 2006

Empowering students

On of the things I meant to do in the ICT: The C is for Control post was to talk about Alan's book - Empowering Students with Technology. It's a few years old now, ancient history in ICT terms, but many of the issues it raises are just as important today and the examples he gives are still fascinating. I thought I'd explain in this post how I got my copy of his book.

Alan November
Alan November,
originally uploaded by Faragher
As I mentioned, I first saw Alan a number of years ago at SETT and was so impressed by what he said that I hung about at the end to tell him how much I'd enjoyed his presentation. Now when people thank me for what I've said - which is not very often :-) - I usually just mutter some embarrassed thanks. Alan, however, asked me why I thought he was good. Maybe he thought I was being a sycophant and wanted to check my sincerity. (Quick - where can I learn to fake sincerity!) Or maybe it's an American thing. Whatever the reason, I was happy to tell him.

Now I can't remember exactly what I said, but I think I gave three reasons along these lines:
  1. His enthusiasm and passion for what he was talking about was clear. Positively infectious!
  2. His examples were brilliant. They were rooted in the real world of learning and teaching (if that's not an oxymoron). He wasn't just talking in the abstract but was giving examples based on his own experience. This was not pie in the sky stuff but was practical and presented in a way that made you feel you could do it too.
  3. His main interest was in the learners not the technology. As a wise man said, "It's not about the tech - it's about the teach!"
Either I baffled him with my Glaswegian accent or answered his question satisfactorily because when I asked him if his book was available in the UK, he said, "Here, have this one" and handed me the copy he had shown during his presentation. I offered to pay but he insisted on giving it to me free. Even if I hadn't been impressed before, this would have convinced me that the man was a genius. :-) (Am I guilty of perpetuating an example of kilture here? The mean Scot happy to get a freebie?)

Now, if only I'd got him to sign it. :-)

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Chris said...

" They were rooted in the real world of learning and teaching (if that's not an oxymoron)."

Not an oxymoron. Take the word of an English teacher on that!

David said...

I don't know... I think I could find a number of people who'd be willing to argue that "real world" and schools don't belong together!

Clearly I'm going to have to be a lot more careful with my throw away comments and attempts at humour now that Mrs Blethers is on my case. :-)

David said...

It's always a bitter sweet experience getting a comment from Chris. I try to act naturally but sometimes I feel like a victim of friendly fire. Is it justifiable paranoia to think she's picking on me? Still her criticism produces sweet sorrow. I think it's an open secret that I value her opinion.


Chris said...

Look. That's a smiley photo that appears with my comments. Think of them together.

Seriously ... what could be more real than the involvement teachers have with the lives of their successors on the planet?

And I only comment on your posts because I read them in the first place! :-)