Friday, May 09, 2008

Stephen Heppell - Question and Answer

{Again, blogged live... may edit later}

It is a stumbling block that we are still building 19th century schools for the 21st century. We have to ask the hard questions. Why do we ring a bell and expect 1000 children to be hungry all at the same time? Because it is convenient. Shouldn't have a counsel of despair but should ask the questions - talk to teachers and learners. For example, consensus document created in the Cayman Islands. You can't change the curriculum without changing the buildings. Gave example of allowing pupils to vote for the walls they want to knock down. He talked about children re-designing the toilets. They got rid of the special bullying ante-chamber. Got doors that fit fom top to bottom. Went unisex. - Bullying disappeared. 75% of school children try to get through the day without oing to the loo.

Can't do a "Dick Turpin style of teaching - stand and deliver". :-)

Use the school production as an example of collaborative cross-curricular learning - the models are there. Gave example of Be Very Afraid video on grammar rap. Is it music? ICT? English? What we can say is - it's learning.

Example of Classroom of the future (also from Be Very Afraid) - fibreglass classrooms. Open, colourful, spacious, lots of working spaces. Lots of examples of engaging pupils. E.g. classroom in darkness, children hiding under desk, archive film footage of goose-stepping Nazis, Teacher walking across desks shining torches... while the children read the Diary of Anne Frank. If Anne Frank had a mobile, what would she have txted?

Me, we, see. My stuff, stuff for our community and stuff we share. We need to see social networks like this. Places that re personal and places that are shared. {Way of avoiding the Creepy Treehouse Effect?} Gave example of closed Heads Together community where a forum on bullying filled up messages from head teachers being bullied. The "we" space in the community allowed them to discover things they didn't know - had no idea of the level of bullying going on.

Stephen thinks we need to let go of the productivity definition of education. He thinks that when we do let go, we see huge leaps in engagement and learning but acknowledges it is difficult to get people to let go. He thinks we need to find excuses to do it just now, but when people experience it working, they don't want to go back. Agility is the key.

If teachers were literate what would they be able to do? Asked children and they should be able to do? Said things like, post a clip to YouTube and comment on one. Manage a Flickr group (and spell Flickr). Switch on and off predictive texting. Find and use a safe online payment site.

See Photosynth. Creates a model of something by combing images from Flickr. The example from the video was a re-creation of Notre Dame Cathedral from people's holiday snaps.

If you search for "new university building" in Google images, you always get pictures of the outside. Example given of Loyds building which grew from a coffee house culture. New building is much more adversarial. Best examples are from successful new media start ups. Their spaces are flexible - agile. The physical design can stifle this or support groups coming together for a project and then disbanding. Not open plan, but flexible, reconfigurable spaces.

He gave two reports we should look up... I'll look them up and post them here later... probably. :-)

Stephen Heppell: Learning Spaces, Working Places

{Blogged Live - will edit later... probably.}

I'm attending an event at the Lighthouse: Learning Spaces, Working Places presented by Professor Stephen Heppell.

The website described it as follows:
There is a revolution in the design of learning spaces all round the world and inevitably this is now impacting on the design of corporate space too...
During the talk we were invited to text during the talk to 07624805770

Stephen started by talking about what he's been doing recently. Started with talking about an indoor ski slope in Dubai. Suggested that here, people get a bit sniffy and complain about the waste of energy but in Dubai, the energy is cheap - it's the water that's expensive. Your perspective makes a difference.

We live in a world that's information rich. It's the ability to learn where we are poor.

Are we trapped in incrementalism? Aiming to get a little better? Stephen's experience is, if we get it rght, the improvements can be stellar. We can inoculate children from poverty with education. We can at least insulate children from war if we get countries collaborating educationally - talking to each other.

Paraphrase: "We put fluoride in the water to protect our teeth. What would happen if we put chemicals in the water to make our children brainier? You can imagine the outcry."

What countries are good at making cars? What countries are good at films? Short lists. What countries are going to be good at learning? Will Scotland be in the short list?

He showed pictures from old comedies (e.g. Bilko and On The Buses) often defined by the workplace - comedy from coming up against the boss. Modern comedies (e.g. Friends) what they work as is hardly known - its about the relationship and community. Reflects the changing world.

We are in a time of betweenies. There used to be broadcasters and viewers, or teachers and learners. All the interesting stuff is happening in the middle. For example teachers as learnesr, learners teaching. The space metween now and not now e.g. txts, or facebook profiles {or twitter?}. Space between me and you, e.g. e-bay, Google, e-communities. As we redefine our learning spaces, are we looking at using this in-between space?

One school he's heard of does one GCSE per month - all the study for a month - not splitting up the timetable. Universities are going more and more modular. Heading towards the 19th Century as industry heads to the 21st. Building rigid top heavy management structures. Some industries are creating managers for projects. Recognising the need for leaders to be good followers too.

See Teachers TV programme on George Mitchell School - about teachers and pupils working co-operatively to improve learning.

Real spaces and Virtual spaces. Showed developments from Prestel, through Tesco SchoolNet (biggest online project at the time - huge age range - is age the best way to organise learning?), (grew out of Scoop), Ideas board for Orange (virtual board where you can stick text pictures etc., (learning space created by children excluded from school), to JellyOS.

Examples of an Australian university that has undergraduates from age 11 that are expected to do four hours of activity. Some universities building litte boxes for their students, driven by spreadsheet cells - cells in every sense of the word. Will the students come to the physical boxes? {Is it more sensible to create virtual spaces? If universities still see the content as precious then they miss it.} Full time work can be full time study.

What are we learning? Effective learnng orgainsations are
  • collaborative
  • 24/7 and lots of other stuff! {will edit in later :-)}
From a PhD research looking at sociograms of communication. Found that in seminars only a third contribute. Online, that doesn't happen. There is real collegiality and mutuality. Web 2.0 is really Learning 1.0. People grow to respect each others perspective.

Every object tells a story - daft to put an object in a museum box and expect people to get it. Important for the objects to tell their stories.

Moving from a productivity model to new approaches. E.g. Criterion referencing to ipsative {?}. referencing. From uniform students to creative and ingenious students. {Don't care about creativity, I want ingeneous students"} It used to be, to get a first class honours degree you had to produce something that would astonish their professors.

Stephen wants us to stop building corridors. Why build spaces that are only there to move people around. Get rid of corridors and you instantly create collegiality {Hmm... need to think about this.}

How do you measure creativity? What is the equivalent of a 1500 word essay? Managing an online discussion for a week? Creating a 10 second video? Posting a podcast?

"In the next 30 years, more children will leave school worldwide than in the whole of histtory up to now."

Global Learning community

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Crick Soft Day

I'm at a Crick Soft day and the main thing they are talking about this morning is WriteOnline. It looks interesting. It is a Java based application, so it uses the power of your machine rather than relying on a remote server but has the advantages of remote storage and access to your documents anywhere you have Internet access. However, you also get offline access if you are not connected to the Internet. And it looks like a word processor with icons and standard keyboard shortcuts.

What is good about it (apart from all the online, sharing goodies that comes from online applications) is that you get a bundle of the Crick Soft type goodies integrated with the application. For example, it can speak as you type (like Clicker), Wordbar is built in as is predictive typing. The predictive typing picks up work from the Worbar. It is a doddle to create specialist wordbars - you can paste in a chunk of text (the demo took a chunk from Wikipedia) and ask Wordbar to exclude common words and short words. An instant word bank is then generated.  Very cool.

Teacher tools include the ability to comment on work by highlighting and typing a note. (Students can also added comments. Currently you can't have collaborative documents but when this feature is added, they may want to send messages to fellow authors. There are also analysis tools for the teacher. These include information about how long the student worked on the document, what words were misspelled and corrected (so you can see if the student has trouble with "ly" endings for example) and a record of pasted text (some help in checking plagiarism).

Various preferences can be set and these are saved with your profile and so follow you wherever you log on. There are for example various accessibility options for the visually impaired. The save option allows saving either online or locally. 

Currently the image handling is poor, but they are working on it. At the moment, there is only the choice to save in native format or html. 

You can Take a tour of WriteOnline if you want to get a feel for what it can do.

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Thursday, May 01, 2008

I'm going... are you?

I remember back when I was a real teacher, I helped organised a concert at the school - by The Electrics in case you are interested. Ticket sales were not going well and I remember being in a bit of a panic that it was going to fall on it face. I had visions of the people in the band out numbering the people in the hall. Part of the probelm (I thought) was that people didn't know who else was going. Crowds attract crowds (I thought). Therefore, I came up with wizard wheeze (I thought). I made up some badges with "I'm going to see The Electrics" on them and gave them away free with the tickets. ...It didn't work and I had loads of tickets and badges left by the night of the concert. Thankfully, it all worked out in the end because the band brought their own fans with them and lots of people turned up on the night and paid at the door.

I was reminded of this event when I discovered the Upcoming website. I think I'm a bit late in discovering this site (I noticed the ubiquitous Mr McIntosh and the inevitable Mr Johnston were already there) but I like the idea. I discovered it thanks to the photo I used in my OLPC - Help wanted! post. In particular it was the small icon of the yellow "u" on a red background in the Additional information section that caught my eye. I'd never consciously noticed it before and I wondered what it was:

The text after it seemed to identify the event where the photo was taken and clicking on the link took me to Upcoming... and a fair bit of time exploring and experimenting followed. :-) The basic idea is that events are created and people can indicate their intention to attend, leave comments about the it, tag it, tell other people about it, and join groups of people interested in the same kind of events. Also, it is integrated with Flickr so that if people tag their photographs with the specially generated tag, the photos will automagically be associated with the event. Brilliant.

It reminded me of LastFM Events which also generates tags so that Flickr photos can be associated with an event (e.g. my photos, along with photos from others who were at a Rush concert) but it deals with more than just music events. It also reminded me of Hitchhikr but with added social networking goodies.

So I created some old events (Upwented?) to try out the Flickr integration (Rush, Dream Theater and Miss The Occupier) and added a real upcoming event - Learning Spaces, Working Places. At the moment, I'm the only person on Upcoming that's going to the Learning Spaces event so if you are going too - why not join, comment and tag?

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