Saturday, April 30, 2011

Fun On Friday #111: Viral Videos

Last week, the Times published an article that it billed as "The 40 Best Viral Videos". Number 1 was David after dentist which has been seen umpteen million times but didn't do it for me. Next was Battle At Kruger which was a sort of amateur Wildlife On One style video of a square go between a herd of buffalos and a pride of lions which is more interesting in a car crash kind of a way.

Number three though was Human Tetris - now that's more like it:

Brilliant, and if you want to see more of the same, head over to Game Over. Stop motion animation on steroids!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Fun On Friday #110: Easter

For many people, Easter means chocolate... So for them, here's a recipe for Creme Egg pancakes!

If you want to go beyond chocolate and bunnies, you could always try these four Easter related animations:

Happy Easter!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

STEC: Professor Graham Donaldson - Teaching Scotland's Future

Keynote address – Professor Graham Donaldson, Leader of the Review of Teacher Education: “Teaching Scotland's Future”
(Abstract available here)

The title of Donaldson's keynote and the Review, look forward. it is not a consideration of how to fix a broken system but rather looking forward how we can prepare teachers entering the profession this year who are likely still to be teaching in 2060. We don't know what schools and education will look like then but we can be sure there will be change.

Was the sixties a "Golden Age" for teaching. Donaldson thinks not. He remembers it as a time, certainly in secondary, where the curriculum was defined and dictated by the examination board and educational publishers. What has changed is that education is now one of the major policy areas of interest to government. It is not going to happen (at least not in the near future) that government will step back and leave the profession to get on with it themselves. And note, this is not just a policy of interest in this country but it is internationally important (see for example the impact of PISA.

Curriculum for Excellence is the policy response to the issues raised above (and others). It sets out a broad, 21st century education, it aims to promote deep learning and high standards and it seeks to address underachievement particularly in basic skills. Donaldson said Curriculum for Excellence is "a new paradigm of governance and change".

We should not be afraid of complexity and Donaldson thinks that "by and large" the teaching profession is up for this. Teaching should be recognised as complex and challenging. This highlights that at the heart of the process, there should be a recognition of career-long teacher education; not to see initial teacher education as separate from other aspects of teacher education. The Donaldson review recognises teachers as expert practitioners who take responsibility for their own development.

Intended results of the review: reinvigoration of professionalism; rigorous selection of students applying to enter teacher education; concurrent undergraduate degrees that are both vocationally and academically challenging; and is aligned to the assessment of students' progress (example was given that students still see the tutor visit as the all that matters). Donaldson has just argued that part of the reason colleges of education were brought into the university system was to create a wider context to expose students and staff to more than a narrow preparation for teaching.

Donaldson says, "we are not making optimum use of ICT for professional learning." He talked about the "Dead time wasted by tutors googling up and down the country visiting schools" which could be redeemed by smart use of technology. {I think that was the implication but I remain unconvinced! - DDM.}

Teacher educators should be directly engaged with practice - theory/research/practice are not separate. There should be a culture where Masters-level study is the norm. "A lot of what we do in CPD is not challenging" that it is in some cases "insulting". The test of the success of CPD should be the impact on learning. {As an aside, should this be the test for educational research at university level? What impact has it or will it have on learning? - DDM} Theory matters but it is integral not complimentary to practice.

Professional standards are about coherence, challenge and growth. Donaldson is "suspicious of good practice." He is more interested in "good problems" what conditions led the practitioner to develop that 'good' practice? We need exciting and excited teachers.

"He that will not apply new remedies must expect new evils; for time is the greatest innovator" - Francis Bacon

Technology and Change

Seminar - Technology and Change: Conceptualising The Struggles Of 'New Professionals'
Dr Alison Hudson, University of Dundee

Talking about research on the impact on "new" technology on policy, practice and professionalism. Technological innovation is not new and it does have an impact on policy and practice. Dr Hudson is particularly interested in professional autobiography as a method for researching development. Among other things the session will consider characteristics that govern our work as educators.

Lengthy consideration of what is meant by "profession" and "professionalism". Bourdieu talks about the contribution of the individual to the field of education, their own disposition (habitus) and capital (what we do, what we know and how it is valued).

We were asked to consider why we chose to become educators. What we our motivations? Inspired by own experiences? Desired to share experience/knowledge?

It was suggested that initially, technology was used by enthusiasts but that there was a shift and technology was used to control, for example using bit to measure and record performance (e.g. How many people are using the VLE). See the book: "Technology And Change".

STEC Annual Conference: Teaching As A Moral Practice

Just arrived at the Stirling Management Centre for a day conference. It is the annual Scottish Teacher Education Committee conference and the Title of the conference is Towards A New Professionalism.

The keynote is from Professor Tara Fenwick, University of Stirling
“Teaching as Moral Practice: Towards Bold, Rude and Risky Professionalism”. Abstract available here.

Bold: The courage to do what's right
Rude: To interrupt and challenge
Risky: To take chances, to allow improvement

The question is not how to train the individual professional, it is how to create a system that is supports the profession to be bold, rude and risky. Loads of challenges. For example blurring of boundaries - who is responsible for educating our children? Inequality - the gaps are widening. Migration - people are much more mobile.

In Scotland, in 2009-10 only 16.1% (not sure about the figure after the point) but where do the rest go? Many are still working in education but not in schools.

What knowledge is important? What are the top ten hits on Google? What are the top ten hits for teacher education?

Where is education in all this complexity and world change? Very Knowledge is contained in textbooks and can be weighed and measured. "The maps they gave us are outdated by years" {from a poem but didn't catch the poet and may have misquoted}.

What images do our bright young teachers have as their role.

Teacher as:
Hero rescuer
Healing nurturer

The problem is the views are static and restricted. We should not ask how we define and constrain professionalism but how professionalism is being used. We have seen a move from definitions of knowledge generated in then profession to standards imposed and audited by external bodies. A move from trust to distrust. Are teachers in a state of learned helplessness.

Should we instead see teachers in a web of collective solidarity. Do we really want to see teacher education as a way to recreate what we have already decided is a professional teacher?

Teaching as engaging with difference, inventing with new registers of practice (teaching as a means of uncovering what is there rather than simply covering the syllabus). Teaching is acting in spaces of undecidability - juggling multiplicity. Important not just to have teachers that are bold, rude and risky but a profession that is bold, rude and risky!

Move from a system that moves from telling teachers what to do and what to be but instead move to creating teachers that are willing and able to take a leap into the unknown.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Fun On Friday #109: Reverse Graffiti

Not so much a Fun on Friday, more a Weekend Wonder?

People complain that graffiti is ugly and destructive. This is different. Here is an artist that took something ugly and created beauty:

And what a sad ending!

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Fun On Friday #108: Classical Nerd

On holiday, out of routine, late as usual.

This looks (and sounds) genuine and really appeals to my inner nerd:

Hopefully, normal EdCompBlog service will be resumed soon.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Fun On Friday #107: I'm A Star

Just over a year ago, I featured an advertising video which incorporated a user uploaded photograph (see Fun on Friday #62: Swedish Advert). Unfortunately, the video no longer works but the same people have produced a new tool that creates a video with sound and moving images recorded through your webcam.

The verbal instructions are in Swedish (I assume) but the lyrics are in English, so it is fairly obvious what you have to do to produce something like this:

As far as I can see, there's no way to embed the video but you should be able to see it by clicking on the graphic. I am impressed by the technology behind this although it is slightly embarrassing to have to sing "I'm a star" best in the world etc. What do you think?

Oh... and you can create your own version, and if you do, share the link here!