It’s not our world anymore. So why do we treat it as though it is?

I’ve been thinking greatly about improving my own pedagogy within this digital age, and how to easily explain it, how to come up with tips and tricks to take those who weren’t born with an i in front of their names and help them see the world the way our kids do. Because if we want to teach our students, if we want them to truly engage and learn, we need to stop forcing them to meet us in our world, and we need to step into theirs. This is a truly frightening thing to do – I freely admit that. We all talk of a generational gap… but that’s not the issue now. It’s more of a reality gap…

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Aaargh! Piracy – It be a crime!

Piracy: It be a crime!

Today (Sept 19) is International Talk Like A Pirate Day, a perfect opportunity to discuss that which we all hate to discuss… piracy.

By piracy, I don’t mean those folks in boats, with dashing good looks, wearing awe-inspiring costumes of so-many-layers-you-know-why-they-don’t-want-to-walk-the-plank, no, I refer to the illegal copying of music, movies and software. No-one (apart from the parties being infringed) wants to talk about it, because we secretly don’t see the problem with it. But, the truth is, piracy really is a crime and our kids need to be brought into an awareness of the problem.

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My daughter doesn’t deserve school – unless it doesn’t have teachers!

Unhelpful Teacher Meme

Does your daughter/son deserve this?

Confrontational? Yes. Thought provoking? Yes. Against teachers and mysoginistic? No way.

In my daily reading of interesting goodies on the web (something that we should all do professionally – get some mind space), I came across two very interesting articles.

The first, I was put on to by a fellow IT teacher over at right into IT. He posted a link to the article in question, with nary a description – Why my daughter doesn’t deserve school, at The Learning Generalist. It is an interesting article to say the least, and challenges the notion of our industrial revolution based education system. It also proposes some ideas to get out of this rut. Overall, it is a thought provoking (and not misogynistic) article. Definitely worth a read.

The second article is from a blog I follow, MindShift. Being titled ‘A School With No Teachers‘, it was sure to catch my attention – and I’m glad it did. This is an article about an experiment in education in France. The school is called 42 (Yes, Douglas Adam’s fans would understand why) and has not one teacher in it. Based on the article, it sounds incredibly intensive for the students, but I hope that it succeeds. The education system as it stands really does need a shakeup.

So, my title should make sense now. My daughters (how awesome is it to say that?!) are and will continue to go to school, but I dream of a time when the education system recognises the passions and is flexible enough to allow students to dream big, and achieve bigger.

The Flipped Classroom: Don’t Flip Out!

Don't Flip Out!

Your classroom has flipped! Don’t flip out!

We’ve probably all heard the term ‘flipped classroom’ and tended to, well, flip-out. The basic idea behind the flipped classroom is that lectures are pre-recorded, students watch them at home, learn what they can, and then head back into the classroom to complete activities based on their learning… Sounds great, yes? Sounds like a lot of work…

But in the day and age of Khan Academy, Youtube EDU, online courses (like coursera, udacity, udemy) and online gamified learning (codecademy), this doesn’t need to be the case. We can use the resources from others who have spent the time and effort creating the videos, ensure that they meet our needs, and then ‘flip’ our classrooms using them. Some, like the Khan Academy are actually set up for that express purpose. Of course, once you flip the classroom, you still have to wonder if it’s going to actually be of benefit to your students… well, you did. Now, a three year study has come out showing a moderate improvement in student achievements and “significant student preference” for a flipped classroom.

There are plenty of other models of flipping your classroom out there – I prefer having the videos available to the students to use, but still actually teaching the course myself, or having the videos worked through in class while I engage them critically and push the students to work with the content. This provision of video allows students to pause, rewind and replay critically important aspects while not disrupting the class. Ideally, this should allow for a deeper understanding (and a more complete understanding) of the course.

For more on the study, head on over to: http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2013/09/the-post-lecture-classroom-how-will-students-fare/279663/

Problem Based Learning: iSquish – learning to program

I thought I’d try my hand at leading my 10 ICT class through a problem based learning scenario. This is the result.

We began a journey of exploring programming via working through a simple little game, called iSquish. Essentially, this is a FlySwat style game, where you click on an image (in this case an iPad) you get a point, if you miss, you lose a point.

We worked (and are still working) through it, step by step. You can follow along too…

NOTE: all these are videos, and are designed to be watched in 720p definition, full screen (or similar).

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Learn to program, project style

Problem Based Learning (PBL) is all the rage at the moment. I thought I’d try my hand at leading my 10 ICT class through a problem based scenario. This is the result.

We came up with the idea of a FlySwat type game (mine uses iPads, just because…), as it teaches a huge swathe of programming basics, from using text in labels, all the way through to (eventually) reading and writing to text files for the High Score.

We’re partly through the problem (currently used timers, variables  and added sound effects), and I’ve gone back and made videos based on where our discussions went.

So, if you’re interested in programming, and want to see how our class has journeyed, have a look at this post:  Problem Based Learning: iSquish – learning to program