Friday, 16 July 2010

Word Cloud of this blog

I did a wordle of this blog which is now sitting on the front page. There are no real surprises. Learning is the biggest word which makes sense. I always intended this blog to be about my learning so I use this word in this context and in the context of using technology for learning. Technologies is second which is an obvious dominant theme. The important point for me is that when thinking about technology in education thinking about the learning should always come first. Any technology is there to act as an appropriate communication tool through which the learning can take place. It's all about informed decision making when it comes to choosing the right tool (be it online, offline, face-to-face etc). This is where educators need help. Making an informed decision is hindered by lack of training, training that concentrates too much on how to use a technology or a pedagogical model, and not having the time and space to undertake reflection and course design.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Accelerated learning

It feels like the last few weeks I have experienced accelerated learning. This is mainly because I've had to create a lot of bespoke content for consultancy work lately. In many ways, this is the most rewarding work activity I have. I love to create and in my subject area I feel like I often have a blank canvas on which to draw together my experiences and knowledge. The creation process is about getting the message right - which is about broaching the subject at the right level - the subject being using technology in education.

I've always been a big picture kind of guy and recently I've been bolder in talking about the big picture with clients. This is vital and will never teach again without some reference to this topic. The big picture is basically about how the reality of the educator changes when delivering learning at a distance or through blended learning. When addressing nervous and disorientated educators this is good place to start because it shows empathy with their situation. In addition, I run through the basic arguments for using learning technologies. This is important because it forces them to reflect on why their company or educational institution is going down this road. The answer to the "why" question often gets lost. I also ask "how ready are you to teach using technology?" It's a good way of teasing out the problem areas and tenor of the group.

Much of what I offer to the educational world is still about giving people an opportunity to practice using different types of internet based tools which they may not have encountered and discussing their potential for teaching and learning. Where I feel confident of value is that much of what I see out there is either too technical or too pedagogical. I try to find the middle ground in an attempt to always be relevant.

This sounds like a sale pitch but it's written for me to help articulate my thoughts.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Levels of learning

Also published on the Educational Technology and Change Journal

I'm doing a lot of consultancy this month in various contexts under various titles designated by my clients. These include etutoring and master class in blended learning. The latter of these is good for my ego but is perhaps a bit grandiose. The content is never exactly the same as different emphasis is required with changing contexts. As long as my overall message is the same I am happy.

Titling is an issue I need to get to grips with. I haven't hit upon a one that I'm fantastically happy with. I've been using Web2.0Learning a lot but I don't want to be totally web 2.0 tool focused and the content often reflects this now. One important development has been that I've introduced a section which broaches the subject of practical issues surrounding teaching at a distance or blended. I find that there's a black hole of practical issues that don't get accounted for. Educators either get taught how to use a technology or something on the pedagogy - so more theoretical stuff. The praciticalities get left behind. Recently, I've been shoehorning in content which covers the reality of what changes in the life of an educator and organising oneself is so important. It's all pretty logical stuff but important nonetheless. I will reflect here on how things go in a few week.

What I wanted to record here today is how valuable the creative process is for me. What I learn through social media and my experiences at work get reflected on in this blog. I'm lucky that when called upon to deliver a consultancy session it involved crystallising my thinking from this learning for a public audience. It feels like a two stage process - writing down my thought forces me to clarify my thinking (and that's the first level of learning) whereas designing and delivering a session crystallises it even further (this is the second level of learning). I guess the third level is analysing the respective success or failure of the output!