Expanding Learning Horizons (Day 2)

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So, Day 2 begin with Travis Smith: Scaling Innovative Practice

Travis talked about the Hattie research, and how that 22 of the top 26 things that make a difference to student achievement, are things that teachers can do. He talked mostly about how we skill up teachers to empower them around innovative practice and the importance of contextualising the skills for teachers. He also reminded us of work of Neville Johnstone on professional learning including the importance of embedding the professional learning in the core business of teachers. I liked his ideas around personalisation for teachers and also his point about focusing on teachers who can help ‘transform’ schools and classrooms.

I co-presented on wikis in k-12 learning this morning. We called the session Wikimania and focused on our thinking and practice around web 2.0 tools like blogs and wikis so far. It went quite well even though the internet went down in the room for about 10 minutes just as we were showcasing some of the wikis live.  The people in the room were very patient and we eventually got online and showed the Wikimania wiki we’d set up for the session. That’s still live for any input you want to make, or just to check it out.

After lunch Karen Li, Global Education Program Manager for Intel gave a keynote. Intel has a vision for education? That’s okay I guess; I’ve got a vision for computer chips. I thought the message here was a bit blurry (disclaimer: I missed the first 5 minutes) with the term e-learning tossed around a bit loosely and not much distinction made between computers for skill and drill and computers that will re-conceptualise classrooms. I suppose that’s natural if the key is selling chips! I might not be being entirely fair here: I’m naturally suspicious about business and their educational visions. Intel has supported 1-1 programs by purchase programs, 1-1 eLearning pilots, developing rugged, low cost learning platforms, investing in the professional development of teachers ($100 million annually and $1 billion USD over the last ten years) and developing eLearning content packages that help countries develop digital curriculum. Li was good at pushing the imperative that countries needed to adapt to prosper and that teachers needed the passion and desire to make it happen.

Then I heard Julie Squires from Casey Grammar talking about Exploring Web 2.0 Teaching Ideas. Julie talked about her web 2.0 learning journey beginning with an edublog called Learning Gems. She was honest about her interest, which begin with a fascination with the ‘tools’ of learning but then moved on to be about the connections she’d made and how the online community became a virtual staff room for her. It’s a message I’ve heard often now; how the online support networks are sometimes more affirming and positive than the professional relationships inside the school. Julie shared some great tools, many of which she’s shared on her Wetpaint wiki, Exploring Web 2.0 Teaching Ideas: http://web2teachingideas.wetpaint.com/

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