Time to think


I took this photo this morning, on the way to breakfast. It seems like ages ago already. When I got back to town I called in to school briefly, dropped off some stuff and picked up some other stuff and remembered again about traffic and all that. Lorne already seems a long way away.

Three days away at the Expanding Horizons Conference was a real delight, and I hope to blog about it a little later, maybe once more, when it’s sunk in a bit, about the take-home messages if I can.

My impressions now are the pleasure of being in a beautiful place with a whole lot of educators concerned with these ideas and wanting to do something about it. And though there were some very good sessions, including the conversation with Bruce Dixon today, it’s the conversations over coffee or a muffin with colleagues or strangers, that are the strongest at the moment.

By this time next week it will all be a distant memory. Maybe earlier than that he says, as he looks at the pile of SACS by the desk. But right now I’m pretty glad I went, and had a chance to sit and think for a couple of days. I hope they do keep this conference at Lorne (there’s talk that the bandwidth is so poor down there that they may move it) because there’s something about the place that adds to the meaning somehow. And this morning, walking to breakfast, with the beach shining in the sun like a newly minted coin, it all seemed very possible.

The ELH Conference website is HERE


Innovation, the digital revolution and education

Mark Whittard (Toshiba Information Systems) opened up Expanding Horizons on the last morning.

It’s hard for a hardware manufacturer to have something meaningful to say about education; even Apple struggle with that. And Mark Whittard mentioned as much when he began his keynote.

We got a potted history of Toshiba and their history (130 years!) and their diversity. He claims that Toshiba invented the double coil electric light bulb in 1921 and flash memory in 1984.

Whittard talked about some of the coming innovations: fuel cells in 2009, fast-charging (super charge) batteries and their commitment to environmental values, becoming the ‘greenest computer supplier’ this year.

One interesting thing was that over 80% of the education market were now ordering the tablet pc now; which is higher than I though and promising in terms of the kinds of education specific.

He talked about, and then talked down, the new small computers and said they weren’t recommended for the education market. I’ve talked about the ASSUS(?) and that kind of thing before; I’ve love to have one for travelling, but I couldn’t last long without a full blown machine I don’t think.

I liked Bruce Dixon’s closing bit here too, talking about the original conceptualisation of the notebook computer as a tool for education, or as one early notebook computer put it, as ‘an instrument, whose music is ideas’.

The human network

Elh08 Plp

View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own.

Slides from Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach, 21st Century Collaborative, USA, prsentation at ELH2008: 21 steps for 21st century learning. I liked slide 26 a lot.

Sheryl began her presentation by alerting us to the 21st Century Learning wiki she’d been developing at http://21stcenturylearning.wikispaces.com/ and her willingness to share the resources she’d been developing . ‘Take my stuff. Use it. Learn from it. We want to open doors for all children’.

She began by showing a video from Cisco called the ‘Human Network’. It’s online here: http://www.cisco.com/web/about/humannetwork/index.html

Sheryl talked about the move towards web 3.0 (singularity) Web 2.0 was disruptive enough but ‘you ain’t seen nothing yet’. She described web 3.0 as ‘artificial intelligence’, of Second Life, World of Warcraft and said that 80% of all Fortune 500 companies will be using immersive worlds in the future.

Two major trends about the future that Sheryl emphasized were, ‘Social and intellectual capital are the new economic values in the world economy’ (the new economy will be held together and advanced through the building of relationships’) The new digital divide, she argued, will be between those who can collaborate and those who can’t.

The second trend was that ‘technology will increase the speed of communication and the pace of advancement or decline’ and she referred specifically to ustream here (http://www.ustream.tv/)

She spoke about the growth of personal learning networks, just in time learning that is immediate and accessible that is built through a range of tools and building a community in and out of the classrooms. She asked ‘are you clickable?’ She then argued that our students need to be ‘clickable’ to have a positive online presence that will help them in the future, to empower them as global citizens that are ‘google-able’. It’s a similar argument to the one I’ve heard that Will Richardson has made recently; that developing an online digital presence is just as important as educating kids about not having a negative ‘digital footprint’.

‘Schools are a node on the network of learning’. Teaching and learning has to be re-thought, needs to be multi-literate, collaborative and move from a deficit based instruction to a strength based one.

She also showed a powerful video, ‘Learning to change, changing to learn’ which talked about the end of education and the beginning of learning. Not business as usual, but ‘business as unusual’.

She argued for a co-created and collaborative social community with multiple opportunities for member feedback and ownership; a different emphasis on the meaning of community. The driving engine of the collaborative culture is ‘the team’ who works together. They’re the best way to re-culture schools. From this, Sherryl talked about the model for this that she’s been developing: ‘Powerful Learning Practice’, a model that a number of schools in Australian are getting involved with in what Sherryl called ‘champion building’.

Sherryl finished with a list of tools: K12Online, Ustream, Ning, Wikispaces, Delicious, Plurk, Twitter, Elluminate and good old RSS.

It was a great session; visionary and forward looking, enthusiastic and positive.

It’s not the hardware, it’s the ‘headware’ (ELH2008)


Bernajean Porter gave the opening keynote on ‘Raising a Generation for Greatness’. She spoke about a three to four month window of opportunity for change to take place when an opportunity comes along, before the mould on the jelly sets, which followed up nicely from Bruce Dixon’s opening, which talked about the once in a generation opportunity that the government’s investment in 1-1 computing.

She also described the USA context, which she referred to as ‘no child left untested’, a nice point given our government’s recent sabre-rattling about standards and accountability.

Porter spoke about our ‘unprecedented mission to shift cultures and gears in our classrooms’, about the power that we’re putting in the hands of our students, and what we’re doing with that power.

She raised the concept of ‘participatory cultures’ and showed us examples of students who’ve learned how to move forward in their learning without waiting for permission from their teachers, about the gap between what some students are doing and what their schools and teachers expect and allow. Her examples, of students doing great things for their communities, were examples that were all outside the school system and she argued that we should be trying to activate this kind of learning in our students in schools and a passion for learning.

One way to get this passion was her idea of whole days of ‘inquiry’; where students choose their own topics and are given time on them, something we’ve been thinking about for a new Year 9 program. She argued for some small space in schools for students to find their own interest and passion and how disengaged some students had become in traditional schools.

It’s not about the hardware; it’s the ‘headware’. She gave an example of a school district that spend six million dollars rolling out whiteboards but hadn’t changed the instructional strategies or pedagogy at all. It was just a more expensive story. She argued for a different story, for looking beyond the ‘stuff’ to who owns the learning: the teachers or the students, and also who owns the questioning in the classroom.

One of the references she left us with was Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century. It’s online here: http://digitallearning.macfound.org/site/c.enJLKQNlFiG/b.2108773/apps/nl/content2.asp?content_id={CD911571-0240-4714-A93B-1D0C07C7B6C1}&notoc=1