Friday, 9 August 2013

Major Trends

Major Trends
Online Learning, hybrid learning and collaborative models:
Teachers are now including online learning within their classrooms (hybrid or blended learning) with much success.
I selected this trend because when I implemented a small online pilot course I could see the potential for differentiated learning, and the many opportunities for learning using software (Mathletics, Spellodrome), and as a primary school teacher I am looking for the most effective way to increase student achievement.

Social Media:
With the number of students using Facebook, twitter etc, the opportunity to use social media for education has arisen. Teachers are creating discussions around class topics using twitter or facebook.
This is an opportunity to engage students and provide a variety of tools for students to use and to communicate about their learning. The number of primary school students who are now on Facebook is increasing.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Scenario Planning: Decision Making Simulation

The purpose of this blog post is to share from the perspective of decision-maker, my reflections on the  Learning in 2025 scenario from Knowledge Works.  

While I am studying full-time this year, I have selected the same context as my personal research context, to give this scenario review a greater sense of authenticity for my understanding of scenario planning to develop as well as the readers of this post.

My Decision Making Context:
I am reviewing this scenario through the lens of a classroom teacher of a Year 6-8 class in a 4 teacher school, situated at Tasman Bay, 10 minutes from Motueka, Nelson. The school is characterised by: low class numbers, supportive principal, staff who are open to using technology, good data allowance, good connection strength and speed, a 1:1 laptop ratio, an i-pad for each classroom, members of a local cluster specifically devoted to professional development in technology, participating in national conferences, a Board of Trustees member who has a degree of knowledge and skill to offer practical and technical support, a teacher aide/secretary who also can offer some technical support, and a local computer company who services the equipment. 

Overview of the Scenario: 
The scenario I have chosen to make decisions from is the Learning in 2025 published by Knowledge Works. The two uncertainties are as follows. The first is whether the future will be an abundance or scarcity of resources. The second is whether learning will be a collaborative, student led, community focused approach or a directed, standardised, regulated approach. 
While a scenario has been selected, I am hesitant to choose which of the four futures I believe most likely. 
The abundant, collaborative approach, titled "A Vibrant Learning Grid" is the scenario I will be making decisions from. The complete scenario can be found by clicking on this link. There is an abundance of resources. Innovation and entrepreneurial thinking are the norm. There are strong networks between communities, families, economies, businesses with good communication and therefore learning is open, transparent, and collaborative. Students are proactive, entrepreneurial, supportive, global learners. Learning pathways have become individualised or personalised with assistance coming from education advisors. Learning agents, including assessment designers, have replaced the traditional teacher role. The traditional physical schools have also been replaced, however some remain with the purpose of managing and maintaining access. For those who have the right conditions, the lack of boundaries or restrictions allow for a more co-operative based education.

List of Decisions:
As a classroom teacher I would:

  • Develop the required skills when working in groups.
  • Provide greater opportunities for collaborative and co-operative learning.
  • Invite E4E (Education for Enterprise) into the classroom and begin innovative thinking.
  • Develop problem-solving skills and encourage flexibility and new ideas.
  • Provide authentic contexts as much as possible.
  • Generate connections with other students through technological methods around New Zealand and beyond.
  • Develop independence and self-regulated learning.
  • Allow a greater range of freedom in decisions on what students want to learn
  • Encourage students' to have a greater level of involvement in their learning, assessment results and next step learning.

Two Decisions:
The two decisions that I would choose to implement into my classroom in preparation for the scenario would be to provide greater opportunities for collaborative and co-operative learning, and to encourage students' to have a greater level of involvement in their learning, assessement results and next step learning.
As the boundaries of the new school have expanded to now include businesses, communities, families, etc the level of skill in communication, negotiation, persuasion, leadership, being a team-player, social interactions, and such would need to be much higher than present. The supportive nature of the peer-communities will require students who know how to work in a team, sharing ideas, knowing how to be a leader and a follower would be also be important. Providing guidance and a greater number of opportunities for co-operative and collaborative learning will assist in students being capable of participating well in these situations.
Students having a greater level of involvement in their learning will assist in preparing them to be proactive learners. Students who can set learning goals and are aware of their assessment results can be very motivated. Student-led conferences are a visual demonstration of this approach being successful. Students are the ones who lead the parent-teacher conference, to the point where the teacher is practically redundant. Students inform their parents what they are learning and why, they can discuss their results, and share their next steps. The Assessment to Learn or AtoL contract was a vehicle that led schools in this approach.  

I think that the decisions I suggested would be useful in the other scenarios put forth. The degree of importance may differ.  There may have been other decisions that might have fit another scenario better but I believe the above teaching approaches to be valuable in mostly any scenario. Considering multiple possible potential futures, preparing our students as best we can with transferable skills is the best answer.

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Scenario Planning can be Beneficial

Scenario Planning can be Beneficial

Scenario Planning allows participants to use forward thinking, creativity, creative and critical thinking and the opportunity to look at the context, whether business, country or service, through another lens. Taking time to step back from the day to day business, specific tasks and targets, to widen our view to include potential changes, whether intellectual, natural, social, political, economic, cultural or technological, and to then create scenarios which will assist us in preparing for the effects of possible potential futures, is beneficial and possibly crucial to the future of the context.

The process while seemingly simple would require people with a variety of skills, attitudes and experiences to develop a scenario plan. Viewing the wider world and coming up with a situation that would impact your context, may require firstly, people with certain knowledge, for example, current global trends, and secondly, creative people who can look at the trends and create a potential future scenario. Finally you may require people with more systematic thinking to prepare for the effects of these possible events. In large businesses, having a variety of people may make this process easy, however smaller groups may struggle to come up with as comprehensive a scenario plan.    

Usefulness in My Context:
As this unit progresses I am sure I will have a better understanding of how scenario planning could be useful in the life of a primary school teacher. At this time, I still see scenario planning as a big picture concept. I have seen the value of it when used by large companies. I could see curriculum development groups from the Ministry of Education using it. However I’m a little unsure as to when it would be used by teachers, staff or Board of Trustees. Perhaps the writing of the school charter could provide the opportunity for scenario planning.

For this online workshop I would like to learn anything that is applicable to primary schools so I can positively contribute to my next teaching situation.

Scenario Planning Can't Predict the Future, So What's the Point?

Scenarios can’t predict the future, so what’s the point?
The point is the preparation. The preparation we undertake in case of natural disasters can change the quality of our lives if an event should happen. The plans made, and the resources stockpiled, with different contingencies in mind demonstrate the importance of preparation. And while the illustration does not technically relate to scenario planning, it does highlight the importance of preparation. Scenario planning allows us to plan or prepare for the effects of potential futures. As demonstrated by the Shell company, scenario planning enabled plans and preparations for a possible future, that were extremely valuable.  Scenario planning can provide the opportunity to allow for carefully thought out decisions or action plans for potential events, with considerations for all factors. When faced with an unexpected situation, there is added pressure and stress is increased. Decisions made under these conditions are what I consider reactive decisions, and are not always the best decisions. The Shell company didn’t just get through a difficult situation, they grew and increased their business. While others may have been scrambling around, they already had a plan, and could continue to work with confidence and efficiency. The preparation they undertook was extremely worthwhile and had a significant impact on their company.

(Funnily enough when writing the above the ground started shaking!)

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Introduction for Micro Open Online Course

Hi my name is Donna-Marie.

I am studying full time for a post-graduate diploma in education - e-learning. I have moved to Wellington this year, after my school closed down in Marlborough. I have been a primary teacher for eight years. The first four years were spent teaching at a newly merged school on the West Coast of the South Island. I taught middle to upper primary. I then moved to Blenheim and taught in the junior room at a two-teacher country school outside of Picton. 

I think this blog can be a great way to keep a record of ideas, learning and experiences gained through this course as well as giving the option for discussion or receiving comments or questions.

Looking at the future of education and looking at how we can prepare for that is exciting, and I will be looking for practical applications for my teaching.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Arena of Change relating to my research context.

Implementing Voice Thread into a writing programme
I have created a mind map to show the ecosystem and the links to my research context. The yellow box is the research context: Implementing Voice Thread into writing. The blue box is bureaucratic relationships or pressures. The green boxes are the professional relationships or influences. The orange boxes are the commercial relationships. The blue boxes are the political pressures or influences.

From Nicki Davis' Arena of Change, I have identified relationships between my research context and the current pressures, influences from the wider ecosystem. The commercial area benefits from the implementation of Web 2.0 tools in education. The sales of equipment for the school generates income for the IT companies, as well as the servicing of those items. The data required to use the software generates income for the telecommunications companies, along with the implementation of fibre-optic technologies to upgrade services.
The professional aspect of the arena is influenced by research which is demonstrating the value of implementing Web 2.0 tools in writing. Another other influence coming from the professional aspect is the Teachers Council Registered Teacher Criteria. As teachers, we abide by those professional guidelines and standards. It is our duty to keep up to date with current best practice, to do our best to engage the students, and to increase their knowledge and skills. More IT-proficient inclined teachers have shared their experiences, ideas and provided support to their colleagues through the blog medium.
Another aspect which has some influence on our teaching is politics. T he current government have instigated National Standards, and are publishing the results of student achievement publicly.
The bureaucratic relationship with the context I've chosen is possibly the largest influence. The school sets out it's vision, it's policies, it's targets, and it's programmes of work based on the curriculum, the needs of the students and the community's input. The teacher aims to achieve those goals, and follow the procedures set out. On a national level, the Ministry of Education relates to the teacher by it's curriculum, not only the achievement levels but also the values and opinions underpinning the new curriculum. The ministry offers action plans to increase the use and effectiveness of e-learning. The ministry offers initiatives, like the professional development programmes offered to schools in the area of e-learning.
As Davis (2008) points out while teachers are leaders of educational renewal, the interactions and agendas on a local, national and international scale all have an impact on the teacher, and the process of educational renewal.

Davis, N. (2008). How may teacher learning be promoted for educational renewal with IT? In J.Voogt and G. Knezek (Eds.), International Handbook of Information Technology in Primary and Secondary Education, (pp. 507-520). New York: Springer

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Annotated Bibliography Book Chapter 1

Davis, N. (2008). How may teacher learning be promoted for educational renewal with IT? In J.Voogt and G. Knezek (Eds.), International Handbook of Information Technology in Primary and Secondary Education, (pp. 507-520). New York: Springer

This chapter first discusses, at a global level, the different approaches and agendas of groups internationally. Some for the good of education; non-profit initiatives, partnerships and organisations, and some for the profit they will make, with one study finding that use of IT in the classroom resulted in an 70% increase in ownership of home computers. While these groups influence the adoption of IT in education, it is the teachers who are the leaders of the educational evolution. The chapter discusses research that identifies circumstances, supports, models, hindrances and so on,  in the adoption of IT in education. The stages of change, based on maturity modelling, are not always reached, with stagnation and even some reversal identified in different circumstances. Influential factors like the attributes of innovations are discussed and conditions essential for IT integration are listed. These attributes and conditions demonstrate what is needed for teachers to successfully implement changes in the adoption of IT in the classroom. Educational renewal when supported by simultaneous and corresponding development of pre-service teacher education and pre-existing teachers and their pedagogy could move at a much greater pace, and therefore have a far greater effect.
This source is considered reliable. This chapter provided valuable information regarding the circumstances and criteria for effective adoption of technology tools in the classroom, as well as evolution of pedagogy and policies.