Category Archives: lwf12

Pouring creativity

At LWF12 one of the speakers was Mitchel Resnick.

Mitchel Resnick’s Lifelong Kindergarten research group developed the ideas and technologies underlying the LEGO Mindstorms robotic kits and the Scratch programming software used by millions of young people around the world. With these technologies, young people learn to design, create, experiment, and invent with new technologies, not merely browse, chat, and interact. Mitch’s ideas and work are now at the centre of the debate about the curriculum for ICT in schools. Should children simply learn to use standard applications and games, or should they also have the opportunity to become creators?

Mitchel Resnick made the interesting observation that rather than trying to make Kindergarten (early years) more like school and college, we should be trying to make school and college more like early years.

What he seemed to mean by this was that in early years children learn by thinking, invention and creativity. Whereas when they get older we think of them more as vessels that we pour content into.

Of course there are lots of teachers out there who do use thinking, invention and creativity. Likewise there are lots of teachers out there that fall back on worksheets and talking at the learners; pouring content into them.

The key question and I am not sure how we can answer this, is what proportion of each kind are there? Are they that distinct, or can a teacher be creative one day and fall back on passive transference on the next. I am pretty sure most people enter the teaching profession because they want to be help young people and to support learning and not pour content into learners.

I agree with Mitchel that technology offers a range of opportunities and possibilities to enable learners to be creative. The key question is how do teachers who weren’t at the conference find out about the possibilities of invention and creativity? How do they “change”?

Why are some teachers already using these strategies and why are some not? It can’t just be about time, staff development and resources. How can some teachers be innovative and some not?

Why aren’t teachers using these strategies in the classroom already? What are the barriers that are stopping teachers? Are they real barriers or just perceptions? How do we overcome these barriers? How do we identify the barriers? How do we ensure that we identify the real barriers to change and not just those that we assume to be the barriers?

Change is challenging, partly as people don’t like to change. Change also implies we know where we are and where we need to go.

Playing Games

I enjoyed many of the presentations at Learning without Frontiers 2012, this one by Dr Paul Howard-Jones on Neuroscience, Games & Learning certainly made me think and reflect.

Dr Paul Howard-Jones, a leading expert on the role of neuroscience in educational practice and policy with a particular interest in how gaming engages the brain and the application of this knowledge in education. Paul discusses the findings of his recent research that reviews the potential effects of video games and social media on the brain.

Paul’s research does seem to indicate that video games and social media does change the way the brain works, in the same way that everything we do changes the brain. Playing games changes the brain, reading a book changes the brain.

What still needs further work, is are these changes good or bad?

Venue Issues

So far I am finding the new venue for Learning without Frontiers both innovating and frustrating.

I really do like the inflated domes, they look great and a clever way of using space without needing to walk lots of different rooms. Nice and futuristic.

Nice that Ray Kurzweil is here in person #lwf12The theatre is okay, apart that there are too many chairs, so it makes it difficult to get a seat even though there are lots of spare chairs, as the delegates are sitting on the ends, and it isn’t easy to move pass them to the empty chairs. As a result a lot of people are standing up! Having said that even at the back, I can see the speaker and if they are using them, their slides on the three big screens. No live Twitter stream though?

The biggest frustration for me though is that downstairs from the conference is the Learning Technologies exhibition and as it is not closed off, the noise from the crowds downstairs is making it hard to hear the speakers. In the background there is this crowd noise that as the day progresses is only getting louder!

Of course the venue is only part of the deal and the content of the conference is what counts.

VLE is Dead is alive and kicking

Two and half a years ago at ALT-C 2009 we had an excellent debate on the role of the VLE in further and higher education.

The video of that debate is still very popular.

iOS Version

Today at LWF 12 there is another debate entitled the VLE is Dead, though I am not taking part I suspect we may re-hash the same arguments that we discussed back in 2009.

The thing is, since that time, there have been lots of discussions about the VLE and its role in formal education, however rather than been dismissed and forgotten, the use of the VLE as a tool to enhance and enrich learning has increased.

My view is we need to discuss less about how to kill the VLE, but work with practitioners and staff to use it more effectively.

Teachers use the VLE badly, as they do with most technologies, in the main as they don’t know how to use it effectively enable students to learn. Staff development is important to get teachers to get the most out of tools like the VLE, but also give them a better understanding how people learn.

VLE is Dead is today at 1.15 in Salon Foucault at LWF 12.

Further reading

“VLEs are crap”

Don’t kill off the VLE…

It’s not dead… yet…

The Final Frontier

Over the next two days I am attending the Learning without Frontiers conference and festival at Olympia in London. I always enjoy, get inspired and made to think when I attend the conference and I have similar expectations this time.

There are a range of speakers, workshops and events which cover the whole spectrum of education: primary, secondary, further and higher education.

There is a full and varied programme and I am speaking as part of a panel session at 5pm, How can mobile technologies and the mobile industry support education?

Which mobile technologies are making the most impact in education?
What are the current trends in mobile learning and what is on the horizon?
What services can mobile operators bring to education

Wednesday January 25, 2012 5:00pm – 5:45pm @ GSMA Experience Dome (ED4)

As is usual, there are many different speakers from a variety of backgrounds, all with stuff to say, sometimes inspiring, sometimes controversial and sometimes just plain wrong.

I am also expecting to meet old friends, meet new ones and find out what others in my field have been up to.

So if you’re going come and say hello.