About this blog

Students can feel constrained by ways of communicating and learning that seem opaque and fixed because they are permeated with norms never made explicit, knowledge they do not share, or the language of others.

Janette Ryan and Rosemary Viete
Respectful interactions: learning with international students in the English-speaking academy.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Using iBooks Author, crediting images, making great resources.

Here's a video I made about the iBook I've created for my students for studying Macbeth in 2012. I'll let you know how they enjoy / hate it. I'm hoping they like it, and I'm hoping to make more, but I also aim to also enable some further means for students to interact with the ideas and content we cover in the course. I used the iPad app Disp Recorder to record the screen of my iPad, and record the voice over. There was only a glitch when the keyboard came up to show how to take notes, but otherwise, I'm happy with the quality.

It was a simple process to export the video to my picture roll, upload to my Vimeo App, and from there upload to Vimeo. In the morning it was available, and I'm embedding it in the blog from my iPad. So many content creation possibilities now with iPads, limited mostly only by our imaginations.

Macbeth iBook Tour from Jennifer Mitchell on Vimeo.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Maintaining the Demand to Reflect on our Teaching Assumptions

Yesterday, our college had a second Staff Conference - the first time we have had two years in a row with the opportunity for a whole of college day of professional development and conversation.

Last year I presented at the conference, and brought up issues about Western-centric ways of thinking which I felt were problematic - for my own teaching practice rather than for anyone else. I really challenged myself, standing up in front of people who didn't know me well to confront them about reflecting on their practices. I wrote about it in an earlier post last year.

This year's conference was personally challenging for different reasons, but I enjoyed the fact that more of my colleagues had taken up the opportunity to share their thinking, and challenge the rest of us to consider things which we might not yet be considering, but probably should. One thing which still surprises me, but I guess shouldn't surprise me, are the attitudes I heard from some other colleagues about those who stood up to challenge their peers to be more aware of their assumptions, and to be open to reflection. Some of these attitude are defensive, and indignant, and not one's I particularly admire.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Which innovations should we adopt? Comments on the role of a MOOC

This morning I read a few blog posts from the MOOC daily newsletter, one of which was from Sue Hellman, Small Changes; BIG RETURNS

Sue made some interesting observations about applying technology with a one-size- fits- all approach, namely, that it doesn't work. I agree. But I didn't quite agree that new technology and pedagogy ideas are necessarily presented as 'cure all' - but that is often how people who haven't (yet) spent a lot of time researching and exploring an idea come to perceive it from others who are more enthusiastic, and who have found the benefits they wanted. The new explorers begin to feel as though this is the 'new thing' they need to do, and catch up with, or be left behind. 

But those who feel overwhelmed often times forget that pens and overhead projectors and computers were once 'new innovative technologies' - but now they are ubiquitous tools in the repertoire. Here's a small part of what Sue said, among much interesting and valuable reflection, on changing pedagogy: 

"It's not that the innovation was a bad one. It's that giving it the tag of 'cure-all', mass producing it, and professionally developing everyone in its how to go about it (sort of), means the original vision becomes so diluted, the very thing that made it innovative in the first place is lost. It's no longer a creative response but has morphed into an expected norm." 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Reflecting on the MOOC #change11

I've taken on a gamble, signing up to take part in MOOC #change11 to get informed about education technology, blended online learning, sharing, connecting and other things. I'm still not sure what it's all about, but it seems to be - as far as I've managed to work out - an online virtual world of sharing ideas, resources, experiences and opportunities to change education. I'm adding a page to this Blog to isolate my reflections, so look at my MOOC Reflection Page to see my additional reflections on the MOOC experience.

A Massive Open Online Course running over several months, with participants encouraged to plot a pathway through the enticing streams of thought and information, dipping in now and then, or taking a regular plunge into materials provided online by educators from all around the world. Sharing and reflecting on the content, and engaging with fellow MOOC participants, is the substance of the distributed materials thus far.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Teaching Teachers iPad EdTech - Weaving a multi-stranded base of support.

For the past eight months I have been teaching both young students in a Literature course for International students, and conducting regular Professional Development training sessions on new educational technology for teachers. If had I imagined I would be able to easily transfer my teaching skills across the divide between teaching young people and teaching teachers, I would have been seriously mistaken. Fortunately, as I began my second training role I was completing a Graduate Certificate in Tertiary Teaching, the focus of which is teaching adult learners in tertiary settings. I had already come to the realization that some of the philosophy underlying adult education theories, such as the belief that adult learners are both intrinsically and extrinsically motivated to learn for 'higher reasons,' concerned with their professional identities and personal development, could not necessarily be taken for granted. Teaching already established teachers new things is a deeply challenging task; one which needs careful and nuanced planning and delivery.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Why the iPad is a great constructivist tool for education. A case study in Literature.

My most visited post ever was from March 2011, when I wrote about Teaching with iPads - beyond the shiny surface. I think I gave a good run down of some of the features which make it a useful creation tool for teachers and students, but I think I diverged somewhat from my major interest in this blog, social constructivism. So here I am endeavoring to bring these two interests together in considering why, and how, the iPad can contribute to a pedagogy based on the principles of social constructivism. Of course, I am not claiming one 'needs' an iPad to achieve this - that would be silly.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Literary Aesthetics and the e-reader. Not an Irony.

I am someone who loves real books a great deal. I collect works of some key modern writers, and covet hard to find and expensive to buy hard backs. I've gathered all seven first editions of Anaïs Nin's Diary, published by Swallow. I also have a second edition of Nin's collection of short stories, Under a Glass Bell, which she most likely personally printed on a hand press in New York in 1944. My most cherished book is a first edition of Elizabeth Smart's By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept, published in a small print run by Poetry Editions in 1945. I found an online photograph of the original cover, printed it to size, and made a dust jacket for it. There is nothing I would accept to part with it.

Fortunately, I can keep my first editions in their very good dust jackets with their sunned spines and their slightly foxed pages, and the scent of old book which will linger upon them for as long as they stay in solid form. There is no need for me to give them up, even with the advent of digital readers. I know!! It's a surprise that people are still actually able to make their own choices about how they read, and what kinds of books they buy, despite the proliferation of worried commentaries about the death of the book.