Monday, September 29, 2008

$98 Linux Laptop from China - The HiVision MiniNote

When you see this I think it confirms where learning is going and where schools in the UK need to go.

Those who run IT in schools need to concentrate on running robust wireless and hardwired networks with a focus on use-ability rather than blocking things. I liked what I have heard about Westlothian allowing learners to hook up their own devices to schools wireless networks.

We also need to look at different approaches to assessment for schools. It really is happening already in College and in the workplace. This before any of this technology arrived so sensible changes in assessment methodology don't have to be assessment driven. But think what a leap forward we could make if we did make best use of this.

It is all in the pipeline. It will take some courage all round for us to get here. The biggest threat to these changes at moment is not I believe from the educational establishment , nor from learners or politicians but weirdly from the media -why are they so conservative. ( with wee c)

Here is a report from Australia on an experiment. Thanks Andy Black at Becta for spotting this. Your Black Hole is still blocked at SQA ;-) Though I have to say it is now about only thing that ever gets blocked.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Key note Scottish Learning Festival

Fiona Hyslop - Cabinet Secretary

7,000 attendees best year yet for SLF
1400 at Fiona's talk
Economic success and getting all young people to share prosperity is broad target
Set out in 15 national outcomes - interdependent and many relate to education

We host delegations from all around world- Our system is famous
OECD review has increased Scottish Educational standing
But problems in upper secondary and that children from poorer families are not succeeding in our system - who you are should not be holding you back.

Curriculum for Excellence is our response - from pre-school to life beyond school
Schools and school staff to take more responsibility for change of curriculum.
Importance of collaboration and leadership at all levels
Association of Director of Education have bought into this.

We no longer want less compliant self direction we want less central direction and to put more trust in our teaching profession
Building curriculum 3 framework for learning and development creates framework for this
The frameworks for assessment on their way.
Qualifications system and consultation on next generation of awards is ongoing currently plea to engage with this.

GLOW - building up head of steam in Scotland and tributes coming in from international community - George Lucas wants US Congress to do the same.
Lots of examples of how Glow is being used up and down schools and studies coming through showing it had impact on learning.
Says pupils switch from Bebo t0 Glow - ( thought this was blocked most shcools )

Best thing about Scottish education the debate . Highly ambitious reform programme and we all need to work together to make it work - once in a life time opportunity- important for future success of Scotland. Only together can we do this

Professor Richard Tease

Shame he was not asked to look at link between school and vocational education
How we move from straight jacket of success – professional sharing opening a door of opportunity to create a living culture of learning .

Within schools and communities between learners , teachers and learners , teacher to teacher, with parents , employers , FE , Universities etc

What are relationships we want to build through curriculum – bonds of learning
How we engage learners more fully or lift expectations of staff – how do we engage parents especially in deprived communities.

For teachers fear resides in isolation need to get them interacting with other schools and teachers.

Curriculum needs to be seen as culture not law – continuous variation and adaptation will move things forward.

Isolation of learner and teachers in some weak schools – all scared of revealing ignorance – we need to lift horizons and expectations – schools and teachers need to take risks to break out of this.

We need to share this risk if we want system to break out from here – will take courage at many levels, LAs , NDPBS, Gov

Great speech

Questions -
QNeil Winton - well done - who helps teachers access basic internet sites.

Q Mismatch in teacher ed training - timing the retirements are coming through we are out of synch have set up teacher employment working group - money is in at the top.
Good point from floor and was an issue 20 years ago when I started - there are number of folk in classrooms who just don't want to be there anymore .. surley not

Q Teacher wants conference shifted to weekend - so real teachers can come along. good point

Q What are issues arounf testing in Scotland.
Richard Tease testing helps understand where children stand but we don't use it to judge schools or shame teachers - should be diagnostic - how long do we wait to intervene when we know children in particular groups need help -how do schools self assess themselves how to teachers self evaluate to make sure we know when extra help is needed.
Fiona - will ask local authorities re-look at step down

Q Teacher - can we scrap league tables - expressed in Higher and standard grade passes
( aside yes in fact government did three or more years ago this is a scourge and damaging to system and is no longer in our system but local authorities are still beating up schools like this ?? ) -
Fiona - We need to change what employers ,colleges and universities expect and at LA level should be about 4 capacities not about exam passes and should be about SCQF and not just formal qualifictions- yes
( aside it's almost all there but schools are not encouraged to pick up centre assessed units and programmes - Do employers know about 4 capacities ? )

Q How can we ensure class reductions and reduce teacher burn out.
Richard Tease - need to talk beyond schools and classroom too many teachers struggle to find ways to go forward ways to reflect to lift their game - ways to exchange experiences with schools in similar and different situations -( looks like great opportunity for GLOW )
Fiona - teacher numbers are coming into system - but some local challenges in Glasgow and Aberdeen - at least you have government that are driving these changes and there has been progress so far
Q How can we ensure 35hour annual CPD in local authorities is relevant to national agenda.
Fiona - have been in discussion with Directors of Education on this - collegiate nature of curriclum for excellence will drive changes and break down isolation.

Missed a couple but great session and long too

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Scottish Learning Festival 2008

Thumbnail image of cover of Conference guide 2008

There are a few main gatherings I have in my diary every year. What was SETT and is now the Scottish Learning Festival is one of them . It is the first time since 2000 that I am not organising a session of some kind at this or it's predecessor events. I can't even remember what they were called in 90's and late 80's when they ran at the old Scottish Council for Educational Technology Centre.

I had cleared two days to get around lots of stands and catch up with colleagues as well see some of the key notes.

I had scheduled - Cabinet Secretary and Ollie Bray for tomorrow
and Kari Smith, Charlie Leadbetter and Gill Robinson sessions for Thursday

Then reality hits I now need to be back in the office to interview some staff on Wednesday afternoon and Thursday is senior management team which has been moved to Dalkeith. I get a morning to see around.

Catch me if you want my briefs forOllie's session on Wednesday or my Thursday sessions.

At least I can still get along to Teachmeet tomorrow evening - sorry to be missing dinner with this gang - but I have business dinner and meeting later.
I am lucky in that I am no longer tied to an institution and a timetable - it's great to see more and more tools are being used to share all the good stuff that goes on at SLF.

I now look forward to seeing some of the webcasts of what I have missed at a later date - but please remember most teachers won't be there tomorrow or Thursday and we need them all to come with us if we are really going to change how we do things...

Monday, September 22, 2008

Journalism and Education

Read this - then read it again and again..
At the SQA we are of course totally "crazy" and we thrive on getting "black marks" this is entirely due to all of the highly experienced subject specialists we employ.

but please look at end of article.
An SQA spokesman said: "It would be entirely untrue to say that Edwin Morgan is being ignored, banned or dropped from Advanced Higher English.

"Students at Advanced Higher level have a completely free choice of authors and texts for the specialist study element of the course which counts for almost half of the marks. If candidates wish to study the works of Edwin Morgan – and many do – then they can. Edwin Morgan could well be restored when next the list is refreshed."
Must have been a quiet news day - and just think about the fuss any time we make anything compulsory..

It's just like crawling across hot coals with folk who should know better standing on you. There is a debate perhaps to be had around the whole literature , language , communications area - but what is the hope for debate in face of reportage like this.

Still better in the news than out eh ;-) and thanks to colleague on ScotEduBlogs for Editable Einstein.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Ben Walker - You're No One If You're Not On Twitter

Lyric amused me

Picked up from Jane Knight

But scarier there are even more songs on YouTube about Twitter mmmm ?

Titter ye not - what happened to songs about.. well other stuff..

Blackholes and Beer Bottles

Heard the news today and remembered a friend who was working on this 10 years or more ago and who is sadly no longer around - and then spotted why physics experiments go wrong. On BBC website

While working on the LHC's predecessor, a machine called the Large-Electron
Positron Collider, engineers found two beer bottles wedged into the beam pipe -
a deliberate, one-off act of sabotage. The culprits - who were drinking a
particular brand that advertising once claimed would "refresh the parts other
beers cannot reach" - were never found.

That's the way the world ends not with bang but a Carlsberg .. more seriously
look at the amount of team work and cooperation that has gone into this .. now if only we could get people to work more cooperatively what other problems could we solve.

aye I know it's Heineken but it doesn't scan as well and at any rate if they did do Big Bangs it would possibly be the Biggest Bang ..

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Next Generation of National Qualifications

Teachers the future shape of qualifications is in your hands .. I posted earlier on this when the consultation started - it is critical that teachers engage with consultation.. the system is yours to shape .. you can actively participate or passively .. well choice is yours and when consensus emerges we'll make them - get involved.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

ALT-C 2008: Rethinking the digital divide

ALT-C 2008: Rethinking the digital divide

Leeds, UK, 9-11 September 2008

I am missing ALT-C this week - but will follow what I can through twitter and bloglines. I enjoyed spell on the executive and still follow many friends from this time. I spotted this piece on the digital divide - some of the creativity across UK elearning is fantastic - (hit more button) and watch the section on eportfolios ( in Wales every one has one already ) I think this is a neat explanation for school pupils. Amused too that it looks like they are having an ALT equivalent of Teachmeet F.ALT.
(hosted on a wetpaint platform, it and Ning are really cool and easy to use at moment)

There has been some consistantly great and useable stuff coming from Pontydysgu the Welsh Educational Research Institute.

Reminds me too that there is still too much of a digital divide among those who work in Education and Life Long Learning. If you are interested in the broader UK community and interested in learning technology across the learning arena then ALT is worth joining.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Chrome New Google Browser

Now sitting with five or six ( safari arrives every time i-tunes updates)  different browsers on my desk-top. To date I have liked Firefox best of all  and was really disappointed we could not stick in on my SQA laptop -"as  it does not have an enterprise edition"  so I can't get it for all my staff - runs well from a datastick though ;-) 

I am sure I recall a joke that contained a punchline about the talent to  lick the chrome off a bumper.  Don't know if I'll change but have liked playing around with this. Like how I can attach and unattach window tabs - it has class and very quick too - but not licked firefox.

For many it's not about all these new tools. It is really just about showing them how to use the ones we have productively.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

The World of Chemistry

This cheered me up and more seriously something for learners of all ages

Digital Media Academy

What if I said Scottish schools and Colleges could do something like this right now ?

Digital Media Academy Summer Computer Camps & Creative Training

and learners would get credit towards a range of national awards as well as picking up appropriate vendor certification if they wanted it.

What do we need to do to get things moving .. marketing as slick as this.. ?? - tours of Stanford University.. more razzamatazz ?

This post from futurelab made me depressed - we have thought this all the way through to here and passed this point in Scotland but it has been slow to move out into Colleges and Schools
Congratulations to Islay Academy and our DIVA lead centres they are in vangard on this. Now if only like the weather this good practice would blow across rest of Scotland.

You could do it open source if the vendor bit does not appeal to your sensibilities and that's the bit that's been holding you back ;-)

Bobby and the Computing Posse are waiting to hear from you .

Monday, September 01, 2008

Like-A -Bike


Sometimes simple ideas really work. My two year old goes out into garden puts on his bicycle helmet and races around the garden freewheeling and in control while my five year old who learned with stabilisers has just found her balance and can't keep up.
This is a great product - but there is a valuable lesson - learners don't need stabilisers ;-)