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'If students can't learn the way we teach, we must teach the way they learn' (Ignacio Estrada, via Tomlinson)

Knowledge Bank Online Conference Session 1

Posted by Lisa Hill on July 23, 2008

Last night when I got home from work I viewed today’s sessions from the Knowledge Bank Online Conference through Elluminate.  The first sessions was a really inspiring presentation from two wonderful teachers, Anne Mirtschin and Jess McCulloch from Hawkesdale P-12 College.  They have 10 minutes tech spot sessions at staff meetings, but I really liked their idea of WIWOW Walk in walk out Wednesdays…a little bit like what we have been doing at MPPS but more ongoing, and open to everyone.   Anne and Jess make themselves available after school on Wednesdays for buddying and trouble-shooting for learning Web 2.0 with other teachers, and now 70% of their teachers blog, and comment on student blogs, which is an amazing achievement.   Their maths and science faculties have their own wikis, and the LOTE department even has pages with pronunciation guides for students to practise at home with.  They started off with and with some social networking – which was immediately appealing as it has been with us at MPPS.

One of the presenters said that Web 2 isn’t a thing, it’s a state of mind, and I think that’s true – which is both exciting and problematic, because some people are not very willing to embrace it.  Jess and Anne used Teacher Professional Leave to get the project started at their school, and that enabled them to provide a lot of support.

These are some of the links I noted from their presentation:

They also talked about growing your own personal learning networks eg through Twitter and Classroom 2.0 – but I’m still not sure about this because a network that’s too large becomes too time-consuming.  I’d rather have quality networks that really relate to my practice.

Some of the applications they use are unfamiliar to me so I’m going to have to find out more about them: 

  • MS Photostory for storytelling
  • Skype used for internal communication just for fun
  • Irfanview and digital photo manipulation

Students drive the blogs most of the time, and this is partly because teachers do respond to the blogs.  Assessment was raised as a topic, and Jess and Anne find it helpful that these  blogs are accessible at home.  They feel they’re getting to know the students better, and there are better learning outcomes because it shows students the teachers are interested in them, and the improvements in their writing.  In LOTE using 2.0 also allows for different learning styles, and allows the quieter student to participate. They like the visibility of thinking of the other kids – and think it’s challenging without pressure.  However,  they haven’t developed a rubric for marking blogs – and are not sure that they are necessary.  (I’m not so sure about that.)  The best thing is that it frees up class time for teaching – it’s non synchronous. There’s been a massive increase in asking questions because students aren’t embarrassed to do that online.  

I wonder a bit about the time commitment too… I’m enjoying playing around with 2.0 at home, but what if the enthusiasm of keen innovators becomes the expected norm?  How much of our evenings is going to be spent this way, or is there  going to be a time allowance to deal with it as the use of 2.0 grows?

I didn’t find the presentation about Meeting the Motherfish so interesting.  It was very much about the excitement of discovering new developments in paleontology, and not very much about 2.0. 



4 Responses to “Knowledge Bank Online Conference Session 1”

  1. murcha said

    Thank you Lisa for featuring our session. We still cant believe that we have got staff on board so quickly but we did have to take baby steps. One of our most reluctant staff (who could see no need for any of this in his classes (PE)) came to WIWOW last night and commenced a blog. Another science member came in and worked indpendently on another wiki that we did not even know she had set up.
    Topics range from using emails, powerpoint, photos to blogging and wikis. Sometimes we have four teachers and sometimes 8. As their confidence grows, that time is set aside for just adding to their blogs or other material that often gets left on the shelf.

  2. Lisa Hill said

    Well, we’re just developing our School Strategic Plan featuring Web 2.0 as part of our student engagement and connectedness goal, and so I am very interested in the mechanics of getting staff on board. I can see that the teacher professional leave was a crucial factor, but I can’t see that happening at our place. I can just imagine the state my library would be in if I took leave!
    I like the idea of getting started with social networking and and can see how that would be engaging for teachers, but also wikis in a primary context because so often what’s on the web is beyond the reading ability of primary kids…

  3. I have to say, Lisa, that the time commitment is a concern of mine too. Already I spend most of my evenings keeping up with blog and RSS reading, as well as writing, and I’m sure your evenings are full too. Then there’s reading and finishing off stuff I didn’t get done at school because of the demands of the school library. I’m sure you have the same. How would we fit anything else in? And I’m so taken up with it, that I wouldn’t be able to stop myself once I’d started. I think teachers are concerned that blog writing would mean more after-school time than usual. Maybe others can tell me otherwise.

  4. Lisa Hill said

    Well, the time I spend at home messing around with my blog is done entirely from choice at the moment. Nobody at work expects me to, and it’s not part of my job description. I’m not even sure that anyone at work even looks at my blog, though I know (because my blog stats tell me so) that quite a few people read it. I do wish they’d comment sometimes as you have because it is an affirmation that keeps me motivated.
    However, messing around with my own blog and those of others is one thing – maintaining a student blog is a different matter altogether. My emerging plan is to use Web 2.0 applications for assessment tasks, so reading & marking student blogs or wikis will be a substitute for reading & marking other kinds of assessments. I’m a big fan of Neville Johnston whose advice is, never to add something to your workload unless you take something away. (I love the reaction I get when I’m reviewing staff and they undertake to take on some project or responsibility – and I say, great, now what are you going to jettison in place of it? I suspect that they don’t get this advice very often!)
    However in the long term, either we will have to change the way we teach so radically that everything will be up for grabs, or our employers will have to provide us with time allowances to enable us to manage it all.

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