Sugata Mitra – how to make learning child driven

Hi to all, I haven’t posted for some time… not because I have gotten lazy 🙂 … but because I wanted to give you some time to catch up with a number of previous posts, and maybe have some more time to reflect.

I know that a number of you, if not all, are going through the exam fever these days. I do believe that assessment is one very important discussion point to raise. The video which I have posted here, goes to show where I would like to take my discussion towards. There are various ways of assessing learners… but how do you really assess learning? Ask yourselves… just because you will pass your exam, will this mean that you have learnt? Maybe it might mean that you have very good recall abilities. But will it really mean that you have achieved the objectives set?

And in comes this video… I found Sugata Mitra some time ago – through Twitter of course 🙂 and I realised what an incredible man he is- really – I mean he’s funny, and insightful, and possesses some great ideas and he’s been doing some really great work… two things which he said when he quoted Arthur C. Clark who he went to visit during one of his experiments and which have, amongst others, struck me, were: “A teacher who can be replaced by a machine…should be” and “If children have interest, then Education happens” – a very good quote from Arthur C. Clark, I would say.

So anyway what were these experiments all about? They were about letting children learn by themselves… but truly… no interference from anyone… and the results were amazing… I invite you to really listen to this talk because this might not only give you more ideas about the way you can do your teaching, but also how to best use the tools you have to drive your learners to have interest – and thus to learn. I also invite you to listen to this talk because if you don’t, then you are missing out. Do not assess a learner… try to assess the learning instead. I think it will make a whole lot of a difference.

Sugata Mitra on TED

Learning without Frontiers…the conference

Every year the team from Learning without Frontiers, headed by Graham Brown-Martin, host this huge conference in London. This year unfortunately I couldn’t make it but anybody who is anybody in the Education sector in the UK makes sure to attend this conference. This year the speaker lineup for the conference is impressive. The title for this year’s conference is the Future of Learning. They’re even broadcasting live so you might even get to see a talk or two if you find some time.

What is interesting about this team at the Learning without Frontiers is that the Founder himself was a high school dropout, but in the end he successfully holds conferences with the target of making a change – a tangible one –  in the Education sector. One line from him says: No matter how much technology we throw in, we will NEVER change Education unless we change the way we do Education. A good point to ponder. Follow the conference through the website, and also through Twitter… the tweets there are most encouraging and great to follow.

Spicynodes…adding spice to you classroom

Just came across this tool… called Spicynodes… can’t wait to use it with my own students…great for mindmapping. Check it out. Simply sign in and use it with your classroom to share and brainstorm ideas whilst watching as your students progress on their work. This blogsite has been created specifically for one project and shows how young students are producing tangible results for an English language class. Great use of different resources including: Spicynodes, Audioboo, and YouTube.

Twitter for Beginners

And just to keep up with the Twitter theme, for all those of you who we have managed to help convert  to  the Twitter network 🙂 to help you construct your own Professional and Personal Social Network… I have just come across this site with a step-by-step easy to follow guide on how to start you off. From experience I can tell you that what Twitter has achieved for my own learning, no other amounts of face-to-face or other social networks have managed to achieve – honestly. The mere fact that you can manage to get into contact with a community of people who are working towards a central goal, like becoming a better Educator, makes you feel part of this larger community where the ‘I’ somehow takes a second place with respect to the ‘WE’. The meaning of sharing, of empowerment and of making your voice heard, here, I have found takes on an entirely new meaning…

As an update to this post…some # to follow:

#edchat

#langchat

#edtech

#education

Another great link to help you with starting out with Twitter in Education.

Writing Responsibly – it’s easy to blog or is it?

I have read this blog post which I find a bit inspiring, more so because I just replied to one of the comments in one post about this same matter. The online environment is fantastic – or is it? Online we cannot see who we are talking to. Even if we know the person in real life, it seems that online people’s personalities take on different shades of color. Some say the true personality emerges in the online environment because people’s inhibitions seem to unfold and it becomes somewhat easier to express one’s views and opinions. Sometimes it’s too easy to express one’s views and opinions. And this is an important skill which we, as Educators, is important to impart to our students – those people who face us in a classroom. It’s useless being scared of using Facebook with students. It’s useless because they will still use it themselves. On the other hand it’s good if we help them use Facebook responsibly – to be able to share information in a good way. The blog post here presents a metaphor between Facebook and the story Lord of the Flies. In the latter, a group of boys, left in isolation by all adults turn to severe aggression and violent behavior. The ordinary lives of young humans is catapulted into a complete chaos as they try to survive – with disastrous results. In the blog the author wonders if by leaving our young people alone in the online environment we might in reality trigger behavior that might cause more harm more than  good. The classic motto “If you can’t beat them join them” might not be too far off the mark in this case.

Teaching, Mentoring or Learning?

I would like to ask you a question – some questions actually… I am curious to know more about your opinions re this matter. How do you see yourselves? Are you teachers? Are you mentors? Are you learners? Be honest…think about the fact that in a few months time you will be practicing the profession of a teacher… you will have your own classes, your own students, your syllabi, your curriculum. You will start setting tests, exams, homework, projects…what will you become? Would you be willing to set up your own classroom community sharing learning between you and the students? Do you honestly see yourself using for example online social networks to foster this kind of community building? What would you see its purpose as being and how would this integrate into your classroom practice? Will you be teachers, mentors or do you want to be learners in your own class?

Is there a problem with Tech and Teaching?

Yesterday I came across this blog and basically it made me think a bit… and I refer to one of the previous comments for the post dealing with digital portfolio. What this blog said that in reality, even when technology influx in school was very low there were always other priorities which were missing… the tattered state of text books for example, the pitiful state of labs, and we always blamed the lack of funding, the lack of support. And yet I think that this is not the issue. Again we’re missing the wood for the trees here. We are teachers, we are professionals, then let us get down to doing our jobs as professionals without complaints. It seems that as students we go through our lives complaining… too much work we say, too much to study, no time to enjoy the weekend. Then we start teaching and we complain. There is always time and reason to complain. I don’t know how many of you have ever worked with private companies or industry. There, if you complain, then you either grit your teeth, smile and carry on or else you pack up and find yourself another job… if you find one that is. In teaching, it seems that complaints come in plenty. I hear a lot of complaints, about students, about the school, about timetables, and now about technologies. I am not saying all this is easy. Life is not easy at all. If you want an easy life, then you can stay at home and do nothing. Technology nowadays does not need specialised equipment which costs a lot of money. Technology and learning nowadays is not constrained to the classroom. As you yourself can see from this course, we had one face-to-face session and I am sure that many of you left the classroom with a lot of questions, confused and even complaining :). However I invite you that every time you complain you try and identify a solution. A practical solution. The problem is not the technology. The problem is not “Oh what shall I do if they don’t teach me how to use an e-Learning platform”.??!! The problem lies in the fact that you should have enough self confidence as a teacher, as a professional – that you believe enough in yourself and your capabilities, that you can experiment on your own and that finally you use your creativity to invent new ways to teach without “being told” what to do and how to do it.

Salman Khan and his Academy

This is one of the nicest and most inspiring talks I have watched recently. This is the story of a young man, who started out on a great mission by accident. He just wanted to “help” out two of his cousins. And the road he chose to take, now brought him to establish this ‘academy’ which is used to teach, to learn, to proceed forward in a quest for knowledge. It all started with a couple of videos uploaded on YouTube for how to learn a concept in Maths.

Link to video

Now there are over 2,700 videos for Maths, Science, Humanities, and so many more. All these videos are for everyone to use because as we have been saying, and most of you have been saying through this blog, everyone has the right to learn, at any time, at his/her own pace, when he/she needs it. Have a look at what Khan talks about and then browse through the videos. Use them for your own personal self, to learn, to teach and to grow.

A collaborative Digital Writing Portfolio Tool

I think that many of you have actually covered elements of Porfolios… but what are portfolios? They’re just a collection of works, and any tool can be used to collect your work; from the traditional “Ring Files” with printed paper, to the online environment. Today I have come across this article which I thought would be well worth sharing with you.

There are number of online tools which are used to share documents and presentations. One such tool is called Scribd. You can even log in with your Facebook account so you don’t really need to create another account if you do not want to. Well Scribd has a new feature in which you can add a public collection and users can add their documents to this public collection. Imagine what this can do for your classroom? I mean, we’re talking about extending the learning away from the classroom – this tool will be great to use, easy to use and I think that the effects would be fantastic. Read more on this blog, and watch a video about how this can be done. The tools are all out there, it just takes a little effort to go out and find them.