Spending time online…

In the spirit of infographics which I find extremely fascinating from the point of view of design in terms of the amount of information which they manage to get across in a limited space, I have come across this one which shows how people are spending their time online… which I believe is quite considerable.

How People Spend Their Time Online
Infographic by- GO-Gulf.com Dubai Web Design Company

It is interesting to note some of this usage and maybe compare it with Malta’s own Internet and Computer usage results from 2010 and published by the NSO recently. In Malta’s own small population where more than 73% of the households in Malta, have access to a computer and Internet from home, 88% report using the Internet to send mails whereas 49% report using the Internet to post messages to social network sites.

The latest figures showing Facebook usage statistics from Malta, the most popular Social Networking service in Malta, have placed the number of online registered users at 48% penetration into the population, which does in some way tally with the results from the NSO surveys.

According to the infographic above, Social Networking activity surpasses sending e-mails as an activity.

Maybe, just maybe, I do start to think that after all for our bragging about the digital empowerment of our society, we are still lagging somewhat behind. And this very sadly, does reflect upon our visions of moving towards a knowledge society. For what is a knowledge society? Does it simply imply a society whose presence is persistent in the online environment? Not really… at least I do not think that that is the only factor. More likely it is the skills which such an environment warrants that a truly knowledge society will be composed of. These skills are quite varied, but they have one thing in common… a critical approach to the information which one is exposed to. That shows quite a higher order cognitive abilities… one which often and at times opposes the natural order of things that society seems to accept in a matter-of-fact kind of way. This is a far cry from the way we are presenting our “schooling” dynamics…

I was speaking to Alex Grech today, and he reminded me of the Gramscian way of looking at hegemony in Society. I very much wonder if and when, would our society start moving towards a knowledge society… one which challenges the status quo of all that is around us… and I feel that the key to this conundrum lies in our online identities as we develop our digital futures and I fear that our Education system (as it stands presently) is not helping much to achieve this vision.


The Gamification of Education

Just came across this very concise and interesting infographic about the state of our Education and how Games for Education have progressed. It is also interesting to note that “educational games” with a boring connotation were the products of 1980’s. It would be quite pointless to attempt to recreate similar kind of games for today’s society – and our “digital natives”.

It is also interesting to note that in Games for Education (including serious games) we are now moving from a society based on consumerism, towards a productive community – one where its gamers want to contribute to the production of content for games rather than simply playing the game. One just needs to look at the popularity of games like Minecraft or Little Big Planet, to be able to understand that people, or rather learners, want to be able to show off their creativity and initiative in playing games.

Gamification of Education

Created by Knewton and Column Five Media

Pre-Service Teachers – how well are we training our students?

So recently I had the opportunity to work with our Faculty of Education post graduate students. To be honest I had heard a lot of things about some members’ perceptions of PGCE students, and I have to say that these students made me change my mind as to all the stuff I had ever heard. Stuff which included things such as these students complain all the time, and they don’t really want to work. So in my limited experience, and with a little bit of belief in the things I have been reading and experimenting with in the past years, set about trying to bring about a change. I offered the students the possibility to talk, to find out things and to reflect about them. I also offered the students the small possibility of participating actively in their own learning.

This is the product of what we have produced together. The Designing Learning Resource site has over 1,000 precious comments from my 100 or so students, all snippets of knowledge and experience which these pre-service teachers carry with them, and which would have been left untapped and unexplored.

I was really very pleasantly surprised by the response. The first time I met those students I was met with a touch of hostility, regarding me as a person who was trying to do the impossible, given that this modality was also offered during their exam period. One might very sarcastically ask, how does one manage to learn during exam period? Exams are exams right? We don’t really learn during exams… they’re just one way of assessment… well, the blog, offered them all the right reasons and possibilities to learn because learning became a need – there is a justification, in that although it first started out as something obligatory, it turned into something which made them get insights that were beyond the simple issue of learning because someone is telling you to learn.

The model which I followed for this course, was one of flexibility. I wanted to experiment with letting them learn what they wanted to learn when they wanted to learn it. Education happens… when there is a need for it, and I wanted to see what results would emerge from these pre-service teachers when I offered them the possibilities of flexibility in their own learning designs. The results are in the process of being collated and hopefully published, but in the meantime you can have a look at some of these precious comments, and maybe you can understand, how change has indeed happened, and from a resistant group of learners, we got to an active group of participants and hopefully they got much more out of it themselves than they would have had they spent 6 hours listening to my rants…

which brings out the question… are we, as Faculty, really teaching the way we think teaching should be best carried out in schools? Should we keep our traditional way of doing Education with these pre-service teachers or should we move to a more dynamic, active environment – making use of all that technology has to offer?

Some food for thought

I would just like to remind you that we still have the MOODLE VLE running and that there is quite some material there which I am sure you will find interesting. We have spoken a lot about the technology but we also need to speak about the way the teacher teaches – how the teacher presents himself/herself to the audience. From your comments I can observe that you, like me, do not believe that a teacher is an orator who stands in front of the class and teaches. I personally believe that a teacher should entertain – a teacher should engage – a teacher should animate. Like many of you said, technology on its own is not enough. When designing your resources, design them with a degree of understanding of how you and your audience will make use of them. Although the VLE, will give you a link on how to improve on static presentations please bear in mind that your charisma and your personality, ultimately will be that which will have a personal influence on the people you have in front of you.


Turning Words into Fun Visuals

Have you ever come across something like this?

Via: Voxy Blog


Have you ever wished you could do something like this for your students? These are called Infographics, and basically they are used to represent information in a graphical manner. We all know that visuals are appealing, and that they do help in understanding concepts which might be hard to grasp otherwise.

Well this is a link to a site that can help you find tools so that you can make your own infographics. I would suggest some time to experimenting with these prior to your teaching practice. Might come in not only handy and but you can even ask your students to produce their own infographics.

I also use WORDLE very much and students love it. I use it for example when I ask my students to summarise their thoughts on a particular topic/concept in a number of words. All they need is to copy and paste them into the online WORDLE tool and voila’ – some great wordles come out.

This is an example:

Wordle: designinglearningresources

This WORLDE  has been created automatically by inserting the link to our Designing Learning Resources blog. Took me 2 mins to make 🙂 but I find it looks pretty good. No need to sign up or anything. Just paste away your words and let WORDLE do the rest.