New beginnings

I have enjoyed blogging so much that I have decided to set up my own independent blog. My new blog can be found at http://www.arcticblonde.org.uk. I have just started and am trying to develop the infrastructure as well as blogging. As today is the first day of my summer break I thought I would make a start.

Could I take this opportunity to thank Beth and Richard for getting me started especially Beth who always seems to be there when you need a bit of advice and all those people who have commented on what I’ve done.

I will also try to archive everything I’ve done on this blog in my new blog.

Hasta luego Amigos.

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Only Connect

I am desperately trying to think of an amusing link between one of my favourite quiz shows and Connectivism. Only Connect is a show hosted by the delightful Victoria Coren and is notoriously difficult as it requires the participants to think in many different ways. To be a success at it you need to be able to see connections between fields, ideas, and concepts which, coincidently, is one of the core skills of Connectivism.
In his article Connnectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age. Siemens lists the following principles of Connectivism.
• Learning and knowledge rests in diversity of opinions.
• Learning is a process of connecting specialized nodes or information sources.
• Learning may reside in non-human appliances.
• Capacity to know more is more critical than what is currently known.
• Nurturing and maintaining connections is needed to facilitate continual learning.
• Ability to see connections between fields, ideas, and concepts is a core skill.
• Currency (accurate, up-to-date knowledge) is the intent of all connectivist learning activities.
• Decision-making is itself a learning process. Choosing what to learn and the meaning of incoming information is seen through the lens of a shifting reality. While there is a right answer now, it may be wrong tomorrow due to alterations in the information climate affecting the decision.

A blog post is not really the place for a detailed analysis of these principles, which by the way, I see as  a real basis for tertiary education in the future. However, I would like to look at two.
In the first; Learning and knowledge rests in diversity of opinions. I have a little trouble with the word opinions as it begs the question; What is opinion and what is fact? Does one base learning on opinion? I would welcome comments on this question as it is the only thing in this list that I do not support fully. The second is the whole idea of specialised nodes or information sources. I like this idea as it allows us, as teachers, to be information prospectors using our specialised skills to dig out information for general use, make information more accessible or point the way for others to find their own information. Why do I like this? Because it gives us more freedom to follow our enthusiasms and the possibility of relieving ourselves of working for institutions whose principal aim seems to be the glorification of administration rather than educating our clients.

The implications of Connectivism are immense and warrant a lot more study than I have had time to give it.
However, bring it on.

MOC not MOOC

Since 2008 I have been regularly using a MOC not a MOOC because although it is massive, in that a large number of High Schools and FE Colleges use it, it is not open, you have to pay.
It’s very good to use as it does all the marking and records all the results. Students can repeat assessments until they master them and the assessments differ slightly each time
However, it only costs Bradford College a bit more than £500 plus VAT to register in excess of a 1000 students. It covers from Level 1 of the National Curriculum to ‘A’ level. I use it regularly to introduce new topics, set Homeworks and individual programmes of study. Two years ago, three students who had just passed Entry 3 Numeracy were desperate to do GCSE. I gave them a programme to complete by September to prepare for the GCSE Initial Assessment. They did it, in that they completed the programme with 100% in each topic passed the IA and got a C at GCSE the following summer.
Bloom considers, in terms of teaching models;
The most effective was a combination of one-to-one tutoring and mastery learning: Bloom estimated that about 90 percent of students receiving tutoring and corrective feedback can perform at two standard deviations above the average student taught by conventional group instruction.
This is what Mymaths allows. It would be very interesting to see what would happen if MyMaths or something similar could offer GCSE’s. I think the feathers would start to fly.

Pedagogy 2.0 – Initial impressions

..Education isn’t about teaching facts. It’s about stoking creativity, and new ideas. It’s not about teaching students to conform. It’s about empowering students to change the world for the better” (Dan Brown, 2010).
I tend to agree but!!. The young man I saw on this video is patently intelligent, articulate, confident, techo savvy and from a reasonably affluent background that can indulge his ambitions. He has penetrated the myth of higher education in that what you pay for is a certificate. How competent you are, what you actually know, what skills you have, what you are capable of doing is still often, an unknown. In many areas of adult endeavour this might not be important but I want to know that the surgeon who is about to replace the lens in my eye, one, knows what he’s doing and two, has a successful record of doing it before. I want to feel confident that the person I trust my grandson to on schooldays keeps him safe, knows their business and is competent on passing on the skills he needs to be a good learner.
There are many areas in higher education which are about “stoking creativity and new ideas” but not all of it. Yes we want to “empower students to change the world for the better” but sometimes even in higher education we have to say “ if you want to be able to do this, then you have to be able to do that and you need to be able to show me that you can.”
If I was a young student now I would resent the ridiculous amount of debt I have to burden myself with to prove my competence in my chosen area, especially if I had had just a few lectures and most off the effort had come from me not them. If this young man does not need his degree to do what it is he wants to do then fine, bin the uni. However, that option is not open to everyone.