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Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Participation culture, creativity, and social change

In David Gauntlett's inaugural lecture, 'Participation culture, creativity, and social change', (from 12 November 2008 - Just less than 10 mins) he does not actually mention e-Portfolios. However, at a breathtaking pace he covers much of the ground that e-Portfolios can or should address. A very challenging video!

Through his understanding of media and communication skills he underlines the importance of understanding audiences, the need for communication skills and an understanding of a 'making and doing culture'. 'Happiness is about having a rewarding engagement with the world'. Or, quoting Ivan Illich, 'People should be able to shape their own world and not have it set for them by others.' And again, Richard Sennett's book, 'The Craftsman' deals with the important issue of 'self esteem'. Surely, this is very much what e-Portfolios are about?

He then goes on to talk about tools for thinking and everyday creativity on line. Again, almost every sentence has echoes of e-Portfolios. This is one of the very few videos that I have repeatedly gone back to time and time again.

Another of his videos worth watching is the results of his research in 'Representing Identities'.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Will Technology change us?

I was very disturbed to note the articulate writings of David Jones who proposes, Technology will *not* change the way we teach - an example why we’re an amnesiac field It seems to me that universities are still replicating the research model of the 19th century whereby students replicate the selected thinking of previous generations without respecting any learning from what is going on in the here and now.

David quotes various dated authors in suggesting that learning is still dominated by the teacher's delivery, rather than the concept of the learner being encouraged to map out his/her own learning strategies.

Perhaps he is dominated by professors who know no better, who only deliver according to lesson plans set in stone decades ago? Perhaps those professors are frightened to stand back and see what can happen with learner-owned learning? Perhaps he is surrounded by 'techies' who invent pseudo e-Portfolios without the embedded structures and support that is needed? Teaching and Learning has come a long way in the last 50 years. It seems unfortunate to me that some institutions might still be repeating the mantras of a previous age.

In my post on formative assessment I try to give a simple understanding of how teaching and learning can be transformed in a way that is only possible through the advances in e-Portfolio development.

Again, in response to David Jones' post, the combination of e-Portfolios with other technologies as in Becta's article by John Traxler, 'Learners – Should We Leave Them To Their Own Devices?' points up the real potential of the combination of different technologies such as accessing my eFolio on my iTouch.

But until such time as e-Portfolios are properly embedded in the Teaching of all institutions and until such time as ALL learners have their own e-Portfolios I suppose that there will be those who get left behind?

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Adopting a new Technology

Last week was a very busy week for me, primarily in attending the very powerful, almost overwhelming, Naace Conference in Blackpool. As it happened I had the dubious priviledge of starting off the preliminary meetings with my report on my research findings into 'The Takeup of VLEs in Schools'. That over, we had 2.5 very full days of presentations, scores of exhibition stands and a lot of very enjoyable networking.

However, in retrospect, I began to wonder what I should do next. I had learnt so much, made so many contacts and was generally swamped with ideas. But which was most important, which should I investigate further and which commitments should I make first?

And this is the whole point of this particular post. I realised that the vast majority of educators are under such pressures whilst at work that they have little time to sort out these priorities, even if they do have the luxury of attending a major conference.

Mal Lee in an e-mail reminded me of Clay Shirky's book, 'Here Comes Everybody'. In reply I quoted back at him one of Shirky's many conclusions:

‘Revolution doesn’t happen when society adopts new technologies
– it happens when society adopts new behaviours.’

And this is perhaps one of my own most important messages. Until schools (and for that matter all learning institutions) begin to adopt new behaviours in terms of Teaching & Learning styles and until teachers begin to demand the technologies that will support this new thinking we will never experience revolution. Yes, some might argue that this is the old 'chicken and egg' syndrome, but where do we start?

I sincerely believe that no amount of national policy, technical specifications or even billions of pounds of funding will do the trick. Until the hearts and minds of the vast majority of teachers and senior managers are persuaded, until ICT evangelists are permitted to preach the gospel of ICT to the confused, unmotivated and leaderless, I do not see much chance of change within education.

e-Portfolios are such a case in point. Until educators see the vast benfits of the e-Portfolio in terms not only of showcasing, of capstones, progression and self-representation; not only in terms of collaboration, peer review, mentoring and formative assessments; not only in terms of reflection, selection, review and evaluation; not only of being able to select appropriate rich media, social software and web2.0 tools; but of equal importance the ability of the learner to decide on their own learning strategies, will we ever move towards this 'revolution' in Teaching and Learning.