Received this in the last few hours, posted at a time for my Kiwi readers…
A newsletter for all members of Ethos Online Community May 2013Kia ora, talofa lava, and greetings everyone,If you are based in New Zealand you may be wondering if the long hot summer was a dream as the rain lashes down outside. You may also have been aware of the announcement made at the end of April that exams in the secondary school sector, in the next 8 years, may be taken online thus enabling “Pupils…to sit school assessments…when they are ready, rather than waiting for the traditional exam period” (source). Hmmmm.Merryn Dunmill very soon after shared a really interesting podcast from Radio NZ. Based on the discussion, Merryn asks the questions: “Is there a danger of simply planting old assessment methods in online environments? How will online assessment impact on teaching and learning and vice versa?”. Having listened to the podcast, I responded: ” The elephant in the room isn’t necessarily access, advances in learning and technology, or whether a student has plagiarised. I would strongly argue that the way we assess…as an entire system…badly needs to be overhauled. Assessments themselves need to be designed to have flexibility and choice for the students, and be designed such that they ask students to work on authentic tasks where it is almost impossible to ‘cheat’. These assessments should recognise and reward a range of competencies and skills rather than a prodigious memory or exam-taking techniques.
Standardised testing, I feel, quashes slowly but surely, the love of learning in students. Those students who aren’t great test takers, or who are disadvantaged due to the cultural biases, for example, within some assessments, are set up to be seen as ‘failing’. Once this happens, the students performance often becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy…something that is supported by both cognitive developmental theory and neuroscience”.Merryn requests “As an international community here on Ethos, I’d be interested in your thoughts and experiences in relation to the points raised in the interviews”. The conversation is already underway – please contribute :-)(A heads up – if you are already blogging in another environment then please DO cross-post some of your provocative/interesting postings into the Ethos Community space. Go on – you know you want to! :-))
Welcome to new members – May 2013
The Ethos community now has 213 members, and I hope you’ll extend a warm welcome and kia ora to:
- Alejandra Arratia-Martinez, who is a educational psychologist and researcher, based in Victoria, Australia. Alejandra is “very interested in the way teachers learn in the ICT context, specially in the way in which they take responsibility of their own and other teachers’ professional learning to be able to meet the huge challenges education is facing nowadays”. She is also interested in understanding “more about the way teachers conceptualize and target the diversity as part of their teaching practice, aiming to improve all students’ learning”.
- Christine Waitai-Rapana is an researcher with a keen interest in LAMS, the Learning Activity Management System, as well as in virtual communities of practice. Christine lives in Whanganui, New Zealand.
- Ingrid Rinsma is a Secondary teacher, living in Hamilton, New Zealand. She is interested in ”Encouraging learners to become curious and passionate about mathematics”.
- Joel Dodd is based in Taranaki, New Zealand, where he is a teacher of maths, who is developing a vast range of multimedia resources for students. His key interests are “blended learning environments, online learning, distance learning, online assessment, [and the] use of mobile devices”.
- Prem Lal is based in Auckland, New Zealand. Prem is a teacher who is keen to use ePortfolios with students.
If you know of anyone who might like to be involved in the Ethos online community – or to contribute a guest post, please feel free to invite them using this link:
Guest Posts and discussions
It has been a mammoth month for posts with 27 blog posts, and activity in the discussions. I hope you’ll find something of interest! In this newsletter we have a great guest post. Please jump into the conversation and feel free to ask questions.
- In Closing which gap?, the guest blogger for May, Alejandra Arratia-Martinez, (an Educational Psychologist with over 18 years of experience in Chile), in Part 1 (Part 2 to follow in June) describes the research she is conducting around a model of teachers’ metacognition that integrates teachers’ ongoing reflection about the complexity of differentiated teaching practice and teachers’ capacity to think about their own learning process as professionals. The study examines and assesses levels of comprehension about the teaching situation and the challenges that it represents to their own learning. This important study has aspects of interest for anyone involved with ‘learning’ and ‘teaching’, so please pick Alejandra’s brain and ask heaps of questions.
- John Birnie has posted a thought-provoking article about What Professors Can Learn From ‘Hard Core’ MOOC Students. The discussion has already started around some of the assertions and findings, so please join in. You may also like to read this post, which unpacks other views of what a MOOC comprises, and the sorts of learning experiences you may have.
- If you are working with learners who are facing literacy challenges, then you are likely to find the e-tools (PC) for engaging reluctant writers, (collated and shared by Monika Kern in Long time no post), invaluable. Please drop into Monika’s post to “use, adapt, add” to the collection, and to catch up with Monika’s recent musings and projects.
- A smorgasbord of tried and tested suggestions, dip into and find something relevant to you and your context in 50 Community Building Tips, shared by Catriona Pene. You might also be interested in Facilitate an online community? How to mobilize followers, as well as this Easy to follow tutorial of how to set up a Google Plus Community.
Recommended blog posts / Discussions
There were 14 blog posts in May that cover a wide range of topics. Some of those that you might like to dip into include:
- A pedagogical framework that was developed from two mobile learning projects (Australia and UK) from a socio-cultural perspective: Framing mobile learning from the perspective of learners’ experiences.
- Mentioned above was Merryn Dunmill’s post Online Assessments. Do you think we’re ”simply planting old assessment methods in online environments?”, and how do you feel online assessments will impact teaching and learning? Please add your responses to Merryn’s discussion.
- Created by Cynthia Lieberman, and the wonderful team at CyberWise, is the video What Kids Are (Really) Doing Online. The post, What are your young teens (really) doing online? An invitation to share, provides some background to the making of the video, and also asks: What are your experiences with 14-year-olds in your context? Do you know any 14-year-olds who might offer a different point of view? (Would they be up for making a video of their experiences, and sharing them?)
- How can you combat Pseudo Attention Deficit Disorder? - a five minute alternative “angle on time management”.
- In Open Source LMS – what’s what, Zariah Gaelyn-Levai shares the review of an Open Source LMS option with an uncluttered, intuitive user interface.
- I must admit that I hadn’t thought of the characters, interactions, and communications of an online community as a thriller, but in this paper shared by Derek Wenmoth, Wenger, Trayner and De Laat explore the notion of The online community as ‘thriller’: Capturing stories of value.
Recommended videosFrom the ever growing repository of videos (785 in total – thanks as always to John S Oliver for his wonderful contributions), these are a just few of the highlights:
- Shared by Vasi Doncheva (@playnice_nz), this video features Ken Robinson, who outlines 3 principles crucial for the human mind to flourish — and how current education culture works against them: How to escape education’s death valley.
- I’m sure you will know that it is Samoan language week. Partly in celebration of that a number of videos have been released that focus on how best to engage Pacific Island students and their families; a small selection includes - Exploring Career Pathways for Pasifika Students, Meeting Pasifika Learner Interests, What happens when school management is culturally responsive? and Using a school Web site to stay in contact with Pasifika parents.
- A really rich resource to unpack with the educators with whom you work, Above And Beyond was shared by Jenny Sinclair.
- Shared by John S Oliver, this video features and inspirational educator: Every kid needs a champion.
- Two videos made by young learners; one is Manaiakalani students share their thoughts about education, and other is From the (primary) students themselves: Engage Me!. Both represent the students’ own work and the opinions in the videos are theirs.
- This video is a call to re-vision our perceptions, as well as illustrating how ‘serious science’ can be conducted by learners of all ages.
- From a rich selection of ‘how to…’ videos shared by John S Oliver the highlights for May are Glaciers With Chocolate, How To Speak Chemistrian, and Reasons for the seasons.
- A speaker who opens up a way of looking at the world through different lenses! Of particular note, I felt, was the whole notion of accessibility…and also access: Hack a banana, make a keyboard!
- Did you know that you can filter your Google search results by reading level? Watch this video to learn more about the reading level tool! Google search and literacy: How to find texts with specific reading ‘levels’.
- Some insights into Universal Design for Learning (UDL): Universal Deign for Learning Explained, and What does UDL look like in practice: A Grade 6 Science lesson unpacked.
- A special issue from the Journal of Open, Flexible and Distance Learning is now available online, which focuses on a variety of aspects about distance education in the schools sector: Primary & Secondary Distance Education: Expanding the knowledge base in the schools sector.
- Excellent resource for students – the ‘How to make a video’, video
- I found this to be a useful overview of some of the key challenges and frustrations education systems that many countries are facing: To be or not to Be: frustrations & innovation in education
- Wondering what the differences are between aims, learning outcomes and objectives? Check out this ‘in a nutshell’ overview.
- The Australasian Journal of Educational Technology 29(2) has a wide range of papers available, which cover, for example, using e-portfolios in a field experience placement; examining students’ use of online annotation tools, mining interactions in immersive learning environments, and designing interaction tasks in Second Life.
Lots of other things happening (online courses, conferences and other opportunities), including a Free webinar: Evolving Digital Literacies – inductions to employment skills - have a look at the events listing for more details.Please feel free to add events to share them, or just let me know and I’ll add them :-)
Many thanks once again to Alejandra, Monika, Merryn, Zariah, Catriona, John Birnie, Derek, Cynthia, Vasi, and John S. Oliver.Please keep your posts (including cross-posts), comments and recommendations coming :-)
Hazel OwenEducation consultant / Director
Ethos Consultancy NZ Ltd
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