Passive consumers or active producers?

Learning and teaching should not start with the embracing of new technologies, but rather it is a matter of contextualising the learning first before supporting it with technology  from Wikipedia

I have been looking at the results of the elearning survey that we conducted with our teaching staff which are interesting, although not necessarily surprising. One of the things that seemed to stand out to me as that as a group  we are all quite comfortable with the use of technologies.  Many of us may not see the technologies that we use as being relevant in a classroom context.  However, if you know how to program your video recorder/Freeview box/Sky thingummabob to record a programme that you want to watch that is on at the same time as another that you want to watch, you are far ahead of me. (we don’t even have a video recorder/freeview/sky thingy!) If you can do that, or programme your washing machine or set the timer on your oven, book a holiday online or shop online, or set your Navman to take you to that bijou restaurant in Auckland, then you have skills that you can transfer to a learning context.  Making that step depends on your motivation and also an understanding of how it might benefit the learners in your classroom.

We were all quite confident and deemed ourselves competent at using a variety of tools – Word, Excel, PPT.  I know that many people create excellent worksheets and presentations for their students. I am sure that as you have perfected your skills using these tools you have become more confident and your worksheets/presentations have improved and become more engaging for students and more effective learning resources.  I know that I also have learned a lot about my subjects through creating my own resources.  Lots of the other things though, the ones we are less confident about, we are using in a mainly passive way – we upload resources to Dionet reasonably confidently but few teachers are creating interactive tasks in classroom pages.  We show videos, but do we create them? We show videos but what do we expect the students to do whilst they are viewing them or once they have viewed them – is it a passive experience or an interactive one? We give them a worksheet but does it provide opportunities for collaboration, for reflection, for co-construction, for interaction?  Research has shown, and we all know this anyway from our own experience, that for learners to really learn, for them to exercise and develop deeper thinking skills, they need to be actively engaged in the learning process, they need to interact, collaborate, co-construct, take ownership of their learning.  Just as important though is the opportunity both during and after a task or a unit of work to reflect on what they have done, how they have done it, what they have learned and what they could do the next time to improve.

So, where to from here? I believe that if we are to encourage our students to take the step to being independent, critical thinkers, if we are to help them develop the lifelong learning skills to cope in the 21st Century, if we want them to take ownership of their learning, then we have to do the same.  It’s not going to be easy – the biggest challenge cited in the elearning survey for our teachers was the lack of time to practise skills and to gain confidence using them, but even more people said that they were excited and keen to embrace the opportunities that BYOD offered for teaching and learning. Let’s take up the challenge!

Just got sidetracked! Found these links that talk about the Learning Continuum and the relative merits of Formal Learning, Non-Formal learning and Informal Learning.  So much to think about it’s scary!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h7UF6Kf7Ts0

Informal Learning

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