Friday, March 12, 2010

A particularly popular activity for my preservice primary teachers on a visit to CSIRO Education was the robot challenge. The students were initially unsure about the activity, but once taught some basic programing were very engaged in making the little robots follow their instructions.

The activity culminated in a demolition derby (pictured) with the last robot left on its wheels declared the winner.
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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Learning and imagination

I recently was informed of an unsuccessful grant application. It is always sad to miss the money but I was far more concenred about the nature fo the reviewers comments.

In this project we were hoping to set up an approach to trial a different approach to teacher education in some Indigenous communities in Queensland. Underpinning the approach was a rejection of Indigenous defict. Aboriginal people have some of the oldest learning systems in the world; systems that supported a sustainable culture for tens of thousands of years. Our proposal sort to give teacher education students an opportunity to explore and explain learning systems from their own culture and then, through sharing information, to engage with knowledge about learning from other cultures. The intent was to place western thinking on learning inlcuding behaviourist, cognitive and constructivist theories alongside and not over traditional knowledge. We were looking to use the multimedia capacities and sharing opportunities fo web 2.0 technologies to support this project.

The reviewer of our application thought it a 'laudable goal' to upskill the IT skills of Indigenous people. Here capital 'E' Education is stick in a neo-colonial discourse that maintains the idea of Indigenous lack and so the democratic opportunities of this sharing medium we have invented are not being realised.

Having said that, I am very concerned that the sharing potential of these technologies is being used to support poorly informed popularism. With our post-modern assumptions, we feel entitled to share information without inititaion. I have no right to share information about community knowledge from a northern Queensland community as I am not initiated. I can point to what peopel from those communties have said, but I have no knowledge myself. Does this cultural practice inform what we do in higher education? In a world of super networks and easily shared knowledge, how do we respect the deep understandings that come through initiation into the disciplines?

My colleague at UC writes of some other limitations of the educational imagination here.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Web-based learning - support but maybe due to novelty

(Yen, Tuan, & Liao, 2010) report on a study finding web-based instruction better than classroom based teaching for scientific conceptual learning. They find motivation to learn the concept is still important in the web-based setting and point to motivation during and not just prior to learning with some suggestion that the novelty of web based instruction was in play here.

They suggest further qualitative research on how students’ prior web-based learning experiences influence their motivation during web-based learning.

Yen, H.-C., Tuan, H.-L., & Liao, C.-H. (2010). Investigating the Influence of Motivation on Students’ Conceptual Learning Outcomes in Web-based vs. Classroom-based Science Teaching Contexts. Research in Science Education.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Education and Information

'The other and mostly unexplored axis of an information-saturated culture is depth. Each of us has the capacity to dive in and learn more about almost anything than ever before'. - Mark Pesce, The Drum

Pesce is right to argue for a move from bredth to depth in our information rich age, but I suspect that online information sources, particularly public sources, are not all that deep for non-dominant cultural knowledge. If modernity was characterised by the primacy of text, then post-modernity must be characterised by the primacy of hyper-text.

The democratic potential of hyper-information will not be easily realised.