Thursday, November 22, 2007

Stephen Heppell and Future Trends

For the past three days I have been attending the Victorian Information Technology Teachers Association annual conference in Melbourne. This is, I think, the third year in a row that I have attended and the third year that I have presented as well. This year my presentation was called Wonderful ways with Wedderburn wikis and in a future blog I might reflect a little on the session. This post though is about Professor Stephen Heppell who presented the keynote on Day One. Prof Heppell is a world reknowned thinker and futurist in the area of technology and learning. What I gained from the keynote was a sense of the way teaching and learning is changing at an exponential rate. Obviously this isn't something that we all haven't been aware of. He presented us with lots of examples that illustrated the world that our students are growing up in. It was not unlike the Did You Know video created by Karl Fisch with lots of 'facts and statistics' that indicates the rapid rate that our world is changing. In fact one quote that I think he said was that there are something like a new school being opened in the UK every 4 days, that China has 1,173000 schools. There was lots of discussion and again lots of examples of the ways that educational bodies and in particular schools are addressing these issues through recognising and embracing new technologies rather than banning them and pretending that they don't exist inside the school gate. There was also some amazing teaching and learning spaces that are being created all over the world. He also asked us to consider the trends from the 20thC to the 21stC that he and other colleagues have identified. and then challenged us to think about where we currently are , where we would like to be and how we will we know when we get there. I can clearly see these trends reflected in web2.0 and it's influence on millions around the world. What does it mean for us now? Does it really change anything at the coalface? At this stage, I would say is not enough to simply recognise that the world is exponentially changing for our students but to recognise that if we accept these observable trends then what is this going to mean for us as educators, facilitators and colearners? I wonder. There's lots more to explore.. in another post.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Arthus-the new generation of 14 Year Old?

Arthus is an amazing 14 year old student from who blogs. I came across a post about Arthus on a blog called the Infinite Thinking machine, an educational blog that is contributed to by some very emminent educational commentators.
In this post titled "A 14 year old talked Educational Technology- Steve Hargadon reflects on the type of 14 year old Arthus is and how he uses and moves in the online world. His suggestion is that Arthus is not your typical 14 year old and I probably agree with that. I'm not suggesting that other 14 year olds are not as articulate and maybe as prolific as Arthus as I can think of a few that I teach at my school but none of them, as far as I know keep a blog or contribute to the online educational debate. I stress though " as far as I know". To be perfectly honest I would have no idea what type of online presence our 14 years olds have at our school. I do know that a few of them have bebo, facebook or myspace pages but I don't know what their online monikers are and I don't have any online dialogue with them. But I digress.
What really fascinated me about this post was that in the Notes section Steve wrote about where Arthus started his online journey and even more interesting was the habits and behaviours of Arthus as he interacts on the web. Much of what is listed here is a very mature response to some of the challenges and fears that educators and educational institutions face. But what is even more interesting are the 40 odd comments that have arisen out of this post. You must check it out as Arthus participates and again represents himself very powerfully in a new and exciting world of equality- he gives as much as he gets. An example I think, of the (educational) world continuing to flatten- I'm not sure that this conversation would happen in the classroom where often unfortunately the teacher has all the power .

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