I thrive on learner feedback and these days my learners are teachers, trainers and people who work most closely with those we might call ‘real’ learners. So; smiles, curiosity, ‘bright ideas’ and enthusiasm for the subject are my reward. I’ve encountered all of these this week.
I delivered two sessions at The Sheffield College for MoLeNET on Tuesday and then co-trained with the delightful Nigel Davies (@e4communities) for NIACE e-Guides in Nottingham on Wednesday.
My MoLeNET presentation was a similar one to that delivered by me last week at The Newcastle College. It dealt with the potential for ‘m’ learning – but for these sessions I doubly interpret the ‘m‘ as meaning mobile AND modern. I try to model ‘m’ activities and techniques throughout.
I try to fix all of the session’s activities, tool-use and techniques to Blooms Taxonomy. This is the taxonomy of thinking skills which aims to raise learners’ achievements through simple knowledge acquisition, comprehension of that knowledge and its application (lower order thinking skills – LOTs) – through analysis, synthesis and evaluation (higher order thinking skills – HOTs). There are lots of reasons for doing this, but my main reason is that Bloom’s is a recognisable theory, one that should/would have been addressed during Initial Teacher Training (ITT) and therefore be an understandable foundation we can build upon.
I suggest to my participants that each learner will progress through the taxonomy’s stages at varying speeds and with varying success; often having to return to a previous level (in a cycular fashion – which fits nicely then, with Bruner’s spiral curriculum model: e.g. “Curriculum should be organized in a spiral manner so that the student continually builds upon what they have already learned.” from: http://tip.psychology.org/bruner.html) where they begin their learning journey again. I emphasise that ‘they‘ the teachers, trainers etc. ARE THE experts at this and that ‘they‘ are the creators of activities designed to allow learners to climb (cycle?) through the levels.
I iterate, time and time again that the ‘m’ technique and the ‘m’ technology should be the tool and not the master.
Occasionally, a colleague will ask me if I am demeaning the workshop participants by addressing Blooms in this way. I most certainly am not – I am often thanked/congratulated for reminding them of this long-forgotten rock upon which their teaching skills are built. Just this week one participant caught me as she left and thanked me profusely for introducing her to Blooms and for making it so interesting. She said that she had never heard of the Taxonomy. I wonder how the ITT team at ‘wherever’ missed that?
I start with techniques for using sms text and for this we use the superb Text Wall supplied by http://www.xlearn.co.uk (£25 per annum – Bargain). Two simple questions illustrate how simple it is to move from knowledge to comprehension, simply by thinking about how the question is worded. A third task (task, not question) shows how sms text can be used to deliver synthesis and evaluation. So – the simplest of technologies is addressing several levels of thinking skill. I then deliver a simple ‘odd one out’ exercise stolen from Lilian Soon (@xlearn). The idea being that the technical skills required to build the task (simply adding words and images to a PPT slide) are the same; even though the two slides require considerably different approaches to the answers (LOTs versus HOTs).
We then move on to Web 2.0 sites and their potential (I’ll return to this in another post), finishing this section with a very practical, hands-on floor exercise (keep ‘em moving). Having looked at Web 2.0, I finish with an exercise that investigates the pedagogical use of mobile tools.
Experience has taught me that I cannot rely on there being access to any such mobile tools – and certainly not the variety that I would need to use to underpin my message: So I have laminated sets of cards showing pictures of mobile/handheld tools and a brief description of what they might do. These are accompanied by a handout taken from: http://www.ascilite.org.au/ajet/ajet25/cheung.html and participants are asked to consider how they might use each of the tools and to film each other deliberating this. The simple act of being filmed helps them to focus on the achievable and to consider things they might not otherwise have considered.
I felt that both MoLeNET workshops were well received and that lots of ‘real’ learners will now benefit from the teachers and trainers’ newfound skills and ideas. Well done everybody. And thank you Benjamin Bloom.