Wordle

I’ve known about Wordle for a quite a while now, but over recent months I’ve learned to respect its power and versatility more and more. For those of you who have not seen it yet, Wordle allows you to create pictures out of words. http://www.wordle.net

I began to recognise Wordle’s real potential during the work I carried out at Blackburn College in March. I had shown the site as part of my Mobile Learning and Web 2.0 presentations there. During these I showed the Learning Apps http://www.textwall.co.uk (ex-Xlearn) Text Wall, which features a Wordle link that presents a picture of any words sent to the Text Wall.

One teacher in the room immediately voiced the potential for Wordle as she saw it. She taught law and suggested that she could first ask learners to text their understanding of a particular act to the wall and she would then create a Wordle image of those texts to begin discussion of that act at the beginning of her next class.

Later, in Cheltenham, teachers became enthused once more with the power of Wordle. Assignment briefs would be headed by a Wordle image; lessons would be introduced via a Wordle image highlighting essential aspects of the forthcoming lesson. Today in Newcastle under Lyme, other ideas included reminders of induction sessions (equality and diversity?) via Wordle images; students creating their own images from their understanding of such (or other) sessions and most interestingly, the review of personal statements for UCAS via Wordle image. An English teacher considered taking a poem, reducing the word-count in Wordle (easy enough to do) and then asking the class to consider THE most prominent words and to create a new poem using those.


(original movie via Screenr at: http://www.screenr.com/Iq2s]

In each place it was Wordle that the majority of teachers took away with them to create change. This always signals success for me and the work I do, as this is always intertwined with reminders of and closer looks at Bloom’s Taxonomy. By using Wordle effectively, learners can be encouraged to analyse, synthesise and evaluate pieces of work whilst ‘creating’ (HOTS in original and revised taxonomies).

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Response to Kathy Schrock

I was recently introduced to Kathy Schrock’s blog http://blog.kathyschrock.net/ by Barrie Roberts on Twitter http://twitter.com/bardenblade/.

Kathy’s 30th March post presents her ideas for applying Google tools to Blooms Taxonomy and showed us this picture http://kathyschrock.net/googleblooms/. The image is a wonderful piece of work and joins a creditable canon of other attempts to capture educational theory within a social media context.

I’m prompted to respond because for once, the image seems to recognise the fact that different levels of Blooms technology can be addressed by almost ANY technology – as it is not necessarily the technology that counts, but the way in which the technology is employed.

In many of my workshops I provide a quick and dirty reminder of Bloom’s and the Revised Taxonomies. I do this to show the participants (usually teachers of one kind or another) that even mobile phones used for texting can address different levels of the taxonomy. I then ask them to recognise the ways in which various Web 2.0 sites can be used and require the participants to place (velcro’d) Web 2.0 logos (onto model pyramids I have made for the task*) according to how they (the participants) feel the site could be used.

Invariably, tools like YouTube are seen as lower order thinking skills (remembering, understanding and applying – LOTS) and some blogging tools are seen as HOTS (higher order thinking skills).

I firmly believe that each tool we use could/can be applied at the higher levels of Bloom’s.

It is the skills of the teacher/tutor/lecturer – whoever, to ensure that the learner’s task requires THEM – the learner, to work at that higher level. Hence (and you will see this on Kathy’s blog picture) YouTube can be used at the top – Creation level. It can also be used at the Remembering level – hence my own filleting fish video, used by learners to simply remember/understand how to do the task before ‘applying’ it.

Thank you Kathy.

*The pyramids have three faces and I use each face for a different task. They are made of a pressed polystyrene and can be assembled out of my suitcase (I am a peripatetic trainer).

Some previous Theory posts

 

Qatar

I’ve been thinking about Mobile Learning again today.

I was asked if I’d be interested in proposing a workshop for a ‘Shaping the Future’ event to be held in Qatar next year. Well yes I would, but what is it they are looking for? To me, a workshop is something which participants can become involved in – but I know from previous experience that working in different countries can present interesting challenges when it comes to using technology.

So, do I need a mixture of easy hands-on and discussion? If so what’s easy whilst remaining valid?

I’ve always been of the opinion, with all uses of technology, that the basics must come first. Without an understanding of aerodynamics, a pilot cannot fly an aeroplane and in the same way, unless a teacher understands the basic theories of learning and how to adapt them, he or she cannot hope to accommodate mobile or ‘e’ learning.

Mobile learning means many things to many people. Sometimes we have to dissect the two words.

  • The device itself may be mobile.

Tools such as cell phones, handheld games machines and handheld media/entertainment devices can all be utilised for learning activities. These devices are fairly ubiquitous and very few learners do not have access to at least one.

  • The learner him/herself could be mobile.

Learning often takes place outside the classroom or in the workplace itself. School based learners might be asked to conduct some ‘homework’ research, which would utilise both his or her mobility alongside the device’s mobility.

  • The learning activity might be mobile.

The teacher may plan activities that take learners on an exploratory tour of local features or local history, using GPS/Internet enabled tools as a guide. They may employ ubiquitous 3G connectivity to share resources on or from the Internet.

So do I start with the basic assumption that the participants understand basic learning theory? Or, that they understand the various connotations of the word mobile? I suspect that the old adage ‘to assume is to make an ASS of U and ME’ should rule here!

I will therefore consider a proposal which assumes nothing, expects a lot and prepare myself for a lot of stress 😉

Quote:

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.

From a previous Blooms Taxonomy post: https://eduvel.wordpress.com/2010/02/18/blooms/

Blooms

This week has been great. I’ve been able to carry out work that I enjoy and that I know I’m good at.

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.

References:

http://faculty.ccconline.org/index.php?title=Blooms_Taxonomy_Tutorial_FLASH

http://www.openeducation.net/2008/04/11/blooms-taxonomy-and-the-digital-world/

My Delicious – Blooms URLS

Gloucestershire

Yesterday I delivered workshops to 22 people over three sessions.

I’d set out to show how the ‘m’ in m-learning could also mean ‘modern’ and not just mobile. Like others I think that the ‘m’ and the ‘e’ before learning needs to disappear – but not just yet. There is still a lot of work to do before we can truly say that ‘learning’ is all encompassing and includes the use of tools and resources appropriate to that learner (those learners) at that time (24/7) and in (or out of) that place.

We did a little texting early on to show how we could engage learners and then tied this activity to Bloom’s Taxonomy. I notice sometimes, when I introduce this, that shoulders sag and wry smiles are glanced at each other. But no matter – I like to think that I deliver it in a palatable way – I was a chef after all. Having fixed Bloom’s in the minds of my groups, I moved on to show how technology need not be a barrier to the delivery of higher order thinking skills. I did this by means of two simple odd-one-out exercises. The first had an easy answer but the second needed thought and discussion before coming to a conclusion. This works well as it allows the groups to become animated, talking to each other and working out (often wrong) answers. They all see/saw the point I’d tried to make and was able, once more, to tie-in the result into Blooms. (For those who’ve seen this: I’ve replaced Bush with Barak!)

We then went back to texting and to an exercise that required the group to evaluate a piece of Shakespeare (the two morning groups had to do the same with a newspaper article). The activity engaged the group at the higher levels of Blooms and I like to think that they understood that once again, the technology was by no means a barrier to the learning that took place. Hopefully they will realise that THEY are the experts in their teaching rooms and that as such it is their job (their skill) to make the learning as valuable and inclusive as possible. Simple thought and preparation are often enough on the one hand, but on the other, an understanding of the available tools is just as essential.

We addressed the current plethora of tools next by looking at various Web 2.0 facilities. The discussion around Web 2.0 (what it is and what it isn’t and what it might do and what it might not) was valuable and I think that each person took a better understanding of blogs/wikis; Web/Web2.0 away with them. They explored the various sites for around 20 minutes. Videojug and MoleTV were favourites of most vocational tutors with builders and hairdressers becoming quite animated at what they found on these sites. MoleTV was a big winner with the practical trades. Others found online Mind Mapping software useful. No one really looked at Flickr or YouTube, although one or two did investigate Delicious.

During two of the three sessions we were able to discuss how these web sites could be made to address our Blooms pyramid and on the third we looked at individual tool types (video camera, MP3 player etc,) and addressed these in the same way. I’m a big believer in going where the learner needs to go at that time and provided it fits my aims to roll with it. The time exploring Web 2.0 sites was very much an example of this. I’d planned a 15-minute session with 10-minute feedback and identification of pedagogical opportunities but the group were so animated and engaged I allowed them the full 25 minutes to explore. They were discussing use across the room anyway!

I thought that the day was a really useful one, with engaged learners throughout. I had prepared too much (as always) and struggled to fit everything in – in fact on two sessions I stopped well short and on the third, we adjusted the session to fit the room. Sadly, the room did not engender group work, which is what I’d planned. But that’s always a difficulty in colleges: computer rooms are for computering and non-computer rooms are designed for ‘stand and deliver’. We need to make more rooms (spaces?) available that offer the opportunity to blend learning activities. Two or three to a computer is not always a bad thing especially if the activity is well planned.

My room was also very very warm – so to the teacher I met at MoLeNET training last year but whose name I have forgotten :-() who loaned me his fan – I must say a hearty ‘thank you’. It was a real life saver. Thank you Gloucestershire College.