Face to Face

I had another great day out yesterday. Once again, I was working directly with practitioners.

Sincerest thanks to West Thames College, in Isleworth for inviting me down to deliver two sessions on the pedagogical use of mobile phones in teaching and learning

And thank you too, to the thirty odd staff members that passed my way for being so receptive, positive and enthusiastic. Your students are very lucky.

Since the downturn, I’ve found it hard to get this type of face-to-face event, but every time I do I come away reinvigorated and recharged.

Since all of the national eCPD progammes stopped, several colleges and providers have been kind enough to invite me in on their staff training days and each one has told the same story: Practitioners still need help in learning how to utilise technology in teaching and learning and how to recognise opportunities for that utilisation – the difference is that they are now ready to accept this learning.

There is nothing like face-to-face workshops to encourage this kind of development. I never just deliver, I always show and then allow time for practice. Yesterday it was TEXTING (we all sent texts and explored Wordle as an aside) >> PEDAGOGY (some Q&A interaction around Bloom’s Taxonomy) >> QR CODES (everyone created codes and discussed uses) >> MULTI-MEDIA (we looked at iPadio, and sent photos and videos to Flickr). Everyone contributed and everyone stayed on board. Well done.

Over the last twelve months, I’ve also been invited to lead workshops at Blackburn College, Gloucestershire College, Leeds College of Music, Pontefract New College and at a small number of events with mixed audiences. Each time it has been like giving ice creams to children: much appreciated and very much enjoyed.

Thanks again to all concerned.

https://eduvel.wordpress.com/2012/01/30/boring-ict/

https://eduvel.wordpress.com/2012/01/29/enaging-with-moodle/

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Enaging with Moodle

I’ve just had a cracking week.

Just for a change I’ve had two days ‘out’ working with real, live practitioners, which is what I miss the most these days, because that’s what I’m best at.

On Wednesday, I was asked to work with colleagues from the RSC YH at New College, Pontefract, where they had set the entire day aside to begin college-wide development of their new Moodle 2 installation. Luckily Brian Coughlan (at the college) and I are old acquaintances and he was the one designing the event. We chatted prior to the day and I accepted the job of working with what looked like being the largest group – the beginners.

The college had previously had a Blackboard installation, which hardly anyone used. They had predicted some trauma with the move to Moodle, but that hadn’t happened. However, because of the huge difference between the two VLEs, very few people were using Moodle either and certainly not to great effect. That had changed by the end of the day.

Two other groups (intermediate and advanced) were being attended to by RSC personnel and I was helped by Daniel from Barnsley College – which made my life a lot easier once we got started. I first addressed my group saying that ‘if you ONLY put some resources onto your course today – you can be happy. However, if you put up some resources that are engaging and interactive and/or use the VLE to make sense of your resources – you learners will be happy!

I then showed them Moodle and explained the ‘blocks’. Then I explained the ‘course’ and showed them the ‘settings’ block. And then we looked at ‘topics’ and ‘labels’ (and their associated icons). Then I said ‘go‘. 

Given the day’s results, it is obvious that there had been a lot of pent up creativity in the college because they simply ‘got it’. The questions that most colleagues asked were pertinent and aimed at making their resources more engaging and interactive  – which was brilliant.

  • Where the teacher could only contemplate a resource being uploaded, we were able to discuss using ‘labels’ to help the learner make sense of the resource.
  • Where the teacher could see beyond simply uploading we investigated ways of making the resource more engaging before they uploaded (and subsequently used labels as above).
  • Those who were ready to go beyond these stages were shown ‘book’ and asked to investigate the use of forums. (Other features were being discussed in other workshops and I’d agreed with Brian that rather than go everywhere in Moodle, I’d concentrate on getting everyone ‘on’ and active).

It has been a long time since I worked on an event with so many participants where there was not one sour face, at all, all day. Well done Pontefract.

I’ll discuss my second day out later (and post the link here when ready).

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.