Digital Students Humble Teacher

Mobile phones – in learning environments

It’s been a while since I posted anything here and for that I’m sorry.

I do have a ‘looking back on 2013’ post drafted ready for posting, but haven’t felt able to send it up, given that it had been hard to get the year into any sort of real perspective. Hey ho …

My life has changed greatly over the last six months or so. Partly due to circumstances and partly due to a resolution to make every day count. Besides being a City and Guilds marker, I am now employed two days a week (15 hours) by the local college to assess second year, level two, Hospitality and Catering apprentices. I’m also employed to deliver Technical Certificate training to year one apprentices – two hours a week on a Tuesday.

It’s the second group that take me right back to my teaching roots. What a wonderful group they are.

I took over the teaching of this group in January; they had had someone else teach them during their first term and that teacher had done a wonderful job of helping them understand the basics of catering theory. With no scheme in place and about one more year left for them to complete underpinning knowledge tests and technical certificate tests I decided to start with commodity theory.

This involves me delivering subjects such as ‘Vegetables’, ‘Meat’, ‘Poultry’ and ‘Fish’ – the classification, preparation, storage, cooking, menu usage, health issues etc. for each commodity up until Easter and then the more in depth issues behind work in the hospitality trades. Week four, this week, saw me delivering the first of their lessons on meat. Trying to practice what I’ve preached for all these years, I’ve tried to involve the group in ‘how’ they learn and we have settled into a relaxed Delivery+Q&A, followed by formative testing, followed by re-cap, followed by Delivery+Q&A and so on mode. They seem responsive to this method and given that we have no access to PCs, other modes are limited.

We actually use the IWB installed in the room. I’m a ‘Smart Board’ man, but the one installed here is ‘Promethean’ – so although I can prepare and use Active Studio – it isn’t as off-the-cuff as it would be with Smart Notepad. However – when I wanted to use it ad hoc last week (to record some student thoughts) but couldn’t immediately remember how to open the notebook facility, the students came up and showed me. There was no problem, no embarrassment, two of them just came up to the board (and the machine), switched Active Studio on, then went back and sat down. I laughed out loud – shows what I know!

Which brings me to this week.

The formative test I’d given them (after a 20 minute introduction to meat PPT, with lots of back and forth chat) asked them (at one point) to name a boned and rolled meat dish. Some of the answers were good, some slightly off kilter and one I had a good snort at! A boned and rolled ox-tail. Really?

Again, I laughed out loud and asked if they had ever seen an ox-tail that hadn’t been cut into chunks? There were some uncertain yes’s and some emphatic no’s – and I had to suggest that ‘boning’ and ‘rolling’ such a joint would be nigh on impossible.

But Dave – we’ve seen Michel Roux Jnr do it on T.V.” 

Again, I said that it was very unlikely and at that point it was like the Gunfight at the Okay Corral – out came about a dozen iPhones and assorted Samsungs and off they went to find the clip on You Tube.

I was humbled. And wrong.

And both feelings were turned to my advantage as teaching points, as the subject matter fitted in well with the lesson, and I was able to point out that when we accept that we are wrong it allows us to learn – no matter what age or position in life we are at.

This wasn’t the first time they had used their phones to add substance to our lessons, individuals frequently trawl the ‘net via their mobile, to find the answers to questions I’ve asked. It’s always a boon when two differing responses are found – allowing me to explore and expand their evaluative skills.

I will now add the Michel Roux clip to my resource bank and offer thanks to the group for opening my eyes. Once again.

Mobile etiquette

I realise that social rules applying to the public use of mobile phones are slowly evolving; yet I believe that there are a still few aspects of such use that need sorting out sooner rather than later.

Trains

We’ve all heard the guy (or gal?) on the train conducting his business at mega dB and driving everyone to distraction; he needs sorting out the soonest.

I think that some people just go into a bubble when their phone rings, a bubble that excludes everyone and everything around them, something they would probably never do on any other occasion.  I once heard a former boss of mine conduct job contract negotiations on her mobile, to the rapt attention of everyone in the carriage.

Nevertheless, I have also begun to notice that some mobile phone users now move out of the main carriage to make their calls. Also, (and I count myself in both of these groups) I notice that some call recipients quietly move to the doorway nowadays, before continuing their conversation. I’ve also noted increased use of the simple I’m on a train, can I call you back? I suppose that’s progress.

Many of these calls are essential – I realise and concur with that. I’ve very often told prospective customers and clients to call me while I’m on the train, because a) the time I’m on the train suits them and b) because when I get to my destination I’ll be doing something else and the phone will be off*. However, like many others I now take or make those calls away from fellow passengers. It’s not that the call is particularly sensitive or secret, it’s mainly because I (we?) realise that it’s an annoyance to other passengers.

So we just need to convince ‘that guy’!

Restaurants

How many of us use our mobile phones to photograph things as we go about our daily business? I do!

I also photograph attractive dishes when eating out no matter whether it’s a £75 per head jobbie or just a particularly attractive sandwich I’ve bought for £1.99. I may even have made the food myself! I did once ask myself: ‘does this annoy fellow diners?’ and at one time, it probably did, but I think it’s less annoying and more prevalent now than it was a few years ago. Imagine all of the different groups sat along a Wagamama table taking mobile shots of their food as it arrives. I’ve seen it happen.

But what about those folks who insist on leaving their phone turned on in the restaurant, or in a meeting [see below], or in the cinema? What sort of selfishness does that display? After all it doesn’t take much effort (or thought) to switch over to silent-mode.

We all make mistakes, but 99 times out of a hundred, *I will turn my phone to silent or ‘off’ depending on the circumstance. I don’t want to disturb my fellow diners, or colleagues in a meeting by interrupting proceedings and I certainly don’t want disturbing in the cinema.

Talking about business meetings: In her book “Watching the English, The Hidden Rules of English Behaviour”, Kate Fox discusses the issue and suggests that

There are [..] as yet no agreed rules of etiquette on the use of mobile phones during business meetings.” page 85.

Will more people start turning off/silent from now on?

Driving

Surely this is the most annoying thing that people do with their mobile phones? Talking on the phone whilst driving is both dangerous and illegal. I used to do it – I don’t anymore.

Let me clarify that:

I use a hands free kit when driving but when possible will pull over if I receive a call because I know it can be distracting. I’ve seen so many people holding their phones to their ear whilst driving that it drives (sorry) me to distraction. These people are no longer fully aware of what’s going on around them – I’ve seen drivers drift over to the wrong side of the road, or slow down almost to a stop (in moving traffic) and as I pass their car, a closer look sees them ‘on the phone’.

How long will it be before we all adhere to mutually accepted social rules that define mobile phone use in practice?
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[Texting in various circumstances is another subject, one I will leave for the moment.]
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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/

Blackburn College again

Today was the second of five days work I have with Blackburn College. They have been lucky enough to win one of the LSIS bids aimed at upskilling staff in the use of technology for teaching and learning. (I’m sure it had a far grander name when the bid was announced but any way … they asked me to help).

Last week’s workshop day was reported via an earlier blog post and this one was fundamentally similar – just longer. The group was in the same room for six hours, four of which were mine!

They opened at 9.00am with an overview of Read and Write Gold (RAWG) and an introduction to the college’s preferred Mind Mapping software (the name of which I can’t remember – blush). I knew these timings before I set off, because I was also to deliver an input on the My Study Bar memory stick during that time. I wasn’t sure that the group would cope with such an intense day but they were SO ENGROSSED in RAWG (and later, the mind mapping) that I had to re-assess my opinion pretty quickly.

I opened my 11.00am session by discussing my plan for the rest of the day and seeking their agreement for the way it would work. We began with an introduction to Audacity, iPadio, Cam Studio and Photo Story 3 before spending an hour of hands-on. The group were already on a high following the RAWG session but climbed even higher whilst playing with (predominantly) Photo Story 3. They came up with some nice ideas for use with learners and it seemed a shame to stop and ‘do’ the agreed My Study Bar (much shortened) session.  However, even though they had seen the glossy RAWG stuff, they were still impressed with the FREE products available on the memory stick.

Following lunch we began with some work on mobile learning (specifically texting using the Xlearn TextWall) and Bloom’s Taxonomy. This was followed by the main Web 2.0/Social Networking session, which despite the length of time they’d been in the room – was still devoured with pleasure.

Big ‘ups’ to everyone from Blackburn College today. They survived a long and very intense day’s CPD on two difficult subjects.

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/

Busy week

Phew – what a week! I have delivered eight hands-on workshops in four different colleges and a come-and-ask-me day in a Salford School.

In Huddersfield (Kirklees College) on Monday I had been asked to work with the Foundation Learning team to help them understand how some of their new kit could be used. The kit had come from a RSC-YH sponsored ‘Pathfinder’ project but had only just arrived – so not being used yet. The workshop was therefore very timely.  And, much appreciated, although I’d only been required to attend the morning session, they asked if I could stay on and “tell/show them more!” It was a great day.  My own learning was accommodated too as we did a short iPhone App-swapping session too. Best one seen on Monday? Photofunia App: free.

I continued my work with the Albion School in Salford on Tuesday, where we are helping the teaching staff to develop their VLE.  My role, as I’m sure I’ve said before, is to increase their awareness of interactivity alongside the VLE development. As always, it was another enjoyable day.

Then my travelling really started. I was at Newcastle under Lyme College on Wednesday to deliver the first two of six almost identical workshops. Each was tailored for different audiences, but each does in fact delve into the ‘Potential for ‘m” which I have discussed before. The workshop looks at mobile and modern (Web 2.0) tools and how sound pedagogical theory an weave it’s way through their deployment.

Thursday was my hardest day. I left home at 5.50am and got back at 10.10pm. A long long day – but very enjoyable. I’d been asked to work alongside Ron Mitchell at Tower Hamlets College in east London. Now, trains to London are expensive enough but when you leave your ticket at home (doh!!) it becomes an even more expensive proposition. I’d put my outward journey tickets in a waistcoat pocket and then at the last minute, decided to change the waistcoat. Easily done. Luckily, I had my return tickets in my wallet (good job I didn’t change my trousers?) otherwise the journey would have been twice the cost. Working with Ron, and the staff at Tower Hamlets was a real pleasure. Thank you.

Then on Friday, I was at Sheffield College. This was to be my last MoLeNET presentation before the final conference in September. For the third day running the weather was fabulous and everyone seemed keen to learn about ‘m’. Once again, I came away feeling refreshed – although remained dog-tired after such a busy week.

Even Saturday was busy – but in a relaxing, pleasurable way. I met Dave Boulton (and several members of his family) and Vic Dejean, to undertake (it’s a chore – but someone has to do it) the Beer Train Trail from Stalybridge to Huddersfield. This is slightly different to the one Oz Clark and James May did on T.V. and actually takes in several of the villages that the ‘local’ train stops at. I will post the day’s reflexion shortly.

Mobile Learning Case Studies

I delivered a workshop the other day for a college in the Northwest. The college has deployed a variety of handheld devices as part of their 2010 MoLeNET project and I’ve visited them on several occasions to discuss the ‘Potential of M’ and ‘Audio-Video capture and editing’ etc. This time they wanted to know how everyone else was using mobile devices. That worried me a bit, because I wasn’t sure how I would deliver a two-hour session (x2) based on Case Studies and the (mainly apocryphal) stuff ‘I’ know (which is definitely not everything!)

I came up with a series of six worksheets that they could explore. Not knowing the exact participant numbers, I worked on a timescale that allowed two bites of the task. Each task gave the small group of two or three, twenty minutes to research the provided links, ten minutes to develop a PPT (or video) and five minutes to deliver their findings to the entire group. Followed by five minutes Q and A, I thought that this would be a nice session. The task asked them to view a series of case studies/video clips and to form an argument (to governors) for deployment. (Continued below)

It turned out that I had very much underestimated the engagement they would commit to the task, the time it would take to do the research and the time to make (especially agree) their presentation. So the morning session only just came in on time. In fact it came in five minutes late and the Q and A sessions were very abbreviated. Furthermore, and this was hopefully due to the pressures of time, the PPTs were much too wordy. I’d hoped that the idea of presenting to governors would make the presentations a bit snappier than they turned out to be.

I therefore decided to change the timings for the afternoon session along with the presentation requirements. I asked them to create a Pecha Kucha – which caused great stress. But hopefully (fingers crossed?) healthy stress. (Here’s one of mine from the RSC-NW conference)

Please click along the above Slideshow, as you watch/listen to the video below

Pecha Kucha (Japanese for chit chat I believe) is a presentation based on delivering 20 slides for only 20 seconds per slide. When I explained this to the afternoon group, their jaws dropped. I changed the rules so that theirs would be 10 slides at 30 seconds each and told them that pecha kucha didn’t require wordy slides – a picture plus 30 seconds dialogue is fine. I also extended the research time and the PK development time and the result was much snappier and focussed. But the real ‘gain’ for me was when I said “you know, you could get your learners to do something like this – say 10 slides, 10 seconds each” (to make them much more focussed on what is required).

The PT teacher lit up like a beacon and started scribbling notes. RESULT!