This blog is dormant. I’ve just finished a new book (Dudeney, G., Hockly, N. & Pegrum, M. (2013) Digital Literacies, Pearson Education) and am starting work on a new book on mLearning with Nicky Hockly. There’s only so much time available in each day…
I’m just back from the fantastic IATEFL TD and LT SIG conference in Istanbul, locally organised by the very organised Burcu Akyol and team. A timely conference looking at teacher development with and without technology – though it so happens that when you look at the stories, they’re mostly about teacher development aided and abetted by technologies, which is not much of a surprise. As you might expect, there were major representatives both from the tech side of things, and also from the unplugged (not exactly dogme, as it goes) side.
I have to say I rather like the new take on dogme that the original founders are talking up. Scott Thornbury has switched from defending dogme against its detractors by recognising that much of the criticism is irrefutable (his words) and instead spent his time talking about what dogme is, rather than what it isn’t…
Yesterday, before shutting down for the day (both electronically & mentally) I took the time to catch up with Apple’s latest ‘event’, which was entirely dedicated to learning. At the event they announced a couple of new products which I think are real game changers:
- a new version of iBooks that displays more interactive books
- a new app for the Mac called iBooks Author
If you have a Mac you can now create interactive iBooks for the iPad and publish them in seconds. So far, so good – and it is very good. I fired it up this morning and saw what it can do: pages of text and photos, photo galleries, interactive photos, Keynote presentations, movies, quizzes and custom HTML widgets can all be combined into a finished eBook which you can preview immediately on your iPad (if you’re lucky enough to have one). The idea came (according to yesterday’s rumours) from seeing the app that was developed for Al Gore’s book ‘Our Choice’, and indeed the feature set is very similar… And it really does work, too. If you want to go a little further you can get them on the Apple Store and offer them free of charge to your learners, or as paid options (with the obligatory 30% going to Apple, of course).
I’m on a plane… I’m on a plane back from a conference… a very good conference, as it happens. But it was also one of those conferences that neatly summarises many of the problems and paradoxes in the conference goers life.
Firstly the plenary speakers – all white, middle-class, middle-aged+ Brits. One of the first plenary speakers on the first day apologised for being one of the first of a stream of white, middle-aged, middle class British men who would take the stage over the next few days. The rest who followed felt duty bound to say the same thing, I think (and they did). One of them – the only woman plenary speaker at leaast didn’t have to do the full apology. And of course we’ve had this debate before – firstly on my blog, and then on a series of blogs. We know why it happens, but very few like it.
We know why it’s mostly men (the profession being mostly women, it’s assumed that some ‘eye candy’ – such as it is in our profession – is a good thing). We know why it’s mostly Brits (they write global ELT course books and methodology titles, books which sell) As someone intimately involved with large conference organisation I understand and acknowledge the relationship between publishers and conference organisers, I understand why people get parachuted in to do the plenary sessions by publishers – I know how it works. But look – there must be good ‘local’ people working in the profession, people who know something about the country and the teaching there… Would it be too much to ask for some kind of balance – more gender balance, more local and superstar balance, and all that. It’s getting embarrassing for all of us.
I was back in Russia last week, as part of a long-term research project in conjunction with the British Council; a project looking at what the success factors are for the consistent and pedagogically sound integration of technologies in primary and secondary. So far we’ve talked to pre- and in-service teacher training institutes, spoken to some people higher up the food chain, and visited some schools to see some classes. The next stage involves an online survey for learners, and the development and application of an observation instrument which will be used in schools throughout Russia – and I’m looking forward to returning in early November to do some observations myself.
Last week, however, we were talking to school principals and I got the chance to visit two quite extraordinary schools in Moscow…
The left hand doesn’t seem to know what the right hand is up to in the DOGME camp these days, or so it would seem…
The Interactive Whiteboard – oft referred to as the ‘Interactive White Elephant’ in many a hardcore DOGME article and talk [ "In the end, whether or not you are drawn to IWBs boils down to whether you construe language teaching as, on the one hand, entertainment and delivery, or, on the other, community and communication.", http://tinyurl.com/qj8adg ] – is now rehabilitated in the DOGME shrine courtesy of a workshop at the recent Learning Technologies SIG on… um… DOGME and the IWB.
You couldn’t make it up! In a minute they’ll be saying coursebooks are alright and that all that stuff about how terrible they are was a mistake. But lo! What’s this? An invitation in my inbox to a session on ‘Unplugging the Coursebook’. That’s DOGME with a coursebook to you and me…
Cake and eat it? It seems like the fabled ‘silver bullet’ of the teaching profession is no longer the much-maligned technology, but the increasingly blurry-edged DOGME which is mutating into something to please everyone. And I thought ‘one size fits all’ was definitely out… Where are the hardcore dogmeists these days?
It may be time for a new mission statement from the dogmeists, as some of us are getting increasingly confused as to what this ‘state of mind’ really means – and stands for.
I’m putting together a new talk for a couple of conferences later this year, and I’m looking for some opinions. Here are the details of the talk:
TITLE: A History of Technology in Teaching
ABSTRACT: Having worked with technologies in teaching and teacher training since 1990 I have seen a wide range of advances and new technologies come and go over the years. In this talk I will look at the history of these technologies over the past twenty years and examine where we are today. What have we learnt from the past, which technologies survive today and where is technology going in the future?
So, here are the questions:
- What would you include in a history like this?
- What would be your high points?
- What would be your low points?
- What have you learnt about EdTech?
- What have we learnt about EdTech?
- What would be your recommendations?
- What would be your predictions?
I look forward to your views – and thanks in advance for any input!
Here we go again… Spring is in the air and it’s time for another round of ‘ed. tech specialist’ versus ‘tech sceptic’. And we have recently had a couple of large-scale debates to further push the envelope of informed discussion: the ELTJ debate at IATEFL, and the spate of blog postings this past Sunday.
Let’s first start with ‘the debate’ – the one my colleague Nicky was involved in at IATEFL this year. This was the ELTJ debate on technologies in language teaching. Firstly it’s worth bearing in mind what this event was, and what it was about – since there seems to have been a great deal of confusion in some people’s minds.
This was, first and foremost, a debate in the UK style – for those who are not familiar with it, it is almost always adversarial in nature, and the two speakers are encouraged to argue two very polarised views. It is not a ‘nasty’ event: the two people know why they’re there, and what’s expected of them. It is done in good humour and with social drinks afterwards, and a dinner the night before – it’s friendly, challenging, intense – but nobody gets hurt, in any sense of the word.
I note that, since the recent IATEFL conference in Brighton, there’s a renewed interest in Postman and his views on technology. Someone even seems to have created a Twitter account specifically to regale us with his views on the transistor radio, the hit parade, cyberspace and more. But the point about Postman (aside from the creepy smile) is that he ceased to be relevant a while ago. Postman lived before Web 2.0, before the technology became more useful more creative, more productive and more social.
He may have had some relevance in the 1990s, but I can’t see what he has to do with the realities of 2011. When I see someone posting a link to a video of Postman warning of the perils of ‘cyberspace’, I simply have an image of my dad telling me how destructive those mop-haired so-called pop stars in the ‘hit parade’ were going to be on my life and my education. And yet somehow I survived…
So let’s examine the video that everyone thinks is so very clever…
[ firstly with my IATEFL hat on... ]
Just back from the IATEFL conference which, once again, was superbly organised and run by Glenda and her team at Head Office. To pull off a conference with 2,300 delegates is no mean feat, but they manage to do it every year and I do hope the conference feedback reflects that.
[ the Brighton Online team, sans me ]
The one thing that did let us down – as many noted – was the wifi, for which a fair bit of money had been shelled out. I have to admit I found it slightly inconveniencing at times, but even I managed to survive for a few days with sporadic access, and – on occasion – even enjoyed the fact that I couldn’t be connected twenty-four hours a day.
I must confess I didn’t start it – I followed suit like a lemming. Others braver than me had forged the path. But this morning I killed my Twitter account after over four years of activity and building up a large collection of followers and friends. So why are people doing this? I can’t speak for anyone else, but here are my reasons…
I joined Twitter primarily because it seemed such a good research tool. Each and every day as I expanded my community I got useful links to websites, tools, research and opinion articles and a lot more. And mostly, when it started, I was able to keep up and store the good ones. But I just don’t have time to follow all those links anymore. I bookmark them and I never return to them. So there’s strike number one…
Oh dear…. Over on this blog there’s a post called “10 Reasons NOT to buy an iPad 2“. Let’s deconstruct them:
1) It’s not a phone
That’s very true. It’s also not a lawnmower, or a coffee machine, a bath or a bicycle. There is logic lacking here, and that sentence doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
2) You already have a camera
How do you know that? And even if I do, why would the fact that there are now cameras in the iPad 2 make any difference as to why anyone should or shouldn’t buy one? I mean I already have a radio, an RSS reader, a Kindle, an email program and all the rest. The advantage to the iPad is it does it all in a very useful convergent device…
Well, I’ve been thinking about this post for some time now, and I can already hear the clatter of keyboards as they dash to respond… The thing is – and this is the nub of the post (and a comment I threw in to Twitter this morning) – I think all this ‘PLN’ business is seriously over-hyped and overrated and most people are kidding themselves about just how much they get out of theirs, just how many of their PLN would be friends and mentors ‘in real life’, and just, well, just how real it all is…
So hey ho, here we go – feel free to tell me just how valuable it is to you, of all the new ‘friends’ you’ve made and all the rest. And I do know, of course, that real friendships and professional relationships and things like that are made every day online – I know there are real ‘success’ stories, but I also think there’s a slightly creepy, slightly seedy, slightly self-congratulatory, slightly odd, slightly desperate and slightly unreal side to the whole thing…
So I finally cracked and got an Android phone to go along with the plethora of i-Devices I’ve come to know and love so well. This was partially to plug a little gap in my personal experience in terms of talking about mLearning and running the course I’m currently tutoring, but also to see what all the fuss was about. Can’t say I wasn’t tempted by a little more Shiny Precious, either. And it’s R&D, and the company paid, so that’s alright then.
It’s a Samsung Galaxy i9000 S and it is certainly a very handsome little thing. It sits sleekly in the little pouch I got for it, it weighs nothing, yet feels relatively solid. And I do like the fact that it has a built-in FM radio – the one thing lacking on my iPhone. But so far, that’s as far as it goes. The rest has left me a little cold. Now some of that has to do with Samsung, and some to do with Android – but the overall experience is clunky and ugly compared to iOS. Let’s start at the beginning…