Thursday, 26 January 2012

Apples iPad Textbooks: Everything You Need to Know About iBooks 2

iPad & Friends

Apples iPad Textbooks: Everything You Need to Know About iBooks 2.

When I first heard of the iPad and the digital readers such as Kindle, I could see the possibilities for both fiction and non-fiction.

The possibilities for non-fiction and text books are obvious - more interactive content, rich with multimedia, and links to other resources and possibilities for annotation and collaboration offering a better learning experience.

The possibilities for fiction are also interesting. It won't be too long before more interactive fiction appears, with multimedia content and links to external resources and material. I was thinking it might be analogous to video games - such as Grand Theft Auto IV. You have the main storyline, but alongside that runs other 'missions' and side stories which introduce a range of other characters and broadens the profile of the main character. I can see fiction including such references to the back story of characters, and side stories, as well as ambient sounds, news footage, metadata and so forth.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Do Learning Styles Really Exist? | doug woods

Do Learning Styles Really Exist? | doug woods.

I get the impression that Doug is conflating 'Learning Styles' and 'individual differences' here. We all have individual differences in the way we learn, but as far as I can see no one has yet defined what a Learning Style is - genetic predisposition? Preference? Aptitude? Attitude? If you can't define what it actually is how can you measure its effect - it can have no reliability or validity.

I suppose there might be some confusion about 'learning styles' and 'Learning Styles'. It's easy to conflate 'learning styles' and individual differences, but I think many of the proponents of learning styles are actually thinking of them as 'Learning Styles' (with capitals) denoting them as actual entities that exist, which can therefore be objectified, packaged, and sold in training courses and books. These people have a vested interest in the existence of 'Learning Styles' so can't be trusted to have an objective view.

I disagree that rejecting learning styles will lead to regressive teaching - a teacher can reject Learning Styles while acknowledging individual differences, and provide a rich learning environment that calls on different modalities.  The material provided should suit the content, not an ill-defined abstract notion about how an individual learns.

What we need in teaching is evidence based practice, and so far there is no evidence to support the view that presenting, for example, visual material to your 'visual learners' is more effective and leads to better learning than other ways of presenting the material.

My view is that 'Learning Styles' inhibit good teaching, because it narrows the focus of the teacher and can lead to labelling and self-fulfilling prophesies (I can't learn this because I'm a visual learner'). It can also lead to the production of content that is inappropriate for the subject matter.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

BBC News - Children 'switching from TV to mobile internet'

BBC News - Children 'switching from TV to mobile internet'.

More reasons why schools and colleges need to embrace mobile learning and the use of mobile devices as learning tools. Rather than banning them.

There is an issue, outlined in the comments section to this story, that children are becoming socially isolated and failing to develop social skills. I'd suggest that they are simply developing new types of social skills and ways of communicating with each other.  People still socialise, they still talk to each other. Those who lack social skills would probably have been the sort of people who lacked social skills in any age.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Creating Online Learning

The Wonder of Online Social Networking

I'm creating the first online learning course in my new job. It is to teach people how to create good discussion forums in an online course - so we based it upon the Five Stage Model, put forward by Gilly Salmon. To structure our course we too are using the Five Stage model. So it feels like it's all a bit self-referential - using the model to describe the model.

One thing about online learning is that it takes a lot longer to put together than a face to face session. All of the materials have to be there in advance and on the  VLE, or wherever it is being held. It is 'scripted' much more than a face to face session, and there isn't much scope to 'wing it', or think of ad-hoc activities if anything goes wrong. The learners need a clear path through the course, and this needs careful planning.

There are also lots of revisions as I try to put myself in the shoes of a learner and think about the course from their point of view. There is also the difficulty in trying to make sure that the activities we plan fit the model that we are using.

This is a learning process for everyone involved. I'm sure the course will go OK, and I look forward to the feedback - surely it won't all be bad :o)

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Flipped Learning

upside down I like this idea of flipped learning, and flipped seminars. There is so much time in training and teaching dedicated to exposition by the teacher - this could be better used by getting the learners to do stuff. It's a good constructivist model for education too - the learner builds their knowledge through collaboration with their peers, and with facilitation from the teacher. It's a good use of classroom time.