The more the vision of the future changes…

… the more it stays the same. I was talking to a colleague at school yesterday about our NPDL project, and some of the things we are working on. She shared with me video that Pearson Ed has put out called Rey’s Storey: School of Thought – A vision for the future of learning.

As I started watching it, I was struck a memory, so did a quick search and found the video by Apple called Knowledge Navigator, which was their vision of the future. But from 1987. Take a few minutes and watch them both.

So. What do you think? If Apple has the ‘vision of the future’ in 1987, and I don’t really see it as much different from Peason’s ‘vision of the future’ in 2014, what has changed? Have we made any progress toward this vision? I’ve been thinking a lot about barriers to progress in edu and wonder how to move ’em.

Lessons from Lessons

I did something last night that I haven’t done is more than 30 years. I had a guitar lesson. I took a few years of guitar as a kid but gave up on the lessons at some point due to lack of interest on my part. I later picked up the guitar again and taught myself to play, mostly by using magazines with music from bands I wanted to learn.

There’s a lesson there about the nature of motivation in learning, but that’s not what this post is about.

I had an interesting experience with my new guitar teacher yesterday. He was showing me a system and way to learn how to use scales to quickly improvise over different chords. I was able to follow it for the most part, but not as quickly as he was explaining. After a short time, my mind was a blur as I struggled to mentally keep up with what he was showing and explaining. I know that my goal is to take the next week and practice this idea at a much slower pace, but it reminded me of what it feels like to be a learner. In particular, it reminded me what it was like to have a grasp of some information but know that there was large swathes that were passing you by.

Kind of what its like for many of our students on a day to day basis.

It’s good to be reminded what it’s like to be a learner.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/colinjagoe/5334354490/in/photolist-a4AgvS-dKsV18-7t9VqF-a7mTUZ-7xLBg4-9RTPvx-aoqtW9-9xPyZz-7vf3P9-a8sQo8-8RXJEh-6QMVs1-6QMUTj-9agBoq-98nXK9-dS89S1-7Vmo7w-9uHceY-7z2DNF/player/

Who says you can’t go home?

Tomorrow marks the start of another school year, and for the first time in 5 years I’m heading back to a classroom. I made the decision last year to not return to my role as a consultant in our school board. There was a few factors that played into the choice, most notably the arrival of Andrew in our family. Other factors included being tired of the distance to get to the office when we had purposefully chosen to build our home 7 years ago in-town. I now have 3.4 km one way to school, when it was 86 km to the board office. Crazy. It feels like I get 2hrs of my life back everyday.

Over the summer, I had more than a few people give me odd reactions to the news that I was returning to a classroom. The most common was to ask me if it was my choice? I’m not sure what I was supposed to answer to that. It was my choice, but is it one that people aren’t expected to make? Do not many folks move from those central board-level positions go back to where they can actually interact with students on a daily basis and, ya know, teach? I know of several who have. Granted, there are others that move on to administration positions as well. But there was enough people who gave me the same reaction, that I noticed it as a trend. Odd.

At any rate, I’m back in the classroom, have a great timetable that I was totally not expecting to get, and I’m looking forward to seeing what the year will bring. Lots of ideas of things to try out in the class are in my head, and I think the biggest thing will be trying to decide how to narrow down those ideas to make it manageable. Small steps to start I suppose, but I’m excited to be getting back to the science classroom. Hopefully my Jedi teaching powers are still intact…

My classroom awaits!

Andrew and #learning2030

Warning: Tired parent. Rambling ahead! 

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend a taping of TVO’s The Agenda at Trent U in Peterborough. They are doing a series focused on education, and this show focused on the use of technology by teachers and students. I was fortunate enough to get to speak a bit during the show and rambled on a bit towards the end of the program. There’s been lots of great discussion around the issues raised, and I hope that this serves to continue to elevate the level of conversation about changes to education in Ontario. TVO has called their series Learning 2030 because a child born last year when they started would be due to graduate high school in 2030

I’ve been considering all the challenges and changes in education a lot these past weeks. Due in no small part to this.

Andrew
Meet Andrew. Andrew was born this past weekend on March 16th. Andrew has an older sister Anna who is currently in Grade 4 as well. So our family now has doubled our stakes in the value of the Ontario education system. Andrew enters a world where he will never not know about the iPad. Where he will always be able to see his grandparents face to face, even though some of them live 1200 kms away. His world will include video surveillance and real-time tracking and analytics about many aspects of his life. His generation will face challenges that we are still in the process of uncovering, let alone dealing with.

Of immediate concern is the education system that he will be entering shortly. Full day kindergarten awaits him (at the moment anyway, political winds of change notwithstanding). Will it be helpful to him or not? Will Ontario continue its path towards more high-stakes, full-scale testing in the name of ‘improvement’ that can be measured in numbers that make for happy real-estate agents and politicians? Will his teachers continue to be maligned in the pubic sphere by politicians and a populace that think they understand what’s wrong with education and how to ‘fix’ it. Will his education consist of problem-solving, deep thinking and understanding, or will it be a ramped up version of worksheets for a digital age?

As you can sense, I have some questions…   As a teacher, I’m not sure that I see answers that I deem worthy of implementation. I wonder how to do some of the things that I think are required, and look at the whole Titanic-sized system and wonder how we can change the course of the ship. Sometimes I think that the answer is to reboot it completely, and rather than make change in the one we have, to think of ways to re-invent it from the ground up. Of course, there are numerous questions that arise with that, due to the highly politicized nature of education that is funded via public coffers. Everyone deserves a say, and everyone thinks that they deserve to be not only listened to, but obeyed. Democracy works on principles of the value of debate, but not every idea is created equal, or can be implemented.

So what to do? Do we examine the concept of curriculum itself? Change the way we actually produce and write the documents that are meant to guide learning because those documents are predicated on everyone learning the same thing at the same time. Will modern learning look like this? Do we examine the point of schools themselves? Do we examine what it means to be a teacher? Is what happens in a classroom the only thing of value? Do students learn valuable things when we engage them in things that are traditionally ‘extra’-curricular? Does this mean that they are not ‘extra’? Does this mean that things like the workday, job descriptions and pay need to be examined to critically assess whether or not they would actually meet the needs of a learning environment for not just 2013, but off into the future of 2030 and beyond?

Big questions I know, but I’m not sure that we can do anything without asking some of those deep questions. Do I have answers? I’m not sure, I have ideas, but most of the ideas I have seem to require a fundamentally different system that the one we see now. And I’m not sure how to address that.

I do know one thing. As a teacher, I’ve been convinced of the value of open-ended, deep learning that gets beyond a surface approach to curriculum topics, so I will continue to advocate and promote that in my work. As Anna & Andrew’s dad, I’ve got a new sense of urgency. Change takes time, and deep, systemic change takes that much more. We may have been talking about what learning will look like for Ontario students in 2030, but now I’m talking about what learning looks like for my kids. Not just in the future.

Today.

Photo blogging

It’s been about a year and a half since I stopped doing my photo-a-day project. I had done it for over 2 years at that point, and had really learned a lot about photography and editing. There were a few reasons for ending, but I wasn’t unhappy to stop with it. It was time. 

But now I think I might be back in the 2013/365 game. I took a few pics over the first few days of 2013 and posted them. I’ve used a few of the topics on Today’s Posting for inspiration, but not everyday. Some days it’s just been a snap of life. I think that this time, I’m not so interested in making the perfect photo, but rather making a bit of a document of the year as it occurs. 

One thing that has gotten me back in the game is the changing options for making photos.  I have a nice DSLR that I use for my photograpy and I used to drag it around with me in the car whenever I went anywhere. But in the last year, after acquiring on iPhone 4S with a 8 MP camera (the same as my first DSLR only a few years ago) I’ve found that most of the pics I’ve taken have been with it. It’s a truism that the best camera is the one that you have with you. So I’m not so concerned about having my full size camera with me, as I have a decent one in my pocket all the time. 

The other thing is the variety and utility of editing options available on the phone and iPad. With their new app, Flickr has rekindled my interest in using it for both editing and posting to Flickr. Instagram never really captured my favour, and with the recent brou-ha-ha about privacy, I’m happy to leave it alone. I’ve also been playing with various editing apps on my iPad, and have found that Snapseed and Camera Awesome and iPhoto for iPad are really fun editing apps. In fact, all the pics I’ve taken and posted so far have been editing in one of those three apps and uploaded to Flickr. One of the things that got to be a drag was the daily routine of putting pictures from my DSLR on my computer in iPhoto or Aperture, editing if needed, and uploading. Now I’ve done it all from my living room comfy chair and my iPad. Even the ones from my DSLR have been added to the iPad using the camera kit attachment and then editing right on the iPad. Easy peasy. 

So far, so good. Easy, fun and I’m learnig a ton about these various options. One might say I’m a bit amped up again about taking and making photos. Rock on! 

Amped

Let’s make it 28

Not much action on the old blog this year. 2012 was just not a blog-happy year. This makes only post 28 for the year. Lots of good in it however, and looking forward to all life has to offer in 2013. In the meantime, happy dog wishes you all a Happy New Year!

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Security Woes

You know how you have things that you mean to do, and you keep putting off? Yeah. I’ve been meaning to beef up some of my account security with new passwords and stuff. It was on my list of things to do for the end of the year. But, as luck would have it, I was forced I to an early change. Somehow, on the night of the 25, someone accessed my email account from Albuquerque New Mexico. Since, I’ve never been to NM. It sure wasn’t me. Guess it was a wrong turn at Albuquerque. The hacker/bot then proceeded to email a ton of people some spam mail with links and phishing things.

So, after being notified by the ever vigilant @dougpete, I quickly changed passwords, the assessed what damage had been done. I also updated security on my email and other accounts.

Lesson learned. Never put it off.

And I apologize to anyone who got the spam from my account. It shouldn’t happen again.

Non-Extreme Makeover. Blog Edition.

After upgrading to the newest WordPress 3.5 release, I had a few issues to sort out with the blog. After getting all that squared away and everything running smoothly again, I got looking at the layout and design of the blog.  The theme that I had chosen was now out of date, and a new one was available as a version II. So, I updated that too. 

This is the now running Weaver II as the theme, with a subtheme called Wheat. It’s pretty much the same as the other one, but has much more customizable features that you can play with. 

I also updated, moved and tidied up the widgets in the sidebar to make them flow a bit better.  And as a finishing touch, I dug through my photos and found a new one for the header image. 

Overall, a good use of time, and I’m happy with the new digs. Good way to finish the year and get ready for 2013 blogging. 

Stay Curious!

Ran across this video today. I liked it so much I thought I’d post it on my blog. 🙂

Skillshare appears to be a website where you can take classes from a variety of people in a variety of areas. It looks quite interesting.

There’s a lot of good one liners in the video. I like “It doesn’t matter what you ask, just that you ask.. Because the questions you find are more important than the answers”

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=34853044&server=vimeo.com&show_title=0&show_byline=0&show_portrait=0&color=f36c21&fullscreen=1&autoplay=0&loop=0

The Future Belongs to the Curious from Skillshare on Vimeo.

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Third Times a Charm…

Well. I’m back. I’ve learned a bit about WordPress security, and have done a few things that I hope will prevent another problem.

We shall see.

I’ve not imported the posts from the last install, as I’m a bit gun shy at the moment. Small moves.