Today’s Blended Teacher: The Blended Schools MOOC – Week 1 – Pie in The Sky

I am currently picking up bits from the BlendedSchools.net MOOC, currently being run via a combination of Google+ and a SoftChalk course.  I have seen BlendedSchools present at events and thought it was an interesting idea for them to offer such a course for free, in addition to their traditional services including offering of professional development.

So far, most of my interest has been in seeing the US-centric conversation’s similarities with the UK including concerns about school systems delivering the highest quality education.  Much of the Google+ discussion in week 1 seems to have centered on the limits of professional development in the US.  However, the main issue, that teachers see personal development as a set number of hours/days a year, would be the same as the UK’s approach via inset days.  This is not to say this is unique to teaching, I once attended a trade union health and safety course to be shocked that most people wanted to drag the day out as an escape from their day jobs.  Even in the banking sector there seems to be a need to encourage staff to realise learning does not end with school/college/university graduation, within the wider L&D agenda.

This week’s MOOC ‘create’ activity offered a number of options the below is my response to:

The Pie in the Sky

This activity is ideal for theorists or for pre-service teachers who do not yet have their own classrooms.

Write a blog post describing an ideal blended classroom in the year 2013.

You may post this blog using any tool you would like. If you want to build your blog using Blended Schools Networks’ BSNshare blogging tool, you can view the tutorials above for instructions.

  • What sort of content is delivered online? What is delivered face-to-face?
  • Which assessments use the Internet? Which assessments do not?
  • What benefits does this environment have for students?
  • What sort of resources are being used in the classroom?

My Pie in the Sky

I have mentioned on blogs and in conference discussions in the past my belief that we need to totally overhaul the predominant model of British K-12 schooling.  In the USA, and elsewhere, we have seen the growth of online K-12 schools.  What I would see as ideal in UK, in 2013, is a ‘hub and spoke’ approach.  The responsibility for learning will be shared between pupils, parents and teachers.  Large amounts of knowledge work will be completed electronically via video, reading and other asynchronous technologies.  Students will then congregate in synchronous learning ‘hubs’ which are both virtual and physical.  Physical hubs could make use of unused shops and other buildings to offer students across the community access to the latest technology, such as 3D printers, whilst most learning is undertaken remotely from home, public libraries and other low-tech study centers.  The ratio of study center to student would partly be determined by the area’s technology, if high speed home internet is easy to establish there would be less need of hubs.

Formative assessment and tracking technologies, such as the Tin Can API, ensure students are ‘attending’ school via appropriate learning outcomes, not bum on seat time.  This also allows for learning time to start later in the day (as recognized by science, teenagers need to sleep later than some other ages groups) and be more flexible for those who have major extra curricula interests such as acting and sport careers.

As with any ideal blended learning solution, the focus would be on valuable synchronous communication to develop student capabilities in communication, timekeeping and problem solving whilst allowing them to learn at their own pace at other times.  Reflection, through blogging, would be a key aspect aspect of this model, ensuring the key attribute of understanding the importance of lifelong learning is achieved.

Reflecting on some recent Tweets & Google+ Shares

Whilst I log some of my personal development here I do not intend to consider everything I do, including reading.

Instead I will often share my reading via other networks.  Why?

Reading

  1. Most of my professional reading is via Google Reader.  I previously setup the option to push ‘shares’ in Reader to Twitter.  When Google+ launched this stopped working.  If I see something particularly interesting I will still share it in my ‘Work Related’ circle…just in case anyone is interested.  Its easy to do and at least allows my Google+ profile to have some use.
  2. Websites.  If something leads to me having a question or is something I think my Twitter followers might be interested in (especially if it is from a source they might not read) I will share there from time-to-time.

Tweets

  1. I do not tweet often, usually limiting it to live tweeting of events – with more in-depth reflections later in blog posts.
  2. Reflection on some particular tweets:

“Virtual classrooms are a response to austerity” http://soc.li/MIjMeod  “Virtual learning cannot replace the learning…of a classroom” …wow some old arguments there. Sounds like someone needs a friendly Learning Technologist to show them how. Also ignores student demand.

This was really just a reaction to The Globe and Mail (a paper I used to read now and again) choosing to publish what effectively seemed to be some ranting about a workplace…without much evidence of a justified argument.

#bett_latw great presentation on global l&d, another arguing for curation over creation.

The official hashtag for BETT Learning At Work was quite quiet so I tried to post a few summaries for anyone following.  The rising importance of curation was a theme – as picked up prior to Learning Technologies/BETT.

Opening talk of #BETT_LatW reminded me of the silly Idiocracy movie, suggestions of attention problems and obesity in the future world.

The presentation was excellent at considering the brain and the science behind learning.  This post was a little bit of fun as I doubt the Baroness would be a fan of the movie.

Leaving #lt13 exhibition – good catchup but nothing hugely new. Or did I miss something? Or a sign of things bedding down and maturing?

The Learning Technology and BETT shows seemed to suffer from multiplication of different hashtags.  Therefore, not many people may have seen this – I did get one reply confirming my feeling.  Other posts confirmed that people are concentrating on the learning outcomes rather than tech for tech’s sake.

Some #lt13 exhibition delegates VERY keen. Perhaps the security staff were just doing what they’ve been trained to do?

This was me being a bit bitchy – which is rare I would say.  I was simply blown away by how rude people were being to the Olympia staff  – would opening five minutes late really make much difference?  Do you have to be the first person in the lift?  I’m still presuming/hoping the worse culprits are not Human Resources professionals.

@ldnoverground part suspended. No crystal palace service.

Apologies to any Twitter followers that my rule of keeping it professional (with most personal/private stuff elsewhere – i.e. Facebook) is starting to slip.  If only because what was the East London Line now seems so badly served by London Overground information services.  I find Twitter hugely useful for getting around London when there are problems and will try to contribute.

Quick bit of reflection on the #6TrendsLD webinar yesterday… http://bit.ly/T05Ili

Finally, for now, a tweet which was a rare bit of advertisement for this site.  I’m still torn between if this site should aim explicitly to be useful for others or just be my random thoughts, if anyone reads this far do let me know what you think!

5 Trends for L&D in 2013 (#6TrendsLD) Webinar…Could a corporate library service be the answer?

Donald Taylor yesterday went through five trends for Learning and Development that acted as a nice lead in to the upcoming Learning Technologies Exhibition I blogged about last time.

Don’s 5 themes were the below:

  1. Globalization & big picture changes
  2. Integration
  3. Data
  4. The role of L&D
  5. Performance

It was point four which perhaps interested me most.  The suggestion was that the LPI Capability Map and survey results are suggesting a skills gap in the areas where L&D focus can be seen as moving towards (and away from course delivery)…

  • Curate (find/filter/interpret/share)
  • Community management
  • Performance consulting
  • Research
  • Networking and influencing

Now I do not think these are really unique to L&D, but they are interesting to me considering I have come to L&D from an information/education background.  Indeed at the most basic level you may well say that resource management and building a community around the recommended materials are what libraries have always been about.

There are parallels for others too, including marketing professionals who will be experiencing similar ideas in needing to manage a social network around the brand rather than standalone marketing campaigns, which might be seen as the traditional equivalent of a L&D learning event.  Other aspects would be generic to any industry – everyone should research where they are in comparison to colleagues, competitors, etc. with appropriate networking and influence for their department to achieve its aims.

The decline of corporate libraries is well documented, elsewhere they have survived through a focus on competitive intelligence, knowledge management or sector/client research.  The question then is does the current L&D landscape mean investment in a ‘library’ service could be worth an organization’s time and money?  The answer – perhaps not a library but certainly a clear manifestation of supporting learning via different mediums, suggesting different ways for people to develop in the way the business needs.

Finally, how best to do this?  It might be that a learning management system with embedded social features – treating people (and communities of practice) as a resource alongside courses, reading, videos, podcasts, etc etc. or other similar platform?

Capability models – useful structure in an unsure world

CILIP have recently published a new ‘Professional Knowledge and Skills Base‘ for uses including:

  1. Self-assessment tool for planning personal and professional development
  2. Demonstrating your skill set to employers
  3. Framework for in-house learning and development
  4. CILIP’s own course validation and standards processes.

CILIP are set to back this up with “some guides to different sectors” to show how the PKSB applies to different library and information roles across the various industries they appear in.

However, do such guides really help members identify their expertise or ignore the wider trend in a period of austerity and redundancies?

I would argue that these high-level guides are very useful to set out the areas involved in a professional identity, which can then be filled out with more detailed knowledge and skills specific to a job.  It should also help with the mapping of learning outcomes from development activities to ensure they are indeed improving knowledge or skills.

The problem may come with the proliferation of professional organizations as a result of disillusionment with the cost of professional membership against the independent opportunities available via social media and local activities.  The other issue is that as professional boundaries break down with new roles I would marry skill sets from, amongst others, CILIP, LPI and CIPD.  As such, perhaps the most interesting thing is the variation in approach between bodies.