T-Learning is an elearning services company based in the Liverpool, UK supporting teaching and learning to schools across the world. Taecanet delivers personalised learning for teachers and students accessible at school or at home. More info can be found at www.taecanet.com

Monday, October 30, 2006

How do teenagers use digital technologies and Second Life?

A number of weeks back, I touched on the emerging phenomenon that is Second Life (see post 4th Oct 06). I have just read an excellent blog post by Arlene Goldbard relating to the use of digital media by teenagers today, under the title 'Worlds within Worlds'.

Her opinion is based on having read hundreds of essays by members of the teenage American population on the topic, and she has made a number of valid points. These points relate to the significant level at which ICT is embedded into teenage lives, and how they perceive a negative distrust amongst their parental figures, where devices such as the Internet are concerned.

Arlene's post develops to discuss Second Life and how these teenagers use Teen Second Life to prepare for their 'real world' future (otherwise known as First Life). This can be found at http://arlenegoldbard.com/?p=183 . It is a great piece and I found myself asking many questions about how such technologies could be harnessed by educators, as they seem to capture the imagination of students so well. It seems an ideal place for a strong educational presence by making the best educational materials available to all. I'm sure there are many people who would be interested in re-visiting topics of interest in this new and free format.

On the Internet and in Second Life, all the bounds of traditional schooling have been freed and the power now lies with the learner.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

A list of the best elearning blogs

For a comprehensive list of the best elearning blogs visit http://blog.articulate.com/the-19-best-elearning-blogs/ . Here you can read a brief synopsis of these outstanding contributions to elearning debate, and also link to them if you would like more info.
Although mine is not featured (an obvious omission) I am working on it for the next list!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Are schools set up to cater for 21st century students?

Does teaching in schools today prepare our 21st century students with the necessary tools to succeed in the real world? This is a very hard question to answer and obviously we will probably never hear a resounding 'Yes', due to the homogeneous make up of the student and teacher population. However, we must be in a good position to judge whether we are delivering materials in a relevant way, and testing these students in the correct way to get the most out of them.

My personal opinion is that we are not. I think students now, need to be challenged more now than ever to create their own paths to a learning objective, with as much choice and differentiation as we can offer them. There are a number of factors holding students back such as: content, assessment methods and pedagogy. I will explain what I mean.

I feel the baseline of what is taught in schools must change in order to be relevant to learners in 2006 and beyond. The 'one size fits all' testing procedures must also be altered to squeeze the maximum amount of potential from each student. Rather then 'getting a level 4' after a stressful 2 hour exam, students should be assessed upon what they have collated and learned throughout the year using a number of assessment models. And finally, I think there are stark questions that need to be answered in terms of whether the way teachers deliver the curriculum is successful in the outcomes needed today. To quote Andrew Watt "How do we change the teacher from 'sage on the stage' to the 'guide on the side'? Why are we wasting time presenting information when kids can take their time - and go faster - finding the same information on the web?."

The rest of this article can be found at http://edu.blogs.com/edublogs/2006/10/andrew_watt_on_.html and I think it exposes some fundamental questions regarding whether education today is relevant to students and the world they live in. My angle is that in elearning, teachers have many tools with which to reach every student in the class. This will hopefully allow more students to reach their potential by learning in a way that suits them, and at a pace that suits them. We must adapt testing procedures to replicate this type of 'personalised learning' being pushed by the Government in 2006.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

A Groundbreaking Day at ASE

So Friday the 13th has come and gone, and it actually proved a huge success for us at ASE. The Virtual Classroom experiment worked well and students from 4 schools in 4 different locations were able to collaborate on a project and present their work to each other in real time. Ulverston Victoria in Cumbria, Bluecoat in Oldham, Sacred Heart High School in Hammersmith and Beechencliff School in Bath were each given seven questions relating to the number 13 and superstition. Their results were then shared, via PowerPoint presentations and voice via headsets amongst the group.

As it turns out, most students did not think that the number 13 was unlucky. Most UK streets have a house number 13, and this was proved to be the case both in the North and South. Also, it was discovered that many famous people such as Robbie Williams were born on the 13th day of the month. Such celebrities were thought of as being 'lucky' people therefore deducing that the 'unlucky' tag associated with the number 13 was nothing more than superstition. The point of this exercise was to get a network of schools online at the same time to disseminate and discuss their findings. Schools that otherwise may never have had the opportunity to meet each other in person, were able to collaborate on a piece of work and share their new found knowledge with each other.....and us, in real time. It was a groundbreaking day for Taecanet, as well as all of the schools involved, and ASE who kindly hosted the event.

The rest of the day was also very positive with some significant interest in the Taecanet Springboard service from teachers and LEA representatives alike. There were a number of other exhibitors present some with exotic creatures, as you can see from the photo. We were treated to a Galileo performance describing some of his work, and also a firework display at the end of the event by Dr Jackie Akhavan. This was an obvious highlight with an in-depth explanation, and demonstration of the chemical processes involved in the detonation of fireworks. This was a rousing end to a great event and my thanks to Gaynor Sharp for her support and organisation.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Three Days - Two Exhibitions!

Thanks to all involved with the BITES Exhibition in Birmingham yesterday. It was a great day out and was enjoyed by all (including this lucky man being shown the ropes by Sue and Huida). Many of the bigger names were present such as RM, SAM Learning and Promethean, as well as a host of smaller companies. This simply confirmed the diversity of the elearning market. With services ranging from mobile digital mixing decks for schools to class monitoring software, there was something there for everyone.

It was very nice to be situated in one place and be able to talk to so many people during the day. As teachers are so busy, much of our time is spent on the phone chasing shadows, so it made a nice change to be the proverbial honey pot, with interested parties swarming around us. I think I could get used to that!

Another day, another exhibition! Tomorrow sees us attend the ASE (Science Association) Exhibition in Leamington Spa where we plan to deliver a Virtual Classroom showcase. Four schools from differnet parts of England will be live online delivering conclusions to their joint project; both to our audience, and to each other. This will show the power of collaborative learning and how it is possible for schools to share knowledge across any geography, without even having to leave the classroom!

This may have huge repercussions on how we share knowledge. Using our Virtual Classroom, subject experts can deliver the very best tutorials to all students regardless of their location or status. Just imagine if Shakespeare could have taught our kids English Literature......the mind boggles.

Monday, October 09, 2006

BITES Exhibition 11/10/06

Taecanet would like to announce our attendance at the BITES Exhibition in Birmingham on Wednesday 11th October 06 at Thinktank, Millenium Point. This Information Technology Education Show is one of the largest ICT events in the area and showcases services from over 70 IT suppliers.

The theme for this event is 'Transforming Learning' and with debate centred around 'eSafety' and 'Schools for the Future', it promises to be an innovative event with one eye on the future, as well as offering practical solutions to today's elearning needs.

For more information, please visit http://www2.bgfl.org/bgfl2/convention/conference/conference.cfm?id=206 and come and visit us at stand 5b, where we will be happy to answer any of your questions and arrange for a demonstration.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

BECTA ICT Advice Alert

BECTA provide a good support and advice foundation for schools. One of their latest releases is the 'ICT Advice Alert' guide (http://schools.becta.org.uk/index.php?section=il&catcode=nwslttr_index&icttypeid=3&icteditionid=28) .

This details a number of important areas to consider for the implementation and prolonged usage of ICT in schools. You can link to sections such as 'Assess your ICT infrastructure' for personalised school advice. Also there is a section on 'Supporting the Primary National Strategy', where schools can review how their approach may (or may not) fit in with the national strategy.

A must read for schools looking to evaluate their approach to ICT.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Social Networking and Second Life

On watching some late night television on Sunday night, I rather stumbled across a great TV show on BBC 1 called 'Click' relating to the web, and general internet news (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/click_online/default.stm). The focus of this particular programme was social networking and online communities. This sparked some interest for me as I see this aspect of the internet being especially poignant to todays' youth culture in many ways.

For the first time, personal media publishing is the norm, and no longer are the participants going to be considered 'geeks'. In fact, the proliferation of social networking sites such as 'My Space' have brought underground musicians into the public arena through these virtual social channels. Lilly Allen and The Arctic Monkeys are two such examples of just how powerful this type of social media can be. My feeling is that there has been such a dramatic shift in this area that the kids who are not involved in this virtual space will now be considered the 'geeks', if you will. Oh how the worm has turned!

Of course, the same communicative principles can apply to the educational market, where a meeting of minds and sharing of know-how can deliver a much stronger and efficient 'knowledge economy', where all users can be equal. One such platform on which this goal may ultimately be reached is on 'Second Life', a web based 3D world where you can create a virtual persona and interact with other members. This appears to be the ultimate virtual networking environment which may have profound implications on how we learn in the future. For more information on Second Life visit
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