Saturday, December 29, 2007
Aside from all the other fascinating tidbits in the book, one particular section jumped out at me. Nadeau explains that "La Francophonie" has set up 213 CLACs around the world. These small libraries - CLACs (Centre de lecture et d'animation, in English they would be called a "Centre for Reading and Community Activity") - were inspired by Philippe Sauvageau, the head librarian of Quebec's National Assembly Library. His goal was to develop small libraries of 2,500 books that would also offer internet access, games, movie screening rooms and sound systems. As a result of his vision, 17 countries now have CLACs, each costing only 40,000 euros apiece.
What is exciting about the concept of a CLAC, is that it can be set up relatively cheaply, and it quickly becomes a hub of community life. According to Nadeau, the presence of a CLAC dramatically increases the literacy level in the area it serves. Quelle bonne idée!
Thursday, December 20, 2007
I was even more gratified when I stumbled across the Cool Reads website. (It was recommended to me by another TL.) Developed for and by young adults, the site reviews books for 10 to 15 year old "set" . The reviews come from all over the world. It even lists star reviewers (those who have had at least 30 reviews featured on the site.) You can pick from a number of genres including suspense, biography, time travel, fantasy, romance, sci-fi, and war, among others. It's a great resource for teachers and students alike. What I really like is that students can post their own reviews.
If you want to know what kids are saying about books, and what titles they are reading, Cool Reads is the place to visit.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
This is a problem at the 8-12 level (and probably K-7 as well). As the TL in my school, I have been asked to give workshops to classes on the evils of plagiarism (which I will happily do!). Rather than throw up our hands, we need to fine-tune our assignments so that students must come up with some original angle in order to meet the requirements of the course.
"How can you make it copy-paste-proof?" This is a constant refrain for me as I work with my colleagues. If an assignment asks Grade 8 students to research a country and report on its language, culture, government, history and economy, most students will simply cut and paste from Britannica.com. If, instead, students are asked to research the country in question, compare it to Canada and then make a case for "which country is the most desirable culturally speaking" or "if I were to move to this new country, would I be better or worse off than I am now. and why?", then the final project becomes a student's unique perspective that demonstrates his/her understanding of the research that was done for the course. And, the "answer" is not googlable. or copy-pastable!
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
I'm finding that more and more of my students are coming to school with a laptop. At any one time, there is at least one laptop in the library, connected to the wireless network. And of course, their computers can run circles around anything we have at school. Just wait until Christmas...I've been telling any student who will listen that s/he should strongly hint for a laptop under the tree.
So, maybe I'll turn the computer lab into an espresso lounge...
Sunday, October 14, 2007
In my ID course, one of my classmates raised four key factors for schools to consider. He called this an "adoptability assessment". Here are the areas:
Each of these points can be a deal breaker for a teacher trying to integrate technology into his/her instruction.
Time: Especially in senior examinable courses, teachers feel that they are on the "final exam" 100 yard dash. They feel that they can't take ANY time out to do anything that might slow the "content delivery" schedule. If there is a bit of a learning curve for the students (or the teacher), it might not be "worth it." This is also an issue with the limited amount of time any one teacher can access the general purpose lab in our school. It is so heavily booked that you are lucky if you can get 2 consecutive blocks!
Reliability: This is another key consideration. Teachers, unless truly infotech savvy, will throw up their hands if the lesson does not proceed as planned. (See "time" above) Compatibility issues (software and hardware), and school equipment that is hopelessly behind compared to what students have at home (our GP lab runs system 9.....ack) are all speedbumps. And an easy fix for a techie teacher might be an insurmountable hurdle for a neophyte.
Seamlessness: Sometimes pen and paper is the way to go! It's a great idea to use Inspiration software for webbing. But what might be a 15 minute, pen and paper activity could end up ended up taking a whole block....and that doesn't factor in additional time for fooling around, crashing, losing work, rebooting, and re-mapping.
Expertise (Gap): In my school, I am available most of the time to pop in to the general purpose lab and troubleshoot...I am often asked to do this for teachers trying out a new idea. I am happy to help....it might be a simple printing problem, it may be that the site will not load (some hate Explorer, some hate Netscape...our lab won't run Firefox)...it might be that the great site that worked at home will simply not load. Ooops, there goes the lesson!
These factors may not seem "important" from an ID standpoint, but if we are designing lessons and units for real teachers to use with real students in real but usually sub-industry-standard labs, then they are very real issues.
On a related note:
Here's an interesting link to Steve Hargadon's blog that discusses this issue in a related way.
(Although I'm not sure agree with his "brain wiring" statement.) And he links to the Classroom 2.0 site that is looking for ways to help teachers do more with the technology! Take a look.
Check this out:
Also, Bubbl.us is an easy web based mind mapping tool...
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
When teachers come to the library to plan a unit or "flesh out" an existing project with the TL, the librarian often uses some kind of planning form that covers very nicely the "Before" "During" and "After" recommendations listed at the end of the chapter. p 52 (See link for a sample TL form here. PDF)
Instructional Designers come in many shapes and disguises! Interesting to think that this might be a "trendy title" that teacher-librarians should add to their resume! (See Blended Librarians link. ) Although this link points to an academic librarian context, I think it fits perfectly with what high school librarians need to be doing... and many already are.
Sunday, September 30, 2007
(Check out the book's website!)
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
One section that resonated for me appeared earlier in the article, under title "Knowing as Distributed in the World." (For another interesting article on this idea, read this. [pdf])
I think "distributed knowledge" has ramifications for how we see groups or teams working and learning together. If intelligence and knowledge is situationally located, this may explain why some groups of students (or workers, in a business context) work extremely well together, and may be more productive than another similarly constituted group. The consequences of "mixing up" a group, or changing the membership randomly (and/or often) might be poor team and individual performances. A Distributed Knowledge perspective might give us some insight into why this might happen.
Reading this section also makes me think of how we often structure both learning environments and assessment practices, particularly in high school. We used to seat students in rows, ask them to take individual notes, and discourage "chit-chat". Recently, we have been moving towards encouraging "think-pair-share", studying with a partner, and working in cooperative learning groups. Ironic that we still test students as individuals, without access to any of the tools, artifacts or books, or the communities and practices that surrounded them in their learning environment. Hmmm.
In the "real" world (teachers always say this, what does it really mean?) individuals often access the knowledge that is distributed across an office setting, asking co-workers or consulting various information sources (manuals, web, notes) without having to hold "the sum of all knowledge" in his/her head.
(For another article, read this. [pdf])
Interesting mention of "situated learning" on a New York School District webpage.
Saturday, September 22, 2007
Lots more by Marc here.
Friday, September 21, 2007
Thursday, September 20, 2007
The assumptions underlying ID (p22-23) made perfect sense to me, especially the 6th point (criterion based assessment, not norm referenced).
My sense is that Behaviourism works well when applied to learning actions that are meant to be automatic. Cognitive learning theories are more appropriate for more complex learning. (I think about learning the guitar in this context. You need to drill and memorize chord shapes, but you need to "understand" the music, and the theory behind it in order to be a virtuoso.) More to come....
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
The article suggests readers check out the WWild Team (which I did) and subsequently found an interesting article on Learning Design on Reiber's website. I like what Reiber has to say on this site about his own "philosophy" so I'll quote it below. (Go to the site for the full picture.)
Learning and Design Philosophy
We characterize our learning philosophy as constructivist, but we are not radical constructivists. We do not believe that "anything goes." Ultimate truth may be unattainable, but we feel certain ideas are more usable and consistent with accepted theory (this is akin to von Glasersfeld's 1993 concept of viability). Even if our universe turns out to be a game cartridge in some alien's Nintendo video system, some ideas are more consistent with its programming than others. Physics is a perfect example of this. Newton's laws of motion are still viable because they have practical uses even though they are no longer considered "true" by physicists. Likewise, we feel that there are times that instruction is reasonable, needed, and expected. We describe ourselves as "eclectic constructivists" to show our interest in all good ideas for promoting learning regardless of their philosophical roots. [...] We take the position that teachers and students have certain roles, responsibilities, and expectations. However, we accept the epistemology of constructivism that meaning is an individual construction, though usually in a social context. Probably the best way to describe our design philosophy is "look for ways to trigger serious play."
I'm about 3/4 of the way through the Larry Cuban book "Oversold and Underused" and it's very interesting. In many ways, I feel a lot of sympathy for his premise: that computers are not making any appreciable difference in instruction, and that they are sucking a tremendous amount of resources away from other worthwhile projects. Personally, I'm of the mind that the technology can still make a difference, if only the teachers are sufficiently inserviced to know what to do!
Monday, September 17, 2007
I also borrowed a copy of "Oversold and Underused" by Larry Cuban. Sounds like a great read! I'll let you know what I think.
Sunday, September 16, 2007
Now that my Grad program has started, I've had a chance to dig into the "Instructional Design" text by Smith and Ragan. I'm not sure what my thinking will be. I'm still wrestling with the idea that "design" can be "teacher-proof". I was excited by the 3 principles of the instructional design process: 1) Where are we going? 2) How will we get there? 3) How will we know we arrived? I see connections here with J. Wilhelm's "Essential Questions" (he's one of the many proponents) and the "backwards design" movement. The text also provides some additional "web based" material (which I found very helpful.) I also came across this site which lays out the steps in designing on-line instruction in the K-12 environment.
We were assigned a chapter from a book by Reiser and Dempsy on the History of Instructional Design. I found it interesting to see the cycle of introduction, hype and disappointment that seemed to accompany each new technology (ie. radio, film, TV, etc. ) As a librarian, it's ironic to see that each technology saw itself as a replacement for books. Also, the problems that faced educational TV ... a) teacher resistance, b) the expense of the systems, c) the inability of the medium to work in all situations, ... are the problems that bedevil adoption of the new technologies today. Some of the encouraging references I found: criterion-referenced assessment, formative evaluation, constructivism, authentic learning tasks.