100+ Tools for Differentiating Instruction Through Social Media | Edutopia



Here’s a useful post I stumbled across – it focuses on purposeful use of tech tools rather than replacing doc…

A real bugbear of mine is having these wonderful tools available and then just using them to replace pen and paper activities (assuming you have been able to get past issues such as equity of access/ physical access/ internet speed/training/ policy matters etc). It’s chocolate covered broccoli and kids know it.

The trouble is there are so many barriers preventing genuine integration – some of these are genuine, some are excuses. But this ties into the touted learning revolution with the ‘game changers’ that are computers. As I have studied this topic it strikes me that this cry goes back to the eighties and even well before that.

Ultimately I have come to the conclusion that all the tech in the world will make minimal difference without substantial changes to pedagogical and assessment practices. So big ups to all you people out there doing your darndest! Remember, one step at a time on your tech journey. Just don’t stop for too long in one place.

Learning Centred Classroom

As a part of my lecture this week, I encountered the notion of a learning-centred classroom. This differs from current educational language which talks about shifting from a teacher -centred classroom to a student/learner-centred classroom. Well what about changing the language to a learning centred classroom?

It is a subtle shift in language, yet quite powerful.

A learning-centred classroom seems like a ‘well, isn’t that what the point of education is?’ kind of thought. Yet in a time of cramped curricula, ‘good’ educational opportunities and high accountability, it is all too easy for learning to take a back bench to curricula coverage, getting through the list, achieving results and ‘teaching’.

Well as we all know, teaching does not necessarily equal learning (nor does it necessarily preclude it). Results can be achieved, but that doesn’t necessarily mean learning has occurred. Students can look engaged but again, this doesn’t mean learning has happened.

So what prompted this thinking? I know you have been dying to ask. As usual, this does not come from me. I have included below an extract from a useful website which addresses this topic. The site can be accessed via this link: Link Alert!

“Many of the ways we have of talking about learning and education are based on the assumption that learning is something that individuals do. Furthermore, we often assume that learning ‘has a beginning and an end; that it is best separated from the rest of our activities; and that it is the result of teaching’ (Wenger 1998: 3). But how would things look if we took a different track? Supposing learning is social and comes largely from of our experience of participating in daily life? It was this thought that formed the basis of a significant rethinking of learning theory in the late 1980s and early 1990s by two researchers from very different disciplines – Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger. Their model of situated learning proposed that learning involved a process of engagement in a ‘community of practice’.”

As I look back I can see myself as a practitioner who has had both a teacher-centred and then learner-centred classroom. I have certainly tried to promote learning (achieving both success and failure). But, can I definitively say I have had a ‘learning’ centred classroom? Can you?

I’m signing off now to do some more reading. Enjoy!

Authentic learning contexts

“The use of authentic tasks is also advocated to foster learning transfer in the belief that the collaboration among students helps them learn not only the concepts under discussion but also how these concepts are used in the workplace or in life (Jaworski, 1994 ). To accomplish an authentic task, students must interact through sharing what they are thinking, relating their ideas to past experiences, collaborating with their peers, actively constructing their own meaning, and incorporating the diverse perspectives of others,” (Woo & Reeves, 2007 p.20).

Although written in the context of web-based learning, this has implications for  ‘contextualising’ learning in face-to-face learning as well. To foster the transfer of learning, not only is collaboration needed, but a truly authentic context, rather than a forced one. Woo and Reeves identified ten characteristics of authentic activities (from p.21):

  • “1. Authentic activities have real-world relevance.
  • 2. Authentic activities are ill-defined, requiring students to define the tasks and sub-tasks needed to complete the activity.
  • 3. Authentic activities comprise complex tasks to be investigated by students over a sustained period of time.
  • 4. Authentic activities provide the opportunity for students to examine the task from different perspectives, using a variety of resources.
  • 5. Authentic activities provide the opportunity to collaborate.
  • 6. Authentic activities provide the opportunity to reflect.
  • 7. Authentic activities can be integrated and applied across different subject areas and lead beyond domain-specific outcomes.
  • 8. Authentic activities are seamlessly integrated with assessment.
  • 9. Authentic activities create polished products valuable in their own right rather than as preparation for something
  • else.
  • 10. Authentic activities allow competing solutions and diversity of outcomes.”

To summarise, authentic activities can take multiple paths, require flexibility, collaboration, and learner control. They require higher order thinking and certainly scaffolding to support students at their various stages of development. Authentic learning tasks are messy (and I would disagree that with point number nine that they create polished products – that isn’t necessarily learning.

Woo, Y., & Reeves, T. C. (2007). Meaningful interaction in web-based learning: A social constructivist interpretation. The Internet and Higher Education, 10(1), 15–25. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.iheduc.2006.10.005


The rise of racism

“Can we learn something from the past that helps us see more in the present?” asks Timothy Snyder, right, onstage with historian Rick Perlstein, during TED Dialogues, February 23, 2017, at TED’s offices in New York. Photo: Dian Lofton / TED Timothy Snyder grew up in America, but as a historian of 20th-century Europe at…

via Step away from the internet, and other ways to fight tyranny: A conversation with Timothy Snyder and Rick Perlstein — TED Blog

Female educators to follow – a small way to take action for equality?

A few weeks ago, I helped to prepare a document for my school. The document had lots of photos of children. As part of the final proof, the principal went back and counted up the children appearing to check for gender diversity. It was a small action but something that communicated a bigger idea – equality […]

via #internationalwomensday – instead of platitudes take action — Teaching the Teacher