Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Professional Inquiry - reflection term 3

Term 3 is coming towards a close, hasn't it been a very busy term! Often I have felt pulled in many different directions, and I have spent less time working on my inquiry than I hoped to. However, it is reflection that makes the difference, not the experience: "We do not learn from experience... we learn from reflecting on experience." is credited to John Dewey though this does not appear to be a verbatim quote (possible from publication Experience and Education 1939).

Just as a reminder, my inquiry question is "How can I support teachers to develop 21C skills and apply these in their classrooms by utilising the 21CLD approach in my own practise?". So far I have looked at the skills of Collaboration, Knowledge Creation and Self-Regulation, and I have made an effort to incorporate these into my work with teachers. I have found circumstances where I don't work with teachers on an ongoing basis more challenging as the first step in Self-Regulation is that the learning activity offers substantive time and opportunity which a one-off session does not fulfil.

Real-World Innovation and Problem-Solving are next on my radar; working with teachers, I try to relate all activities to their work in schools, that means even in a more tool focused session like introduction to OneNote I encourage them to create the practise OneNote with a particular school context in mind (resources for their Grade 7 Social Sciences class, Class Notebook for their Grade 11 Maths B class, a collaborative notebook for the HPE faculty etc.). Some of the work I do with schools allows us to take this further; especially during the ICT Peer Coaching work, we actively inquire and pose questions, generate possibilities, design and test out solutions, and all participants need to reflect and take actions on their ideas in order to gain accreditation. I am not entirely sure yet how to incorporate more of this into other aspects of my work outside peer coaching.
I have realised that I apply a lot of R-W I & P-S in my own work; I try to reflect on my work at all times (too much I have been told by family members - I need to find that off-switch more often) and I always try to come up with improvements to work better for my schools and teachers.

The fifth 21C skill I want to mention is ICT for Learning. Working in e-learning, the use of ICT for Learning seems a given; however, when we examine the rubric, it quickly becomes apparent that there is more to it than just use a computer. The second question on the rubric asks: Is ICT required to construct knowledge and add value to learning? As I wrote about in my term 2 reflection, not all circumstances have lend themselves yet to get to high level knowledge creation. Looking at the next step in the rubric, "Do learners use ICT to create new ideas and products for authentic users", I would argue that yes, many of my learners do. However, do I require them to do this, or is this their own choice? Ultimately, do I have the say here or is it them, as professionals, who make this choice?

I feel I am getting to an interesting point in my inquiry: How does applying 21CLD in a PLD context differ from applying it in compulsory schooling? A professional learning consultant has a different role to a teacher in the classroom, the amount of time they spend with their learners is different, content and reporting mechanisms are different. So far, I am feeling that while I am incorporating a low level of 21C skills into my activities, I am not really getting to the higher levels of these 21C skills, and I am wondering if I am causing this or if there are circumstances beyond my control?

One more skill to cover but lots more thinking to do...

Google Updates

There have been a flurry of updates around Google lately - from the announcement of a holding company Alphabet to new logos and beyond:

I am very excited about the new addition to Google Docs, a tool called Voice Typing. You find it under Tools - Voice typing

This will pop up a little box with a microphone icon in it, to activate the dictation function, you will have to click on the icon:

There are a number of punctuation commands: "Period", comma", "exclamation point", "question mark", "new line" and "new paragraph" according to Google Docs editor help. I have also found that it started responding to "full stop" after several attempts.
You might see a grey line appear under some of your dictated text. Right-click on this and you will get some suggestions:

The 'so what': Why do I care, and why should you?

I have blogged before about the value of digital storytelling, by looking at incorporating different ways of telling our stories rather than just in text. I believe that this nifty little tool will allow students to tell their stories orally and turn it into text for them without having to go through the often painfully slow typing process.  I could see this especially helpful for students with special learning needs, if offered as one of multiple means of expression and action. Students still have to edit their text to ensure that it represents what they want to say, so they have to engage with the text further.
Combine this with a Chrome Extension like Read & Write for Google, even just on the free version, for students to have the option to hear this text spoken back to them and I think we are really onto a winner here. Not only are we allowing students to get their text to paper without having to physically type it, we are also lightening the cognitive load on them a little, allowing them to spend more time on getting their story just right. Taking away barriers allows us to focus on what is really important - the learning.