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Introduction

What elements make for a successful education? What do we need to make education successful? Is it the best classrooms? They help but they are not enough by themselves. Is it the best teachers? They are vital but alone are insufficient. What do we need?
This is an area I have been considering for a while and I have a simple formula (with apologies to Albert).
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Educational success is the sum of four factors. M is for Motivation C for communication, C for collaboration and Finally C for curriculum

I think these are the factors that make for educational success.

Motivation.

Motivation is one of the factors that influences educational success. A student who has low engagement, is not motivated is not going to learn even if the other factors are high. Where as the motivated student in impoverished environs will still learn, all be it at a slower rate.
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It is our job as teachers to motivate and engage. How do we motivate our students? It needs to be relevant – are our curricula relevant to 21st century learners? Does it engage and captivate them?
Is it in a medium that they prefer? Is the medium they use the most pen and paper or multimedia? Is it hand written or one of the many digital media available to the average digital native? Are we using traditional or digital approaches to learning?
Is the learning style facilitated by the teacher the prefer one for the individual? We know that preferred learning style changes from subject to subject and teacher to teacher. Are we providing enough variety in our approaches to engage our students varied learning styles?

Communication

Twenty years ago, classroom communication was probably limited to “Chalk and Talk”. However now we are in a world where communication is paramount and incredibly diverse in its variety. The internet's exponential growth, the emergence of Web 2.0 technologies.

Cell phones

Ask a class of middle or high school students who has a cell phone. Many have optimised their cellular usage by having several phones attached to different plans and providers to take advantage of free txt or sms. How many teachers have used these pervasive technologies in their classrooms?
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Among U.S. teenagers, as Lenhart, Madden, and Hitlin (2005) have found, almost half report owning a cell phone, with a greater percentage of older teens owning a phone (nearly 3 in 5 teens aged 15-17) than younger teens (nearly 1 in 3 teens aged 12-14). More than 4 out of 5 teenagers report owning at least one personal media device, such as a cell phone, desktop, laptop,or handheld computer (Lenhart et al., 2005), and more than half own at least one handheld
gaming device (Roberts et al., 2005).
Dieterle, Dede, and Schrier - “Neomillennial” Learning Styles Propagated by Wireless Handheld Devices
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instant messaging

What of IM or chat? I use instant messaging in my professional communications to other staff and professional colleagues. It allows quick access with a level of flexibility not available in a email. It allows multiple participants and is cost efficient compared to the difficulty and cost of making a conference call via a traditional phone line. Do we use this in the classroom? Or is it a distraction?
Tools like Skype, rely on a fast internet connection and sympathetic network administrators but it is a easy and low cost tool to teleconference and video conference.
Have you used any of these communication tools in your classroom?
whiteboard or chalkboard
Pin or noticeboard
discussion, speech or lecture
flipchart
poster
email
SMS or text
cellphone audio
cellphone video or pxt
audio conference
chat
instant message
skype
audio conference
video conference
list servs
Discussion boards and forums
wikis
presentations
OLE's

Collaboration.

This is a partner and pair with communication. Ian Juke's in his paper “Understanding digital children” when he summarises the digital divide said

Native learners prefer to interact/network simultaneously with many others
Native learners move seamlessly between real and virtual spaces instantaneously - virtual space is any location where people can meet using networked digital devices – chat rooms, blogs, wikis, podcasts, email, discussion threads that come and go – synchronous and asynchronous and with multitasking, can inhabit more than one virtual space at a time – while many teachers prefer to operate in real spaces.
Many teachers prefer students to work independently rather than network and interact.Understanding Digital Kids: Teaching & Learning in the New Digital Landscape – Ian Jukes

For our students, these “digital natives' collaboration is a fancy term to describe what they do everyday in their leisure. But how often do we use it in our labs and classrooms, or to work with dispersed groups?

wiki's

I love wiki's as a collaboration tool. I use wiki's with my students to create course content. The students are assigned different areas of the unit and are asked to develop the material to share with their peers. They are all required to moderate their class mates content with strict guidelines on how they comment and critic. They, once the initial task is completed, are all required to contribute to the other entries. I have also seen wiki's used as a whiteboard - Teacher directed, protected and locked.

The Learning pyramid

At a recent cluster meeting Peter shared this image with me. It is another variation on the learning pyramid.
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Look at the retention value for discussion groups, and for teaching others.

IWB's

One of the technologies that is interesting is the “interactive whiteboard” or IWB. Many administrators and Principals have a vision of these tools increasing interactivity (they mean by this collaboration and engagement) in the classroom by there mere presence. They can do just this but these technologies are interactive but not collaborative. Interactive means that you the user can interact with the tool, there are inherent features that make this tool superior in many way to a whiteboard and marker or blackboard and chalk. Interactivity does not mean interaction with students. To use your IWB as a tool for collaboration requires a change in the teachers pedagogy, in how they teach.
The IWB is going to be limited because you can only have one person operate it at a time. So to effectively use it requires a change in how you teach.
A colleague of mine uses the IWB as a stop in a bus stop activity sequence in her classroom. Groups rotate round and eventually make their way to the whiteboard. Here in a small group with prepared and hyperlinked materials it becomes a tool of interaction. The students work though the tasks in a collaborative mode. The IWB here has another huge advantage that each group can repeat the task by simply resetting or reloading the activity.

An interesting adage


I HEAR and I FORGET
I SEE and I REMEMBER
I DO and I UNDERSTAND
Do we collaborate enough? Do we encourage our students to share and network, do we encourage peer mentoring? Are the tools for collaboration available for our students to use and do we encourage them to use them. How would you react if a student in your class texted a peer or another teacher to ask a question or seek assistance with a concept. Are they encourage to use instant messaging to converse? Are tools that enable simultaneous collaboration on documents like “Google documents”, where students can concurrently edit a document available?

Curriculum

Is the curriculum relevant, coherent, appropriate and valid for our students. Does it reflect the world we live in and more importantly does it reflect the world of the digital native, our Neo-millennial learners?
Does the curriculum allow the content to scaffolded and constructed?
Is the curriculum regularly reviewed and updated. Do we ask the question of each topic “why are we teaching this?”
Does the curriculum encompass modern technologies?
In one course that I teach the students are required to write an essay on a current social and ethical issue. The essay is based on current news article, and the students are required to provide this stimulus article when they submit their work for assessment. However, the News article must be text based. It must be printable. But what of the vast mass of valid video and audio based news that must be ignored and overlooked because it is not easy to capture. Given the choice would our students read and article or listen/watch one?

Educational success

Educational success is a factor of four elements the motivational state of the students, the modes of communication and collaboration used in the learning space; and the relevance of the curriculum. The compelled student will not learn as well as one who is engaged. The student who is the recipient of knowledge in a uni directional flow will not progress as one who learns in a constructivist classroom, where the tools they use are the same ones they use in their leisure. The student who can see the relevance in the curriculum and has had input in shaping the direction of the learning will be more engaged and interested

Where do you fit?

Bernie Trilling - Oracle Education Foundation - produced a very interesting article published in the Australian Education Computing Journal Vol 22 No 1 on learning and the future.
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One element I found interesting was the Up and Over the Learning with ICT Curve
This is an attempt (and I think a good one) to clarify where you fit on the ICT learning curve
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Where do you fit?

Graph Key

Bernie has also attempted to clarify the criteria for each phase - This is based on the tool/application use and behaviours of the users

Disconnected

  • Offline word processing

1 or 2 other applications

Novices

  • Offline word processing
  • 1 or 2 other applications
  • email
  • web surfing

Late Majority

  • Offline word processing
  • 1 or 2 other applications
  • email
  • web surfing
  • online research
  • upload and download online content
  • online form filling & transactions
  • simple online games

Early Majority

  • Offline word processing
  • 1 or 2 other applications
  • email
  • web surfing
  • create and publish documents & web pages
  • interact and share ideas online
  • Participate in online learning (standards based)
  • Collaborative interactions, forums, groups and communities

Early Adopters

  • Offline word processing
  • 1 or 2 other applications
  • email
  • web surfing
  • create and publish documents & web pages
  • interact and share ideas online
  • Participate in online learning (standards based)
  • group multi - media productions and websites
  • Collaborative interactions, forums, groups and communities
  • create, collaborate and share online projects
  • collaborate with synchronous and asynchronous tools
  • take facilitated courses
  • use online simulations & multi player games

Innovators

  • Offline word processing
  • 1 or 2 other applications
  • email
  • web surfing
  • create and publish documents & web pages
  • interact and share ideas online
  • Participate in online learning (standards based)
  • group multi - media productions and websites
  • Collaborative interactions, forums, groups and communities
  • create, collaborate and share online projects
  • collaborate with synchronous and asynchronous tools
  • take facilitated courses
  • use online simulations & multi player games
  • Active in global learning community
  • learning with mentors
  • share journals and blogs
  • Portfolios of projects and work
  • create and share databases and data-based work

Mavericks

  • Offline word processing
  • 1 or 2 other applications
  • email
  • web surfing
  • create and publish documents & web pages
  • interact and share ideas online
  • Participate in online learning (standards based)
  • Collaborative interactions, forums, groups and communities
  • create, collaborate and share online projects
  • collaborate with synchronous and asynchronous tools
  • take facilitated courses
  • use online simulations & multi player games
  • Active in global learning community
  • learning with mentors
  • share journals and blogs
  • Portfolios of projects and work
  • create and share databases and data-based work
  • create online tools and environments for others
  • collaborate in complex multimedia productions
  • build highly interactive communities






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