On Monday the 1st December I toddled off to London. It was a bit of a train disaster the first part, images of John Cleese in the film Clockwise popped into my head. I was nearly late for my first train but just made it only to be told some idiot had stolen train cable in the Manchester area. This made my first train ten minutes late leading me to entering Preston train station watching my next train pass me by. If only someone had nicked the cable round Lancaster too I would have caught it. Anyway I finally arrived in London later than planned. I crept in at the back thinking I had pulled it off and no one would notice my twenty-minute late arrival. Then I realised as it was a tech event there were people photographing and videoing everything!
So what was I doing there? I had been invited thanks to being an active participant with @theukfechat on twitter. I was quite pleased to be going to this Think Out Loud Club (founded by City and Guilds). I am very interested in why FE needs to improve their use of technology and how it should respond to FELTAG (see earlier post regarding FELTAG here) I wanted to learn more. I will tell you now I am not a big tech expert, give me a whiteboard marker and the opportunity to talk till the cows come home and I am happy. Interestingly so are most of my students or at least they pretend to be. Anyway I wanted to learn more and see if there could be a way to balance technology with teaching and learning.
First up was @Jonathan_Worth talking about the use of photography and the messages that they send via the media. There was an activity following his talk which involved us finding a photo and giving it a headline then tweeting it. It was a useful exercise and I can see how it could engage debate within the classroom or online.
Next was @YFouda who gave us some really interesting information on YouTube and Google Glass. I know some colleges are trialing Google Glass and others use YouTube for flipped learning, forms of assessment and much more. It sounded very good but the one question that kept popping into my head was will it make a big difference whether we use it or not? We did another task and this time we had to create a video in our groups basically sale pitching a phone.
This I liked as it was quick and we did ours ‘tongue in cheek’. However there was a purpose to this task, it was to show us how simple it was to do. I can see how it could be a useful resource for online learning.
Finally was @MarkRiches on badges. I have heard this batting around on twitter but didn’t really understand their purpose or if I am honest what they even were. I am a bit more enlightened but I still need convincing on this more.
Near the end of it I finally got to catch up with @bobharrisonnet and discussed some of the issues with improving the use of technology to support online learning. A lot of it is based round not understanding it fully. Every college is trying to meet these requirements but we are all working at different levels. I am hoping my college will get it right, we are already off to a good start by forming focus groups in each department. These groups will explore ways to develop online learning resources. I have managed to get myself involved in one of these development groups. As I understand it we will be looking at creating online resources, ensuring everyone knows how to use them and that it has purpose to it. I will be blogging more on this once it is fully up and running.
So to sum up I had a great day, learnt stuff and made some good contacts. However I still need to work out how effective all this technology is for enhancing learning. As ever if anyone has any thoughts, advice or links on (for or against) technology for learning I am all ears!