Saturday, 15 December 2012

The Friday Reflection

Cold Wind of Change

Online unis and courses have finally hit the headlines in the UK.   This is obviously a reaction to the "success" of Coursera and edX going by comments made in the article about brand presence.  Success was put in quotation marks because apparently retention of students is at most 20% , have seen the quote somewhere on a site will need to find the link.  Is it a case of the shiny new toy that everybody has to have to be cool but then puts it away after a few plays?  Is it the Furby syndrome? This is the Friday reflection!

As I look further into the technologies behind the Klondike experience happening now, I am starting to think of classifying the gadgets mainly on ease of use.  High powered programming can sometimes obscure the actual time spent in preparation compared to actual learner engagement.  If it takes longer to produce than the collective time spent viewing by a learning community is it a worthwhile activity for the instructor?  Can whiteboard and marker be just as effective?

One new development that I am really pleased about is Google+ Communities.   This as I blogged about last week could end up being the major game changer for removing technology into the background and allowing the participants to take the centre stage.  I look forward to developing the experience.

Generally a week of career development and direction review.  I have worked all week in Ely about 35 miles 50 minute drive.  At the same time I have been trying to maintain the momentum of growth for Haverhill Online Learning Community and   Having been offered the opportunity to teach Science in a school in Harlow I had to make a decision of whether to pursue the guaranteed money and not carry on with online teaching interests for 3 months.  Harlow vs new Horizons?  New Horizons won since UK schooling terms of work and conditions are not worth the relatively meagre rewards for the 50+ hour weeks that  teaching has become in the UK.  Easier to use my experience for odd day here and there, be the online teacher from home, write those learning activities that inspire that a National Curriculum does not allow.   Having run a Science and ICT department in a school in Suffolk for a number of years through special measures (entered 3 months after I joined and experienced this for two years) it is easier to say have the T-shirt but don't particularly want to wear it!   The length of time in special measures was exceptional  even though Science went from 42% of pupils reaching level 4 (expected achievement ) prior to tenure to 74% within 18 months.  Pity maths was hitting 29% and English equally disappointing compared to national expectations.  This is without consultant input or massive resources.  English and Maths had the cake but the pupils didn't particularly want it!

A slight diversion into the vagaries of UK improvement there! So Blue Sky Horizons are there! However, with any learning familiarity can breed complacency.  The adoption of technology does not mean that we use the same experience all the time.  Selecting the right tool for the job is paramount especially when considering the intended outcome.

Looking back at last weeks blog  the main task was to maintain momentum for Online Learning Communities.  It has been a testing week finding the enthusiasm to go forward.  But we have got there!

Schools break up in the UK next week. Have not much booked which allows me do the training for my new role as an Online Tutor for Apricot Online Learning , a relatively new concept in UK education.  Also a time to review the yearly goals.  See how how much progress we have made in the work-life balance stakes, nda assess the Wellbeing or "happiness index".  Christmas break in the UK gives people a lot of spare time on their hands to become curious.  This curiosity I hope to hitch to the plough horse (we are famous in Suffolk for our breed of heavy horse the Suffolk Punch) and create a new furrow to plant the seeds of innovative teaching.   Will continue to develop a link with my old school where I was educated and which is now the Academy of the Year.  Look forward to a productive time before the end of the year change! 

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