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The never ending digital learning journey - every new device is just a stepping stone and not the end.



Updated: 2017-09-09T00:41:00.383+01:00

 



ICT For Teaching Assistants

2012-12-30T18:59:33.702+00:00

Galloway, J and Norton, H (2011) ICT for teaching assistants. Oxon: Routledge.

http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9780415583077/

This book is not just for teaching assistants but for those involved in teaching children ICT skills and ways to use ICT for learning. The hardcore ICT skills associated with Word Processing, Data Handling, Creating and Presenting and Control and Modelling, are touched upon in this book. It does not provide sequential lesson plans but more of an overview of the main skills required to 'work' the software alongside some ideas how to use the software.

Do not expect step by step instructions to help plan lessons. Instead expect to use the book as a resource to develop your own knowledge of the skills that need to be taught for various ICT software.

What I do recommend from this book is the Inclusion' chapter where it provides clear instructions how to adapt computers to make them accessible to all learners.



Solomon, G. and Schrum, L. (2007). Web 2.0 new tools, new schools.Washington: ISTE.

2012-12-30T17:51:13.607+00:00

When I first purchases this book in 2008 I immediately placed it on the reading list for the student teachers who were undertaking the ICT Elective module.  The book explained clearly the difference between Web 1.0 to Web 2.0 and what the 'new' tools were and how they could be used.  For those students who had no understanding of what a blog and a wiki were this book met their needs.  Now four years on I find this book a little too elementary and a little outdated.  The unfortunate thing about technology books is that they become outdated once they are printed.  With that said, there are still some aspects of the book that are worth sharing.The digital native debate:Solomon and Schrum sway to the digital native term used to describe today's generation of learners and how education should adapt to meet their needs.  Back in 2008 I was a great fan of Marc Prensky's 'digital native' term where I was quick to use the thinking behind this term as reasons to embrace technology in Education.  I believed that all students coming to University were technology savvy.  This thinking changed greatly when it became clear in ICT inputs that many of out so called 'digital natives' were competent users of email, instant messaging, Facebook etc but were not competent users of computer technology.  My change in view was noted in a previous post 'Digital Natives of Digitally Naive' where I began to question Prensky's views.  Although there is a debate about the notion that 'digital natives' are of a specific age rather than a generation, I still agree with Prensky's analogy of learning where he refers to learning being similar to the Federal Express where 'you can have the best delivery system in the world, but if no one is home to receive the package, it doesn't much matter. Too often, today's students are not there to receive what their teachers are delivering' (Prensky, 2010:10).  Communities of practice:Alongside promoting the digital native terminology in their book, Solomon and Schrum also discuss the notion of communities of practice using online technology.  The social constructivist opportunities afforded by social technologies online, blogs, wikis, forums, social networks etc, provide platforms to enable users/participants to communicate, collaborate and create together.  It should be noted, as discussed in a previous post, that not all collaborative activities online need to have active participation by all members.  Larusson & Alterman (2009) refer to two types of collaborative activities online: tightly coupled activities and loosely coupled activities.Tightly Coupled Activities - connect to create shared products.  Students must stay coordinated and focus on key materials.Loosely Coupled Activities - connect but do not need an end product.  Not every contribution must be recognised.'a space in which you can plan and reflect in depth on your practice, helping identify your strengths and find ways of building on these' (p.1).OR'a collection of materials put together in a meaningful way to demonstrate the practice and learning of an educational practitioner' (p.1).An ePortfolio is NOT 'a random collection of materials and artefacts'.They also stipulate three elements of an ePortfolio:Reflection - Why something was undertaken a specific way.Description - What happened?Evaluation - How did this affect me?For Forde et al. they see the purpose of an ePortfolio as:* to illustrate achievements?* to demonstrate ongoing developments of thinking and practice?* to collect evidence?* to provide a vehicle for reflection?EPortfolios:Finally, Solomon & Schrum discuss how blogs and wikis can be used for ePortfolios.  What is worth noting from their discussion of these two tools is what the purpose of a blog and a wiki are.  Too often these tools are mixed up and are not used for the correct purpose resulting in not be using appropriately and effectively.  Solomon an[...]



Futurelab: 2020 and Beyond

2012-12-28T14:57:22.364+00:00

This post was written in November 2008.Futurelab's 2020 report tries to predict what the future of education will be with a vision for more personalised education. They question:To what extent are we prepared, as a society and as educators, for the massive changes in human capabilities that digital technologies are likely to enable in the next 13 years?To what extent are our future visions for education based upon assumptions about humanity, society and technology that are no longer valid?To what extent can we, as educators, help to shape the developments of technology in order to enhance human development?To what extent can we, as educators, help to shape the developments of technology in order to enhance human development? If educators are to shape the future they are the ones that need to be engaged with the latest and futuristic technologies at the early stages rather than wait for the top down approach where devices are placed into classrooms with no knowledge of the true purpose of learning. Douglas Adams states:'the best way we can predict the future is to build it'This is where I think my role as a lecturer in primary education comes into being and one that I question every time I visit students in schools. I perceive my role as introducing future technologies and developing ways in which they can be embedded in education with my students, however, when I visit schools and see one antiquated computer in classrooms running Sherston's maths, two IWBs for the whole school in 'quiet' rooms, ICT suites with scheduled once a week slots etc, I wonder why I am bothering as the students will not be able to implement many of the tools and ideas we use at University. If I were to take the route of 'let's prepare them for what's out there' then I would not be 'building the future' but simply maintaining the past. Our students teachers are the ones who will change the future of teaching and their enthusiasm and ideas should be build upon not buried under the foundations of the past.So what is the future? Personalisation and integrated technology are high on the list. By 2020 technology will be embedded and distributed in most objects. Mobile phones, MP3 players, PDAs etc will become discrete objects invisibly integrated into our clothes and accessories. How will this impact on education? Will we still be sitting in rows being tested on our knowledge within or will we be tested on our ability to use use tools to assist our knowledge and analyse it? Will the written or typed word still be seen as 'the' method of assessing learning or will children be allowed to choose their preferred method of showing their understandings? Will learning be still confined to the place called 'school' or will learning be at the time and place that meets the learner's needs?'The future is already here, it is just unevenly distributed'. (Gibson: 30)Many of the questions about the future are already being answered in small educational pockets in society where brave educationalists are willing to take the plunge and implement learning that moves away from the Victorian past to how our children learn in their present environment and in some cases how they could learn in the future. Tom Barrett's innovative teaching is one of the small pockets of present and future teaching and learning that is out there where Tom is creating vibrant environments for children and teachers to communicate, collaborate and learn. Time Ryland is another exciting educator who's futuristic learning is exciting, engaging and a place where children can truly connect.Predicting the future is not simple and if it were we would be prepared rather than have it thrown at us. But that is what makes the future exciting: being unpredictable. If we knew what was around the corner we would maybe never go that that route. The future is about embracing and working with change to meet young learner's needs rather than ignore and stay in the past.Futurelab (2007). 2020 and Beyond. UK: Bristol[...]



The way in which students are assessed fundamentally affects their learning

2012-12-21T21:52:06.059+00:00


(image) What contribution can technology make to the assessment process?  Is it just a faster way to gather in data and feedback results?  Is it just an electronic method of assessing at the end of a learning block?  Is it too clinical and not personal?  If you answer yes to the above questions then you have probably not had experience of using ePortfolios, blogs, wikis, simulation games, content creation applications etc.


The JISC Effective Assessment in a Digital Age publication explains the 'what, why and how' to integrate eAssessment into the learning process with an emphasis on the 'how' more than the 'what'.

Yes, technology has the potential to enhance/facilitate assessment but to be transformational it needs to have a clear educational purpose and engagement.  It should not just be used!


If using technology to assess it should have opportunities for:


  • Dialogue and Communication
  • Immediacy and Contingency
  • Authenticity
  • Speed and was of Processing
  • Self-Evaluative, Self-Regulated Learning
  • Additionality
Learners should have access to wide range of tools and choice of methods of presenting knowledge to encourage a deeper level of enquiry.  To become independent lifelong learners students need to develop self-monitoring and self-regulating against defined criteria to promote deeper and more effective learning.


The publication defines four broad perspectives on learning: Associative, Constructivist, Social Constructivist and Situative.  These four perspectives can work independent of one another or can be interconnected.  The table below provides an overview of each perspective and the assessment approach associated with it.


This publication hosts ten case studies that are set in Higher Education. Each case study employs different eAssessment methods and approaches depending on the nature of the learning environment and the purpose of the assessment.



JISC (2010) Effective assessment in a digital age.  Bristol: HEFCE.



Moving Image Education: A Visit From Fife

2012-12-21T21:52:06.023+00:00

This week at university students edited their movies which they will hopefully be sharing with you in the next week or two.  One student wrote an interesting post related to the technical steps of movies making where she discusses the pros and cons and how she would address these in the classroom: iTeach blog.

The majority of students then reflected upon the visit from Fife Local Authority related to what Fife schools are doing in relation to ICT.  Jim Birney, Fife's Education Adviser ICT, kindly came to University with three colleagues to allow students teachers to see the huge range of exciting ICT educational learning that is going on in schools across Fife.  Students reflected upon what they learnt from Jim and colleagues in their personal blogs.

The contextualised aspect of GBL was discussed by MissC who noted that ICT should not be confined to ICT suites but embedded into classroom learning.  One student, iRight, provided an overview of all games that were introduced with reference to Curriculum for Excellence's outcomes.  MissyMack provided a specific example of GBL using SuperTux and how Prensky's five levels of learning can be addressed through this game.

There are more post still to be written which I shall add later in the week.  If you read this post and have time, please read some of the students' post and give them some feedback.



Moving Image Education

2012-12-21T21:52:06.020+00:00

This week students have started their Moving Image Education (MIE) part of their ICT elective.  Animation, filming and moving images are what we will be discussing, reading, doing and reflecting upon to develop a better understanding of how to use MIE in education.

There are two student blogs that I would like to draw your attention to where the students have provided insightful reflections from their own practice and readings.

iCare's post provided the reader with information of the three areas of MIE - Analyse - Create - Explore.  This was taken from the MIE site which the students were asked to read and reflect upon.  iClare the develops her post further by relating MIE to Scottish Education where CfE discuss the how MIE can link to the four capacities of CfE.

Finally, iClare provided an example of how a teacher is using MIE in her classroom.  A very good post which is worth a read.

The next post that I recommend reading was created by iTeach.  Here iTeach starts by referring to the three 'Cs' of MIE which is exemplified through a simple diagram.


iTeach then provided the reader with three sections related to MIE: Why do we need MIE? Why study MIE? MIE and the Curriculum for Excellence.  Again, a clearly written post the is concise and informative.




IWB Training - e-Learning & Face-To-Face Learning

2012-12-21T21:52:06.016+00:00

Now we are at the last stage of the research where you now have the chance to provide your personal perspective of the training approach you undertook.  When creating your response you should reflect upon:
  1. The findings from the questionnaire.
  2. The discussion you had with your group.
  3. The feedback your group and other groups in your year provided on your Wallwisher page.
  4. The feedback the other year group provided on their Wallwisher page.
When you respond to this post you should read what others have said before you.  Do you agree or disagree with them?  Do you have something different to say?  

Once you have reflected on all of the above you should be ready to provide your personal feedback.



QR Fresher Hunt Around Campus

2012-12-21T21:52:06.093+00:00

It is Fresher's Week, or Welcome Week, at University of Dundee, and students are starting a new journey in their lives.  Like all new journeys there are hurdles to overcome to get to the final destination.  During Welcome Week, my role is to provide students with their induction to the the IT systems that they will use at University to communicate, access materials and in some cases collaborate with others.  Over the past two years I have evaluated this system, observed students in their first few days at University and discussed some of the difficulties.  The main aspect that arises is finding their way about Campus and Dundee.

University is like a small town with lots of buildings, rooms, people and procedures and it is difficult to assimilate all this knowledge and locate various buildings in this maze-like community.  Likewise, Dundee is a large town with lots of places of interest that are sometimes never found.  The traditional method of finding places are organised guided tours of the University or local area or follow the crowd and all get lost together.  Today I decided to change from the traditional to the present and organised a QR Fresher Hunt for my First Year Primary Student Teachers and for new students across University in collaboration with Karen from Dundee University Students Association (DUSA).

The QR Fresher Hunt used i-nigma software to create QR Codes  with hidden messages that were revealed when students scanned the codes with i-nigma App on iPhones that were provided by myself for each group or using the students' own mobile devices that are compatible with i-nigma software.  The messages within the QR codes asked students to locate a key area in the University (Teaching Rooms, Reception Area, Assignment Location, Student Services, Bank Machines, Gym, Book Shop, businesses in dundee and local areas of interest, etc) with a specific task to do when they arrived there.

The activity started with a shy, quiet class who were still getting to know their peers and their lecturer.  When students returned from the QR Fresher Hunt the atmosphere had transformed into a lively class who undertook all activities and were eager to share the information, leaflets and knowledge about areas of University, with their peers.  More importantly, new friendships were made through this collaborative activity where everyone was involved in each task.

QR codes have a huge potential to be part of Education, whether it be to support or extend learning or to make learners engage with their learning environment rather than dismiss it.  Maybe the seeds I have sown today will scatter to a wider community where others will adopt this active approach to Fresher's Week but more importantly that our future teachers may use this method to engage, support, personalise and motivate the children of today's generation.



Free Wikis For Higher Education

2012-12-21T21:52:06.038+00:00

Fantastic news - Wikispaces are now providing free spaces for Higher Education without all the advertising.

http://www.wikispaces.com/content/for/highered

I have used wikispaces for rather a long time in education and the value of this tool to provide a window to the world for communication, collaboration and creativity is huge.  You don't get many things in life for free but this is one of those gems that should be treasured and appreciated otherwise it will come lost in the mine.



There Is More To Farming Than Wellies & Manure!!!

2012-12-21T21:52:06.086+00:00

A repost related to Facebook and Farmville as student teachers are looking at Games Based Learning.Do you have Facebook?  Do you have Farmville?  Do you visit your farm at least once a day?  Do you have crops and animals or do you do just crops or just animals?  Do you organise your farm with animals in one area and crops in another?  Do you help neighbours with their farms?  Do you play for fun or to make money or move up a level?Ploughing, planting, harvesting, reaping, gathering eggs, collecting milk, storing items, buying seeds/ machinery/ fuel/ storage and earning virtual money are all part of a day's work on Farmville, Facebook's highly addictive application as evident in the latest statistics below:Usage: The addiction for Farmville is quite catching.  I had resisted interacting with this application due to perceiving it as another Tamagothchi type fad that would not last long.  I took no interest in my teenage daughter's addiction to it and told student teacher's to turn off Farmville during ICT inputs unless they could give me an educational reason why they could play this.  Well being true educationalists they were able to provide ample reasons which led me to enquire more about what was making this addictive and was there true educational value in this application.Well I have to say, if you go down to the farm today you are in for a big surprise.  There are lots of educational values from helping you neighbouring farmers, time-management, organisation, budgeting, developing, maintaining etc..  These are generic values that can be applied to the game, however, the main educational value lies in the field of 'business management'.  This is the problem solving part that makes you think: what crops shall I plant to gain the most money, what crops shall I plant that I can harvest in the time given, will I have animals, trees and buildings as they take up space and do not make as much money?  Mathematical skills are required to answer these questions if you want your farm to thrive and reap a tidy profit which is known as Return On Investment (ROI) in the financial world.Business Management:Let's start with the planting of seeds where the following factors need to be taken into consideration:  The cost of the seeds, how much the crop will sell for and the harvest time.  The following screenshot provides examples of a variety of seeds that can be purchased from the Market.When I initially started Farmville I chose crops that I personally would eat or would look nice in my farm.  This is all fine but will not be the most profitable means of ensuring my farm has a healthy ROI and I am sure this is not how 'real' farmers farm their lands!  So it became clear that a formula was required to work out what would reap the best ROI.  This is the formula I used:H=harvest valueC=initial priceT=time (in hours)ROI=(H-C)/TRandom selection of crops for their taste and looks quickly flew out the window as I became a Scrooge and watched my money quickly grow.Collaborative FarmingWhilst my seeds were growing, and this could take a few days for some, I needed to remain busy on the farmy.  One way to do this is to help neighbouring farms that belong to Facebook friends.  By scaring their crows, raking their leaves, fertilising their crops etc., I can earn more money without depleting theirs.  Now this is not how the real world works.  If a farmer works on another farm it is usually for a payment not for the love of it, however, rather than be paid in coins, Farmville pays in experience which helps climb up the experience levels.  In a discussion with my teenage daughter, this is more important to her than the money as she wants to be a higher level than her peers.  Th[...]



Get Information Delivered To You Rather Than Having To Find It

2012-12-21T21:52:06.031+00:00

This post is primarily targeted to my primary student teachers, however, if you do not use iGoogle or do not have live feeds from blogs and news then this might be of interest.  On the other hand, if you do the above with iGoogle or using a different method then you might want to share with us.

When was the last time you had to go to the Post Office and collect your mail that could be delivered through your letterbox?  Do you do this on a daily, weekly basis?  Do you ask yourself - Why can't this mail be just delivered to me rather than waste my time and energy collecting mail that can be delivered?

The same questions can be asked regarding the information we keep going back to online that could be delivered to our online mail boxes or an area online that becomes your hub of information gathering.  One method, that I use, is my iGoogle page, that I customise to pull all the latest blog post and news feeds rather than clicking on each site to find out if an update post is available.  This page is accessible via my Mac, iPad and iPhone to adhere to my premise that information is delivered anytime, anyplace, anywhere.  The first two devices provide a very slick interface with the later device, the iPhone, providing a very basic interface that suits more instant retrieval than deep engagement.

The video below provides a brief overview of iGoogle:

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If you have a Google account you can start using iGoogle, however, if not you might want to create one.  For all those students who have created a blog account you maybe able to use this.  The video below provides an overview of how to edit your iGoogle Homepage:

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The following link provides a brief overview of How To Add Google RSS Feed to your iGoogle page.

http://www.wikihow.com/Add-an-RSS-Feed-to-Your-iGoogle-Page

Setting Your Blog's RSS Feed

So that people can find your RSS feed on your own blog you should make this available by going to the Dashboard of your blog the select:

1.  Design
2.  Add A Gadget
3.  Select the gadget - Subscribe to my Blog
4.  Save

When you view at your blog you will now have an RSS feed for comments and posts which other people can select to keep up-to-date with your blog.

Following Another Person's Blog

If you visit a blog and wish to subscribe to their feeds so you can have their latest posts placed in your iGoogle account you should look for the RSS feed on their page and subscribe to it by selecting 'Add to Google'.  Any new posts will now appear in your iGoogle page as a summary.



Primary Student Blog Of The Week

2012-12-21T21:52:06.100+00:00

This week I have chosen Nicole's blog post, iPads - How Exciting!, as my student post of the week.

It is reflective, contains good links and reference to educational aspects and provides an insight into possible ways we can use iPads in education.

Well done Nicole.

If you have a spare moment, please go to Nicole's blog and leave her a comment to encourage her on her journey of blogging or provide additional advice to deepen her knowledge.



Forde, C., McMahon, M. & Reeves, J. (2009). Putting Together Professional Portfolios. London: Sage. Part 2 - Describe/Reflect/Evaluate through Windows Movie Making

2012-12-21T21:52:27.324+00:00

'A portfolio is a means of structuring, demonstrating and reflecting on your development as a professional.  At the heart of portfolio development is your learning' (Forde, 2009, p,13).The three elements to examining practice:Reflection - Why something was undertaken a specific way.Description - What happened?Evaluation - How did this affect me?It is not just examining one's own practice but what we observe and learn from others.  This can be through observing others teaching, attending a lecture or undertaking a CPD course or reading a book or article.  The only difference is, although we can reflect on what we observe or read, it is not until we put this into practice can we truly reflect on how this affects ourselves.There are times when we reflect and match our learning to specific attainment goals, for example,   Standard for Initial Teacher Education (SITE) or HERA for lecturers at University.  The model of reflecting, describing and evaluating may paint a picture to the reader, however, this picture sometimes requires evidence to substantiate the claims being made.Using the models presented above, I reflected on a recent Digital Moving Editing process with students that was undertaken last week.1.  Reflection on Digital Movie Making Editing Process With StudentsSmall groups of student teachers had completed the filming part of their digital movies and were ready to progress to the Editing process using Windows Movie Maker.  This software was being used as it can be found on the majority of machines in schools, the University has this on their machines and all students have access to this software on their personal computers.Prior to editing, the movie files required converting from .mp4 to .wmm.  The file were in this format due to using Flip Cameras.  To convert the files the online tool, zamzar.com, was used due to no converter software being on university machines and to show students a possible tool they could use for converting specific files.2.  Description of What HappenedConverting the files using Zamzar was timely due to the software only allowing one upload at a time.  A link would then be sent to a specified email account to which the converted file could be downloaded.  To save time, students were asked to share this task rather than one student undertake with the whole process taking around 30 - 40 minutes.In general, all files converted and played in their new .wmm format, however, the problem occurred when we tried to import them into Windows Movie Maker Software.  Some of the files corrupted with the pixels becoming blurred.To counteract this problem we downloaded trial versions of conversion software and converted all the files again.  This worked well for all groups minus one: Windows Movie Maker would not recognise all the files saying an 'index' file was missing.  We searched this problem, download additional files but could not fix the problem until it became apparent that the problem was due to all the files being converted at one time rather than one by one with the software: problem solved.Next minor problem, for one group, was when they imported their files to WMM it would only allow one to import and removed this when another was imported.  Although a minor problem this was a little unusual as normally you see all files that are imported.  To counteract this we simply had to place the files on the storyboard each time they were imported.Last problem!!!  A diligent student had worked very hard, all alone and without help or fuss, to edit her movie.  It was just about finished when she asked me about saving it as her space on the University would not allow.  Now, th[...]



Forde, C., McMahon, M. & Reeves, J. (2009). Putting Together Professional Portfolios. London: Sage.

2012-12-21T21:52:27.331+00:00

Chapter 1 - What Is a Portfolio'a space in which you can plan and reflect in depth on your practice, helping identify your strengths and find ways of building on these' (p.1).OR'a collection of materials put together in a meaningful way to demonstrate the practice and learning of an educational practitioner' (p.1).IT IS NOT'a random collection of materials and artefacts'.What is the purpose:* to illustrate achievements?* to demonstrate ongoing developments of thinking and practice?* to collect evidence?* to provide a vehicle for reflection?Types of portfolios:* Course Content - contains items that have significant relevance to a course.* CPD Portfolio - contains record of professional development with reflections and evaluations.* Competence-based Portfolio - achievement against specific criteria.* Accreditation for Prior Learning - contains evidence related to prior learning.* Project Portfolio - contains resources and reflections of groups related to a specific topic.There are quite a few similarities and differences between what we place in different types of portfolios that it is easy to get blur the boundaries between the main focus or to use the wrong tool for the job.  In this age where many use blogs and wikis as their electronic means of reflection and evidence, I do question whether the correct tool is being applied for the correct purpose.  How often I have seen wikis being used as a reflective tool in the format of a diary and blogs being used as a place to record evidence when the other way around would be much more beneficial.  Surely as years roll on it is much easier to view an organised wiki to view specific key evidence that trail through a specific tag in a blog and likely so, it is easier to map development by viewing the learning journey in a blog than fish through a wikispace.  If you are using a blog or a wikispace: what is the purpose of your online space?  Look at the different types and purposes and see if you can reflect on the reason you have either chosen a tool or been asked to use a tool and is it the right tool for the job.  Hopefully by looking at the above key aspects, you will begin to understand the 'why' and 'what' of ePortfolios and the online tools available.  There will be cross-overs and stand-alone moments but at the end of the day the underpinning purpose should be a place to map the development of one's relationship between learning and practice.My Personal Response:I originally created this blog, not to illustrate my achievements or collect evidence but to share what I was doing with technology in the classroom with a wider audience where the knowledge of the crowd was far greater than the knowledge of the individual.  By joining the 'community of practice' of my fellow educational bloggers, I could learn from them and reciprocate this knowledge sharing by sharing my ideas through this blog where developments in emerging technologies were at the heart of my reflections.Over the years, this blog has moved a little towards collecting evidence, however, still has the reflective process and sharing as the main reason for posting.  It has still not, to me, met the purpose of 'illustrating achievement' due to it being my personal reflective area to connect with others and converse rather than just show.  Illustrating my achievement comes primarily through my professional CV or through my personal wikispace that provides more a timeline of events and evidence rather than the reflective process.So the question is, why am I writing about Portfolios and discussing my blog?  It appears that many use blogs for the purpose of a Portfolio and tag specific aspects of learning.  For me[...]



Don't Lecture Me - I'm A 21st Century Learner

2012-12-21T21:52:06.034+00:00

Next Friday, 14th January, I have been invited to present at University's Discovery Days.  This event is where new professors to the University present a short presentation and take questions.  This year, I will be joining the new professors, not because I am a professor (a goal for the future), but to disseminate one of the pedagogical approaches I take during lectures.  If you are interested, read below what I will be discussing and if free come to Dundee and join two days of a variety of presentations related to many different topics.Today’s generation of learners are social beings who communicate, collaborate, create, co-create and connect using online technologies.  This ‘Net Generation’, or Net Gens as Tapscott (2008) defines them, is a generation whose modus operandi is networking with freedom to create and produce content online through ‘infiltered self-expression’.  Outwith educational institutions, learners are forming communities through various social media networks where they are creating user-generated content, sharing with their peers, co-creating content already produced, discussing, evaluating, debating and learning from one another.  The ‘Net Generation’ are no longer linear learners, but multi-faceted learners.  They have access to large sources of information at their fingertips (Bonk, 2009) and are no longer confined to learning at a specific time and place.  They are no longer passive consumers but ‘Digital Natives’ (Prensky, 2001) who simultaneously employ a range of social media to communicate.  These social media enable them to be constantly connected to friends and family (Oblinger, 2008) through the use of synchronous and asynchronous technologies.  As a result of students’ social experiences, they simply want to communicate and have a voice, however, when they attend lectures communication becomes a very singular aspect where the lecturer is the key communicator of information or opportunities for questions or discussion typically results in only 5% of students responding to 95% of the lecturer’s questions.The lecture setting was not originally designed to enable social constructivism.  Lectures were created to address the problem of large enrollments of students in schools, in the late 1800s, where a standardised curriculum was delivered to large class sizes rather than taught (Horn, 2008).  The role   of students, in a lecture, was a consumer-style approach to learning, whereby students were expected to listen to retrieve information from the lecturer who imparted knowledge to the crowd resulting in passive non-participatory learning. This hierarchical learning style has been organised this way for many years where, ‘those who know tell those who do not know, and thereby maintain and enhance their own status, while passing on accumulated wisdom and experience’ (Brandes & Ginnis, 1986: 10).  While this method may have been efficient, it did not provide an effective learning experience that met the needs of all learners.Although today’s lectures have changed to try and address the needs of learners, they still replicate many methods of the past: passive learning, knowledge delivery and one way communication.  Students are no longer passive consumers of learning.  They are no longer content to sit for long periods of time and listen to lectures and take notes but want to be engaged through learning that is interactive, personalised, collaborative, creative and innovative (Trilling & Fadel, 2009).  The role of the lecturer is no longer a knowledge delivery role or a one-person show to an attentive aud[...]



Christensen, C. M. et al. (2008). Disrupting Class: How disruptive innovation will change the way the world learns. New York: McGraw Hill

2012-12-21T21:52:06.105+00:00

Next on the reading list is Clayton Christensen's Disrupting Class. Thankfully this book provides a little more innovative reading rather than putting modern terminology to old pedagogy. What is also favourable about this book is that it does not throw down your throat the old adage of 'Digital Natives' that Prensky likes to put forward but takes a wider reflection on learning with comparisons to the global business world: the world we are preparing our children to survive in.So rather than state that today's generation are a multi-tasking generation who should learn the way they learn sub-consciously out with the school environment, it is quickly asks the questions: Is our child-centred methods of learning what will enable our children to succeed in the future. Christensen does query this briefly when he highlights that Asisan students are performing better in league tables due to their 'lecture' stye of learning compared to student-centred learning style of America who are falling further behind the league table. On the other hand, an article in the Washing Post argues the benefits of the American style of teaching as it prepares students for a fast-paced future where problems-solving, communication, collaboration and innovation are at the heart of learning, not just memorising facts and figures. I do believe that both go hand in hand just like teaching and learning work together. Remember, you can teach but a child may not learn and a child can learn without being taught. When teaching and learning work together the educational experience is far richer. Just the same as we need to be able to have knowledge and skills as the backbone to what we can offer but we also need the ability to innovate, solve problems and work with others. It reminds me of how my own musical ability and my children's. I am a mathematical musician who reads music to perform, who uses my memory to know how a piece of music should be interpreted. Composing my own music or simply playing a requested tune is not possible if I do not have it in my memory or the notes are not there to be read. My children, on the other hand, learnt music initially by ear. They learnt by exploring all the instruments my musician husband and I had around the house. Learning to read music was a chore but they persevered and are now accomplished musicians with the ability to read and play all music styles through using the skills and knowledge they have developed over the years. They are also able to extend what is on the written script to wonderful musical treats rather than just the notes that are there. Without the skills and knowledge they would be limited in their creativity and their ability to work as a team with an array of musicians. Without their innovation and creativity they would be limited to only playing what they know and what they can access.Teaching and learning with technologies is similar to this. Yes today's generation have the technology around them and use aspects of the technology to create, communicate and collaborate to meet their own needs. Some will be innovative and creative and some will just do what they have learnt from others. It is the job of educators to develop the skills and knowledge of children's use of technologies alongside creativity and innovation. Technologies should not just be a 'bolt on' in the classroom to make something look presentable but should be used where the technology will enhance the learning environment not duplicate what works perfectly. Christensen mirrors this view where he states that 'schools use computers as a tool and a topic, not as a primary instructional mechanism that helps stud[...]



Prensky, M. (2010). Teaching Digital Natives: Partnering for real learning. London: Corwin

2012-12-21T21:52:06.074+00:00

I have always enjoyed reading Marc Prensky's writings where I have connected with his thoughts and ideas. I have to admit, I was rather disappointed when reading his 'Teaching Digital Natives' due to the lack of innovation and creativity that normal comes through in his writings. Marc is now putting forward the notion of 'Partnering for Real Learning' as if it were something new. He is making out that education is still sitting in the Victorian bubble where we lecture children rather than meet their immediate needs, teach programmes of study rather than use the contexts they thrive in outside the educational environment and have learning as a one way street where we fill empty vessels rather than 'partner' their learning. Is this new reading? Is this new theories of teaching and learning? I think not!Student-centred learning, scaffolding, facilitating learning are not new buzz words or concepts they are practitioners' teaching and learning techniques that have been put forward for many years. They are techniques that I have used with and without technology. To me, all Marc has put forward in his book is to come up with a new buzz word: partnering. Why make new words when they all ready exists and work well: a bit of a slap in the face to him advocating that technology should only be used if it changes the learning and teaching environment rather than a bolt on!!!To be fair on Marc, there are aspects of his book that align with today's thinking and will be a book that I would suggest to student teachers to read, reflect and debate.Here are some of the key points that I took from the book:INTRODUCTION SECTION* Attention - today's students have a different attention capability than other generations. This is true and true for every new generation of learners. What needs to be noted is that today's generation are multi-tasters who select what they want to focus on and block out what does not interest them. So is it short attention spans for the 'old ways' of learning, as Marc asks, or is it short attention spans that need to be trained to be more focussed to enable deeper learning?* What students want from schools - not to be lectured, respected, trusted, follow own interests and passions, create, work collaboratively, connect and 'real' education. Again I agree with many of these aspects but this is NOT new reading. As a qualified primary teacher, active learning and meeting the needs of children were at the heart of my pedagogy; that was last century! I have always wanted children to create, collaborate, communicate and co-create with their immediate peers and those around the world. I do believe that we should let children follow their interests and passions but we need to open the doors to other avenues that might spark another interest rather than just keep a child in an 'interest bubble'. Learning is about meeting needs then extending and exploring. Marc states that the new educational pedagogy should involve 'partnering' to enable the above. Yes that is true but again not a new concept.CHAPTER 1 PARTNERINGDirect Instruction - teachers who lecture, talk and students listen, take notes, read and memorise. Again the term 'direct instruction' comes in many titles: didactic teaching or passive learning to name a few. Although not a new concept, what I did like was Marc's analogy of this style of learning where he referred to it as the Federal Express where 'you can have the best delivery system in the world, but if no one is home to receive the package, it doesn't much matter. Too often, today's students are not there to receive what their teachers are delivering' (Prensky[...]



Digital Natives or Digitally Naive

2012-12-21T21:52:06.027+00:00

Are today's students really Digital Natives as Marc Prensky  defines them or are they just Digitally Naive?  Yes it is true that 'Students are not just using technology differently today, but are approaching their life and daily activities differently because of technology' (Prensky, 2006:40) however, is this change productive or counter productive?Prensky (2006) discusses the key areas of change that Digital Natives have embraced shedding a positive light on each area.  Although there are many benefits to this technological change, there are many questions that could be raised in relation to change.Digital Natives Communicate DifferentlyDigital Natives use an array of technologies that enable synchronous and asynchronous communication using their mobiles to text or Internet technology to instant message an array of people at one time.  Instant communication is at the forefront of their communication where they want quick, short responses rather than a lengthily wait for a response.There are questions to be posed regarding this style of communication:Can our Digital Natives focus on one thread of a conversation or are they hyperlinking between many?Do they have the patience to wait for a response rather than demand instant communication?Can they create well constructed correspondences that are well thought out, have depth and clearly communicate a view or opinion or do they quickly create and send?Do they think before they communicate on their social media sites and what the implications of their words or images will have on a wider audience?Digital Natives Share DifferentlyToday's technology opens the doors of closed in communities to share with the wider world whether others want to be informed or not.  Sharing is no longer confined to the physical aspect and location base restriction of collaboration but is extended through an array of technologies.  I am a great believer in sharing knowledge, ideas and skill with others but there are questions to be asked.To share or not share that is the questions - do our Digital Natives share too much information or not?Do our Digital Natives understand the repercussions of sharing various aspects of their life to an open audience?Will out Digital Natives need to change their identities in the future to flee their online past that will haunt them?Digital Natives Buy and Sell DifferentlyThe high street stores are no longer the only means of purchasing products where they can adjust their price according to their location.  The Internet enables consumers the ability to shop around from the comfort of their homes to compare prices and read reviews created by others.  Consumers no longer need to rely on only the sale's representatives advertising pitch but those of the consumer.  The ability to sell products no longer requires the restrictions of building a business or standing in the cold on a Sunday at a local car boot sale.  The internet enables all to place products online to sell to a wider audience.  Again a few questions can be asked?Do our Digital Natives understand the true value of money or do they just use a card number to purchase without any true thought for how much they are spending?What will make a product stand out from the crowd when all are selling online?Digital Natives Exchange DifferentlyExchanging images, music and videos are at the heart of sharing at no cost to the recipient.  This raises the question:Do our Digital Natives understand copyright or are they ignorant to ownership and permissions?Digital Natives Create DifferentlyThis is one a[...]



Why use a wiki?

2012-12-21T21:52:06.078+00:00

Wikis work where they are enable asynchronous collaboration with different time/ different place creating an inter-subjective space that glues the collaborative learning together.  In the previous post I described how wikis can be used as a web page/ show page of work children have created.  My collaborative project, Voices Of the World is testimony to this style, a collaborative showcase of what children create around the world.  Children working together, different time and place, to learn from one another.


This type of collaboration fits into areas of the two types of activities that Larusson & Alterman (2009) refer to as: tightly coupled activities and loosely coupled activities.

Tightly Coupled Activities - connect to create shared products.  Students must stay coordinated and focus on key materials.

Loosely Coupled Activities - connect but do not need an end product.  Not every contribution must be recognised.

VOTW relates to the Tightly Coupled Activity in that schools around the world must adhere to the rules of the monthly task to create a product that children around the world will be able to listen to and understand.  The Loosely Coupled Activities relates to the aspect where not all schools have to contribute every month.  This is where collaborative projects, with a large amount of collaborators can either get it right or wrong.  If you force people to contribute then they will leave, if you leave people to contribute when they want there is a possibility that no contributions are given.  A balance between to the types of activities is required to ensure all are comfortable in the level of participation required.

Two questions to ask in any computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL) environments:

* Did students learn?
* Did technology support collaboration

A third question I would add:

* Could the learning and collaboration occur successfully without the technology?

If you can answer yes to the above questions then you are using the correct tool for the job.



A Wiki, A Blog or A Forum?

2012-12-21T21:52:06.065+00:00

Web 2.0 is full of a range of tools that can be used effectively in the learning environment, however, like any tool one needs to justify why they are using it and not all tools are used for the purpose they were created.  Screwdrivers were made for getting screws in or out of an object but many of use use them for other things: opening paint tins, scrapping small thing out small spaces etc...Making a decision regarding a tool to use is the easiest part, however, sometimes the decision is not the best one.  Let's take three Web tools that can be found in many learning platforms of used as separate entities from the web: Blogs, Wikis and Forums.Why do we use these?  How do we use these?  Is this the best tool for the job?  Could we do the task more effectively using another medium?According to Warlick (2005), each of these tools have specific purposes:Blog - used to communicate or deliver a message to a specific audience.Wiki - content management system used to construct a collaborative document.Forum - a conversation that builds on ideas through constructing new knowledge by reflecting and reacting.Many educators use blogs personally or with children to communicate to a wider audience information.  It is used as a way of sharing information.  A bit like a news board but reaching a wider audience and with a facility to retrieve old posts through effective tagging.  I used this style of blogging when a primary teacher at High School of Dundee to share our learning with the wider community or to publish our fortnightly radio shows.  I did not, however, use the blog in isolation due to the moveable nature of the blog posts where items can be lost in archives, wikispaces were also used to have a permanent quick visual record of what we had created similar to a website. Using wikis as a means to store and share information is the prime method of implementation in education rather than the collaborative document creation that they were designed for.  The reason being is that wikis are only collaborative asynchronously meaning that children can not collaborate real time.The last tool, Forums, which are in many virtual learning environments, are used in many educational settings from schools to further education.  In Scotland's National Education Network GLOW, many schools are implementing the use of Forums to connect, share and collaborate with children inside and outside school.  Many are using the tool effectively to deepen and extend knowledge through the discussion aspect and many are using ineffectively through posting content to these areas without the collaborative conversation taking place.  Should another tool be used instead to publish if no communication is initiated?Out of the three tools, Forums appear to be the least effective tool due to three aspects: non-instant chat, no facilitation or goal and no RSS feeds on some.  Today's technology enables instant communication and collaboration with others that Forums can sometimes not provide.  The delay in response can be frustrating that a different method of communication is chosen.  There is, however, a positive side to this delay, it provides thinking time and does not pressurise the reader to respond.  The other aspect, facilitation, is what can keep a forum alive.  To create a question on a forum and never return to engage with others provides a simple statement rather than a conversation.  Facilitation can be through only opening a Forum at a[...]



Do We Still Need Editors?

2012-12-21T21:52:06.082+00:00

Although written in 2005 this book is now slightly outdated as I review five years on. Blogging was just taking off for many at this period but technology has moved on where there is more instant communication and collaboration occurring.There are, however, small pockets of information that can be taken from the book with the first being the publishing aspect. Prior to blogging, journalists were the publishers and they had to persuade their editor to publish their stories. This was not a free voice process with the editors editing the stories as they pleased prior to publication. Blogging, changed the wheel where the journalists, alias the Web 2.0 bloggers, no longer have to go past the editor to publish but can freely put their stories on the internet for anyone to read.  Freedom of speech...freedom of text...  To an extent freedom to bypass people enables all to have a voice but for many this freedom can come at a cost.  Apple employees are not allowed to blog and neither are many other employees as the company safeguards what is written about them or by their staff.  In schools, who blog, this authoritarian line is taken by some, to an extent with others and completely ignored by a few.  Why?  This all depends on the systems that are in place.  Some schools are not happy with children blogging freely and do not want children's work to be put in the eye of the public.  An experience I had of this approach came from the school not wanting parents comparing children's work online where enough pressure was placed on the child to achieve without comparing daily against others.  The middle ground, is where teachers allow children to blog but through a moderated environment where the teacher approves children's post prior to publish.  The majority of post that evolve through this method are account of events or learning rather than reflections on personal learning.  The final approach, a free voice for all, is very rare and I am not too sure why such freedom is granted since I have never gone down that route.  Surely, anything that will go out the school building to the public eye should be moderated, like the editor of a newspaper.  I therefore ask the question: should primary children be allowed the freedom to blog freely where their voice can be heard without submitting their voice to an editor first? If you answer that we are giving children an authentic audience, to an extent this is correct, however, who reads their blogs daily?  All public blogs can be read by anyone, however, Hewitt (2005) explain the notion of 'The Tail'. This reflects the 95 - 99% of blogs that do not get thousands of followers each day. They are the tail at the end of the graph that no one or just some follow.  Our children are 'The Tail' and very few people will read their blogs. Very few people read mine as I am part of 'the tail' too, but, as I have said in previous posts, I do not blog for an audience I blog as a reflective tool where I can dip back and find reflections of readings or educational tools that I have encountered.  Maybe the notion of 'giving all freedom to let their voices be heard to a global audience' is the wrong notion and blogging should be more about what will the benefit be to publishing one's reflections on an open space to recording in a private diary.  Why do I not just use good old Word and type my reflections in there?  Why do I not just buy a paper notebook and scribble my thoughts in there? [...]



Instructional Blogging - The Constructivist Approach

2012-12-21T21:52:06.054+00:00

'Instructional blogging operates as a knowledge-centered instructional tool.  In this the model the instructor involves students in research activities, engages them in discussion with practitioners, and leads them through development concepts of the discipline's knowledge domain' (Glogoff, S. 2005: 1)Instructional blogging is the method that I employ with student primary teachers to extent their understanding of a concept.  Some think they are doing blogging to ensure they pass their assignment, however, quite a few see the benefits to instructional blogging in that it enables them to be a reflective practitioner where they can participate in a lecture/ workshop then deepen their understanding through reflecting on the process. In my previous post related to blogging, I discussed how blogging enables one's voice to be heard and enables those that wish to become online publishers.  The personal act of blogging is one aspect, however, Glogoff (2005) emphasises the social component of learning that are central to Vygotsky's notions of social cognition where peer interaction is an important element in blogging through utilising the comment aspect of a blog to engage in conversations.  To an extent this is true, however, many people are happy to blog without having to engage in the conversation part.  If you are reading this post, then I have to say it is here primarily from my benefit.  If others learn for what I write this is a bonus, however, the main reason I blog is to capture my reflections on technology in education and collate these reflections in a format that is accessible to me.  I do know that many of the my students are not blogging for the collaborative aspect but more because it is part of the course.  They are encouraged to read their peers blogs but only a handful actually do this without  encouragement.  This is a real pity as by reading what others write we learn just like if we listen to what others say, rather than verbalise all the time, we will be able to adjust our thinking and views where appropriate.When implementing instructional blogging, Clark & Mayer (2003) advocate three instructional techniques: receptive, directive and guided discovery (cited Glogoff 2005).  Of these three techniques I would say I employ the last two where I provided responses to student's posts and direct students to a specific focus to blog about.  Initially, I adopted the receptive technique where students were free to blog about the ICT input they had undertaken.  This technique was changed due to some students not blogging, some basically just saying what happened and some not extending their posts with links to what they were discussing.  It became clear that the art of blogging needs to be taught through the guided discovery technique and the facilitator needs to model effective blogging to students.  This model of learning mirrors the constructivist approach of cognitive scaffolding where students revisit their learning, build upon knowledge, reflect then delve deeper.  The student primary teacher's blogs are a prime example of this style of learning.  By looking through a student's blogging development, one can clearly see how the writer' craft of blogging has developed through constructive comments from tutors and peers and through the student's readings of other blogs.This takes me back to my comment about why I blog, yes I did say that it is mainly [...]



Warlick. D. F., (2005). Classroom Blogging: A Teacher's Guide to the Blogosphere. North Carolina: The Landmark Project

2012-12-21T21:52:06.070+00:00

Although this book is now outdated, it is still a starting point for those who have never blogged and wish to dip their toes in to find out what it is all about. This was my bible when I started blogging many years ago. What is a blog?Warlick's initial conceptual understanding: 'a way for almost anyone, regardless of their technical expertise, to publish information for global audiences over the Internet.' (P9).  This understanding developed to: 'giving voice to people like you and me..a new society of citizen journalists' (P9). The latter is what I relate blogging to, where many can let their 'voices' be heard on the global web rather than those that have the skills and knowledge of HTML coding.Warlick goes on to mention his attendance at a 'bloggercon' (a meeting or conference of bloggers) where he was originally disillusioned by the spontaneous discussions rather than the sage on the stage type with courteous discussions. However, on reflection he saw the ethics of this where 'all participants had equal voice, equal right, and equal opportunity to share their ideas' (P13).  Web 2.0 is now full of tools that replicate 'bloggercons'. Twitter, for example is a prime example of a mass of people letting their voices be heard. More like a conversation at a nightclub with people shouting out, however, in the midst of all these vocalisations there will be something that grabs someone's attention and is worth a read. A bit like car boot sales, what is trash to one's eye is a golden nugget to another. Through my RSS feeds there are a mass of post thrown to my iPhone each day which I duly skim through during those spare five minutes that occasionally occur during the day. The majority of these blog posts are discarded, however, one or two generally catch my eye and extent or deepen my knowledge to replicate my grandmother's philosophy that you learn something new everyday.Mass conversations have their place in today's society, however, there is still a place for focused contributions to the global voice of the web and this is where blogging fits nicely into this category, especially in education by providing what Warlick categorised as 'authentic assignments of finding, reading, and evaluating blog-based information within the context of curriculum and then make them bloggers, communicators with a broadening audience, then we may do a more effective job of teaching literacy, both in the traditional sense, and within the context of an emerging new definition of literacy in a networked, digital information environment' (P16).To an extent some schools have adopted this approach where children are the bloggers, however, many schools that have blogs revert to the teacher being the blogger and the children being the consumers. Yes, the children may have created work that is placed on the blog but it becomes a glorified website. Warlick stated that 'the blogosphere is a global conversation. using the web has traditionally been an act of passively consuming information. Because of blogs, more and more Internet users are becoming active participants in the digital information environment' (P22). He then goes on state that blogs are personal. To an extend this is true but in education the majority are not due to being a class blog rather than a personal blog. One of the reasons for teacher-led blogs is security and ensuring that children are not given free access to publish their voices incase they write inappropriate conte[...]



Individualisation On Collaborative Walls

2012-12-27T23:21:00.482+00:00

Wallwisher is not a new kid on the block with many educators using this tool to enable children to let their individual thoughts or knowledge be shared amongst the many.  The potential for using this tool in schools, where it is not blocked, is huge due to the open nature of the product: it is not just one thing it can be many.  This is exemplified through the various suggestions educators have come up with below:Ways to use Wallwisher in Education:16 Ways To Use A WallIdeas from the crowdTom Barrett's Crowd Source IdeasIt is fine to come up with wonderful ways to embed various technology into the learning environment however, what do children think about using Wallwisher?  One teacher, Mrs Brownsword, undertook a little research to ascertain what her children thought of this tool for learning.  Most thought it was fun and easy with few seeing the collaborative aspect of it.  This could be due to the fact they created their own stickies and did not view the whole process but the individual one.  Sometimes when working collaboratively technology might actually stop this process from occurring due to children contributing to a product from individual machines or at different times and places.  Although I advocate that children should not all be around one machine with only one hand on the mouse and the rest of the group observing but using collaborative tools like Google Docs,  PrimaryPad or Mindmeister, the individual's contribution to the whole must be made clear to ensure children know they are working collaboratively or as Johnson and Jonson (1990) state cooperatively.Cooperative learning, according to Murdoch and Wilson (2004), is where children are working towards a shared goal and this shared goal must be made explicit at the start.  This notion that children must know what is expected of them is further exemplified by Johnston and Jonson (1990) to enable effective cooperative learning.  Working cooperatively is not just a simply matter of placing children in groups but consideration should be taken into some of the five key elements of cooperative learning as identified by Johnson et al (1998):* Positive Interdependence;* Individual Accountability;* Face-to-face Interaction;* Interpersonal and Small Group Skills;* Group Processing.Positive Interdependence: children need to work together to reach a shared goal where 'each student is not only required to complete their part of the work, but ensure that others do likewise' (Gillies & Ashmand, 2003: 35).Individual Accountability: Each member is accountable for their own work and how it contributes to the whole.Face-to-face Interaction: enables effective communication and supports thinking skills.Interpersonal and Small Group Skills: children must learn to work together as a group to develop social skills which 'pupils do not come to school with the social skills they need to collaborate effectively with others'  (Jolliffe, 2007: 92).Group Processing: time to reflect on how the group worked is required to ensure that the skills of cooperative learning can be developed further.Working collaboratively with others, over time and place, using technology is a key skill that our young children must develop to enable them to survive their globalised futures.  Using technology may not hit the five key elements suggested above exactly but have strands of the elements pe[...]



Lessons To Be Learnt! GPS iPhone Mission

2009-11-24T19:28:46.583+00:00

Using iPhones with student teachers has always been my mission in the hope that I will engage our future primary teachers with today's technology and education's future tools for learning.So why, after planning an input, organising and managing the hardware, testing the set of devices and implementing do I not feel the wow factor that I normally enthuse when waxing lyrical about handheld learning?A simple answer - the technology let me down!!!  I can't believe I am saying this but there are lessons to be learnt from this experience.  If you are looking at using handhelds with children, students and adults then read on as the lessons learnt may assist you to achieve success rather than failure.The planned activity for the third year student teachers was to engage the students in a fun outdoor activity using my set of iPhones and the software and App GPSMission.  Students were to work in groups to complete the mission I had previously created around University of Dundee called 'Santa's Deliveries'.The preparation work, prior to the activity, took over an hour where the following :1.  Assign each handset a desktop picture with the iPhones name to distinguish all the black iphones as they all look the same.  Did not want to put stickers on them as felt it would tarnish their design!2.  Created seven email accounts at google mail for each handset so that individual accounts for each iPhone could be created at GPSMission.  Individual accounts are required with GPSMission where you have multiple people playing the game at the same time.  The application does not allow more than one person using the same login therefore I created Handheld01, Handheld02 etc...3.  Log each iPhone into GPSMission using the designated login created above.4.  Charge all iPhones up.5.  Create the Santa's Deliveries Mission using my GPSMission account that incorporated clues related to location, riddles at location, pictures, audio and video to be taken and different locations to ensure students experienced using the different tools in the one device.  All media would be sent to my personal iPhone to ensure privacy was adhered to.6.  Go around campus and test out mission with phones (I did get funny looks with all these devices on my possession!)The above did take sometime to set-up, however, like any activity that is new, more time is required during the initial preparation stage.  This is similar to getting a new IWB in class or software, you need to spend time setting the technology up for users.With eager students waiting to take up the challenge wearing various Christmas accessories (yes it is still November but they are future primary teachers) I explained the mission and set each group off in five minute intervals.The buzz of excitement was tremendous and once they had all departed I logged on to GPSMission and sat back to await the various media to come flooding in as the students worked their way around the different missions.Well it was too good to be true, only one group managed to get a GPS signal and all the other groups were not able to engage in the activity.  They were disappointed but not as disappointed as I was.  Why did it work earlier and not now?  Why would it not pick up the GPS signal?  Was it because they started off with the wireless connected rather than 3G?  [...]