Wikispaces Classroom and Google Glass

Wikispaces Classroom
Many schools have learning management systems & social learning platforms – both commercial and free. Edmodo has proved popular at our school, due to its ease of use (often thought of as “Facebook for schools”). Some teachers use it ahead of the departmentally supplied LMS.
Wikispaces recently announced its new free platform for education: Wikispaces Classroom.
“Wikispaces Classroom is a social writing platform for education. We make it incredibly easy to create a classroom workspace where you and your students can communicate and work on writing projects alone or in teams. Rich assessment tools give you the power to measure student contribution and engagement in real-time. Wikispaces Classroom works great on modern browsers, tablets, and phones”. It also incorporates a social news feed feature so that teachers and students can see what is happening in the learning space.
See examples:
How to – videos:

Google Glass
Lots of tech people have recently trialled Google Glass, which won’t be generally available till next year. Apps (which must be free with no ads) are currently being developed by various companies to make Google Glass an intriguing & useful item of wearable technology.

Google Glass eyewear is a small glass screen above the right eye and a right arm that contains a trackpad that you can tap. It has 16GB of storage, Bluetooth & a 5MB camera. Bone audio technology allows the wearer to hear audio with no headphones (soundwaves go through cheekbones into the inner ear). You can give voice commands eg. “OK, Glass, take a picture” or use the trackpad. You can view emails etc in front of your eyes on the screen or ask for directions. You wake the glasses up by tilting your head upwards. Apparently the screen doesn’t obscure the line of vision. But there are privacy issues – people may not know they are being filmed or spied on! Cost $1500 – that will reduce. Don’t get ready to barcode a class set for the library just yet 

Excellent 3 min. video:
Physics teacher uses Google Glass to take his online students on a virtual excursion to the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland:

YouTube to launch paid subscription channels
Free-to-air TV and the main channels are certainly facing more competition each year from online video sources & IPTV (Internet Protocol Television), both free & subscription. Netflix will probably be here within 2 years. YouTube will soon offer some paid premium content – users will be able to subscribe to 50 exclusive channels that will have TV shows & films.
YouTube vs TV? The battle is already over
YouTube: 1 billion unique visitors each month. YouTube means more engagement than TV – it is the future.

10 top time-saving tech tips
10 simple tips for computer, web, smartphone and camera users.


Thinking about MOOCs – Massive Open Online Courses. India is the second largest consumer of MOOCs after the US. In February, ANU joined edX (founded in May 2012 by MIT & Harvard), the only Australian university so far. Courses start in 2014 (Astrophysics by Nobel Laureate Brian Schmidt and Engaging India by McComas Taylor). Schmidt also believes ANUx could help high school students who may not have had access to highly qualified teachers in some subject areas, due to shortages.

The US Dept of Education meta-analysis of 46 studies in online learning (mostly in higher education), showed that the most powerful learning outcomes resulted from blended learning – a combination of face-to-face with online learning.

Public good or playing markets? The real reason for MOOCs – Prof. Thomas Clarke, UTS.
Interesting article. Enrolment figures are highly speculative, with high reported drop-out rates (up to 90%). Are they committed to providing mass education as a public good or are they more interested in global domination of education markets? Will they start out free and end up with advertisements and fees? Even with the availability of MOOCs,  “universities are gradually morphing into mass online campuses in their own right, though maintaining the wonder of face to face encounters, and retaining a role for the most flexible, interactive, intelligent and responsive pedagogic technology of all – the teacher in the classroom”. Nice quote.

What college students really think about online courses
A US study of college students shows that students want to be involved in the online learning conversation – blended learning models are valued rather than everything being online. They want courses that match their learning style and technology integration that improves learning.

Why we should never return to the 3 Rs – Stewart Riddle, USQ.
Some politicians are calling for more didactic teaching methods and the traditional curriculum. But – “the 3 Rs will not help young people to use computers efficiently, search the internet and access electronic texts for information and then have effective tools to analyse, critique and synthesise that information…..(one for the TLs!). On the question of prizing knowledge over skills, one only has to consider the information processing power of the humble smart phone sitting in our pockets or bags, which contains the capacity to access more information than we could ever hope to store in our memory by rote learning, to see the pointlessness in such a cause”.

The iPhone killed my creativity – Brian Hall.
Yes it’s true! With smartphones we are never bored, sitting around with nothing to do. And our creativity suffers – we need to be bored to allow our minds to drift & wander, to have the time and space to think about things. Using all the fun stuff on our smartphones is also lowering impulse buys at the checkout!

ISTE 2012 #06 – Flipped Classroom

There is no ONE flipped classroom model but rather many variations of it. More correctly it can be viewed as flipped learning.

The big question to ask yourself is : What is the best use of your time in the classroom?

The flipped classroom is about finding the best way to maximise your effective classroom time. Creating videos is not an essential element although many use this approach to varying extents.

Flipping Blooms – low end tasks at home & higher lever interactions and creation at school.

A flipped classroom model maximises learning opportunities – it caters for individualised learning, allowing students to progress at their own rate while freeing the teacher to interact more with those students who require assistance. It gives students more control of and more responsibility for their own learning.

Front loading static, procedural and admin type instruction creates a launch point that allows teachers to use classroom time to evaluate and collaborate. Front loading should also be used to challenge students and prepare them for classroom activities.

Doesn’t have to involve video, only make a video if that is the most effective way to convey the material, especially don’t re-create something that has already been done. Allow students to create their own videos for whole class use, if appropriate.

Encourage students to do their own informational research beyond whatever you have created.

Flipping PD for teachers allows them to access material when it suits them.

Flipped Classroom is a technique and not a pedagogy that in practice can look however you want it to look but it must be a student centred approach that translates into more effective teaching and learning opportunities.