Textbooks too ‘out-dated’ for todays learners?

June 14, 2009

With cyber robots from the future the governor of California announcing war on the physical form of textbooks that has held symbolism for learning for centuries, what is the intended replacement? Of course the T-800 is talking digital. With the current recession forcing sectors across the word to tighten their belts, it is turning many to technologies that they had never felt the need to investigate before and education is no exception. In my area of education e-curricula is no stranger, but for other areas, this is a whole new ballgame with a different set of rules.

The first thin that springs to mind is of course the $avings.

California is the first American state to embrace digital textbooks and the rise of the machines, which Mr Schwarzenegger says could save hundreds of millions of dollars. State officials say the average textbook costs $75 to $100 – far more than its digital equivalent.

This comes in the form of initial purchase and incremental updates. Once a book is published and shipped, it is very clear that this is then the final copy with no hope of modification until the next edition. With e materials, an update is just a click away with no re-publishing costs. Also, space. With a single purchase of a reading platform, say the kindle (pictured above) a student has the ability to access literally thousands of textbooks with the need to only carry one physical unit.

Intellectual property rights are one issue that has been bounced around with some fom surprising sectors resorting to only physical paper distribution of learning materials for this exact reason.

Education is a sector not renound of its uptake of new technologies, but with recent financial constraints forcing their hands, i think digital curricular materials are going to be a much more common place implementation in the coming years and i personally believe the pros outweigh the cons.


Twitter teacher

June 10, 2009

By far one of the biggest developing communication mediums on the internet these days is twitter. With an alexa traffic rank of 26 (link), it is undoubtedly quite popular. Also, the other existing mediums that are utilising the service is extraordinary. Many live TV programs I have watched recently have had Phone, E-mail and twitter as interaction mediums, its quite the fashion.

So, how can we use it for learning? In a previous post I mentioned how twitter can be used for research, but it is so much more. The fact that it can be used for research is testament to how much information is on there that users have posted, it was only a short time ago that twitter emerged into the mainstream headlines as the platform that brought us the story of the New York plane crash.

But, what is twitter? A great video (below) shows the service off in a simplistic and understandable way:

So, back to education. It is a distribution method, how can we utilise this? The best way I feel is to get a conversation going outside the classroom. Yes there are other ways of doing this, but none have the commercial appeal and fashion that is associated with twitter, and as we know, our students love consumerism!

Why not create an account, or a seperate additional one and get all students to do the same and follow each other? This easily then facilitates a conversation, links them into a global network and gets them thinking outside the box. There are multiple twitter clients that support multiple accounts, so it is easy to flick between your personal twitter feed and ‘learning feed’ arent we used to this in email?

Another great post around this topic here.


June 9, 2009

Check this out!

The video gives a good overview about the service but how can this be utilised in teaching and learning? Imagine the power of this coupled with the services on offer from tinychat then the possibilities are endless!

UPDATE: The murmors are that drop.io are incorporating live video streaming to drop participants, we will see…

Generation Y

June 8, 2009

If you are involved with students in KS3+ then you are dealing with a cohort of Generation Y (1977-1997). Research carried out by Rockler-Gladen in 2006 shined a light on this set of individuals, concluding the following characteristics from a range of research:

  • Generation Y is extremely comfortable with technology
  • Generation Y is cynical
  • Generation Y has a non-existent attention span
  • Generation Y loves consumerism
  • Generation Y is more diverse than previous generations
  • Generation Y is used to chaos

Looking at all thse points, it is clear to me that technology can bind itself to each one to further learning.

The first point is fairly clear to anyone and provides a setting that can be built on for the other points.


Being cynical means to be:

  1. Like or characteristic of a cynic; distrusting or disparaging the motives of others.
  2. Showing contempt for accepted standards of honesty or morality by one’s actions, esp. by actions that exploit the scruples of others.
  3. Bitterly or sneeringly distrustful, contemptuous, or pessimistic.
  4. Dictionary.com

To drive students away from being resistant to an activity, let them change it to what that suits them. Let each student have a differentiated way of performing a task. Doing this in a way that does not involve technology requires depth of planning and would traditionally require a needless rigid structure. Using technology allows a student to go where they want with something as long as the range offered to them is diverse and similar to technology they are already used to using such as instant messaging, visual learning and all other things from the Web 2.0 spectrum (post coming soon on this ambiguous term).

Attention span

Always an issue in learning. Have you ever looked at learners to see when they are they pay the most attention? It is typically when in a social setting, consuming media, both on a subject of interest. Its almost tricking learners into learning (at first anyway). You can see this evident in preschool activities, why leave this idea behind just because the learner is older? Just change the context. There are plenty of learning platforms that bind to facebook, for example.


This is something that is very clear, a great post over at Staff Writer gives a good insight on this theory. Why not use twitter to research something? Ask their friends on Facebook a research question? Browse youtube for a videoblog on a topic? All of these are routed in the task at hand, but utilising consumer social mediums to divulge this information.


Differentiation, its something all educators are used to. Using technology allows the diverse nature of a group of students to its advantage. If there is one thing that is true of modern on-line and off-line technologies, there is more than one way to skin a cat. If the task is research, there are hundreds of different media types, billions of different resources all instantly available, where will they take it?

Note: All of this is very possible as long at the objective of the activity is always very clear to the learner, perhaps refered to as an end state to achieve?


Well, is this not something that is truer now than ever before, especially when talking social mediums, chaos is seen in many forms. Perhaps something in the comments on how this sub-point can be built upon from what is discussed above?


June 6, 2009

Great for visual learning and summation. Works on a set of words or a feed from a blog, ideal as many vocationally inspired courses recently are utilising blogs (more on that later) and this is great for summations as it supports rss / atom feeds as input.

wordle techintnlHere is an output from this blog at present, I wonder how it will look a few months / years down the line?


Technologies part in driving urgency and engagement

June 5, 2009

An existing Action Inquiry on the above title.

View this document on Scribd


Setting the context

June 5, 2009

Teaching and learning is one of those areas where there is a clear divide in the people that ‘make up the machine’. There is the side that is suited to their ways and fully resists any change to them and those who will embrace the latest and greatest to further their goals. In recent years, there has been an influx of new ways to facilitate teaching and learning in almost every sector and this is primarily being done with the use of widely available on and off-line technologies.

My passion as an editor of this fledgling blog is to bring into the sphere, technology that really can make a difference. Trained as many things within the education sector and a background in corporate ICT technologies deployment and development, I have always seen a natural link between emerging technologies and learning. What I want to bring to the table is a series of case studies and testimonials from around the world, coupled with my own findings on what is effective and how to make it that way.

I have wanted to do something like this for a while and have hopes that it can be a renowned repository for people looking to see how teaching and learning is being furthered with technology.

Please do comment, twitter and email to this blog and lets get a conversation going. I would love to hear some of your stories and ideas on this subject, so please do get in touch.