Dr Jan Herrington was a key note at ULearn and started with a good humoured reference to the Australian loss in the Rugby World Cup :-) She then moved on to showing a photograph of her father's classroom and what can be deduced from the picture. You could see the teacher standing at the back and all the students were sitting at the desks looking forward.
The technology included a newspaper, an inkwell, and a big cupboard full of resources such as maps. She then brought up a picture of a more modern classroom...and there were more similarities than differences. The main difference was what was in the student's pocket - ie a mobile phone. However, Jan also pointed out that many schools have a non-mobile policy and use words such as not permitted, disruption...and that was just for the teachers.
At the moment there is little use of mobile devices in schools. Jan showed an image of a progressive school ('Funky School') in New South Wales with students working in different spaces and in different ways. She moved on to talk about how getting students to design solutions and resources is a much more powerful way of learning, than reading about it, or answering questions.
Jan spoke about innovative pedagogies that used a couple of mobile devices in 2006/7, and looked at the potential of these devices. The particular focus was using technology in early childhood education. The unit typically was about technologies, or using them, rather than looking at the learning that could be enhanced by access to a number of devices ... they were teaching "'hammer' rather than carpentry".
As part of a rethink they got the students to create a genuine product that they would share with others, and in the process were modelling an approach to learning. The main focus was creating digital stories on the iPod with a very definite authentic focus. The students found the task pretty challenging, but, at the end fed back that they had gained in confidence and were really pleased that they had been involved in completing it.
It was great that Jan then gives some guidelines for designing authentic tasks, and then went through some concrete examples, and how they related to, for example, expert performance. This means access to the way an expert would thinking and act as well as access to learners in various levels of expertise and sharing of narratives / stories.
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