Monthly Archives: April 2010

Pedagogical Challenges and the Digital Education Revolution

Our schools are undergoing a fundamental change as we see information technology being introduced and playing an increasingly significant role in primary and secondary education. This transition has been brought into sharp focus in Australia by a number of government initiatives, most notably the Digital Education Revolution. With the mandated the introduction of electronic whiteboards, wireless networking, video conferencing and laptops, schools are being forced to address the infrastructural and pedagogical challenges of technology in the classroom.

My first assignment for our introductory teaching subject (EDBT5500) examined the context of three specific pedagogical challenges touched on by the ‘Banksia Campus’ case study we examined in seminars. The first was selecting the most suitable hardware for ‘personal’ student use and accommodating the physical presence of computing devices in the classroom; the second was realising the potential of online peer-assisted learning; and the final challenge was the need for greater information literacy in ‘the Wikipedia world’, where students may lose the magic of discovery that many teachers value.

Why I Hate Gleebooks

It invariably astonishes me whenever I walk into Gleebooks how they manage to have so many things that I absolutely must have, on the most obscure topics, in such a limited space. Sometimes I wonder if there is some sort of ‘time and relative dimensions in space’ trickery going on.

Oh, except for business and marketing books. They are crap on business and marketing, but hey, what do you expect – it’s Glebe, people!

Anyhow, wandered in yesterday and wandered out with this lot (plus Iain Banks’ latest, but that’s another story);

Contemporary Theories of Learning, by Knud Illeris

One of the things that I am a little concerned about is my lack of exposure to learning theory. While it may not be necessary to have a sound grasp of the diversity of theory to be an excellent classroom teacher, I would like to at least underst

and the landscape of the field. This book sounds like an excellent start – Illeris has compiled chapters from works by sixteen different authors (including himself), giving a good introduction to their ideas on learning.

Amongst others, Bruner is here, as well as Gardner and his multiple intelligences. Beyond these two, plenty more I have not even heard of so it promises to be an interesting and diverse read.

Children as Philosophers: Learning through Enquiry and Dialogue in the Primary Classroom, by Joanna Haynes

From discussions so far, this sounds like an excellent extension and support to the pedagogical approac
The book presents material both on how to create philosophical dialogue within the classroom (with sections on participation, listening, even meditation), as well as more strategic discussions that address the types of thinking that these approaches result in, and perhaps most importantly asking what the advantages of philosophical modes of thought may be for primary school children.hes we are touching on in HSIE (and hopefully elsewhere). While very grounded in academic research, Haynes presents what appears to be a very readable resource for teachers wanting to explore philosophical ways of thinking in the classroom.

Metacognition in Young Children, by Shirley Larkin

This one is a little more hardcore, very academically situated – but again, written in an accessible way and written with the intent to provide advice on how academic learnings can be taken into the classroom.

Larkin initially describes metacognition as “the process of reflecting on our own thinking and keeping track of how our thinking is getting us closer to or further away from our goal” (p.3). While very goal-oriented, the idea of ‘thinking about thinking’ is one that has already come up in a number of readings and discussions. While we seem to have made the transition (or extension) beyond teaching content to teaching process, it sounds like most teaching still stops short of teaching the ‘meta-how’. In a discussion of the use of inquiry method (which seems to be a core part of HSIE in particular), there was no clarity of opinion on whether (And if so when) to teach the method itself. I am looking forward to seeing what Larkin has to say about how we can (or should) scaffold children’s thinking in this way.

So, now all I need to do is get through my readings and assignments so that I have some time to read this stuff. I guess that’s what non-teaching weeks are for. (Anyone have a rationale for why we call it a ‘non-teaching week’ rather than a ‘break’ or something?)

The Ultima Online Avatar (as a cultural object)

One of the less brain-melting moments of my experience pretending I was going to write a doctoral thesis at UNSW was a unit of ‘cultural studies’. On the one hand, the mixed candidature of the course meant it was pretty entry level, on the other hand my background meant I had never had that introduction to the field. The text we used was Paul Du Gay’s ‘Doing Cultural Studies: The Story of the Sony Walkman‘ which provided a very accessible approach to looking at cultural objects through various lenses to build up an understanding of these objects.

Unsurprisingly, our major assignment was to choose an object and follow this methodology to document it – examining how it was produced and consumed, what codification and commercialisation it underwent, and that kind of thing. Not having a burning passion to dive into cultural archaeology of the humble thong or Hills hoist, I elected to write about ‘The Ultima Online Avatar‘.

The most interesting aspects of the avatar were its nature as a service rather than a product per se, the way it was continually becoming, and the complex engagement it has with the identity of the consumer. Looking at the avatar through a commercial lens was interesting, and naturally I also took the opportunity to recast the whole discussion within Deleuzian language to explore issues of manufacturing hyperreality and becoming-cyborg.