Saturday, 28 March 2009

Horizon Report 2009

A friend of mine bookmarked the new Horizon Report 2009 and it popped up in facebook - thanks to social-networking :)

It is quite similar to the last Horizon Report but consists also of new stuff like e.g. "geo-everything". In the first adoption horizon we find mobiles and cloud computing, both of which are already well established on many campuses — and still more organizations have plans in place to make use of these technologies in the coming months. Institutions at the leading edge of technology adoption are also already applying the two clusters of technologies we have placed on the mid-term horizon, geo-everything and the personal web. All four topics on the first two horizons are already in common use in other sectors, including entertainment, commerce, and the world of work. The two technologies placed on the far-term horizon, semantic-aware applications and smart objects, are not yet commonly found in an educational context, although research is being conducted in both areas and the rate of development seems to indicate that these topics are well worth watching.
Each profiled technology is described in detail in the body of the report, including a discussion of what it is and why it is relevant to teaching, learning, research, and creative expression. Specific examples are listed there for each of the six topics
  • Mobiles: New interfaces, the ability to run third-party applications, and location-awareness have all come to the mobile device in the past year, making it an ever more versatile tool that can be easily adapted to a host of tasks for learning, productivity, and social networking.
    - I would like to add: These developments make it even more difficult to gather these emerging tools and conclude its potential for teaching and learning.

  • Cloud-Computing: The emergence of large-scale “data farms” — large clusters of networked servers — is bringing huge quantities of processing power and storage capacity within easy reach. Inexpensive, simple solutions to offsite storage, multi-user application scaling, hosting, and multi-processor computing are opening the door to wholly different ways of thinking about computers, software, and files.
    - How many/ Which universities are using Grids? Regarding Germany I only know of Trier, Göttingen, Mannheim and Würzburg.

  • Geo-Everything: Many common devices can automatically now determine and record their own precise location and can save that data along with captured media (like photographs) or can transmit it to web-based applications for a host of uses. The full implications of geo-tagging are still unfolding, but the impact in research has already been profound.
    - More details are to find in the body of the report :)

  • The Personal Web: Springing from the desire to reorganize online content rather than simply viewing it, the personal web is part of a trend that has been fueled by tools to aggregate the flow of content in customizable ways and expanded by an increasing collection of widgets that manage online content. Using a growing set of free and simple tools and applications, it is easy to create a customized, personal web-based environment — a personal web — that explicitly supports one’s social, professional, learning, and other activities. - Services such as Bookmarking, commenting and suggestion of similar media are also possible in a catalog: to offer a so-called OPAC2.0 is a goal.

  • Semantic-Aware-Applications: New applications
    are emerging that are bringing the promise of the semantic web into practice without the need to add additional layers of tags, identifiers, or other top-down methods of defining context. Tools that can simply gather the context in which information is couched, and that use that context to extract embedded meaning are providing rich new ways of finding and aggregating content. At the same time, other tools are allowing context to be easily modified, shaped, and redefined as information flows are combined. - Which services are examples that are already in successful practice? What is possible in the environment of library and further learning environments?

  • Smart Objects: Sometimes described as the “Internet of things,” smart objects describe a set of technologies that is imbuing ordinary objects with the ability to recognize their physical location and respond appropriately, or to connect with other objects or information. A smart object “knows” something about itself — where and how it was made, what it is for, where it should be, or who owns it, for example — and something about its environment. While the underlying technologies that make this possible — RFID, QR codes, smartcards, touch and motion sensors, and the like — are not new, we are now seeing new forms of sensors, identifiers, and applications with a much more generalizable set of functionalities.

Moreover the Horizon Report 2009 offers further information about several other developments which cannot be described with one specific buzzword:

Visualization tools are making information more meaningful and insights more intuitive. As tools of this nature continue to be developed and used, visual literacy will become an increasingly important skill in decoding, encoding, and determining credibility and authenticity of data.

Students are different, but a lot of educational material is not. Schools are still using materials developed decades ago, but today’s students come to school with very different experiences than those of 20 or 30 years ago, and think and work very differently as well. Institutions need to adapt to current student needs and identify new learning models that are engaging to younger generations.

Significant shifts are taking place in the ways scholarship and research are conducted, and there is a need for innovation and leadership at all levels of the academy. A challenge cited as critical now for several years running, academic review and faculty rewards are out of sync with the practice of scholarship. Clear approaches to assessing emerging forms of scholarly practice are needed for tenure and promotion. Students who are living and learning with technologies that generate dynamic forms of content may find the current formalism and structure of scholarship
and research to be static and “dead” as a way of collecting, analyzing and sharing results.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Guides and Resources for students and adult learners

In search of open courseware and eLearning resources I found two good collections:

Furthermore I found useful guides regarding learning and scientific work:
  • studycube

    The studycube is a multimedia intranet site that has been established in the context of "Learning and Scientific Work" but becomes relevance far beyond this. Unfortunately this guide exists only in German. But the presentation and visualization alone is already worth seeing :)

  • see post "21st century skills"

  • ...

  • --- ongoing list! ---

For sure these guides and resources are very helpful for learners! So, why not to refer to it? ;)

Monday, 16 March 2009

When teaching literacy has to start...

21st century skills

In search of web2.0-Tools that might be interesting for students and hence should be mentioned in LOTSE I discovered the website "21st century skills". The creators and supporters of the website "21st century skills" believe that
"Learning Environments Must Break Through the Silos that Separate Learning from the Real World"
-sounds very declamatory but its true in regard of the many different coexisting tools.
With the help of partners and reowned educators and authors the whitepaper "21st Century Learning Environments" was created. Its purpose is to offer a descriptive view of the places, tools, people, and policies that make up 21st century learning environments and, we hope, inspire its readers to work towards their realization.

Well, what is a 21st century learning environment?
"The term “learning environment” suggests place and space – a school, a classroom, a library. And indeed, much 21st century learning takes place in physical locations like these. But in today‟s interconnected and technology-driven world, a learning environment can be virtual, online, remote; in other words, it doesn‟t have to be a place at all. Perhaps a better way to think of 21st century learning environments is as the support systems that organize the condition in which humans learn best – systems that accommodate the unique learning needs of every learner and support the positive human relationships needed for effective learning. Learning environments are the structures, tools, and communities that inspire students and educators to attain the knowledge and skills the 21st century demands of us all."

In the whitepaper the authors also -like Michael Welsch - underline:
"...students are more engaged and more successful when they can connect what they are learning to situations they care about in their community and in the world"

To further guide schools and communities in designing dynamic 21st learning environments, the Partnership‟s Resource 21 site provides a wealth of information on this and other Framework elements at The "Route 21" is a one-stop-shop for 21st century skills-related information, resources and community tools. The elements described as “21st century student outcomes” (represented by the
rainbow) are the skills, knowledge and expertise students should master to succeed in work and life in the 21st century.

  • Life and Career Skills: These skills describe the ability to be flexible, adaptable, self-directed, socially aware, accountable and responsible.

  • Learning and Innovation Skills: These important skills include creativity & innovation, critical thinking & problem-solving and communication & collaboration.

  • Information, Media and Technology Skills: These skills include Information Literacy, Media Literacy and ICT Literacy.

  • Core Subjects and 21st century themes: Core subjects like math, English and Science should be taught in the context of themes like global awareness etc.

  • Standards and Assessment: 21st century standards, along with a balanced system of assessment that measure 21st century skills is critical. Student assessment, whether by standardized tests or classroom-based measures, is a cornerstone of effective teaching and learning. Taken as a whole, good assessments can not only provide a reliable and valid measure of a student’s learning and understanding, but also help guide both teachers and students on a day-to-day basis.

  • Curriculum and Instruction: Instructional materials and practice should support student mastery of 21century skills.

  • Professional Development: Teachers should be provided with effective training and support skills for integrating these skills into classroom.

  • Learning Environments: Where students learn affects what they learn - today's learning environments must support the teaching and learning of 21st century skills.

This is an overall-model regarding teaching and learning. The objectives are evident. Unfortunately these objectives do not include handable specifications for implentation or examples/ BestPractices.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

the (r)evolution of education and learning

Since the poll and the results offered via the video „A Vision of Students today“ I appreciate the work of Michael Wesch. By chance I discovered a new presentation given by Michael Wesch at the conference "Education Learning Initiative". The title of this amazing presentation is "From the Knowledgeable to the Knowledge-able". It describes the revolution(s) in education -
right now there is one taking place regarding the fast spreading of information by the means of new media tools like flickr, twitter etc. How can we use new media to foster the kinds of communication and community we desire in education? Michael Wesch presents both successful and unsuccessful attempts to integrate emerging technologies into the classroom to create a rich virtual learning environment.

His main points are:

  • learning has to be fun!

  • etwas Infrage-stellen muss das Bildungssystem zulassen, da es gut für die Kreativität und fürs Lernen selbst ist

  • we have to teach HOW to think

  • „it’s all about asking good questions“ => in Michael Wesch's opinion there is a a snificance-crisis for years now: the students ask "How much do I have to do to get my credits/ mark? (!)

  • But more important is:
  • to learn is to aquire information,

  • to learn is to SHARE, DISCUSS, CRITIQUING information and in the end CREATE new information: it’s about creating meaningful connections

  • => to learn is to create … significance

  • Regarding the students' habit it's important to ask ourselves:
  • How can we create significance? How can we create meaningful connections?
  • How can we create students who can create meaningful connections?

The last one made me think of "Re-Brainwashing" ;)
In my opinion students forgot the significance of learning because they are not any more able to see the linkage to their lives caused by the more and more performance-oriented world.

To change students' habits we have to:

  • engage real problems (that really matter to students)

  • engage it with students

  • recognize and harness the existing media environment so that students can recognize and harness them as well

Regarding the last point he stresses that there are no digital natives! (all the new services are at most only 4 years old)
To give a practical insight how to use new media tools he shows examples from his work as a professor at KSU.
After that Michael Wesch asks more critical questions

  • how to get students to better work together on real projects?

  • who is smarter: me or my students?

By asking the last question he puts himself in a neutral position. He knows he should be the expert but he notices that there is cumulative knowledge in front of him. It only needs someone who harnesses it and manages to draw everybody in.
Once more he presents an example out of his work where students were able to ask real relevant (world) questions: the World Simulation Spring 2007

After that he stresses that technology creates linkages between the real and the virtual world. Once more he asks several critical questions:

  • have we prepared our students for this world? => Will students be able to create the information landscape of tomorrow? => have we prepared the students to CREATE this world?

  • rethinking the Basics => what are basic literacy skills?

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