International Symposium // Helping educational leaders use new tools // Session A: Online education resources
Chair: Jim Ayre, European Schoolnet
Session A: Online educational resources: a sustainable approach to enhancing access to knowledge
The sessions starts by a video with Cory Doctorow, Canadian journalist and science fiction author. Cory Doctorow argued for the openness of educationalists' materials under creative commons. Education is what you do with learning materials, using your teaching skills. What's needed at policy level is easing of restrictions on sharing and using other materials, e.g. copyright, photocopying.
Much is to be said for packaged material, ready to use, as in printed text books. An alternative is print on demand whereby teachers have access to all the publishers’ content and selects those they want to be compiled in a customised text book. Networks for teachers, examples of good practice in their use are added value services you can provide around educational material. It is not the education system’s problem if publishers’ products are no longer bought because there are other, free, sources.
Mark Robinson from Promethean then demonstrated the work that the company is doing in the area of IWB and digital content for IWB. Mark's point is that IWB are fully integrated digital classrom system, which allow to organise content especially using the 'Activeclassrom' concept.
The classroom should be a fully integrated digital classroom system, with an interactive whiteboard at its heart, a social learning tool, a window onto the network and student technology, a digital stage for students and groups.
Video, images, documents, interactive multimedia and assessments are all part of the definition of a learning object. Added to that are learning goal and rubrics, physical activities, collating reflections and students’ responses. Teacher quality is the most important factor in learning successfully, especially questioning technique. Assessment happens at different levels: learner, teacher, school, district and state. Promethean Planet is highly successful, with over 300,000 teachers, available in English, German and Spanish, with resources in 19 languages although mostly in English. Teacher feature is a set of good practices, with YouTube videos of classroom practice, something about the teacher and the lesson. Most used feature is 10,000 downloadable lessons, 300 resource packs and thematic sets of materials (e.g. Olympics); ability to preview increased uptake (should be an important feature of repositories). Lessons can be adapted.
Promethean is providing a range of devices such as responsive systems. One of the main question is about assessment, Activeclassroom allows to assess and use feedback to guide targeted instruction.
IWB is a catalyst for using digital content by teachers, more than if you give teachers a laptop. Mark shows Promethean planet is very successful with 30,000 lessons shared and downloaded. This is the largest community of teachers providing features such as teaching finding, videos available (also on iTunes), forums for localised discussions (French forum, Spanish forum etc...).
On the issue of teacher training, Promethean believes that what is crucial is a change of mentality rather than the simply putting IWB in the classroom and assume something will happen we have to guide teachers to use the new tools available to them. The area of right management is also an area where teachers need support.
The national grid for learning was also demonstrated by Richard Hollis, Cambridge University Press. Richard walks you through how publishing has changed since it was invented from a manual process (using cases) to digital process. The 4C initiative aims to:
The Global Grid for Learning provide learning content for teachers, in 2008 1.25m resources were in the Global Grid for Learning Library with over 45 commercial content provider participating. The Global Grid for Learning has also expanded beyond the UK with Arab Grid for Learning and GGfL Ireland.
Some of the lessons learned from the Global Grid for Learning include:
- Not all content travel well (need to take in account social, cultural, linguistic parameters)
- Partnership add value
- Adoption does not always mean usage
Following presentations, a wide ranging discussion followed which included the following points:
- What are resources that travel: What we share are ideas, can ideas travel well? The sharing idea should be linked less to sharing of content rather than the sharing of ideas.
- Where should I search for content: LRE, national portal, Global Grid for Learning (SMART), Promethean Planet, ‘peers around the planet’, my personalised learning network? Discoverability of resources that are all over the world. Follow Google and use APIs rather than a bot that goes and searches federated repositories (both speakers).
- Teachers have busy lives. How to provide useful services and resources for the less enthusiastic or too busy teacher? They like resources to be quality assured. Different ways in are needed for different teacher types, e.g. the spoon-fed, the DIY teacher, content producing teachers.
- What can ministries do to help monitor and exploit user-generated content? In Denmark there is a range of UGC from contributions to discussions to stand-alone learning materials.
- EUN portals working group is covering a similar area; perhaps it should merge with the interactive whiteboard group?
- What is the potential of Google Wave for teachers to share and network? There is a demo video on YouTube.