“If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together” – African Proverb
The Partners in Learning Institute in Seattle this week has been a great experience – not least because it has all been about working in partnership with other educators from all over the world for our own learning and the learning of our students and colleagues. The learning partnerships that have evolved this week are amazing and I have no doubt there will be some fantastic projects that happen as a result of them, not to mention the lasting friendships between professionals with a shared passion for tech-enhanced education.
Developing deep learning opportunities for our students is at the heart of what we want to do as professionals. Understanding the nature of those opportunities is key to being able to design effective lessons and projects. We have been looking at descriptions of the features of powerful collaborations, knowledge building and use of ICT for learning, as well as how we use Microsoft’s tech tools to enhance those learning opportunities. There’ll be more about this in future blog posts. But for now, I want to leave you with a thought. Some of us visited Pike Place Market yesterday, which is the home of fish-throwing stall holders who are having FUN while they work. And FUN is infectious, making what they do highly effective and even inspiring a whole philosophy for improving morale and results. Be warned – partnering with others for learning can be fun and can make learning infectious – be prepared for a lot more from those who attended the Institute!
It’s that time of year when teachers are off on holidays, the sun is meant to be shining (!) and thoughts turn to travel…. I may be outside the classroom and not having the extra long summer holidays at the moment but my thoughts have turned to travel, too. In fact, you could even call that travel the “Dan and Jan World Tour”, as I have travelled to Seattle in the USA with Dan Roberts, also known to many as @chickensaltash, for the very first Partners in Learning Institute. At this week long training event, 50 teachers from all over the world have gathered at Microsoft’s Redmond Headquarters. It’s the first time this training has been run and that the materials, which are well-rooted in quality research into innovative teaching and learning practices, will go on to be shared with teachers all over the world. Watch this space for more about how technology can help learning and how we can effectively analyse the 21st century teaching and learning that is going on in our classroom.
Bing Maps, the successor to Multimap, is a powerful tool that does a lot more than locate places or calculate routes and mileage. The ways you can view the maps varies – for example, there are detailed road maps for Greater London and there are Ordnance Survey versions which are easy to share with a class on a projected display – find out more about using Ordnance Survey tools in the classroom here. If you are logged in with a Windows Live ID (your hotmail account), then you can save lists of places – simply go to my places, drop a pin and choose the list you want to save it in. Each pin can have text/hyperlinks/pictures added to it, which makes it a useful way of adding prompts and questions to a map for children to use in their learning. There are more than 14,000 Photosynths and 1,435,00 photos available that are linked to Bing Maps, which makes it easier to get a real view of places that are being studied e.g. why not explore the Pyramids when studying the Egyptians! Or make your own lists of places to record information from a field trip – see some ideas here. There’s options to draw shapes onto your map, to draw lines and lots more tools which can be used to enhance the learning experiences in class.
Application Name – Microsoft Bing Maps
Free access at – http://bing.com/maps
System Requirements –
You will need to have Silverlight installed in order to access the Photosynths.
It’s just over a year now since a change of government and a change of education policies. All sorts of challenges are being faced and without a crystal ball, there is still uncertainty about what the future holds for the curriculum, for school structuring, for trusts/academies, for pensions, for budgeting…. So in this current political and financial climate, with so much debate going on, it seems to me that there is an amount of caution that has crept into discussion and planning – and that’s wise in many ways, as we don’t want to be implementing change for the sake of change, but for the sake of improving the learning experiences of the students in our classes.
But the danger of exercising caution is that we develop a conspiracy of collusion which inhibits collaborations within and between schools. Are we in danger of staying in our comfort zones instead of pushing the edges of the envelope to continually develop and improve the ways we teach, the ways children learn, our schools, our communities? Or is the current climate creating pockets of creative “rule-breaking” – innovative ways of getting around current constraints, that encourage collaborative working and learning, that will push current practice further? Let us know how YOU are dealing with the current challenges!
QR codes are special barcodes that can be read by a mobile device and will link to data such as text ,a URL or video. if you have been using or thinking about using QR codes in the classroom with your pupils you might want to try Microsoft Tag. These tags offer some extra features which will allow you to add different elements to your learning activities. These include the ability to incorporate simple images in the tag design and a really great feature, a website that will collect and display data of the number of times the tag has been used.
Application Name – Microsoft Tag
Free access at – http://tag.microsoft.com
Visit http://gettag.mobi on your mobile phone browser to get the tag reader
The Microsoft Tag Reader works on Windows Phone 7, Windows Mobile, iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, Symbian and J2ME phones. View the Resources section for a list of Supported Devices.
WorldWide Telescope enables you to explore the universe, bringing together imagery from the best ground and space-based telescopes in the world and combining it with 3D navigation. Using images from the likes of NASA and the Hubble telescope, Worldwide Telescope creates an awesome environment to explore and interact with the phenomena of the Universe directly from your desktop.
Application Name – Worldwide Telescope
Free access at – www.worldwidetelescope.org
If you run Mac OS X or don't meet the requirements try the Web Client
You are able to make and share fantastic guided tours, with your own narrations, using Worldwide Telescope. This is great for students to share learning , but can also be used creatively to make adverts for future Space travel or even as a film effects studio to make your own sci-fi movie.
For real impact, try projecting Worldwide telescope onto the ceiling of your classroom and have students lie down, look up and experience a virtual stargazing session.
Finally, imagine the possibilities of using Worldwide Telescope and a Kinect controller, you can see how that might look here.