Udemy – learn whatever you want

udemyUdemy has attracted millions in start up funding. Enough to make you sit up and notice and know this is the future. It is a site where anyone can teach anything but they do have their checks and balances in place. If you want to know how to make apps for Apple watches or learn a language you can go to Udemy and learn. It’s a pay as you learn site. It will grow so that you will be able to search and learn whatever you want. It runs on instructors getting ratings and reviews and then rising to the top. I am never comfortable with this model but it will sort itself out. Integrity and authenticity do shine in cyberspace but you also approach sites with the knowledge that likes, comments, followers can be bought. I have never seen the value of that because it does not help. Udemy and sites like it have presumably built in some way of keeping things honest and they certainly monitor what is being taught. It runs in 80 languages and so it is enabling more people to access learning . An online site like this is making very real the notion of lifelong learning and 24/7 learning. We no longer have the constraints of time and place hampering us from learning what we need and want to know. At the moment there is a real focus on this site with technology and technology development. The best thing is there are some free courses you can sign up to. The value in these is you will learn something but then you will understand how a concept like this works and can make informed decisions about which paid courses to take on. Tech Crunch has an overview here. It would be an interesting challenge for teachers and preservice teachers, in particular, to try to construct courses which would be successful and valued on site like Udemy. It would also be important for teachers and preservice teachers to take courses on sites like this so they understand how they work, what they do and what is offered.

Quiz Studio

Quiz Studio I have already downloaded a number of quizzes which will suit my classes when I start the new school year. Quiz Studio is a nice looking app and you can download quizzes and learning materials from Quizlet. Quizlet is a site where you can make your own online learning tools no matter what the subject and then something like Quiz Studio puts then into a nice interface for you on your tablet or phone. Quizlet is also available as an iPad or android app. Quizlet is a good way of us helping each other and Quiz Studio organises the study in an effective way.

Don’t just play on your phone – programme it!

So said Barack Obama and frankly, if it’s good enough for him, it’s probably good enough for us. To see the US President support high level learning in such an open way is fantastic. To support coding is even better. We need people who can develop the future. We cannot just sit here and wait for someone else to provide it nor should we be expecting our students to be like that. Coding creates very logical thinking and then opportunities to create and change the world. Someone wrote all the code for WordPress so I can blog and tell you this. Someone wrote the code for ATM banking and the code which runs the terminals at checkouts. We really have to think differently and look at what students need to participate in and change their world. Someone writes the codes for games and it is a multibillion dollar industry. The Hour of Code means you can organise a one hour coding event during December or you can participate in one. For Australian schools which haven’t got onto this we have now come to the end of the school year and will have to set our sights on next year. The Hour of Coding can be a MOOC where everyone is online learning. So far, 73 million people. You can participate as a single unit by signing up for an event or using the tutorials. Basically, for this to follow through the whole concept needs to have a home on the Net where people can participate in the learning at anytime from anywhere until the next lot of online events occurs.

Self assessment tool – aitsl

areas for development Is it me or is it them? I used aitsl’s self assessment tool  online last year and I have used it again this year. Both times I have found the questions a bit odd, both times I have come up with results I find odd and both times I have to wonder if their self assessment tool needs a bit of tweaking or whether I do. What I can safely say , though, is the results I get lead to some good thinking on my part and to some good discussions with colleagues. Last year I did it as part of my first professional conversation for the year. No matter what I think I have to confess it’s a good way to get started on an appraisal of my performance. The site itself provides a lot of questions to answer. My problem is I hold classroom teaching as far more important than any other thing in a school. I have dedicated my life to creating an effective classroom and technology has made it even more effective. I don’t think I am a better  classroom teacher because I have a leadership position or aspire to one. I am a better teacher if I look at who I have in a classroom, analyse what I am expected to accomplish with them and then think carefully about how I shall deliver that so students feel like they are genuinely involved in learning and improving their capacity to learn. This year I shall look at what have come up as my weaknesses and discuss them in a trilogy of SAT posts. On the SAT site you can go back through the questions to see what you have answered and you can also put in what you would use as evidence that you have met the criteria. It is a very effective tool if you are going to have some serious discussions about who you are as a teacher and what makes you strong.

The first section I am dealing with is:

Professional Knowledge

Teachers draw on a body of professional knowledge and research
to respond to the needs of all of their students. They know the
content of their subjects as well as what constitutes effective,
developmentally appropriate strategies in their learning and
teaching programs. In all subjects teachers develop students’
literacy and numeracy and use ICT to contextualise and expand
their students’ modes and breadth of learning.

My first weakness is :

1.5 G Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of
strategies for differentiating teaching to meet the
specific learning needs of students across the full
range of abilities.

This confounds me as it did last year. It is something I have discussed on this blog, which I focus on my other blog and something which has always been considered one of my strengths. I do look at who I teach and how I can effectively get them to learn. This blog has focussed on how I can use technology to improve that delivery and learning and how I include feedback from students as a means to enabling even more effective strategies in class. I partner with them so I can get the best out of them no matter who they are. I have also pioneered courses for vision impaired students and, at the time, that was also technology which helped them to achieve in a mainstream classroom. I need to go back through the questions to see what I am doing to come up with a weakness which is actually my strength. This is why the SAT tool is useful. Perspective is something which is essential to good performance. As a teacher you need to be very clear about what you are or are not achieving.

My second weakness in the area of professional knowledge is:

2.3 L Lead colleagues to develop learning and teaching
programs using contemporary knowledge and
understanding of curriculum, assessment and
reporting requirements

I have done a lot to help colleagues interpret technology in an educational sense and context. I even gave a talk at the ANU about it based on how we can better deliver our content using technology. I don’t see myself as a leader. I see myself as someone who does things and then shares them so I can then get feedback to improve what I am doing. I have explained that in the post Personalise and connect their learning. Assessment and how to assess is something we often discuss in our office. I have also discussed it on my blogs and explained how I go about that because I am very interested in and committed to the South Australian TeFL. I have also been working on how to to interpret the new ACARA curriculum and criteria for Languages and Personal and Social Capability. I have unpacked the elements for both groups so they are in a workable format. Reporting I cannot lead in. It is determined by the school or the examinations board. What I have impacted with are the assessment sheets and assignments I do for the senior students. They have been valued outside of my classroom. leading colleagues is not as important as leading myself and then sharing what I learn. If that then helps others then that is what I believe I should be doing as a teacher.

As you can see, if you work with the SAT tool you have something concrete on which to pin your thoughts and decisions. The report which is generated by the SAT tool gives you plenty to discuss and think about.

Share and build knowledge

Learnist 2013 ought to be moving us forward. We ought to have some good skills by now in how to connect and share. Learnist is a site which appears to have moved us all forward in terms of sharing and building our knowledge. It has a separate tab for education and yet the whole site predicates on sharing knowledge in skills. In a way it appears to be similar to Pinterest in that people create learning boards which they then share. One of the boards is about using Learnist in a High School classroom and the way the material/content is organised certainly lends itself to being a site which could become interesting and reliable for finding out things. I have noticed most contributors appear to be using real names and real pictures of themselves. I think we have reached that stage where we need to abandon the colourful names and avatars and just represent ourselves in virtual society without the barricades or dressing up. That’s another post, though! You can sign in with your email or Facebook and the site maintains you keep full control over your privacy. It is trying to keep people real and safe so that learners and knowledge seekers can relate to online people in much the same way as they relate to colleagues, authors, professors, teachers and experts in real life. Certainly worth a look if you are interested in learning.