Saturday, 31 October 2009

Learning Intentions - it's all in the words you use.

We had a great discussion on Learning Intentions (or Learning Objectives) - a discussion which distracted us from the main point of the meeting but which turned out to be really productive.
It started when we looked at Doug Belshaw's post on Learning Objectives. His point was that writing LOs is vital to both knowing what you are going to teach and for the student to know what s/he is going to learn.
His initial LO example was "To know who the Romans were".
His improved one was "To list 3 ways the Romans have influenced life in the 21st century". Okay, better in some ways, we thought round the table, but how dull. As a student it might tell me what is required but it would not motivate me. I almost felt that the original would motivate me more.
Doug gave developed it further by showing how the LO could be made "SMART". 
We discussed this and posted a comment - Doug promised a follow-up post on trigger-verbs.
Subsequently he has published a list of action verbs which are linked to Bloom's Taxonomy - and which should make for better, more productive and informative Learning Intentions, useful to both student and teacher. 
A question I had related to the link between the level in Bloom's Taxonomy and the grade given for KS3 and GCSE - surely not as simple as that?
Part 2:
Thinking about grading (reporting, evaluating - could the term that you use determine what your perspective on this is?) and levels in the National Curriculum. Each do different things. The grade for a reporting period is a summary of both expected content coverage and how it was learned or at least what the result of assessment on various pieces of work has been - some rubric based, other not. The NC level says what you can do, taken from a big list of things. Not how well, or under what circumstances. 
So they do different things. This sometimes leads to two very different approaches to reporting a grade or level.
One view would have you start a two year course, say an IGCSE course, at the lowest grade. As you build up your knowledge and skills, so the grade improves. Then at the end of the course, it is possible to get the highest grades. This is definitely the NC levels approach but I have seen some promoting this as the way to work with A to G type grading too.
And the other view is that you grade to show how a student is doing, in terms of expected content coverage as well application, etc.
In the end it depends upon the cultural context and the expectation that stakeholders have.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Alternatives to interactive whiteboards

Was really impressed by Jonny Lee's presentation on TED when I first saw it. He hacked a Wii remote to produce various things including an adaptation of an ordinary whiteboard into an interactive surface for an electronic whiteboard (details from his website).
So when JR produced his own at school and gave me a demo, I was really interested in seeing how it would work (and impressed about how he had put this together - he assures me that it was not a long process). 
This photo shows the remote dangling below the ceiling-mounted projector. It connects blue-toothly to the computer and the infra-red detector detects the special pen - here is a schematic diagram from Jonny Lee's site:

It worked really well. As long as the presenter's body did not shield the remote from receiving the infra-red signal, then it seemed as responsive as a "normal" electronic whiteboard.
JR reckons that it would cost sub $100 including the software. Seems a very good alternative.
I wonder whether its positioning can be improved? Short-throw digital projectors are the vogue so I wonder if the remote could also be placed much "shorter-throw".
We are also going to experiment with the Mimio bar - this also retro-fits on a normal whiteboard. BUT, having seen this adaptation, why is it that the Mimio system and similar others are SO EXPENSIVE? Surely they do not need to be - common manufacturers!

Sunday, 18 October 2009


Trying out Google Wave (thank you David for the invite).
Since I have only 3 friends on GWave, waves are at a minimum but we are working it out.
This YouTube video from Google explains some features:

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Web browsers explained - by Google

Well done, Google!
They are explaining what web browsers are, in a new YouTube clip. The necessity for this, they claim, is that many users would click on the e of Internet Explorer (IE) as the only way to access the Internet. For many years IE was packaged with the Microsoft Windows computer that was purchased - ensuring that this myth was perpetuated.
Now that cloud computing is viable, it's the web browser that is more important than the operating system that you use. So, good that we should be re-educated about this.