Techagogy Blog

About:Blank – All that is said- has been said – and yet I am not disappointed.

From Geek to Greek – A rebalanced curriculum for a rebalanced economy.

So Computer Studies is back, but did it ever go away? Are we witnessing the rebalanced economy away from the superficial and consumer to the Geek with Greek? In the past (particularly in the UK) the Geek was derided, downsized and outsourced and perhaps with it went the economy. So with a small step has the deletion of GCSE ICT and the paste of GCSE Computing redressed the curriculum to meet the need to re-address the economy? Are we in a period of significant transition which will revitalise the Engineer, the Geek the technical innovator?

Perhaps we are seeing this on the high street with the carnage of the loss of shops? Are we no moving away from society supporting the needs of the high street to the high street supporting the needs of society?

Can we now look at a future where we are at the centre of the technical innovation – a return to our glorious technical innovate past and to discard the tatters of the superficial, consumerist onlooker.


From Scripting …

From Scripting to Programming.

With the very interesting news about the scrapping of the “boring” ICT GCSE ICT and the move to a more traditional concept of computing I begin to think about the progress of computing from Year 5/6, through KS3, toward GCSE Computing and A Level.

This leads me to think about the idea of what is computing and the difference that some schools are teaching. Computing for me is the design of software systems that perform a generic function. Scripting is the configuration of a generic function to suit a task or organisation. Thus is scripting concepts like Web design and computing the development of the operating system? In essence scripting is a simpler notion to understand and to develop than computing.

I ask this because if we are to integrate computing into the UK curriculum, then perhaps we need to start with basic scripting, moving towards computing.

Schools currently try to deliver some scripting via control, this is the scripting of a machine or software to perform a function. For example Logo or SCRATCH. Thus should this be moved towards the KS3 curriculum and away from the use at GCSE level (particularly scratch). Control should therefore also be re-branded as computing, where computing is the catchall phrase of dealing with computers.

At KS3, control should morph into more scripting, perhaps using HTML for web design with an emphasis that this is constructing a product based upon a computing product. SCRATCH is useful here as it introduces notions of object orientated programming to the user (but not explicitly). At KS3 – perhaps at year 7-8, structures of programming languages can be introduced as well as the architectures of computing systems (here online  computer situations can be useful – or indeed constructed in SCRATCH). Integration of the syllabus here with Science and Technology is crucial, particularly with the use of the new rasberryPi, now in manufacture. Here I can also state that we remove references to business or core ICT, and leave this to individual subjects to deal with, such as English, Maths and Science. Perhaps it is time that ICT moved on from being a service to other subjects.

At KS4, this is where it becomes much more dedicated to the notion of computing, allowing students the freedom to code, to be creative. Allow them to choose their own program, use old laptops as computing machine, get them to experiment, give them the laptop and allow them to take it apart, upgrade and change, program, put on different operating systems, construct networks. Give them the freedom to develop their own IT network. Get the scientists to develop simulation games, the mathematicians to develop puzzles, encourage the creativity of the students to dig deep into the computer and what it can offer. Allow them to experiment!

At A Level. extend this idea of computing but introduce notions of professional design, without boring them rigid. This perhaps should be more focussed on new and up and coming technologies such programming Apps and thinking about business implications.

These are just a few ideas about where computing could take us. Exciting times to be in ICT – but when is it not – perhaps currently in the classroom? and Twitter to create an auto schools learning news paper.

Over the past couple of days I have been experimenting with and twitter. What these two products do together is to link in various tweets over the last day from your followers or twitter list and the creates a categorised newspaper, and then tweets that.

I was then thinking about what schools do in terms of communication, and one main aspect of this is the newsletter. This comprises of weekly exciting news from around the learning campus (physical and virtual).

Quite a lot of work for all!

So how could twitter and make this process simpler.

Firstly create a main school twitter account for the school.

Second, get all your learning professionals to create a twitter account for the school – e.g. Mrs Grimshaw Maths. (perhaps give all staff an Ipod touch to twitter from, just connected to the professional account)

Train your teachers on what messages you want to send, emphasise the good news, get them to link to work done by students on the school intranet/VLE/ online learning resources (Youtube etc.). This could also link to E-safety, learning articles, DFES stuff and learning news from a variety of newspapers.

Get all your twitter professional accounts to follow the school.

Create a twitter list with all the learning professionals in it.

Create a, which creates a learning paper from the tweets on that twitter list.

Hey presto, an automatic newsletter, with links to the teachers etc.

Thinking about E-Safety, parents and students could follow the professional twitter account, as it relates directly to teaching. The downside is perhaps for HeadTeachers, is that you are giving control of the message to the teacher, without the corporate thinking of the “message”.

It would be interesting to instigate a project in a school to see if this idea was feasible.

The Twitter Chaos Theory

After listening to the Guardian Podcast about information overload, reflecting the ideas of James Gleick, where he details the “defining quality” of humanity is “information”, yet “truth” (whatever that is) is hard to find. We appear to be an “absolute unique and unprecedented situation” where the “signal is left in the noise”.

Gleick refers to the idea that we connect 1:1000000 or 1000000:1, and refers to the “oddly named species” such as facebook, google (but not twitter) as functions that search and filter the information for us.

It is this idea of information overload that I would like to consider the function of twitter in a metaphor of child brain development, perhaps considering twitter as the lacanian mirror stage of our development as a species.

Gleick is correct, we are information, yet the internet before twitter was that of the child being aware of the fantastic surroundings, unable to make sense of everything, too much information, so much noise. We are all information but in the pre twitter world we were neurons without the synapse, unable to make the connections, unable to learn. Just as the child learns, and passes the cognitive ability of the chimpanzee through its ability to learn between the self and its other, so can we as earthy neurons link and learn through the mirror phase of twitter, twitter is information synapse.

As we as neurons synapse ourselves through twitter – we learn, just as learning creates strong links in the brain as we learn. Just as the individual neuron does not recognise its place in the whole scheme of cognition, neither do we as individuals in the global context. It is this twitter synapse that when strong and learnt creates the opportunity for the theory of twitter chaos to evolve.

The butterfly chaos theory in its absence or presence can under the right conditions lead to the presence or absence of a hurricane. Here the conditions seem unlikely to create this physical occurence, yet perhaps the conditions are here now that the butterfly as the individual could through the synapse of twitter create some metaphorical hurricane through the absence of presence of 140 characters (or less).

Have we already seem some influence of this twitter chaos theory already?

Can excessive blogging charge your laptop?

I like to consider myself a social entrepreneur, sharing an idea that someone else could make reality (or to their detriment too much money), mainly because I am too lazy to see it through and not interested in the fiscal outcome.

Here I am blogging excessively, and yet this could charge my computer – or could it?

Taking the example of speed bumps that are connected to generators, how about creating a keyboard that is a generator. Each key has a magnet, and when pressed passes through a coil, producing electricity. This electrical energy could be used to charge the laptop battery, and depending upon the amount of blogging the laptop will last longer between charges.

Indeed from a green perspective it should be a requisite to blog so many words per month, so that there is less demand on electrical supply.

This could also be used to “Jump Start” your laptop when dead, just start blogging!

Those of an entrepreneurial bent may use this idea to their hearts content, although I imagine that someone has already done this!

Social Enterprise Capitalism

After considering how I might charge individuals for short 2 hour technology courses, I started to consider a model for charging.

My initial thinking was around the form of low cost airlines, the first ones getting the best deal. Yet I consider this to support the individual rather than the group: the fastest with the right technology gets the best deal.

I have rejected this and am now considering what I call social enterprise capitalism. This concept is that there is a fixed price for a product or service and that for this product or service to be viable there has to be a minimum number of participants. There is also a quality point, which means that for the service to provide quality there is a maximum number of participants. Thus when more people book the lower the cost for everyone.

This notion rejects the idea of more sales more profit and enhances the idea of supporting others through consuming.

An example of this in practice could be a course for teachers on learning platforms. If this course is for 2 hours and it’s viability cost is £250, the minimum participant viability is 5 and the quality participant threshold is 15 then the maximum a participant would pay is £50, dropping to £16.66 when the course is full.

That is the more that attend the course, the lower the cost for all. This perhaps brings the idea of supporting others rather to get cheaper access to goods and services.

Imagined having an ariline like this, say for example there is a fixed cost to fly the plane giving 5% profit margin. Say the minumum number of passengers for the plane to fly is 50 to recoup the cost whilst keeping the initial ticket attractive. Then as more people book, the more people save until the plane is full! What a great thing to get an email saying that your flight now costs less each time a new passgenger books!

The 21st Century Learning Environment – a minimalist view

the 21st Century Learning enviroment is here:–

In the Face to Face learning Zone:-

  • An Interactive Whiteboard – just using a basic flip chart to assess students knowledge, and access to the LP, Youtube etc.
  • A teacher PC with bluetooth
  • A Digital camera for the teacher – to take snaps for reflective practice
  • 4 laptops with wireless connection and open office – used for basic use in group learning situations.
  • All students to have their own mobile devices – to capture learning events for reflective practice, bluetooth enabled and
  • A3 paper, marker pens, postits, bluetack – and walls free of posters.
  • A learning platform that offers web 2.0

The dispersed learning zone (individual, home, bus, social)

  • A home PC with bluetooth.
  • Mobile device with bluetooth

What learning technology minimalist knowledge does the teacher need:-

How to take and upload digital photos, how to use the basic features of the interactive whiteboard, how to setup questions and wikis on a learning platform. The pedagogy of co-operation and collaboration, excellent digital literacy.

What learning technology minimalist knowledge does the learner need:-

How to contact their peers, how to create a social learning network, how to search with digital literacy.

From this technology the 21st Century Learning environment can be achieved, even within the current walls of restrictive practice.

Extending the concept of the Learning Platform – Seamless Learning

The concept of the learning platform to support learners is inhibiting its use, it is seen as an internet based add-on, something else. What is needed is to change and extend the concept of the learning platform, to examine what a learning platform is – to move it away from a product to a concept, to the concept of Seamless Learning.

Seamless learning is a concept that ensures that the learning experience is not inhibited by moving from one learning space to another, from physical to virtual and the technology should support this. Seamless Learning is collated social contructionism, mobile learning, blended learning, collaboration, cooperation and learning technologies.

The Seamless Learner understands the purpose of entering the physical learning space, knows and expects cooperation and collaboration and knows what is expected of themselves when exiting that space into the virtual and social.

The elements of the Seamless Learning Environment are as follows:-

1. A physical learning space with an interactive whiteboard, projector, and a flexible adaptable environment that supports co-operation.

2. A learning platform that supports collaboration and co-operation (not delivery and command and control)

3. Individual learning devices – a mobile phone and associated policy (see “Flight Mode” mobile phone policy)

4. Effective wireless infrastructure.

These elements need the added ingredient of the Seamless Pedagogue – someone who can use the basic elements of learning platforms and a projector. The minimal elements of the learning platform to understand would be a Wiki and a discussion. The Wiki so that students can wiki their knowledge and the discussion for reflective practice and targeted questioning by the pedagogue.

The mobile devices used by the learners are there to capture learning events in the classroom and for them to use them for reflective practice or for sharing with others via the learning platform.

The impact of the technology in the classroom is minimised, it does not detract from the learning, it is seen as seamless. The impact outside the classroom is maximised and relies on the learner rather than the teacher to use their own technologies and their social groups.

Learning Platforms are there to support learning through collaboration and co-operation, to offer that opportunity to extend students opportunity to interact socially for learning. By minimising their use we maximise their potential.

Time Gentlepeople Please – The End of Time?

Is our concept of time now out of date?

Why are we obsessed with time, it is after all a human construct (indeed a human construct being a human construct), yet science, history art, all depends upon time.

Yet what else in the universe, in nature understands, perceives time – a rock, a fish, a star – but what they do have in common is Energy.

Our calculations indeed relativity rely on a concept that has no internal natural phenomenology, our problem as humans is that we rely on time, and we do not see the crucial core aspect is Energy.

The issues that get in the way of Energy is the way technology has used our idea of time to store a concept of ourselves as a species who changes over time, not changing due to the interaction of Energy – and I use the capital ( contra ee cummins and pro Heidegger) to emphasise its importance.

How could this idea or getting rid of the concept of time affect us?

Velocity = distance * time. We are obsessed with the concept of time, here we could replace the idea of velocity as relative change from myself to another object. I am travelling faster in relation to another object a stationary tree for example.

What is the effect on relativity when we eliminate the idea of time, is time deluding ourselves, the age of the universe for example.

This leads me to the idea of history and how this should change from rather than a change in time, to an investment in Energy. In fact we can go back in our perception of time by the investment in Energy moving us back through will to the re-creation of ancient Egypt, the destruction of what we have learnt and constructed. Only then will we get a real appreciation of what we fantasies about history. Thus the elimination of time means that we can travel back in out current perception of time travel, changing this to Energy travel. IF we really wanted we could recreate any period in Energy history by the use of Energy to move us to a situation where we imagine we were.

How will this affect us if we remove time from our conscious? How can we change a timetable? and EnergyTable?

It could be useful to think of change in terms of Joules, by doing this we relate our movement, displacement to the our consumption.

E-Learning a Definition?

I am currently working on a school strategy document for E-Learning. My reason for doing this is that I feel that schools need to understand why and where they are using technology for learning and that E-Learning is seen as a part of their delivery rather than a bolt on or addition.

Then I came to the first page, and I needed to define E-Learning, in order that the concept is understood so that the strategy could fit into the definition.

Here is my first draft of a definition of E-Learning:-

E-Learning is the use of technology to support learning, to enhance current pedagogy and to support teachers and learners to create a social network of learning.

E-Learning creates the opportunity for collaborative, co-operative, individual and personalized learning, driven by technology, social interaction and the learning theories of constructivism and social constructivism. E-Learning is there to support pre and post learning situations, but not to interrupt the face to face social learning interaction with the teacher, but to blend learning with collaboration, technology, and the human.

I think that this definition has changed from E-Learning being external and additional, to the integral and essential. To enhance the essential relationship between the learner and the teacher, and to allow these roles to be flexible and interchangeable.

E-Learning provides the opportunity for the teacher to change , to become the learner, leader, partner, friend, ally – human and connected.

Could E-Learning be defined thus :-

E-Learning = Blended Learning + Social Networking + Social Constructionism + Humanism?