Thursday, 13 October 2011

All change

Sometimes we get so used to change happening all around us we forget how far and how quickly we have come…

ML Home animSix years ago I launched my website Magic Lantern : Learning through Film on an unsuspecting world.  It took days and days of work using the Open source web authoring software Nvu and wrestling with Filezilla. No Flash animations – all  animated gifs made in Paintshop Pro. It had the virtue of looking completely unlike anything else out there, but the cost was hours of work and a rather static site. I remember being very excited when I actually managed to embed a bliptv show player on my site. I rarely had time to update. In the end it was this lack of dynamism that decided its fate. Perhaps if I'd had time to get a proper grip on HTML...

This week some Year 6 pupils have embedded the digital story videos they have made on a page they created specially on their own personal Google Site. Below the embedded videos they have written a short evaluation of the work they did. When finished they shared the page with some classmates who will watch their movies and comment on them. None of them thought this was particularly difficult and all I had to do was show a couple of students what to do and suggest they might show another student how to do likewise. Another had to show someone else and so on…

Talking about this to a couple of colleagues they admitted they would have no idea where to start on any of this. I found this rather gratifyingly subversive at first ... Hey look! The kids are leaving their teachers behind and I'm helping them. But the more I thought about this the more concerned I became.
Are we already seeing signs of alienation from our education system? How much of a contributory factor is the rejection of new ways of communicating?

While discussing these concerns with a teacher friend (not an ICT specialist) he complained of being expected to use Dreamweaver with Year 10 students to design “websites” because it’s “safe”… Whatever happened to NATE’s mantra of always asking learners to write for “real audiences and purposes”? Is this another example of the oil tanker syndrome?
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