Teaching and Learning without a Classroom

This was the topic for Tech Talk Tuesday with Andrew Douch as our presnter.  Andrew is an innovative and multi award winning teacher. His awards include Microsoft Innovative Teacher of the World 2009 and he is the creator of the popular Douchy’s Biology podcasts on iTunes.  To the delight of the participants and the adding a rich element to the chat and presentation, two of his virtual students also participated in this session.
The chat was even busier than usual. Here is the link to the recording.

Andrew teased us with thought provoking questions such as:-

  1. There is so much online material that students can use, how do they know that it is valid?  Isn’t it better that it is teacher produced and directed?
  2. What do schools do best compared with the online environment?
    Students can opt to learn when they like, where they feel comfortable – not necessarily at linear desks and often on uncomfortable seats! and how they like to learn – with technology.

From the chat:-

From Douchy (samples of his work)

  1. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ej2hFc8u_zQ#t=8m14s
  2. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p835L4HWH68#t=0m42s

From the students

  • I listen to the podcasts when I’m walking, in my private sessions at school and when i’m laying in bed before going to sleep mostly.
  • They are brilliant when revising for an exam!
  • That is the most beneficial thing about it. If you don’t understand it, you can watch it or listen again and again until you do understand.
  • @Anne, I definately spend more time on biology now. It is so much easier and you can access it any time of the day or night, so it is easier to become motivated to complete my biology work.
  • The only thing that is better at school than online is the face to face social interaction.
  • I get private study sessions at school instead of a biology class. I am required to remain at school, but i can study other classes and do homework.

From the adults

  • webinars and podcasts allow all of us to have access to the very best teachers!
  • Podcasts are invaluable for adult ed too – lets folks study when their ‘real life’ isn’t so demanding
  • we don’t all learn best at the same time of day
  • So if one teacher is more suited to online forums, they could have way more kids in their classes and then the work load is not even…Just thinking out loud here… ;)
  • A study in July’s Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine reports that giving teens 30 extra minutes in the morning before classes leads to more alertness in class, better moods, less tardiness and healthier breakfasts.” http://blogs.ajc.com/get-schooled-blog/2010/07/08/start-school-later-improve-conduct-grades-and-even-save-lives/
  • looks like the trend is: education is free, assessment costs $
  • I love the idea they use in “unconferences” where they use the “2 foot rule” –if you don’t find a session helpful or valuable, use your 2 feet and go somewhere else. We should all do that.
  • Attendance at school School does provide our remote country students with a social network and a face to face element which they may miss out on a bit online (I know that they network online too, but f2f is also important)
  • Technology is only a tool, not a teacher.  We will always need teachers to support and guide kids in the whole kid instead of only the academic side
  • I love hearing Kevin Honeycutt talk about why he started offering “Artsnacks” courses on his Ning so students in rural communities could learn from an art teacher when they didn’t have access to one in their own school.
  • What about the Essential Learning Standards: Intra personal and communication skills?
  • one of the biggest reasons people give for not agreeing with homeschooling is because they think the students won’t get to socialize and learn important social skills
  • Tech may free teachers up to do more work with the kids in terms of developing social skills
    do you worry that the free online tools that allow this sort of egalitarian teaching might be closed down sometime (a-la ning)?
  • backchannel is a way to process the learning and remain engaged
  • while free online tools come and go there are almost always new tools to take their place
  • almost all of the online programs have a pro/paid version for additional features
  • I remember when I first learned about the internet that I couldn’t believe I could access all of that information for free! Now we expect it
  • Heaps of screen captures and editing tools here
  • love tech tuesdays–even though it’s still Monday for me :-)
  • often online classes are offered for advanced placement classes or makeup classes in order to graduate
  • @Mary B I am wondering whether if kids log into Elluminate but they are not actually attending just logged in and doing other things, how would you know?
    response: @Mary B You dont. That is why it is important to make it interactive make them answer questions in chat, with mic,
  • make them answer polls, use the whiteboard etc
  • Re online labs vs f2f labs: Hmmm, but sometimes blowing stuff up for real is just so much more fun
  • Up to 500 participants have been recorded participating in a single elluminate session (with Steve Haragdon)
    There is so much food for thought here – what are your thoughts or comments on all this? Will there still be a need for physical schools? Can there be a blend of both environments? What role might they all take?

Is it really pen and paper?

Jenny Ashby is a prep to 1 classroom teacher in Bendigo, Victoria, Australia. Jenny described the live scribe pen, demonstrated its potential uses and ways in which it had been used in her classroom. She walked us through some of the files that she had saved and readily answered questions. Stu Knox from Curtin University was a participant and they are trialling the livescribe pens with their ESL students.

Link to the recording.

From the chat came the following:

Learning Adventures

Adrian Camm was our thought provoking speaker this week. Prior to his presentation, the tips, tricks and treats produced this whiteboard screen dump for the participants. He used a term coined by Gary Stager:- Learning Adventures as his sessional heading.

 Adrian talked about different ways of learning and teaching, using techology to empower learning, with examples of use within his own school and classroom.

From the chat came the following shared urls:-

Listen to the recording

pirate pad– alternatives to etherpad

Going 1:1 laptop program

Our guest presenter for “Preparing for a 1:1 Learning Environment – a Pedagogical View” was Helen Otway, Assistant Principal of Manor Lakes  P-12/Specialist School. Helen generously shared the pedagogy surrounding their creation of the learning environments at their new school. Part of this environment was a laptop program for year 7s in 2009 which has now continued into a program for years 7 and 8 this year. Her professional presentation and engaging manner captured many complimentary remarks.

The link to the recording can be found here.

Our audience came from:  

  1. Australia, USA, Hong Kong, Singapore and India.
  2. Many were prep to year 12 educators, including our global participants
  3. Teachers, educationalists, specialists, people on leave, retirees!

Comment of the session! One of our US participants set her alarm to get up in the early hours of the morning and her closing comment was :- “Thanks tons! Was definitely worth getting up in the middle of the night” The global conversation is extremely stimulating and it is fantastic to share and compare our learning environments.


  • Helen speaking about the learning environments they wanted to create, how they captured those environments and how they connected with their community to ensure they involved them.
  • The amazing discussion between the global participants comparing learning environments in each country.

Interesting links from the chat:-

Interesting questions:

  • Peggy George: Are you using the transformative guidelines for fair use?
  • Andrew Chiu 1: Has going 1-to-1 placed pressure / started a direction away from age-level groupings (grade levels) and more towards ability groupings (classes / courses with different age groups)?

Bringing Education into the 21st century!

This session was a  general discussion amongst the participants looking at the following questions:-

  1. Is education fulfilling its goals?
  2. Are our classrooms reflecting the ideals of the 21st century?
  3. Are we using technological tools effectively?
  4. How should education change? What needs to happen to make it change?
  5. What are you doing in your classroom?
  6. Will the ultranet make a difference?It was great to have Carol Skyring join us. Carol had recently spent time in Victoria working with a number of regions with their new polytech videoconferencing gear. She talked about how it could be used including the value of virtual excursions etc. See her videoconference blog.
When quality is better than quantity. Although it is week 1 of our autumn break here in Australia, Tech Talk Tuesday was still held. This was an interactive session amongst participants as there was no speaker. Although the number of participants was down, those who attended were enthausiastic and contributed solidly to the discussion triggers! So quality is definitely better than quantity. It was wonderful to have 

Listen to the recording 

Although a number of discussion triggers were set out on whiteboard screens, four of the discussion points were covered:-

  • The positives of our education system
  • Problems with current educational system
  • What does 21st century education look like?
  • Obstacles to bringing education into the 21st century!

Here are the screenshots of the whiteboard prompts.

Positives of Current Education System

Current Problems

What does 21st century education look like

What are the obstacles

From the chat came the following:-

Tips, tricks and treats for the week

  • Carol’s flavors me site
  • From Erin came mapskip (you can pin audio, pics and stories onto a map. I’m hoping to get some of my coachees to use it for Year 9s to record their outdoor adventure
  • Global Nomads Group (from Carol Skyring) – virtual field trips, videoconferencing etc
  • A list of schools who are looking for classes to skype or videoconference with
  • mathletics

Next week there will not be Tech Talk Tuesday, as it is the ACEC2010 conference in Melbourne. April 14th, will see Helen Otway , assistant principal, Manor Lake P-12 Specialist College, as our presenter, talking on the topic of “Going 1:1” and her school’s laptop program.