“Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today.”
Al Hajj Malik Shabaz (Malcolm X)

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Will technology make us better?


Recently, my emails have been hacked and my PlayStation FIFA 2013 account was compromised! Using technology sometimes comes at a cost.

Technological advances does not equal advanced civilizations…remember the Nubian Dynasty, Aztecs, Mayans, Pharaoh etc.  Okay, so their sacrificing humans at the altar isn’t exactly clever but most Bods (clever people) agree that they were civilizations far superior to us, and there were others too who lived thousands of years ago.  The more we invent, the more we kid ourselves in thinking we are getting more advanced or more civilized. The internet is a great invention but without me writing it, we all know what the number one download sites are!

There are some people who curse technology saying it hasn’t made us civilized at all. I agree, a little. Let’s look at some recent inventions.

The telephone was vilified. Some called it “the instrument of the devil.” The New York Times, in 1876, reported that the telephone will “empty the concert-halls and the churches” as it enables people to listen to lectures, sermons, and concerts from the comfort of their own homes. You can see where the argument was going.

Because the same criticism applied to pretty much all major inventions of the last century. The phonograph was forecasted to be the demise of books and reading—people said that boys of the future will “never have to learn his letters or to wrestle with the spelling book.” In addition, the television, as you probably know, is blamed for everything from childhood obesity to the downfall of academic grades in the past decades. Schools too have been proven in “Dumbing us down”!!!!

Today, the same thing is happening to the Internet (in general), social networking websites, mobile technology, tablets, e-books, computer games, and any new development you can name. It’s human nature to be wary of anything new. I’m not saying we should embrace technology without question, but we need to be open minded enough to review the evidence, not opinions.

Here’s an example: childhood violence. Are television programs and video games to blame? The answer is we don’t know, yes and no……….

Yes, there are studies out there that find a correlation between video games and violence, but for every one of those studies, I can name another that found no such relationship. In fact, there are studies that find positive effects games—not only “educational” ones—have on a child’s mind. (see my recent posts on MMORPG)

The Milken Exchange on Education and Technology concluded (PDF), after having reviewed over 700 empirical research studies, that “in an analysis of newer educational technologies, students with access to

  • Computer-assisted instruction, or
  • Integrated learning systems technology, or
  • Simulations and software that teaches higher order thinking, or
  • Collaborative networked technologies, or
  • Design and programming technologies

show positive gains in achievement on research-constructed tests, standardized tests and national tests.”

It did, however, find cases in which learning technology is ineffective—and that’s when the “learning objectives are unclear . As Martha Stone, codirector of the Educational Technology Center at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, said in the report, “One of the enduring difficulties about technology and education is that a lot of people think about the technology first and the education later.”

So no, technology will never replace a great instructor. It will never replace the warm encouragement of a parent, or the delight of a teacher seeing her student succeed, or the wisdom of an experienced administrator.

Technology is a tool, and someone must wield it. And it’s a tool that can help you better achieve a balanced approach through keeping your students engaged, personalizing their learning, and challenging them academically.

And if you are concerned about the effect of new technology on your child’s well-being (and who isn’t?), take preventative measures instead of swearing it off altogether, as so many educators do. Child-monitoring services, for example, let adults “follow” their children around the web. Google has a SafeSearch function that limits what the child sees on their search engine. Even Internet service providers are getting in to help with enhancing online safety. Privacy is a real concern now and rightfully so.

Or, you can take a few of the most common methods parents use to protect their child in a digital world: review the ratings of the game your children play, place computers in public areas, and regulate their use (like setting time limits) or just tell them – you had no such thing when you were a kid/ were poor/were grateful for everything as a child/don’t worry too much as kids are dying everyday through lack of clean drinking water etc. etc. (No cynicism intended, I always tell my kids this when using the CONTROL factor on them plus its true!

But most importantly, you need to be involved in your child’s digital life. I know that sounds obvious, but according to a September 2012 report by Child Alert, 62 percent of parents are unaware of their child’s online contacts, with 28 percent saying they don’t monitor and supervise their child’s online behavior at all. Sadly, “only a third (33 percent) can claim that they are really vigilant when it comes to their child’s online safety.” I obviously should have done this right from the beginning but you live and learn.

Feel free to comment.


Principles of ‘Mobile Learning’!!!

Mobile Learning is about self-actuated personalization.

As learning practices and technology tools change, mobile learning itself will continue to evolve. For 2013, the focus is on a variety of challenges, from how learners access content to how the idea of a “curriculum” is defined.

Technology like tablets PCs, apps, and access to broadband internet are lubricating the shift to mobile learning, but a truly immersive mobile learning environment goes beyond the tools for learning to the lives and communities valued by each individual learner.

It is only within these communities that the native context of each learner can be fully understood. Here, in these communities that are both local and digital, a ”need to know” is born, knowledge accrues incrementally, progress resonates naturally, and a full picture of each learner as a human being fully emerges.

1. Access

A mobile learning environment is about access to content, peers, experts, portfolio artifacts, credible sources, and previous thinking on relevant topics. It can be actuated via a smartphone or iPad, laptop or in-person, but access is constant–which in turn shifts a unique burden to learn on the shoulders of the student.

2. Metrics

As mobile learning is a blend of the digital and physical, diverse metrics (i.e., measures) of understanding and “performance of knowledge” will be available.

3. Cloud

The cloud is the enabler of “smart” mobility. With access to the cloud, all data sources and project materials are constantly available, allowing for previously inaccessible levels and styles of revision and collaboration.

4. Transparent

Transparency is the natural byproduct of connectivity, mobility, and collaboration. As planning, thinking, performance, and reflection are both mobile and digital, they gain an immediate audience with both local and global communities through social media platforms from twitter to facebook, edmodo to instagram.

5. Play

Play is one of the primary characteristics of authentic, progressive learning, both a cause and effect of an engaged mind. In a mobile learning environment learners are encountering a dynamic and often unplanned set of data, domains, and collaborators, changing the tone of learning from academic and compliant to personal and playful.

6. Asynchronous 

Among the most powerful principles of mobile learning is asynchronous access. This unbolts an educational environment from a school floor and allows it to move anywhere, anytime in pursuit of truly entrepreneurial learning. It also enables a learning experience that is increasingly personalized: just in time, just enough, just for me.

7. Self-Actuated

With asynchronous access to content, peers, and experts comes the potential for self-actuation. Here, learners plan topic, sequence, audience, and application via facilitation of teachers who now act as experts of resource and assessment.

8. Diverse

With mobility comes diversity. As learning environments change constantly, that fluidity becomes a norm that provides a stream of new ideas, unexpected challenges, and constant opportunities for revision and application of thinking. Audiences are diverse, as are the environments data is being gleaned from and delivered to.

9. Curation

Apps and mobile devices can not only support curation, but can do so better than even the most caffeine-laced teacher might hope to. By design, these technologies adapt to learners, store files, publish thinking, and connect learners, making curation a matter of process rather than ability.

10. Blending

A mobile learning environment will always represent a blending of sorts–physical movement, personal communication, and digital interaction.

11. Always-On

Always-on learning is self-actuated, spontaneous, iterative, and recursive. There is a persistent need for information access, cognitive reflection, and interdependent function through mobile devices. It is also embedded in communities capable of intimate and natural interaction with students.

12. Authentic

All of the previous 11 principles yield an authenticity to learning that is impossible to reproduce in a classroom. They also ultimately converge to enable experiences that are truly personalized.

Top teacher’s tips on using Twitter….in the classroom!


Professor advocates using Twitter

Hey all. Juts recovered from a virus (not computer) and feeling much better! As you know I am not a big fan of Facebook, Twitter but I came across an interesting piece about Twitter.  For those not in the know, Twitter is a service that lets you micro-blog your life by dashing out very short notes (140 characters max) to a select group of friends or other subscribers, who can receive them as text messages on their cell phones. Twitter at first seemed like a bad idea to David Parry, an assistant professor of Emerging Media and Communications at the University of Texas at Dallas.Mr. Parry’s first instinct was that Twittering would just encourage students to speak in sound bites and self-obsess.



But then he gave it a try, and he now sees Twitter as a useful classroom-communication tool.

How is that? He outlines several “Ways to use Twitter in Academia” on a post on the blog AcademHack.

Last semester he required the 20 students in his “Introduction to Computer-Mediated Communication” course to sign up for Twitter and to send a few messages with the service each week as part of a writing assignment. He also invited his students to follow his own Twitter feed, in which he sometimes writes several short thoughts each day. Yesterday morning, for instance, he sent out a message that read: “Reading, prepping for grad class, putting off running until it warms up a bit.” Last week, one of his messages included a link to a Web site he wanted his students to check out.

The posts from students also mixed the mundane with the useful. One student twittered that she just bought a pet rabbit. Another noted that a topic from the class was being discussed on a TV-news report.

The immediacy of the messages helped the students feel like more of a community, Mr. Parry said in an interview Monday. “It was the single thing that changed the classroom dynamics more than anything I’ve ever done teaching,” he said.

One downside: Some students have to pay a small fee for each text message they receive, and that means all this Twittering can add up to real money. Students can avoid such charges by setting their Twitter account so that they receive e-mail messages instead of text messages, but that eliminates much of the point of the service.

Should more professors use Twitter? Have you tried it?

Let me know what you think guys….

Massively Multiplayer Online Role- Playing Games

Massively Multiplayer Online Role- Playing Games

This is an area that fascinates me. My son plays a lot of games online and I have noticed a big change in him. I try to be a (responsible) father and do limit his gameplay to just the weekend, and to be fair to him, he does work hard during the week so he can enjoy himself at the weekend….(work hard play hard). He plays football on Sunday so its not like he has no social skills and cannot interact with people; he has lots of friends, mostly older than him (he is 8 years) and is quite popular. Since he has started online gaming, he has learnt a great deal about the world and even astonished me with his level of understanding.
What he plays: FIFA 2013, Call of Duty, Transformers.
Just from these three games his knowledge of geography has improved being able to tell where countries are in and around Russia. His business acumen has developed from knowing how to trade in an auction in order to get a good player for a bad one, his maths has improved from working out how much he has to play with, his knowledge of guns has shocked me as has the fact that he understands what a freedom fighter is as opposed to a terrorist and can swear with precision when someone online decides that rules and common courtesy do not apply to them!!
I am not totally for this type of learning but it is evident (for me) that learning does take place. Here are some links that I came across so have a look and let me know if you have come across anything similiar to my experience from your own lives.


Brilliant video, really clever and excellent animation.

Please watch (ten minutes)

Learn geography…through play!


I stumbled upon this brilliant site whilst I was researching something else and found myself spending an hour on it trying to complete all the different parts to it. It can provide hours of fun though at times, it seems quite difficult to complete. It can assist in teaching advanced ESL learners a lot of vocabulary around specific themes (mountains of Europe, volcanoes of Europe, countries of Europe, ports of Europe etc) and can easily be incorporated into the lesson. It has many good points like its use of bright colours and drawings, it being very user friendly and it adopts the teaching through play technique.

One drawback to this program is that there is alot of information to deal with and a student may end up making ten guesses and still not get the right answer, which inevitably, happened to me! The site could be used in many ways, for drilling, vocabulary acquisition, (incidental & explicit), pronunciation etc but it depends on the teacher and their aims and objectives. Another drawback is that this software program could be time consuming so the teacher must decide on the best way of including it in the classroom, as well as the best time. Personally I would reccomend this type of activity at the end of a lesson or stage  as it will definitely help learners retain a lot of vocabulary.

Please give it a go and undoubtedly, it will give you many ideas for your own lesson plans just as it did to me, and don’t forget to give it a rating score out of ten.  

My rating : 8/10

For ipad (teacher) lovers… again!


I came across this educational site a few days ago and again, it has much to offer for ipad lovers. Its aim is to enhance learning with internet and instructional technologies and is packed with excellent posts and links (evven by bloggers) to a whole array of different applications and resources, enough to equip a teacher with a few lesson plans to get them going. I particularly like the main feature “15 favourite Apps by teachers” as it has been tried and tested by fellow teachers and also graded. Some applications you will probably know but there are others equally just as good. (please scroll down and read some comments as you will discover some more relevant teaching apps)

Overall I give this site a 8/10……

Please have a look and tell me what you think

iPAD Volcano!!!!

iPAD Volcano!!!!

This is an absolutely fantastic site for iPAD lovers, everything that a teacher needs including tons of resources and tons of materials from apps to guides on the use of iPad in education.

There are also  some great slides on the use of iPad in education on this site. This is an area I am very interested in and would like to incorporate iPADs in my classroom when I start teaching. Please feel free and have a look at the videos and slides and let me know what you think.