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Grab a rope!!!

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June 17, 2013 by jonmillymiles


Well I did warn you that this may happen. I promise that my next blog post will be about games development, in fact I think I’ll do a little catch up  with some of the stuff that I did last year… I particularly want to capture some of the art that I drew as it is the area that I am less confident with. However, this is not the point of this post.

If you have read some of my earlier work then you will know that I work in the area of Technology Enhanced Learning. Some refer to this as e-learning but unfortunately that is just one aspect of what I do. My main field is Moodle, a Virtual Learning Environment and I branch out into the various technologies that it can touch on. Most importantly, to me, I look at how we can move from a stoic paper and PowerPoint based organisation to one that is powered by motivated staff, how harness a VLE to cement a disparate range of activities and resources into valuable learning experiences for enthused students.

Sounds like a mission statement… I hate mission statements. They always come out sounding like a cliché , but they do provide focus and a certain resonance within a team/company/organisation.

My problem so far has been one of audience engagement. My audience is primarily our teaching staff; they are cynical to say the least. But the truth is that the majority of them want to improve the way that they work or the way that they teach, I think that deep down we all do, however in large institutions there is a tendency for policy to overtake humanity and for micromanagement to creep in. This results in a work force that has “been there, tried that” who have had to put up with “change for the sake of change” year after year. A soulless, cowed populace of minions bereft of the willpower to embrace positive change while being kept shackled by an endless stream of minutia to occupy them.

Time for a change I think: this aircraft carrier is starting to move.

I read the99percent.com (now 99u.com) a website that supports creative thinkers, artists and designers. I read it because the amount of positivity that flows from it is both full of advice and needed to lift my spirit in a world that can be downright mean. But today…

Today we started the installation of our training network.

This is a highly significant step for us as at this point all of our classrooms have standalone IT in them, now the excuse of “we can’t access the internet” no longer holds. The teachers will have access to our VLE so the excuse of “we cannot use it in lessons” will not hold, neither will “the students can’t use it” as we will be running a bring your own device (BYOD) environment. In short all of our barriers to VLE accessibility due to zero infrastructure will evaporate… and the staff can see it happening. But we have to remember something, change is scary.

We are at a juncture where there is much to do and so little time to do it in. Unfortunately the lack of “need” of some staff has resulted in a framework that is akin to a clothes shop with few garments but plenty of hangars! Sure we have some jumpers and the odd suit, but by and large the shelves are empty, we have little online content – at least compared to off line content. But, now that they can see the glow we are beginning to build momentum, and this at a time when I have more training courses coming online. Finally, interactive whiteboards will be able to be used to their full potential allowing students and teachers to create meaningful learning experiences. Prezi can be used with flair enabling both refreshing visual impact and exploratory learning inside and outside of the classroom. More importantly for our organisation all of our self generated prezis can be managed in house and effectively across over 100 staff.
This is just the tip of the iceberg.

Suddenly after 13 years of no investment our staff are being hurtled through the warp gate to a bright shiny new world. A world where data streams flow from copper mountains forrested by Active Directories, down through conurbations of social media communities  to beaches where waves of code lap upon them from a vast C upon which there are flotillas of silicon chips; all lit by a blazing TFT sun.

While some will embrace this new world, others will resist… trying their utmost to cling to their familiar world of yellow on blue, of clicking to the next slide, of rinse and repeat teaching to catatonic students. Others will boldly step forward into the technicolour world and reach out with both virtual reality hands to connect over the digital learnscape with teachers and students far and wide. It is these people that I will connect with and their role is quite clear to me: they will slowly and gently lead the others through.

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