Inside Learning Technology » Tech talk for educators

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Ep 7: Fixed to Flexible

Matthew and Laurie got together at short notice on Wednesday 6 March for a chat about how best to take the Inside Learning Technology podcast forward. Our conclusion was that we would jointly host the podcast and invite guests in to contribute to the themes we want to explore further. So get in touch if you want to join us for a friendly conversation and help us to shine some light on the world of learning technologies.

We had a chat about Marissa Mayer, the new Yahoo CEO, banning her staff working from home and the implications of this debate for schools.

ICT Excellence Group
We briefly discussed the Scottish Government ICT Excellence Group report which we thought was far from perfect but a great stimulus for debate. Lots of stuff to think about here, some ideas that need to be explained better and explored further. It will be interesting to see if there is an appetite to engage beyond the usual suspects in how to take this agenda forward and gain the understanding of what needs to be done to turn the vision into a practical reality for every learner and teacher in Scotland.

National Filtering Policy

The idea of a national schools internet filtering policy  is reminiscent of an episode of Yes Minister - Sir Humphrey  would surely describe such an initiative as ‘very brave Minister’.

If we are just talking about using the Internet Watch Foundation blacklist as a national filtering policy then that is a good place to start but not much more than that . Beyond that what should be in and what should be out is highly controversial. One person’s offensive material is another person’s freedom of expression. What might be appropriate for a 7 year old might not be for a 17 year old. Even then age is not a reliable measure of readiness for very much when it comes to learning.  What about religion and other cultural sensitivities?  So the concept is worth exploring but with eyes and minds wide open. Let’s have the conversation rather than just another assertion without thinking through the practicalities.

Could be a great future episode?

BYOD – Bring your own device (bring your own technology)
Another great idea and well worth pursuing but we need to develop our thinking and practice around the following four themes:

  • Inclusion – Need to ensure this is not another initiative that further advantages the already advantaged. Not having a device of your own should be no more a barrier than using books in school despite some families not having any at home! But we need to work out how to best raise the playing field for all rather than levelling it down to the lowest common denominator.
  • Technology infrastructure  – What kind of wired and wireless connectivity do you need to have in place to make the expereince of BYOD worthwhile?
  • Classroom management – Just sorting out the practical stuff that usually gets in the way of learning
  • Pedagogy – Not ICT training but specific practice led professional development to ensure that once we sort the practical and ethical stuff we can maximise the impact of having these wonderful tools in the hands of our learners and teachers

We discussed the latest noisy bandwagon in the higher education space. What is going on here? This is another indicator of where things are going and the potential power of technology to transform the student experience of learning. The role of the lecturer/teacher as content expert is already being challenged by Khan Academy, TED, YouTube and much more. MOOCs continue that process and should help us get back to the idea that teaching is more about curation, contextualisation, mentoring, coaching etc rather than didactic content transmission.

Looks like a good option for future episode. In the meantime Laurie’s post on MOOCs  for some more detail.

Another future episode?

Other Links
John Hattie, Visible Learning – A Synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement

Ep 6: Laurie and Malcolm

Laurie O’Donnell and Matthew talk about the Scottish Learning Festival, e-readers in classrooms, intranets trending to the cloud and the Kindle fire!


First there is a discussion about the trend to the cloud and what it might mean for school and education authority intranets.


We chat about libraries and a government study into the further extension of ebook lending in UK libraries:


Finally we consider the Amazon Kindle Fire which has just been announced even though the States have had them for a year or more. Could this be the affordable tablet model for schools? International man of mystery Laurie thought for a while and proclaimed “maybe”. You heard it here first.



Ep 5: Permissions may vary

Tonight Laurie O’Donnell and I carry on our opening conversations about learning technology in schools. We had a short chat covering web-filtering in schools, tackling   the programming and game-design skills gap and we even briefly assess the iphone 5 which was unveiled an hour before the podcast was recorded.

The original story that got us all talking about the skills gap in computer games programming:

The main conversation on the web-filtering “postcode lottery” as Laurie aptly described it:


And since even educational geeks are just geeks:


Laurie and I will be back soon. Watch this space for news of more guests

Ep 4: The push me pull you conversation

Laurie O’Donnell joins Matthew to talk learning tech in tonight’s fairly strategic level podcast.


(image by  fender5


Laurie and I talk about the cultural divide between teachers and ICT professionals.


We then discuss why teachers choose technology initiatives. Is it tech “push” or learning “pull”?


We briefly talk tablets and their position in the learning market.


Finally we vision a bit around the future and where we might be going if we can move beyond ideology and into dialogue about teaching and learning.


Laurie’s website is here!

Matthew mentions Dewey’s views in the hope that they are apposite to the filtering debate.




Ep 3 Charlie Love and Glew

This episode sees Charlie Love from Aberdeen describe the amazing single-sign on app suite that he has built using free and open source tools. Matthew and Charlie talk about the meaning (or lack of meaning) of the term “education intranet” in the aftermath of the Scottish Government decision to update the Glow intranet.


Charlie has kindly supplied us with links to learn more about Glew:

Dev portal
Follow me @charlie_love
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