September 2009

What a brilliant idea for poorer countries, and what a great science trick!

Mark Pesce

Photo on 2009-09-11 at 10.24

  • Unintended consequences of technology: attacking hierarchies which used to control information.
  • Mobile phones are intrinsically networked devices with all of those consequences
  • RateMyProfessor as a corrosive of academic values: competition for ‘popular’ professors
  • Straighterline on-line universities
  • Digital Revolution is a cultural revolution
  • The right questions are the hard questions
One view of the cultural revolution

Michelle Selinger

One view of the cultural revolution
  • 21st C Learning models
  • Blending school and home learning
  • Formal learning tools may not be the same as web 2 tools used at home, but they may be similar
  • It’s not about what we learn but about how we learn.
  • ICT/Network as the fourth utility (Electricity/water/gas)

Neil Jackson

  • School leadership is key
  • Classroom shape and timetable structure will breakdown
  • Anytime, anywhere learning
  • Change in the role of teachers
  • Multipoint sharing devices
  • Use of mobile technology in schools: let the students bring the phone to school and find ways to help them use them.
  • E-mail is to slow for students: they prefer IM or Facebook


  • The biggest problem with this seminar is the tendency of participating ‘experts’ to engage in implicit spruiking. Apart from Mark Pesche, much of this is Telstra making grandiose claims about their network and Microsoft assuming that we are all captive to their lack of innovation.
  • Speculation about the hardware of 21CL is almost a barrier to understanding what it will be about. We don’t know what we will learning on and with, but we do understand some of the mechanisms.
  • North Asian economies regard the area as competition: Australia is on the map and this concerns countries like Korea.
  • DET documents on teacher skills.

At this point (still not had morning tea, about to enter hypoglycaemic state) there is an interesting discussion about the importance of collaboration. One presenter made a telling point about importance of it to knowledge testing and development: one radio station was able to precipitate the massacres in Rwanda by calling for the elimination of Tutsis and pro-peace Hutus —because there was not way of collaborating to test the information. That couldn’t happen in a connected, networked society, because there isn’t a monopoly on information. Mark Pesche noted that the use of ‘file-sharing’ by one presenter was like a time-warp: we shoudn’t share, we should collaborate. It is exactly the same as the move from the O Drive to ATLAS SharePoints. The difference is significant. My experience in developing exams through collaboration, and even getting students to upload practice essays rather than e-mail them to me, confirms this.

A comment from the floor raise the vexed issue of nanny-state firewall policies. Thank heavens Svetlana has a sensible approach to this!

It is becoming pretty obvious that choice and access is not a negotiable question: we can’t dictate the Platform or the level of access. We need to provide access to the network and, except for specialised tools, we should get out of the business of providing and managing hardware. We no longer provide pencils – and schools never did past a certain stage, I think after Year 3. So why are we undertaking the role of platform provider. The other side of this is that is restricts choice: the analogy is EFFERYONE VILL USE ZER SAME BRAND OF ZER BIRO!!! UND YOU MUST GET IT FROM THE TROLLEY!!!! We would laugh … but that is the model of IT access that we currently have.

Nearly all the presenters are now focusing on Higher Education and the enormous impact ICT has had on teaching and learning at the undergraduate and graduate level: that’s something I can attest to. How will students cope with the learning environments of uni and TAFE if we don’t prepare them for that?

Can we change the language of teachers from ‘classroom’ to ‘learning environments’.