Hello! So it has been an incredibly busy first semester at Strathclyde! So many exciting things have happened, from course work to CPD to placement and so much more. I will be taking sometime to blog over the holidays, as there have been some really interesting things that have been going on!
Now, you may have seen in the news this past week that the University of Edinburgh has joined ‘Coursera’ which offers free online taster courses. (See here: Edinburgh University hails online ‘milestone’) I read this on the BBC news website, and had also by coincidence been looking at Edinburgh’s website and saw this. If you haven’t already – definitely look into it!
The concept of “e-learning” is not something that is unheard of now – in fact it is something that has huge benefits and is promoted. Originally I had not given it much thought. I had watched a video on TED (and I advise you do the same, see the video below!)
Initially, I had thought “wow, that sounds really good”, a really great way for people to engage with the best academics and courses across the globe. E-learning takes full advantage of global communications in the 21st century. After looking at the Coursera website – it seems utterly fantastic! I have not completed any courses yet; however have enrolled into an ‘Introduction to Philosophy’. (There is a reason for this, which I imagine I shall touch on in a blog to come!) It is a 7-week course, it is completely free and you do not require any previous qualifications. For this specific course it states that you will require 1-2 hours of your time a week. This whole idea seems fantastic, and I know I am only a student teacher – but I think it is an image of what education can be. People can chose to enrol in different courses spanning a range of subjects – they have chosen to – they want to learn! For me, the philosophy course seems completely manageable on top of my current studies and other daily commitments. It is something that you can pursue in your own time. It seems fantastic, I think.
So, check this out, and keep an eye on similar developments. I don’t know what the quality of this will be, as I haven’t yet started the Philosophy course yet, however, the concept is fantastic, and I imagine that it will be a very stimulating and a worthwhile educational experience. E-learning is not everybody’s ideal way of learning, however I think it will be interesting to see how this concept continues to evolve over the next few years.
Peter Norvig: The 100,000-student classroom
Also, I would like to end this blog, by bringing it back to the classroom. Why am I and others doing this? Well, for obvious reasons, it helps broaden my own (and others’) knowledge of different subject areas, topics of interest. Resources like this encourages ‘life long learning’ – people want to learn and have full choice in what they chose to learn about. Is that not one of the many things that teachers would like their pupils to be in their class – intrinsically motivated?
A couple of weeks ago I attended a CPD session with the company ‘TWIG’. If you don’t know much about TWIG, definitely check them out: it would be great for teachers in both primary and secondary schools. TWIG have been developing a new resource called ‘TigTag‘ and it is something that quite frankly looks brilliant. It is aimed for a younger age group: middle – upper primary school. The resource is not yet complete, but there is a brief demo available online, and I believe this should be launched within the first few months of 2013. The CPD session was to provide TigTag with some feedback and give people the opportunity to interact with the resource. When it is complete I think it will be fantastic.
TigTag compliments Curriculum for Excellence, and is really child friendly. It has a simple and efficient user interface – which always helps! There are also a wealth of truly excellent resources on it. Whilst I know there have been some challenges with GLOW over recent months, TigTag (and TWIG) are great resources for teachers’ own knowledge and teaching and children’s learning. Much like mentioned in Peter Norvig’s video on TED, this online resource also gives room to incorporate a flipped approach in the classroom, such as the mini clips on the website. Children can lead their own learning and build on each other’s learning experience, they could form their own questions and quiz the class. You could do an integrated approach using langauge and science and explore the short videos, the content and also the technicalities of how it was made? Why is it informative? What is it that makes it interesting?
I really do like this, it gives a lot of room to experiment as a teacher, and there are so many ideas that you can adapt to suit the stage and specific needs of each of the children in your class. Coursera and TigTag are 2 really exciting resources that I have come across over the past couple of weeks – have a look, they might not be your cup of tea, but they just might be!