Sunday, June 15, 2008

Changing Education

Nair Maria neiborhood

I was reading George Siemens blog comments on changes in education. He cites David Wiley that says that the changes needed for reform in education would require actions similar to the ones carried out by Luther against the Catholic Church. I like the image and I think it is great comparisom, but I think a softer approach might work or not. I guess, we educators are too idealistic and naïve sometimes. Let me share with you some ideas I had on the subject. I had a very interesting conversation with a friend yesterday [we have a face to face study group on Connectivism and the use of technology in education (yes face to face is cool too)]. We were talking about the needs of incorporating technology into teaching. We discussed where we thought resistance to do it stemmed from and how to overcome it (you know: the old beaten to death subject). She asked about the idea of the institution adopting a blogging platform to all the students like the one mentioned in a text we were discussing. First I said, it was a top down thing and I would not agree with it. Then we pondered the pros and cons and I agreed with her that it might give web 2.0 tools such as blogs and wikis more credibility and promote the use of tools by faculty and students. So my question is this: Is giving freedom to teachers to use web 2.0 tools enough? Shouldn’t institutions and people in position of power such as supervisors and coordinators learn about them and start using them to promote change/adoption?

Thursday, June 05, 2008

The Power of Collaboration

I have been busy these days taking a course for E-tutors with the British Council. The idea of the project is to train E-tutors to teach EFL teachers from public schools in Brazil. In the beginning, I thought I would not have time to take the course because I am almost at the end of the semester and have lots to do.
I took the plunge and I am glad I did it. It has been fantastic to see the amount of experience being exchanged and the interesting converstions we are having in the course.
One thing I have noticed in the course is how collaboration can make learning effective and how it can make group work easier and fun.Collaboration made it possible for me. It was collaboration that allowed to defy the laws of physics and strecht the time line. My group is using a wiki to discuss ideas and some other groups are doing the same. Our wiki work developed in a way that I had not predicted. I suggested the wiki and we started adding our ideas. Wikis a re really good for asynchronous collaboration. I started labeling posts with group participants' names. Then someone start using the highlight feature everytime he/she posted and the rest of the group followed suit. The result is colorful and reflect the power and diversity of collaboration. I think that when you give people the power to create content, to contribute the results are always impressive.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Astronauts and Hermit Crabs



I was thinking a little about a presentation I am planning on mobile learning. Reading literature on the topic, I felt comfortable with the idea that mobility is less about tools and more about the learner. As a learner I am trying to think about how much paraphernalia I can leave behind. Long are gone the days I believed I needed to buy the latest technology to allow me to go ahead on my learning. The analogy of astronauts and hermit crabs (that I used to illustrate this post) was one I found while reading the article Nomads at Last published in The Economist. Thinking about my learning, I am more of a hermit crab now. I sill do not have a laptop and all I carry is my pen drive or my MP3 player wherever I go. I am now starting to upload some of my files to the net, so I do not have to rely so much on my home PC. Therefore the hermit crab figure fits me perfectly because although I am not carrying much, I cannot yet afford to be away from my desk top for too long. I still have to go back to the comfort of my old shell or have to stop to get connected to desk top PCs in other places. I see all this as kind of really anthropophagic in the way people adapt to their surroundings. I am lucky to have a PC available wherever I go, so being a hermit crab is not that bad and is the way I found to adapt to my ecological surroundings.I am also curious to discover what the next step to evolution beyond the hermit crab morphology should be.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Power of Networks for Learning

I have just finished reading an article on how networking can be important for a manager´s career. This article made me think about the importance of networking for educator´s professional development as George Siemens suggested. As a teacher I have learned a great deal from my networks, from being conneted. My network keeps me current of new tools, trends, courses, and events. The list is endless if one stops to think about all the information we get through Facebbok, Yahoo groups, aggregators, blogs, wikis, and so on. As educators, we sometimes get really busy teaching and planning our classes and neglect network building and connecting to our peers in the teaching field. By doing this, we many times stop learning. This last realization made me ask myself a very relevant question: If as educators we do not continue learning, what kind of message are we sending to our students?

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Why do I blog?

I started this pst inspired by Carla Arena's post with the same title. I guess I blog for conversations. First for a conversation with myself, next to promote conversation among my students. this conversation withmyself happens at the moment I am posting and then later when I look back at what I have said. I confess that after being a blogger for two and half years, I am sometimes amazed to discover how I used to think about blogging and other things just six months ago. I guess somehow, I am learning with myself, getting rid of preconceived ideas about learning and teaching. I am also learning with my students about diversity. I am always surprised to find out how creative they arel, how different from me and from one another. I would say, I really blog for conversations, for personal development, for insights.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Hello everyone

My name is José Antônio da Silva (a very common name in Brazil). I am a Brazilian EFL teacher. I have been teaching for quite some time. I love teaching and being with my students is a great pleasure for me. I guess I was born to teach. I am not a perfect teacher, though. This is the reason why I love learning. Teaching and learning are my great passions. I have others, but they are too many to enumerate here. I am passionate about life and the discoveries we make while living. One of my passions is e-learning, online learning, etc. I know there are many names for it. I love using blogs and taking part in online events, such as chats, forums, blogs, conferences.
I will try to share in this blog some of the discoveries I will make in my learning journey.