Thursday, September 10, 2009

Managing the Learning

This morning I attended the MLE Roadshow for New Zealand Schools and listened while Paul Seiler and Ian Munro delivered a wealth of information to a large group of what looked like Auckland principals and senior managers. If people kept their attention focussed throughout they should have come away with a very clear picture of what a Managed Learning Environment (MLE) means for their schools and how it connects the Student Management Systems (SMS) and Learning Management Systems (LMS).
They also did a great job of impressing on those present that this world we have all entered has to be led from the top by the principal and senior management. And they had a strong message for schools with no/little/out-dated policies for staff and students using these environments - "Get it organised - NOW". It is just a shame that we are all lumbered with those confusing acronyms. How many people know an LMS from an SMS or an MLE? Well, if you do, they were handing out chocolate fish!
We heard quite a bit about the eportfolio systems being offered by some of the vendors the Ministry of Education has selected as preferred partners. The Google Apps while mentioned, appear to be a sideline to the main event at this stage.
The notes from this are easy to read and available on this link on slideshare.

I left there and headed back to my office to meet with the Google Certified Teachers group on an Elluminate session organised by Cindy Lane. The guest speaker was Kern Kelley and co-incidently he shared with us for an hour the way his district in Maine, USA is using the Google suite of tools and where it places the students as they graduate. While there was no mention of the acronyms we are familar with in NZ, the students from Grade 5 (11 years) and older are using the Google tools (with lots of other Web 2 tools embedded) to manage and support their learning.
When they graduate, Kern's students are gifted a personal web address (studentname.com) to take forward with them into their adult life. On the website, "What's in a Name", one of the FAQs explains, "
The intent of having the web address is to help manage your digital identity. Many students have MySpace or Facebook accounts, but these are usually focused on more personal aspects of your life. This account is meant to help you craft your professional side." Into this webspace they can take forward aspects of their ePortfolio from the Google account they used as students at school.
This seemed like a wonderful answer to the questions I was hearing in the morning session about how our MoE was going to handle the storage of student artifacts, data etc for them to be able to access in their life after school. By 18 years of age they could make the decision and choose what they wanted to bring forward into their own website. And I particularly like the way this enables students to 'round out' their digital footprint to include the academic and learning content in the same space as their social networking antics. These students are advantaged when future employers Google them by having other aspects of their life added to their identity.

Kern's blog, the Tech Curve' also has an interesting article
for us , 'Why Google', as we continue our discussions about the place of all the acronyms in New Zealand education.
I am embedding the Googlezon video he links to which may scare as many people as it fascinates.