Tom March @ ACEC 2010

Apologies for not publishing this post earlier. Last school holidays, Tom March was a keynote speaker at the ACEC 2010 conference. His presentation was terrific and the notes worthy of sharing (even if somewhat tardy!)

It’s broke, so fix it: remaking education for our digital era.

From a kid’s perspective, let’s get this stuff working.
Links can be found at

Strategies mentioned are all based on research. As educators today, we face some problems such as:

  • Technology: in the beginning, the internet was old ideas in a new platform.
  • Concepts now for personal learning.
  • Technology is being used everywhere, except for school.
  • There is so much control of student use of computers. However, filtering is a non issue as kids have unfiltered access outside of school.
  • Culture: now rich and personalised resources.
  • Shouldn’t be mass produced factory type of learning.
  • Schools in Georgia have 21 streams K-2.
  • Challenges? National Curriculum.
  • OECDs new millenium learner.
  • Schools should be where people are there because they want to be.
  • What institution exists where everyone who is there wants to be there? Where no one gets paid, mistakes are fixed by the community. It is Wikipedia.
  • Educators are too cautious.
  • There is a culture of distrust. Both of the user and the audience.
  • We need to be aware of mass production vs crowd sourced.
  • Motivation is currently negatively influenced by goals, evaluations and surveillance.
  • Intrinsic motivation is needed for superior conceptual understanding, further study likely, positive feelings.
  • If wikipedia can go from 0 to 3000000 in 10 years, why don’t schools learn from this?
  • Focus: need to focus due to everything being available.
  • Internet: Amusing? Intriguing? Building Knowledge?! Innovating solutions!
  • Are we always chasing the new? We should be transforming education.
  • Problem solving, creating, challenge based learning, authentic task.
  • In an age of unparalleled access to information, what do we do to help our children learn? They need
  1. Autonomy
  2. Competance
  3. Relatedness = motivation
  • Schools often undermine this.
  • Schools don’t really offer choice for students to follow what they are interested in.
  • If students are able to follow what they are interested in, then there is increased retention, higher order thinking skills, future interest, better mental health.
  • Critical thinking, habits of mind.
  • Self designed projects. Joy of learning.
  • Students need jobs (as per Alan November) add manage RSS feeds, etc.
  • We need to be knowledge building, innovative, learning pathways.
  • Danish pupils use web in exams (year 12) create and problem solve.

Is our solution something like wikipedia (everyone contributes) or ipad (already made by someone else)?

  • Choice
  • Effort
  • Quality
  • Attitude
  • Labour of
  • Love

We need to give responsibility and joy for learning back in student hands.

  • Authentic choices allow autonomy.
  • Effort and self esteem, competancy based. Real learning.
  • Connectedness and audience means quality.
  • Attitude, learner control, valuable.
  • Labour of love. They do it and do it well because they love it.
  • Happiness. Self assessment guide via a rubric.
  • Responsibility for self management.

There are some ideas worth pursuing here and Daniel Pink’s new book Drive may help explain why student motivation is so important to their success.


A totally different way to search than Google, Stumpedia is

a personalized social & real-time collaborative discovery tool that relies on human participation to index, organize, and review the world wide web.  Stumpedia does not depend on automated bots, proprietary algorithms, or company insiders to make decisions on the relevance and ranking of search results.


Stumpedia allows you to submit, rank, and personalize your own search results. The relevance of search results are unique to you and are determined by your social graph in the following order: you, your social network friends, friends-of-friends, your followers, and the overall community. A spammer who submits and ranks irrelevant results can be easily identified, blocked, and unfollowed to prevent your search results from being polluted. Users can personalize and customize search results by re-ranking, deleting, adding, and commenting on search results. This data is used to determine the relevancy of search results for the people in your social graph and vice versa.

Upon search results being displayed, users are given the option to

  • like
  • save
  • share
  • dislike
  • bury

specific results. If users click on the appropriate buttons, this then changes the ranking of search results.

Wikipedia defines Stumpedia as

a social project and community effort that relies on human participation and folksonomies to index, organize, and review the world wide web. The aim is to help build Natural Language Processing and the Semantic Web.

Certainly an interesting project and would be useful to show to students just how public opinion can change the way information is presented.


Tumblr is an example of a tumblelog. What’s a tumblelog? It is a type of microblogging platform that some people say is better than Twitter.

Tumblr home
Tumblr home

Wikipedia describes tumblelogs as

  • a variation of a blog that favors short-form, mixed-media posts over the longer editorial posts frequently associated with blogging. Common post formats found on tumblelogs include links, photos, quotes, dialogues, and video. Unlike blogs, tumblelogs are frequently used to share the author’s creations, discoveries, or experiences while providing little or no commentary.

Tumblr specifically lets you share your links, photos and thoughts via your browser, phone or email.

Tumblelogs are being used for creative and artistic reasons such as displaying artwork and photos. It could be used in school libraries for quick book reviews, photos of displays or links for particular assignments. Students would not be able to sign up for a Tumblr account as it restricts users to those over 18 years of age.  However, the Tumblr site is visually attractive and could be of some to use to school libraries.


Snap is a tool that can be used if you have a blog, wiki or other webpage. Snap takes your links and automatically adds visual snap shots of them for your readers.

Snap shots home
Snap shots home

Accounts are free and easy to set up. There are only a couple of steps:

Set up page
Set up page
  • choose the colour for your theme
  • add a logo if you have one
  • select the language you want
  • register
  • copy the code automatically generated to your webpage.

The easiest way to add the Snap code to a WordPress page (including Edublogs and Globalteacher) was to:

  • copy the code given
  • go to widgets
  • add ‘text’
  • save
  • edit ‘text’ and paste the code
  • save.

All of the links, whether they be within posts or not, now appear with a snap shot once a mouse is hovered over it. Snap is a tool that is quick and easy to use and add visual appeal to blogs, wikis and websites. It adds visual information for users as they can see what the website belonging to the link looks like before they decide to visit it.

Snap shots are already used by eBay, Amazon, Google, Flickr, photobucket and Wikipedia. If you decide you don’t want to see Snaps on Bright Ideas, just click the Options icon in the upper right corner of the Snap Shot and opt-out.

Please note that you can also customise the advertising away from what Snap has selected by going to ‘Snap Shares’ within the Snap site and adding your own blog, wiki, etc. URL. And if you have a lot of links on your page, like Bright Ideas, you may find that Snap takes up too much room.

21st Century learning

Continuing on with Professor Stephen Heppell’s talk on 21st Century learning at the State Library of Victoria on Monday 10th November, Stephen outlined the 21st Century as ‘people centric’ where ‘helping people help each other’ is leading to the mass social construction of knowledge. People adding entries and editing Wikipedia, creating content in LibraryThing, YouTube, Flickr and the like (my examples) means that we (and our students) ‘are in a world we haven’t met before’. Stephen says ‘it’s time for schools to run, not follow’.

A recent UK survey by Ipsos asked students how they were currently learning in school. The responses were something like:

  1. Copying from books or the whiteboard (approximately 50% of respondents).
  2. Taking notes from a long teacher talk (approximately 30% of respondents).
  3. Copying from the Internet (approximately 20% of respondents).

When asked how they would like to learn, the responses were:

  1. Learning in groups.
  2. Learn by doing practical things.
  3. Learning with friends.
  4. Learn by using a computer.

When asked what they would like their teachers to be able to do, they responded:

  1. Edit a Wikipedia entry.
  2. Upload a video to YouTube and make a comment.
  3. Subscribe to a podcast.
  4. Manage groups in Flickr (and be able to spell Flickr).
  5. Select a safe online payment site.
  6. Turn mobile phone predictive text on/off.

Certainly food for thought, not only for teachers but also for school administrators. For a recording of Stephen’s session with Victoria’s Department of Education and Early Childhood Development’s Knowledge Bank, click here.

To read more about what Stephen has been involved in, his thoughts and projects, please follow these links: