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Teaching whilst eating ice cream! March 19, 2008

Posted by davidit in Uncategorized.
Tags: , , , , , ,


The latest installment of our remote teaching, ‘dial an expert’ initiative has just taken place and how different this lesson was from the last four.  How far the students have come, how more relaxed we all were at using this method of instruction.  Helen and I have spent the last couple of Friday evening/mornings (depending on which time zone we were in!) ironing out the wrinkles in my real time teaching experiment, where the students would not only hear and see me and me them, but see the program being demonstrated in real time too.  We still have have a few image quality issues to resolve, but in essence we have proved, even if it is a little clunky that we can teach via this method.  It just needs refining a little more before we launch the procedure on a live class.

Tonight’s lesson was a cracker.  We had to use the method that we developed last year, but that was not a hinderance.  The students by now have got used to the whole method of me teaching them from afar, although the music teacher who came in to claim a few students was amazed that this kind of teaching could happen at all.  It helps that by now the students have mastered the basics of Inkscape and tonight we were able to push on and do some more interesting design work.  You can see the resources used in tonights lesson at my latest skrbl page.  What really impressed me most about tonight’s lesson was the students.  They were coming up to the microphone and webcam and asking questions and further supplementary questions just as they would to a physical entity in their class.  Crucially I asked them to give me feed back, ie come back to the camera to let me know that what I had told them had worked and that they had understood it.

Virtual teaching will never replace teachers in classes, but it does have its benefits.  Virtual teaching will not enable the education of masses of students for the price of one teacher, but what I hope that it does blossom into, is the whole ‘dial an expert’ model.  If you have a skill, why should it be locked up into your classroom so that  only 30 or so students are exposed to that skill at any one time?  If you have a skill, be it musical, artistic, whatever and you want to share beyond your current class/ school/ district/ country then let me know, I am sure that we can set up a directory of skills and teachers that can be accessed to benefit students no matter where they are….  Oh and the best bit, I was eating ice cream as I taught!  Try doing that in the class!



1. Helen Hardie - March 20, 2008

It was a great morning! the children were really enthusiastic again! Look at their view at http://tohatoha.blogspot.com/2008/03/inkscape-developments.html

2. Artichoke - March 21, 2008

I am interested in this observation David
Virtual teaching will not enable the education of masses of students for the price of one teacher,
since many would argue that this is one of the biggest drivers if not “the driver” for the development of e learning in tertiary settings

…or perhaps you infer that virtual teaching is not as effective as f2f … and if what you are doing is not as effective as face to face – what I would like to know is how do you rate the effectiveness of videoconferencing in the form that is currently being promoted for New Zealand schools?

I have always always loved Insouci’s take on this … Your Guide to Practising Independent Learning

Insouci doesn’t blog about education all the time – but when he does it provides a searing insight

3. davidit - March 21, 2008

Pam, what I am trying to do is model the software that I am teaching to the children, to that end this kind of teaching can only be skills training. For me the objective of what I am trying to do is to get the students to see what is happening on my machine so that they can see how the programmes work. Skrbl and Skype work well enough, but are necessarily a linear lesson, if a student were to ask a quesiton related to the software being demonstrated and I did not have the screen dump on the Skrbl pad then I could not meet their needs. I am almost able to meet this requirement and am working on refining the delivery.

I know that tertiary lectures theatres are getting bigger and it is a short step to link, via video, two lecture theatres together with one lecturer talking to both. From there it is then a short hop to remote theatres and and an e-learning University. The lecture model is one way communication, certainly from my experience and to an extent audience size does not matter. My comment was aimed at Primary schools and possibly remote schools, the social interaction is as important to learning I believe as the skills being learnt. Therefore I see this model being perfect for students to get access to skills training that their current teacher might not have. It would be an enhancement not a replacement.

Where what I am trying to achieve scores over video conferencing as being promoted currently is in price, conncectivity and choice. Obviously the way that I am curently teaching remotely costs nothing. VC systems are very expensive, need fast DSL connections and are a boardroom technology therefore are based around chat and not neccessarily demonstration/skills training. Lastly and most damning of all is that for VC to work you need someone at the other end to have the same facilities, thus greatly limiting who you can partner with. My model would enable communtities to develop based on need or shared visions and not based around the quality of their Internet connection and a requirement to spend thousands in order to communicate.

4. Artichoke - March 22, 2008

Thanks for this analysis David – Price, connectivity and choice are as you identify significant barriers to any communication between people

5. sandi - July 1, 2008

Am I part of the inspiration for this? I thought, maybe, due to our conversation and my love for ice cream. I want to get going with the idea. Let’s start.

6. davidit - July 2, 2008

Sandi, Well you are the New York teacher that I keep referring too, but alas I believe that per capita New Zealand is the greatest consumer of ice cream, certainly the massive tower of spent Tip Top ice cream two litre containers in our house would support that fact|!

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