Informal learning


I think every teacher has seen or heard (of) a disengaged student become really interested in some activity, whether within or without school, during the years they are attending it.

It might have been during a school-musical, on the football-pitch, wherever…sometimes it may even be his / her parent telling you as a teacher, in a hope that you accept their child as good at something.

The pity is, we have few ways of capturing that informal interest and allowing credit for it. In the video we are offered a way forward

  • giving the child freedom of expression
  • leveraging technology to capture learning
  • showcasing work in the school and through the Cloud
  • allowing teachers from a variety of disciplines (and not just the child’s class-teacher/s) to accredit the childs’ learning on the evidence presented

Its a simple enough process at many levels – the pity is that it is called a future classroom scenario. Why not start now?

A relevant comment via Twitter…


Credit: The video is an iTEC scenario: Recognizing Informal Learning from European SchoolNets Future Classrooms Scenarios Course which is taking place at the moment (here).

Curation & Validation


(Image from

There was an interesting discussion (here) on Irish national radio between broadcaster, Marian Finucane and Stephen O’ Leary, lecturer in online journalism at Griffith College, Dublin. The theme was the pressure to fill twenty-four hour news channels and how this affects journalism.

The conversation dealt with social-media and the importance of filtering for example Twitter-streams, in order to find out who is a reliable source for journalists.

“Authoritative” was used in the discussion, as in for example, the work of the “traditional court-reporter.”

O’ Leary’s phrase “area of verification” resonated with me, as he spoke of opportunities for student journalists, as they seek to find a valued role in the landscape of reporting amongst the mass of information churned out by social-media.

This conversation tied in nicely with a Tweet from Anne Looney of the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment here in Ireland. She has spoken previously about trusted teacher-tweeters who are effectively curators in their specialist areas. This time Looney tweeted a link from DK (see comment below)  Douglas Karr called Curation As An Emerging Skillset | A 5 Step Guide (here).

Karr’s five steps are

1. Find : Track other digital curators to emulate / learn from.
2. Find : Deliberately forage content from many sources.
3. Follow : Click those inspirational digital breadcrumbs.
4. Focus : Sharpen the sights and cull the chaff to find the good stuff.
5. Frame : Context is king so reposition & tell stories with the new found ideas.

I find his fifth point encouraging since it is out of the valued social media content that we rework our ideas. This is not straightforward however and it takes time to give a level of reflection that builds on the already generated ideas. DK puts it well “Follow the plan and basically suck the juicy wisdom out of the web then humanise it for good.

The work humanise is so important – it is as important as the verification and authority mentioned in the radio conversation above. Quality content that has meaning for people will gain respect.

We need to move with this into the educational sphere – I occasionally have a Twitter hashtag of something or other in the foreground of my classes – normalising social-media and using it purposely in teaching and learning is in its very early stages – teachers who approach this though in a spirit of verification, authority and for the benefit of people will have a lot to offer, in the inevitable debate as to best how to embed these ideas across our class and staff-rooms.

Picture credit: By Stefan Krause, Germany (Own work) [FAL], via Wikimedia Commons

Are students the audience of the teacher or….

I signed up for European Schoolnet’s course on future Classroom Scenarios (here).

Module One is called “What does the future classroom look like” and I was particularly struck by Bart Verswijvel’s presentation on the history of the organisation of the classroom.

He asks many questions of educators but the one I particularly like is “…Are students the audience of the teacher, or do we give students an audience…?”

One of the advantages of social-media is that we always have an audience – one of the great advantages of social-media in education is that we can cultivate an active audience of peers, of teachers and of parents.

Holly Clark in her REMIXING the CLASSROOM blog (here) recently mentioned the importance of parental buy-in in the context of digital portfolios. When you think about it, parents have a metal-image of their child in school  - now think of  parents with an image of their child’s presence in school both physically and online.

The dynamic here is interesting – will it change the way the child works  in school and will it change the motivation of the parent as they see their child develop their portfolio of work?

Just a thought to set me on my way! Any other thoughts out there??