Posts Tagged ‘conference presentation’

Lifelong learning has become one of those catch phrases that pops up all over the place.   We read it and we use it.   It is a topic I have often blogged about.

In a couple of weeks, I look forward to sharing some of my thoughts on how teachers can and should develop their own lifelong learning skills when I make a presentation at the 2014 Pearson National Teaching and Learning Conference, but addressing the importance of developing lifelong learning skills in the students we teach is of equal value!

In a blog post written a couple of years ago: Learning to learn: 10 essential skills for teachers  I wrote about the importance of teaching students how they can learn on their own:

Lifelong learning:  One of the most forgotten aims of education is to teach students how they can learn on their own and that school days are just a stepping stone to never-ending lifelong learning.  Incorporate examples into your lesson that demonstrate the power of self-discovery, exploration, learning and mastery.  Today’s online world is replete with opportunities for all of us to determine our own learning path.  Specifically demonstrate the vast range of sources available to achieve personal goals.”

And in an earlier post when I was discussing which I thought to be the better learning model PLNs or PDs I found myself again writing about the importance and value of developing lifelong learning skills:

New skills, new thoughts, new pedagogy, new knowledge:   The gift of learning how to learn on your own cannot be over emphasized.   The continuous engagement, immersion and self-paced learning afforded by learning with and from a PLN is beyond belief.   Providing a springboard for continued learning and exploration, the very nature of a PLN aims to support an individual’s lifelong learning.”

Knowing that there’s more to it than osmosis, perhaps now is as good a time as any to pause and consider how to develop students’ lifelong learning skills.  When teasing out an issue, it is of course appropriate to start with a definition of what we are talking about.  So looking at the simplest definition lifelong learning is defined by Macmillan Dictionary as

a process of gaining knowledge and skills that continues throughout a person’s life”

While this is a neat and concise definition, I beg to differ a little.   To me, lifelong learning is more about developing a set of skills by which an individual can pursue knowledge.   Learning these skills in an educational setting, be it school or university is what it’s really all about.  Teaching students how to learn should be the gift that educators aim to impart.

The set of skills we need to focus on to successfully develop lifelong learning skills are many and varied, but could include any or all of the following:

  • Search strategy skills: Learning how to define a problem and then setting about locating, selecting, organizing, presenting and finally evaluation information gleaned, discovered or learned is an essential strategy.
  • Critical thinking skills: Learning not to take information, particularly that which is located online, as gospel is very important.  Students need to be shown how to check and verify the authenticity of information.
  • Problem solving skills: Learning how to go about solving problems will depend on the nature of the issue being explored.  By providing students with opportunities to brainstorm together and suss out different paths to follow to get to the end solution are important learning skills to incorporate into our everyday teaching.  The value of collaboration cannot be over emphasized!
  • Lateral thinking skills: Being able to think outside of the box lends itself to self directed learning and exploring.  Students can gain much by completing exercises that force them to think beyond the obvious.
  • Presentation skills: Being able to present information in a clear and coherent way so that others can interpret it is an essential life skill.  Learning to interpret both visual and written presentations is equally of value.
  • Communication skills: Learning to use social networking as a learning tool among our students is vital.  While there is much discussion about responsible use of social media, are we teaching our students how to use these tools to expand their own learning?
  • Interpersonal skills: Appropriate verbal and non verbal communication plus listening and questioning skills, being responsible and accountable for actions, awareness of social etiquette and expectations alongside self management skills are essential for working as a member of a team.   Learning from and with others is what it is all about!
  • Confidence building skills: Developing an ‘I can’ attitude and assertiveness is so very important.  Education must aim to instil confidence in our students so that they know they can learn, explore and achieve successfully on their own.  Providing opportunities to do this is essential.
  • Self-directed learning skills: By giving our students the opportunity to determine what and how they will learn is a valuable way for them to determine the path of their own learning.  If educators constantly set the agenda for students, there is little scope for them to discover the joy of learning on their own.  They need opportunities – many of them – to become active learners who direct their own learning path.  Self directed learning can be very powerful.
  • Project planning skills: Being able to set parameters for the scope of a project as well as setting and sticking to a time line for the completion of a project is an imperative skill to ensure learning continues throughout a lifetime.  Being able to self manage and set achievable tasks is something that follows us throughout life.

Above all though, educators need to inspire in students a love of learning.  By igniting a passion and a hunger to learn, educators will be setting students upon a path of lifelong learning.

This TED Talk by Ramsey Musallam outlines three key rules to spark learning and the imagination of students:

  1. Curiosity: Questions can be windows to great instruction
  2. Embrace: Taking risks through trial and error should be an informal part of what we do every single day
  3. Reflect: Intense reflecting on information gathered is a powerful source

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I’ve had an awesome few weeks!

I should be confessing to having spent a wondrous time sleeping in late, smelling the roses and catching up with friends and family over a coffee during my three week school vacation, but little time has been spent in those pursuits.

Instead, I spent the first week of my vacation attending, presenting and then ‘processing’ all that I heard, experienced and learned at the schoolstechOz Conference (some really great stuff), then in the second week of my vacation, enjoying the mind blowing journey that the folk at Youth Literature – State Library Victoria have led participants through in their first time offered Shift Alt Story: an introduction to digital storytelling and then finally, this last week of my vacation, preparing four different presentations for the upcoming Pearson National Learning and Teaching Conference to be held in Brisbane in early November.

While I’m exhausted – and look forward to returning to work next week to finally have a ‘rest’ – I feel re-charged and re-energized by everything that I’ve learned and explored.  Learning has that kind of impact – doesn’t it!?

One of the highlights of the schoolstechOz Conference was having the opportunity to hear Alan November speak.   It was many years ago that I first heard of him through a work colleague.   I recollect her raving about the impact this doyen of education had on her and without a doubt feel the same passion now that I’ve finally had the same opportunity!   His message is crystal clear: teach our students the grammar, the punctuation and the syntax behind the Internet.  He was humorous, informative and is a very easy going presenter who lets the words and examples tumble out and fall into place in the listener’s mind.  I feel really lucky to have been present for both his Keynote address: Who owns the learning? and then later on the first day a breakout session: Implementing the three pillars of web literacy.  Listening to Simon Breakspeare’s keynote presentation Leading the future of learning was also an outstanding highlight of the schoolstechOZ conference.  As he described our changing world with breathtaking speed, incredible visuals and heart warming examples, his message focused around how educators can sustainably redesign the learning process and how we can nudge all educators into new learning paths so that learning can be made intrinsically engaging.   So much of what he had to say reflected my own thinking and even some of the posts I’ve published here on NovaNews.   I was blown away to see him use some of the same examples I’ve used to underline messages I’ve tried to share.  If you ever get the chance to hear Simon speak – do it!  Like me, you’ll come away inspired!

When promotion for the online Shift Alt Story: an introduction to digital storytelling course landed in my inbox, I knew that I’d be taking on an online learning experience over a very busy time.   Unable to stifle the urge to explore what sounded like a really interesting course though, I registered!  WOW – what an interesting, enlightening and enjoyable experience it has been!  The four units – What is a story; Connecting to stories; Sharing reading and Publishing stories – have opened up new and exciting worlds in which we can see the impact of transmedia and the way in which teenagers today embrace and engage with literature.   Seeing how reading has moved beyond the covers of a book to exciting and exhilarating digital places has been mind-blowing!  Working my way through the course has been an eye opener and it’s clear that much time, effort and thinking has gone into the planning of this program.   To enhance our ability to engage students with literature, this is a course which should be completed by both English teachers and Teacher Librarians.

While my preparation for the Pearson National Learning and Teaching Conference has involved many hours of thinking over the last week, I’m left with a great feeling of accomplishment as I worked through the process of fine tuning my thinking so as to be able to share my knowledge, thoughts and experience about topics for which I feel so passionate.  Sharing my own insights and experience about the incredible value of both PLNs and lifelong learning go hand in hand with my passionate desire to excite in both students and staff a love of reading.  Being able to light a spark of excitement about the incredible joy and benefits that can be derived from both learning and reading is an exciting opportunity for which I am grateful to be involved.   The four presentations:  Learning is a lifelong journey – Feel empowered; Personal Learning Networks: Transformative and powerful; Engage readers: Stage a Literary Festival and Repackaging reading for the 21st century – are ‘Breakout’ Sessions to be held against the backdrop of some great keynote presenters.

It has been an intense three weeks that has seen me sitting at my computer for countless hours – day and night.  I’ve had lots of fun though!!

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My learning journey took a new and different twist this week.

Together with Miffy Farquharson, I was asked by the School Library Association of Victoria to present at their conference: Creative Communication: A conference for library technicians and assistants on the topic Social Networking to Publicise Books.

Initially hesitant, it didn’t take me too long to realize that after a year of playing, learning and exploring with all things webish, I really had learned and internalized much along the way.  While it was a challenge to figure out how best to share my learning with an audience, one thing I was certain about was my desire to inspire the session attendees.

Apart from deciding on the content of my talk, there was the inevitable battle with presentation tools.  Revisiting Prezi for the combined presentation turned out to be a good choice, though I admit that it took me far longer to prepare the presentation than I had anticipated.   Even though I had played with Prezi a bit last year, it was many months ago.  Forgetting the how to’s produced some very irritating, frustrating and time consuming moments.  Getting to the end of the creation was – I admit – a relief!   Using good old PowerPoint (minus the bells and whistles it offers) seemed to be the quickest and easiest format with which to present my own story about the development of my other blog: BevsBookBlog.  Converting this into a SlideShare for publication was a breeze.

With the content set and the presentation tools utilized, my last concern was that technology would reliably facilitate the delivery of it all.   Fear of this or that not working ensured that I had more back ups – both digital and hard copy – than could be imagined!  Fortunately a wonderful man appeared by my side fifteen minutes prior to the presentation and ably assisted the connection of a range of cords into my laptop and the array of equipment that met me at the podium.  I regret however that I didn’t adequately thank him for his assistance.  Perhaps my gratitude will reach him over the air waves of cyberspace.

For those who may be interested here is the presentation made at the SLAV Conference: Social Networking to Publicise Books.

Prezi-Social Networking to Publicise Books

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