An inspiring knight in Cape Town

Sir John Daniel -Photographed from my crummy web camera

Schoolnet and the Commonwealth of Learning invited me (and a variety of highups in Education)  to a day long seminar in Cape Town around the topic of  ICT integration and teacher training. The key note speaker was the inspiring knight, Sir John Daniel. Not only did he take 25 years to complete a part-time Master’s degree in Educational Technology at Concordia University, but he’s also the president and CEO of the Commonwealth of Learning since 2004 after previous appointments as assistant director-general of UNESCO and vice-chancellor of the UK Open University and that’s only a summary of the last 10 years of his career.

At the seminar, Sir John chatted about the Second United Nations Millennium Development Goal – Universal Primary Education – and argued that these goals were well on their way to being achieved. As of 2008, over 570 million children were now able to complete a full course of primary schooling and only 50 million children were not primary schooled. The success of the campaign however, has created a new problem, that of Universal Secondary Education. The scale of the challenge is vast. 400 million children aged 12-17 are not in secondary school and 10 million more teachers are required by 2015 if this problem is to be addressed.

Sir John then went ahead to explore some interesting ideas to train more teachers and effectively retrain and motivate those in the profession. He suggested that countries should be recruiting people and sending them into the classroom within minimal training. Then, while they are teaching, they should receive in-service training that is in the schools and that addresses classroom realities. In order for this to happen, institutions will have to use open & distance learning and ICT.

His latest book – Mega-Schools, Technology and Teachers: Achieving Education for All – he explores the implications of using ICT for open and distance learning. The publicity blurb says that the book covers:

  • the creation and expansion of Mega-Schools, which combine distance learning and community support and have a proven track record of increasing access at scale
  • how to prepare the 10 million new teachers that are required to achieve Education for All by 2015 by focusing on classroom-based in-service training.
  • strategies for using technology to scale up distance education cost-effectively.
  • the creation of a 21st century educational ecosystem that integrates open schooling and teacher education with communities and their school systems.
  • successful examples of open schools and teacher education programmes operating at scale around the world.

Sir John is an amazing person. He has a global vision for education and an appreciation of how educational technology can provide secondary education to tens of millions of young people around the world. If the book is as good as his engaging presentation, then it’s certainly another must read for my bookshelf.


I’ve been designing materials for a Programme entitled “Skills for a changing world” for the past few months and have just got to the piloting phase. Below are  three PowerPoint presentations that I put together. They might be useful to those who’d like to familiarise thmselves with the PowerPoint programme.

If you are looking at these presentations in Internet Explorer, you can download the file by right clicking on the file and saving the target.

“What teachers make”

Taylor Mali is a teacher and poet. He’s a advocate for teachers and the nobility of teaching profession. He’s got a great poem entitled “What teachers make”. I like the way that the poem has been visualised. It’s a great example of a sticky presentation

  • Taylor has and asked (and answered) the question – What do teachers make? This gives the show an attractive simplicity
  • Interest in his ideas are generated and maintained by the way that he shakes peoples expectations. The unexpected elements in the presentation maks you want to read more.
  • Images and text are boldly used accross the screen. Sensory information rather than abstract text keeps the show concrete.
  • He’s obviously a teacher, with a commitment to good spelling and limited bathroom time. There’s little doubt about his credebility
  • He taps into our emotions by recounting a story about a child who stood up to a bully. We care about what he has to say because we feel something.
  • Finally, his presentation uses a story to get our attention.

Together, the show keeps to the SUCCES (simplicity, unexpected, concrete, credible, emotions and story) principles outlines in Chip and Dan Heaths’ Made to Stick.

It’s a useful exercise applying these principles to presentations generally. Maybe, if we can get it right, our presentations might be a bit more memorable. My PPT presentation  PowerPoint – The Good the Bad and the Ugly  elaborates on these points, and introduced 6 bad things to do and 6 ugly things to include in a presentation. Is it sticky? Take a look and see.

I hate learning from failure…

Shoot! Technologically –  a failed lecture on Digital Portfolios. My old computer conked out and I was left with a chalkboard and a borrowed lap top (thanks Marco). I had wanted to introduce my students to the Digital Portfolio template and had put together for the Skills for a Changing World Programme and get them inspired with an evocative set of Portfolio Metaphors.

Never great when the Ed tech guy can’t get his computer working. Note to self – ensure that you have a backup on your memory stick! I hate learning from my mistakes.

Starting with the end

I’ve always found it useful to start a course with the end product in mind. I also wanted to communicate that the Ed Tech course that I was introducing would be hands on (both behind the computer and at the desks). So I spent a good few hours groveling around the web, looking for a nice introduction. Stumbled across Life Hacker’s post on making a DIY paper pop up CD case which had a Chung Da Lam teaching how to fold a CD case. Neat – but too advanced for me. But the comments had some useful suggestions and with help from Wake1080 I created a template for students to store their portfolio CDs in.

The template also divided the class into groups and allowed them to store important information about their accounts. Take a look and tell me if it works for you.

Teaching for tomorrow

I’m quite excited. I’ve been given an opportunity to influence, affect, direct and maybe even change the way that teachers will practice their teaching and learning in the classroom. From next week I’ll be working with student and practicing teachers discovering, demonstrating and developing new ways of learning about ICT, learning with ICT and learning through the use of ICT. The School of Education and Development have hired me to take over the AV course.

I’ve decided to move away from Audio Visual and focus more on Education Technology. Over the next six month we are going to be

  • Learning about ICT
  • Learning with ICT
  • Learning through the use of ICT