Running to Stand still


I visited Hastings College last Friday to meet with Apple Distinguished Educator Steven Molyneux to view his latest e-learning project.

Hastings is in the middle of  a sea change, a paradim shift if you will, a transition between two implacciable foes.

I’m talking of course about Apple and Microsoft.

With Steves guidence, Hastings are replacing all teaching and learning PC’s with Mac Mini’s, whilst keeping the administrative staff running on Windows.

So far so average, but this is where it gets interesting:

They are removing their VLE.

A FE/HE institution with no virtual learning enviroment, how will people work?! Perhaps its not as insane as it seems,  a poorly implemented VLE is nothing more than a content repository,  almost a digital library of sorts that people dip into when they need to find something.

They’re replacing it with OS X Server which comes bundled with: Podcast creator, wiki server and combined with the ilife suite makes quite a compelling learning solution….

After a reasonably speedy journey driving in the beast with my collegue Jim accompanied by playing Mettalicas Death Magnetic at ear bleeding volume, we arrived at Hastings College.

I should preface this next comment with the statement that Hastings is in the process of building a new Campus with upto date facilities and on looking at the current one,  I can safely say that the new build can’t be finished quickly enough (old school doesn’t even come close, think of the worst ‘building of the future’ 60’/70’s constuction and you would be getting close).

We met Steve and headed straight to a hair & beauty class that had been using iPod Touch’s as a learning aid to support activities both in and out of contact ours. Students would access course content by viewing the wiki and streaming video/audio/text where appropriate.

Except some students couldn’t get the videos to work, others didn’t bother to use the devices except in class and others either didn’t have internet at home, or if they did failed to have WiFi.

And even if they did overcome the access issue, it still left a bad taste in my mouth as we’re just replicating the same solutions over and over again.

The iPod being utilised as nothing more than a passive viewing medium, almost as if it were a laptop rather than a mobile device,  the iPod is a device born of web 2.0 it is an amazing collaboration and communication tool like no other before (in terms of accessibility, speed and ease of set up).

Why do we in education always seek to reinvent the wheel? Got a homework diary? Have a digital diary! Got a portfolio? How about an ePortfolio! In class poll? Have an online poll!!

The list goes on,  but its always the same things, when will we stop replicating and start to really innovate.

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