IT Students online community

Abstract

Lets make an online community for students studying senior secondary IT. We will explore the idea of making a Senior Secondary IT Students Online Community. The idea has been floated in the SSABSA IT Teachers online community and this session will be a chance for interested teachers to work out some of the issues and protocols. We will start by hearing about how this works in South Korea and then discuss how we might apply this for the benefit of South Australian IT students.






Session Notes



The problem

  • Currently we are seeing declining numbers of students studying IT in senior secondary. There is however still a need for people who have specialist IT skills - Alan Noble of Google Inc may well make that point at the National Summit in October 4th and 5th.
  • Class sizes in this subject, particularly in rural and regional schools, are declining. Teachers are doing things like combining classes in various ways
    • vertical grouping by running the year 11 and 12 class together
    • horizontal grouping by running with another subject in the year level,
    • grouping with other schools - one teacher for several schools
  • or teaching an extra line to enable this subject to continue to be offered.
  • This is all extra work for these teachers in a climate where resources are shrinking and their capacity to work harder is not existent.
  • Students in small classes do not have sufficient peers to compete and collaborate with. The students who tend to get the very high results collaborate extensively in and out of class and then compete heavily at assessment time.

Solutions

Make it easier for
  • teachers to collaborate on the development of teaching and learning materials for these classes
  • students to collaborate across sites
There are solutions that we have control over. It would also be good for some systemic support - eg the development of some common 'lessons' across the country.

What is happening in South Korea?

A group of Australian educators went on a trip to South Korea in November 2006 to look at ICT and eLearning. We were there for 5 days.
  • Participants
    • Dr Kathryn Moyle - Associate Professor, School of Education and Community Services - University of Canberra
    • Dianne Brook - Monte Sant' Angelo Mercy College – Sydney (Catholic Schools)
    • Ian Ralph - Sydney Church of England Girls Grammar School - Sydney (Independent Schools)
    • Peter Ruwoldt - Grant High School - Mount Gambier, S.A. (Public Schools)
  • Funded by the Australia Korea Foundation
  • We maintained a wiki and photo gallery while there - Account of observations
  • Relevant Photos from Korea.

Two problems for South Korea are

  • parents are spending huge amounts on private tutoring in addition to normal school ($4,000USD/month was quoted in one place).
  • while there are huge cities with dense population, there are lots of isolated regional schools as well.

Solutions

Various web sites have been established, resourced at National and Regional levels to provide a place for
  • teachers
    • get help with classroom management issues within 24 hours
      • from paid experts
      • from peers
      • get SMS when a response to query has been posted
    • access professionally developed teaching and learning resources
    • share teaching and learning resources
    • teachers given status through their contributions
    • Professional Development programs offered using eLearning
  • students
    • Access video lessons. Filmed in studios and delivered by expert teachers. These teachers are given 'hero' status by students. They are paid extra for this. EBS alone produces 12,000 of these each year
    • Test themselves. We had it repeated in many different places that the questions were central to learning. Students are able to test themselves in topics to workout where there personal weaknesses were.
    • Learning materials.
    • Experts. The way this was done varied from site to site but included
      • Industry experts (some sort of check carried out along with some training)
      • Paid teachers
      • Volunteer cyber teachers - teachers contributing in this way were given status.
      • In one situation students were able to tackle essay questions and then click on a teachers face to indicate which teacher they would like to get feedback from
  • example


What I took away from this.

I like the

  • idea of students being able to test themselves
  • involvement of industry experts is a great idea - relevance factor - this helps create links for students re 'life long' learning wiht connections to business and higher education
  • teachers answering questions and giving feedback online
  • online lessons - why not have a well rehearsed expert deliver a lesson when we need a lesson?

Opportunities

  • Peer collaboration should be a feature - creates a more social web2.0 environment to learning. Complies with latest thinking about learning and collaboration.
  • Involve the tertiary education sector as they are the next step for senior secondary students
  • Needs systemic level funding to provide some of these features

What could we do while waiting for systemic level support?

  • We are already growing our facilities and culture of sharing at teacher level.
  • We could also develop a student peer support collaborative community.
  • Find a way for key lessons to be produced for all to use - eg the notion of data integrity in database design. May be this could be the next national SiMERR focus as there will be common lessons of this nature across the nation.

We could develop a student community

  • Tertiary institutions - Uni SA, for example, has been asking how they could improve their profile and so attract more students. They could be involved by answering student questions and being one of the tertiary sector stakeholders. (Care needs to be taken here - a typical interaction could end up being - students asks question, maybe a couple of students respond, the industry expert responds, all further discussion dies. When should an industry expert or a teacher respond? How should they respond?)
  • Involve industry via organisations like AIIA, Linux SA, ACER, ACS, ...
  • could pre-service teachers/tertiary IT students be involved as an interest or part of their practicum? [KM]
  • there are numerous students who have skills and experience with moderating online communities. Lets have the community moderated by students
  • past students may well want to continue to contribute and help
  • retired teachers may also want to 'keep their hand in'
  • a few interested teachers could support these student moderators and keep a watchful eye on the community. A great way to learn where students are having difficulty. Good intelligence for those teachers. It is also something that might contribute to teachers career path.
  • encourage our students to do things like set tests and challenges for others - others do them and rate them maybe (this is more aligned with modern learning methods anyway). We know that the best way to learn is to teach others. Setting a good test requires a good understanding of the topic and being able to ask good questions, both attributes of good students.
  • what about a student developed wiki styled encyclopedia for IT Studies organised using the SSABSA curriculum statement
  • encourage a culture of collaboration in our classes and schools
  • encourage a culture of being critical in the spirit of continuous improvement

Discussion questions.

  • What do people think of the idea?
  • Anyone interested in being part of taking this idea any further?
  • Issues and obstacles?
  • How could we get systemic support? Where from? Is SSABSA, DECS, EDNA, Catholic Education, SiMERR, .... interested? Do we even need systemic support?
  • How could we do this? What software?
  • Child protection - how do we ensure that students are protected but that the adults trying to make it work are also protected?
  • How could we engage people in the IT industry?
  • What would need to be in a statement of best practice about how to respond to student questions? [KM]

Late information

NMC Horizon Project - 2007 Short List
Pages 1-3 identifies some technoloogies that are of relevance to an IT Students COP.
  • Online Collaboration - Easy, accessible and virtually free
  • User Content - It's all about the audience
  • Social Networking - The reason they log on
    The Horizon Project, as the centerpiece of NMC's Emerging Technologies Initiative, charts the landscape of emerging technologies for teaching, learning and creative expression and produces the NMC’s annual Horizon Report.