Am I the only parent concerned about the lack of STEM learning in primary schools?

Darcy Nicolson is a learning and technology expert at eWorks. Passionate about lifelong learning, Darcy focuses on improving the use of media and technology to enable better personal development and learning outcomes. As a dad, he was pleased to learn at the recent MoodleMoot 2015 that he is not the only parent concerned about the lack of STEM learning in primary schools.

My top five takeaways from MoodleMoot2015

This year I was lucky enough to attend MoodleMoot 2015 Australia with not one, not two, but all of my colleagues from eWorks. Being an e-learning solutions provider the eWorks team is passionate about lifelong learning, so the entire team attended the conference as a professional development activity. I had a great time and met a lot of interesting people coming at learning from all sorts of angles. Here are my top five takeaways from the event:

1. Tinkering with Arduino could one day pay off?

Scott Huntley (@MillerTAFEScott) spoke on his experiences and plans for small internet/wireless devices and how they could be used in the education space. I have been playing with Arduino for a couple of years now to assist in temperature control for my craft brewing and had a great chat to Scott on the first morning from a random ‘Is this seat taken?’ meeting. Scott has a massive bag of tech goodies and we have discussed working on something together in the future. What we need now is a well-defined problem/solution pairing – hopefully I will get some IoT inspiration in discussions with eWorks’ clientele! Stay tuned for a joint session @ #Mootau16. Other cool tech included sessions on automated testing using Behat and hearing Martin Dougiamas report the Moodle working group outcomes from meeting at the Moot.

2. I’m not the only parent concerned about the lack of STEM learning in primary schools.

Adam Spencer was funny, intelligent and most importantly really open about himself and his experiences being the ‘good at maths’ kid at school. His discussion on the links between finding prime numbers and computing power was a great way to measure the ability of digital technology to provide a lever for the human mind to advance our knowledge. But most of all I related to his concerns on the lack of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education in our schools, teaching his daughter to play chess, and being the kid who chooses the geeky path at an early age.

3. Big data analysis will involve good data collection

There is a lot of discussion in educational technology circles about the power of big data analytics which is already transforming finance and marketing. The first step for Moodle admins is making sure that their Moodle is capturing the right data and this was covered in the excellent presentation by my colleague, Jo Norbury. Jo covered this from a compliance angle in ensuring engagement was tracked for audit reasons, but level of learner engagement is an early performance indicator to any other metric – results, retention and so on. Passing an audit is critical but many of our clients also want early notification on disengaged students to provide extra help and lower drop-out rates. If you’re not sure how to measure learning and provide evidence to auditors quickly and easily Jo can give you some pointers.

4. Stop getting caught up on the term Technology

Don Hinkleman had a great take on blended learning and the combined power of face to face with online being more than the parts (1+1=3). He posed the term face to face technology referring to person to person educational practices, drawing attention to the fact that the term technology is broader than the digital trends we tend associate with it. Don also revisited the term ‘bricoleur’ – being a tinkerer – which I also related to Agile Scrum, given the build the task > configure technologies > adjust on the fly > assess and rebuild process of a bricoleur/blended teacher.

5. Move over MOOC, SPOC is the new kid.

To teach is to learn twice over Joseph Joubert said, and with the release of MoodleCloud, Martin and the team at MoodleHQ have empowered anyone to make a Small Personal Online Course (SPOC). MoodleCloud is free for up to 50 users and is a full Moodle with 200mb of space, it’s a great starting point. I have bagged a domain and plan to work with my daughter to create minecraft.moodlecloud.com.

After more wise words from Darcy?

Read his blog post on deploying video in digital learning or contact him directly for a chat.

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