Important Ed Tech Book Reviews

Just in Time Technology


 From Now On
The Educational Technology Journal

 Vol 11|No 2|October|2001

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Power Learning at NECC 2001

by Jamie McKenzie
About the Author

One hundred teachers working on fifty wireless laptops in Chicago at NECC 2001, exploring online information literacy challenges as teams.

© 2001, J. McKenzie.

Class size was large: two leaders for one hundred learners. But the engaged learning model was effective. Participants were energized by the tasks, responsible for their learning, collaborative and strategic.

What were the objectives of this session?

Expected Outcomes

  • Learn the importance of the Research Cycle and three types of literacy: text literacy, numeracy and visual literacy.
  • Learn how to focus classroom investigations around decisions and problems drawn from the community and the global neighborhood.
  • Learn how to engage students in making their own meaning (constructivism) from the vast new information landscape which is made readily and rapidly available thanks to new technologies.
  • Explore the possibilities of Engaged Learning with technology - Information Power and Power Learning.
  • Consider the best practices for professional development, assessment and planning related to information technologies.
  • Explore these issues:
  1. How does the role of classroom teacher change in such a program?
  2. How do we provide structure?
  3. How do students cope with Info-Glut, Info-Garbage and Info-Tactics?
  4. How does information differ from Truth?
  5. How do students learn to recognize the difference.

What were the activities that challenged the learners to attain these outcomes on just three hours?

Take a look at the free online sample.

The wireless laptops were a significant influence on the success of this workshop as learners experimented with a variety of settings, postures and locations.

Click to enlarge image.

We noted ongoing evidence of collaboration and sharing of ideas as pairs clustered together around screens to analyze, interpret and infer.

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Some activities began in the main session room but were structured so that participants could leave the room and work outside in the hallway. Learners were able to take their activities where they were most comfortable.

Click to enlarge image.

Each team found its own comfort level and learning style, some working on the floor and others remaining at tables.

Click to enlarge image.

There were times when the entire group gathered to watch presentations from the podium, but most of the time, the podium was vacant as the instructors wandered about supporting the learning of teams.

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A critically important element in this kind of workshop is the debriefing and reflection led by the facilitators. In contrast to pure online learning, this workshop provided a rich blending of exploration and dialogue.

Click to enlarge image.
As the session proceeded, the laptops moved about with the participants. When large group discussion began, everyone moved into a lecture format section of seats with their laptops and reflective work sitting on their laps. When the next module began, some returned to tables while others remained in their seats in the center section. Learners matched uses to style preferences.

Click to enlarge image.
Batteries were a bit of an issue. Knowing they could not make it through the whole day without charging, participants plugged into a power source much of the time, with the ironic consequence that the wireless lab was only wireless part of the time, when we all unplugged.

Despite the fears of some that wireless laptops cannot match cabled desktop units in performance and speed, the 50 laptops were very speedy and capable of handling large image files from museums and the Library of Congress. Another myth dispelled.

If you would like to learn about sponsoring Power Learning workshops in your district or region, contact Jamie McKenzie at .

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Credits: The photographs were shot by Jamie McKenzie.

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