Summer is in full swing – outside of Wellington.

After a very sunny day in Nelson which I spent giving two Mahara / MyPortfolio Taster Sessions for teachers of Nelson schools at Waimea College, I flew to Auckland for the Digital Technologies Symposium for secondary school teachers. I had another very sunny and very warm day. It also looks like it’s going to be really nice tomorrow.

Today I presented on the topic “E-portfolios: Just for students?” Approximately 30 teachers attended the session. Throughout the day I was then approached by teachers who had either been to the presentation or who had heard about Mahara / MyPortfolio before. It was good that I wore my CatalystMaharaMoodle –  T-shirt thus being easily recognizable. 😉 They either wanted to know more about Mahara or had already thought about implementing it in their schools and wanted to know how to best go about it.

After tonight’s dinner at which Stuart Middleton from MIT (not the one in the USA, but the home-grown one from NZ) gave a great keynote that was filled with anecdotes from his childhood and a number of jokes (he also managed to bring in the engagement of Prince William to Catherine Middleton that had just been announced), I had a chat with Justin Scott from Otago Girls’ High School. They have already looked into Mahara and had run a trial as well. The girls liked the software because it was easy to handle (which is always nice to hear).

During our chat I learned how they support teachers and students in the adaption of technology. It is done through “Tech Angels”. These are girls who help teachers when they have a tech issue to solve. But they also help their peers. “Tech Angels” is a great metaphor for the work they do. The girls are very proud of their work, especially about the badge they get to put on their uniform. It is a great way for them to learn something new and help others understand it (learning by teaching). Teachers also realize that they do not necessarily know everything there is to know. This is a fundamental shift that is not always easy to cope with when teachers have always been the ones who were in control. Suddenly, they have to relinquish part of their power and have students help them.

A number of metaphors have been introduced to talk about the shifting role of a teacher. Ones that I encountered are for example “from sage on the stage to guide on the side”, curator, facilitator, gardener. Sui Fai John Mak put together a long list of roles that teachers can take. That also shown nicely how different these roles and their implied meaning can be. There is no “one size fits all”.

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