From HEL to Weinheim

You won't believe the view I have here from this terrace so here's a photo to capture at least a little of the beauty and serenity of this spot. It's a poor substitute for actually being here and experiencing to the birds singing and the peacefulness. I'm staying with Sigi Jakob-Kuhn and her husband Manfred, in Weinheim, just outside Heidelberg, in Germany. You can follow her on Twitter as @networking_lady, and she also has an excellent blog of schools using technology, called School Networking which you should take a look at if you work in schools too. I first met Sigi in Salzburg two years ago when we were both attending a conference there run by the Salzburg Research Foundation - we hit it off, and have been in touch ever since. So when she found out I was taking part in this week's International Network Conference (INC2010) - which for the first time is being hosted outside of Plymouth, in Heidelberg - she invited me to sat with her before the conference.

Last night I flew in from Helsinki and was driven in an open top convertible by Manfred, who I think believes he is the inspiration for Sebastien Vettel (look I'm joking, OK - he drives more like Michael Schumacher), from Frankfurt airport and arrived windswept but happy in Sigi's hillside house. We talked late into the night about all things digital and pedagogical. Sigi's school teacher friend Ulrike Montgomery was also there, and we enjoyed a very stimulating conversation over a few glasses of wine. Sigi has some great ideas about how to incorporate e-portfolios such as Mahara into the formal learning environment. One of her slideshows (presented at a recent German Moodlemoot is linked here). The common theme seems to be teacher resistance to change, and Germany seems to have its fair share in the classroom. Although Moodle is used as a centralised tool by many schools, teachers don't seem to like it, and the same applies to interactive white boards, which if used at all, tend to be teacher tools rather than student ones. It's the same wherever I go in the world. Although there are pockets of excellence where these tools are used appropriately, interactively and with the student in mind, many teachers still see them as mere extensions to the overhead projector or traditional resources set. They are not. They extend, advance and enhance the learning environment if the student is placed in the centre. Use them as presentation tools, and they lose their potency.

Today we are going to explore the town of Weinheim, where I have previously been with some of my Atlantis students (we visited a brewery here last October with staggering results). Then tonight I am off to Heidelberg to get ready for tomorrow's conference.

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From HEL to Weinheim by Steve Wheeler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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Steve, I really enjoyed our conversation last night. Keep up your great blog. I'm looking forward to your next visit to Germany. Thanks a lot, Sigi, for inviting me and my husband to your lovely home in Weinheim for a great dinner.
serendipitynz said…
Love it, once again Steve you've hit the nail (or should that be lead pencil) on the head. The sooner educators (and IT services) stop treating the use of computers as a privilege and start treating computers, laptops & mobile devices as "just another learning tool" the better education will become.

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