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"Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm."

Winston Churchill

 

Although he may not have been the first, it was Malcolm Gladwell that made famous the notion that natural talent wasn't the most important part of success, and that practice, hard work and determination were the keys to excellence. In his book, 'The Expert Learner: Challenging the Myth of Ability', Gordon Stobart takes this message and moves it into the realm of education. 


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Somewhere around the world right now, there is someone giving a PowerPoint presentation. The audience are either wondering why the presenter is reading text that they can quite easily read themselves, but at the same time is too small to even be on the slides, or they're writing down the objective and the outcome for that days lesson. All of them are wondering how many slides are left till they can go home. Acording to research, there are in fact 350 such presentations going on this very second! Why?

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My Awakening

It's 2011, and I'm in one of the many classrooms of the Institute of Education waiting for my training session to start. I don't quite remember what the session was on, managing your manager, or recruitment and retention or something like that. I don't even remember the room much, to be honest, apart from it being a regular looking, verging on boring old University classroom, designed somewhere in the early 1980s. I just about remember the speaker, who was a middle aged, white lady, with blond frizzyish hair, and a slightly weary look on her face.

What I do remember quite well, was the presentation. No, not the content - I couldn't tell you what she was talking about - but the style, the movement, the zooming, the awesomeness and the captivating smoothness of it all, which was now not just a medium of presentation, but was the presentation itself. The wow factor of the presentation was so great, that not only did I not know what she was talking about, but I didn't care! All I wanted to know was what it was, and how I could use it!

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Over the last few years, as I've been working with secondary (K-12) age students, I have noticed the skills and abilities that they are able to display, and have wondered about the actual meaning of the term "digital native". According to a Work Design Magazine article:

"Digital Natives have an inherent understanding of digital technologies, as they’ve been integrated into their lives since early childhood. They are part of a tech-savvy generation at the forefront of technological progress and want to be connected when they wish, from anywhere. "

An inherent understanding? Although I agree with most of the article, as a teacher of technology for about a decade, I feel that this statement needs a bit more explanation as my experience is a little different.

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How many Web 2.0 websites are out there that cater to the needs of educators? 50? 500? 5000? And how many are being created every year? I very much doubt that anyone knows the answers to these questions, and in a world where web and mobile apps are popping up all over the place, only a fool would try and quantify.

Given this question, and my interest in spreading the gospel of educational technology to all teachers and educators, I tried to research the answer. In fact, I did more than that, and actually started creating a database of educational technology tools.