A Pittance of Time..

This week, I found myself faced with the task of orchestrating the technological elements of our Remembrance Day Assembly.  This involved accessing, combining and sequencing several digital media, including videos from Youtube, a powerpoint slide show, an iPhoto slide show and music files.  While I am not exactly a proficient user of any of these tools, I felt confident enough to try and pull it all together.

In her article Catching the Knowledge Wave, Jane Gilbert summarized the ideas of French philosopher Jean-François Lyotard, who described knowledge as shifting from a thing to an energy of performative value that will be “..mobilized on an as-and-when-needed basis.”  This was indeed my situation this week – I needed to mobilize knowledge to solve an authentic problem within an authentic task. (Gilbert, 2007).  Accessing the YouTube videos was easy enough, but the problem occurred when the override password timed out during the middle of the video “A Pittance of Time”.  I needed to find a way to extend the time or download the video so that we would not need to re-enter the password in the middle of the actual assembly.   My efforts to download or embed the video were unsuccessful – I’m certain this is probably not a difficult task, but my lack of technical knowledge and limited time to learn were impeding factors.

The shifting view of knowledge as described above has significant implications for our educational system, which has traditionally involved the accumulation of information to be memorized and recalled without necessarily being utilized to fulfill an immediate or specific purpose.   In my situation, I didn’t have the necessary information stored in my memory.   I have not ever learned the specifics of how to download or embed videos, and my individual efforts proved unsuccessful.

Enter Connectivism.  A helpful colleague offered to capture the videos required, and then uploaded them to the school server.  Connectivist learning theories recognize that knowledge can reside outside of individuals, and connections help us to learn more than we are capable of knowing on our own.  (Seimens, 2004).  As quoted by Seimens (2004), Karen Stephenson states:

“Experience has long been considered the best teacher of knowledge.  Since we     cannot experience everything, other people’s experiences, and hence other people, become the surrogate for knowledge. ‘I store my knowledge in my friends’ is an axiom for collecting knowledge through collecting people (undated.)”

Another challenge I encountered was trying to split a song into two parts, which could then be embedded at the beginning and end of a Powerpoint slide show.  Again, I did not have sufficient knowledge to instantly make this happen.  This time, however, I did not seek the assistance of a colleague to complete the task for me, but only asked for time – time to explore and learn how to do this on my own.  Given a ‘pittance of time’ to learn, I ‘Googled’ to find answers, and with 20 minutes of uninterrupted problem solving, was able to successfully put the components together as required.  Hooray!

What then, are the implications of this week’s learning with technology on my own teaching practice? This experience has helped to solidify my understanding of the importance of building and fostering connections for my students, and providing them with time to access and mobilize information and knowledge for authentic and meaningful learning tasks.  Adjusting our educational structures to provide students with opportunities to develop connections, and sufficient time and resources to access and mobilize knowledge should be the core focus of educational reform.



Gilbert, J. (2007). Catching the Knowledge Wave: Redefining Knowledge in the Post-Industrial Age. Retrieved from: http://www.cea-ace.ca/sites/cea-ace.ca/files/EdCan-2007-v47-n3-Gilbert.pdf

Kelly, T. (2008). A Pittance of Time. [Video file]. Retrieved November 2012 from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2kX_3y3u5Uo

Siemens, G. (2004).  Connectivism:  A Learning Theory for the Digital Age.  Retrieved from:  http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/connectivism.htm

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One Response to A Pittance of Time..

  1. Your post immediately brought to mind the work of Zhao, Pugh, Sheldon & Byers. “The study found that a supportive school environment is important for successful technology integration. Teachers need access to a healthy human infrastructure and a functional and convenient technical infrastructure.” (Zhao, Pugh, Sheldon & Byers, 2002, p.512) It sounds like you were able to access the first infrastructure (human), although the technical infrastructure seems somewhat restrictive. One would think the easy way to solve the timing out problem would have been to extend the password timing rather than circumventing the issue by uploading it to the server. That solution though, would require access to the technical infrastructure. In my experience, this access is severely limited for teachers. For example, I once had to fill out a tech request to change the signature on my email!

    Zhao, Pugh, Sheldon & Byers (2002) also talk about the difference between access and easy access. The difference is illustrated by an example of a teacher who did not have access to YouTube. It was blocked by the school division due to the possibility of students accessing inappropriate material. How many opportunities for learning will be completely missed due to this overly-cautious approach? In direct contrast, our school divisions approach the issue from another angle. CRPS policy says, “We firmly believe that the value of information and interaction available on this worldwide network outweighs the possibility that users may access material that is not consistent with the educational goals of Canadian Rockies Public Schools.“ (CRPS Technology Plan, 2012, p. 12)

    Well done on constructing your own knowledge and solving the problem of splitting a song into two parts. I’m impressed it took only 20 minutes to solve! You not only had the confidence to pull it all together, you had the willingness to try. I hope this experience also increased your sense of self-efficacy and the collective efficacy of your staff!

    Canadian Rockies Public Schools (2011-2013). Canadian Rockies Public Schools Technology Plan. Retrieved from:

    Zhao, Y., Pugh, K., Sheldon, S. & Byers, J.L. (2002). Conditions for classroom technology innovations. Teachers College Record, 104(3), 482-515. Retrieved from: http://www.jcu.edu/education/dshutkin/ed585/TCR_Tech.pdf

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