Using Cognitive Organisers to Meet Students ‘where they’re at’ – Preparing for ELH

It’s been a frantic few weeks starting Term 3. I’ve once again been quite remiss in blog-postings, despite having a whole range of things to post about!

Next week sees me heading off to present at this years ELH (Expanding Learning Horizons) in Lorne, Victoria. This year’s focus is “What Happened to the Revolution?” and presenters and speakers will be exploring this question in a whole range of different ways, including 1-1 depoloyment in schools, developing sustainable assistive technologies, exploring the concept of mobile and building knowledge around cloud-based pedagogies.

My session is based on my recent literature review: ‘Head in the Clouds: how cloud-based service deployments scale the use of Web 2.0 applications in education.‘ I’ll be presenting on my understanding of cloud-pedagogies at this point and demonstrating how I’ve strategically directed my school in the deployment and integration of Moodle and Google’s Apps for Education.

The hardest part is knowing where to pitch my ideas. Conferences like these tend to draw education crowds from a range of different sources – including leaders, managers, teachers, IT professionals, principals and so on. As a some-time participant at conferences, I’m often dismayed by the poor planning on the parts of presenters in anticipating and making allowances for their potential audience. When it comes down to it, ideas are often too esoteric, the ‘practical’ ends up being too simple and the ‘bag of tricks’ that participants expect to walk away with ends up making little difference in the greater scheme of things.


Exploring Cognitive Organisers for Professional Development

With these shortcomings in mind, I thought I’d shift gears a little and explore other ways of creatively meeting my participants where they’re at – rather than putting them in the same category of assumed ‘inexperienced novice.’ Cognitive organisers make a great alternative to the ubiquitous PowerPoint ‘sheep dip’ model. The following organiser (still a work in progress) is my attempt to offer a range of different and really useful links, articulate different ways of thinking and encourage participants to enter the learning at the point which is most relevant to their experiences and context. This map explores how to approach cloud-service deployment – the aim is to be practical, to provide resources, to position ideas in relation to current research and to not make participants feel overwhelmed.

I’ve also been keen to explore the idea of cognitive organisers in the classroom. They make a fantastic opening for a unit, especially considering the use of collaboration to elicit students throughts on a topic or research question. Colours, tabs, graphics and so on provide handy reference points and organising principles along the way.

While this is going to be an interesting experiment for my session next Monday (and I’m not sure as yet whether it will pay off – I feel a lot safer about the idea of a straight-forward, linear presentation!). It’s exciting to think about how much I will stand to learn from those involved in my session. Maybe I should open up the organiser to their collaborative input?



About Michael

Cellist, singer/songwriter, school teacher, nerd, recent scooter enthusiast and failed philosopher.
This entry was posted in Academic, Classroom Teaching, School Tech Administration and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s