My professional experience

I guess you have had enough of the complaints about conditions in which I work. Maybe you would prefer to know a little more about my attitude to the discipline in which I am employed for almost all of my professional life.

I already mentioned that I started my career of educational technologist as a person responsible for technical quality of the first 8-bit computer developed especially for our schools in 1984. Later I was a member of the team developing the adaptive learning management system for higher education environment. We called it Intelligent Tutoring System at that time. The reality was very different. It was a good experience for me as I found out where not to go.

That time in 80’s the battle between the traditional educational concept and the innovative one already started. The first kind of thinking was represented by the supporters of usage of computers as teaching and testing machine, rote exercising, programming in Basic, etc. On the opposite side there were proponents of Logo (we firstly adopted program Karel), Pascal and constructive methods of involving students into their own learning. The principle of openness belonged to this approach from the beginning.

The next occupation in which I was responsible for the establishment of service bringing information about the usage of ICT to our teachers was much more determinative for me. I feel it as my personal mission for the rest of my life. In the middle of 90’s we were provided by internet and thanks to it we have got the possibility to use the free resources of the whole world. I think we took as much as possible from it. In the first stages the process of passing information, materials and programs had typically only one way direction. We only spent and didn’t offer anything back.

When I started to teach the subjects connected with educational technology at Charles University Prague, Faculty of Education and the service called Teachers’ Helper was established in 1997 I involved my students into the activities helping to open the online environment for all our teachers. The intention is evident. I wanted to give them the experience of sharing – to show them that the only possibility in the coming days is to take the active role in the exchange of experience among all of the teachers around the whole world. The contrast to the traditional approach in which the students write the seminar work only for the teacher is visible.

When I first met the conception of connectivism around 2005 I immediately realized that this is “my cap of tea”. It gives the appropriate meaning to all I have done from the beginning I got the open internet connection. It is a big pleasure for me to know I am not alone on this way. Unfortunately there are plenty of barriers and drawbacks around, but we have to face them and be prepared to overcome the coming changes which are often described as singularity or even disruption today.

I try to implement the principles of connectivism and openness in my teaching. This school year is the first in which my lessons are broadcasted online (by Google+ Hangout now). The intention is to give the opportunity to learn not only to students, but to inservice teachers too. We are connected not only by almost the traditional lectures held on university ones a week, but also virtually by the (Edmodo) back channel with no time restrictions. For the evaluation of students I set two levels. In the first they are supposed to establish their own online connections to lead teachers (or experts) anywhere and prove that there already exists some preliminary version of their Personal Learning Environment. In the second stage they have to take an active role in the given process. As the evidence they can use the published article on Teachers’ Helper or their own independent activity – for example a private blog.

I know very well that I must serve as an example for them. There are not only my lectures but many other products, e.g. about 50 articles every year. Last years I began to make also a video mini-lessons dedicated to students (I don’t speak about the flipped classroom in my case). Only one of my video has already the English transcript thanks to the specialized event for which it was recorded. Here you are:

Bořivoj Brdička – Information Society for the Third Millenium