“You don’t know what you don’t know.” Alan November
A group of parents found out some of what they didn’t know at an evening talk given by Alan November this week. Many left with possibly more questions than answers, but also a desire to know more. Alan showed parents how to help their children think critically about digital content, including search engine results using Google operators and how to prepare them to have a global work ethic by using tools such as Google Docs, Wolfram Alpha, MathTrain and Khan Academy.
Below are some parent comments on the evening:
How lucky our children are to attend a school that offers those kinds of learning experiences and a principal who is willing to discuss how to position the school to evolve with new learning practices.
I strongly urge parents to take advantage of these opportunities that our children’s school offers to expand your own minds and also to reinforce at home what your children are being taught in school. To have the opportunity to listen to an international speaker on the same day that he has already spoken to my child and then come home and discuss that learning is a very inspiring and motivating experience. It closes a loop of learning, so perhaps that was what Mrs Rodrigues was referring to when she described Alan November as an expert in hula hooping!
Alan November taught me to use operators in search strings to get better search results and filter out biased views on the internet (e.g. link:, site: and using .edu), rather than attempting to do this manually. I also learnt about the Wolfram Alpha, which was on my child’s iPad all along – if only I knew earlier.
I “dragged” myself there after a long day at work almost groaning as I entered the room. All I could think was “I have made a terrible mistake; this is going to be so boring”.
How wrong was I? I found myself looking at the clock and wishing we had one more hour. Not only was Alan an entertaining speaker; the things that I learnt seem to me to be almost invaluable … how did I get along using the internet before last night?
What a shame more parents didn’t avail themselves of this valuable learning opportunity.
Bravo to Chisholm College for including the parent body in the learning journey as active participants and not just observers.
Also I would like to add; as the parent of a current year 8 student I am fully supportive of them being included in the iPad program. I think in fairness this learning opportunity should be available to ALL Chisholm Catholic College students.
As a footnote I came home to share my new knowledge with my children and when I showed them what I could do they laughed and said “we learnt that in library years ago mum.”
All I can say is WOW! Last night was the best $10 I ever spent!!! Mrs Rodrigues was right when she said as you find out about the internet you realise just how much you don’t know. My mind is completely blown away and I feel that there is an INFINITE amount of learning to be done. Yes, it will definitely take much time.
Alan challenged teachers’ and students’ thinking about what is possible in the world of digital and online teaching and learning. He had a breakfast meeting with a small group of students from Years Seven to Twelve, followed by workshops for staff on Monday. Tuesday saw all Year Ten students spend two periods with Alan exploring a range of powerful online tools such as diigo, Twitter, Google Docs, Wolfram Alpha, MathTrain and Khan Academy, as well as showing them how to use Google operators to search critically and efficiently.
Alan was keen to emphasize that these tools shouldn’t be used for their own sake, but rather to enhance the effective learning already taking place in the classroom. For example, these tools can allow students to work collaboratively with others in schools all over the world; can take a revision course in chemistry and create their own video and audio tutorials to charge their knowledge.
Our real work begins now, continuing the momentum that was begun this week, supporting staff in applying these new tools and sharing this information with our parents. Small shifts are all that is needed to begin. Everything starts with that first step. Happily many staff now seem ready to begin the journey. Exciting times are ahead!