Epic PD leads to Virtual School

FOLLOWING some great discussions over retraining Australia; there seems to be some points that are standing out for me;

  • Most teachers, providing tech PD in schools are not learly adopters – but long term supporters – appreciated but not officially valued enough to rise to leadership positions
  • The diverse skill bases of staff are are EPIC proportions; some have never engaged; others have basic ‘Netscape 3’ like understanding – while others are able to move fluidly over virtual worlds, blogs and wikis.
  • The teachers who have the conceptual intelligence to begin to address this lack the social capital to sustain and maintain the epic retraining needed
  • Politicians choose front of house over investing in people; cherry picking and co-opting; but not empowering the right people
  • Education policy is political, not pedagogical
  • It’s morally bankrupt to lean on teachers to change; without change being present in the hierarchy demanding it.

I have this view, which may change or be corrected – that the EPIC levels of retraining needed will not be provided in public education; as those who could authorise it have not got the first clue how to access the right people though the current lines of command. And they idea of changing the complex structures of command is unrealistic. So we are lock-stepped.

Here is what we can do (if people participate).

  1. Get together on one space and identify what gaps we all see; and each one of us create one resource to address it online
  2. Online PD becomes FREE; and the participants in (1) push all requests for training to that online space.
  3. We teach people how to (using and online space) and not ‘do for’ in frustration.
  4. We start to feel okay about the future; and if people can’t do it – then perhaps leaders need to consider what they can do too
  5. A set of simple courses are developed by all of us to maximise the multiplier effect; which are Creative Commons Share Alike
  6. Curriculum and online courses are developed as part of this process – by all of us – and then offered to students FREE
  7. The Virtual School and Virtual Staffroom are online; open to all.

If Wikipedia can run on a handful of people; then generating contextual PD and online supported course for students is a possibility. We’re going to do it anyway right? so why not do it in one place for everyone. Then education, resources will be owned by everyone – and not a few. If in Australia we see 300 people at a conference; then perhaps at least one workshop should be about creating resources and lessons for teachers and students.

Participation is the key. Moodle’s open right now … all it takes is to push your local efforts to one online space and before you know it; there will be online courses for students; who we simply pull into the space though social media – as they will decide what is adding value and what is not (they do anyway).

If you are teaching HSC Maths; then why not put your stuff online – so maybe a kid who is stuck with chalk and talk can benefit from your lesson? Is it important that you know who they are? – Are they not trolling Bored of Studies already?

Madness? I don’t think so. Time to think more about what we can do, than what we can’t. Who’s up for some edu-shifting? … or shall we hang on bit longer too?

9 thoughts on “Epic PD leads to Virtual School

  1. Dean the idea is great. There is an undoubted need for training and PD on a vast scale in the education system and VET could certainly do with an equal serve of “E” PD. I advocate this share and share alike CC mentality and support the cause where ever and when ever I can. I really hope that support for such an idea might start to get a real roll on and amount to a combined resource for all.

    Maybe the reason such a grand plan will never come to fruition (sorry to be pessimistic) is that tying all these ideas and people and knowledge together and tethering it in one place might actually be counter productive and more limiting than helpful.

    Something to think about though!

  2. Very very interesting…A couple of areas I totally agree with. We are not early adopters, but there are people who are continual refusers. I always go back to the doctor situation: if a doctor refused to follow the policy of their employer for any reason, they wouldn’t have a job. If a doctor didn’t use the most up todate technology to provide the best health outcomes, well, you have a choice: you wouldn’t go back to that doctor. Remove ‘doctor’ replace with ‘teacher’…
    Also, professional development is expensive, but it should not be. If I am approached to bring other members of staff up to the 20th century (as a part of SDD for DER), as it is my professional duty, where is teacher who sits in the crowd? What role do they take in their lifelong learning? The few articles I’ve written for my professional organisation I haven’t returned the invoice. I don’t want to be paid, I don’t need to be paid, I am sharing.
    Particpation, desire…vital.

    • For sure Troy … computing has suffered from being firstly a ‘science’ and was tethered largely to Maths in the early days of ICT, and then moved to TAS; where it made awkward bedfellows with Industrial Arts. It always stuck me as odd that IST, SDD, IPT and ITVET wasn’t a KLA in it’s own right; and therefore afford specialist lab; and a network and policy that supported those subject – and we then didn’t focus ‘general ICT’ inside Libraries.

      At Uni most ICT teachers actually study Industrial Arts – Im a qualified wood-chopper). It would be unthinkable for a Computing teacher to take a class into a Science Lab and started experimenting. YET; teachers (un-qualified and often with limited skills) have been given open-computer lab access for over a decade – pushing the boundaries of Powerpoint.

      To me; anyone who is not TAS training and getting laptops is untrained and unqualified. A constant claim of the government – to put a qualified teacher in every classroom – what is today’s ‘qualification’ for using 1:1 laptops? Where is the QUALITY ASSURANCE; and therefore Duty of Care. I agree, this stuff is part of being professional, but as teachers/advocates – we need to use language that the bureaucrats and parents understand- there is a very high statistical chance that your child’s teacher unqualified to use laptops or 1:1 online environments.

      • “To me; anyone who is not TAS training and getting laptops is untrained and unqualified.”

        What a load of rubbish! Just because you are a TAS teacher does not mean you know how to use technology. Likewise just because you are NOT a TAS teacher doesn’t mean you don’t know how to use technology. I am sure I could make a logic table about this🙂

        Mind you I agree re the “qualified teachers”. But what about all of us who are “self taught” (in my case apart from a couple of programming courses at Uni) and are prepared to stretch the boundaries? Are we qualified?

        Agree RE the virtual classroom – which is why I am trying to put as much stuff as possible for my Maths (both Junior & HSC) course on my blog currently

      • I am saying Simon; that if a Principal needs a teacher to take a IST/SDD class; then that teacher will come from TAS. – that is how the system views qualified. Yet ICT is over all areas; so of course teachers have to know at least something about technology. BUT there is a massive difference between occasional use and persistent use. My fear is that teachers (as yourself) are not being recognised, let alone paid to do this – as you see is being a professional, where as the next teacher sees it as a black hole and not part of ‘their’ job. I hate to imagine just how many Powerpoints 9th Graders are going to make this year. Sorry if I came off badly; what I think we need to see is some form of ‘recognition’ and training – oh wait, both of those involve paying people – yet the ‘authority’ for NSW Nat Curriculum is sitting dividing up $16million. I wonder how much those people make a year? … and of course provide absolutely NOTHING for free – and it is regrettable that almost NONE will have a clue of what we’re discussing. But I’ve enjoyed it so far … Glad you like Virtual School – I’ve got an ITVET course sitting on hold if anyone wants to take it over – fully loaded; one successful co-hort.

      • Hey Dean,
        I take your point. But why should teachers who teach with ICT be paid more? Surely it is simply something that we need to be able to do. Almost every other profession has to undertake ongoing training to keep up to speed with current trends – why should teachers be any different, and ICT is merely a tool in a teachers toolbox (just like chalk ahhhhhhh!)

        i just put together a Powerpoint – to present to a large group tommorow – it still has it’s place. But true death by powerpoint is not fun. Serious though – virtual school? How do we lobby the right people? Would love to teach ITVET – but as HT Maths will never get the chance. I am stuck teaching Ext 1 & 2 because there are only 2 of us in the department who can!

        I was thinking about the Did you know – Karl Fisch video – would be a great project for Yr 8/9 Statistics – find the data from real sources and communicate it is an effectual way!. Be nice to have an Aussie version. Hmm doing stats with Yr 8 starting Tuesday – lesson plans done?

        Still think that it is a teachers responsibility to remain abreast of all (as many as possible?) tools to educate kids. The best educators are learners themselves.

      • I think Universities are often slow to react to the HSC syllabus. I wonder if many students don’t select subject based on entry weights to Uni rather than passion. I think teachers who do more should be paid more, hell yes. However how that happens might again come from a new model. Teachers already mark the HSC or tutor for extra money – what if we ran more holiday learning events; offered weekend school – or even online school. Stephen Heppell has said more than once that people who are passionate about interests are life long learners. I think the ‘right’ people are online already; we maybe just need to pool our work – Have you seen Leigh Blackalls Wikiversity … just need 1 teacher in a subject area – the rest will fall into place. Pick a subject. I don’t even teach K12, but would do it … I think we’re getting closer to the idea … more so everyday.

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