What’s right with this classroom?

ViewMore FromTagsCommentsShareSendFavoriteTwitterFacebook

This is a photo of a virtual world. I’d like to highlight some of the pedagogical features of this room. Firstly, the IWB and projector is off. The teacher is not standing in front of it as the conduit between information and learning. Secondly the students are not using small netbooks, and using desks with a high degree of ICT-friendly ergonomics.

On the desks are pens and paper, so presumably the teacher has prepared some structure, instruction that requires writing and brain-mapping. The more tech-savvy observer will notice students are using Quest Atlantis – individually – yet collectively exploring a virtual world.

A year or so ago — this classroom, this pedagogy — this learning experience didn’t exist. The thing that changed is a teacher. Not a teacher attending some PD or being told to use some application — but a teacher who wanted to be better and took it upon themselves to invest the time and effort to learn. More amazingly – this teacher completely changed their subject and role – taking on a challenge that a year before wasn’t even something under consideration.

We do not need league tables, websites with statistics or netbooks sans-pedagogy – we need to recognise any teacher or school who does this for students – because they want to. This is the missing-website that the government is unable to conceptualise let alone make and spend millions promoting.

This classroom didn’t cost millions of course – Quest Atlantis is free, safe and pedagogically sound. It is blended learning with critical thinking and shared reality — motivating and compelling.

We need a website for ‘the league of ordinary-teachers’ in Australia, kicking-new ideas and leaning new skills — despite crap workplace conditions and Ministerial spankings.

A motivated movement that highlights the issues being faced – from poor training, lack of access and  OH&S issues that demand refurbished learning environments and new work practices.

From this movement would come a better Bored of Studies and a truly authentic Virtual School – delivering advice, content and learning where is it needed most. The cost of doing this is zero. The number of bureaucrats and politicians needed to run it is also zero. Right now the legal, ethical and social debate of the HSC often rages unseen – yet the HSC itself is getting spanked over the way it operates.

This classroom — and this story, illustrates why spanking teachers and focusing on one exam undermines the very system that politicians are attempting to score capital from.

They should be talking about what kids are learning in a small town in Montana – because of one teacher. I just had to share this photo – it should be happening in all those schools who just got spanked.

What a totally depressing week in edumacation.


School Without Walls #2

ViewMore FromTagsCommentsSaveShareSend

FOLLOWING on from the great feedback in relation to the previous post and #sictassy (check the Tweet-related URLS here), I’d like to start expanding out some of the ideas forming around ‘the school without walls’, leading from the discussions with the DET (Department of Education and Training).

I am in no way suggesting this idea is limited to the DET – but that was the start point conversation and #sictassy. The creation of this ‘school’ I believe can only come about as a result of participatory culture and that has to be the central motivation for those students choosing ‘media based education’.

A Virtual School is not a new idea, or an ideal, but I see the school without walls as a very bright idea – as it is ideal to model best practice, model professional learning, and deliver 21st century pedagogy within existing desires of education.

In the comment stream, there are numerous ideas … and we are still talking about some central issues that surpass foci on ‘technology’ itself. The Twitpoll over the weekend took 43 votes – so the conversation has gone from 8 at a table to the network. 95% thought it was plausible. Not a big number, but it represents something bigger – a movement.

3402869547_5d5993b55fThe Minister for Education, Julia Gillard, this week said  “The government did not want this generation of young people to bear an ongoing burden from the economic crisis”, to me, this burden is not just future taxation – but the nature of employment and preparation for it.

The Minister also talked about “… creative provision of education, they can be back, back learning, back gaining self-esteem and self-respect, and back gaining opportunities that are going to make a difference for the rest of their lives.” and “We don’t want people sitting around doing nothing,” on Fairfax Radio.

If this is goal, and we want students to ‘learn or earn’ – why do we have to have duality – why not find a way to blend both or either – depending on the needs of the learner. Some may financially need to earn, but also want to be learners. Even in this mode, the school without walls makes sense to me. Ideas are in a loop, looking internally for answers – or hoping to co-opt ‘the cloud’ and cherry pick palatable ideas based on the past.

Why not empower and trust in the existing movement of teachers already forming behind this idea? – That’s the message.

The National ICT Symposium was addressing some of this.   I see the project as taking innovation to integration – delivering on existing ‘needs’ by the various bureaucratic statements such as the Federal government’s provision for “recognition and reward for quality teaching” or for beginning teachers to have demonstrated successful teaching experience.“. I want to create leaders, not experienced teachers. I experience traffic in Sydney daily, and don’t see it as valuable to my life – quite the opposite.

To keep the conversation flowing – I’ve put together an idea for a charter statement – which you are free to comment, or add to on Etherpad. Please note it only deals with 8 people at once, so be patient if there is a rush. How do you see a mission and vision for this?

I think we are having a great conversation about what are hard questions, please please add your voice – local, international, DET, CEO, AIS, TAFE – participation is the currency of communication.