- ‘How in the world of western knowledge do we place this?’
- ‘Why does the west think its best?’
- ‘How do we undo our educational reliance on Descartes and the French Enlightenment?’
- ‘Diversity (of what we know, and now we know) is the key’.
Archive for the ‘learning’ Category
I’ve certainly been in a number of sessions over the last three days, many of which I’ve blogged about here, but what have I learned?
ABSTRACT: What is the picture of a student’s intellectual future? How is online learning transforming learners and the ways in which learner’s learn? There is no turning back, to the pre-internet world of learning and inquiry. Our minds are changing as we interact with the tools of learning, and as the structure of our brain changes, so do our thoughts and experiences. What do we stand to lose by constant connectivity, instant and unlimited information? For a talent lost or diminished there will be another one that is gained. As educators continue to nurture student’s minds, they need to tread carefully and perhaps adopt the evolving ‘ Blended learning’ model of education, the combination of traditional bricks and mortar and online delivery. This presentation will cover the impact of the Internet and its tools on learners, the different approaches and models of Blended learning, how the IB is leaning towards a blended learning environment and practical insights into what makes it work
This session opened with a disturbing metaphor: ‘the internet the invading our world’. It didn’t improve much when we then went into the ‘what is the internet doing to our brains’ and then showed a whole lot of pictures of young people texting. However, she twisted the narrative by then showing a picture of the conference from the day before; a whole lot of educators on their ipads and computers (and iPads are everywhere here)
Unfortunately, it was then back to neuroscientists and ‘What the internet is doing to our brains’ and the Nicholas Carr book, ‘The Shallows’. Our brains are changing apparently, being constantly rewired and neural pathways and synapses are working all the time. We used to call this ‘learning’ by the way.
This presentation argued that there is no turning back, but then went back to what we might lose by constant connectivity. So far, so negative. It was nice to see some of the participants questioning back: ‘how is this different from the way the brain is rewired when you learn French?’ Yuzzah. You go you. The session threatened to get feisty when one man said that the way he had to deal with 150 emails a day and didn’t read the same anymore, and that was because of this (gesturing at the screen with the word ‘internet’) And there was a bit of back and forth. Nice to see.
But then it was back to us losing the skills of ‘concentration, contemplation and reflection’. And (no irony at all) an argument that we should go back to the blackboard. I’m not joking.
We eventually got on to ‘blended learning’ - ‘a formal education program in which a student learns at least in part through online delivery of content and instruction with some element of student control over time, place, pace etc.’ For schools, surely this is the future I think; the mix of ‘brick and mortar’ and online learning model. She argued for a ‘self-blend’ model for IB where students take an online course in their regular school schedule and students work with a site based coordinator.
Blended learning provides a nice convergence of online and face to face. She gave some good tips including the importance of the dedicated site coordinator, sharing student weekly progress using Google Docs, setting up collaborative student teams, making tutorial or help sessions available, student counselling in and out of the program, limit of one subject per student, the importance of educating parents and students, providing hard copy text books and doing regular surveys of student opinions and interests.
On the other hand this was pretty much the only session I’d seen so far where the presenter demonstrated good design skills with some good images, and very little text. And she handled what I would probably have regarded as challenges, really well.
Below, a key diagram from the presentation, which argued for the self-blend model.
I thought I should take the opportunity to acquaint myself with current IB strategic directions and how the organisation saw itself, so I got into a session at IBAC2013 on this topic Here’s what I found out:
This was the first keynote at the IBAC Conference
Shaping innovative futures
This session opened with the affirming, ‘If you try to predict the future you get it wrong; the answer is that you need to promote resiliency and adaptability.
‘The future is an asset, a resource and a narrative to be used with intelligence and wisdom’ See things from different perspectives.
He showed how change actually happened, including examples:
The change of doctors from recommending ‘Camels’ to recommending complementary medicine and meditation.
The growth of geo-medicine
Young single women earn 8% more than their male peers in large American cities.
Asia-Pacific leads the world in female participation in leadership.
In a message that would recur later, in other presentations: How we imagine the future is critical, to that future.
Stop “othering”, nations are constructs, what IB learning does is open that thinking up.
Old behaviours dies hard – the used future (the old future that others have already and challenge the notion of who’s in charge. He argued for a move from reactive to proactive – towards prevention
“If you have too much history, you often can’t innovate “
European universities blesses and burdened by 1000 years of history
Why do so many projects fail? – “culture eats strategy for breakfast”
One key message: we need a compelling narrative – new metaphors to overturn the weight of the factory model on the imagination of the school of the future
His Waves of change
(I heard threads from Al Gore’s new book in some of these)
Peer to peer – from Britannica to Wikipedia (flatter)
Artificial intelligence leaving the web (everything is hyperlinked)
Transparent and flexible brain (meditation)
Smart, green cities (emotional maps)
Rise of Chindia
It was a nice way to start the conference; playing with alternate futures.
Collage from Malaysian Tourist Commission promotion.
I saw this on Twitter this week and shared it with some people at school.It’s from Sheryl NussbaumBeach @snbeach What do you think? Too zealous and idealistic? As a teacher I like the idea of ‘messy learning’ and the ideas of the teacher as interventionist in a collective and collaborative learning world. As a teacher-leader it’s also a bit confronting; how we can be sure we’re going to get something beautiful out of this messed up stuff, and not simply a mess?
Late last year I blogged about a short session I attended with Stephen Heppell on technologies in learning, which I enjoyed a lot. So, I was pleased to find a video of Heppell presenting much the same presentation I saw. So, I embed it here for your viewing pleasure. Some interesting points relating to ‘bring your own technology’ around the 19 minute mark and also on classroom design from a student perspective beginning around the 21 minute mark.
I enjoyed a short session this week UK educator, Stephen Heppell, under the heading, ‘learning:now’. It was a kind of meandering tour of projects he’s been involved in, with a particular emphasis on learning spaces and some key messages that resonated with me.
I liked the way he used his desktop as the presentation tool, (see his website image above for a sense of that) pulling up images and doucments and movies as he thought of them (or that’s how it seemed) and now a powerpoint slide in sight. It did mean that at times the talk lacked the dotpoint focus that comes with those tools, but it was a lot more interesting and engaging for it.
He showed lots of learning spaces he’d been involved in co-constructing with students, or he just thought showed the kind of surprise and delight that thoughtful spaces give us. I liked his image of the UK system of everyone stopping for lunch at school at the same time (‘the only place in London where you can seat 1000 people for lunch is the Dorchester and every high school’) and what that meant for how the day involved. He was all for immersive learning, teach the first week of February for a month, and time at task.
The classroom spaces he showed were ‘shoeless’ places, often where every surface is a writing surface and where the student work was celebrated and maintained. He wanted places where students could sit, perch, slump, lie (did anyone ever choose to sit up straight to read a book he asked?) And what was the point of staff rooms, he asked. If we’re all learners, why have a special space for old learners?
He talked a lot about a classroom space at Lampton, UK, that the students had designed: mood lighting, writable surfaces, skype enabled but, signficantly, the students didn’t want the room filled with technology. We’ll bring our own, they argued, and plug in. That way it will be up to date! He drew a lot on the idea of family, showing us a school that had a bread oven near the entrance so that students could smell that fresh bread cooking as they arrived and talked in this way of ‘a learning family, not a learning factory’ and schools that moved beyond placement of students in age-related groups to peer support and peer learning. He argued for ‘in-betweeny’ time, keeping the day fresh and inviiting and playful ways to do the hard stuff.
He was in favour of social technologies like Skype and Twitter (he tweets here) and flipping the classroom, so that the routine work was done at home and the interesting and challenging stuff done collaboaratively at school. He showed us some slides of stupid things that schools ban, mostly mobile phones which were often the most powerful computers in the room, turned off or banned completely.
And he DID have some key messages that resonated with me:
- Listen to the students
- The most risky thing you can do as a school or a system is to do nothing.
- Teachers needs to lead this discussion – the future competitors to our schools will be Pearson
- If you can astonish kids with the place you create and the expectations you bring, they will astonish you