Leaping out of the textbook time warp

A day after I spoke at a technology meeting about our desire to work with web 2.0 technologies of blogs, podcasts and wikis in classroom learning, and making this a priority, this affirmation from Dan Ingvarson at a Melbourne education and IT conference as reported in The AGE:

Educators trying to introduce Web 2.0 tools into classrooms are being frustrated by outdated dogma from conservative governments and distrustful parents, a Melbourne conference heard last week.

Tools such as wikis, mash-ups, blogs and podcasts have huge potential to enrich classrooms and boost the pace and quality of education, says Dan Ingvarson, key strategist for education software developer Editure. He was speaking at a conference for
Australian education leaders, hosted in Melbourne last week by
Editure.

Mr Ingvarson says that for the past 10 years schools have used IT as a tool for teachers and administration rather than learning,”Their approach was ‘let’s organise this thing and take all the fun out of it’,” he says.

But research has shown, he says, that students recall as little as 5 per cent of a lecture, or 10 per cent of what they read. But they remember more than 75 per cent if they “practice by doing” or teach others what they have learnt.

Web 2.0 applications, with a focus on participation, community and trust, could help inspire as well as educate students, Mr Ingvarson says.

John Bidder, who develops IT support for schools in the city of Bolton, in Britain, says his “Wikiville” project has been a great success.

Bolton students built their own website, describing their lives and surroundings. In the process they learnt writing skills, sharing and researching information.

Teachers monitored the site but did not edit or interfere. “This has been quite transformational,” Mr Bidder says. “It is a handover of responsibility from teacher to children.

“So much of this 2.0 stuff is about people being brave enough to try it.”

But most schools are stuck with “old-fashioned” assessments,says Greg Whitby, executive director of the Catholic Educatio Office in NSW.

“The old paradigm is very easy to master: sit them down, keep them quiet and feed them information,” he says. “The hardest part (of the new paradigm) is getting teachers to let go.”

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