Andrew Douch on redefining classroom

I was at a network meeting this week where Andrew Douch presented on ‘Redefining classroom’.

Andrew is an innovative classroom teacher who has been the recipient of several big awards, including 2008 Microsoft Australia Innovative Teacher of the Year.

A Biology teacher in a regional High School, Andrew traced his personal journey with learning technologies, with a particular focus on podcasting. He began with a class website, added a discussion board the next year, got into podcasting his course (he now gets around 30,000 downloads per episode) and finally into using SMS, Voicemail, Skype, mobile phones and Ning.

I could almost feel the reservations in the school leaders in the audience around me (‘hmm, but what if…’ and ‘there’s no way that I could get that going with my teachers’ etc…). Douch is a charismatic character and obviously loved by his students but he freely admits he’s also been given great freedom in his role as an ‘innovator’.

However, the mood changed when he put up his Biology results as seen in VCE scores: almost all his students above the ‘expected’ grade and a clear and consistent improvement in overall achievement through each year of his implementation of these technologies. As Claxton was saying the other day, ‘it’s not either or’.

Andrew also told us about the number of students beyond his own classroom that regularly listen to his podcast, ask questions about the course or interact in online discussions. He raised an idea that I’ve heard before; that in the not too distant future students will increasingly ‘shop around’ for expert teachers and will want to attend their classes virtually. It raises implications for teaching and for schools, and redefines the classroom.

I haven’t really played around with NING an will take a look, but I did come away inspired to look again the possibilities of audio and podcasting, something I’ve let go in the last year or so.

Andrew talked about using the applications and tools that students wanted to use, were already using and applications you didn’t need to nag them to get into.  After testing hundreds of web 2.0 applications he also told us about his own personal checklist of what a tool should do: will it be time neutral or save time?, will it do something new or better?, is it a space-pen or a pencil (in other words why build an expensive video conferencing suite when you an use Skype on a laptop?), will it getter results?, is it a desire path for students?

Andrew Douch blogs HERE

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