Friday, April 9, 2010

Dangerously Irrelevant

I have just spent the past twenty minutes reading and watching video clips on the Dangerously Irrelevant blog and have a mixed response to what I have seen and heard.

After watching the clip below and reading some of the comments about how Secondary School and University age students feel about Education today I am disappointed that some feel their needs are not being met but, at the same time, not surprised as this is the same message I have received numerous times in different ways over the past few years. However, I agree that Education is not changing for all!

The idea that children may become the employers of their teachers does not seem that far fetched to me!

Certainly I have first hand knowledge of Pt England School in Auckland doing something very similar. The Year 6 class needed a new teacher and they made a video stating what they were looking for - someone who was willing to learn to incorporate ICTs into their teaching and the teacher didn't need to be an expert because the children would help! The teacher just had to give them the opportunity. The teacher who was hired responded to their video using photobooth demonstrating understanding of their needs. And isn't this what we ask of the children we are teaching, that they are willing to try? Don't we ask them to learn every day?

As an individual I know how quickly I have adapted to my touch screen mobile phone and how frequently I use the camera and video to capture moments. I check emails or use the internet which I couldn't do with my previous model nokia. Personally I think this is certainly some of the problem schools face - not having enough or updated equipment or technical support to incorporate digital technologies consistently. Or even within the school not having equitable access for all children and teachers. In my classroom in 2009 I had an IWB with ceiling mounted data projector, 4 PCs, 1 laptop, 1 digital camera, 5 headphones, teacher's HP laptop with inbuilt webcam, access to a shared noise cancelling microphone, access to a shared digiscope and access to a shared flip video. This allowed me to make full use of these technologies and both plan specifically and take the initiative and connect with outside events/situations bringing the world into the classroom and satisfying the digital natives. Last Term I was released from the classroom to support others with integrating eLearning into their classroom programmes. Some of the main challenges with this have been: having no space of my own to work in, classes having inequitable access to reliable equipment and personally having no equipment of my own. So whenever I need to teach something I have to locate every bit of digital equipment required and set it up. This is absolutely achievable but it adds another layer of challenge to the experience and is time consuming. I am passionate about eLearning in Education and am willing to do whatever is needed to make the best use of ICTs, however, I strongly believe to get others on board these issues need to be addressed. It's not necessarily the case that teachers aren't willing to change but rather they, like the children they teach, need to be given their next learning steps and be supported to achieve these!


Scott McLeod said...

If we educators keep hearing - year after year after year after year - from our students that the learning environments we are providing are not meeting their needs, what will it take for us to actually start listening to them and acting upon their feedback?

Thanks for extending the conversation!

Manaiakalani said...

What interests me is in your final paragraph where you talk about being proactive - getting out and locating the gear you need and making it work for you and the students. We are not going to see change occuring for students until teachers recognise the importance and start making changes themselves. Some schools buy heaps of gear for teachers and hope that it will inspire them to get using it. Unfortunately that often doesn't work and lots of $$$ sit in classes unused. The research of Hattie et al about the difference a teacher makes to a student's outcomes applies as much in technology as in the purely academic areas. Teacher attitude is hugely important.
You referenced our Year 6 students and their advertisement for a teacher last year. The context to that advertisement is we were looking for a temporary, relieving teacher. So in that situation we were happy for the teacher to simply give the students eLearning opportunities and let them carry on. For a permanent teacher we require far more than that - we do not expect teachers to abdicate their professional responsibilities as teachers in the 2nd decade of the 21st century to students. Our baseline is we expect our teachers to be as good as a 10 year old or better at using technology! Intrinsic to that is the teacher being an actively involved life-long learner who takes charge of their own upskilling needs (with lots of support and mentors available when needed).
I have spent this week imaging some fabulous G4 Towers and getting them into classes so our kids can benefit from more access to technology - thanks to your very generous school :)