And so it goes, I am currently in Jeff’s Shed, in the middle of an ICT conference – my first – having all sorts of ideas fired around the room, some of them landing, some falling away. I’m not sure what is going to stick. Some, all, none? Hopefully the first. What I am doing, though, is using a memory technique which is fairly new to me – using Twitter as a way to remember. I have found it’s also a great way to interact with others, struggling with the same issues and concepts as me. But. What is sticking?
1. ICT ideologues still love the idea of being facilitators, fosterers of knowledge, giving power to the students to be the best person they can be.
2. They see technology as the way to empower students and unlock their inner creativity.
3. Baby Boomer philosophies are still strong.
4. That there are schools where new ideas about learning – use of Apples, open learning spaces, approved use of Facebook, etc, out there.
5. There are competing philosophies of learning out there – and a lot of the conflict is buried well away from the twitter channel.
6. IWBs aren’t lauded by all as the great saving learning tool of the 21st Century.
7. The Melbourne Catholic Education Office follows the same action learning project models that we do in Sydney – embedding research, proveable outcomes, student and teacher feedback.
8. There’s great experiments and creativity out there.
9. There is still an elephant in the room – examinations and the results. We haven’t heard a great deal about the Myschools website and its implication for classrooms.
For me, though, it’s been about reconciling the idealism and experimentation and the application in the world of my school and the system in which I work. That is because there needs to be that application, that set of compromises, that requirement to be accountable for what we do. This is because the following is true for me in my system (and many others):
1. We don’t allow students to use facebook, youtube and various social networking tools
2. Broadband bandwidth has an issue of speed
3. There are schools that have committed to Windows machines and the limitations inherent in those
4. Open Learning Spaces are not a reality and won’t be a reality in a majority of schools. We still have the 30 desks and chairs in rows – and do not have our own rooms to organise into the learning spaces we want.
5. Staff are confronted by software – even Microsoft Word 2007 is feared and not used by many – documents in many schools are still Word 03. Hence, the more complex apps are even more scary for them.
6. Many students are not engaged in creating – many are passive receivers of information and entertainment and want to continue along that path.
7. Schools are accountable for concrete, quantifiable targets and outcomes – ie. examination results.
8. Administrators of computer systems are often focused on the tools and not the learning and become roadblocks.
The conference is helping me understand exactly the way I should head in the future – “going forward” as politicians like to repeat (8 times, in the case of the one who opened the conference)
There is a great deal of hope out there. These are the best things so far:
1. The Twitterati are awesome as a resource
2. The GenYES project of Sylvia Martinez is a fantastic idea for future exploration – students being mentors for staff would give the students ownership of learning, a sense of responsibility and foster positive relationships with their teachers. It might also create future teachers. It is also something that could be tried in systems, because it is formulated on sound educational research.
3. There are people out there who create resources who want to share and not make money from them. Long may they live.
4. There are people out there who see a way of combining a positive message about social justice in our world with the use of the new technologies.
5. That we have Australian educators actively engaging with the concepts and exploring how we can grasp ICT tools and apply them to our context. This is a crucial imperative.
OK, well, going forward…