Monday, October 22, 2007

Changing face of education

I recently had to give feedback to our staff about what I had learnt at ULearn 07. I spent some time thining about it, and together with the inspiration from the current K12 Online Conference, this is what I've learnt:
  • The audience is no longer just the teacher, or even sharing with the class - the audience has become global. We will need to teach our students a whole new set of thinking and communication skills. They will have to speak, and write a standard of English which is globally acceptable and understandable. They will have to learn to respect the diversity of their audience. They will have to use words which convey their meaning and emotions without offending or putting themselves at risk. They will have to start thinking about what information they want to share, who their target audience is, and how to best present their ideas. Stuff we've been teaching them anyway.
  • Our students will probably be earning their money doing a job that hasn't yet been invented. Very few - if any - of them will have routine, run-of-the-mill office jobs sitting in rows of desks with the same colleagues until they retire. They are unlikely to have a physical inbox and outbox, or go to work carrying a briefcase. Our students have to be prepared by us to work in a virtual office, be able to keep up with constant change, and communicate with anyone, anywhere to find information. Networking skills will be vital, as will creative communication skills.
  • Our students no longer have to be taught masses of facts. Yes, basic Maths and grammar facts, and general knowledge is still important, but more important is to teach them where and how to find the information they are looking for. The old encyclopaedias on the bookshelf, even the dictionary and thesaurus will be gathering even more dust. They'll just source information on line. After all who of us are still using the Yellow Pages for anything else than a doorstop?
All the old teaching ideas need to be chucked out the door.

What? Just kidding:

None of the old teaching ideas need to be chuck out the door. All the good ideas we've alwyas had can still be used, just in a different and more exciting way. Here are some examples:
  • Playing with plasticine or clay: Yep, they can still do it, only now they will use 'I can Animate', and create digital animation stories with our little characters. Imagine doing volcano's, and creating an eruption, or dinosaurs, and making them walk across the set. Students now have to do more research to figure out how the set will look, what the vegetation looked like, what the backdrop needs to look like. They will need to write a script, draw a story board and collaborate with their peers to put their plans in action.
  • Dress up corner: My students love dressing up, and I have a whole corner of my class dedicated to dress up. At the cheap $ stores, I buy fancy hats, wings and other novelties and I add to our store every now and then. The students then take photos of each other wearing the fance dress. Sometimes they make up a character as they go along, Sometimes they depict a character from a book, depending on how I set the task. The photos are downloaded, and used to create comic stories. We use ComicLife. They have now learnt 'old' skills like retelling their story, or creating a story and new skills like digital photography, and publishing in graphic novel format.
  • TV Broadcasts: One of my favourite ideas from my college years, was to paint a box like a TV and have the children deliver their news as a news broadcast. I have used this idea over the years with great success to get even the most reticent student to order their thinking, and deliver their story with confidence. Just think how exciting this idea will be if I chuck away the delapidated old cardboard TV and replace it with a real video machine, have them edit their broadcast and publish it in the form of a podcast!
More ideas in the next blog! Watch this space...

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