February 20th, 2013 § § permalink
There is a conspicuous and abiding fallacy residing at the heart of formal education, namely that what is taught is what is learned, that what the teacher teaches is what the student learns. Education systems, schools, college and universities around the world today rest, as they have done for much of their existences, on an illusory foundation, and I believe that much of what is wrong with formal education today arises from this enduring and mistaken belief.
When we come to the full realisation of the actual relationship between teaching and learning, we begin to discern the sheer pointlessness of so much of what passes for educational policy and strategy in today’s world. We know that human beings learn through interaction with others, with ideas, with information, with the world at large, but that ultimately they create and shape their own learning. The intervention of the teacher in this process is important and valuable, but at no point in the interaction of teacher and student, other than by occasional happy accident, does the learner ‘learn’ what the teacher ‘teaches’.
An appreciation of this, the true nature of learning, means that the complex edifices of curricula, pedagogy, assessment, accreditation, teacher education and professional development, as well as the overbearing structures of institutional management and educational organization, start to crumble to dust before our eyes.
August 9th, 2012 § § permalink
Hajera Blagg points up a logical link between the gathering momentum behind the MOOC and the notion of radical social entrepreneurship. In a post entitled: ‘A classroom of thousands’: Disrupting entrepreneurial education with Massive Open Online Courses she writes:
If MOOCs become a more common way of learning, then MOOC students who have understood the learning process to be dynamic and collaborative will bring this mindset to their own projects. Learning communities (and sub-communities) emerge naturally from the MOOC process. These endeavors are likely to be more inclusive and socially-oriented, with the goal being advancement in the name of the common good.
By treating education as a massively open, collaborative process, MOOCs have the potential to spread a disruptive entrepreneurial philosophy through their classrooms of thousands.
There are MOOCs and MOOCs (see, for instance, Tony Bates on Coursera-type MOOCs, or Stephen Downes’ differentiation between what he terms xMOOCs and cMOOCs) but Hajera clearly understands that it is the learners themselves who will determine what they are able to take away from their participation in a MOOC.
There’s a risk of a circular argument here: those who go into a MOOC with an open and collaborative approach will be more likely to appreciate the ‘disruptive entrepreneurial philosophy’ that can come out of the experience. But I would hope that some people who go into MOOCs carrying traditional baggage, expecting a top-down model, or looking for traditional credentialing, for example, might come to realise that their baggage is redundant, at which point they could well begin to understand the full power of the MOOC.
There’s an infographic on the MOOC appended to the post too.
July 30th, 2012 § § permalink
Our approach to formal assessment seems to be so outdated that even pub quizzes are showing it up. The irony of a team of teachers winning a pub quiz by accessing the answers on their smart phones shouldn’t be lost on us. The kids I teach can access everything which is blocked to them in the classroom by stepping outside into the corridor to use their phones. They can access Facebook and Youtube and Twitter and possibly the answer to every question we are currently asking in school.
Even in the pub, after his customary half-pint of guiness, Kenny Pieper can see how outmoded our systems of formal assessment are.
Closed questions, closed books and devices switched off are all signs of a mode of assessment that, while they might offer results that can populate league tables, really offer little else of value today.
Our relationship to information has changed, but the processes that test that relationship have not.
May 19th, 2008 § § permalink
A couple of interesting posts on Glow recently have pointed up the fact that there is not just one Glow covering Scotland, but 32 Glows, one for each local authority. The whole service is delivered from the single national data center in Edinburgh, but how Glow is managed and phased is quite different from authority to authority. The nature of the development process for SSDN, as it was known originally, ensured that each local authority in Scotland would be able to shape Glow to suit its own local circumstances, dovetailing the roll-out of the service with all the myriad other developments happening across the country’s schools.
The care that was taken to ensure that local control over Glow would be maximised was, of course, a positive aspect of the programme, and certainly gives the lie to those who, with no knowledge of the project whatsoever, tried to demonise it as “.…the computers of 800,000 Scottish teachers and pupils.…wired to a centrally controlled national intranet.…”. The idea of Glow as a large-scale, unwieldy, unresponsive managed service in the traditional top-down sense was precisely what the planning and implementation of the service were designed to avoid. I believe we succeeded in that regard by the simple expedient of listening and responding to the concerns of those who manage ICT in our schools, the local authorities.
But, this multi-speed Glow, in which each authority is able to undertake its own planning and project management of the roll-out of the service, with the help of the national Glow teams based in Learning and Teaching Scotland, does bring certain pressures with it. One of those is that, as teachers in those authorities that have decided to take longer to implement Glow see colleagues in faster-moving authorities using the tools and applications in their teaching, they will begin to ask questions of their administration. Doug Semple’s post on Approaches to Glow points this up, I believe, by asking why the training in Glow appears to be inadequate. This might be because the local authority in question has planned for this to take place further down the line. Those who are managing the implementation of Glow in each authority are only too well aware of the weight of training requirements for teachers covering the Curriculum for Excellence, Assessment is for Learning, and many other vital developments. Glow training has to be fitted in to the already-heavy schedule.
Nonetheless, the message in Doug’s post is one that we might see repeated elsewhere over the next couple of years as teachers’ desire to make use of Glow runs ahead of their authority’s (or their school’s) phasing of the training required. We need to be realistic, basically, about Glow’s place within the wider framework of developments happening in Scottish education currently, but authorities also need to be aware of the growing impulse of teachers to get their teeth into Glow sooner rather than later.
And not only teachers.….…, parents too are getting in on the act!
Technorati Tags: glow, training, project management, scottish education