Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Innovation in Education: a day with Charles Leadbeater @ SCIL

SCIL at NBCS is very pro active about innovation in schools - different learning spaces, different teaching and learning models and innovation that includes technology. These photos (taken from a blog post in Playducation) are great and reinforce what they say about learning, how it should be: motivating, fun and inspiring.
Love the furniture options and the flexible classroom models:

Learning from Extremes challenged us to think about where and how learning takes place. Being involved in a project to build schools in Central Sulawesi, I was particularly taken with the ideas of learning and innovation in developing countries, three ideas stood out:
1) Where need is greatest and resources least there’s radical innovation
2) Innovation in learning is needed at the most disadvantaged places in the world - currently they are in school and not learning
3) Mobile devices have a big future in the developing world – expanding access to communication and the scope for learning.

Charles Leadbeater suggested there were three important ingredients to innovation in education:
1) Learning: He asked us to think about what is at the heart of learning: emotions, thinking, self regulation, need, desire
2) Technology: Technologies have always been a part of education - whether its the blackboard, the printing press or online technologies - they all enhance our learning experiences.
New technologies (particularly mobile) have given access to learning to more people than ever before, its immediate, its anytime/anywhere, its creating knowledge as well as consuming it. It leads to a different style of learning to which we all need to adapt.
3) Innovation: Educators should take the leap to discover new ways to engage and relate to the 2025 generation. Innovation comes from crisis, curiosity or need - we need to discover our vantage point and this will determine everything.
We were challenged to think hard about our own questions about school innovation, first determining an end point and then working to understand how we are going to achieve it. Schools need to be high systems / high empathy organisations in order to cater for today's learners.

Innovation, Leadbeater analogises, is a series of recipes and cakes – blending ingredients to create some sort of new cake.
By blending our approaches we will rely on making connections - most good innovation relies on connections, best innovators are socially connected. We should, as educators, learn from this and apply it to our learning models - both for ourselves and our students.

In the break out sessions we spent time in groups devising some sort of disruptive approach to innovating schools, here are some of the ideas that came from the groups:

1) Combine school /family and community - we are all learners and should learn from each other - use experts and the community to extend the learning beyond the classroom walls
2) Distributed architectures: learning in all sorts of places - traditional classrooms loose their relevance.
3) Collapsed timetables: focus days/weeks where students are emersed in relevant, learning that develops their curiosity, interests and focus. Teachers available as tutors, convenors of groups and one to one mentors - not classroom teachers
4) Assessment happens when the student is ready to be assessed - when they have mastered the outcomes - not necessarily at a designated time.
5) Make outside spaces learning spaces - places to play and learn, relevant to real life eg coffee/food court plaza style
6) Use school spaces in innovative ways outside of school hours - community comes to school to share the learning
7) Connect classrooms across the globe - not necessarily like with like schools and classes - but look for difference
8) Engage virtual mentors using technology to connect learners - through social networking and mentorship programs
9) Have greater movement of students through grades and stages and subject areas to match their abilities
Out of the day - the group decided that it was important to keep the enthusiasm and interest going for change, we proposed that a group be formed called the "Coalition of Innovative schools" and have teachermeets / online conversations and ongoing thinking. This is a really exciting outcome of the day and I'm looking forward to getting involved.

An amazing day - full of people who really care about future learning and the future particularly of our schools and how we can adapt to our changing students and the changing environment.

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