Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Boys and Technology Conference 2011: 5 take Aways, 10 Tweets and 3 videos

5 take-aways from the Boys and Technology Conference 2011

1) Teachers in 2025
Teaching may be very different in 2025. This is the year that next year’s K students will be graduating. It will also be the end of the first quarter of the 21st century. Those of us who believe in the skills and values of 21st century learning will be hoping that this framework is entirely embedded in our curricula; students and teachers involved in different types of learning – both face to face and online. But the sense of community a school brings will still be important – a community of learners with teachers as the facilitators of knowledge gathering and synthesis, innovation and creativity – empowerment through ICT enhanced student-led learning. Teachers do not need to be the expert, rather be able to assist students to manoeuvre the vast arrays of information out there. Quality teachers will still be important as coaches of life skills and inspiration to their students.
What we need to be increasingly aware of is the safe and responsible use of the internet for students. The digital and mobile world poses challenges for teachers and students that need addressing. The ability for future employees to Google the digital presence of an applicant means that students need to be directed in safe and appropriate behaviour online.
Teachers working in collaborative teams should be a feature of how we work not just for planning but also for teaching. This is a preferred model for Steven Harris from NBCS, the power of many rather than one to excite and engage learners working independently and in groups.

2) What needs to Change
Currently the average age of teachers in Australia is 48. In the next 14 years most of those teachers will not be teaching. Steven Harris believes that there are 10 key factors that need to change to promote the skills and support educators.
• A shared vision
• Intuition
• Risk-taking
• Collaboration
• teamwork
• Creativity
• Edbed ideas
• Action
• Lots of PD
• Creative curriculum models

3) Schools in the 21st century
Restructuring of school staff, particular management structures to reflect new ways of teaching and learning will be paramount to the success of a 21st century learning environment. Professional development of teachers is also a big ticket item for schools expecting their teachers to shift to new learning models – the support is vital. ICT features but there will be a move to a BYOD (bring your own device) model and ICT needs to be seen as the tool NOT the driver of the learning.
Schools need to change – the salutary tale of Borders (Steven Harris) is a warning to all institutions that we cannot keep teaching and learning in the old factory / industrial models of the past but look to a future educational paradigm that engages students and prepares them for a future that we cannot predict.
Learning spaces will require more flexibility for different styles of learning and enhance group work and collaboration as well as support the use of technology (in all its forms).

4) Technology as an empowering tool for all

The proliferation of the mobile device – the iPad or Android tablet, the smart phone, the iTouch, various recording devices and portable video has meant that learning can take many forms and be tailored to the learner’s special needs or preferred learning styles.
Apps for the iPad are numbering 425,000 and growing. The power of being able to find (or create) an app that suits a particular needs is extraordinary in range and capability. Assistive technology is one area that has benefitted from the growth of mobile devices and speech driven software for example is useful for many students that face learning challenges.
There are apps for the management of learning, organisation, collaboration, independent learning, communication and creativity. Using these tools helps us to create new models of learning, re-thinking teaching.
The trick is to use these apps as a tool to facilitate learning, discovery, creativity and innovation and as a place to organise learning to save time and manage.
It is however a cautionary tale. Distraction is a major issue, especially with boys using mobile technology. We all know how easily it is once a mobile device is in your hands to experiment and get off task and its no different in a classroom situation. The quality of the teaching and integration of the use of the device must be carefully targeted.
Mobile devices such as the ipad have a real place in the delivery of epublishing and an advantage can certainly be seen once there is a good availability of text and other books to download. The portability, the ability to copy and paste text, highlight and make notes etc means that the text becomes more easily manipulated, portable and available.
Mash-ups are the future of learning – the ability for a variety of delivery methods to students via video, audio, text and image and also students doing their own mashing up of content to create and innovate new knowledge.

5) Learning Spaces
During the conference several providers of technology equipment were available to chat to and there were a couple of really exciting products that would enhance any learning environment.
Video conferencing
Digital microscopes
Digital measuring equipment
Tables with short throw IWBs
To name a few….
After the conference I dropped in for a quick visit to the RM Education Real(Re-thinking Education and Learning) learning centre for a tour. The set up there is one that is designed to provoke discussion and debate about how an integrated approach to design, furniture and technology can extend teaching and learning opportunities. The space is divided into zones:
• Mobile presentation and discussion
• Collaboration
• Creativity and Media
• Individual
• Explore

Ths space is perfect for inquiry learning, collaboration and creativity. It is a rich 21st century learning environment that incorporates a range of technologies from green screen video recording set up to digital microscopes, a write on wall space using ideas paint, listening and speaking equipment and interactive white boards. Inspiring spaces that epitomise 21st century learning in action.

My top 10 tweets from the conference

• Education occurs when you ask what sort of society do you want? What sort of people do you want? (Gardner)
• By 2025 we need to change the way we measure success in education
• Technology can connect learners with similar interests across ages across cultures
• The gathering of content is not learning how to learn
• The tablet is not necessary for people in this room, it's for normal people. (Steve Wozniak)
• Use the SAMR model to define tasks you want to do with a mobile device
• Some students (the quiet ones in class) like the anonymity of commenting online
• The ipad is a game changer in education because of ‘hope’ ‘serendipity’ and ‘convenience’ (Gerry White)
• Flipped classrooms as a model for better learning
• Think then do … dot then think, which one are you?

3 Videos... the future:
Watch these for a taste of what our student’s world will be like:
The Pranav Mystery
A day made of glass

I teach therefore you learn (or do you)

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