Where to start…
I’m just coming down from a few busy days. One of the highlights was being invited to take part in the Learning and Teaching Scotland (LTS) Futures meeting on Monday and Tuesday. The theme for the session was how LTS are going to approach the Live Web (aka Web2.0).
A quick look at the programme and you’ll realise that this was a very far reaching discussion:
- Policy Context – John Connell
- Social Media and Organisations: Why being able to publish in a click doesn’t mean you should – Ewan McIntosh
- Dear Lifelong Learner: we have something that might help – Nova Stevenson
- Flash in Education – Andrew Brown
- The Consolarium: LTS’s Advocate for Computer Games and Learning – Derek Robertson
- Computer Says ‘No’ – Neil Winton (Me!)
- The LTS Vision – Laurie O’Donnell
All of these sessions were designed to do one thing, help start the process of thrashing out LTS’s approach to Web2.0.
I’m not really in a position to say what this will be, but it was a real joy to have been asked along to talk about the problems facing schools when accessing these tools. There is a wide variety of approaches to filtering in the Scottish Education Authorities, and it is often difficult to know what is or is not allowed. I think I have to hold up East Lothian as an example for the other authorities… they have a very enlightened approach which treats teachers, pupils and parents as trustworthy participants in a rapidly changing world. This ties in with the question that Laurie O’Donnell, LTS’s Director of IT, posed the participants: what do we see Scottish Education looking like in 5 years from now (and he means 5… not 10, not 2… 5!).
At first, I thought Laurie’s question had a little bit of the five year plan about it, but the more I considered it, I realised that it was a particularly shrewd move on his part. Five years is just a bit too far for us to know with any surety, but not too far that our speculation wanders into the realms of pure sci-fi.
Some of the participants felt that blogging and wikis may have been replaced by something else, but I’m not so sure. I honestly think that they will form the mainstay of future developments in emerging technologies, simply because they have yet to reach their full potential. I also think that they address some of our most basic needs as human beings: they allow us to communicate, and they allow us to become a member of a community. In this respect, they are the telephone of the new age… and the telephone is still with us (for the foreseeable future anyway…).
I do want to highlight one of the real highlights of the meeting, Derek Robertson’s session on The Consolarium. Derek is LTS’s Advocate for Computer Games and Learning… the title is a bit of a mouthful, but it really means that Derek is the one making the link between games and learning. In one sense, he is treading a dangerous path… the Scottish Calvinist streak suggests that learning shouldn’t be fun… but Derek proves that isn’t always the case. What struck me about Derek’s message was how well read and erudite he is. If we are to persuade people of the very great value that games bring to learning, we need people like Derek to lead the way. His ‘fun’ is backed up with superb research and evidence, and if you want to find out how games can make you learn then check out Darfur is Dying, Madrid, or September 12th. These were just some of the games discussed by Derek, and I defy anyone to experience them and then say you can’t learn from playing games. We need more people like Derek, and I am pleased to have had the opportunity to meet him.
There is much more I could say about the ideas we discussed, and I’ll address them over the next few days as I filter and sift through my thoughts and notes. For the time being, I think you should go and read what some of the other participants are saying and that way you can get a better sense of the meeting… I know you’ll enjoy what you read, and will end up with much to think about – I certainly have!
Finally, I just want to record my thanks to John Connell and all the other people who made me feel very welcome at what was an illuminating meeting!