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Is It Time To Do The Homework In School And The Learning At Home?

June 8, 2011

Last night, I had the pleasure of speaking at TeachMeet:Creative Classrooms Edition held at the Scottish Book Trust in Edinburgh. It was a fantastic night, and as ever, I came away filled with great ideas that I can take back and use in my classroom. That, surely, is the mark of truly great CPD? To be inspired to try something new… but…

My talk about the CfE-Time Detectives unit I’m trialling went down very well, and especially, the use of Glogster as the means of creating the learner stimulus. In fact, it went down so well, that a number of participants went in to their schools today to try it out for themselves… which brings me to this:

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As I’d said during my talk, I cannot access Glogster in my school either (though I have requested it to be available, and I hope it should be accessible very soon), so I’d created a QR code that I’d given the class, and they are accessing it at home. Incidentally, I cannot access WordPress or Wikispaces either at school at the moment (again, a request to unblock has been put in), so I’m having to add resources for the classes at home… and they are having to access them at home.

3005591006_8b62706d43.jpegThe real ‘fun’ and engagement in the S2 CfE Time Detectives unit will come when the class start working on how they will share their learning… what will they do? An essay? A blog? A wiki? A Voicethread? A presentation on Slideshare? An imaginary Twitter conversation between Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon? Perhaps a Facebook page with contributions from Owen and Sassoon and Shakespeare? A Second Life Island, complete with trenches? Maybe they’ll put together an animation using Little Big Planet 2’s cut scene tools? However, I think the more adventurous will be inspired to create… an essay. Why? Because as things stand, in so many schools, the only technology they are trusted to get near is a pencil, or pen and paper.

The sad truth is that schools are struggling to use engaging and relevant tools in class, so why not admit it. Let the learners try new and exciting things at home, without any adequate teacher input or supervision, and we’ll concentrate on making them do the finishing off and writing up in class. Learning = Home, Homework = School : Q.E.D.

What makes it worse is that, despite all the claims about how the curriculum has to change in order to prepare our learners for a future we can’t predict, that future better be pen and paper based. If companies decide that Twitter has some economic or strategic value, then our learners don’t stand a chance (BLOCKED: Social Networking). If Facebook was a worthwhile means of engaging customers or employees, our learners had better forget applying for those sorts of jobs (BLOCKED: Social Networking). If companies considered hiring and firing by using LinkedIn profiles, our learners better hope there’s a postal address to join up (BLOCKED: Social Networking). If we want our learners to participate in the computer games industry and contribute to the economic health of the country, we may as well start google.jpgapplying for IMF bail-outs now (BLOCKED: Gaming).

Oh, wait… the real world DOES use Twitter… and Facebook… and LinkedIn… and countless other tools that we think are not suitable for learners. It is only a matter of time before some smarter kids realise that with Internet access becoming recognised as a fundamental right, they can probably use the UN’s ‘Rights of the Child’ to force the matter.

You know what’s really sad, the people who make the decisions are rapidly becoming as irrelevant as last week’s news… but they also still hold all the power.

David Muir was, as far as I can tell, the only person tweeting from SICTDG (The Scottish ICT Development Group — who do not appear to have a website? Please tell me that’s not so!). This is a meeting of the real movers and shakers… the people who can actually let us get learners on to the internet. What was David’s all too depressing feeling?

The feeling though is that corporate IT are using security worries to prevent and stifle development rather than working with education to see how it can be made to work. Disappointment was expressed at the level of resistance and level of incomprehension as to why education want to use wifi and mobile devices in the first place.

We are all, and I mean every Education system in the world, we are all trying to prepare our learners for the world they will inhabit. That is a world filled with connections, and networks, and cooperation on a global scale… Tomorrow, my classes will get to use pen and paper to write about it. If you give me your address, I’ll save up to buy some stamps so I can post you their thoughts.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. June 8, 2011 8:45 pm

    Ooooof. What a corker.

    Hear. Hear.

  2. Dorothy permalink
    June 8, 2011 9:15 pm

    As usual Neil, spot on. I’d only add that I phoned (yes I did email but received a reply asking me to phone) Technical Services to give someone outside our authority permission to see the authority glow site which has some CfE resources. You know Glow? That system that’s been set up to promote collaboration and sharing? The response? ‘Oh, I don’t know how to do that.’ Words fail me.

  3. June 8, 2011 9:36 pm

    Great post Neil, unfortunately all too true. The number of resources and opportunities which are blocked has now gone beyond frustrating.

    I should just add – you didn’t mention the impact of cloud computing resources (BLOCKED: online storage)

  4. June 8, 2011 9:41 pm

    A succinct and well written summation of the issues and frustrations shared by many of us.

    I personally think that the best approach that many of us have, is to keep pushing and disrupting from within; bringing more and more teachers along with us from the ground up. While it is difficult to cause significant change when senior leaders and managers are not on board, I believe that the louder the voice from the grass-roots, eventually the powers that be will have to listen.

    A colleague and I are starting to see progress (Google images, YouTube, Blogger, WallWisher, WordPress – all now open) but it has taken time, grabbing individuals, challenging them to try things, prove that they can work. Really, it’s backwards and subversive but it is beginning to get results.

    About to try and do the same with WIFI in classrooms (surely a no-brainer) and iPads for independent and collaborative learning. I don’t expect it to happen over night though.

    Keep the faith Neil, if we build it, they will come! <– apologies for cheesy ending!


  5. June 21, 2011 6:34 am

    You’ve made some great points! But what about a collaborative platform that can be used during AND after school hours so students have access to the educational content they need? I talk about this more in my latest blog post here:

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