(and how to correct them)
Saw this on the Edudemic Blog
Over the last few years K-12 schools and districts across the country have been investing heavily in iPads for classroom use. EdTechTeacher has been leading iPad professional development at many of these schools and we’ve seen firsthand how they approach iPad integration.
Read it in full here.
By Mick Landmann
As we enter the New Year I wanted to reflect on how DEB has progressed since its inception in June 2011 (the time of our first full meeting).
The main general achievement of the group, I think, is to have acted upon the determination that DEB should be predicated on action, and not be just another talking shop. At that very first meeting in June we established 3 live projects – smartphones in the classroom and related smartphone repository, Teachmeets, and mobile games competition. Without going into detail and with the exception of the mobile games competition (and no doubt further projects of this nature will come forth), these projects have flourished.
Furthermore new projects have come on stream and there are no shortages of ideas for further projects and DEB developments. I am particularly excited about the new project with Ian Cunningham and Judith Good to establish an appropriate programming learning environment in schools.
We have also established a growing profile locally following in particular my presentation about DEB to the Strategic Partnership meeting in September, a full page article in the Argus in December, and the wide ranging involvement of all of you giving the organisation real breadth. It is interesting that the article in The Argus that focussed on the smartphones in the classroom projects has highlighted the controversial nature of some of the things we are doing.
It has occurred to me, though, that the comments that were made in The Argus both by commentators to the main article, and then by an ex headmaster in the next days issues were made entirely in ignorance of the detail of what we are doing with the projects. I’m guessing that the very spectre of allowing the use of smartphones in classroom conjured up images of unruly children furiously texting away, somehow (and curiously) in touch with their feral natures ready to run riot. We all know how far from the truth this is.
Still, I think all the pubilicity, despite the detractors is good publicity for us.
Which brings me to my hopes for DEB for 2012. With the fantastic and dynamic people involved in DEB thus far, with new people getting involved all the time I look forward to adding further projects and continuing the work we have begun. I think we can be seriously influential on the world of education (something we have discussed at previous meetings) and I think we can consolidate the structure we have established such that it becomes a model for similar DEB like networks both nationally and internationally.
This may seem very ambitious, but I honestly feel that with everything going on (and going wrong) in the world, an increased awareness of the importance of digital technology in our lives, growing evidence of the benefits of utilising digital technology in all its forms for teaching and learning, a need for change and the growing appetite to embrace it, that the time is right.
Looking forward to continuing to work with everyone involved in 2012.
By Mick Landmann
When I woke up on the first day of the New Year, woozy from the past few days of excess, turning on the news I noted that the New Year message from our religious leaders, notably the Archbishop of Canterbury and Pope Benedict, laid some emphasis on youth. The Archbishop observed rightly that ‘society is letting down young people’ something I wholly agree with, although it is nothing new.
Ironically, I doubt that youth would have got this attention had it not been for the riots in the summer. Instead they would simply have been sidelined as usual, despite the disgrace of youth unemployment standing at over 1 million, the withdrawal of much needed financial support for young people to continue their studies, the daunting prospect of having to build up massive debts to continue onto university (despite it being rammed down all our throats that apparently the economy is in such dire straits because we have been living on too much debt in the first place!), and in the face of ‘good advice’ to take any job that is offered whether it is something they want to do or not.
Yes, despite the awful place young people, through absolutely no fault of their own, find themselves in we only take a little bit of notice of their plight when things get sufficiently serious that riots occur, and then castigate them for it.
Pope Benedict in his New Year message extolled the virtues of young people who ‘could become builders of peace if they were given the correct guidance‘. Quite so, although it is not so much guidance as good example that in my view is of the greatest value to them. They are all capable of living good lives, of living peaceably together, of realising their talents, of fulfilling their potential, of making the world a better place, given the opportunity.
But when they look around them what do they see.
Bickering politicians who promise one thing today and do the opposite tomorrow if it suits them best, greedy bankers doing very nicely thank you off the fruits of their failures, collapsing financial systems throughout the world, growing unemployment. This is, as Malcolm Maclaren before his untimely death observed, a karaoke society that lacks authenticity. No wonder the future looks bleak when viewed through the vital and discerning eyes of our young people.
I am not religious myself, agnosticism being as far as I wander in that direction, but I applaud the religious leaders for highlighting the plight of our youth and I implore governments to take note, and more importantly take positive action, although I fear this falls upon deaf ears.
As Edward de Bono said recently ‘politicians (and indeed economists) are good at commenting on things, but not good at designing things’. This doesn’t auger well for a world faced with the predicament of how to veer away from its current path towards self destruction. Sitting by and ‘commenting’, tinkering around the edges simply doesn’t cut it.
So where should we look for our salvation. I say to our youth. After all it is they who will inherit the mess that we have created, it is they who in the end will have to make sense of it all, the phoenix that rises out of the ashes.
So this is my New Year message. Rather than castigate our youth let’s set a better example and support them, trust them, work with them to allow them the opportunities to fulfil their potential, to set them on a path of fulfilment. Then, through them, the world will become a better place.
So, let’s hear it for the yoof!!
I have been thinking quite a bit about what has really changed in schools in the last few years – well actually since schools were invented. I went to a school in Harrow, but not Harrow School, which is famous for teaching a long line of public figures including several prime ministers. Harrow School was founded in 1572 and in those days (as indeed back to ancient Greece) education went like this:
- someone (in high office) decided what facts children should learn
- a special school (which came to be called a university) was set up to teach adults these facts so they could pass them on to the children
- these people (who came to be called teachers) would stand at the front of the class
- the children would sit at desks in rows facing the teacher
- a means of displaying the facts would be put on a wall behind the teacher – this was called the blackboard
- when there was no more room to display the facts, a rubbing device would erase some or all of the fact, so more could be put in their place
- the rubbing device could also be thrown at a child to maintain control – a wooden stick was a useful backup device.
- periodically the children would be required to show that they had remembered the facts. Occasionally just some of the facts had to be regurgitated – this was called a test. At other times all the facts had to be seen to be remembered – this was called an examination.
- if you passed examinations, you were entitled to rise higher in the system. If you failed, you remained at that level, almost certainly for the rest of your life (unless your family had money).
- someone (in high office) decides what facts children should learn
- special schools (called a teacher training colleges) have been set up to teach adults these facts so they could pass them on to the children
- these people (still called teachers) stand at the front of the class
- the children sit at desks in rows facing the teacher
- a means of displaying the facts is put on a wall behind the teacher – this is called the whiteboard
- when there is no more room to display the facts, a rubbing device can erase some or all of the fact, so more can be put in their place
- the rubbing device (and cane) are no longer available (health and safety reasons) for maintaining order – this enabled the invention of the electronic whiteboard
- periodically the children are required to show that they had remembered the facts. Occasionally just some of the facts have to be regurgitated – these are called SATS. At other times all the facts have to be shown to be remembered – these are still called examinations.
- if you pass examinations, you are entitled to rise higher in the system. If you fail, you remain at that level, almost certainly for the rest of your life (unless your family have money).
- with a grading system every students starts by thinking they are an A+ – from there, the only way is down
- with a games system, you give experience points, so everyone is working their way up
- there are opportunities for collaboration – bonus point for all students if some do well – gives an incentive to support the high achievers
- but could also design topics to enable the more able to help those doing less well – such that one only goes on to the next “level” when all the students have “made it”
- a sense of “agency” – feeling that you have control over your own destiny – that your choices matter
- agency is a scale – the more you have, the more likely you are to succeed, the less likely are you to be put off by failures.
- agency can be improved by playing games. In games, direction can be clear – you try things and fail, then start all over again until you get there
- external motivators and how the playing of Alternate Reality Games (ARGs) encourage learning – best if cross-disciplinary, designed not to be specific to one type of person only
GoveWho decides what facts children should learn? Rather than answer that directly, I would pose another question: what skills/qualities should a young adult have? Maybe those of curiosity, being articulate, how to have good relationships, how to be a team player, how to survive difficult times. Perhaps the only key skills that are needed in the first instance are “bootstrap” skills – to speak, to read and write, and how to find things out. Then rather than have someone else decide what is learnt, allow children to learn what they want albeit in a guided way. Teacher trainingSo goodbye teachers, hello guides. Good guiding practises will be developed over time. These may be disseminated at guide camps, and on web sites. And of course, they are skill that will be picked up and practised by children at they guide and get guided. Front of classGuides can mingle/sit with groups of students. Guides can be the students themselves, and because they become proficient at guiding, they are able to carry on doing this throughout their lives (even if it is not their main profession). Back of classThere is now no absolute need for a desk, or even a classroom. Children can work in smaller groups, and this could be in a library, museum, a workplace, a beach … Blackboard/whiteboardA £3000 whiteboard can be replaced by 15 computer tablets – there should be one per child, and children should not be firewalled from the internet – they must find out how to use it responsibly. Rubbing devicethere is no modern equivalent for this – instead of erasing, think bookmarking. The ability to retrieve things you’ve seen/like/want to pass on are, imho, key skills Examsok, this is the one big area where gamification plays an important part. Reasons mentioned above – summary: completion of “levels” before moving on. Some means needed to make sure that “progress” is being made by all – leader boards – then pay more attention to those that are at the lower end. Pass or failnow, no need for cut-offs at certain ages. The system become more seamless between child/student/graduate/worker. Less boundaries between learning skills/practical skills/artistic endeavours.