Friday, 28 November 2008
The resources available online and through the Teacher TV channel are really high quality. Research seems to show that younger teachers especially use them but more established teachers less so. This is a real pity as they are a wonderful resource and act as great professional development. With over 3,500 programmes, there really is something there for everyone!
Interestingly, more and more students are watching these programmes as well, especially during school holidays. This gives them more knowledge about their learning - how long before they challenge their teachers on approaches to learning? Wouldn't that be great!
Wednesday, 26 November 2008
Monday, 24 November 2008
An interesting decision was to have a key note speaker representing the private sector. Speaker: Dr Julie Madigan, Chief Executive of the Management Institute was really effective in giving examples of how management efficiencies have been achieved. This inevitably got delegates to consider how these could be transferred into their own organisations, whilst Russell Andrews, Director of Education and Planning from Partnerships from Schools addressed many contemporary issues and thoughts about the future of assessment. Add to this the inevitable and valuable professional networking, discussions and opportunities to share ideas which always take place, resulted in what seems to have been a very day for all .
The workshops and speakers really challenged many aspects of current practice. So many people talk about the need for a cultural shift in our education system, but few seem to have have many ideas as to how to really successfully achieve it. That's the real issue we all have to really address.
Sunday, 23 November 2008
Wednesday, 19 November 2008
The change of learning styles and the future ongoing change means the conversations should never stop. Therefore only by designing new agile spaces can the learning environment possibly support this constant development. The same obviously applies to what ICT in education looks like but the change is even faster!
A large part of the UK Building Schools of the Future (BSF) initiative is, whilst producing new schools, a competitive bidding process between construction companies in a very very short time scale. As a result the cross fertilisation of ideas between firms is really restricted and basically does not happen. We are really missing opportunities here to learn from new schools already built across the UK and ensure the lessons learnt are incorporated, where appropriate, in new schemes. Isn't this a priority for our students?
Imagine my surprise in visiting a school recently and spotting an interactive white board with the projector 'miles' away.... I have never seen such a long arm, supported by guy wires and supports worthy of those of a gymnast's high bars. Reducing the projectors' distance from the board reduces issues with shadows - this must be a nightmare and they must be almost impossible to avoid.
I love properly used interactive white boards - my question is does this really quite old projector kit enhance the learning experience or become a distraction for the teacher as he/she struggles to ensure the picture is visible to all pupils, without shadows, no matter where they sit. If it does, it really is all credit to the teacher - but I do hope it is a priority for replacement soon for everyone's sake!
Tuesday, 18 November 2008
The importance of this much needed conference was demonstrated by the waiting list of people trying to attend. It is, for some reason, unusual for conferences to consider SEN learning environments across all phases and the format and quality of speakers was just fab - it needs to be repeated.
Attended by educators, architects, local authorities and just one computer company (RM) the conference considered just so many aspects. These included policy matters, the new DCSF Building Bulletin 102, led by architect John Jenkins (this comes into effect on the 1st December 2008) and went on to consider many innovative and exciting new schools being developed or recently opened. The impact of appropriate well designed learning environments was movingly presented by students and staff in a video about the new Sir Michael Tippett School and from Sue Bourne, Headteacher of the new wonderfully designed The Avenue School in Reading.
The amazing presentation by Toby Hewson of charity; 'Just Different' stressed the importance of designers just asking and listening to the voice of SEN students for whom the new facilities are being designed - how often do we keep saying this?? Even in this blog listening to students is such a common theme! Having profound special needs does not mean you don't have a very clear view of what environments would really work for you!
A powerful presentation,with several video clips by Carol Allen (North Tyneside LA) about the power and potential of innovative but well integrated ICT resources for students with severe learning difficulties really completed the picture.
There was a lot in this conference and everyone I spoke to thought it probably one of the better and most useful conferences put on recently. (One success criteria was that although the venue was in the middle of Oxford Street, no one seemed to sneak out shopping - that must say something!)
Thanks BCSE - a good one!
Friday, 14 November 2008
Wouldn't it be great if our school students could develop a reputation or ethos of ongoing study and learning in their communities, no matter where they live, and then the community reflect somehow that learning agenda.e I'm not sure how we convincingly do that right now though, but lots of communities each with a demonstrable culture of learning would just be so great!
Thursday, 13 November 2008
As we move more and more towards delivering the concept of life long ‘any time anyplace’ learning that is accessible to all, the challenges of equality of access, the appropriateness or relevance of the provision on offer and importantly the environments that may support this, are beginning to be faced.
To make it really effective the whole community must get involved in creatively supporting and promoting learning opportunities and then recognising and celebrating those that undertake them.
We are all learning all the time - how much of it is recognised or even used? Not that much I suggest. Why not?.
Monday, 10 November 2008
Service providers currently charge a monthly fee for this, but it really is not going to be long before laptops and other devices have all this technology built into it as standard and all access will be free. As this happens, the aspirational concept of ‘anytime anywhere’ learning for all will come much closer to being a reality.
Technological progress is moving at such a pace few can predict what will actually be available in five years time. I suspect that those that do predict may also find that their thoughts are conservative at best and that things arrive long before they expect them.
All this is good news for the young learners who now expect to use this technology as a norm – their learning opportunities and aspirations will just continue to soar. The question is whether adults will keep up (probably not!) and help them develop how to use the skills and knowledge they learn or act as a roadblock to their learning?
Saturday, 8 November 2008
Video clip of Paloma on Cayman Brac
My good friends and colleagues on Grand Cayman have been very fortunate again this time....... but it never gets easier. Not many things can delay the total focus on the Cayman transformation of education.... hurricanes do focus the mind however!
The only way that this would not work is if schools are still obsessed about running for administrative convenience rather than for what is best for the learner. This flexible space would not work for example if the school still believes it is logical to try and feed 1,200 students in either a fifteen minute morning break or during a fifty minute space for lunch. In these cases it can only ever be chaotic and a deeply unpleasant experience or students eating and those staff on duty.
Schools are looking for alternative arrangements - they would be daft to do so!
With staggered feeding (or grazing as Stephen Heppell calls it) as is appropriate during the learning activity, in a pleasant professional environment, the more pleasant experience it is for students and staff. Equally large spaces once reserved for a brief rather nasty eating experience can become an agile learning and social space for all.
Doesn't that make more sense?
Wednesday, 5 November 2008
A number of schools are now considering this type of 'outdoor indoor space', often by connecting buildings with a similar style roof. This gives a massive space for students that can just as easily be a wireless learning environment or equally be a social space - or both at the same time. It literally blurs the edges of creating spaces for specific uses as too often happens in schools. Put in comfortable furniture and create a variety of spaces would just be a fab for students to want to be!
Schools are again way behind in this thinking, shopping malls have got it, businesses have got it - It really makes you wonder why more school designers aren't thinking about it! Lets think outside the box guys!
(And just for teachers - everyone can also see how it would also help on a purely functional level for those wet days which can be just awful for all staff!)
Sunday, 2 November 2008
Putting the two together produced a day of really exciting and innovative discussion, all sorts of ideas were explored. If all conversations about BSF, learning environments and 21st century teaching and learning were as exploratory and innovative as this, then there would be no doubt that learning of the future would be absolutely fantastic, and without doubt, world leading.
It is days like this that really make the role I do here so exciting.