Thursday, 19 March 2009

21st century learning - the future is challenging......

Day two of the Education Guardian BSF conference focused on transformation. Again amongst a variety of good sessions, one that really held my attention was the feisty key note presentation by Keri Facer, Professor of Education of Manchester Metropolitan University.

Challenging the audience about the future, via dancing robots, eyeborg technology through to education, her high speed presentation held everyones attention.

2025: a time of:
  • massive familiarity with machines (many will have taken over human roles)
  • "insanely rich information landscape"(merging of physical and virtual information)
  • massive amounts of personal data, genetic data, MRI
  • moving from individual communication to network
In this context, she posed the question: "what sorts of schools will there be and what sorts of schools won't be irrelevent"? All agreed with her view that the biggest obstacle to innovation was the assumption thet 'nothing changes!"

The transformation agenda is risky, but the solution is not to avoid the risk but manage it. we just HAVE to change and be constantly aware and adapting how we work. There are loads of strategies for doing this, including:
  • piloting and prototyping
  • trialing teaching spaces
  • monitoring impact of change (with 'get out points')
  • learning from others
  • ensuring commmunity 'buy in'
  • agreeing relevant success measures.(How do you identify and measure what has changed?)
  • learn from mistakes - need to model to students what it is to trial and innovate
  • be very clear of the risk of doing nothing!
I have heard Keri speak before - she always has a great presentation style and is always challenging.....

and no - no one did answer her question of about having an operation in twenty years time.... would you rather have an operation by a dedicated robot or by a human with all the frailities that could be involved? "We don't know" seemed to be the main feeling - I don't!

Huge interest in the breakout sessions



Anonymous said...

Teachers want to change the whole 'how we teach' thing! Well, lots of us do anyway. But we need training and coaching and practice. It is also a problem that those of us who teach in the inner city, or massive out of town estates, are knackered at the end of a typical teaching day. The last thing I need is to be told 'You need to go on (yet another) ict training twilight course', which I know will be run by someone who is not a classroom practitioner anymore and so prats on for ages before getting down to what I want to know. If the government is serious about the bsf idea, then they need to put as much money into cover for training as they have into bricks and mortar. Bsf is a great idea. What really annoys me is the probability it will fail in the near future because it hasn't been funded in the right areas. Pretty buildings alone won't solve the problem. Lots more to say but let's leave it for now.

Gareth Long said...

Thanks for the comment. I absolutely agree with what you say here, having also worked in very challenging urban areas.

I have consistently advocated that the most effective form of professional development regarding new learning and teaching styles is peer led and in the classroom with your own students as you work. I have a real problem with a lot of courses....

Sitting in a room after school, or even for a whole day with a consultant, (I speak as one), just so rarely works. That may be good for a kick off session but the real confidence building is when working in a team situation where, as you try approaches you get instant feedback and support... you also work with people modelling approaches with your own students. In school trainers or catalyst groups are usually the best way. For example: when interactive white boards first were introduced, people went on courses on how to use them - but the real learning usually happened as staff work and ask each other how to do things as they go and as they need/want them - often in a ten minute chat after school or at lunchtime.

Freeing up in house expertise is of course what makes it expensive and that is the key issue. But.. to get the best out of staff and new facilites isn't this a really good investment and shouldn't it be given some priority ?

(For BSF - I believe that this support and development should take as long as the whole building design and construction - it's not about buildings but about what opportunities there are to encourage learning of all forms inside them!)