Digital Education Revolution: School Development Day – Teacher Professional Learning

 

Colleagues,

 

Increasingly students must take responsibility for their own learning and the teacher becomes more of a facilitator, creating the conditions that allow individuals to progress at their own pace. Self-directed and independent learning will become the norm and the teacher will have more freedom to be the ‘guide on the side’ rather than the ‘sage’ at the front of the room. This will not happen overnight in some classrooms but we will need to adjust our teaching and educational programs as more technology floods into schools.

 

I like this theme the NSW Teachers Federation has put forward at the recent conference. We have a responsibility to update our professional skills with the appropriate support from our employer. Schools infrastructure needs to be upgraded and appropriate support structures, like technicians, need developing. We need to organise ourselves so that we all can seek TPL that is appropriate to our personal needs and DHS is endeavouring to do this.

 

Recently, Trish Morgan has arranged for professional development to revolve around the individual’s choice on SDD. You will soon go to a workshop and participate, rather than listening to me drone on for two hours, in learning practical skills to assist with the implementation of technology into our lessons. My thoughts this morning are an attempt to place this in an educational, historical and cultural context. This is a tough job in a 30-minute session but hopefully, of some use to you – or at least interesting and thought provoking. You will not have time to click on every link; maybe you will have time to check the rest out later.

 

Please explore further, at your own pace, by clicking on the hyperlinks below. Some are videos and others, links to more information at other websites. You may wish to check out how laptops can be used in your subject.

 

Also, please have a look at the emailed attachment. The DET is working on producing electronic resources like the ‘E-careers portfolio’ that will be an important resource for students and useful for teachers looking to link what they do in the classroom with future employment skills. DHS is likely to trial this resource in second semester.

 

Thanks for your participation!

 

 

Digital Education Revolution

 

I

 

There is the Digital Education Revolution and there is the digital revolution; the two are not to be confused.

 

One is a party political platform that has placed Education at the centre of its economic, rather than social policy where Education has traditionally been located, with the slogan ‘building tomorrow’s workforce through access to world class education’. The political message to the public has been explicit – their kids will have laptops and access to high-speed broadband and they will have them quickly.

 

The other ‘digital revolution’ grew steadily in the immediate post WWII period, and then accelerated exponentially, with the mass distribution of digital devices, especially the PC. This transition from analogue to digital systems allowed content to spread easily from one media platform to another and the impact on our lives has been profound and blindingly evident for quite some time.

 

Both of these revolutions are real but one has already arrived, quite a while ago…the other we await and plan for with either great anticipation looking at a hall-full glass or with cynicism and trepidation seeing that the glass is half-empty.

 

II

 

You may have heard of Moore’s law (Gordon Moore was a co-founder of Intel and made an observation over 40 years ago) that basically suggested the processing power of computer chips, memory, data storage capacity and telecommunications double every 18 to 24 months, while the cost remains stable, or decreases.

 

He was right.

 

Look at the pace of change in the last decade of the 20th and in the first 8 years of the ‘noughties’. We could list innovation after innovation that changes how we live. However, it would be wrong to suggest that change has not been profound for other people in other times. In 1890 there were at least 25,000 wagon manufacturers in the United States. Only one, Studebaker, survived 50 years later. They were the only one that realised that they did not make “wagons” – they made transportation devices.

 

This is a very significant point.

 

What will you do when technology changes and you cannot keep up? I ask myself this question all the time and at 39 cannot imagine what the next two decades, as an educator, will bring let alone imagine what my young daughters will see in their lives. Quite simply, we need to stay in touch.

 

‘It is not exactly reassuring but this is not a new question but a very old one. Whole cultures have collapsed, empires have fallen, corporations have vanished and languages have died, because of failures to embrace new technologies.’ [1] Ira Socol

 

 III

 

The digital revolution is responsible for the internet, networking, mobile and wireless networks including mobile phones and VoIP. New media technologies, such as wikis, enable and shape aspects of culture and society, business and economy and politics and democracy. There are immense consequences for cultural, economic and political life, determining the way information is processed, transferred and creatively expressed. New media technologies in particular are reshaping society enabling globalisation and massive economic and cultural shifts.

 

We need to rethink much.

 

A few wealthy media owners or politicians no longer control access to information, what we see or read. We are all producers, publishers and connected to each other now. Technology has redefined power and our relationships with each other.

 

For the teenagers who come through our gates this is the norm, this is reality. What will the students be like in a few short years time as the generation gap widens?

 

IV

 

The ‘Revolution’ is less about the programs and learning tools the hardware and technology will allow in the classroom and more about how these tools change reality – as we know it – in schools. I will give you an example that may not be completely illuminating on first reading.

 

The harnessing of electricity and the invention of the light bulb were obvious leaps forward against the tyranny of the dark. Marshall McLuhan – of ‘the medium is the message’ fame – said that a light bulb does not have content in the way that a newspaper has articles or a television has programs, yet it is a medium that has a social effect; that is, a light bulb enables people to create spaces during nighttime that would otherwise be enveloped by darkness. He describes the light bulb as a medium without any content. McLuhan says, “a light bulb creates an environment by its mere presence.”

 

Laptops and other technological tools will do the same thing – create new opportunities and in fact, a new reality in our school. The teacher, by definition, becomes more of a facilitator as learning spaces and programs are (re)-envisaged. The teacher becomes more of a learner too rather than the font at the front.

 

V

 

You started this session reading silently from a piece of paper. This world will shortly come to a close in a wirelessly connected, laptop world. Your daily chore of photocopying will shortly be a memory. However, the real change will be in the way our classrooms work. The paradigm has shifted and we need to adapt.

 

I hope what I am presenting is clear but think of this as Part 1; with reflection to follow at another whole staff gathering, and in smaller groups.

 

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DISCLAIMER

The views expressed at this site are my own and do not necessarily represent those of my employer.

12 Comments

  1. Valuable post Darcy,

    I liked his section in particular:
    “What will you do when technology changes and you cannot keep up? I ask myself this question all the time and at 39 cannot imagine what the next two decades, as an educator, will bring let alone imagine what my young daughters will see in their lives. Quite simply, we need to stay in touch.”

    I will keenly follow your posts and hope to hear your teachers’ responses to that question.

    It is full of challenge and vast opportunities!
    Elaine

  2. darcymoore:

    Hi Elaine, you are speedy, I just posted this for SDD tomorrow. I was also taken with this notion, that Ira Socol explored with his post about Studebaker, about what happend if we cannot keep up. Best to keep paddling, I guess.

  3. jenni:

    I am already struggling to keep up with these young, clever, digital natives who are so helpful and patient with me in the classroom. The best resource we’ve got are our students and this shared knowledge and collaborative learning environment is the future of education and technology.

  4. kellimcgraw:

    I really enjoyed this post Darcy (I saw the email earlier but have since been offline with the flu!), I’m especially glad that a coupld of key videos were available on Teacher Tube so hopefully your staff can view all of this from school. Good stuff!

    I was dreading going back to work earlier today and tried to pin down what exactly I feel is so disempowering about my desk space in the staffroom, and realised that it was because it had no computer/internet. I ask you – what good is a desktop with no desktop??

  5. kellimcgraw:

    I really enjoyed this post Darcy (I saw the email earlier but have since been offline with the flu!), I’m especially glad that a couple of key videos were available on Teacher Tube so hopefully your staff can view all of this from school. Good stuff!

    I was dreading going back to work earlier today and tried to pin down what exactly I feel is so disempowering about my desk space in the staffroom, and realised that it was because it had no computer/internet. I ask you – what good is a desktop with no desktop??

  6. darcymoore:

    Hi Jenni, well said! The kids taking control their learning by teaching is great. We all remember the feeling of starting our careers, thinking we knew a subject/topic, only to realise when we started teaching it how little we really understood. Students teaching, know wonder your classroom is such a positive place!

  7. darcymoore:

    *Ouch* Anyone in DET who reads your post should smart. It is terrible to have a young teacher like yourself not have the tools of her trade available. Kelli, out Boss is insisting that all staff have a laptop before the students are issued with them via the Rudd revolution. Hopefully, your school is able to do the same. I must admit, if I was a CRT a laptop and data projector would be a must. Do you at least have access to these tools for lessons?

  8. Hi Darcy
    Welcome back to Term 3. Hope you had a good holiday. I’ve tagged this post a thought provoker as it raises a number of issues all schools should be discussing. Glad your school is as this is valuable PD.

    I am onboard with the web2.0 changes and see them as exciting opportunities to enhance learning but I have been equally frustrated on a daily basis by just how hard NSW DET seems to be making it all.

    I await NSW DET’s response to the collective and increasing concerns of many of its employees. Excessive filtering or blocks on valid education resources, impossibly slow responses to legitimate wiki/blog/web2.0 questions and a counter intuitive web1.0 portal masquerading as cutting edge because its the “biggest” or some such rot just cheese me off.

    On my return to school today I attempted to share my “recently unblocked” wiki resources with colleagues at a different campus, but no DET had other ideas. Every step of sharing these classroom resources with my students (unblocked last term to a small degree) and now with teachers in my own school have been met with new blocks or today’s new one, password requests to view certain filed resources like powerpoints, PDF’s and word documents. Sure, I’ll send yet another request but this is all just so time consuming when kids and teachers should be accessing many valuable real world web2.0 apps NOW.

    As you state, the Digital Education Revolution is exponential for DETs, everywhere, globally. Options abound on how best these organisations will face these challenges.
    Leading school systems are meeting these challenges expediently and successfully at a pace they are comfortable with, others are earnest in their ‘baby step” digital learning attempts but those school systems that are not already shifting will become the “DETs of last resort”.

    I know which DET I want mine to be.

  9. darcymoore:

    It is interesting that colleagues were happier to respond in person or by email rather than at this blog. The ‘public’ nature of onliune discourse is a real issue for some – and maybe that is thoughtful/sensible. The theme for most staff is that there’s just ‘not time’ to sort out everything as it is let alone ‘revolutionise’ teaching in classrooms. Step by step we all need to develop our skills and this will be different for each individual. The ‘elephant in the room’ is being widely discussed at my workplace.

  10. Fantastic !

    A conversation many staffrooms around the country should have.
    Thumbs up to you and your staff! Well done
    Cheers
    Tomaz

  11. Thanks Tomaz – hopefully there having this conversation!

  12. oops – they’re

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