EduTECH 2015: My Take-aways

A weekend has passed since Edutech and I’ve even been back at school for a day.   I think its important to let a little time pass after events such as this and then to also get back to your own reality, before reflecting on what it all means………in this way I’m able to combine the euphoria with the reality and hopefully achieve some sort of clarity and be left with the key messages that need to be communicated and upheld.

George Couros talks about the biggest game changer in education as being something that has to be internal – a change in mindset about how we think and grow.

 It is moving from that “fixed” mindset about teaching and learning, and moving to the “growth” mindset.  It is thinking differently about education and understanding that all of us as people need different things to succeed.  To some students, the “Flipped” model is hugely beneficial, while to some others, gaming is going to push their learning to a new level.  Some learn better in isolation, while others excel in collaboration.  There is no single “thing” that is a game changer. If there was, we would have figured it out and adopted it by now.  We have to stop looking for standardized solutions to try and personalize learning.  Our mindset towards teaching and learning has to be open to many approaches, not any single one .

I think this is all important.   EduTECH is never about the cool tools. It is never about the device.  It is never about the apps.   We get to listen to visionary leaders and educators who know that the nature of learning has to change.  And it has to change because kids matter.  The frustrating thing for me is that I have been listening to this for years and believing this for years……….and nothing much does change.  We head back to our schools where an industrial model still reigns supreme.   There are elements of change visible – of course – but the key elements of the past are still those that are held to be the most important.

Valerie Hannon from the Innovations Unit in the UK urged us to start rethinking how we view schooling. She said that we need to realise that our view is largely based on our intuition and our experiences from our own schooling.   We need to consider that the world our students are entering is going to be enormously different to today’s world and the world we walked into when we finished our schooling.   Students are going to be facing global issues that are going to be significant.  How can we transform learning so that we are preparing students for this and not for our past?

In a practical sense, Valerie urged us to ask – ‘What is learning for?’.  At a school level – ask ourselves this very question and start visioning.    Stonefields School in NZ did just this and from their vision statement they expanded this into vision essence statements.

Their website http://www.stonefields.school.nz/

What do I think the key actions out of EduTech might/could be?

  • We need a vision for learning that is collaboratively designed.
  • We need to place a heightened degree of importance on children rather than teachers – their comfort levels and perceptions of what schooling should be like.
  • We need to understand and appreciate the message of global educational leaders who urge an emphasis on skills that will prepare our students for a world that will be incredibly different to the world we entered when we left school.
  • Part of this must be moving away from a overly structured, crowded and rigid curriculum model to one that is based more on inquiry and real world contexts where there is depth, meaning and relevance.
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