Teaching and E-Learning What’s the Hype?
In the search for perfecting our craft, educators often comment that we’ve fallen subject to the ‘circle’ of education reform; ‘Oh I’ve seen it all before’, ‘I remember they tried this ten years ago’. As cyclic as it may seem I think we can all understand where these comments are coming from; ‘Yet another way to teach Reading!’, ‘There was nothing wrong with the way I was taught, I did alright’.
The Executive Director of Schools for the Parramatta Diocese Mr Greg Whitby at the beginning of the 2008 school year had named one of the system goals for all leaders to focus on as: “Improving the learning outcomes of all students”. When I heard this comment I felt it to be quite farcical in the sense that: ‘hasn’t this been the challenge for all educators day in, day out, since the beginning of education?’. But it’s not until you dig deeper that you find out the true meaning.
As a classroom teacher for the past ten years I was confronted by the thought of ‘What am I doing to improve the outcomes of my students?’. Ask yourself this question and then ask yourself how do you feel about it.
Well I was pretty good with this, I had mastered my craft, I knew how to teach Writing, Reading and Mathematics and I prided myself on being one of the best teachers my kids would ever get. BUT was this good enough? I’ve worked on my artistry for the last ten years bit by bit, learning when to pose the right question and learning when to shut up. The latter always being harder.
However, the essence of this major system goal lies in the CONTEXT of teaching. How has our world changed? Do you really know how the kids in your charge learn in the REAL world? Because let me tell you I had no idea what a widget was until I compiled this blog.
Even if you have no idea about technology (though this is the focus), just look at how kids are communicating today. Take for instance Dance as a form of communication, and the hit T.V show ‘So You Think You Can Dance’. When did Krumping become an acceptable form of communicating/dancing?!
So where to? Kids are using more technology in their everyday lives. I want to communicate with them on their level and I want to challenge them within the context of their ever-changing world, and to make learning experiences richer. Mind you, dance is not my specialty, but the Youtube clip on Cha, Cha Slide is fantastic…. The kids think I am a wonderful dance teacher!
So if we are not going to teach more, do we have to learn more? The answer is yes. We have to learn their lingo, and we have to learn exactly what our kids don’t do well and provide a better context of learning for them around these areas. Does this mean you need to base everything on using technology? – No. If you get better results showing kids how to follow simple directions by cooking pancakes, rather than watching a video stream of it on YouTube (which you will), then do it.
Technology for us as educators needs to be utilised as a tool to provide that context of learning that yet could not be provided otherwise, or more easily, and it needs to be directly related to the data of own students. I argue that you do not need to teach more technology, but use it more often as a tool.
As for leading the change, remember there WAS nothing wrong with the way you were educated and you PROBABLY are fine…. BUT this is evolutionary in change, NOT cyclic.
What’s the data telling you about your kids, and what are you doing about it?