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Posts Tagged ‘Digital Education Revolution Funding’

Last month I watched a TED talk by acclaimed speaker Ken Robinson. Personally, Ken Robinson is one of my favourite speakers on Education and educational reform. He has an ability to make his point not only entertaining, but simple and accessible to all. His message here has drawn upon previous material. However, he makes a very clear point about the core business of teaching and learning across all levels of education. Here is Ken’s talk:




Ken made some very astute points about education in today’s climate. One point he makes is rather ironic. He says that; ‘because of the nature of what it means to be human, the essential spark of interest in each of us in different’ (at this point, Ken was discussing the American ‘drop-out’ crisis and the experience of failure by students). However, in examining this fundamental element of how we are all different, our systems of education all expect us to excel at literacy and numeracy. Yes…. I said excel.

Governments and educational systems are motivated by measuring data around Literacy and Numeracy standards. You only have to look at the Australian National Assessment Program, Literacy And Numeracy (NAPLAN) testing, PISA World Rankings and the latest part of our world to endorse teacher based assessment – New York. The New Yourk Times last week wrote;

Under the new system, 20 to 25 percent of each teacher’s rating score would be determined by state-approved measures of students’ growth, another 15 to 20 percent by measures established by the schools, and 55 to 60 percent would be based on in-class observations or performance assessed by video recording….The new model would have four tiers — “highly effective,” “effective,” “developing” and “ineffective” — and be based on test scores and classroom observations.

…It can only presumably be said that these measures would be based around Literacy and Numeracy. But in our current global milieu, with China and India becoming more developed in terms of civilisation and education, and with the role technology is playing in closing the gaps in education…Where is the ceiling of literacy and numeracy attainment? Do we keep expecting more and set the ceiling higher each year, or do we expect something different?

Robinson urges us to move past the data and into a student centred, student led curriculum where not only Literacy and Numeracy standards are a focus, but also the Arts and student’s interests. He discusses the Finnish education system, where students do not drop out and where the results are the highest in the world for literacy and numeracy.

I have one problem with pursuing a system of education like the Finnish.. and that is culturally they have something quite unique. They have built a culture of education where the teacher is supported, highly respected and backed by the parent and society in which they live. They have autonomy over their curriculum and learning, they are paid extremely well and they are the top performing graduates within their country. Changing that aspect of culture long-term in already developed western countries will come albeit too late and have little to no substantial economical impact. By the time the culture has changed, China and India will have economically overpowered western countries in capitalist markets and the shift of wealth will have moved.

It almost becomes paradoxical in nature to be able to refashion an entirely new system of education when we keep expecting more of the same. I am not saying that Literacy and Numeracy standards are not important. They are. Yet facilitating and fashioning pathways for learners and teaching to the ‘Point of Need’ of a student at that exact moment of learning, is ultimately what teaching is about.


I ask you, how open is your education system to letting ‘go’ and giving freedom to teachers who are experienced, show talent and passion, to be able to redefine an ageing model of education? If literacy and numeracy attainment is becoming greater because of our need to engage with technology at a younger age, then where do our focuses for all levels of education lie? … I wonder what Beethoven would say?

It is not, and cannot be all doom and gloom. There are systems around the world in developed western countries that have made their move and begun to redefine teaching and learning. I am lucky to be a part of that. The core business of teaching and learning across all sectors now rests with the ability of the teacher to not only provide structures that enhance literacy and numeracy standards, but also allow for students to direct their learning through their interests. It offers a very interesting and deep model of education, particularly if educational institutions become centres of innovation, ‘think tanks’ and wider business propositions unto themselves. We can provide more than just a service… we can also fashion the future.

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With the release of the iPad 2 in Frankfurt the other day, I was amazed at the queue outside of the Apple shop! It went for more that half a kilometer and this was at 4:30pm. It got me thinking about the use of the iPad 2 within all levels of schooling.

In my last post I spoke about Gaming in Education, though I have no doubt that the iPad can facilitate the higher order thinking skills needed, I also thought of this as a replacement for the laptop in schools. Computer technology has become a necessary tool for both home and school learning – it keeps us connected, allows us to explore and to share our ideas, and does not constrain our learning to a 9-3 timeframe.

A huge impact on schools and systems is the financial ramification on the up keep of this technology. I don’t believe that it is viable for schools or school systems to pay for new technologies to be used on a mass scale (i.e. 1:1). Some principals and system leaders may argue that it is our duty to supply these, particularly for families who are constantly challenged with the cost of educating their child/ren. I argue that it is a government responsibility, where tax deductions or even subsidies can be given to families to help absorb this necessary this cost. The Rudd Government Laptop Initiative in Australia, beginning in April 2009, saw a huge investment into the one-to-one laptop scheme for Grade 9-12 students, as well as the Digital Education Revolution Funding for all schools K-12. Though this major injection into the economy has been received well, I don’t believe that the impact of this will be felt for many years. I believe that this was a turning point in the nations history, where we will see the greater development of tertiary industries in the years that follow, transitioning us from the depleting primary resource sectors to a more technological and scientific based country.

Greg Whitby, Executive Director for Schools for the Catholic Education Office Parramatta in his blog BYOT (Bring Your Own Technologies), gave a very interesting account into the need for more personalised technologies for student use. In examining the iPad 2 I think that it has many of the bugs worked out, where; the VGA adaptor and ability for Flash files to be played on a projector has now been rectified. And the ability to connect to the Smartboard (IWB) via wifi has been fixed.

I do think that there are some limitations with these however. The constant connection to an iTunes account (rather than a Time Machine backup to a server is an issue), and the inability for international students to use existing iTunes accounts is a REAL problem (when moving from one country to the next). However I like the ergonomics and classroom environment it promotes, particularly when they are flat on the table. However I think this is a good option too:

Any which way, I recognise that these are a wonderful tool for learning and can’t wait to see how they will impact the teaching and learning, and ultimately the outcomes of our students. Please click on the link below for a wonderful video on iPads in Learning:

http://images.rnews.com:80/media/2010/10/6/video/3R123769.mp4

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