Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Status Quo is the Elephant in the (Class)Room

The recent OECD report on Computers and Learning (covered in my last blog) noted that changes to T&L pedagogies faced the normal resistance to change from the education bureaucracy which flowed down and through the schools to the teachers in the classrooms. They would always opt to maintain the status quo. No surprises here.

It's a peculiar upside-down situation isn't it? The targets and beneficiaries of all pedagogies are the students. Yet they are the group hardly considered because the 'grown-ups' call the shots and think they know best. Do you think you know the mind of a student from 20+ years away??

The status quo is the elephant in the room. And it's pointless trying to move it. So if an advanced and contemporary pedagogy is to be introduced then we need to work around the elephant. Here's how:

  • Integrate Problem-Solving into your programs. Start by setting Tasks weekly (www.MathsRepublic.com.au)
  • Support the Problem-Solving with lessons on specific topics as they are presented because problems mix concepts (we're not referring here to those endless examples of the same topic from textbooks)
  • Invite students to present their thinking strategies to the class. Encourage discussion. Note what emerges during this time.
You'll be amazed at how your students enjoy the interactions the simple process outlined.

Then you'll be ready to think about Collaborative Learning which will be the subject of my next blog.

Please post any comments. You're part of the team working around the elephant!

Friday, 18 September 2015

OECD Report Reinforces Positioning of MathsRepublic

OECD Report Exposes Once Again Last Century Thinking of Our Educators

We have to replace Industrial-Age Thinking with Cloud-based Thinking

The latest OECD Report on Students, Computers and Learning Making the Connection is an excellent document ... but I fear its strong message is buried and that educators will grab the info which support their traditional, 20th Century teaching and learning thought processes through the superficial media grabs ... that computers do little for learning of students. Well I thought that was going to be it (again) when I heard a radio report only to discover that OECD has got it right after I downloaded and read the report.

I had already got nicely angry and was ready to start blasting away. But then I read on and found so much good stuff in the report. My view to anyone who will listen to me is that those websites which merely mirror the existing curriculum in web format are a major part of the problem. They do nothing for dragging T&L pedagogies into the 21st Century. But they provide a complete illusion that they do. Consequently, we are really getting nowhere which the report highlights. These websites in my opinion exacerbate the resistance to change.

I yelled hallelujah when I read the report. It provides all the support we need to convince schools that our thinking at MathsRepublic is spot-on. But implementation through a resistant education bureaucracy is quite another thing. 

The report notes that we may over-estimate the digital skills of teachers (that's for sure) and students (I have found that most are very skilled). My experience here is that teachers are (in general) poorly skilled for many reasons and only teach within their own limited knowledge-frames.

Also there's:
  • Bad policy design (from the outset each year's curriculum is really designed for textbooks)
  • Poor implementation strategies
  • Poor understanding of pedagogies
  • Generally poor quality of education software and courseware
The report contains real positive pointers and advice. "We must get it right" it notes. Learning environments that support 21st Century pedagogies with 21st Century skills are needed in tomorrow's world (I say today's world). Technology is the only way to expand access to knowledge.

Why should students be limited to a textbook printed two years ago and designed 10 years ago? We must focus on new pedagogies. We want to invite students to participate in the changes needed now.

We need:
  • Collaborative workspaces (hear, hear for MathsRepublic)
  • experiential learning
  • problem-based and project-based learning (hear, hear again)
  • learning communities
  • new tools, remote and virtual labs
  • Utilisation of social media
  • Serious games
Given the uncertainty that accompanies all change says the report, educators will always opt to maintain the status quo (Amen to that).Teachers must also become active agents of change, not just as implementers of tech innovation but as designers.

Next blog I will provide the solution which will be based on creating a new system. 

In the meantime take a lead ahead by checking out problem-based video learning at www.MathsRepublic.com.au. Yes we designed it a year ago so we were very happy to read the comments in the OECD report.