On two occasions within the last few months @materdeiwagga has been fortunate to have @aussietony, Tony Ryan, as a keynote presenter and small group facilitator working with teachers about contemporary learning. Teachers positively commented about Tony’s ability to identify with their challenges in the classroom and then provide practical strategies that were student-centred and inquiry focused.
Tony has worked with schools in Australia and overseas. He has a wealth of knowledge and knows what can be achieved when teachers make the conscious decision to work in new paradigms. As part of his commitment to work with us, Tony had numerous conversations with me as principal both before and after his visits. He also had two conversations with the Leadership Tam and sent various emails to ensure he was working with us to serve our needs. Throughout all those times, the understanding between us was that we had to be honest with each other.
A part of his presentation on day one, Tony was asked to critique two assessment tasks. He stated the quality was there and that they would definitely ‘cut muster’ with NSW Board of Studies requirements. However, “they are very 2007ish.” His point was that there was little choice for students to be creative and innovative with the use of technology.
About a week later I had another conversation with Tony. He again made the point that technology should not come before student centred pedagogy, and challenged me to encourage teachers to ensure that technology was “core” to tasks. To be fair, there are many @materdeiwagga examples of assessment tasks and other related learning activities where students creatively use technology to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding. However, based on what was presented to Tony before his visits, and at the time of his visits, there is still some way to go before it becomes ‘whole school’.
When setting an Assessment Task, in fact any learning activity for that matter, we need to ask ourselves….
1. Can the task done without technology? If so, it is not a valid task for the learning of today. 2013 learning requires technology to be used for more than just research. It needs the technology to be indispensable!
2. Is the task asking students to be collaborative and work in teams? If so, does it extend them further to act as “co-creators”? Working in teams and ‘co-creation’ will be essential requirements for most workers in 2020, if they aren’t already now.
3. With collaboration and co-creation, is it just within the school? If so, why? Why can’t the task or learning activity involve students working with others outside of school? For example,
i) 15 students from 3 different Wagga schools creating ?????
ii) Peer writing with students from other schools across the state to create a story book, creative writing essay, persuasive speech etc….
iii) Working with students from schools across the nation to solve a local problem.
iv) Working with students/teachers from outside Australia develop a “cross-cultural App”.
3. How can Social Media assist? How could teachers see students using Twitter/Facebook/Pinterest to assist with their learning?
4. What about the creation of an iPhone/Android App.? What about the creation of a website? I know Weebly is one helpful tool that some teachers @materdeiwagga have introduced to students. WordPress is another tool that three Leaders of Learning use as part of the leadership of their area of responsibility. Also, many teachers have asked students to create videos about a concept to demonstrate understanding and then these videos have been used to teach the rest of the class. An excellent use of digital technology for the purposes of learning!
5. What about publication? It is a tremendously positive comment on any learning community when they have confidence to publish student work on public websites. Some schools have been doing this for sometime.
In totality, it seems overwhelming to be doing all of the above. However, if we continue to take things one step at a time, then in three years time, our use of technology to support quality learning will have grown exponentially.
Our school, any school can take one unit at a time and reframe the task so that it couldn’t be done without the technology. At the moment, based on the nine pieces of evidence cited by Tony, almost all of the tasks could be done without the technology.
The fact is, I am very pleased with the progress of teachers and their use of their technology @matredeiwagga. We have done the right thing in the past two years to concentrate more on how technology can support student-centred pedagogy. We simply cannot and should not, put the technology before the the pedagogy. Our progress with eFolios, Moodle, all things Google, iPads, KLA blogs & websites, and many other technology initiatives, especially over the last six months, has been a privilege to witness. The challenge is for us to now, with significant student input, discover the best ways to use technology for the purposes of student learning.
Any school(s) out there interested in co-creating with @materdiewagga students?
Any school(s) out there interested in co-creating students across the state to………
Any school(s) out there interested in working with students from schools across the nation?
Any school(s) out there interested in working with students/teachers from outside Australia develop a “cross-cultural App”?
If not, do you have any ideas how we can?
I would appreciate hearing from you.