“Flip the thinking” about mandated hours?

As part of my recent university reading, I have been reminded of the unprecedented and immediate accessibility to information through the rise of the internet. Readings have also confirmed that information is socially situated and knowledge is increasingly constructed socially. I have also been reminded that school has shifted from the provider of content to just one context of information for students.

That being said, the biggest takeaway of recent readings has been the understanding that there may be a reticence of some to use information in a collaborative way to build knowledge through open source sharing. The video, Collaboration – On the Edge of a New Paradigm, retrieved from: http://vimeo.com/77240879 made a definite impression on me. In that video, Michael Wienburg points out that the internet is a giant force as a multiplier and sharer of information. This multiplier effect brings many different perspectives and, as Wienburg points out, you are almost inevitably going to make more advancements in responding to problems. However, people can lose control and ‘ownership’ of the process. As Elizabeth Start, founder of Harvard Free Culture Group points out, people that are engaged in traditional structures are often threatened by newer paradigms around ownership and control of information shared via the world wide web

This is where the challenge is. In school learning environments we may promote the multiplier effect of collaboration and connectivity; however, students may leave to become adults working for a company who is not OK with someone taking their information and do something else with it. Nevertheless, connected learning where students collaborate with others in new ways outside of ‘normal school hours’, “where learning was fluid (not governed by set hours and days)” (Lindsay, 2014), is an idea I hope to one day explore and challenge the status quo. Come to think of it……

….. here’s an idea. Why don’t we ‘flip the thinking’ about mandated hours in New South Wales? For example, in Years 7 to 10 English, Maths, Science and HSIE, there is a minimum of 400 hours per subject. Why don’t we limit these subjects to the bare minimum 400 hours? Yes, LIMIT them!

Let’s take the example of School “A”. At that school, they deliver 520 Hours of English, Maths, Science and HSIE across Years 7 to 10.  That is a surplus of 480 hours across the four subjects over four years; 120 hours per year! Just to give you an idea of what can be done with that time, Music/Visual Arts is allocated 240 hours over Year 7 & 8. LOTE is allocated 120 hours in Year 8. As per its timetable, that is 3 x 1 hours lessons per week for four years. WOW! What if the 120 hours could be better used to address our era of rapid change where using information to co-create knowledge and (hopefully) solve real world problems to improve the world? Maybe those hours could be used to explicitly teach and develop the five information literacies articulated by Howard Rheingold. Now there’s an idea that would challenge more than just a few of us.





Collaboration – On the Edge of a New Paradigm, retrieved 7 March from: http://vimeo.com/77240879

Rheingold, H. (2010). Attention, and Other 21st-Century Social Media LiteraciesEducause Review, 45(5), 14. https://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ERM1050.pdf

Lindsey, J. (2014). Discussion Forum Thread 1.2. Retrieved March 8, 2015, from INF532 Knowledge Networking for Educators: https://interact2.csu.edu.au/webapps/discussionboard/do/message?action=list_messages&forum_id=_14229_1&nav=discussion_board_entry&conf_id=_7274_1&course_id=_6636_1&message_id=_7155_1#msg__7155_1Id