What I’d like you all to do is to Switch On. Now it has been suggested to me that I should leave it at just that; “Please Switch On’ – Suggesting that I’m asking for your attention But that, while it would be nice, sounds a bit rude….
What I’m actually asking you to do is to switch on your computers, your laptops, netbooks, ipod touches, PSPs Nintendo DS, smartphones, even your mobile phone. In fact anything that you can communicate with or connect to the internet.
‘ Asking Questions’ is very much part and parcel of the learning process;- if you don’t understand something, you ask; if I want to know if you do understand, then I ask you. Traditionally the way this has been conducted in class is by the raising of a hand … This is SO last century. It is surprising though that little use of ICT has been employed to enable questions to be asked and answered. So what I’d like you to do if you have a question is, instead of raising your hand, to ask your question in any of these ways. You can visit my wallwisher page and post your question there. You can tweet your question to me via twitter. You can txt your question to my mobile. You can email it to me or you can post your question on a discussion board- though you may have to register for that.
Okay, now let’s make a start. What I want you to do is to close your eyes. Not fall asleep of course but just to imagine yourself in a dark place. Picture yourself at a Partick Thistle evening match or a scottish tory mp convention – there’s no one there! Can you put your hands out in front of you and imagine trying to find your way through a dark wood .. A dark dark wood. All around is nothing but darkness, you are trying to find your way but you feel lost.
That feeling of being lost in the dark is very apt in a way for what I want to talk about in this presentation is Transforming learning … oh yes, you can open your eyes now.
When we think of a transformation, what do we usually think of? I guess most of us would think of a caterpillar turning into a butterfly, or maybe mild-mannered Clark Kent turning into Superman, or a lorry turning into a robot ….. Perhaps that last one went over the head of some of you. Anyway, all I can say is that if you thought of turning AC current into DC current then perhaps this is not the presentation for you. The point is that when we think about transformation, we have a clear picture of the outcome
But when we think of learning transformation, things are not so clear. Many people talk about learning transformation but few seem to give any idea of what it would look like when transformed. There are some clues though Think about some of the phrases you hear bandied about nowadays; things like 21 st Century learning, next generation learning, personalised learning, lifelong learning, assessment for learning …. Can you see a pattern emerging here?
The emphasis is on the learning. In other words the emphasis is upon what the learner does more than what the teacher does. Okay, so as teachers we can sit back a bit and breathe a sigh of relief. A bit of the pressure has been taken off.
What I want to suggest to you that educational ICT is 90% about how the learner uses technology, 20% about how the teacher uses technology and all the rest should be done automatically. Do we have any mathematicians here? I hope not because clearly it can be seen that 90 and 20 % makes more than 100% and that’s even before we consider the rest. What I want to suggest to you is that a portion of the ICT use is done jointly by teacher and pupil so there is some overlap which accounts for the extra percentage.
So I’ve mentioned 21 st Century learning and next generation learning but what do these actually mean in practical terms? What skills are we trying to teach the learners? Traditionally, the learner has been a ‘consumer’ of the technology we give them, we ask them to observe a whiteboard demonstration, we ask them to search the internet or we ask them to complete a computer program. None of which is wrong but under 21 st century learning we want to move the learner away from being a consumer of technology to being a creative user of technology.
21 st Century learning skills come down to 3 Cs – Communication, Collaboration and creativity. Others have been suggested .. Critical thinking, community and competing … I’m not quite sure how competing matches with collaboration but it seems to be important for some, particularly in sports perhaps. Earlier I said that we teachers could sit back and relax without so much pressure but if we take a look at these skills, I think they can be useful skills for us as well as the learners. The bottom line is that if we are going to ask the learner to do something with the technology, we need ourselves to kbow that it can be done. So we need to know what the technology is capable of and have experience of using it ourselves. And that is what we are going to do in a practical session right now