Wow, what a week. 4 days of presentations, 5 flights and 7 sessions. I have to say it was fun but I was pretty jaded by the end of the experience.
The robotics sessions in Rotorua, were great fun, hands on experiences. As tools for learning and constructing knowledge and understanding they are superb.
In Wellington, I had the privilege of talking to the teachers at The Correspondence school. They have embarked on an exciting journey which matches their motto “Learner centred, digitally minded”. They are undergoing a paradigm shift from a traditional distance education approach, predominantly paper based to a 21st century approach maintaining and building on the existing model.
The four groups I spoke to (TCS has 4 teaching regions – Northern, central north, central south and southern) were each different, but an underlying theme that came through from my presentation and also from their comments and questions was Digital citizenship. This theme was also clearly evident when I spoke at the Marlborough Teachers only day on Thursday.
Wednesday saw me in Upper Hutt, I met with a school implementing First Class into there school and we talked through the process of preparation, release to staff and students, barriers and drivers. These guys were good and it was fun to be able to share the tricks of using First Class and the processes that had or had not worked in our experience of rolling this product out. The two or three key themes that came out were:
- The importance of buy in and complete commitment from management
- making life easier and simpler is a key driver for staff
- the kids will adapt more easily than the staff
Thursday in Blenhiem was a chilly start with the hills having there first dusting of snow, pretty but enough to make me duck back into the motel to find my jacket. I did two sessions here – the first was a favour – a handful of the best free or open source tools for education. There are some brilliant ones out there like:
- Shape collage
- Open Office
- Microsoft’s photostory
- The Gimp
- The rasterbator
- Read Please 2003
The second session was a small group talking about web 2.0 and the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of this amazing array of tools. This is were digital citizenship came through again, there is a need for direction and discussion on this whole aspect of education.
With some much of what we teach, irrelevant or obsolete by the time our students leave school, the most important aspects of teaching (in my opinion) is learning how to learn, develop a passion for learning, building an ethical base to make decisions on, thinking skills and values.
It was great to catch up with Mike, Rajen, Amanda, Mildie, Rachael and Suzie. And it would have been nice to say hi to Warren but he was a little busy.