Reflections on ‘Schools and Schooling in the Digital Age’

On the 15th March, hosted by the Learning and New Media Group, Faculty of Education, Monash University, Neil Selwyn from the London Knowledge Lab presented a public lecture called ‘Schools and Schooling in the Digital Age’. He started with the premise that, as Ed tech researchers, we need to be concerned with the ‘State of the Actual’ rather than the ‘State of the Art’, implying that only by grounding our research in practice, can we progress the field forward. He outlined four ‘futures’ for schooling:

1. Isolate schools from the technological demands of society, thereby creating ‘fortress schools’ which continue to operate along the lines of 20th century schooling as we know it.

2. Use digital technologies to replicate schools in other forms eg. virtual schools, the Khan Academy etc

3. Use digital technologies to reconstruct schools around web 2.0 technologies and ’21st Century skills’

4. Use digital technology to replace schools as we know them eg the school of everything in the UK.

He believes that all of these ideas deserve serious consideration from academics, policy makers and practitioners, and that we also need to consider who in society wins or loses in each scenario. The student voice should also be considered, he says,  and any approach should be evaluated for sustainability across the teaching workforce. He finished by calling for a ‘champion’ to lead the way forward and to involve the ‘disinterested masses’, pondering whether we need a Jamie Oliver for the Ed Tech field!

So what do you think? What is the best way forward for schools of the future?

~Kath Holmes

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A work in progress: Critical Perspectives on Learning and New Media

On Fri 23rd March members of the NuLearn group participated in the inaugural Learning and New Media Conference ‘Critical Perspectives on Learning and New Media‘ hosted by the Monash university based Learning and New Media Research Group.

It was a very full day which started with a provocation paper by Dr Neil Selwyn of the London Knowledge Lab. Neil’s piece was essentially a call to improve the quality of research being done in the area of educational technology, and a list of principles addressing his previously expressed ideas about the gaps in the field.

What followed was 15 presentations which provided details of the various ways in which researchers around the country are generating research in educational technology that is critical, context rich, theoretical and reflective. The volume of presentations covered in the day meant that there was a lot to absorb in a short of period of time, and I’ve come away inspired to further develop my work in this area. It was encouraging to hear the interesting work going on in what Selwyn cheekily described as a ‘mongrel field’.

We look forward to the developments and collaborations that arise from the bringing together of scholars who are committed to critical research in this area.

~ Rachel Buchanan

Teaching Teachers for the Future (TTF) conference update

On March 15/16 we held the final meeting of the TTF National Support Network in Sydney. The project uses the TPACK framework as a guide for thinking about the type of knowledge that pre-service teachers will need in order to teach using new technologies in the future. The creators of the framework, Punya Mishra and Matt Koehler from Michigan State University, attended the conference on both days (against my better judgement, there is a photo of myself with the guys below – not sure what we were laughing about). They gave an inspiring keynote on the first day and on the second day, they helped the participants to develop short and long term plans for moving the project forward. Unfortunately funding for the project is coming to an end very soon and so we will need to be creative if we are to continue to make progress in transforming our teacher education programs.

At the conference we also heard the results of the National pre and post surveys of pre-service teachers, conducted as part of the TTF project. Although there was only 5 months between the two surveys, there was a significant difference found in the confidence of the participants to use technology when teaching, however, no significant difference was found in the student perceptions of the usefulness of technology for teaching (possibly because they generally scored high on the usefulness items in the pre-survey).  This was encouraging as it could mean that the changes to methods courses may have had the desired effect.  We are waiting to get our individual uni results so that we can see if we followed the same pattern of improvement.

~ Kath Holmes

Schools and Schooling in the digital Age

What future is there for schools and schooling in the digital age? Do digital technologies herald the end of the ‘industrial-era’ institution of the school altogether? Alternatively, should schools be analogue ‘fortresses’ that offer respite from our otherwise technology-saturated lives?

Intrigued? This the title and extract from the abstract of a public lecture being given by Neil Selwyn of the London Knowledge Lab. The lecture will take place in Melbourne tomorrow evening. It’s being hosted by the Learning and New Media Group, Faculty of Education, Monash University. If you are interested in attending further details can be found here: http://www.education.monash.edu.au/events/neil-selwyn-public-lecture.html

~ Rachel Buchanan

Teaching Teachers for the Future

Thursday and Friday of this week marks the final get-together for all of us involved in the Teaching Teachers for the Future project. For the past year, all 39 teacher education institutions in Australia have been working on creative ways to ensure that the teachers of the future are well-prepared to teach with new and evolving technologies. At the University of Newcastle we have focused on our primary History and secondary Mathematics courses. The project has been based on the TPACK framework as a foundation for all activities. Punya Mishra and Matthew Koehler will give a keynote on each day of the conference. More details will be posted soon, but in the meantime you can follow the action live on Twitter  #TTF_NSN

~ Kath Holmes