A 15% shift in thinking

I have spent two days at the IWBnet Masterclass conference in Brighton and have been challenged in my understanding of education. Keynote speaker Ian Jukes began yesterday speaking about the concept of disruptive innovation. In this digital age, exponential advances in technology have forced a change in the way we do everything.  As educators, we must understand who we are teaching and what they are exposed to outside their life at school. In my short time at Joeys, I have seen a staff team that knows the boys well and are dedicated to their work.

The nature of the curriculum means our teaching must often be content based, as opposed to competence based. Our boys are far too often interested in being handed information, memorising it for an assessment task in the hope of a successful mark and moving on to the next task. Ian’s wife Nicki made reference to a study illustrating the stark difference between the two. Two groups of students were taught the same information.  One group approached the topic using a concept and memory based approach; the other group focused on competency. the results were interesting.  The assessment at the end of the unit yielded almost identical results. However, when retested one year later, the content based group had a recall of 15%, compared to a 60% recall of the competence group.  By focusing on the content with little interest in thinking critically, our boys will remember fifteen percent of what we teach then, and that is assuming they understand and memorise all of the content now.

How does this impact us? When our students want to memorise a set of concepts of an assessment task, they are doing themselves a great injustice. This information suggests that a year later they will remember only a small portion of what they have learnt.  The challenge for us to consider is how we can encourage our boys to be competent, developing skills in creativity and analysis rather than memory.  The sheer amount of content and various time constraints means default he default mode is content based.  It will take a great deal of maturity from the boys and initiative from staff to cause a shift in thinking.  Yesterday, all at the conference were challenged to make a change of 15%. Fifteen percent of our teaching time devoted to competency based activities where students must actively participate in their learning, not just receiving information. Immediate, large scale changes are not realistic, but regular, incremental adjustments will hopefully have a significant impact.

Benjamin Peacock.

Masterclass 2013 – It’s about Learning

The term 21st Century Learning is bandied about to the extent that we as teachers either view it as a catch phrase that we can pin a multitude of  beneficial approaches to learning or in many cases attach the evils of what is going wrong in our laptop programs. It is time we get over that term, we are after all already 13 years into the century, and really start engaging in what the term and others like it (contemporary learning ) is really challenging teachers to do.

During the keynote speaker at this year’s Masterclass, there was a quote by researcher David Warlick that struck a particular chord with me.

“No generation in history has ever been so thoroughly prepared for the industrial age.” It is so true – every level of government in Australia is asking us to test many times in meaningless ways (as one presenter pointed out – an airline pilot is not required to do a multiple choice test – well at least I hope not), we still have classrooms set up in rows, students ask me continuously to just write the information on the board as that is how they learn best! Is it!!!  REALLY!!! or is it that this is how they perceive they learn best – are they learning, are they thinking from this type of instruction. Why do joeys boys feel such a pressure to get the right answer from the teacher and then feed it back to me in a variety of tasks – often not requiring a lot of analysis, thought or creativity. External exam, an unwillingness to go out on a limb and think for themselves, its safe (at the moment), they know they can achieve great grades this way but are we preparing them for life and employment beyond joeys.

Yet I go to conferences, I read a lot and most of what I read says that we should be fostering a love of learning (let’s face it as Lisa Simpson said in one episode  – why should I study when I can find the answer on Google in 6seconds) . There’s a gap here and one that frightens me a lot. Ian Jukes from the Fluency project ( http://fluency21.com/ ) threw down the gauntlet to change not for change sake but as an economic imperative. Think of the jobs going from Holden, Factories whole stream of blue collar jobs disappearing. now is it is the turn of the more white collar jobs – tax returns, routine medical scans are all being outsourced to foreign lands. He mentioned a site that Odesk ( https://www.odesk.com)  Where you can hire administrative support, web developers, creative artists, writers, translators and the list goes on. Post a job and you have hundreds of applicants in 30 minutes. Even the potential of 3 D printer means that the worlds leading surgeons can now be brought in to consult into any hospital in the world. Science fiction? – NO It’s Happening. With Odesk you can pay the perosn through the system, montior their workflow (so you KNOW they are doing the work etc).

Wonderful Opportunities but also so very very challenging for our economies, our students in the not too distant future.

Does this mean we give up explicit instruction – NO, does this mean that we do away with the teacher as central to the learnign process NO. but it MUST have implications on the way we teach and it is time we all think about what learning needs to take place, how we enrich the learnign experience, what are the values of a life long learner that we need to impart and empower our students so that they too can be part of the solution that the changes in society is currently throwing us.


One Note and Evernote

Another session I attended was on the organization and sharing of information using tools such as One Note and Evernote. We’ve had PD on One Note and it looks attractive but I haven’t used it to any great extent. This presentation showed what a One Note devotee can achieve and it looks pretty impressive. I have just started using Evernote to allow smooth transfer and synchronizing of tasks between my ipad, android phone and laptop and it’s quite seamless. For example, the notes for this blog have been compiled on my phone and ipad and macbook, depending on what was at hand and it just feels like I have been working on the one document…. Useful and usable

Google docs, Google sites and Google Apps

 I went to three presentations looking at cloud-based solutions for creating, sharing and storing documents. The first was an extended commercial from Scott McKenzie of Cloud Logic Australia. Looks attractive and could deliver a reliable platform for student work and staff collaboration if you embraced it fully. Is this the way of the future? Could well be. The other two sessions were with the ICT guys from PLC Burwood. They have taken PLC along the Google path and report a relatively positive experience after one year of operation. This could change the way you work and might even change the way you think. Talk to me over coffee sometime.

Risk management and ICT, Michael Hough

This was pretty- much risk management 101 for teachers (identifying risks, assessing likelihood of occurrence and severity of consequences and then prioritizing control measures)

The emphasis was less on student safety than on the risks associated with not covering the syllabus adequately and not achieving appropriate standards of achievement 
The guts of the presentation was about having clear documentation (an audit trail) identifying: 
What item must be taught
What level of achievement is acceptable?
How can we justify our choices?
How did we set standards of achievement
How did we measure learning achievement?

Augmented reality and QR codes

This presentation was from Greg Gebhart from IT Vision

He kicked off with some clever uses of QR codes, but quickly moved on to a topic that really brings out the geek in me: augmented reality (I am sure that there is a cyborg in all of us just waiting to be booted up!… or is it just me?)
For the QR stuff, just google “QR codes in education” and you will get a taste of the possibilities 
Greg showed use of the Layar augmented reality app –
Take a look at the Ray Ban sunnies application of VR and you can get the idea. http://www.ray-ban.com/australia/science/virtual-mirror
Also looked at 

Ar crossair

Smartgrid  digital hologram
to get the idea
Incidental things to check out that came from this talk were:
Sites to generate shortened web links 

Bitly URL shortened

Common craft website for tech explanations http://www.commoncraft.com/
Wiki tube

Keynote 2 video conferencing, Jan Zenetis, Cisco

This Keynote on video conferencing was a bit of a Cisco commercial but it included an interesting case study on Video conferencing activities and facilities at PLC.

This presentation showed various examples of the use of video conferencing including:
Virtual excursions
Collaborative projects
Professional development
Resources to look at:
Centre for interactive learning and collaboration CILC
CLX connected learning exchange 
Interesting possibilities, particularly for Science, HSIE, PDHPE and TAS

Ian Jukes: The 21st Century Fluency Project – Knowlegde Retention

Again ideas from Ian Jukes:
Every time I discuss the effective use of ICT in the digital classroom with someone, I try to convey the gut feeling and passion that I KNOW it makes a difference, I know it excites, enthuses the students, I know that it empowers them. But with the distracyive nature of the technology currently at Joeys, it is an converstaion that does not truly inspire.

There are two issues here – one is for the most part we are replacing the pen and paper with the computer. Other than the fact it saves trees and for those few organised students a much better way for them to function (not having to combine the two), THIS does not excite. What we need to do is create learning that is different. This is starting to happen – the boys in Economics and Business Studies who are creating online business websites or the recent integrated study between RE, Science and Mathematics where students achieved way beyond expectation by creating a wide range of artefacts from iphone apps, websites, prezi presentations, brochures and much more ( most of them several items for the ONE project.)

Now to the key – did they enjoy the activites YES, were they engaged YES, will it change their final test grade compared to those students who learned in a more traditional way – well according to Ian Jukes Probably NOT. BUT here is the key. A study done in the USA between 2000 kids (1000 –  traditional learning control group and 1000 doing inquiry based learning)  showed that yes in fact for the test immediately after the learning the score results did not change much, but, one year later they were tested again and the retention rate of the content was 15% for the first  group (traditional learning) while the other inquiry learning group retained 70% of the content.

This new group also learnt social skills of collaboration, higher order thinking skills, increased their digital literacy and were engaged.

To me, there is really no question as to which one we should choose…

Ian Jukes: The 21st Century Fluency Project

At this conference, hearing more about the Fluency project has been one of the gems for me. Ian Jukes has presented several sessions all inspiring and challenging. The session yesterday was “Literacy is not enough” He explored the idea that in the digital world it is vital that students become fluent not just literate. The best way to to think about it is in relation to languages – if you are literate you can read the language and cope well in the foreign language environment but being fluent in that language is a completely different matter. We have to strive for students to be fluent – know all the protocals, netiquette, curators etc for them to be truly ready for the work environment.