For the first time, every school in the world has an opportunity to place themselves amongst the highest achieving academies. The very best online education resources are often completely free, meaning that every student on the planet can have the same opportunities as the next. Cloud services like Edmodo or Google Apps For Education are so powerful that, to not align oneself with such resources, and to not expose students to these tools, is considered by many to be reckless. Every principal and every teacher is limited only by their imagination. Technology prices continue to fall each year; I believe that a school in remote Africa has every chance of producing some of tomorrow’s greatest minds as a school in a first world country does. Only the constraints of a stable internet connection hold some back, but in the coming years this will no longer be a factor.
Education: A global challenge, which can be fixed through collaboration.
I work at an independent Catholic school, and although many strategic decisions may appear independent, I have learned that the pathways taken have been chosen largely via deep consultation with a local and global education community.
Our early message was similar to other schools at the beginning of their technology journey: ‘24/7 learning, any where...any time.’
Opinions now are a little different. Mobile devices allow for personalised and self-directed learning. Students have the opportunity to learn when and how they like. Today’s students have an appetite for digital expression and they want to be connected. Modern teaching should accommodate and capture this curiosity.
Mirroring the attitudes of all staff, technology has become so ubiquitous that our modern classrooms and digitally driven curriculums are not considered unique or important. The focus is squarely on diverse learning opportunities and personalised learning. These processes are effortlessly enhanced with iPads, but it is not forced.
Last February I wrote about where we had come to in 2013 and what our plans were for 2014. We had some significant challenges, particularly with our network connection speeds, which we overcame, and 2014 has seen a significant shift of attention from a leadership perspective.
We still face technical problems, but in this field we have established a sound infrastructure. So I find myself working closer with pedagogy experts in an effort to transform some components of teacher practice.
Here I find a two-pronged challenge. First, what does transformative teaching look like? And second, how should one address a teacher, who may have been teaching for decades, and suggest they consider using new technologies such as Twitter?
The shifting shape of TPaCK
For many years I have been referencing the TPaCK model. It illustrates perfectly the necessity of three main ingredients which combine to make a well rounded teacher. Technology, Pedagogy and Content Knowledge.
I have often found myself dwelling on the T component. However it is becoming clear to me and my colleagues, that this venn diagram is merging ever tighter each year. Eventually we should see the T component disappear completely, as the P component expands to encompass it.
My mother retired from teaching just last year; five years before her retirement she was instructed to use an interactive white board. Needless to say she responded with words to the effect of; "My students constantly achieve the best grades in the school, I am not prepared to change my teaching to justify your overspend on new equipment."
With the use of IWBs declining, you could argue that my mother was wholly right in refusing to integrate this tool into her teaching. But IWB's have had their role to play in the classroom, just as overhead projectors have. A teacher needs to be adaptable and willing to move with the times, because classroom tools will continue to change, just as our student's needs change.
At my school we pride ourselves on building a community. We support each other and ultimately we listen to each other. Professional learning for staff should be the same. Teaching is a highly respected career choice, pedagogy is something unique to each teacher and I believe that through respect of this, you can begin to implement positive change from the roots up, even on a global scale.