Tuesday, July 19, 2005
Words of Wisdom
More from the Conference
In the words of the Ulearn05 Conference convener the organizers wanted to inspire members with ideas that were ‘both thrillingly futuristic and solidly grounded.’
This they achieved.
Michael Furdyk opened the conference. At 23 he has made full use of a love for computer technology to become a millionaire but one whose overriding goal is help other people realize their dreams. He was an ideal person to represent the ‘net generation’ and shared exciting ideas for members to motivate, inspire and engage students.
The ‘net generation’ are those born since 1982! They care about global issues but Michael worried that, due to traditional education, this idealism waned at 15 or 16. Michael argued that learning ought to be a partnership; a partnership that resects students goals. Michael sees ICT as a tool and not a course and believes that the environment we create affects how we learn; and that interdisciplinary learning should be linked to real life challenges through projects.
He challenged teachers to support ambitious students and that teachers ought to be concerned with what kids care about and help them become experts in their areas of interest. Teachers need to be seen as mentors, or learning coaches, who really care for their students.
The future will be the first revolution led by the young; digital kids are changing the world; they are the ‘yes generation’!
Michael concluded his keynote by outlining an exciting ‘co –created learning experience’ based on students researching, developing and producing their own film for a school film festival as a demonstration of ICT being used as an expressive powerful learning tool.
Check out more about Michael, and join him in his quest to improve our world through young people taking action, by visiting his site.
Ian Jukes continued the transformational theme. Ian believes that through the use of information technology children’s minds are fundamentally different from those born before the information revolution. Students today have grown up in a ‘global and digital networked landscape’- and as such they are ‘digital natives’.In contrast most of us are ‘digital immigrants’ who struggle with the pace of technological change that the younger students take for granted.
The development of communication technology has implications for education particularly as many students are locked into school structures with their genesis in an industrial age along with teachers with their industrial aged mindsets. Most teachers, according to Ian, have NFI ('no frigging idea') about the implications of the changes and suffer from TPP ('terminal paradigm paralysis').
Change is no longer predictable, or linear, but explodes exponentially and Ian illustrated this phenomenal growth by outlining the fantastic development of computer power and affordability over the last decade.
You can read Ian’s presentation on his site.
For all the ‘high tech’ developments Ian believes the real issue is one of ‘headwear’ or ‘software for the brain’. The real learning for teachers, he stated, was ‘between the ears’ as education can now be gained ‘anywhere anytime’. The future is about ‘high tech, high touch and high teach’.
Learning, he stated strongly should drive technology. Technology is a tool , a powerful tool but a tool none the less!
Ian’ workshop, expanding on ideas introduced earlier by Michael, emphasized the role of the teacher as a mentor or ‘learning coach’. For learning to occur tasks must ‘connect’ with the students interests, experiences and cultures; student’s prior ideas must be valued; and learning must be repeated until it is ‘fixed’. Ian compared learning with all the practice involved in learning to drive a car.
Students, he continued, need consistent feedback and focused specific suggestions and reinforcement to improve their work. Learning needs to be both relevant and rigorous; be ‘just in time rather than just in case’; must honour traditional literacy’s; and above all, everything a teacher does, must contribute to students becoming autonomous learners.
Ian believes that, if as teachers we want to make a difference, the single most important thing for schools to do is to ‘acknowledge what is currently not working and stop doing it!’
Inspirational stuff – ‘thrillingly futuristic and solidly grounded’.