e-learning

Tom Pullar-Strecker reports at Stuff:

Children’s brains may be developing differently as a result of exposure to digital technology, with profound implications for the education system, says the prime minister’s chief scientific adviser, Sir Peter Gluckman.

Sir Peter made the claim to Parliament’s science and education committee, which in May kicked off an unprecedented inquiry into “21st century learning and digital literacy”, examining in particular how schools may need to change in the wake of the Government’s $1.5 billion investment in ultrafast broadband.

The inquiry has pitched progressives, who want to see teachers quickly evolve into tech-savvy new-age knowledge brokers, against conservatives, who worry about the practicalities and believe there remains a big role for traditionally delivered classroom teaching.

There is of course a role for traditional delivery of teaching, but make no mistake we are on the cusp of a revolution.

“Anyone who has seen a two-year-old playing around with an iPad knows what I am talking about. The digital world is leading to different ways in which the brain develops, different environments in which we learn . . . and it does seem to be having impacts on cognitive, social and emotional development.” …

But what was evident was that the human race was going through a “radical change” in the way it communicated and achieved knowledge, he said.

“Whereas 20 years ago it was unequivocal [that] parents and teachers were the sources of information, now much information is obtained from the web or other digital media and the teacher’s role is becoming one of helping students interpret what is likely to be reliable or unreliable information.”

I think that is key – teachers are becoming guides, or should be.

The same football is being kicked around in different ways by many of the 90 submitters to the Parliamentary inquiry. Margot McKeegan, learning adviser for the Greater Christchurch Schools Network, which is promoting collaboration between 100 schools in the city, told the committee that she did not believe teachers should be registered unless they had demonstrated they were capable of working in an “ environment”.

That is a real issue. A teacher who can not do e-learning will struggle in effectiveness.

ECONOMIC Development Minister Steven Joyce signalled the Government had a strong appetite for reform in a speech to InternetNZ NetHui in June.

E-education would be “quite disruptive” and would turn on its head the concept of teaching and learning, changing the dynamics between educators and pupils, he said. “For those that embrace it, it is something that is going to be wonderful for people to be part of.”

Yep, the potential is huge.  Two year olds using tablets, five year olds on laptops – digital natives.

The Government will next year begin rolling out the Network for Learning, a $300 million to $400 million “closed” network running over the ultrafast broadband network that will provide secure access to online resources and internet access for schools on centrally-negotiated terms.

The initiative appears to have attracted widespread support, including from the PPTA, which said it was a “reasonable compromise” in tackling the problem that the education system had become “devolved and divided”.

I’m going to be very interested in the details of this, as they are developed. The concept sounds good, but what exactly it will be is not quite clear.

Albany High School turned heads in the information technology industry when it opened in 2009 by eschewing Microsoft software and deciding to use only free open-source software, for example.

That meant the school could then encourage pupils to bring their computers to school, freeing up their own resources to buy computers for those who could not afford them, Mr Osborne said. “Proprietary” software, on the other hand, could not be installed on students’ computers without breaching suppliers’ licensing conditions, he said.

Yep.

Mr Osborne said only Albany High School and two other schools had adopted “creative commons” licensing policies that allowed teachers to share online resources they had developed with other schools, without having first to seek the approval of their boards. Other schools had “all rights reserved on teaching and learning resources”.

Creative commons is perfect for educational resources.  There is so much out there.

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