iCTLT 2010 Day 2
This morning's keynote speaker, Jenny Lewis, reminded us that our students' success depends on a whole-school commitment to producing an end-product that is contextually relevant to market needs. Make 'em employable, then they can carve out whatever future they want for themselves. Towards this end, she showed us impressive stats and studies that made it painfully clear that student performance can be consistently tracked and measured against a standard benchmark in order to identify which kids require what forms of intervention when. Technology applied with bottom-line in mind.
Other factors of school success is teacher quality, not just across the board but also in maintaining an atmosphere of openness and a sense of mission such that teachers freely collaborate with each other within and across departments and levels because everyone has an interest in the total learning potential of every child, rather than keep the learning experience into subject-specific
That makes sense. Often there's the tendency to protect the subject or department without considering the kids' total development. Homework, remedials, assessments and research are all imposed on the kids by subject. Hence, every subject competes for the kids' time, effort and concentration. We make the kids prioritize between one subject or another, and there's probably a spiralling cycle of guilt when a choice is made. That choice is usually on the basis on which teacher the kid likes the most or which teacher has the loudest shouting voice or is the most creative (or ruthless) in meting out punishment. That's not really a good way to develop a well-rounded student, but it happens all too often.
Thus, a whole-school approach can be a very simple exercise of having all the different subjects coordinate the kids' workload evenly so that five assignments, two tests, several tutorials and a lab assessment don't all collide on the same week for them. The sooner we teachers stop competing against each other, the sooner we can have saner kids. Well, maybe easier said than done.
Lewis is also a firm believer in Authoritative pedagogies underlying all teaching and learning activities: school-wide, and personal. Um, 'k.
David Warlick's back to discuss personal learning networks. What I learned wasn't so much about how those are supposed to work for the kids but rather the mistakes I have been making as a blogger. Although I keep reminding my kids that essays are mostly commentaries on other people's essays and little else, I realise I'm not following my own advice. Blogs are little more than commentaries on other people's blogs. They are meant to contribute to an extended conversation that's going on in the blogosphere, but because I don't like butting in on other people's conversations my blog's been feeling like the lone voice in the wilderness. Long-winded one at that. So, time to go see what other people are writing about. I'm sure there are nice people out there. Yes.
Finally, Terry Freedman broached a topic that I'd so taken for granted that I didn't even realise was a topic of discussion: Reputation Management on the Internet. But he's right. I admit I've been releasing all kinds of skeletons from my closet and letting them collaborate freely all over cyberspace. I'm sure they'll all come back and haunt me again someday. But if savvy ol' me could be so careless with his rep online, the kids really need to be guided in this area or exam results might just be the least of their worries.
Unfortunately, I didn't stay for the final keynote speaker. I sensed dark clouds brewing on the horizon, and sure enough, there was trouble on the homefront. Not ready to release this skeleton into cyberspace yet. Some conversations are really not for public consumption.
Anyway, biggest takeaway for me from iCLT 2010: Whatever else you do with technology in education, please collaborate, socialize, share, converse. That's learning in the 21st Century.