I’ve called this presentation bringing our classrooms and in that vein I hope that you’ll join the conversation via twitter. My username is @traintheteacher and I’ll be putting out links I’ve talked about on twitter using the hashtag #soccon13. I’m happy to answer
questions here or online.
Last weekend I had one of those meltdowns into misery we all have when we are in the middle of a creative project and it’s not going so well. Rather than write my speech, I found myself trawling around looking around at classrooms of the future and found some really interesting images.
The first was from a set of postcards by a French artist called Villemard. He produced a whole set of postcards, which you can find on Flickr by the way, and these postcards look at what Paris might look like in the year 2000 from way back in 1911.
What do you notice about the image?
So what I thought was really interesting was that Villemard was actually on the money as far as technology goes right. You’ve got the teacher feeding books into a machine which kids can listen to – that’s in essence podcasting right? And you know its fantastic except if you happen to be the kid in the corner having to make the machine work.
Lets move forward 50 years.
This is next image is from a comic strip from the 1950s called ‘closer
than we think.’ What do you notice?
Yep you’ve got the teacher up on the big screen disseminating
knowledge. It’s that flipped learning we’ve heard so much about right.
But I think is interesting is that there is also that culture of
surveillance. Through the little cameras you can see poking through
the desks, which are there for the teacher to keep an eye on their
What is really amazing in these images is that they imagine these
amazing technological changes without stopping to think about the
changes that technology brings to culture.
Those social inequities from Villemard’s turn of the 20th century are still there – the child in the corner cranking the machine. Learning isn’t so much for him. Where are the girls?
Our all powerful-teacher from the 1950s – the era of mass production this art work was seen as way to staff the schools of the baby boomers during a time of teacher shortage.
These scenes get the technology right but don’t stop to ponder what changes technology might bring to classroom culture. Our teachers are still all powerful and all knowing. Our students are still passive recipients of knowledge.
I’m going to argue to that using technology in the classroom isn’t just about “oh hey we used to do it this way and now we do it on but rather that technology is fundamentally changing how we understand ourselves, who we are, how we function in this culture.
It’s scary right – We have seen the enemy and it is us.
When we talk about wanting our students to be more engaged and learn more that in fact it might be teachers sometimes are in the ones standing in the way.
Because that might mean we need to change, how we learn, how we engage how we get along in this culture.
Or are we content for a few people to get ahead as long as our little patch is protected?
I don’t think that’s case.
I don’t think there are teachers going ‘hey that globalization unit I taught 5 years ago still has some good stuff in it…’ and then foist yesterday’s learning off on today’s students.
But nevertheless are we really has the culture of learning changed that much in our schools?
Are teachers using the connections both real and online to create learning opportunities for students that were unimaginable even five years ago?
I taught English in the Republic of Korea for a number of years. Being a good daughter I would send home emails and photos and found that the task was a lot easier on a blog.
I initially used the internet as way to keep connected with the people I loved back home. But slowly but surely I started to build up a following of people and over the last 10 years I probably have more friends that I’ve only met online than I do in real life these days.
Truly a friend is really just someone you haven’t followed on twitter yet.
I think that brings up an interesting point – in a globalized society many classrooms have students with family members overseas. I’ve been astounded out how many family member’s we’ve had checking in our blog to keep those connections going across borders.
At that very basic level technology can change that classic question –what did you do at school into something very different. For the kids whose first Facebook appearance may very well been in utero technology is already changing the way they communicate.
I love this photo my nephew Max, he was 18 months when he took this picture on my iPad. He might have only just learned how to walk and a few one-word utterances, but he’s already learned how to unlock phone
and take a selfie.
What kind of disruption are kids like Max going to make?
Do we just give each kid and iPad and stand back and watch? Well no. I think perhaps one of the biggest mistakes in technology in the classrooms is that we don’t stop to ponder who do we change our learning culture?
At one of the spectrum you’ve got substitution. Where technology is used to do the same things we’ve always done just on a computer. We see this in primary schools where instead of kids writing their finished stories on refill they now get to type them up on word processor.
Modification is where the tool is being used but there have been some improvements. For a lot of kids this might mean a spell check or
perhaps having the teacher add comments via a google doc. But again
the task is still the same.
Augmentation enables a significant redesign in the task itself. Audio as well as static and moving images are used as legitimate forms of communication alongside the written word. And this communication
Technology enables a redefinition of the task themselves. Thinking of my own class where one of our quadblogging classes made a lovely quiz about my school. My students quickly picked up some factual errors. Then came questions, how do we tell our buddies about this? Why would our buddies think our school has a pool when we don’t? It’s that unintended learning that happens when two classes from other cities come together that redefines tasks.
When we stop and think about the tools that our students carry around with them even fairly rudimentary technology it’s mind blowing.
Our students have access to the kind of production facilities that were only available to professions just a generation ago.
Our students carry around with them recording studios that have access to ears around the planet.
Our students carry around with them movie production facilities that can reach more screens than ever before than in the history of humanity.
Our students carry around with them printing presses that allow them to communicate with people across the world.
So that’s what they do.
Let me give you an example.
Let’s talk photographs. This information I’m going to feed you is really old, it’s from 2 two years ago so it’s completely wrong.
The Alexandar Turnbull library has New Zealand’s richest collection of photograph images.
If this square represents the 140,000 images held by the Alexander Turnbill library
This square is its relationship to that to all the photos on Instagram.
And if this square represents all the photos on Instagram this its relationship to all the photos on Flickr.
And if this square represents all the photos on Flickr this square represents its relationship to all the photos on Facebook.
As of 2 years ago there 140,000,000 photos on Facebook. We upload more pictures to Facebook in 2 two minutes that the whole of humanity did in the 1800s.
Our students do this with technology that fits in their hands.
Except for one place.
How many New Zealand kids are told to put their phones away because they disrupt classroom learning?
How many schools routinely block social media?
How many teachers think that this is internet thing is yet another education fad and it will be business as usual?
Our students carry with them more information than we’ve ever had in the history of humanity and we tell them to leave it in their bags.
We’ve met the enemy and it is us.
Anyone heard of this girl up on screen? She could probably be a kid in any school in New Zealand right?
Martha set up a blog last year called Never Seconds that reviewed the school dinners. There was a photo of the dish, how many mouthfuls each dinner had and a quick review of the taste of the meal. Nothing
earth-shattering and the tone was respectful.
The blog hit the media and then the local authority in charge of this particular school did the worst thing you can possibly do to a 10 year-old blogging about school lunches.
They asked her to shut it down.
Can anyone guess what the result was?
Yep by calling Martha into the heads office and asking her to stop taking pictures of her school lunch the blog quickly went viral.
All of a sudden a 10 year old was trending on twitter. People were quite rightly outraged at the thought of censorship. Eventually the school relented. Martha’s published a book and has used her new-found
fame to raise funds for a charity supplying lunches in Malawai.
Really important thing now that popular culture isn’t just this one way street anymore people. Kids can publish, photograph and video the worlds to the world.
Are we going to like what they say?
Does it even matter?
After all aren’t like 60% of the pictures on Facebook just of people’s cats.
Case in point.
Gangnam style. The song has been viewed 1.734 billion times on you tube making it more popular than Justin Beiber. But the thing is that we didn’t just listen to the music we participated.
Who could have written this script during the Cold War – hundreds of people in Moscow would be dancing to song made famous by South Korean and then publish their work to an American company.
Of course behind the goofiness of millions of people doing the horse dance can be a serious message.
This video was put up by a group of Shirley high boys protesting their school’s proposed merger with Christchurch boys high. The students were using this remix culture as vehicle for social expression.
I’ll give you another example of this two-way participation.
This year my syndicate went to see the documentary I am Eleven. What was fantastic was that the reason I had heard of the movie was actually through a teacher blog. By chance I looked up the video and it was
showing in Wellington. So off we went.
At the screening the film festival the director found out we were coming via twitter and asked for a photo of the kids enjoying the screening.
Which led to a Skype interview with the students before they went out and filmed their own documentaries.
See what I’ve been trying to illustrate is that the internet isn’t that. But the true power of the internet is really about bringing our classrooms into the world.
Last year the education and Science select committee held an inquiry into e-learning and modern learning environments. Since the school-wide topic was citizenship I asked my class if they would be interested in making a submission on learning
There were questions. What’s a submission, what’s a select committee, Can kids do this? Will we get arrested?
But eventually the kids pulled together a submission. Each group wrote and then filmed a section of the report. Which we filmed on iPod touches. However it was important that the kids had a broad audience
as possible. so the video got uploaded to youtube.
The question then was, well how do we make sure the committee sees the movie so we used the class twitter account and got in touch with the MPs via twitter. The response was amazing, 2 hours later the chairwoman of the committee Nikki Kaye had responded. This two way communication was almost instantaneous.
But really our story didn’t end there. Being based in Wellington, parliament was only a train trip away, the class decided to send along their representatives to parliament to give a submission.
It was equally exhilarating and terrifying as a teacher to have your 12 year old students sitting in front of dozen MPs, the media and packed select committee room telling their stories.
The kids were amazing but they had a lot of help along the way. They Skyped a class at Point England school in Auckland talk about their 1:1 programme, they visited Amesbury school,the first new build in Wellington in a generation to look at modern learning environments. I also put out a call for help on twitter I managed to get Mark Unsworth, one of Wellingtons most prominent lobbyists, to sit with the kids for as session.
For the kids to make a success, they needed to learn from people. What is like in 1:1 classroom? What is a modern learning environment? What is like spending time in front of select committee. I couldn’t tell them answer but I could put them in front of people. In the process they, tweaked their ideas, learned about project such a success.
What I’m getting at is technology is a mindset. The idea for the submission this came from a sign in Wellington. If it looks like a child designed the sign, you would be correct. A class of Year 1/2 kids
went on a trip around their local community and noticed their sign didn’t look very nice. They designed a new one and lobbied Wellington’s City Council for change.
So what’s at the centre of this culture?
Is it students, teachers, money, technology, the economy. Hekia Parata would say it is NCEA level 2.
Because what we put at the centre changes the shape of those concentric circles.
What makes technology in Social Science so fantastic is that enablesconnections to become a whole lot easier. That whole gap between the real world and school becomes a whole lot smaller. Our kids don’t need to study dumbed down problems, they can get their teeth into meaty problem and make change whether it be a city sign or getting lunches into schools.
So my challenge to you today is this:
What problems are there in your community that students can solve?
What issues can they speak up on?
The internet gives our students not just the ability to listen to others but also to speak up.
Because let them use crayons is the 21st century version of children should be seen but not heard.