Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Recurring themes for schools involved with e-learning

Being involved in education hands-on is a very busy place to be! It is just amazing how quickly time flies. In my current role a lot of my learning has to happen 'just in time' - our PLD programme does not have set sessions that we prepare for and deliver, being always mindful of future focussed learning theories we are building the programmes around our learners' needs. This does not mean though that there isn't a certain amount of overlap between different schools. I would like to share some of the themes I seem to come across regularly:
  • Stock Take: Where are we at? What is our current location in regards to the initiative (in my case usually e-learning)?
  • Vision: Before starting on any new initiative, developing a vision is incredible important. Why are we doing this? Where are we heading? How will we know that we have gotten there? Who helps build that vision (ideally representation from all stakeholders)? Does everyone know and share the vision? It is really important to remember that there is a difference between the vision and the results of the vision, e.g. see Simon Sinek's TED Talk on the Golden Circle.
  • How will we put that vision into reality? Just like when we go on a physical journey, there are different routes we can take, influenced by where we are starting as well as the 'road conditions', the 'sight seeing' we want to do on the way - and sometimes we change our mind about our destination.
  • What we are actually doing will come out of the above, it is what effective teachers do in their class everyday. It includes any devices and programmes, the 'when is it the right time to use a device, and when do we put it away'.
Many, but not all schools are aware of 21C learning and the Future Focus Themes of Personalising Learning, Rethinking Learners' and Teachers' Roles, New Views of Equity and Diversity, New Kinds of Partnerships and Relationships, A Culture of Continuous Learning  for Teachers and Educational Leaders and A curriculum that uses knowledge to develop learning capacity. If you are interested in finding out more about this, you can find a summary in the Curriculum Update 26 and the full report here. If we want to cater for our learners and prepare them for their future, we cannot ignore such important research. How to fully integrate 21C learning and teaching into practise in all schools is the great challenge for all of us in education.

Often the adults I work with are concerned about their own confidence and competence in using devices, as well as how to incorporate these in their classes effectively. It is very interesting how students are a lot less worried about devices, they are 'just doing it' - not always completely effectively, but they are certainly not hindered by a 'fear of devices' unlike some of us adults. Claire Amos wrote a very interesting blogpost this week as part of their #hackyrclass initiative about Handing the Power over to the Learners. Claire identifies that true engagement is hindered by the teachers' need to maintain power and control in the classroom.

Out of the varied approaches schools are taking, some recurring themes have become apparent:

  • Use of technology to collaborate, share and create, within a group of learners (classroom / syndicate), across schools / clusters of schools and beyond. Many schools are using their websites and GAFE for this. 
  • Personalising learning with providing multiple means of engagement, action and expression, and representation (the 3 themes of Universal Design for Learning)
  • Integrating increasing number of devices into learning programmes effectively.

If you find that you or your school are in a similar position as these schools, how do you go forward?

  • Stocktake: You will find great resources around the e-Learning Planning Framework, a self-assessment tool for schools around e-capabilities here.
  • Vision: I strongly recommend you endeavour to involve representatives of all stakeholders into the school visioning process.You can find some interesting links and video to support your work around creating a vision here
  • Putting the vision into action: Both Enabling e-Learning and the Virtual Learning Network have an amazing array of ideas and resources that can help you put your vision into action. You can also find great support on Google Plus and on Twitter.
If you have any questions that you think I an help you with, please feel free to comment or contact me via email, twitter or Google+!

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