Thursday, 18 April 2013

Week 1 #ocTEL - it's all very well but.....

Week 1 (2nd week) of ocTEL is focused on TEL Concepts and Approaches.
Using my usual filtering system, read the introduction and went to the 'if you only do one thing...' section.  There are five 'stories' about how technology has enhanced learning - the task is to look at two that interest you, decide which is most powerful and relevant to you.
The first one I looked at was
'How Sugata Mitra designed a physical and social environment around computers so that young children would self-organise and teach themselves new skills through peer interaction and ‘emergent learning’ – watch Mitra’s 2010 keynote'

This is what I wrote on my blog at the time from the ALT conference 2010.
The key note speech after lunch by Sugata Mitra was fantastic.  I have heard him speak before at the RSC Northern conference last year and it is really fascinating to see the videos of his 'experiments' with hole in then wall computers in India and other countries.  It is interesting yet disconcerting to see and hear about his work in schools in Gateshead as it is close to home.  It would be brilliant to instill that motivation and interest in all children and particularly in teenagers to strive to learn and for it to be cool to learn........

I can't remember why I was disconcerted at the time so decided to watch it again and see how I felt..
I think the reasons I had and have mixed feelings were because although it was different and extraordinary, it felt like an experiment. That the children will learn is to some extent predictable - they like finding out things, they are used to using computers, there was one each in the classroom in Gateshead. Once they've got the hang of the idea that this is a different context and they have freedom to do anything then they probably will - especially 10 year olds - they're at the ideal age to absorb stuff.
But does this motivation and willingness continue with teenagers? Sometimes, depends what they want to know, depends what they need to know, depends on the environment.
But my main thought is - hey, just a minute, we would all like to teach and indeed learn in a free and exploratory environment where you could learn what you want and spend hours learning about what you love, to find out interesting stuff.  With no rules, with 'cheating', with no time restraints but it's not like that. It's all very well advocating inspirational and disruptive methods but at the end of the day the current education system requires children to learn what is needed to gain the qualifications they need to be successful. So change the system, change the curriculum, take the pressure off teachers so that they can do their best and then let children have freedom to learn.

I meant to do more work on this this evening and spend time looking at the other videos and look at others comments - but no more time. That's the problem - i could spend hours doing online learning stuff but work and life intervene - fortunately :)

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