Recently I attended a conference day with Stile – Teaching Gen Tech http://blog.stileeducation.com/events/2015/5/1/stile-learning-community-conference
The organisers posed some questions. Below I have provided a few thoughts in response. I hope to have reflected attitudes of my teaching colleagues here to some extent.
1. What are some of the challenges your teachers are faced with in the classroom?
Student engagement, surface learning rather than deeper learning due to the demands of a crowded curriculum. Challenging students with authentic learning tasks is key.
Teachers feel the pressure of time especially. They are contending with a new Curriculum with all the demands that that brings regarding reinvention, construction of new programs etc.They are also finding increased exposure to parents via digital connection and expectations for immediate response. Teachers are also being asked to be more proactive in their formative assessments of students and in improving their own practice. Much of this is positive and works towards improving student outcomes, but on mass places teachers under increased pressure.
Certainly for Year 3 and 5 the narrow confines of NAPLAN testing creates a conflict with the idea of a rich engaging curriculum.
2. What’s the single most exciting thing happening in education right now?
The easy access and possibilities offered via technology in particular the open source – learning e.g. Moocs, iTunes U, eBooks, movies, Kahn Academy etc. and easy access to data / information e.g Google, Wikipedia, news outlets etc.
3. How have student expectations changed in the last five to ten years?
There is a sense of immediacy and an insatiable need for purposeful activity. Students can be more motivated than ever. Technology when teamed with authentic, challenging and exciting learning opportunities can be a catalyst for deep learning and student engagement. Ideas around project based learning, design thinking, challenge based learning can be powerful ways to engage and enable students.
4. How is technology improving learning at your school? Is it there yet? Where do you want to get to?
Technology is enabling individualisation and differentiated learning.
It is empowering teachers and students to do things differently and creating opportunities to do things that were difficult, impossible or even unimagined a few years ago.
Because of the easy access to (enabled) mobile devices in our classrooms the children are able to:
Record their learning easily and powerfully.
They can use applications to create. They have rich open ended applications such as iMovie, GarageBand, Explain Everything, Book Creator, Popplet, Comic Book, Puppet Pals and Pic Collage which can work alone or be teamed together to create rich workflows,
They can curate information, images and data. They can create surveys and graphs and reflect on the information and data.
They can communicate and collaborate within and beyond the local environment.
Teachers have tools such as Evernote to record learning of students.
They have Stile which enables easy delivery of content, media, and which can provide a canvas for student production. Stile has revolutionised our ability to easily track students, provide feedback and assessment. Where it has been used well it has revolutionised the student teacher interaction.
Our aim for technology is more about enabling teaching and learning than it is about the technology itself. We should always be seeking to do things better. There isn’t really an end point to our journey.
5. Could you give us an example of how you’re using Stile?
In our classrooms Stile is used to direct, inform, engage and challenge students. Stile is used across the curriculum and it has enabled students to easily deliver a diverse range of activities and assignments – a few examples are listed below.
Completing visible thinking strategies
Responding to teachers videos
Stile is enabling:
Receiving feedback written and oral
Working in groups to collaborate on tasks
Completing differentiated, individualised, personalised tasks
Gathering and reacting to formative assessment
Curation of student data