Waraku Education

Ideas, experiments and observations as they occur [and I have time] relating to teaching and learning in a secondary school - special focus on ICT.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Tux may have some friends after all

Tux may have some friends in spirit. Open content seems to be abundant here.

Free unencumbered learning
I am seeing lots of learning resources being developed by various levels of the education system, a lot funded by government and some produced by teachers for sharing. All of these resources are free for teachers and students to use and modify. Tux has a friend here.

The purpose of this government investment is to reduce the costs to families of private tuition. Families spend considerable amounts on private tuition and I suppose that this indicates some degree of failure of the public system. These resources are abundant and seem to be very good quality. It feels like students could possible achieve well just using these resources and not showing up to school. When this question was asked it was made very clear that school has a social role and the humanistic goals of education were once again reinforced from the day before.

Tests coming out of their ears
Not only are their learning resources developed at various levels but also test questions. Students are able to log onto sites and test their understanding of the curriculum and determine their areas of weakness. They can then use the various free resources to fix this and of course test themselves again. Korean children are taught how to do well in multi choice tests from an early age and most of the tests seem to be multi choice. On the second day we did see a place where students could write and essay on a given topic and select from a list the teacher they would like to assess it.

Essays are beginning to be used in tests to try and measure creativity. Improving creativity is a clear system goal for improvement. Essay topics are structured to include all subjects so that the student is forced to integrate their understanding of their subjects in some way. We were told that these essays were very very challenging and the fact that the education system was delivered in discrete subjects was not helpful for this.

Student help line
I have noted that students are able to ask questions online on various sites devloped at various levels of the education system. At some levels the people answering the questions are volunteer parents and teachers. At other levels the teachers are specifically employed to do this. Again these are resources that are available freely to all students.

Redundancy of resources and tests
Why have them all? So there is choice for the students.

What's in the bag to take home?
  1. The idea of one sector of a government school system to be producing resources that the other schools then have to purchase is nonsense. Lets make them all freely available and establish infrastructure for this to be expanded by teachers being able to systemically share their resources.
  2. Lets develop lots of questions. The nature of these questions need to be developed with curriculum statements on one side and blooms taxonomy on the other. This might be harder for non senior secondary areas however if we collaborate on developing and classifying banks of these we can use modify and share these as well.
  3. This is the most important one in some respects. A school kids help line. Get assistance from expert teachers and parents. Yes, there are potential child protection hazards with this but I think that these can be managed. I think that this could include welfare questions which is something that I did not notice in the Korean model.


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