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.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Education Revolution

Labour has won the election and so it would be reasonable to think that their election promise of 'education revolution' by ensuring that every Australian student in Years 9 to 12 has access to their own school computer will be implemented.

I like Bill Kerr's comments about this not being a revolution.

No surprises from our pollies here. Their thinking is entirely quantitative - more computers, faster broadband, more information. There is not the glimmer of a hint that computers might be used to transform education in a qualitative sense, to create new sorts of powerful learning experiences that are much harder to create without computers.

I'm not aware of a single Australian politician who understands this issue.
There are all sorts of logistical issues with the Labour plan including the physical space to put computers as well as the power, network and human resource requirements to run them.

The revolution aspect is what really interests me and I am remembering some on my past posts, the latest of which was Talk of revolution which also references previous and connected posts to this topic.

Schools are not well positioned for the revolution that is being talked about in these posts. Rightly or wrongly, we have schools embedded in our culture and so I will assume for the foreseeable future they continue to play a part in this game. Soon we will have lots more access to computers and more important connected via the internet with fatter pipes which could help facilitate the sort of revolution being talked about.

I wonder what the characteristics of a school would need to be to optimise on the this sort of revolution?

  • Small
  • Organised on the basis of students not subjects
  • Good access to specialised facilities - drama, music, materials technology, art, HPE
  • Useful links with relevant community groups and businesses
  • Excellent access to information resources
  • Focus on information processing rather than acquisition of knowledge
  • Capacity to improvise on the fly - significant use of words like 'lets try/play with this'

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  • At 2:23 pm, Blogger Graham said…

    Interestingly, a lot of those characteristics are already in place in Canadian teacher, Clarence Fisher's classroom. He gets a lot of accolades for his innovative practice and there is no doubt that he is a very good teacher with a real grasp of the advantages of leveraging the web for learning. But people have talked up his remote location, composite classroom, small school etc. as being disadvantages he has had to overcome - I actually think that he has some of your mentioned ingredients and that they are actually advantages.

  • At 3:16 pm, Blogger Wara said…

    It sounds like we have similiar thinking on this issue Graham. To me a small unit is much more versatile and able to change direction as needs be relatively easily

  • At 1:49 am, Blogger Bill Kerr said…

    One real problem with labour party thinking is "equity" which translates into doing the same thing for everyone which inhibits innovation

    The Clarence Fisher and Geetha Narayanan examples demonstrate that an inspirational teacher (with some admin support) can do remarkable things in a niche.

    But we haven't worked out how to scale remarkable transformations. This has also failed in societies that tolerate more un-evenness than Australia, eg USA, with its Charter schools and other manifestations of individuality.

    This article looks at some of the reasons:
    Reforming Education: Why do bad hings happen to good ideas?


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