Reconciling Tensions and Radical Openness

10 Jun 2015 4:16 AM | Anonymous

This blog post starts a new ICTENSW initiative to include guest bloggers who are examples of innovative educators, and their thoughts on technology.  This blog post is from Cameron Paterson, who teaches History at Shore Grammer School, and blogs regularly at http://learningshore.edublogs.org/ 

A few years ago I returned to fulltime study for a year in the US. My favourite classes were with Tina Blythe and Eleanor Duckworth. Both banned technology from their classes, preferring face to face interactions, and I experienced my most powerful learning experiences in their classes.

I also took a class with Chris Dede, who was fresh from having written theNational Education Technology Plan for President Obama. His class was a dizzying array of top US educational technology experts and we were encouraged to use our devices in class. While I sat spell-bound, some of my peers would surf Facebook and this made me question the benefits of technology in relation to learning. I now oscillate between believing that the deepest learning experiences I can design in my classes are face to face conversations, and simultaneously arguing that technology should be invisible and ubiquitous. One of the ways I am reconciling this tension is by explicitly teaching students mindfulness in order to cope with continuous partial attention and our always-on lifestyle.

I have often argued that pedagogy should be the driver, and technology should merely act in support. Project-Based Learning is a pedagogy that works well with technology. My students produce audio e-books for young children, makefilms, and design social media campaignsfor rights and freedoms. We also take part in global learning projects and conduct Skype learning calls.

I know that I need to improve the documentation of the learning in my classes. While I’m a fan of post-it notes and speech bubbles, we also have a class Twitter handle which tweets out photos of our learning, and, when students work in teams, one of them sometimes has my Go-Pro on a headband for real-time KidCam.

Next year I am planning to explore Sugata Mitra’s Self-Organised Learning Environments, I want to get my students blogging, and I’m thinking of using Snapchat to run a short project for students to share photos of local war memorials and commemoration activities. We have a student voice team who attend our Heads of Department meetings and I am curious about what would happen if we adopted the radical transparency of broadcasting these meetings via Periscope. Also, I am in awe of the work being produced by students at theRoyal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne and I want to learn how to do this myself.

Finally, George Couros now has me wondering whether pedagogy really should always be the driver? This video of Lachlan getting his hearing aid shows how technology can be transformational. Maybe learning and technology are increasingly linked? Could transformational learning become the norm, rather than the exception?

There is a fragile tension here because, despite the wonderful affordances, in most of my classes computers and tablets are off and we still talk to each other in face to face conversations.

 

Twitter: @cpaterso

http://learningshore.edublogs.org/


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