How many light bulbs does it take to change teaching? 3 January, 2010Posted by paralleldivergence in education, ICT in Education, Internet, My Thoughts, technology.
Tags: DER, Digital Education Revolution, edtech, ICT in Education
Everyday my email inbox alerts me to at least one teacher who has become a new follower on Twitter. Now while I’m definitely not the best ed-tech guy in Twitterland to follow, I like to think that for each of those emails, a light bulb has switched on somewhere and a teacher is working to change, or at least keep up with the change that’s continually going on all around them.
photo courtesy of purplemattfish
But it begs the question? “How many light bulbs does it take to change teaching?“
Can our students afford to wait for each of their individual teachers to wake up to the realization that it’s well and truly the 21st century? How long will our governments continue to invest in 21st century ICTs if they don’t see any tangible return on that investment – especially since individual teachers in large proportions continue to, at best avoid and at worst, shun ICTs?
Massive investments such as the Digital Education Revolution in Australia, and particularly in New South Wales are taking the sledgehammer approach to a problem that really should never have been allowed to permeate the teaching profession for so many decades. In a (wal)nutshell, the sledgehammer approach is:
1. Give computers to every student.
2. Build the expectation in the community that they will be used in school.
3. Shame teachers into action/change.
This is in stark contrast to the ICT investment of the past dozen or more years where the intention was rolling out computers and software to schools in order to lower the computer-to-student ratio. There was never any clearly expressed outcome that all teachers would increase their ICT-skills as a result of these rollouts – their use has always been an option, and as I’ve said before, if you give teachers an option, most will opt-out. Twelve years of rolling out over 600,000 computers to schools in New South Wales has proven this loud and clear.
But now, during the second half of 2009, an urgency was born. Here are some questions that you may like to respond to in the comments below:
How can Australia as a society commit to and spend billions of dollars on computers for students without educational outcomes attached?
How can schools absorb so many computers in such a short period of time and make them effective – or rather, essential tools for learning?
How can teachers reinvent themselves to be relevant in a world where their students have information on tap giving them the power to contradict the “infallible” knowledge of the teacher at the front of their classroom?
What is the teacher’s role in this new 21st Century classroom?
What curriculum, assessments and measurements do we need to implement to complement the ICT resources our students now have ubiquitous access to?
How big is this problem? Consider your own school. What percentage of teachers at your school fall into the ICT-avoider description?
Although it’s expensive, the sledgehammer approach is hopefully going to be the lightbulb moment that teachers need to shake them into action. I believe the reckoning point will be at the end of 2010. Coinciding with Australia’s next (scheduled) Federal Election and only half-way into this four year “revolution”, there will be the evidence needed to either justify or pull the plug on this ambitious and much needed change in school education. We don’t have three more years to make this work, we have just one.
The days of teachers expecting their professional development being handed to them on a silver platter are gone. The individualized and self-regulated, professional learning network is far more efficient, effective and relevant to teachers today. But before teachers can turn on their professional learning network, they have to have their own lightbulb moment.
Sadly, here we are at the start of 2010 and only around 10% of the light bulbs are actually illuminated.