An early Christmas present: a new job
This week, after five-and-a-half years of working with East Lothian Council, I'm working for someone else. For most of my working week I will now work for Learning and Teaching Scotland as National Adviser: Learning and Technology Futures. I've also decided to expand my independent work, such as consulting and some speaking, which until now has been on holiday time and weekends, but which has opened my eyes to things education is maybe missing out on.
Along with my new colleague John Low, from West Lothian Council, there is a more concerted effort now from LTS to benefit from the experiences of Local Authorities who have been getting things right, and an attempt to drive home the key points of successful innovation in teaching and learning to classrooms elsewhere. What was the phrase cited by my workmate Con? "If it's not happening in the classroom, it's not happening." We aim to make it happen.
I had been working with East Lothian Council, as a French and German teacher developing a Local Authority languages site, multilangs.org.uk, before creating another 'trad' website for my school, Musselburgh Grammar School and then, since 2003, creating weblogs and then podcasts to provide a mechanism for students to speak for themselves to the wider community.
In 2008, we're aiming to do the same thing but with far more robust technology than we had then, and with some more exciting communication tools in the mix. These might be my main points of action over the next few months:
Everyone looking the same direction: Media Literacy
Awareness of the constraints and opportunities offered by an understanding of media literacy is my number one priority. Already a not-so-small group of teacher union representatives, professional organisations, national media corporations, public arts and media groups and Learning and Teaching Scotland colleagues is being pulled together to try to support a Media Literacy Summit for Scotland in April. Local Authorities will also be invited to have their say and help pull together some national guidance which will help keep students and staff not just safe online, but informed about the potential that lies in knowing how to use the web effectively.
The national intranet: Glow
Glow, the national intranet, is already being rolled out across Scotland, with half the Local Authorities now formally signed up to the process. However, how the look, feel, functionality and educational potential of Glow evolves is arguably as important, if not more so. Along with John, I'll be curating the great ideas from the blogosphere, from emails, and from our own vision of where Glow could and should head to produce Glow v.1.1, 1.2, 1.3 and so on. We'll be doing our best to skip over Glow. 2.0 as quickly as possible ;-)
LTS goes transmedia
Since I started banging on (and on, and on) about why LTS needed to get blogging, well... we have. There are now several healthy internal and external blogs, helping keep colleagues informed about the work of the teams, showing the developments in certain programmes and sharing interesting practice. Over the next year or so I'll be creating a more formal programme of staff development for our own staff, covering what some would consider the 'old' social technologies, and leaving some slack to give time to explore newer ones from an educational perspective.
Pushing the use of new technologies across Scotland
This remains the one thing we've been reasonably good at doing over the past two years or more, helping more people understand what's on offer, and supporting the ever-growing community of savvy experts in Scottish schools. Nuff said: long may this continue, but I hope we do it even better than we've done thus far. Better online support, more personal support perhaps through peer-to-peer (in the literal sense) support facilitated by LTS tools.
Let me end with some quotes from Barry Vercoe, one of the six founding professors of the MIT MediaLab, as cited by cited by Derek Wenmouth. I think they sum up even better what we're aiming for, or at least, what will happen. How does innovation occur?:
The future is not to predict but to design... Innovation comes from:
- a clash of cultures
- clash of disciplines
- clash of ways of doing things
- high tolerance of failure
Hurrah to that! I hope that you, dear blog reader, might join us on this exciting journey making education in Scotland, and maybe elsewhere, more aligned with the aspirations of our young people.