November 22, 2006

If we're empowering the learners, what about the rest of us?

Rm I've noticed fewer posts than normal - from me and from my peers - as we hit that tricky, slightly depressing month for educators. A week ago I was squeezing some extra minutes of daytime out of being a few degrees further south in Abingdon, having been invited to address the Executive Board of RM, one of the world's biggest educational computing companies. RM is the company behind much of Glow, Scotland's national intranet, which was spec-ed out around three years ago, give or take.

Given what has happened in the world of technology, how differently kids use the web now from three years ago, I was delighted to see genuine interest in what future VLEs might look like from Sherry Coutu, who kindly 'sponsored' me to come along, and indeed from the rest of the Board. (Read their biogs - a real case of the collective intelligence knowing more than any one presenter, especially me).

The Chief Executive, Tim Pearson, has since started an internal blog to keep the employees abreast of his ideas and to garner ideas from them and John Windeler (former Chairman Alliance and Leicester) hinted that he would make a foray into the blogosphere some time soon, too.

Rather than put up yet another large presentation file, I'd like to use the blog to post some of the images, commentary and ideas, before hitting some bigger questions on the place of VLEs, education product providers and, of course, the teacher.

The Board did, of course, take the opportunity to fire in some great questions which I was able to briefly cover, but I'm also going to use the blog to go into some more depth. Both Sir Mike Tomlinson and Professor Tim Brighouse saw the motivational elements that come from greater audience for work, connected learning, learning about other cultures and so on, but wanted to know more about the depth of learning versus the 'entertainment value' of new technologies (I'm paraphrasing and hoping I am doing them justice). Professor Brighouse left me with the most useful set of questions to help me firm up my own thoughts on the matter (see his paper on the Jigsaw of the Successful School for more background on his current thoughts). This is what I'd like to attempt to begin discussion on throughout the series of posts:

What did the teacher do before this moment?
What is the teacher doing now?
What might the teacher be doing in the future?

I hope you can take some time to consider these points and help form an answer. I've got some examples and thinking from East Lothian to help us get started. They'll all be archived under the glowscotland tag, amongst others, so that you can find them again. You might want to learn how to subscribe to the blog so as not to miss them. In the meantime, any thoughts to help me get started would be welcome ;-)


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Depth of Learning vs New Toys

What I was doing before was very similar to what I do now. My tools used to include manuscript paper, pen, tipex, scissors, sellotape, repeated visits to the photocopier to make good the errors and the ubiquitous highlighters. Now, I use a laptop and the internet. The "spare time" is spent in constructive dialogue and music-making with pupils. Perhaps it's a fad. History will be the judge.

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About Ewan

Ewan McIntosh is the founder of NoTosh, the no-nonsense company that makes accessible the creative process required to innovate: to find meaningful problems and solve them.

Ewan wrote How To Come Up With Great Ideas and Actually Make Them Happen, a manual that does what is says for education leaders, innovators and people who want to be both.

What does Ewan do?

Module Masterclass

School leaders and innovators struggle to make the most of educators' and students' potential. My team at NoTosh cut the time and cost of making significant change in physical spaces, digital and curricular innovation programmes. We work long term to help make that change last, even as educators come and go.

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