Monday, November 13, 2006

Aspiring towards 21st Century Schooling

"In the 21st Century school, technology must be like oxygen, ubiquitous and necessary"

These are the first 'words' beamed onto the 'Planning the 21st Century School' K12 Online Conference presentation by Marcie Hull and Chris Lehman. I have been really looking forward to this presentation and have been lurking around the Science Leadership Academy (SLA) website and reading various blog postings trying to gleen what this is all about.

The SLA homepage states:
"The Science Leadership Academy (SLA) is a new Philadelphia public high school that opened its doors on September 7, 2006.

Developed in partnership with The Franklin Institute and its commitment to inquiry-based science, the SLA will provide a rigorous, college-preparatory curriculum with a focus on science, technology, mathematics and entrepreneurship. Students at the SLA will learn in a project-based environment where the core values of inquiry, research, collaboration, presentation and reflection are emphasized in all classes."

Coincidently I have also spent about 2 hours this weekend watching old episodes of Starship Enterprise (you know, the one based on Star Trek with Jonathan Archer as Captain), just to try and clear my head and get away from the computer. Will I find parallels with this science fiction episiode and the SLA video? Will they also be totally paperless and get their lunch from a food replicator by saying 'hot chocolate, no sugar'?

Marcie: School 2.0 means there has to be a change in school as we know it today. To her it means having everything to do with technology, but technology is not at the core. Essentially it is understanding change and how change is going to be a constant part of our lives. "The knowledge that schools have to redefine themselves in this landscape of schools that is ever evolving"

What is School 2.0?
  • Student-centered (Constructivist: kids ot be critical consumers and producers of information)
  • Knowledge-driven
  • Project-based
  • Collaborative
  • Interdisciplinary
  • Transparent
  • 24/7/365
  • And of course, uses technology
Chris says School 2.0 is:
  • a mindset, a recognition that the way we do things has to change
  • student-centered, constructivist, to 'teach kids to be critical consumers and producers of information'....'schools need to change to reflect the wider world, need to change the structure of schools'...'information distribution and communication as well......there is no excuse for not publishing homework asignments and email parents...
Technology as transformative:
  • Use of laptops: giving students and teachers the tools to transform their learning
  • Community of learners
  • Web portal developed
  • Project-based learning combined with Rubric/criterion based assessment
  • Inquiry-based learning: finding and solving problems
  • Sustainability.....??
Interesting images of whiteboard and butcher paper brainstorming sessions shown (no use of technology here as a teacher planning tool). I must admit I start to break out in a cold sweat when staff meeting leaders bring out the butcher paper. There are a number of excellent online tools that could be used for this (Moodle, Google docs, wiki etc) and using paper means someone has to eventually transcribe into a digital format eventually. (Maybe this need for large white areas with scribbled words encompasses a learning style I don't posses). I see however from the description of this presentation that you have been using online tools for teacher collaboration, such as Moodle, prior to the opening of SLA.

A teacher from the video comments: How can technology remedy inequities? Process oriented use of technology to allow it to help our larger aims in education.

My summary:
Thanks Chris and Marcie for this insight into SLA. As an international educator I am keen to explore best practice education (and use of eLearning objectives) from around the world and I admire your stamina and ongoing initiatives with the development of the SLA.
Project based learning is a well established constructivist method utilized by many international and national curriculum systems globally, including the IBO. The challenge is, as you have shown us, combining this with vision and a well thought out plan that includes a on-to-one ubiquitous computing environment. It is the mindset that change is good and change is inevitable in this evolving world where the shape of information changes daily that must dominate. How will you build in sustainability for change? Is this a contradiction in terms? The technology will change and evolve but what needs to remain constant is the approach taken by the educators and the need for acceptance of student-centred learning. This, I feel, is your number one challenge.

Parallels with StarTrek? The jury is still out on whether it is a case of ' boldy go where no man has been before', or whether this is a road once trodden already by others with just as much spirit and ambition but a little less funding. I look forward to forthcoming episodes. Good luck and well done!

Technorati Tags:


Chris Lehmann said...

Thanks for following along... as for the butcher paper, we did *months* of online planning when we weren't together, and we kept using Moodle as a tool even when we were face to face, but there were times when we wanted to just on paper, too. :)

Mrs Simpson said...

I noticed that you mentioned IBO in this post. Do you work with an IB school? My school is applying to become an IB MYP school. If you are familiar with this program, I would love to ask you some questions.

Jeanne Simpson