I won’t be back for school after the mid-year break at Hawkesdale P12 College – not because I don’t want to be there, but because I will be attending the 6th World Environmental Education Conference in Brisbane. I attended the same conference four years ago, in Durban, South Africa, but this time I will be presenting with researchers from RMIT University, about School Community Learning Partnerships for Sustainability. The title of our workshop will be “Stories to Evaluate and Facilitate Learning for Change: Different Perspectives”. This will be an exciting opportunity to share the great education for sustainability work that we do at Hawkesdale.
Last week I attended the Australian Teacher Education Association conference in Melbourne, with Maxine Cooper (University of Ballarat), Abby Schultz and Michelle Iro (beginning teachers who did teaching rounds at Hawkesdale P12 College last year.) We presented on the Virtual Teaching Program that was supported by Country Education Project, UB and DEECD, that involved three pre-service teachers spending six weeks working with Hawkesdale teachers and students to learn new web2.0 tools and practise new ways of teaching using Elluminate (now called Blackboard Collaborate), Skype, Wallwisher, Google Docs and other innovative teaching and learning platforms.
Following on from our presentation was the ideasLAB presentation from Brian Dixon and Richard Olsen. The ideasLAB is an innovative, advocacy and thought leadership company with high profile sponsors including Intel and DEECD. I was very interested in their approach to technology in education, although it does assume ubiquitous access to internet-connected devices. Although the data given showed increasing numbers of people in Australia and other countries having this access, it wasn’t explained as a proportion of the population. My concern is for equity – we may have already passed the point of environmentally sustainable computer and internet use, so again, communities in less developed countries will be excluded from the benefits. However, Brian and Richard presented a very interesting “big ideas” perspective on technology in education. Through two free, creative commons publications, ideasLAB provide the language and framework for moving towards contemporary teaching and learning that embraces the ‘collective knowledge constructive model’. Richard Olsen’s showcase publication, “Understanding Virtual Pedagogies for Contemporary Teaching and Learning” uses a theoretical model to enable us to better understand our student’s use of technology, with the main framework as follows:
1. Connecting (Archiving, Exposure to ideas, Seeking answers)
2. Communicating (Adding value, Responding, Presenting)
3. Collaborating (Remixing, Contrasting, Personal sense-making)
4. Learning Collectively (Curation, Synthesis, Collective meaning making)