Educating for an authentic experience?
I went to the EduTech Conference which was held in Suntec Convention Centre, Singapore. It was a learning experience and gaining perspectives from different k-12 to tertiary levels.
I first begin with a perspective from Darling Hammond about classrooms being an unpredictable swampland. I strongly felt the messiness and complexity of every class that a teacher conducts, and the diversity of culture that a classroom offers. There were great insights when ideas from various Presenters across the education industry. I could see the value of students participating in conferences and interacting with visitors and delegates. Here are some samples of pictures that I took during the conference showing different uses of technology incorporated into learning.
Noticeably for me, I had gathered some insights about the conference that:
- CEOs as faculty – CEOs from various industries will be sharing with the students and providing some insights to them. The lecturer will then be facilitating the session based on the lecture previously.
- Students as collaborators – This is building upon Tony Wagner’s idea of collaboration and introducing students to create artefacts together. Are we ready to do away with risk avoidance and allow students to make mistakes to learn more effectively?
- Neurotechnology- the impact it has on education and how it downplays studies like visual learners through brain scans.
- 3D printing for the real world where people can use it in their museum. it was the notion of creating actual replicas that were usable in the real world context in education. It further blurs the line between virtual and physical items in learning.
- Drone flying – incorporating drone flying in order to take pictures of hard to reach places, studying wildlife, etc. I was pretty inspired by ideas from the following link by HuffingtonPost too.
Getting teacher/educators ready?
- Delegates collaborating together – This offers diverse perspectives and cultural backgrounds for effective learning and sharing opportunities.
Then I reflected upon presentation from Mary George Cheriyan from Raffles Girls School where she discussed the development of professionalism in Teachers. The speaker took some ideas from John Dewey, highlighting the following:
- Reflective practices that are enthusiastic, the dedication that is placed into intentionally changing the way teaching is conducted.
- Awareness of the implication of what is not set or not set in the classroom. I would definitely agree how context really matters in a classroom.
- Recognising the open-mindedness, so it’s about reframing the mind to become better in teaching. It is to consider alternative possibilities to see what works and what doesn’t really work. I would think of it as picking fresh fruits and discard fruits that have turned bad.
There must also be a comfortable culture of sharing and openness. This is to share good practices to see how things work. Teachers are allowed to have safe environments to share, to question what works and what doesn’t. Do teachers even dare to collaborate with students to discuss and work on new ideas. I reflect upon my work experiences and felt the importance of collaboration between peers. Without collaboration, there might not be any negotiation and exchange of ideas. This was predominantly seen It is putting them in charge of things that matter to them. However, we must be mindful of an Echo chamber effect, especially when the people have been communicating about the issue for a long period of time. There might be some areas where teachers compromise what is really critical that happens in the classroom. The key points about freshness imply how important how diverse teaching could help students learn more effectively and not get bored with many teachers doing things the same way.
During the EduSlam sessions I had, there were varieties of sharings and real collaboration taking place. As an administrator from the teaching and learning segment, there were varieties of experiences such as faculty-driven research collaboration projects and capstone projects that were shared during the session. The discussions were so intense, but possibilities of portfolio creation for both teachers and students are finally being realised. It finally sets the stage where I can envision video resumes really coming true and making students becoming more employable because of the initiative that the students made in the first place.
Beyond just entertainment, creating a gamification experience with an educational purpose behind it. It requires a structural process in development, coupled with lots of time and resources spent on developing this virtual world and taking students feedback into consideration during these developmental stages. It is incremental yet student-centric, considering all the authentic experiences that are placed in the design and development stage. But I’m encouraged by the fruits that were reaped from the sharing by Dr Kevin Yap from National University of Singapore(NUS) by what it has provided to the students who were learning pharmaceutical. There were fun experiences to learn where you can get experts in during lectures to leverage on their technical expertise. Facilitating the session after the dialogue has completed. There are possible win-win situations that will benefit both the faculty member and the industry partners. Students benefit from industry experts and are facilitated by a faculty after that helps to deepen learning.
Building the Student-centered learning experiences
For my experience, it was completed with some makerspace fun courtesy of Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA). I was learning some fundamentals of microbit technology and what it could possibly offer for me as an educator/administrator and many other endless possibilities. There are so many possibilities in letting students create and experiment, reflecting on the experiences that they had previously.
Put students in front and let them help you in making the learning experiences better. No matter what levels are we educating them at, regardless of k12 and higher education, it is recognising that they can take ownership of their own educational needs. It was demonstrated through the Stamford American International school, showing how they could bring audiences for a Google Expedition. Even from local aspects, placing robotics and coding experiences through micro-bits are really helpful in helping students solve real-world problems. Creating crazy solutions and really tinkering with examples from different educational levels that offers wireless switches in home appliances to mini-games, moisturiser detectors and pancake flippers. These are generally allowing students to go in depth and look for solutions to support the problem. This includes getting water pumps and thinking about how the appliances can be switched on/off.
Small and incremental changes are readily happening everywhere around the world. It was also possible through flipped classrooms, where physics and Newton’s Law was brought through the lens of a movie, Interstellar. Inquiry questions and probing students, scaffolding new concepts one by one as the class gets guided by a facilitator. For example, you could begin asking a simple question of why is the ship being drawn to the black hole to scaffolding it into a question about what is exactly a black hole based on what the class has understood about gravity. These are small steps that students will take, and allow them to fail and get it wrong are very important in a classroom setting. This is because the classroom creates affordances for failures, opportunities to learn from mistakes. It is also argued by Tony Wagner during the conference when he highlights how people remember things better through mistakes.
From Bryan Alexander’s perspective, it was about students becoming prosumers, obtaining IP rights to products that were created by them. They are owners of new and incremental products that are developed constantly. Students will be sharing their stories(successes/failures) online and demonstrating it through digital storytelling. There will be a wealth of knowledge that are available for people to learn and react to. These students will be producers of many multimedia resources that they can tap on. The collaboration will be valued over individual effort, as teams are able to communicate and collaborate more effectively in this manner.
I conclude my word vomits (inspired by the digital storytelling workshop) with a thought for me to think about:
- what are the implications of redesigning assessment? Do we need grades ultimately?
- How should competency-based assessment be redesigned?
- Are students ready for a student-centric learning experience? If not, how could we encourage them and bring them onboard?
- Are we being inclusive in education?
And I tried digital storytelling from one of the software that I was recommended to use. It allowed me to type in my inputs and customised characters!