About Thinks

Sometimes good thinks happen and sometimes bad thinks happen. Sometimes it's hard to distinguish between the two.

Some thinks need immediate action and some thinks may remain as thinks forever. Thinks can be angry and heated. Thinks can be joyful. Thinks should never be cold.

These thinks are linked to many other wonderful thinks and I like to attribute these.

These thinks do not necessary reflect those thinks of my employer.

Think long, think on.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Mark Treadwell

I felt a tad uneasy during this workshop - which is a good thing - i like that.

I think it was the way Mark presented cutting edge material in such a calm way. He casually slipped little gems into the conversation such as:
- Einstein's brain had a higher Neuron to Astrocyte Ratio than any other human being.
- Neurons take up only 7% of the brain whereas Astrocytes that take up 70% of the brain DO STUFF thus changing the 'model' we have had of brains for many years. This paradigm shift in brain models is remarkable. It reminded me of how we giggle at the ancient Egyptians who thought the brain had the function of the heart and the heart had the function of the brain. Further, the neurons vs astrocytes theory was offered as a very convincing explanation as to why rote learning is inefficient and ineffective using learning to read (neurons) vs learning how to drive a car (astrocytes) as an example.
- 'They' have discovered that severed optic nerves can be connected to the back of the tongue allowing the blind person able to 'see' out of their mouth. (This mental image kept me preoccupied for far too long). And when I 'came to' it got even MORE FREAKY.

Mark Treadwell showed us progressive concept based learning intentions where your own relevant contexts can be 'slotted in' he has a very good product (Whatever Next?) for this which I think would be a valuable school tool in the years to come.

So the scary part for me was a glimpse into the future of education in New Zealand over the next decade. I'm quite happy with the direction we're going in. I'm loving the potential of eLearning. What I found disturbing, however, is the potential to create a class of digital savvy kids leaving the others behind.

*disclaimer* Now bear in mind, this is MY PERSPECTIVE of what was said and I was still reeling from the 'seeing out of the mouth' image ...

Student Monitoring Systems (SMS).
So, as I understand it, the Government has been trialling SMS in a select few high decile schools where student's learning data is being stored electronically on the Internet. I'm okay with that. We've been doing this on a small scale with products such as etap.

The system itself is pretty cool - student's learning will be documented electronically. ePortfolios will be built up over the course of the students schooling and if a student was to change schools their electronic records will follow them. Gone are the days of clear-files being sent (if you're lucky) through the post many weeks after the new school requests them.

The student therefore leaves school with an electronic record where they can provide evidence of their key competencies and learning to potential employers and/or training establishments. Great!

Instead of school reports (as we know them) parents will be sent a text or an emailing alerting them that their child's SMS has been updated. Initially printing options will be available for those families without access to computers or cellphones. This , of course, will be breaking an age old custom - THE SCHOOL REPORT, but I'm sure we will cope considering how quickly we have moved on from picking up our prints and negatives from the local pharmacy. Further companies such as Fisher and Paykel are providing computers in their factories for employees to access such information.

What concerns me though is the potential for a 'digitally elite' cohort of children. Already there are schools that are at least two years ahead. This means that there is a group of children with an 'extra' two years of learning on their "CVs" a trivial point for our year one and twos but not so trivial for older students who are closer to entering the workforce.

Another thing that concerns me is the 'products' that are used for this electronic record keeping are reasonably expensive. I received a quote from KnowledgeNet where initial setup is $4000 plus an ongoing monthly fee of $280. As well as $800 a day for training. There are, of course, 'free' solutions such as the Ministry's Mahara. However a national system needs to be transferable between schools and have extremely high cyber-security features (KnowledgeNet).

Will the government be providing ALL schools with this fantastic product? NO, schools will have the opportunity to APPLY FOR FUNDING - (watch the Gazette)

Will the government have to secure the businesses that create these products to safe-guard the learning data of the children? (Hmmmmm I wish I had shares in KnowledgeNet ...)

Will this be made compulsory? NO, if things are made compulsory schools tend to resist them.

Therefore while I am thrilled with the concept of the electronic curriculum and SMS I REALLY HOPE that its implementation is fair for ALL CHILDREN.

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