Posts Tagged ‘model’
When I found this image online, I couldn’t help but think how important it is to role model.
When I hear teachers asking questions like “How do we teach critical thinking?”, I say you have to model it yourself.
If you think inside the box, your learners will too.
I just read in the print copy of Digital Life (2 Dec 09) that MOE’s deal with Google Apps is worth S$650,000 a year over two years. Does that sound like a lot? No, not if you do the math.
Based on MOE’s 2008 corporate brochure, Singapore has 29,000 teachers and an annual education budget of S$8 billion. Google Apps for education is barely a drop in the bucket.
MOE’s press release on 22 Sep 09 about adopting Google Apps does not mention explicitly if students will get to use it as well. If students are included as users, how is that drop shared among all teachers and students?
MOE claims that we have a student:teacher ratio of 21:1 (paragraph 11, cough!). Simple arithmatic (29,000 x 21) tells us we have about 609,000 students. Add the number of teachers (29,000) and the total potential users is 638,000. That means that it will cost us a little over S$1 per year per user. That’s value for money… if you like playing the numbers game.
I don’t just play by numbers. How will teachers and their students use Google Apps? Will these Apps be effectively integrated into teaching and learning? While I am watching for answers, I am not waiting. Time will provide some answers, but so will action.
I am using some of the Google Apps now (Sites, Docs, Spreadsheets, Forms, Presentations, Mail and assorted widgets) without NIE being part of the Google Apps for education picture. I am using it partly as an informal LMS, but mostly as a collaborative learning space.
I think that using it as an LMS provides my teachers-to-be with some level of familiarity. But they also explore the use of the Apps to facilitate collaborative writing, data collecting and processing, planning, designing and learning. I hope that by providing one possible model of using Google Apps, my teacher trainees can then test the ground when they are posted to schools.
I am glad to report that I see some green shoots already. A few of my trainees come up to me after class to tell me that they are setting up their own Google Site wikis or to ask me how to do something or other. I also hope to be involved in the education of in-service teachers next year under a new MOE programme. More details on that if the plan solidifies!
I have always felt that I was not alone on this and now I am more certain. Of what? The fact that many teachers have learned to be helpless.
I mentioned this in passing in a short blog entry last year. I was reminded of this thanks to a wonderfully written course description by Howard Rheingold where he noted that “getting over learned helplessness may take some time”. More recently, Scott McLeod lamented that:
many educators (K-12 teachers and administrators, postsecondary faculty, etc.) still are extremely unwilling to just sit down and try stuff. Our digital learners, of course, have little hesitancy when it comes to clicking on things just to see what they’ll do. That willingness to probe, investigate, and experiment helps them learn and master the tools.
But he wasn’t just complaining. He was wondering if the training that he provided actually reinforced the mindset among teachers that they had to be hand held every time something new came along. McLeod referred to this as “facilitating codependence”.
Looking at my own practice, I am confident that I have broken this cycle as far as my ICT courses are concerned. I don’t teach my teacher trainees technology skills; I get them to explore what is meaningful to them on their own and to teach it to others who share the same interests. The codependence then is not of them-and-me but them-and-them. What they do depend on me for is seeing technology-mediated pedagogies in action, so I model it, practice it and live it!
In previous entries  , I talked about how schools could create anytime-anywhere, secure wireless networks instead of relying on computer labs or special media labs. I also described how students could be given laptops or netbooks on a 1:1 ratio. If not, they could adopt mobile labs like the ones Apple has been offering for a while now.
Having a mobile lab or 1:1 access would allow students to use technology as part of normal classroom activity instead of a novel experience or a time-wasting walk to a lab. More importantly, it would also require the teacher to rethink their pedagogical approaches and instructional strategies.
I had facilitated workshops for teachers in one such classroom in the USA about 7 years ago, so I was familiar with the concept and the practice. When I try to get teachers to imagine the same thing in NIE or in schools, I get blank looks. Surely there had to be a model of practice somewhere in Singapore.
Two weeks ago, Digital Life (5 Nov 08) [PDF] featured a short report on how the United World College (UWC) here in Singapore had set up such a system. The ubiquitous wiressless network cost UWC S$60,000 in 2005 and access is via 256 laptops in 16 trolleys. Any classroom can become a computer lab and lessons can be blended.
I would love to see how UWC conducts its lessons. That way I can determine if the setup goes beyond cool infrastructure to relevant and powerful pedagogies. I’d want to see if they were elaborate toys or real tools that enabled or transformed learning.