The Skype experience that Tolisano brings to her students is well and truly embedded in her connected educator thinking. It required activation of prior learning, careful consideration of roles and of digital citizenship, as well as reflective journaling afterwards. This was a process that engaged the students in a holistic and integrated learning experience, designed and mapped carefully, but with some allowance for the serendipitous. Equally, Miller has used online learning spaces and tools to enhance the learning experiences of her primary school students.
It’s interesting that both Tolisano and Miller are working in a primary context. They have a missionary insight into the potential for learning when knowledge networking is embraced. Shared learning is not about the answers, but about the process of learning. How can this be changed until we change our thinking about assessment?
In an ideal world, secondary and even tertiary learning might be as integrated and learning focused as primary pedagogy tends to be. The reality on the ground (at the secondary chalkface as it were) is substantially different. The secondary curriculum, by its nature, creates firewalls between subject disciplines which are still closely guarded by content-focused specialists. Online learning implies a greater fluidity. Connectedness with the outer world assumes an inner connectedness that is far from the reality of too many working in the secondary arena.
One of the obstacles is that secondary assessment has its end point embedded in a kind of competitiveness. The ATAR is a rank, not a score. It sets one learner against another. Yes, as Tolisano says, we do need a revolution in assessment, one that reflects the modern classroom, and what the true purpose of education has always been- not a competitive enterprise, but the coffee shop, where we build on each others’ ideas.
Thus educators need to embrace the revolution that focuses on what we are learning to achieve. The migration to collaborative learning environments is still too much of a work in progress.
Michael Fullan underlines this in The Moral Imperative of School Leadership. The moral imperative will never amount to much, unless school leaders take it on the road.
Connected teachers and information specialists can act as the fulcrum between the learner and the leadership, where collaborative and connected learning must be embraced.