June 5

Reflections on 21st Century Learning

Progressing through this course and watching all of these videos and reading articles regarding 21st Century Learning is very challenging for me. I am disturbed by the fact that I have heard it all before and yet feel as though my experiences are moving backward rather than forward.

This RSA Animate – Ken Robinson video was part of ETL401 Module 4. Watching it was inspiring. Just as inspiring as it was when I first watched it 8c years ago. Yet I feel that the teaching and planning and focus that were part of my teaching experience when I first watched that video were moving more in step with its vision than those in my most recent experience in 2017. The difference might be chalked up to different school contexts, but I still find it disappointing.

I have only worked as a casual relief and temporary teacher, so I have worked in various schools in my local area. Apart from some occasional days at private schools earlier in my career, my experience has been in government primary schools. In the last 14 years, since having children, I have limited my working area to the North Shore of Sydney, within about 15 to 20 minutes of my home. In 2008 and 2009, when the RCA-Animate – Robinson (2008) video was first making the rounds, I had a temporary engagement teaching Year 1. That experience was probably the closest I have gotten to the ideals of 21st Century Learning and collaboration that I am encountering in the modules and related readings and videos. There was a focus at that time in authentic assessment tasks and integrating technology in authentic learning experiences and true team-teaching for some key learning areas. I realise that experiences vary across different schools, but I can’t help feeling that education is moving backwards rather than forwards at the moment.

References

RSA Animate – Robinson, K. (2010) Changing educational paradigms. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDZFcDGpL4U#aid=P8wNMEma2ng

May 3

Arguments for a whole school approach to information literacy and inquiry

Mandy Lupton (2014) and Karen Bonnano (2014) are quite effective at showing that inquiry and critical thinking are intended to be part of Australian education through their incorporation in the Australian Curriculum. Bonnano also makes a good argument for how those skills, competencies and processes can be mapped to an inquiry model such as Guided Inquiry. These are key factors in the argument for schools to embrace and incorporate inquiry learning and information literacy models. They do not, however, specifically address why it is beneficial to institute a single information literacy model or learning process throughout the school. Interviews with students at the Stonefields School in New Zealand demonstrated to me the power of using a consistent terminology and process across the learning of the school. In the video posted by Sarah Martin (2012) you can see that the use of a common terminology enables students across the span of ages and levels to verbalise their experience of the learning process. Some of the children, especially the younger ones, seem to just be parroting phrases they have memorised. However, the in-depth interview with older students in Treadwell’s (2013) video shows that the terminology and processes are being internalised and transferred to areas of learning even beyond the inquiry (or “Breakthrough”) projects. Seeing the results of a single learning process and shared terminology being applied across a school is what convinced me that this is a good idea and inspired me to advocate for it at any school where I work in a substantial role.

References

Bonanno, K. (2014) F-10 inquiry skills scope and sequence, and F-10 core skills and tools. Retrieved May 3, 2018 from https://eduwebinar.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/curriculum_mapping.pdf
Lupton, M.(2014) Inquiry skills in the Australian Curriculum. Access, 6(November), 8-29.
Martin, S. 2012. Stonefields School building learning capacity [Video file]. Retrieved May 3, 2018 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tMB7b1rmmrM
Treadwell, M. 2013. Stonefields2 [Video file]. Retrieved May 3, 2018 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RGbGiMeLk_M

May 1

Musings on the socio-cultural approach – how do you scale up successfully?

I have just finished the essential readings for the section on the Socio-Cultural Approach to Information Literacy:

Read (essential)

Lloyd, A. (2007). Recasting information literacy as sociocultural practice: Implications for library and information science researchers. Information Research, 12(4).
Farrell ,R. & Badke, W. (2015). Situating information literacy in the disciplines: A practical and systematic approach for academic librarians. Reference Services Review, 43(2). CSU Library.
Talja, S. & Lloyd, A. (2010). Integrating theories of learning, literacies and information practices. In Talja, S. & Lloyd, A. (2010). Practising information literacy: Bringing theories of learning, practice and information literacy together. Wagga Wagga, NSW: Centre for Information Studies. pp. ix-xviii.

While I feel a pull towards the socio-cultural and constructivist philosophies and pedagogies, I have problems resolving some philosophical and practical considerations. I think one of my main philosophical objections with the constructivist and socio-cultural approaches are their sidelining or at least seeming repudiation of explicit instruction. I was encouraged recently by watching a John Hattie video clip that reminded me that I can embrace elements of theses approaches without abandoning elements of other approaches that resonate with my experience.

My main practical concern is how do we get there and how do we know if we have succeeded? How can the structure of public education change to incorporate this pedagogical philosophy and how can we assess socio-cultural teaching and learning on a large scale in an authentic way? For, while I think that different pedagogical philosophies can be integrated, I do not believe it is fair or effective to conduct the business of teaching and learning mainly under one pedagogical approach and then assess it according to methods developed to be consistent with another. That leads to my mixed emotions on watching a video clip from The Project which featured politicians and educational reformers discussing reforming Australian education to a more individualised learning structure that develops 21st century competencies – but still seemed to think the gains from that switch could be assessed using measures such as NAPLAN and PISA. (Though, to be fair, assessment was not really broached simply implied when lamenting Australia’s fall in global rankings.)

Does anyone have any good ideas or resources regarding assessment of socio-culturally situated teaching and learning that can be used on a national scale?