I woke early and got out the hotel to take some pictures. I am so glad I did.
Having collaborated with others via Skydrive and OneNote and had several online presentations before hand I had some idea of the intensity and level of work expected, it was high, but when I looked at the first days agenda I did take a bit of a gulp.
Each of the streams were equally intense. This was no ‘jolly’.
The Institute Kick-Off was:
‘Dimensions of 21st Century Learning’.
This introduced ITL Research’s work. Over the week we would be looking at and using these dimension’s with our teams to develop an understanding of them and how they can be used to gain an understanding of these skills.
I should say here that I don’t believe that 21st Century skills are new. I think that the skills identified as 21st century have always been part of good education since the Platonic Academy. I think that it did loss its way into an industrial system and needs to be refocused with the use of technology to refocus it.
The first dimension looked at was Collaboration. This defined as below with each area having a Code:
- working alone - 1
- Working together -2
- Shared responsibility - 3
- Substantive Decisions made together - 4
This is a code to identify what's happening it is not a score. Though it can be very difficult not to apply a score to this. Sometimes though you don’t want collaboration within a particular learning sub topic. The dimensions are about a balance across a topic.
We were given some examples of class exercises and asked to code these. At first individually, then in pairs and lastly in tables. This proved to be a very ‘lively’ discussion. The debates and justification of choices were excellent. True professional dialogue.
We had to do the same exercise with our teams so it was important we these clear in our heads too. The discussions continued as we moved to session 2.
Theme: Shout and the learning activities
Shout is the environmental project which started last year. Mandeep Atwell told us about the background from last year and we were introduced this years theme Water. This is a theme that our groups will work around to produce a learning resource for.
Again lots of discussions in our teams about initial ideas. I saw my role to be a mentor not a leader of the group. I wanted the group to drive it themselves with some direction from me.
We spent a lot of time developing ideas and possibilities add in discussions on What is Collaboration and what could be done it was very active time.
Some of the team members wanted to given more information on what was being assessed and what was expected but the idea was to leave this as open as possible. It was safe to say that the desire of the planning group to make the teachers uncomfortable was achieved.
Living and learning in a Global Community - Will Richardson
Heads still spinning from the morning we went into hear Will Richardson add another bit of momentum to the spinning heads.
I have followed Will Richardson on Twitter for a long time now. So I was quite prepared for his ideas. What I wasn’t prepared for was the number of teachers who hadn’t heard these ideas before.
Below a TEDx Talk which gives a cut down version of the talk given.
The second big surprise was an example used during his talk. It was how his son was given an introductory talk on Scratch Programming by a 10 year old from Perth, Scotland. An image appeared on the screen and I see my old friend Neil Winton appear. I think I I may have even said an expletive (Oh FFS). You really can’t go anywhere.
Neil’s side of the story is at http://nwinton.wordpress.com/2007/10/30/that-scratch-is-spreading/
This again started lots of discussions on what education is and the role of the teacher in that.
With more learning excursion talks and getting the start of the process in place as well getting to know lots of new people. All of whom I could talked to and learned from all day. The day was full.
The evening also became spectacular. With a reception in the American History Museum.
An amazing event in an amazing building. We could wonder round and enjoy the place and the amazing company. Educators from Australia, Alaska, even Wales! (I have to acknowledge my fellow UK representatives of Gareth Ritter (Wales), Ollie Bray (Scotland via somewhere south), Tony McDaid (HT Calderglen High School), Ben Rowe (Saltash, Cornwall), Stuart Ball (UK PIL Microsoft & Wales) and Steve Beswick (MS Education Director UK). Without whom it would never have been half as enjoyable or as fun.