Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Creating an 'Innovation Ecology' in education and training

In 2009, Jane Figgis and Yvonne Hillier wrote research reports and carried out workshops around innovative trends in teaching and learning in vocational education and training (VET) from within Australia and from an 'international' perspective for NCVER.

Figgis and Hillier's work describes what's required to enable an 'innovation ecology' for educators and trainers. Not unexpectingly, the 'culture' of an organisation plays a major role in nurturing and supporting innovation, with aspects like supporting:
- the development of critical reflective skills
- providing incentives and opportunities for learning especially informal

through personal/continuing professional development (CPD) which enable educators to take risks and not have to be 'perfect'all of the time.

Developing this type of workplace culture requires:
- supported mentoring,
- development of partnerships, including team building,
- developing networks and having networking opportunities, and
- deploying effective change management and continuous improvement processes

It also needs to consider:
- the individual educators' existing values and experiences,
- the different perspectives of the educators/trainers about the innovation and change process,
- the timing of introducing something 'new' into an organisation, from incremental ie you need to learn how to walk before you can run, to disruptive, where changes to work place practices is almost immediate.

The flood of technology into the education and training environment is building, but still a lot of education and training organisations have not fully embraced this 'innovative practice'.

The internet is creating an "emerging force of the collective" which "will shape the direction of society and business", which will mean that education and training organisations are going to be forced to take a 'disruptive' approach to adopting innovative ICT practices. So instead of ignoring (and blocking) technology, they should be embracing and learning how it can enable innovation and improved business practices. ("Shape of things to come", Beverly Head, Campus Review, 2 February 2010)

Can innovation become mainstream? Or is it no longer considered 'innovative' when everyone's doing it?

Monday, February 8, 2010

Open and Public - but for everyone?

A recent article on an 'Open Source Embargo' highlights that US Law prevents 'sanctioned nations' from accessing Open Source software from websites hosted in the US, such as

US Law states that sanctioned nations such as North Korea, Cuba, Sudan and Syria can not post to or access content from SourceForge, the "largest Open Source applications and software directory", prevented through having an identified sanctioned nation IP address.

I understand that these 'sanctioned nations' are embargoed by western nations due to their poor human rights or potential terrorist activity, but surely offering the people of these nations the opportunity to 'better themselves' should improve diplomatic relations.

I don't imagine that by allowing the people of these sanctioned nations to download the 'hottest software' they will treat their people any worst or lead to more terrorist activity.

But these type of restrictions are not just restricted to 'sanctioned nations'.

Whilst investigating a UK Mobile Learning Network - MoLeNet - I discovered that because I didn't have a UK educational domain email I was not allowed to join and participate in their 'community of practice'.

And locally, we have similar 'embargos' on accessing educational resources, with some jurisdictions not allowing their neighbouring states/territories to freely access their publically funded 'intellectual property' - as this should only be for the benefit of their residents.

And finally, the 'closed shop, re-selling of public resources' attitude ie content and resources developed by public education and training organisations, whereby anything produced by an employee of these organisations 'belongs to the Minister', even if the resource is produced in the person's own time.

Surely Open Source ethos means EVERYBODY is allowed access?

And with the emergence of Creative Commons licencing for Australian Government information, publically funded educational resources should also be put into this category?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Content and Media Creation - fraught by digital evils?

Over the last decade, the Internet has shifted the power of access to information and knowledge, potentially making content the 'lowest common denominator' in learning, just like it did (together with cheaper storage and burnable DVDs/CDs) to the media, music and movie industry.

Jane Hart,and Jay Cross, and their colleagues at the Internet Time Alliance, state from their experience that the real strength to learning online is 'social learning'.

And with the release of the Apple iPad, the move to 'reading' content electronically will become status quo.

However, this week we've had a couple of media giants, Rubert Murdoch and Mark Cuban, speak out about how 'content not just king, it's the Emperor', and "Google as a Web giant ... reaps rewards from the labors of others" (respectively).

Locally, we've also had the media trying to sue an Internet Service Provider (ISP) for 'allowing' their clients to illegally download copyrighted material - isn't that like sending parents to jail when their children have broken the law?

Are we at the 'cross roads' of 'free' access to content, music and movies? And is it morally ethical to freely use the 'labors of others'?

Or are we seeing the captains of media (and shortly educational organisations) rambling as they are going down with their 'sinking ships'?

Or is the internet forcing companies and educational organisations to re-think their business models to cater for the emerging expectations of 'digital tribes'?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Effecting the change of Assessment and Teaching of 21st Century Skills

In my thoughts about what's required for effective 21st teaching and learning I realised that the key to changing teaching pedagogy, policy and practice is 'assessment'.

This realisation came after speaking with some young Year 12 teachers at a national event, who stated that they couldn't introduce anything extra into their teaching program as they had to make sure they covered what was going to be in the 'end of year' exam.

A light bulb went on.

I know as teachers we don't want to 'teach to the exam/test' but the actual reality is that we all want our students to be successful, so making sure they are competent and confident to tackle the final summative assessment becomes paramount over innovative teaching and learning.

This realisation attracted me to be a participant of an international project called "Assessment and Teaching of 21st Century Skills" (ATC21S).

This project, sponsored by Cisco Systems Inc, Intel Corporation and Microsoft Corp, and in Australia managed by the University of Melbourne, states:

“What is learned, how it is taught and how schools are organized must be transformed to respond to the social and economic needs of students and society as we face the challenges of the 21st century”

This project has recently published their Working Group's 'White Papers' about the project's progress.

The ATC21S project recognises that:

"Assessment plays a critical role in setting standards and influencing curricula at the local, regional, national and global level, so it is expected that these new assessments will motivate schools to do more to instill 21st-century skills."

Some key points I found interesting and progressive were:

- Finding new ways to measure, monitor and assess how people process information - "Evaluating not just students’ answers, but how fast they arrived at them and the processes they used — what the working group called making the students’ thinking visible" - GROUP 3 : Working Group on Technological Issues

- Determining how people collaborate to generate ideas/outputs to create change/improvement - "Collaborative knowledge building — how individuals work together to understand new material — as a key feature of modern workplaces and an important 21st-century skill. It noted that assessments in the future need to look not only at individual performance, but also at group performance." - GROUP 4 : Working Group on Classroom Environments and Formative Evaluation

Have you seen or been involved in any interesting/innovative projects to influence "Assessment and Teaching of 21st Century Skills"?