I saw on twitter that Tom Whitby had put out a call for bloggers to write a post on Ed reform today, and to collate the posts on a wallwisher wall.
At first I thought that this was likely to be a Stateside dominated venture, probably with a specific US context in mind. Then it occurred to me that even if that was the case, the mere fact that I knew about it illustrated that national boundaries are much less of a barrier than they once were. This was brought home last week when my developing writers in year 8 were thrilled to find that their tentative first pieces on our class blog had drawn – thanks to my publicising it on twitter – an audience of readers from around the globe.
So, I mentally planned a post that was to include reference to the value of global online connections, both to teachers and students. It would also have ranged (again, it’s a recurring theme for me) over the difficulties that crop up in trying to foster independent and collaborative learning using the wealth of tools that technology has made available.
However my plans were scuppered when my 8+ year old cable modem finally gave up the ghost this evening. A common worry, and reason for avoiding tech for some teachers, is that it can easily fail. Yet, despite my broadband Internet access failing completely for the first time in years, this blog post is here. Shorter, less carefully written, minus inline links, and with a different focus than it might have had otherwise. But nevertheless incontrovertibly here.
I am still connected by my phone. I was able to use it to troubleshoot the initial modem problem, then call Virgin media (in India,as it happens) to get a new modem ordered. I am using it now to write and post this blog. Our students will be using similar technology tomorrow to access sites that we have blocked for their ‘safety’, and on which they will find few models of responsible behaviour because we have largely withdrawn from their online spaces out of fear of ‘safeguarding’ issues. In the meantime they will he struggling to use computers that take an age to load up, before prematurely losing battery power, and that have their utility further denuded by a confused and ineffectual filtering policy that denies access to some of the most wonderful learning materials that human creativity and ingenuity has produced.
Hard-pressed technicians are running to stand still to keep systems operating that have not been designed with the needs of learners in mind. In the meantime, a cpd trainer, running a ‘learning to learn’ session refers again to the ‘Shift Happens’ video that our school staff were shown perhaps five years ago, around the time of our last such cpd session.
Yes. Shift happens, whether we want it to or not. Whether we embrace it or not. But if we are not actively a part of making and shaping that shift, there is a danger that suddenly we will find that we, and the young people it is our responsibility to guide, have had the ground shifted from beneath us.
(and it’s not just about technological shift; it can also be about matters as simple as shifting furniture, or as profound as shifting the way we think.