Going with the flow ….. Plan B

We have all had moments in our teaching careers when something did not go according to plan and an immediate re-think is required.  Last night, I logged in to an Elluminate session that promised to be interesting-  Anne Mirtschin (@murcha)  hosting Jess McCulloch (@jessmcculloch) sharing web tools she has discovered.  Two names who are very well known to me through my online PLN.   Anne went about getting us to introduce ourselves and we had representation from Victoria, US, China and I think someone in Africa.  I am still impressed that educators from this far afield can come together to discuss these things from their lounge rooms.

 Anne (as Moderator)  had to do some very quick thinking, as it appeared that Jess was having problems and was not in the room.  What ensued was a wonderful hour (well I could only stay for about 35 mins) where Anne orchestrated the participants to share their own ideas.   This involved online coaching on the intricacies of screensharing in elluminate etc. 

 So in 35 minutes, I added 5 fantastic links to my Delicious account    Because of this impromptu session I have been alerted to :

  1. Spezify – a really cool visual Search engine
  2. Search-Cube – another cool search engine which represents results graphically
  3. Lure of the labrynth – an amazing maths problem solving adventure
  4. Story Jumper – well I had seen this before but not used it – I might now that I have been re-inspired
  5. PLENK – Personal learning and Environment Networks and Knowledge 2010 – an online free PD course
  6. I missed the last few minutes so I am sure I missed more !

I consider that a pretty worthwhile 35 minutes spent !  Thanks to Anne, for keeping the ball rolling and all the participants for joining in – a true example of collaboration at work.

Learning Spaces

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“It is the learning space between the ears that makes the difference” Pru

There has been much talk recently of learning spaces – many schools are doing amazing things – really thinking outside the square when it comes to designing the places we work in and we send our children to.

Another Elluminate session in Helen Otway’s “It takes a village” program continues the discussion on Learning spaces, Learning Paradigms and Learning Cultures.  This time, it was Greg Whitby (Executive Director of Schools, Catholic Education Office, Diocese of Parramatta) turn to lead the discussion and inspire thoughts about defining the business of schooling.
Once again, it was thought provoking and I struggle to paraphrase or summarise the discussion successfully. I have been re-thinking the following key phrase from Greg’s presentation.

“Who learns what, with whom, when and where” basically, this refers to the altering nature of the relationship between learners, teachers and the wider world.

Other points of note from Greg’s presentation which tie into the above statement:
• School is no longer the centre of learning
• Teaching in the 21st century is more difficult than in the 20th century
• We can no longer rely on a ‘one size fits all’ mentality
• Teachers need to improve their reflective practices and constantly review and react. They need to step back and ask questions of the learners. What do you want to learn and how?
• Teaching needs to be de-privatised and learning needs to personalised

The aspect of de-privatising teachers is interesting – I believe that the numbers of teachers who are blogging and tweeting shows that many are already on that path. Indeed, the attendance at an Elluminate session is evidence of this too. They (we) have realised that there are enormous benefits to be gained by exposing ourselves (be nice) to the world beyond our classrooms and indeed beyond our schools. The power of the PLN – much written about is expanding exponentially. Personally, I will admit that despite attendance at a variety of professional development courses and ‘network’ meetings, these face to face opportunities pale when compared with the value of my on-line network. I know, face to face is important, but in reality, I will never be face to face with a Principal in Canada, wonderful teachers in other part of my city or state or a volunteer teacher in Sri Lanka. Therefore, our learning spaces have changed as to those of the children we teach.

Once again, I posed the question to the group. “How do we embark on the learner centred, open style classroom when we are confined by the bricks walls surrounding one teacher and 25 kids model?” The response came from the chat from Pru “It is the learning space between the ears that makes the difference”

Thanks, I think you summed it up – but of course that leaves the question “How do change people’s thinking when they don’t see the need to change or are too restrained by fear to look around?”