Apologies for this blog title, I understand the problems with it, any alternative suggestions are welcome.
See this link to DerekWenmoth's Blog on the following graphic showing an increase in demand for online courses. As stated by Derek, interesting that this is validated.
(Additional to original post - the above zoom.it presenation has been added so that this graphic can be looked at easily, my original effort below was a simple image embed, hard to read without adjustiung browser zoom - I am happy with zoom.it to present this graphic - found it via twitter @carlscurr on Technology For Teachers blog)
Validated is the key phrase for me. How to validate 'The Shift'. Seems simple, I read examples everyday of sound analysis and validation of 'The Shift', and after reading a few key blogs and commentaries it seems obvious that our world will be (or is already) completely different to the one when I was at school. Follow twitter during Ulearn and this is even easier, all of a sudden the future seems clear, if very complicated.
Feedback from the primary and middle years parent community in my school has shown that there is a concern of parents (and students) of the perceived shift away from traditional learning programs towards 'online' versions and that this will cause problems for the secondary school experience which is seen as requiring 'traditional' approaches. A valid question that needs a good answer in order to instill confidence in any change of direction.
I see a gap between three groups.
- The thoughts, enthusiasm and passion of the bloggers and educationalists of the online community (including many classroom teachers)
- The many teachers in schools who have not read or do not follow the online community
- The parents of the students who follow neither of the first two groups.
Preaching to the converted has become a frustration. What's the point of this meeting of 'like minds' with regards to the 'unconverted'. Instead of discussing everything we think of as great, the harder activity is to 'sell' this vision to the yet to be converted. Converted implies 'belief', which requires 'buy in' - this then is the issue. How does this succeed? What are the strategies?
I am finding the gap between enthusiastic, optimistic, conceptual blogposts, staffroom conversations and after school parent meetings getting wider and wider - more than the traditional gap between latest pedagogy and 'on the ground' conversations (scenarios that are common and familiar to many teachers. For example, the generational changes to maths through the New Zealand Numeracy Project. The delayed teaching of vertical/written/column calculations. These familiar conversations are fine, they are conversations that deal with familiar subjects. In maths, the new way still deals in numbers on paper, methods are just written differently, and then you can always revert back to the old way, you still get an answer. 'The Shift' is a completely different kettle of fish.
It is unacceptable to tell your parents that this is better because we say so. How then, do you address the worry of loosing the traditional way, the perceived loss of rigour and replacement of a 'new way', of a multimedia, critical thinking, life skill based curriculum. How do you reassure the spelling, handwriting, rote learning and general knowledge concerns that are powerful and real?
On reflection of two years teaching a 1:1 laptop class which has started from a two class team and grown to a five class team it seems that despite the initial dreamlike scenario of students having all day access to devices, that this has in fact emphasised the above concerns beyond our initial predictions. Having spent months before, and extra hours during, the 1:1 period researching 'The Shift', not enough time was put into 'The Sell, of the The Shift'. We should have included in our energies, 'The Sell', the sharing of vision.
How this sharing looks is important. My overall experience of staff PD has been long one off sessions, I would much prefer, short regular sessions that keep prompting action. For parent reassurance this also needs to happen. Regular, short (and convenient) sessions, 'Drop-ins' could be one way. Another short and regular strategy is within the vital day to day conversations between class teachers and the parent community, yet this can only succeed if staff (the second group) have also 'bought in', this then is the staff PD. Same plan, regular and short - weekly, relevant to classroom day to day experiences, a sharing community.
I think the 'gap' between the three groups is huge, the online community is fantastic, ideas spread easily and 'The Shift' is in it's early days. My future energies will continue to follow and learn from the amazing bloggers out there, however, my mind will also be firmly set on 'The Sell' of 'The Shift' and the discovery of how to do this.