First up was Linda Pitt, Manager, Discovery Programs, eLearning, QLD Department of Education and Training. Linda gave an overview of The Learning Place. I encourage you to check it out – they are doing some fantastic things.
The Learning Places works on the theory that a robust digital education infrastructure involves three limbs – digital pedagogies, digital content, and e-learning spaces. It is trying to give students a ‘real-world’ experience through online networks. It is encourage use of digital spaces (such as Second Life) and tools such as blogging. It helps to have people blog their teaching and learning experiences to share with others and grow from everyone’s experiences.
Some other points made by Linda:
- Smart Classrooms not only need bandwidth they need access to trained facilitators that can show students how to learn online (via @MichaelSmale)
- One of the biggest problems for the learning place is low bandwidth in most QLD schools – only have a small number of schools with definite broadband – this is poor
- We want teachers to be able connect with experts out there, and we want teachers and students and students and students to be able to connect with each other, no matter where they are.
Second up was Professor Greg Hearn, ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation (QUT), Director Creative Workforce Program.
Main points made by Greg about new broadband technologies were:
- There is potential for a major paradigm shift in education
- We need innovation in all three layers (technology, content, social) to have real progress in education
- Some provocations for education –
o Is the music industry a model for the education system? Do we need new business and content models? What is the disruptive innovation that will bring about a paradigm shift in education?
o Should bots (online games) be adopted as the new primary school classroom?
o How do we harvest and accredit web 2.0 learning?
o Which is a more important budget item – the teacher or the IT infrastructure? They are roughly 50/50 at the moment – what should we spend more on?
o Who will be the gatekeeper of the virtual classrooms (that have no boundaries)
o Which physical facilities still add value in the education process?
Greg then moved on to facilitating discussion around some specific discussion points.
We focused on the two later discussion points of those provided to us by the main forum:
(2) Reality Check – what is holding us back?
- The digital literacy of the educators (may need retraining)
- One of the key restraints in our current education = regression in the mean i.e. we need to tailor programs to the less able students. One of the big changes that broadband can offer is bringing experts closer to students and tailoring education to the individual.
- How will we create the right environment for teachers to be able to handle multiple students using multiple technologies, at different levels and in different regions? – it will bust apart the system – it is a challenge – but we need to create digital support networks.
(3) Next steps – what needs to be done?
- Why don’t we de-regulate the university curriculum and let students do the individual courses they want to take?
- Individuals will be better catered for in an open system