Friday, 30 December 2011

Sir Ken Robinson on why alternative education approaches need to become mainstream

In this video from the closing session of TEDx London Sir Ken Robinson comments on how many of the principles of alternative education - high engagement levels for students, strong connections between teachers and students - should be the principles of mainstream education.

A transcript can be downloaded here, thanks to the inSync21 website.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Mobile, and not-so-mobile, learning technologies

Our capital expenditure budgets have been set for 2012, so this week we've been working out how best to allocate the funds we have been given for the project.

We're working with the idea that there are three main sorts of tasks that students will be using digital technologies for: visual content generation (ie designing page layouts etc); research and written content generation and social media; recording of assessment information. Our device purchases will be dictated by what will best enable students and teachers to accomplish these tasks.

So far our selection is looking like:
  • several iMacs, primarily for visual content generation
  • a Canon EOS 550D for still and video content generation and recording interviews
  • an iPad2 for mobile editing and uploading of content, and social media
  • a digital camcorder for recording interviews and assessment presentations
  • a data projector for presentations and whole group discussions
  • several older Macs for research, written content generation, and social media
  • Adobe Creative Suite

In addition to the hardware and software that we'll provide, we're expecting some of the students to want to bring along their own laptops and mobile devices to work on, so we'll be making wifi available to them.

Students within the project will also have access to a range of other ICTs and gear through our Art Department - digital SLRs, printers etc.

We're interested to read comments from anyone who might have some alternative suggestions about the ICTs we may need. Bear in mind we're working on a pretty limited budget - once the magazine's famous and the advertisers are flocking to us we'll look at providing each student with a MacBookPro, an iPad3 and a Canon EOS 5D!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, 15 December 2011

A plan is developing

We've spent much of today working through a week by week plan of what students will need to learn and accomplish to achieve the goal of producing a professional quality magazine. The following are a couple of observations about this process:
  • Thinking in week-long (rather than period-long) blocks of learning requires quite a change of mindset. Exactly how much can a group of 16 and 17 year-olds achieve in 20 hours? How long can they sustain their focus on a particular task? How much variety and self-direction will work well for them? I guess we'll find out next year if what we've planned was appropriate or not!
  • Most NCEA standards seem to be designed to assess small chunks of learning, rather than sustained blocks of it. We've allocated a whole range of standards to the initial tasks (developing briefs, presenting concepts, research, interviews), but it seems there are less opportunities to acknowledge the refinement and crafting of the students' articles and page designs. This does mean that by the time they are half way through the project the students should have more than half of their credits, which will be reassuring for those who want to measure such things.
More observations to come later.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

So, what will the project look like?

The essence of the project is that by working to produce an authentic product students will generate evidence of rich learning that can then be assessed against a range of NCEA standards.

To complete this project, students will work as a group for all but one 'line' of their senior school timetable (approximately 20 hours per week of class time, plus whatever additional time they are willing to dedicate to it). By the end of the second term this group of students will have produced the magazine and an associated website, both of such a standard that they will be hard to distinguish from any other boutique magazine.

The website will be launched in early March 2012, and our big deadline for sending the magazine to print is at the end of June 2012. Once this phase of the project is completed students will move on to preparing for their external NCEA assessments (Visual Arts folios, English, Media Studies and other exams). The students will follow a normal programme of study for their other line of the timetable (a chance for them to have a break from the single class, and to pursue an area of learning that falls outside of the magazine project.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Welcome to the Curriculum Integration Project blog

This blog tracks the development of an educational experiment. It records the progress of an attempt to integrate a range of learning across multiple curriculum areas, as three teachers, 21 senior secondary students, and multiple guests, advisers, and contributors collaborate to create a visual culture magazine.

The people involved:

Sam Cunnane: Visual arts teacher and assessment specialist. Project leader.

Lorena Strother: English teacher and assessment specialist.

Angela Rogerson: Visual arts teacher.

Twent-one NZC Level 7 and 8 students: More about them coming soon on their blogs, which will be launched in February 2012.

Virginia Crawford: Principal, Fraser High School.

Peter Robinson: Systems and IT manager.

The project will officially kick off in February 2012, when the students join us for the start of the school year. Over the next two months you'll be able to follow us as we complete the planning phase of the project. After that you'll be able to read about our progress as we develop the magazine.