Monday, August 26, 2013

The success of the Finnish education system; a reoccurring topic!

Check out this article from today's New Zealand Herald.  It's about he success of the Finnish education system, with some insight as to how the level of success is achieved.  The article starts:

'I'm a bit in love with Finland. Or at least its education system. I've never been there but I'm enamoured with it after reading an excerpt from a new book called How Do Other Countries Create Smarter Kids?'

To read the article in full, click here.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Preparing today's students for their future careers

Here's another interesting article from Fast Company Magazine.  The article looks to the future to identify eight possible future careers (that don't currently exist).  To find out what they are, click here.

Are our students going to be ready for these possible futures, or will educators keep doing what we've always done, because that is what we know how to do?

Saturday, August 17, 2013

How to make children happy (and more successful at school)

We want our students to be happy, because happy students are more likely to be engaged students, with engagement leading to higher levels of achievement.  Check out this article from the Fast Company website.  It includes 10 scientifically proven ways to make us happy.  All are things that could easily be done, either at school or home. For those children who we feel don't get the backing from home that we would like, most could be done at school alone.

To read the list, click here.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

A possible future for education

This is an article I did for a course I'm doing for my Masters in Education.  It's an article written from a future perspective on what could happen in education.

Students Take Over the 'Classroom'
Teachers are a thing of the past; children have taken over the classroom to design their own learning programmes.

Education has changed a lot in recent times; students are no longer following a timetable and lesson plans set by their teacher within the four walls of a classroom.  They are now planning their own learning and doing it anywhere; at home, in the local library, or even in the park on a sunny afternoon!

Since the introduction of online learning programmes and the availability inexpensive hardware to access content, there has been a significant change in the way that many students are going about their learning.

With the nationwide availability of ultra fast broadband and inexpensive throwaway mobile learning tools, personalized learning is available to just about anyone who chooses this means of education.  However, there are 'losers' in this story; those teachers and educators who didn't prepare for the future back as far as 2013 and start to up-skill themselves and future-proof their schools to meet the needs of the next generation of learners.  The teachers and schools who saw where education was heading, and took the time to participate in professional development, are now in high demand to plan learning environments to meet the needs of the independent learner.

This news is significant and newsworthy as it shows how what was once seen as the only way of educating students, this being in a traditional school environment, can change through the use of new technology and a change of mindset.  Other organisations need to beware and forewarned; if it can happen in schools, it can happen in hospitals, the armed services; nowhere is 'safe' from the growing reach of new technologies.

Back in the early part of the century many aspects of using computers and ICT technology were quite complicated, often beyond the reach of primary school children.  A significant change happened with the introduction of the iPad and the app system that ran alongside it.  Since then technology has become increasingly accessible to even the youngest child.  No longer were children required to know complicated computer code; they now had access to a huge range of learning tools at the press of a button.

Around the same time as the iPad was introduced there also came a wealth of online courses that enabled students to participate in personalized learning programmes.  Remember the Khan Academy?  At the time it seemed to be groundbreaking, but only a few 'tech savvy  teachers were prepared to use it in the own classrooms.  Now teachers who don't utilize online programmes are seen as old fashioned relics who are trying to hold onto a system that is long past it's use by date.

Children are now able to design their own school curriculum with the aid of online tutors and quality interactive online learning programmes.  Children are working at a pace that suites them, and are no longer having to wait for their slower paced peers to catch up with them before moving on to a new concept. Virtual classrooms are now being set up all over the world, with New Zealand students in the same 'class' as children from Switzerland, Argentina, South Africa and anywhere else there are others with similar learning needs.  Students are now truly 'global independents' who are able to participate in their learning at anytime that suites them, not just simply between the hours of 9.00am and 3.00pm.

There hasn't been a new school built in New Zealand since 2020, and many schools are losing students in droves to online learning environments.  This has led to huge cost savings for the Ministry of Education, with funds now being targeted directly to teaching and learning, and away from bricks, mortar, administration and auxiliary staff wages.  This has enabled the Ministry to fund resources for every child moving to online schools, meaning that the latest technology isn't only available for those families who can afford it.

There are some who oppose the move towards student centered online learning.  Members of the Luddite School System have gone on record stating that children are losing their ability to interact with others in a normal face-to-face way.  The Luddite Charter School System strictly forbids the use of any modern technology in their classrooms, preferring their students take part in teacher led, practical hands-on activities with other children in their age group.

It will be interesting to see which education approach will win out in the long term.  However, at this point of time the move towards student centered online learning environments is attracting more students everyday.  It is clear that those who saw this type of learning as a possibility back as far as 2013 have had the advantage of being prepared for the future that has now happened.