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Whatever Happened To The Revolution?

After having the luxury of spending several days attending sessions at three recent conferences in three countries, I am overcome by how little time is being spent on the real issues I feel we should be addressing.

Despite all protestations, most of the sessions that I attend are perennially focused on either the ‘technology’; to wit… the ‘pocket-electronic-whiteboards’,or ‘ipad religious fervor’, or the ‘tools’… and I know this is also hallowed ground, but goodness how many times do we have to schedule sessions to “teach” someone how to blog?

When do we get to focus our best thinking on what it all makes possible for young people? When will we see some seriously bold and ambitious examples of what universal technology access can enable for learners? We’ve had the baby steps, the incrementalism, the ‘two steps forward, one step back’…now is the time surely for the revolution…or at least a glimmer of genuine transformation.

In talking about revolutions, I’m most mindful of the $2 billion spent in my home country, Australia, under the banner of what is called the “Digital Education Revolution”. It was spent with the aim of meeting an election promise to provide one million students across the country with access to a computer while they were at school. Yes, you heard right. Not universal 24/7 access for learning within a contemporary context, but rather a narrowly based election promise around hardware….and no vision. Fortunately in Australia however, much was restored through the energy and focus of State Education jurisdictions, most notably in Victoria and Queensland, along with some great work at the systemic level in the Catholic sector.

So has there been a revolution? Well if there has, I’ve missed it. But I can report there has been some exceptional work at the individual school and classroom level, and who knows-- even a Federal education bureaucracy as conservative and limited as Australia’s hasn’t been able to stifle great innovators or their students once the technology rabbit gets out of the hat!

So what does this mean?

Well it gives hope that great change is coming, despite every effort being made to hold it back; it means we must not ever believe a lack of political vision will stop the inevitable fundamental change that is looming for our schools, and it reinforces my earlier thoughts about the critical importance of us engaging in conversations around what really matters…and what is truly worth doing.

This was the important learning we reflected on in our recent ‘Right to Learn’ paper, and it is now even more important as we see exponentially growing numbers of young people around the world getting universal access to their own personal portable computer.

Viva la Revolution…a revolution not of technology, but of ideas!!

….as always, I’m interested in your thoughts…
September 14th, 2011 @ 12:56PM

Hi Bruce, very happy you acknowledged the great work by the systemic Catholic schools. We jumped onboard right at the beginning of the DER in 2008 and now have half of our schools 1:1 Y9-12. Since the initial shock for some teachers the conversation has very much been about the ideas not the tech. A great example is the same teachers that freaked about moving to Mac (our schools went 50/50 Mac or PC) back in 2008 were frustrated in 2011 about the late delivery of laptops to students, they wanted to get on with the teaching and learning!

FYI - my research should start rolling out shortly http://evertonpom.blogspot.com/2011/06/initial-data-assessing-impact-of-1-to-1.html and http://evertonpom.blogspot.com/2011/06/postgraduate-proposal-assessing-impact.html


Posted By: Simon Crook on September 15th, 2011 @ 8:34PM
Tech based discussions
Hi Bruce,

You touch upon a very important point, I think. Here in Sweden, and I suspect around the globe, the problem when it comes to the digital learning revolution is the people controlling the debate. As I see it politicians and the "tech-people" are at the forefront. People like the minister of Education and representatives from Microsoft and the like. I'm not bashing on Microsoft, mind you, they do all sorts of good but I think the discussion is lacking the most important people. Namely the teachers. From all around we hear about this and that new tchnology that is supposed to help us but the main issue is not being adressed. When I, as a teacher, see something new to be used in the classroom I want to find the answer to the question: Why?

Hence, I think we teachers need to step up and take over the discussion. The aforementioned groups should ask us what we want, not tell us about some fancy new smartboard.

I am constantly trying to find way to incorporate media and technology in my teaching in the hopes of, on the one hand, create media savvy young adults and on the other find examples with which I can inspire other teachers around me.
If I and others like me get enough room in the debate I know we can spark the revolution.
Posted By: Kenth Sundlöf on September 16th, 2011 @ 6:36PM