We’ve just finished hosting quite an exciting event at one of our partner schools where members of staff have been showcasing their skills and their students’ skills in ICT. The aim was to create some real momentum towards developing ICT in the curriculum as the school moves towards it’s BSF rebuild in a few years’ time.
It was particularly exciting from my point of view as it was the teachers demonstrating, not us. It’s great as it shows where teachers have taken on the skills we have introduced and taken them to the next level.
As someone who runs occasional courses for outside agencies on stuff like white boards and digital media I’ve been getting increasing demoralised that I’m not actually doing much good. People have a nice time and they say lovely things on their feedback sheets but I’m skeptical about how much actually changes in the classroom given the investment of time and money.
The seminar also pointed out that the best way to develop skills was to develop collaborative communities of learners within the institution who share their own experience and knowledge and offer support…
…which made me think of another seminar I went to by Futurelabs on their “Enquiring Minds” project. Checking the website will be a much more useful and effective way of finding out about it than me telling you but in a nutshell…
An Enquiring Minds project is one where the enquiry is driven by the students. They establishing what they already know and care about and look for areas that they feel warrant further investigation. Drawing on resources like their teachers, each other, parent, local community, online community etc they research new topics and work towards ordering their findings and presenting them back in a method of their own choosing using whatever media they think appropriate.
The feedback from schools trying it out with students seem to be encouraging.
So what about staff? If it’s an effective, empowering way of learning for students surely it would also work with adults.
I have this rosey, glowing vision in my head of an elightened school leadership team fostering an Enquiring Minds-style collaborative learning community (pat pending) where the staff themselves assess their current levels of knowledge and determine which areas they want to develop. Working in “interest groups” with people of differing levels of skill and experience they research, draw on other sources of information and help and facilitate their own learning. The results are then shared widely across the school/LEA community and the process starts again. Some areas of development will be school wide (say for example when the school invests in a new piece of MIS software) but other areas wil be uncovered by teachers seeing good practice elsewhere, reading blogs or pure, naked inspiration!
No doubt this is already happening in some schools so it would be great to hear how well this works in practice
Have a look at the Enquiring Minds site and let me know if I’m talking rubbish or if you like the idea.