CoroNet Plenary

The Coronet Conference ended yesterday with a plenary that aroused considerable debate and interest. The plenary panel consisted of Nick Billowes (Ultralab), Mark Treadwell ( Teachers@Work), Douglas Harre ( Ministry of Education ICT Unit ), Margaret McLeod (principal, Wellington Girl’s College), John Locke (principal, Alfriston College), Jeremy Kedian (Manager, Educational Leadership Centre, Waikato University) and myself.

Issues raised and hotly debated in the plenary included:

  1. funding for schools – where will the money come from to allow schools to continue their professional development and ICT investment beyond the three years funding from the ICT PD contracts?
  2. ICT infrastructure – how can schools lobby govt./private enterprise to get the appropriate level of infrastructure in place to allow the level of connectivity and interoperability required for participation in the knowledge age
  3. future of schools – what is the threat to schools of the increased access to learning that students have outside of the school they attend? What will be the future role of schools in the knowledge age, where learning may occur 24/7?
  4. curriculum – how long will we be able to sustain a curriculum that divides human knowledge into subject areas, and denies the integrated nature of knowledge acquisition and the development of understanding and capabilities?
  5. Professional development – recognising that the average age of teachers is 47, how can we accelerate the level of adoption of ‘knowledge age’ teaching practices in order to avoid alienating an increasing number of our students??
  6. eLearning – need to recognise that there is more to eLearning than video conferencing (or any one element of the eLearning repertoire for that matter).

Much was said about the future of schools being based around meeting the social needs of students (not to mention the need of society to have these young people ‘looked after’ during the day) – one of the thoughts that appealed to me came from Jeremy who noted that while we acknowledge the significance and importance of schools for social development, we’ll not actually realise this goal as long as the way in which our schools are organised (eg timetables, subjects etc) actually minimise the opportunity for students to engage in this way.
There’s plenty more to be said on these and other topics that were raised in this plenary – I’m currently pondering how best to socialise these issues as they are of vital significance. Watch this space!

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