Vince and I completed another busy day yesterday here at the Southern Oregon University – presenting an afternoon seminar to around 120 student teachers who are about to graduate.
We provided an overview of the various projects that we are involved in in NZ – and focused on sharing stories of what NZ teachers are doing and their action research findings from this work.
We particularly empahsised the involvement of learners in the learning process, providing examples of highly participatory learning experiences in contrast to approaches that are ‘teacher led’.
In doing so we demonstrated a range of the collaborative and community building tools that we are currently making a lot of use of in NZ schools, and which, from our experience, school students in NZ are quite familiar with. These include things such as blogs, wikis, podcasting, vlogging, texting, and RSS aggregator tools.
It surprised us a little to find that, of the 120 students in the group, while most were aware of texting, there were at most around six who recognised or had an awareness of any of the other technologies.
When we began talking about massively multiple player games (MMPGs) as the sort of thing that many of the learners that these new teachers will soon encounter are using and learning from in their lives right now, only two of the group had actually played such games and knew what they were.
Like so many of the teacher education programmes that we are aware of in NZ, there is a focus on the development of skills and understanding how to use many of these technologies, but little is done to explore how they might be integrated effectively into classroom programmes, or the pedagogical application of these. We shared the research and development work we’ve been doing with the “Educational Positioning System” to illustrate how teachers may reflect on and self evaluate their efforts in this area. The EPS has been well received here – particularly the “island” metaphor that is used as an interprative device.
For us it was an interesting experience, and further reinforced the gap that is widening between the digital natives and digital immigrants – and the challenge that exists for us in education as to how we adequately prepare our new teachers, and upskill existing teachers, to cater for the types of students that are already in our schools.