Students First

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Now that I’ve had time to read the Students First report from the Secondary Futures Group I thought I’d muse a little on what is in it. it is a good read – in fact, an essential read for anyone with an interest in the future of our education system!

There’s a strong link between the central theme of this report (Students First/customised learning) and the emerging focus of the current Minister of Education and his Ministry (Personalised Learning). Throughout the report there is reference to how ICT may contribute to the sort of educational future(s) that are envisaged, but ICTs themselves are not the drivers, nor are they presented as the ‘magic bullet’ that will immediately solve our problems.

The report identifies four trajectories that reflect emerging trends in education and learning as well as a
stronger focus on the purposes of education and the desired outcomes:

  1. Customised learning pathways – where student and teacher define a customised learning programme (note reference to teachers and learners working together to customise/personalise learning, NOT learners isolating themselves and making decisions about what and how they learn without reference to others).
  2. Linked-up learning programmes – recognising that learning happens from more than one site (where the idea of a ‘learning hub’ is discussed, sounding incredibly like the Virtual Learning Network that received a significant amount of money in this year’s budget)
  3. Multiple learning portals – recognising that several modes are used for learning (‘portals’ being used here in the wider sense of the ‘windows’ through which learners might see/access/participate in their learning – not simply in the online sense)
  4. Synchronised learning platforms – providing a network of learning and other services is available for each student (the use of the term ‘platforms’ may be problematic for the technologists among us, but in this context the use of ‘platforms’ refers to the range of educational interests that are being served – not just a schools perspective)

The diagram below (from page 11 of ther report) summarises the way in which all the elements referred to in this report are woven together.

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In contrast to the soundbites that were chosen by the media to release this document into the public forum, this report actually contains a framework and rationale that we’d do well to consider and engage with if we’re truly to have any chance of building an education future that is relevant in the 21st Century.

2 thoughts on “Students First

  1. Hi Derek this post is pretty relevant to me as I have been gauging feedback from our e-learning students on how they are progressing. More info on my recent blogpost but to summarise i found: “These couple of responses indicate a larger picture that needs to be addressed in schools when we think of ‘personalised’ learning (I did hear this catchphrase touted at ULearn…) – there is a lot of support that needs to sit in behind this for students & changes schools need to make to their structures and systems to allow for it. A big ask to move beyond rhetoric to reality.”
    So how do we get our schools on track towards these 4 trajectories? Saying this is what should happen in our schools – doesn’t necessarily follow that it will happen. Current practices & thinking in many schools needs to change to open the way to move forward.

  2. Rachel
    thanks for this – you’re quite right in observing that saying what shoul happen doesn’t mean it should – I guess my thoughts would be that this document provides some structure to the ways in which we should be talking and strategising at a school board and policy level, and following that we might see some changes in what happens. The problem at the moment is that so much of what we talk about wanting to do is prevented from happening because of the structures and policies that are currently in place – they act as barriers not enablers.

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