The cause and effect conundrum

Photo by Marvin Meyer on Unsplash It seems that any investment made in education is generally assessed in terms of the impact on improving outcomes for learners. Not an unreasonable assumption, since the fundamental purpose of schools is to ’cause learning’ for their students, and anything a school does should reasonably be assumed to be adding to that goal. Consider, for example, the investment made in text books and physical resources such as art supplies, outdoor ed and phys ed equipment, science supplies etc. The rationale for investing in these things is generally based on the way in which they … Continue reading The cause and effect conundrum

The future of (online) learning?

For those who know me or have followed this blog for some time you’ll know that I’ve been involved in the field of distance education and online learning for well over 30 years now. You’ll also know that I’m a sort of ‘systems’ thinker when it comes to finding ways of designing and supporting sustainable approaches to distance/online learning. For example, my early work in distance education was focused on designing and developing print-based materials, with embedded ‘conversations in print’ to guide learners through the instructional content etc. When the WWW come along I switched to using notepad on my … Continue reading The future of (online) learning?

What’s in a name?

It’s said that a person’s name is the greatest connection to their own identity and individuality. Some might say it is the most important word in the world to that person. I’m not really sure why I was given my name – it has no family history that I know of. To my knowledge it was just a name that appealed to my mother. But I like it – Derek is an uncomplicated name – although it has numerous variants in terms of how it is spelt. Dereck, Derrick, Derik etc. I’ve had them all on letters addressed to me – but somehow I still recognised … Continue reading What’s in a name?

Equity – a collective effort required

Equity is a hot topic among many involved in researching and reflecting on what we have learned from the COVID pandemic, and the forced lockdown of schools. Many in our system have seen, possibly for the first time, the full extent of inequity experienced by many learners (and their whānau/family) – much of which is ‘hidden’ from view in our relatively ‘homogenised’ school settings. Despite this, in parts of the world where the immediate threat and impact of the pandemic appears to be under control, and the opportunity to return to school is possible, we’re hearing many in rather relieved … Continue reading Equity – a collective effort required

Instruction vs learning

Earlier in my career as an educator I trained in the discipline of instructional design as I began working in distance education. Back then this was thought of as the process of creating learning experiences and materials in a manner that results in the acquisition and application of knowledge and skills. It involved a systematic process of assessing needs, designing a learning sequence, developing materials to support that and evaluating their effectiveness as the learner engages with them. I found this discipline fascinating as it required me to apply rigour everything I did at every step in my planning to work with … Continue reading Instruction vs learning

Relishing relational leadership

Relational leadership is not another style of leadership rather a ‘way of being’ in leadership David Giles In my previous post I focused on a negative aspect of what is being demonstrated in the place of leadership in some of our schools and businesses, so in this post I want to put forward what I see as the positive alternative. This focuses on the nature of leadership – the sort of leadership that inspires, encourages and takes an organisation forward – with the whole team behind it. A lot has been written about leadership in recent decades – and I’ve … Continue reading Relishing relational leadership

The misery of managerialism

“Managerialism, involves belief in the value of professional managers and of the concepts and methods they use. Contemporary writers on management such as Thomas Diefenbach associate managerialism with hierarchy.” Wikipedia A common tension that exists in almost every organisation is how to balance the tension between the push for innovation and the need to keep things stable and on course. It is the classic ‘leadership vs management’ debate, often characterised by the saying that ‘managers do things right, while leaders do the right things.’ This applies to schools as much as it does in any business setting. We must avoid any binary thinking … Continue reading The misery of managerialism

Sensible screen use

Screens have been a regular part of the lives of people in many parts of the world since the introduction of television in the 1950s (or 1960s in NZ), and then with computers soon after. The release of the iPhone in 2007 saw a significant increase in the way we access information via a screen now small enough to fit in our pockets. Schools have been among the early adopters of this technology, with the benefits such devices afforded in classrooms being recognised in terms of ease of access to information as well as to an ever increasing range of … Continue reading Sensible screen use

You, us, we…

Nā tō rourou, nā taku rourou ka ora ai te iwi With your food basket and my food basket the people will thrive The well known whakatauki above encapsulates the notion that while working in isolation might result in survival, working together can take people beyond survival and onto prosperity. As inspirational as this notion is, it’s not something I see manifest in much of how we operate in the education system at present. Yes, at a local level we can celebrate instances of this – but at a system level we remain focused on the silos we inhabit and … Continue reading You, us, we…

Designing Equitable Learning #2

“We need to be very clear that there cannot be learner-centred education without equity at the forefront” Carlos Moreno @Carlos_Moreno06 With equity becoming increasingly the focus of education systems around the world, particularly in the wake of the COVID-19 experience, the contributions to the recent Fielding International webinar series have been a ‘breath of fresh air’, providing a sense of ‘what’s possible’ when we work together to design learning experiences and environments that accommodate the diversity represented in our student groups. It is appropriate timing given the news in this morning’s paper here in NZ titled One-size-fits-all’ teaching approach doesn’t … Continue reading Designing Equitable Learning #2