This morning I was studying again for my PGCERT, and the subject of the lesson was 'Technology for Learning.'
It's difficult sometimes when you're sat in a situation like that and you sort of know everything that's being said. If you say too much you look like an arrogant know-it-all and if you say nothing people keep on talking at you about stuff you know.
I'd say I know a fair amount when it comes to technologies - and I'm ok at web technologies too. I don't know as much as some of you, but I'm ok. Also, as Central St Martins is supposedly one of the best design colleges in the world, I'd like to think the staff exemplify this. If the PGCERT has made any impression on me it's to question this thought.
Certainly I've seen more than one example from staff believing that they are the king of the castle and their students should work in their way. I'm of the opposite view. We are servents to the students and we need to inspire them to learn (within reason) in the manner that they understand and excel at. If they're using technologies such as blogs and wikis to communicate then staff need to know about them - or at the very least they need to understand them.
What was apparent to me this morning (to be fair, the teachers weren't all from St. Martins) was that there is a deep, deep lack of knowledge of even what I would class as the most basic web technologies. People were mixing up wikis with MySpace and asking the difference between podcasts and blogs. They're not IT teachers, granted, but as I said this morning - surely creativity is driven by the fact that we're inquisitive and we want to learn new things and understand things? There was very much the "I've got no time to do blogs" feeling this morning.
I don't think it's an intelligence thing. There were some very very clever people in that room, and what I could see was people not wanting to keep up with new methods of teaching and learning. There was a certain element who grasped every opportunity to rubbish new technologies and the basis that they are built upon. The old Wikipedia v Encyclopedia Britannica debate came up and while I'm more than happy to listen (and contribute) to both sides of the argument I'd expect a more balanced comment than "Britannica is experts, Wikipedia isn't." I asked someone to define 'expert' and the room went quiet (when I sort of expected someone to say "us!"...).
Most short sighted comment of the day was: "... and when I set them some work I want to see them reading books. Some of them come in with stuff they've found on Google... and some of it is awful!"... which displays a deep misunderstanding of the fact that Google is a search tool and in fact it's the decisions the student makes based around the information it brings up that should be acted on and marked. Like not taking every fact from one book...
Lessons like this morning get me down a bit. Whether we like it or not, students now have to stump up a lot of cash to study. If I had to stump up tens of thousands of pounds for a course at a good university I'd at least expect my teacher to understand the modern world and how it functions.
I've tried to write this in the least pious language possible. I'm not a know-it-all but I just feel for students whose teachers don't recognise good honest, in depth, intelligent research because it's been sourced via the web. Am I being too critical?
This morning I had to give a presentation to my PGCERT class at St. Martins. As Russell mentions here, planners do a lot of presentations. They sort of become second nature and you sort of know that you're ok at them.
But just once in a while you nail one. And you feel great for it.
Earlier in the week we (me and some friends/ colleagues) presented to a room full of big bods from a big-arse company. That went well too. I'll post that at a later date, but today I just wanted to put up the slides from the presentation today.
And to add to it - I'm not going to put up any narration. There are only images and 2 slides with text. This isn't for any vainglorious attempt to show off my presenting skills (it only took me 15 minutes to sort out) - but probably to hightlight the fact that any successful presentation needs considered, accurate narration. Oh, and Flickr and access to a digital camera are essential.
If anyone is the least bit interested - get in touch and I'll talk you through it.
As part of my progress as a professional and to try and understand humanity a little better, I do some tutoring at St. Martins College on an MA course. As part of this I'm currently studying again, too. I'm working toward a Postgraduate Certificate for Learning and Teaching in Higher Education. Sounds all impressive but it's not really.
Since the Dearing Report in 1997 it's now compulsory for all teachers to partake of this certificate. What this means is that the PGCERT is attended both by people who have been teaching for 20-30 years and have been forced to study the certificate, and by young(ish) forward thinking, relatively inexperienced teachers like me. The PGCERT is the Higher Educational equivalent of the PGCE - for those that are interested in that kind of stuff.
Anyway - in my lesson on Friday we were discussing the fundamentals of Action Research and Pedagogical Theory... this was the pseudo-architectural response by some of the more experienced members who aren't really there by choice.