Thursday, February 12, 2015

Rethinking BETT show 2015

This year´s BETT hype was computing, robotics and different kinds of little gadgets you can program to do different things. So far I’ve been thinking very positively about coding and even attended a couple of courses to understand a bit more about what it’s all about – especially as coding is now included in the Finnish school core curriculum. At BETT I started to get increasingly concerned about engineers taking over education.

It’s clear that the big businesses are mainly interested in selling (actual) things: tablets, laptops, mobile devices, robots, 3D printers, screens (the bigger  the better), smart boards etc. A few years back everybody was talking about serious games and gamification of learning. Well, it proved to be something teachers found exciting and full of possibilities, but the schools had/have no money, so the interest in developing serious games slowly expired. No big bucks in that line of business. Now, we've come to the point where teachers and students are encouraged to create learning games themselves. It develops creativity and problem solving skills. Yippee! And your hard work will be recognized by a cute digital badge, if you share your game with the rest of the world.

In the light of sustainable development and solutions for the future, I’d like to see more open learning solutions, less to do with different devices and more to do with thinking and problem solving. More BYOD-based and 1:2-4 learning, prioritizing collaboration and team work skills, communication and creative inquiry.  For me the idea of the internet of things in which I have to update my washing machine (and all other home electronics) once in six months and change it for a newer model every two years is a horrible nightmare. Perhaps, it’s not a surprise that WALL-E is one of my all-time film favorites.

However, contrary to the show of things, I did enjoy the show of thoughts at BETT. Dr. Ashley Tan questioned the conventional way of flipping. It shouldn’t just be teachers working overtime making videos and students doing their homework in a bit different way than usual. Flipping entails rethinking of teaching and curriculum. In true flipping the conventional classroom roles are flipped, students are learning content creators and teach each other. For me that’s an inspiring idea and supports students engagement and them taking ownership of their learning. It shows way towards more personalized learning and design learning.

After spending three days looking at devices, gadgets, things and stuff, it was very refreshing and absolutely fascinating to listen to Sir Ken Robinson talking. He hardly mentioned technologies, but talked very critically about education. “I’m criticizing school culture and standardization, not teachers.” he said. Human mind is inherently creative. Creativity, imagination and innovation should form the corner stones of education. Education should support diversity instead of conformity. I totally agree. But how do I convince the decision makers, as creativity and diversity are difficult to measure and convert into Big Data. Blimey!

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