Futurelab professor Lizbeth Goodman started by presenting the ClubTech programme which has successfully reached 5.4 million young people, very many of them poor and at risk, with very innovative and engaging technology programmes in the United States. It was exciting to hear that the ClubTech programme will be brought to Europe, Middle East and Africa by Futurelab through a partnership with Microsoft, but be totally redesigned, updated technically and localized. We are sure looking forward to this.
Sarah Payton took over for the workshop on Enquiring Minds: This is a four year programme by Futurelab in cooperation with Microsoft that aims to enable students to take more responsibility for the outcomes of their learning. Central themes are the 21st century leariner, the impact of digital technologies and knowledge/content. The main thesis is that students take to school important ideas, interests and experiences that can and should be taken as a starting point. “Can we bring that backpack of knowledge and experience into school and take it as a starting point for kids’ learning?”. Enquiring Minds mainly provides a framework to work with this method, in order to make it possible for every school to get started with this way of teaching.
The Enquiring Minds Framework shows how the enquiry-based activity may take place in the classroom. Stage 1 is about initiating and eliciting the children. It’s about exciting them, bringing them to talk about their knowledge and experience. In the second stage, children shape, define and focus an idea, question or subject and make plans to research it further. Stage 3 is the doing and making stage, where students research, design and construct in order to make a contribution in their chosen enquiry. The last stage is about communicating, presenting and evaluating their knowledge they gained. There are many ways this could be done – using technology or not.
What experiences do teachers and students have with this process? Sarah talked about the changing interaction in the classroom that many teachers experienced. They had more meaningful relationships as the students became stakeholders and even negotiators – they were encouraged to consider themselves as teachers to their classmates. Teachers also found they got to know their kids better, which in turn enabled them to respond better to their pupils needs. The students on the other side liked the freedom of choice: finally they may think for themselves, follow their interests and discuss what they find important. Also the students realized that the relationship to the teacher had changed, they had deeper, more meaningful conversations. Students thought they acquired skills for undertaking independent work, and thus were better prepared to do homework, prepare for exams and do papers.
The groups then started to work. First they explored how the experiences of today’s learners are different from those of the old days: the groups were encouraged to draw a picture of a 21st century learner, write/draw the skills we think this learner needs and describe the best equipped learner in a sentence. After this, the groups were introduced to the afternoon activities which would rely on the Enquiring Minds framework model – concentrating on phases 3 and 4. We received inputs and ideas how to think from different angles and narrow down the enquiry topic for the afternoon activity.
Stuart Bell from Microsoft UK gave us some ideas on what easy, free technologies to use for the presentations which would have to be ready tomorrow afternoon. He quickly gave us some ideas how to use Autocollage, Vitual Earth, PhotoStory, create a Deep Zoom in order to tell a story or “zoom in” on a topic. A colleague already uploaded a Photosynth of the Hofburg ITF venue. Or use Songsmith to tell a groovy story with a song. The links to all this cool stuff is to be found on uk.innovativeteachers.com.