Monday, September 24, 2007

Stephen Heppell @ The Scottish Learning Festival

{I wrote briefly about Stephen Heppell's keynote speech on the Connected Live blog but I wanted to capture a bit more here while it was still relatively fresh in my mind.}

Stephen Heppell
Stephen Heppell,
originally uploaded by DavidDMuir.
Stephen thinks we live in a world that has to be built bottom up and that the Scottish Learning Festival is a great example of this. Everywhere he looks he sees groups of teachers meeting together, talking together and getting excited about education.


The Internet doesn’t really do identity well. How many identities do you have on the Internet and who will you trust with your identity. We don’t trust politicians or companies or… Perhaps we trust our community. Perhaps we trust the educators in this room. We should be more in control of our digital identity.

Time is also treated badly – can you still access the web page you wrote five years ago?

Small is effective

What happens in our schools? We’ve ignored phones, we have poor real time data and find it hard/impossible to measure what we think is/will be important. Used SketchUp, claymation and Mark’s Coffee Break Spanish as examples of the great things that are happening that
haven't been planned from on high and/or that are hard to measure.

We make the mistake of assuming one-size fits all is a sensible approach. We need to move to quality assurance rather than quality control. Not telling them what to do but allowing schools/pupils/parents to do what works.

Showed us Wage Slips 4 U, Instant Life Experience Degree and Cheat House Online. He remarked that, "Bits of paper are worthless!" How do we represent process? How do I prove my experience? He showed a video of a Chinese midwife who could only get a job in a hospital kitchen in the UK. If we assume that certificating everything is the solution we will get it wrong.

Everyone is a publisher

From - To
From - To,
originally uploaded by DavidDMuir.
{Stephen displayed one of the From --> To slides that I like. Managed to capture this one in a picture.} Moved from educational research (based in institutions) to learning research (based in communities). Stephen is not impressed by the idea that we can identify good practice in a school and then tell everyone to copy it. Doesn't work because schools are different. People are different. Better to look at it like a series of ingredients that schools can look at and then make up their own recipes. {Like the restaurant we went to after the TeachMeet. :-) - DM} Recognise schools as research centres. If we start from the assumption that our schools could be better, the scholarship is to look around and see what ingredients can be used to make our school better. Borrow good ideas – take ingredients and make a recipe for a better school. End of the process is to exhibit what they have done. A third of the staff does this action research at the time and in the end is rewarded with a doctorate. He talked a lot about this Learnometer project.

Successful nations

Blurry but readable?
Blurry but readable?,
originally uploaded by DavidDMuir.
{Last time I heard Stephen talk about this I wasn't fast enough to write it all down... This time, I got a picture! - DM}

Nations that are showing astonishing progress are typically:
  • small, agile nations
  • stable culturally
  • track record of effective education
  • embracing a sense of change
  • embracing new technologies
  • outward facing often with global migration patterns
  • stable politically and administratively
  • egalitarian
Does this look like Scotland? Stephen thinks so.

A few closing quotes

A school’s policy should be: "We could so do this".
We don’t know how good or children can be – let’s find out.
Learning can inoculate children against poverty.

{John Connell has already picked up on this final quote.}

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