Yesterday morning I attended a breakfast meeting hosted by Apple Hong Kong’s education team. The main event was a presentation by Stephanie Hamilton, one of Apple’s education specialists from Cupertino. It seems her role is mainly to travel the world and advocate the use of (Apple) technology in the classroom.

Whilst much of the material was not new to me, I found Stephanie to be a good presenter, and she backed up many of the ideas with research with which I was not familiar. I can away feeling there were a few things I would like to implement right away, although ironically these were not technology-based but instead related to classroom environment and rules.

The following is a summary of what I felt to be some of the important points from Stephanie’s presentation:

  • Teachers often fail to help students because they praise achievement not effort (Drive by Daniel Pink): technology can help to overcome this, and is often why students find technology-based learning more rewarding.
  • Change in schools (such as introducing technology) often does not succeed because of a failure to deal with a complex interplay of logic, emotion and environment (Switch by Dan & Chip Heath)
  • Traditionally, most teachers have been taught to use technology to do the same things that they do without it. To be really effective, teachers need to use the technology to achieve things they could not do without it. This point was illustrated using Ruben R. Puentedura’s Technology Implementation Continuum, in which we move from Enhancement (aka evolution) to Transformation (aka revolution), through the four steps listed below. If you can get teachers to Redefinition, where they cannot teach the lessons they want without technology, then you have achieved real change!
    • Substitution
    • Augmentation
    • Modification
    • Redefinition
  • Does teaching in general succeed in teaching understanding, or simply factoids?
  • There is a wealth of resources available online at iTunes U (I wonder, is it licenced to allow remix?).
  • “When you lock things down so tight, you might as well not do the technology” (a great quote direct from Stephanie), and something I have long agreed with. This makes it harder for ICT administrators, teachers and students, and is often enough to turn people off. In relation to this, Stephanie talked about the cross over of business-based technology values (stability, control, cost, efficiency) into a learning (which should favour exploration and innovation).
  • Challenge-Based Learning is an initiative derived from Apple’s own research, and suggests that students learn more when they are challenged to solve real-world problems.
  • David Thornburg’s approach to having a variety of learning spaces:
    • Campfire: traditional space in which students face or surround teacher;
    • Watering Hole: a space where students can share knowledge and collaborate with each other on a less formal basis;
    • Cave: a place for introspection and reflection;
    • Mountaintop: a space for presenting work to others
  • During the meeting I realised the following two things in relation to my own teaching:
  • I participate in meetings whilst working on my laptop: some of this is related to the meeting, some not. How can I deal with students who want to and are able to work in this way? How can I allow multitasking, headphones, independent learning and self expression in my classroom, whilst still getting my messages across in enough detail?
  • How can I remodel my learning spaces to allow for more effective learning.

More to come on these developments in the near future!