Sunday, March 29, 2009

Andrew Churches Workshop

We had a whole day workshop yesterday at school led by Andrew Churches. The focus was 'Learning Styles, Learning Tools', and it was very, very cool. It was one of those sessions where you just couldn't type fast enough to get down everything you wanted to, and it was bursting with links and ideas and new ways of doing things.

He started by showing us this video by Don Tapscott, 'You are the Dumbest Generation'.

It really is a welcome breath of fresh air. It's easy to believe the cynical way young people are seen these days, when actually, there is very little evidence to back it up. I'd quite like to show it to my class. Hmmm.  

Just while we're on video links, another amazing one which Andrew showed us is this one called 'The Lost Generation'

What a great ending!!! Now this is a format I will definitely try with my students. I'm sure it will work if you use the structure on every second line. Very powerful. And hopeful too. Watching this kind of thing really does make me think that what we do as teachers matters a lot. Really matters.

Andrew then took us through the different learning styles, multiple intelligences and showed us some digital tools that could be used to really engage learners who have those particular learning preferences.  I won't list them all here because you can see them for yourself on Andrew's wiki page, along with how it fits with the learning style/MI theory. 

The key thing for me was that when looking at what digital tools to use in teaching, we need to look for areas of overlap, because no individual learner is exclusively one style/intelligence, but rather a composite that changes with factors such as (as Andrew outlined) the task, the teacher, the topic, what is being taught and how. Also, no particular digital tool is exclusively suited to one learning style/intelligence. Most of them these days are multimodal.

Multimodal literacy is something I'm preparing a paper on at the moment, so it's an area of interest, and I'll probably post about some of what I'm learning as I go. We live in a multimodal world, and our learners must be literate in that world. What exactly that means and how we achieve it is contested, but fascinating nevertheless.

Andrew also brought along one of his robots that I referred to in a previous post, so it was cool to see that in action.

OK, last snippet, which I found very interesting indeed: apparently employees of Google have 20% of their total work time designated 'play'! How cool is that! The rationale is that it is when we play that we are our most creative and discover new things. The Wikipedia entry says this:

In a talk at Stanford University, Marissa Mayer, Google's Vice President of Search Products and User Experience, stated that her analysis showed that half of the new product launches originated from the 20% time.

Google has decided that this is fundamental to innovation, and I think they're right. So, implications for classroom practice? Hmmm. It's all about creating opportunities for creativity and valuing it for what it could be. 

Embrace the chaos!


  1. The 20% playtime thing is very interesting because when we were over there last year and hearing aabout it first hand, one of the things we realised was that no-one had ever mentioned in our hearing that this 'playtime'is just as accountable as the other 80%. Reports are required for outcomes and, I am pretty sure, a proposal is required before it starts.
    And THAT is why the outcomes are tremendous IMHO. If we are transferring this idea to our own practise and our own clasrooms then I think it is important to remember that the idea hasn't come out of a whole bunch of people cruising from one twitter-induced idea to the next :)

  2. Hmmm - I didn't know that. The more I think about it the more I think that their 'play' is similar to what we are trying to achieve through inquiry learning. Not a free for all, but a chance for learners to identify a problem to solve, frame some of the questions, plan how they might go about answering them and culminate in something creative, 'new knowledge' as some might call it. And with the accountability at the end too.

    Maybe in primary schools we define 'play' too narrowly. Imagine a class where a whole day a week was set aside for learners to pursue their ideas, individually or collaboratively, and come up with something new, some real learning to share. And best of all, if the learners themselves thought of this as play!