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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Ed Tech Talk - 21st Century Learning

This was a very interesting conversation between Brad Overell-Carter (the head of the Think Global School), Alex Ragone, Arvind Grover, and Vinnie Vrotny.  Mr. Overell-Carter discussed his school based on an amazing concept of being mobile.  The school moves, 12 countries in 12 semester, until every student has traveled around the world four times.  They focus on utilizing technology (every student must have an IPad and IPhone) and use it in their educational experiences.  The schedule is extremely flexible so that students might have a basic class (math, literature, history, etc) in the morning but then as a group the school would attend a museum exhibit or have a guest lecturer for the next part of the day.  Scheduling is handled through Google Tracker and everyone meets for "family time" to discuss how the week had gone and what they could possibly do differently the following week to improve the experience. 

Some challenges discussed were the fact that globalization as we think of it has not realistically occurred yet.  Jurisdiction of APPs, for example, is not universal.  Purchasing and receiving equipment has been delayed at times due to customs issues.  Finally, it was expressed that the use of technology has been "distracting." not in the sense that it is being misused but rather that too much time was being spent thinking about how to use the expensive equipment purchased rather than focusing on the end result of the project underway. 

Mr. Overell-Carter broke down the curriculum into three parts.  These include baseline literacy, like "traditional" schools focus on, applications of the information obtained in lessons, and research.  The overall program appears to be very much student-based with a goal to responsibly contribute to society when need is perceived.  Two things he stated they would like to remain focused on are "staying in the question" rather than getting bogged down in finding the answers and having a goal to "be better than before". 

While I am still not a fan of this venue of teacher collaboration, I certainly see the benefit in such a venue.  I don't believe I would have heard of such an educational program had I not been exposed to this.  This particular discussion intrigued me to the point that I will be looking for the next conversation when the school has moved from Stockholm to Syndey (which actually happened in January).  I hope I will not have to wait too long!

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