By Lori Dyer
On October 10th, we walked into Geoff’s Shed, where TEDxMelbourne 2014 was held, with great anticipation of what was to come. What was “Off the Grid” going to entail? There were obvious references to outer space in the propaganda that came out a few weeks prior to the event, but what else? What does it mean to be “off the grid”? And how does it have anything to do with education?
Stepping out of our habitual path of thinking
Dianne McGrath kicked off the day with an awe-inspiring talk about what it might be like to live on Mars. Dianne is one of the few people who are actually short-listed to take her one-way ticket off this planet – for good – to permanently move to Mars. This means saying goodbye to all family, friends, and all Earthly possessions.
The new Martians will be responsible for cultivating their own food, and living in a completely renewable fashion. Over time, it is planned that more and more of us will head over to the big red rock.
It’s us, humans, getting a second chance at actually living on a planet in a sustainable way.
It got me thinking about us attacking education in a more sustainable way.
We all know that the current way most students are educated is badly broken.
Peter Hutton, a principal at Templestowe College, spoke in more detail on this during his talk. He stated that, really, only 1/3 of students are getting what they need from most educational institutions, then this 33% are more likely to go on and be teachers, and the cycle continues.
Hutton gave some great suggestions about having student-directed learning. What if students controlled their own learning? What if the staff selection and curriculum was to be decided by students?
Peter showed that it could result in no bullying, more collaboration, and even more innovation in the school dynamics.
Other teachers in the world, like Greg Green in Clintondale, have suggested Flipped Learning and incorporating more technology in our teaching practice as ways to think about education differently.
However, this is really solving only half of the problem.
It’s all well and good to do the hard yards of investigating and implementing new practices into your school, TAFE, RTO, or university; but what about the sustainability?
Research suggests that most projects fail – in fact – 68% of them will fail; and the reason behind that most likely has nothing to do with the technology or even the solution at all; but rather, the people and processes and lack of sustainability planned. How do we make sure that our best intentions don’t just go back “off the grid”?
It is time for educators to start thinking about building a “change management” component into their implementation plan. Before undertaking any significant change within a school environment, whether it is to adopt a new approach to teaching or a new technological tool, it is crucial that to be effective the process of change has to be planned carefully.
If you don’t feel comfortable implementing change in your institution on your own, hire help.
Taking up a new technology or educational approach need not feel like you are taking a journey to Mars…
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