The first week of April 2019 was spent in Paris attending the amazing Microsoft E2 Educator Exchange. I was honoured to be one of 5 Australian teachers selected, and the only one from Victoria.
Most of the team met for the first time at Dubai airport, and by Monday afternoon we were all together at the Marriott Hotel, our home for the week and the conference venue.
The plane landed a little later than scheduled and we were met at the airport door by a driver holding a sign bearing our names. None of us thought to photograph this once in a lifetime event!
After a shower and a rest, and working on instructions NOT to sleep (yes Travis!) we headed out for a quick tour around the area and then tea.
The first full day that we were there was for acclimatising – so we got outside and wandered the streets. Unfortunately for Laura, Mark and I, our first choice for exploring, the catacombs, was closed on Mondays. We found our way to the Pantheon, taking taking photos along the way. Signs of the revolution were everywhere!
On our way to dinner, we stopped to take a photo outside Notre Dame.
We then took breath while three of us rode a carousel!
In the evening we had a team meal at Georges, in an interesting building called the Georges Pompidou Centre. Here we had a rooftop table with a view of the Eiffel Tower.
Having conquered the application process, developed the required materials for the exchange, and found our way via various routes to the beautiful city of Paris, were were ready to commence the exchange.
For a long time people have forecast the end of teaching as we know it – but surely we are entering an era where options will morph into something other than the known, something better, something more open and flexible?
In this short film, Christian Long raises a number of questions including:
What are the options tertiary students will face in 2025?
What will it mean to go to school?
He raises some questions that are unanswerable at this present time, but which will affect students currently at school, and for whom we are still providing something more like the experience of our medieval forebears,rather than the agility that the connected world provides.
He reminds us that it is hard to measure the return on investment for attending a tertiary institution now, let alone into the future, even if that is as close as his chosen time frame of eight years.
He challenges tertiary institutions to think about what they are and what they should be; university campus planning should allow for more agile uses, including partnering with other organisations. “Place” will be less bricks and mortar, rather than something that will form part of a fabric of choices ranging from face to face, several days immersion, virtual attendance, flexible spaces and incubators. Just in time learning at scale rather than a set time-frame resulting in a specific degree; adding up to an ongoing and learner driven life long education.
Our schools would do well to be thinking along similar lines.
We are living in an era where information is readily available, easily created, generally unedited or moderated, and widely shared. It is vital that readers have the capacity to appraise the calibre of content they encounter. Yet, it would appear that even students entering renowned universities cannot apply even the most basic of filters to images or documents presented to them (Weinberg, 2016).
Some simple starting points:
Without applying a filter, or lens to what we read we run the risk of spreading misinformation, thereby perpetuating deliberately created and often specifically targeted fabrications which may be destabilising to governments or undermining to individuals. Far from choosing to be part of such a process, many are inadvertently passed on because people aren’t taking the time to evaluate sources (Tiffany, 2016).
Teacher-librarians such as Valenza promote their role as critical in educating more news literate and savvy information consumers. Tiffany states that this is more effective the earlier that students encounter such educators (Tiffany, 2016).
Coupled with the relatively recent rise in the spreading of “untruthiness”, is the concept held by many that free press equates to neutral information (Valenza, 2016). History teachers are adept at demonstrating that the underlying perspective of the creator, or interpretation of the historian affects the way in which the information s viewed. Much harder to teach, however, is the effect our own attitudes and biases affect the way in which we read and often lead us to ignore viewpoints that differ from our own (Valenza, 2016).
Teaching younger students about appraising calibre and authenticating content is made a little easier by using a resource such as the TED talk on “How to choose your own news” (Brown, 2014) – an engaging animation.
There is no doubt that there has been an exponential increase in the publication of extreme, untrue and misleading “fake news” since the rise of social media such as Twitter and Facebook, partly due to the fact that the number of clicks may equate to real income for the posters (Garun, 2016). This poses a real issue for the founders of such sites, such as Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, who has expressed concern at the site being forced into becoming arbiters of truth (Liptak, 2016). The sites on which such “untruthiness” is spread have become known for fostering click bait (Zimdars, 2016).
There have also been allegations that social platforms influenced election results in several countries in 2016 (Garun, 2016). This of itself may not be all bad – but it does indicate the serious need for teaching readers how to negotiate the publications of our time by understanding the underlying purpose of the publications to which they are exposed, and to question the authenticity of what they read, in much the same way that commercial transactions advise that the buyer must be aware. It is critical that leading universities such as Stanford do not continue to find that their students are vulnerable to fake news (Weinberg, 2016).
It is crucial that Australian students are able to learn within their own context about the ways this can be an issue locally, as well as seeing information relating to the United States in particular. We need to be developing Australian resources to support teaching the necessary skills.
As a teacher-librarian and History teacher I am up for the challenge – are you? Join the conversation at #truthinessEDU
First full day of our trip to the UK and Ireland. Much is different since 1976!! Most noticeably for us is that London’s not the cold, dull place it was then. The fact that this is not a winter visit is obviously part of the reason. Trees have leaves on them, and it is the middle of a heat wave. Sights like these were impossible in January:
The buildings have also been cleaned. St. Paul’s gleams, the riverside buildings are spruced up. The buses, while still red and double decker, are clean and rather “green” although the tube is a little tired.
Staying in a hotel brings a stark contrast to home: heating is available, but air conditioning only in the communal areas. No fridge in the room!
Trains are “cooled” by opening windows. Underground is stifling. Most shops seem to just open their doors.
Today’s visits included Lambeth, The Imperial War Museum, and the Thames.