The global classroom gets media attention!
I had an amazing time at BETT this year and the highlight was our workshop on Wednesday. To be able to present there again, this time with two students, was a great experience and we enjoyed a pretty large crowed of enthusiastic educators as well. BBC reporter Carolyn Rice attended our workshop and she interviewed the three of us after the session. The result is a mention on the BBC world radio show the Tech tent, and an article on BBC news technology. I’m including an extract from the article here:
Forget the blackboard and the chalk. In fact, forget the whiteboard and the markers.
The exercise books, the textbooks and the stationery can also be packed away. There is no need for any of them in the classroom of the future. A room full of students with a tablet each and a teacher with an enthusiasm for social media is all that is required to engage developing minds. At least in one school in Norway this isn’t a vision of the future. This is now.
Ann Michaelsen, a teacher at Sandvika High School just outside Oslo, has been invited to Bett – the education world’s biggest tech fair, held in London – to share her ideas with other technologically minded teachers. “Social media is first and foremost a place to get connected – we do it every single day outside school or work, sometimes in work,” she says. Ann Michaelsen advocates using social media to develop students. “Most people would encourage connections – school seems to be the last place where that is allowed. It’s almost restricted.”
Every student in Ms Michaelsen’s English class is taught how to set up their own blog. This becomes where they display their work, which others can comment on, and the teacher can mark online. “I don’t use textbooks at all because I think that limits how you teach. I post something on the front of my blog and tell my students: ‘This is what we’re going to do today’, ” she says. The aim of this method, she adds, is to create a “digitally rich” environment where pupils drive learning and classrooms are constantly online, allowing students to be creative by making their own discoveries rather than being led by a teacher. “You can’t grade being inventive,” she adds.
The class also uses Quadblogging – software that allows four schools to join up online and interact and comment on each other’s blogs. “It’s been really exciting because we can read, comment and exchange information with students in other countries,” says Haaken Bakker, a 17-year-old student at Sandvika.
Updates and instructions are given via a group Facebook page. Being a member of a group means Ms Michaelsen doesn’t need to address the tricky issue of friend requests from students as people can interact on the page without needing to be Facebook friends first. Twitter is used to gain inspiration from classes and teachers around the world. “If you’re an English teacher and you’re not using Twitter then you’re missing out,” she explains.
“Teachers are sharing interesting, innovative thoughts. There are people from the US, South Africa and New Zealand on my feed, I can ask people around the world for help.” The class also makes use of Skype and has link-ups with schools in Lesotho, China and North America. “We use it to ask them about cultural differences and how different their lives are,” explains Haaken. Sandvika operates a one-to-one policy where every student is provided with a tablet and wi-fi operates throughout the school. Student Hanne Wiger is keen to let others know what this way of learning means to her. “I think it makes life easier, if you’re not in class then you can just go online. You’re not missing out,” she says.
Could Haaken and Hanne imagine a school life without social media now?
They both laugh. “No, just simply no.