Google 20% Time was an initiative designed by Google to keep their employees curious. Through curiosity, a problem solving ethos was developed. Programmers saw issues or opportunities and took up Google’s offer of using twenty-percent of their working week to work on their personal project. A project of improvement, development; one of making things a little bit better.
This notion is so powerful. I had the pleasure of listening to Sir Ken Robinson speak so powerfully of the purpose of education and the inspiration it could achieve. A member of the audience asked how could educators in the UK start this change of approach that he was advocating when our government imposes its, sometime draconian ideals? Sir Ken Robinson replied stating that change happens on a small scale and snowballs. If everybody has their desire to change and will to implement their strongly felt philosophies in education eliminated, then nothing will happen. We will continue to teach in the ways deemed necessary since the Victorian era.
The priorities, opportunities, needs and skills of our children greatly differ from those of the Victorian age. Though we can only predict as to what needs and skills they will need as their world will be vastly different from the one we, their teachers, have lived in. The one thing that we can comfortably assume is that technology will continue to, or increasingly, play a large part in their world and life.
Technology has increased the reach and access to nearly everything, most notably ourselves. As it is easier for people to work together across oceans and continents then surely it is vital that we instil in children a desire to work together, on something that captivates their imagination and interest and truly engages them. But how do we engage? How can I engage my audience to learn about my beloved Tottenham Hotspur , for example? You can’t. It is my premise that educators should spend more time building the relationship with their pupils and finding out what it is that engages them rather than telling learners what it is they are going to attempt to engage in/ with this week.
A well-rounded curriculum has to be taught. However, do the concepts and subjects of it have to be taught to children all the time? The answer is no. Even the government’s answer is no. It has been clearly stated that the new National Curriculum should not take up all of our teaching time. There are opportunities to implement ideas and projects that teachers at school see as being crucial to a child’s learning experience.
I see problem solving, improving what we’ve currently got, encouraging our learners today (tomorrow’s citizens) to be creative, imaginative, innovative and inquisitive as being crucial. I think it is vital that children become independent, see solutions that are the betterment for themselves but also the community that I feel they should be active participants of.
I believe that blending the online and physical classrooms will be key to achieve this. I believe that the Learning by Design approach adopted by Google keeps the thinkers that work for them motivated and maintains them as active learners. I believe it has the potential to do the same with our learners.
Below is a project outline that I will be working through with our Year 4 class. It is a project that enables children to be in charge of their own learning with me, the teacher primarily supporting and facilitating where necessary. Everyone else will be a captive audience learning what they will eventually be teaching and telling us through the presentation of their project.
This is the initial plan of the preparatory stage of my Learning By Design project utilising the Flex Blended Learning Model that I will be experimenting with our Year 4 class.
The project outline can be best viewed by clicking the link below:
Experimenting with and preaching about this style of teaching and learning is my new career project!