Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Host your own or hold a third party? Change needed as per usual.

Interesting comments on the future of ownership and control in educational organisations by James stemming from my thoughts on the benefits of using free web based services (third party) over installing and maintaining your own system (host your own). On the observation that many more teachers are using free web based services instead, James says:
Is this a long tail thing then? I’m certain that the next generation of major online educational tools will arise out of use by individual teachers, schools and institutions but will these forever be (on the whole) beyond these groups and people to host themselves or will third party providers be the drivers here and will they be the next WebCTs etc. or will that only be achieved by large enterprise-install-yourself-systems?
I think so long as the culture of educational organisations continue to be hierarchial and all about control (right through to the attitudes of individual teachers and students), then some of the third party developments will indeed find it all too easy to become the next webCTs. But hopefully, the use of small pieces loosely joined and open networked learning models will inspire more flexible and sustainably independent levels of practice in the teaching professions, and we will see enough reflection and questioning from the practitioners as a result of that new practice, that the very culture of education will change. But I think it could only change once those new practices start attracting people into education sector who have remained largely outside because of cultural differences...

in short, cops will be cops, AJs (army jerks) will be AJs, teachers will be teachers, politicians will be politicians... these statements (while gross generalisations) must cary some truth in terms of being statements on things generally observable about the culture of the professions they're referring to.

So changing the culture of the teaching profession, so that new and equally monolithic systems don't emerge would be a miracle!

This inspiring paper by Dr Neil C Cranston, pointed to by Stephen really does stir up the revolution and shine a torch down the long tunnel of change, but not before it points out just how darn near impossible it might be to change the culture of the education sector.

Perhaps a little scorched earth might work...

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1 comment:

Graham Wegner said...

Sadly,I'm forced to agree with you Leigh about the huge task of changing the cultural mindset of teachers.Friends of mine nearly always make the observation that most teachers they know are conservative by nature (not necessarily by politics)and it is that conservatism that doesn't want to make waves with any sort of establishment and put their almost-too-secure jobs for life at risk. It is that aspect that scares a lot of teachers about the internet and new technologies - the transparency and openess is so alien to the closed door mentality of traditional teaching practices. New evolving curriculums don't seem to bring about the desired changes and when we have politicians who want to nip creativity in the bud and turn back the clock ,it enhances the conservatism even more. Working with my staff has taught me that if I want them to embrace really great learning tools like blogs and wikis, I have to make things easy, easy, easy. I'd actually love your thoughts on that sometime as I try to map out a PD program that involves teachers becoming self directed learners.