Creating a sustainable education system – Stephen Heppell @stephenheppell #eduict2013

Photo 14-05-2013 09 40 44

Stephen began with a thought provoking graph from OEDC research showing the relationship between science test scores and interests in Science. It is interesting to note that some of the nations with the highest test scores actually have the lowest interest levels…

Looking back over his career in educational technology, Heppell noted that ‘back in the day’ they used to have a long time for decision making, iteration and national pilots. Now the technology is moving so fast, he said communities of practice are the only way forward; only they are agile enough to move with the changing landscape.

He shared examples of children learning from each other through technology, showing the shift in educational tech in the last 20 years from the technology teaching the children to them using it to collaborate. This has been happening with teachers as well through the grassroots TeachMeet movement and other similar ‘crowd sourced’ events.

He argued we are moving towards an ethos of ‘user led design’ in education, focusing on the needs of the students. “People say it takes a long time to turn an education system around”, but Stephen said that there are examples of education being turned around in a year or even six months where there is the will and the focus on the end users; the children and young people. They don’t have time to wait.

He shared examples of radical designs for learning spaces, which in many countries across the world are making a difference to learning. Three sided spaces, tiered seating, superclasses. The thinking around these things is changing, Stephen was suspended from the NUT as a young teacher for fighting for smaller classes, now he sees the pace of learning in large classes with multiple teachers which he describes as ‘jaw dropping’. What the best of these classes do is leverage the power of peer to peer learning, with expert support at the right moment from teachers, to allow children to move their learning forward quickly.

Co-construction and child centered learning, he argued, is not about asking kids their opinion and then shaping practice and policy around that. It is about asking them to engage with and research their learning, look at all the possibilities and evaluate what works. Then make it happen with their teachers.

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  1. gosh, that’s a very good summary!
    More about phones for pre school kids here

    • Thanks Stephen, I hadn’t seen your page on phones before. Fascinating stuff, and very interesting to read the longer term perspective you give to it comparing to the introduction of computers in schools. That video of you questioning the children using the original Apple Macs is fantastic.

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