Tomorrow evening I’m doing a presentation and discussion to Collaborate for Change ( twitter hashtag #c84c)

I ran a table discussion at the last c84c at BETT last January (you can see the video at the bottom of this blog post) on “How can we encourage teachers to take risks and innovate with technology”. The discussion was great and the whole event was also fantastic bringing together a massive range of people to discuss and present.

The second C84C takes place in Havering, Essex which was a little hard for me to get to, not because I’m one of those Londoners scared of venturing to Essex but because I recently moved to Norway. Fortunately the organisers of C84C agreed to let me run a session virtually which I will be doing via the wonders of blackboard collaborate (formerly Elluminate).  It’s a piece of software that has evolved quite well since I first tried it during my MA 4 years ago or so and is great for teaching. I used it earlier this year for a series of webinars for a group of students I worked with on a leadership programme and got to experiment with it and work out how to make online sessions participatory and interesting. Tomorrow though is a new challenge as I will be presenting and attempting to lead a discussion to a room of people as well as, I hope, some online participants. All being we will have a great discussion but I also want to learn some new tricks for presenting virtually to a room of people and the best way is by doing, which takes me back to the title of this post…

The topic we will be discussing is,

“Is there such a thing as too much innovation?”

The focus will be on looking at why existing innovators innovate, whether there are boundaries or appropriate times to innovate and if we need to plan carefully for innovation or just do it.

Comments are very welcome below but even more welcome if you wish to join us tomorrow – the link to participate online and to replay is


Purpos/ed – time to learn

Posted on February 24th, 2011 in thoughts | 17 Comments »

Purposed Badge - text "I added my voice"

This is my 500 words for Purpose/d. Another wonderful project from a group of educators looking to inspire, create debate and eventually change. I’m supposed to read the posts before mine and respond to some of the points. I’ve read some but not all, and I’ll use that as my segway to my 500 words, because I just didn’t have time to read them all. And time is surely the killer for much change and innovation in education. There’s precious time to think, to innovate and be creative, and that goes for teachers and students.

In the UK, when we learn to be teachers, we don’t learn about pedagogical theories beyond a brief look at learning styles. In a 36 week practical based course there just isn’t time. When I did my MA the largest revelation was that all the things I did anyway in the classroom had a theory attached to them. But good teachers don’t always need a theory, they just do it because it works for them or their students, it just seems right to them. And a good teacher knows what makes it right in one situation doesn’t make it right for every teacher or every class.

There’s never enough time in the curriculum for every subject. Recently I’ve seen online campaigns to save PE, RE, ICT and Computing from being removed or marginalised in the UK. Campaigns led by specialist teachers and national subject associations may seem self serving, but they do it because they care. After all remove sports and kids may become unhealthy, remove RE and kids may become intolerant, remove ICT and kids may become unskilled. I can’t disagree with the passion of these teachers who know the ‘Purpose’ and the benefits of what they teach.

I’ve been out of the classroom now for 6 months. People ask me if I miss it and how life is different. There are many differences but the biggest one is not having the guilt on your shoulders because there isn’t enough time to do everything for your students. Teachers learn to live with many kinds of guilt; the guilt of not preparing enough, the guilt of not marking enough, the guilt of ignoring a school policy, the guilt of straying from the scheme of work, the guilt of setting too much homework. What is the ‘Purpose’ of all these things we worry about?

Our education system will improve greatly when teachers can remove the guilt from their shoulders and take pride in their skills and achievements.

I subscribe to the terribly liberal but certainly not revolutionary philosophy that different students and different teachers have different needs. We need different routes, different pathways and different systems open to everyone to enable each learner and each teacher to find their own way. There’s never enough time to teach everything and one, just one, purpose of education must be to give students the skills and the passion to learn and thrive in their own interests in their own time.

What is the overall ‘purpose’ and how do we get there? I don’t know but if we are to find it we need to give teachers the room to innovate, experiment and improve and we need to give students room to innovate, experiment and improve. And on that note I’ll leave you with a video of a discussion I led on this topic at the recent Collabor8 4Change event.