Thursday, August 12, 2010

Making Learning Transparent

When we make our learning transparent, we become teachers--

George Siemens

For two years I have advocated for a culture shift at my school. I would like to see us more aggressively leverage our 1:1 computing model to build learning networks. I would also like to see a more open and collaborative environment.

Fortunately, change is in the wind. Administration has provided a copy of Tony Wagner’s Global Achievement Gap for every staff member in the school. It is assigned summer reading for all of us. When we return in two weeks, we are going to consider the prospect of a more student-centered curriculum.

Such a radical shift would call for much greater transparency than we have customarily experienced. In my own realm, I have unlocked all of my Moodle courses and licensed my materials under Creative Commons. I also have an open door policy for visitors . This school year I will advertise the policy more aggressively. However, I would like to see a more transparent environment throughout the school.

I am truly hopeful for learning culture change, but building architecture is a huge impediment. Except for our computer labs, the rooms themselves are pretty much bricked away from views. Teachers generally close the door and seal what goes on inside. I would love to have teachers feel more free to observe each other, but I'm afraid "classroom observations" are strongly associated with evaluations and judgments. Administrators (and other colleagues) should feel free to walk through classrooms unannounced in order to better understand what the learning experiences in the school. But for this to work, they would need to develop habits in transparency as well. At the very minimum input for new policites should be solicited and their rationale should be clearly explained. Better yet, wouldn't it be great if staff and students were welcome to "walk through" some policy discussions.

Are you up for a more tranpsparent learning culture?

"Hidden Agenda the Boys Are Back" by kind permission of Robert Britz (Krause)


Chris Eldred said...

Watching a video of the author now, interesting. I'd be interested in hear more about the progress of change in your learning community. Do you expect resistance to change? Do you expect that the staff has read the book?

Larry Baker said...

Yes, Chris, I expect plenty of resistance to change, though I think some themes are irrefutable. I also expect that the majority of staff will have read the book reflectively.

I just returned from a meeting with administration. We have planned for a rather free-wheeling discussion of Wagner. I have a presentation piece to follow, so you can be sure this blog space will keep you abreast of our culture change . . . or lack of it!

Ms. Smith said...

I am a staff member who has read the book. I like many of the proposals in the book and wish that they could be implemented at Mercy. I think that we would need a radically different schedule though. We would also need to break the departmental barriers in our school. I'll save the rest of my comments for our staff discussions.

Larry Baker said...

Big change is in the wind. Circle August 25 on your calendar, Ms. Smith!

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