Sunday, December 14, 2008

Sharing: Newpaper Article on 4th Worldwide Innovative Teachers Forum

Pacesetting techies (by Rowena Chua), the title of the cover story in The Star's Education pullout today (Sunday, 14th Dec 2008, pgs. E10-E11) grabs my attention this morning. I find the article pretty interesting and relevant to my job. As I was reading it, I have gathered several points from the article and I love to share with you here...

"Neither a wise man nor a brave man lies down on the tracks of history to wait for the train of the future to run over him." This is a quote by Dwight Eisenhower used by the writer of this article to describe the recent Worldwide Innovative Teachers Forum (ITF), which was held in Hong Kong, participated by 250 educators (from 64 countries!) last month, organised by Microsoft Corporation.

New pedagogies

  • Chalk, talk and board may still be most educators' essential teaching tools bit to the participating primary and secondary school teachers (at the three-day forum), emerging technologies are what set the pulse and pace of their classrooms. These teachers are aware that with more and more digital natives occupying classrooms the world over, the tried-and-tested chalk-and-talk method of classroom instruction is in need of enhancement, if not transformation.

In Microsoft Worldwide Public Sector vice-president, Ralph Young's opening address:

  • Incepted in 2003, the global initiative is dedicated to providing education communities worldwide with access to technology and solutions, as well as connected learning communities, through three key programmes - Innovative Teachers, Innovative Students, and Innovative Schools programmes.
  • These programmes offer a golden gateway for the three parties to employ, enhance, and experience technology integration in classroom instruction and research.
  • There is urgency in the imperative as headhunters these days favour job candidates who possess skills vital for the smooth running of 21st century projects.
  • 'The right skills' - The use of technology in education is the starting point for students to develop problem-solving, collaborative and other skills necessary to compete in the global community.

Deirdre Butler (a faculty member at the Education Department of St Patrick's College in Ireland and a staunch advocate for technology-integrated instruction) in her keynote address:

  • 21st century learning should move beyond classromm walls and focus more on depth than breadth. She suggested that teachers should prepare students for the future workplace which values critical thiking, creativity and communication.
  • However, she emphasised that digital learning entails more than just the incorporation of the use of computers in instruction. There is more to technology than just computers; mobile phones and portable media players are some of the gadgets that teachers and students can use.
  • Teachers often lack confidence about using hardware and software. Many, in fact, know less than their students. Teachers need to change their mindsets and be open to change.
  • Through this forum, the teachers get to network with like-minded practising teachers and will feel that they are not alone in implementing change.
  • It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.
  • Butler expounded, "We, the educators, must create our vision rather than have others create it for us."

The four Cs (Community, Collaboration, Content and Challenge)

  • These were the four themes highlighted at the ITF, which recognises and rewards educators for their efforts in utilising technology to support teaching and learning.
  • The conference provides a platform for innovative teachers to form communities of practice, collaborate with global counterparts, access and share quality content as well as challenge themselves to take technology integration in education to a higher level.
  • The ITF has also boosted the confidence of teachers in using less conventional methods of classroom instruction.

Also present at the 4th ITF were Education Technology Division assistant director Pn. Nur Ain Wong Abdullah, Inspectorate and Quality Assurance principal assistant director Tn. Hj. Mohd Haliza Mohd Adnan, Selangor Education Department's assistant director of ICT and Computing in the Academic Management Sector En. Zahri Ramlan, and SK Sungai Rawang Selangor Malay Language teacher Pn. Maznah Zaini.

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