BETT is the largest education event in the world, attracting some 40,000 government ministers and officials, education leaders, teachers and IT managers from around the world. This year Cisco sponsored two sessions – one on flipped classrooms and the other on education transformation, and on which I was a panel member and chaired by my colleague Hania Baramki. Dr Najla from the Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC), Chris Hummerstone, a UK head teacher at the Arnewood School, and Anne Gilleran, pedagogical lead for European SchoolNet’s eTwinning programme each spoke to transformation from a country perspective, an individual school perspective, and from the viewpoint of a pan-European context. I drew the common themes together after the three presentations and emphasised what was important. All spoke about the importance of starting with a vision, but a vision alone is not enough; it is crucial to envision what this vision would look like in practice, so that you know when that vision is on the way to being realised.
It is also clear the value of prior knowledge about what has worked, where significant challenges exist , and how to develop an effective decision making process, are crucial in the process. This prior knowledge come from academic research and anecdotal evidence, which need to be made readily available in formats that are well documented and accessible to everyone from education leaders, school principals, teacher and parents, and involve learners. Informal discussions are also of significant value either in person or through online communities.
The take up and use of technology varies from teacher to teacher and subject to subject, and the three speakers recognised the need for learners to use multiple devices to access their learning and demonstrate their understanding in school, and to align young people’s usage with their out of school environments. Initiatives like the eTwinning programme offer learners opportunities to switch on rather than than switch off when they enter the school gates.
The panel session closed with Jim Buchan, my colleague at Cisco, asking the speakers whether transformation, in their minds ,was “revolution” or “evolution”. They all agreed that is was evolution.