- Whatever people may think about technology, one golden nugget of truth stands out for me. We no longer have to keep our thoughts to ourselves. Isolation is one of the problems that used to close teachers off from inspiration and even cripple one's belief in the profession. Having faith in one's own ideas is difficult in a rigid environment, and having vision or passion for the cause is next to impossible when we forget that there is a cause.
Social media, the blogosphere, webinars and conferences now bring teachers together so easily and seamlessly that ideas, support, authentic expression, and newer, bolder forms of creative risk-taking are transforming the classrooms that dare to be transformed.
With this has come a new form of "social proof".
This social proof and grass-roots influence is far removed from the rigid channels of communication we were previously subjected to via traditional publishers, exclusive publications, and research locked up in ivory towers.
- The fact that teachers everywhere now have access to more information and research is refreshing for those with a passion for professional development and action research, whilst it raises concerns about substance, instability, credibility and/or the lack thereof for others. At one end of the spectrum the teaching community at grass roots level has got to be more discerning than ever before, while at the other end of the spectrum, the academic community needs to become more flexible, community-oriented and socially responsible.
What I find personally refreshing is finding academics who unapologetically hang out their ivory towers to dry in public. To quote one academic blogger who has done much to challenge the social face of academia:
"Being credible is at the core of our professional identity as academics, and being credible really means appearing credible. And as Simon-Wren Luis reminds us, in the UK at least, we have to contend with the perception that “writing for non-academics is a bit vulgar”. Was there a risk of undermining my professional standing if I were to associate my name with a creative, exciting mainstream medium? "
- In the light of tradition versus technology, academia versus the speed of social progress, collapsing boundaries between 'us versus them' mentalities, action research, experiments and creative rebellion, this article brings together predictions and trends on the future of education.
- The contributers are a fine combination of leaders in the fields, action researchers, classroom teachers, new- wave innovators, 'traditional innovators', thinkers, bloggers, writers, content developers, and digital learning experts.
- I was inspired to revisit collective visions on digital learning trends after the Digital ELT conference in Dublin.
This collection of trending thoughts is diverse, controversial, rich and passionate.
Enjoy browsing through these educator stories and predictions, and feel free to comment or share thoughts via this interactive & collaborative social news stream.
The educators answer some questions about their work in order to give you insights into their professional interests before sharing their personal perspectives and opinions on the future of education, and English language teaching.
- 1) Featuring Gavin Dudeney
- a) What did you talk about at the ELT Ireland/IATEFL Conference in Dublin and how can it influence where digital learning is going ?
I talked about how the term EdTech has been co-opted by both a discourse of hyperbole amongst educators - hyperbole which belies the reality of a large part of the profession - and by a new set of players who don't have the rich history that teachers working with EdTech have built up over the last few decades. I argued that teachers working with technology need to take back the ownership of EdTech in the name of good classroom practice rather than any economic imperative to score big before the latest EdTech bubble bursts. None of this can influence where digital learning is going unless teachers realise that good technology use on the ground is the one constant around which we should organise. The rest is, to a large extent, disposable.
- b) Can you describe one major highlight from 2014 that makes a difference to you as an educator and/or has wider significance for ELT in general?
Without wishing to sound overly smarmy (!), I was talking to a participant at the Dublin conference - someone who has been each year - and she said that two years ago she hardly ever picked up a piece of technology, one year ago she would occasionally take something like her mobile phone into class with her, and this year she can't imagine being without it in class. She seemed to me to be the perfect example of why focussed, repeat events work so well, and also seemed to reflect a wider change in our profession, with more repeat, specialised events springing up (e.g. the Image Conference) all the time. I think these work very well, though we must guard against these events becoming 'echo chambers' where the same people talk to the same people every year.
- c) What are your professional plans for 2015 and are there any important trends in digital learning that we should watch out for in 2015?
I've just finished a few continuous years of writing teacher development books around the theme of technology and I'm looking forward to a year off from writing books, and more time to catch up with what's going on out there in terms of education, technology and how they work together. If you're looking for an important trend, I think my prediction goes with a greater degree of scepticism towards technology, and a rise in what I call 'principled technology dissidence', a movement of which I am a full paid-up member. I'd like to see an end to shouting on social media, and a return to considered classroom practice and research (action or other).