Thursday, April 8, 2010

Students as professional developers - Sylivia Martinez (ACEC 2010, Day 2)

Aspects of Academic Professional DevelopmentImage by hazelowendmc via Flickr
Sylvia Martinez keynote speaker on the second day of the ACEC 2010 conference, spoke about teacher development. She was keen to suggests that students can train ans support staff and teachers, provide technical support, develop resources and communicate for schools, and help peers. This was an inspirational presentation, which continued to reinforce the message that appears to be coming through as a key theme at this conference - empowering students and valuing what they have to contribute to learning. It is giving learners and learning purpose, authenticity, and space for students to take responsibility. Scaffolding and guidance are still important, but the students are helped to so something that they are passionate about, and something that enables them to embrace 'citizenship' of learning communities. It's what the students and the teachers do that counts.

The idea is to build a technology ecology where the student is doing something authentic - giving them real problems to solve - one of which is using technology in schools. So, the mantra is waste nothing, including talent, energy and passion. Students can provide informal technical support, for example drop in sessions for staff. Students need to know something and to take ownership and responsibility, an increased sense of purpose. It is not just about the technology it is about the philosophy - student-centered and focussed.

There are a lot of kids and adults who have things to share in the form of ideas and passion. Students care about their education, and rise to the challenge of leading events for teachers. It is worth looking at the Tomaz Lasic 'Catch a teacher day' initiative (Perth). Also, the Media Smart days which were organised by students, where there were student and teacher run workshops on media and technology topics.

Sylvia Martinez emphasised the importance of projects, and the key associated notions of tech support, professional development, and student technology fluency. She suggested that projects are graded by a peer-mentor - this gives different types of kids opportunities to shine and to show off their talents.

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