XChange06 – The Challenge of Change

Jul 08, 2006

Miles Berry

An all too brief session from Alan November on “The challenge of change”, that was more about posing questions than supplying answers, but the questions were jolly good ones. Alan talked about the sort of technology that young people are regularly using outside school, such as instant messaging, blogging and mp3 downloading/sharing, and how most schools will unilaterally ban these on their network, whereas really we should be paying far more attention to what the kids are doing. He also spoke a bit more about the San Diego school we’d heard about back at XChange05, where all the pupils had office like cubicles with individual computers and classrooms had been replaced by meeting rooms of various sizes, it turns out now that they’ve started taking the computers and the cubicles out, and converting the space into things which looked suspiciously like classrooms – not sure what the message was here, but there’s perhaps still something to be said for the more traditional, class based approach to learning.

There was also an interesting observation from some consulting he’s been doing with the banking industry over on Guensey (nice work if you can get it), where apparently 90% of their IT spend is spent on ‘re-engineering’ – adapting existing products to fit their specific requirements more closely, which he contrasted with the situation in schools, where the re-engineering spend is usually close to zero – I guess he’s not that in touch with what’s happening with open source code in some schools.

Alan extended the re-engineering notion beyond IT to the system as a whole, and that once we get over the issue of access and the digital divide we should be thinking about

  • re-design of schools
  • re-design of the curriculum
  • re-deisgn of the job description of educators, students, family.

Not that we’re clear yet about what the re-design will look like.