Students to press global ministers for education change at Education Fast Forward 6
Agnetta NyalitaStudents in the EFF6 hotseats: Agnetta NyalitaEngaging students in their learning is one of the main challenges of schools across the globe as evidence mounts of learners, excluded from education decision-making, "unplugging" from their studies.

That’s why Promethean has issued a new White Paper, "From Learner Voice to Emerging Leaders", to push for more learner involvement. And it will be debated by its authors, students and government ministers at its Education Fast Forward event (EFF6) at the Education World Forum in London next week.

Online global debates are a key feature of EFF which uses the powerful TelePresence video-conferencing technology of its project partner Cisco. EFF6 takes place on Monday (January 28, 11am to midday) within the Education World Forum, the high-powered international event attended by more than 50 ministers from overseas government that is organised by the British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA) and supported by the Department for Education. Many of the participants then move on to BETT 2013 which showcases much of the technology for learning they will have touched on as part of their wider talks on education.

Students need 'authentic say in what and how they want to learn'

At EFF6, the arguments from the White Paper will presented by its authors – Gavin Dykes (see "I learn more by teaching than learning"), Michael Furdyk, Sara Hassan and Jennifer Corriero – to the ministers attending the Forum. They will argue that the best way to engage students is to give them “an authentic say in what and how they want to learn”. And they recommend ministers to consider “dramatic changes” in four areas:

  • Curriculum design;
  • Pedagogical practice;
  • The role of technology in empowering learner voice;
  • The role of learner voice in national and international education policy.

The students were the stars of the EFF5 and  three of them return for EFF6. Michael Lach from the United Kingdom, Mohamed Sidibay from Sierra Leone (currently studying in the United States) and Agnetta Nyalita from Kenya will lay out their expectations for global leaders and make recommendations on the changes they’d like to see school schools make to better prepare young leaders. Some of the students have already started to speak out on the Promethean Planet blog with others to follow following the EFF debate.

While the four themes of the White Paper are clearly already influencing practice in many schools, they are not widely understood or accepted by politicians, many of whom have formerly been impervious to the arguments, often because of their focus on testing regimes. EFF6 aims to bring fresh impetus to the debate and will build on the success of EFF5 (see video below) when learners dominated the debate (“From Learner Voice to Global Peace”, featuring Peace One Day founder and evangelist Jeremy Gilley).

Education Fast Forward: Join the Debate from Education Fast Forward on Vimeo.

“If we are going to create an engaged and prepared workforce for the global economy, we need to start by looking at the education system in which tomorrow’s leaders are learning,” said Jim Wynn, chief education officer with Promethean.

Jim WynnPromethean's Jim Wynn“What the authors of this paper clearly articulate is that we have a growing student disengagement program. As a global community, we have an opportunity to make the right choices and changes to make learning relevant so today’s students are learning for the whole of their life.”

“From Learner Voice to Emerging Leaders” highlights the increasing disengagement of students. The Canadian Education Association reckons that 85 per cent of Canadian grade five students are intellectually engaged. However, by grade 12 the number of engaged students drops to 45 per cent. The authors included other independent research showing that just one-third of grade 12 students feel like they have a say in their learning.

Promethean’s chief educator, Jim Wynn, has been setting the company’s education strategy as the company evolves to have a greater emphasis on being a global partner for developing education practice rather than focus on the technology. Wynn’s strategic direction is in sync with what global leaders will be discussing at the Education World Forum – including how to make learning more relevant and meaningful – and is infused in the presentations to be delivered on the company’s stand (C80), the Promethean Learning Productivity Studio, at BETT 2013. The overall aim, said the company, is to demonstrate how to boost “learning productivity”.

Promethean's BETT 2013 push on ‘21st Century Education Themes that Matter’

It’s all part of Promethean’s ongoing discussion around “21st Century Education Themes that Matter”. To that end Promethean will set up a space at BETT where educators can pick up and exchange ideas, tips and skills for “creating authentic learning opportunities for their students”. There will be an emphasis on collaborative learning, and visitors can expect a number of announcements, including enhancements to the ActivTable as the company embraces Window 8 and releases a content modifier teachers can use to develop their own personalised materials.

Watch out too for the integration of tablets into the classroom environment and an update to Promethean’s virtual learner response system, ActivEngage 2.0, which will expand the use of the software across more handheld and interactive devices.

Inevitably there will be announcements concerning the cloud. It’s understood that Promethean has been working on a new online collaboration center for educators with group management capabilities, professional development tools, resource sharing and feedback forums. And that this has already been put into practice in Mexico. This service is expected to have advanced reporting and analytics to help administrators provide higher-level professional development and support for teachers.

For a company that originally made its name developing interactive whiteboards the needs of its customers have brought substantial change, and the way it has chosen to support those changes, and drive its own, has been through strategy. “We've moved from improving the ability of teachers to deliver the best lessons from the front of the class to a new space.” said Jim Wynn. “We now think of enhancing personalisation and collaboration and the very nature of learning with the teacher at its centre. Today, it is all about helping everyone be more productive and that means more effective in the learning process.”

More information

Education Fast Forward 6, 28 January, 11am to 12 midday GMT. Available via LiveStream on Promethean Planet. Join the EFF6 debate on Twitter by following the hashtag #EFF6. And engage in a year around conversation about the Promethean Education Themes that Matter using hashtag: #LearningMatters.

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