11 September 2012

The Octopus's Garden

I have had the most exciting morning that has spawned a big project for my learners and me.

The Octopus's Garden, A3-4, NISS
In our attempt to support all staff in going 1:1, with only one trolley of Macs for the secondary school, in the midst of an explosion of need following the awesome Google Summit at the weekend, I have been asked to host what we are dubbing, The Octopus's Garden. This involves twenty 'reconditioned' laptops that have been stripped and made into make shift 'Chrome Book' type machines being installed in my room. This is great as it means we 'get out there' - they have to be plugged in to work however, hence the 'octopus' of wires.

Project Octopus's Garden: Embryonic
We set up the plug-in laptops at stations around the room to minimise the 'tentacles' leaving a huge empty space in the middle. My first lesson in The Octopus's Garden was rated 7/10, which is ok. The idea works, the machines didn't always. Some were frustrated by lack of applications such as iMovie however, there were some Macs brought in too so there was a mixture of tools available.
Desks are dead
The future of this project is what is getting me really excited though, as this is merely the embryonic idea of what is going to change out learning spaces; this has spawned a whole new project for my learners and me. I need to think of a name for it beyond Project Octopus's Garden as well as develop a driving question, but intrinsically it will explore what makes a 21st century learning environment. We need to move away from desks and tables - we lure learners into our schools with the prospect of new ways of learning, yet they turn up at classrooms that have changed little since the invention of chalkboards. How does this help us get them to buy into the fact that we are innovating learning? Ironically, I was reading this article on the bus just last night, discussing how desks are 'harming' education and it was something I tried to work on last year but got nowhere.

I am so delighted to have the opportunity to work on something real and authentic. My challenge now is to write a good proposal based on research, knowledge, experience - and design a project that involves learners, so we get what it is that defines, drives and innovates 21st Century learning.

Watch this space.


Thanks to http://www.phillewisart.com/octopusblog.html for the image.