From the Headmaster - Transforming teaching and learning through technology
Unfortunately, we all find ourselves in extraordinary times with the outbreak of COVID-19. Coronavirus has significantly affected all of our lives and is challenging our ability to learn and be resilient.
Knox responded to quarantine with a rapid shift to online learning and it was important to remind ourselves that with any change comes opportunities for transformation. The School quickly embraced digital tools and platforms to ensure uninterrupted educational delivery to students.
While traditional, face-to-face learning will inevitably return to prominence once the coronavirus abates, we have also seen the shift in learning as an opportunity to develop the skills our students will need to achieve academic excellence in the innovation age.
"While there is a difference between how we teach when in the classroom and online, at the end of the day our fundamental role as teachers and educators never changes."
One of our strengths is that we are a progressive school, and the necessary shift to online learning has been about embracing that culture of progressiveness at a whole new level. A Knox education is about nurturing lifelong learners who are curious and eager to learn about themselves, one another and the wider world. It is not just about producing better workers, but people who contribute meaningfully to society propelled by a strong sense of purpose and hope for the future.
Outlined in our ‘Education for the Future (PDF, 3mb)’ document, one of the School’s strategic intents is to prepare students to enter the world with the skills, deep knowledge, mindset and dispositions that will enable them to flourish as informed, confident and courageous global citizens.
At Knox, we call these skills ‘Global Competencies’. They are not tied to specific content knowledge or expertise, but rather include creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, communication, character and citizenship. Undoubtedly, the shift to online learning has accelerated the development of these skills in our students.
The global digital revolution is changing the way people are doing ‘things’. It has made the whole world a remote village. Knox is absolutely committed to innovation, and it is why the transition to online learning has seen minimal disruption to student learning. The School has already been using technology to make vital global connections to broaden the perspectives of our students and expose them to different ways of thinking and working. One of these exciting initiatives is through the One Planet Education Network (OPEN) organisation. In conjunction with OPEN, we are making connections with schools throughout Africa and the United States to work collaboratively on projects to investigate solutions to authentic world issues, such as sustainable agriculture.
We are also using Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality to provide immersive and engaging experiences that allow learning to take place beyond the four walls of the classroom. Students can re-immerse themselves into field trips completed throughout the year, while other students are able to use VR technology to help them research new concepts in various subjects and develop experiences of their own. Our Knox Prep students engage in Knoxigation units that are future-focussed, problem based and involve deep investigation into issues that matter. The rich, purposeful use of technology has also deepened student understanding and has enabled our students to realise their ability to make a difference in the world.
Technology provides rich opportunities for creating global connections that enable our young people to be globally mindful. Students have been excited to work with people from across the globe and are certainly deeply engaged with the learning that follows. The digital revolution has empowered students as their learning is not confined to prescribed sources, the teacher or the four walls of the classroom.
The necessity for remote learning continues to deliver breakthroughs in the use of technology in education, though I also believe it will make us appreciate the phenomenal value played by human engagement and socialisation in the teaching and learning experience. While there is a difference between how we teach when in the classroom and online, at the end of the day our fundamental role as teachers and educators never changes. Online learning is simply an opportunity to engage in different and innovative ways to think critically and for our students to develop a flexible, adaptive mindset that applies learning to new and challenging contexts.
This article was originally published in the June 2020 edition of 'The Thistle' magazine.
05 August 2020
There is a term that has been around for a while now – VUCA, which stands for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity. I think we can safely say that we have all, collectively, lived the VUCA world for the past several months.
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