Extolling the benefits of learning in a global environment

IF students are used to working in a global environment before they leave school, there is a greater chance they will stay and work in their home towns, a leading educator told south-west teachers yesterday. 

English professor Stephen Heppell, an internationally respected education leader in 21st century learning, spoke to three groups at Warrnambool College encouraging teachers to work with their students to change the way they teach and learn.

He said that in the past students would finish school and move to cities and other areas to take up specialised roles, often never returning. 

“Once upon a time children would leave the farm to study robotics. With technology today, they can study robotics and then come back to the farm,” he said. 

“With technology, you don’t have to leave to do high-value jobs. You could be designing car parts for Holden in Warrnambool, that are manufactured in Korea. You don’t have to go somewhere to work, you can work where you like. 

“But the key to that is the students need to be used to working in a global environment before they leave school.” 

Professor Heppell’s daughter Juliette, also speaking yesterday, said working in a global environment helped students achieve their best. 

“At my school in London, we record role plays and presentations to put on YouTube,” she said. 

“If they know it’s going to be watched by people all over the world, they give it their best, rather than just doing it in front of their classmates who they see day in day out.” 

Professor Heppell said the key was teachers and students working together to discover what future learning would look like. 

“It’s about researching what schools are doing all over the world and taking little ingredients and implementing what works best for you,” he said. 

“We have to trust teachers and students. If they are writing on glass, walls and tables overseas and it’s working, why not implement it here?

“It’s about creating spaces where the students want to learn.” 

Warrnambool College principal Michael Fitzgerald said teachers and principals from across the region participated in the sessions, which he said challenged them to think about ways space in classrooms and schools are used. 

“It’s not just about technology, it’s about different thinking, and figuring out how to best use that technology to get the most out of learning,” he said.

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