Monday, August 9, 2010

21st Century Curriculum

Left image: Hazerbrouck Railway Station, France.
Right image: Rocks on Rouen beach, France.

Related sites to the Spatialworlds project
Spatialworlds website
21st Century Geography Google Group
Australian Geography Teachers' Association website
'Towards a National Geography Curriculum' project website
Geography Teachers' Association of South Australia website

Where am I??
Loxton, Australia: S: 34º 28' E: 140º 31'

The 21st Century curriculum needs to be written to ensure that ‘teachable moments’ happen to the maximum! To do so the curriculum should be written to incorporate:

o Flexibility• be flexible to meet the needs of the self-reliant and autonomous learner.

o Multiple literacies• recognise and consider as equally important the range of ‘non-traditional’ literacy’s i.e. visual, financial, health, media, environmental, spatial etc.
• develop cultural literacy and intercultural understanding.

o Orientation
• be thematic in nature, providing guidance via the provision of ‘big ideas’ and ‘essential questions’, instead of discreet content alone.
• view all topics studied though the lens of sustainability.

o Inquiry focus• build relationship with others to pose and solve problems collaboratively and cross-culturally.
• be inquiry based and integrate research and inquiry into the development of knowledge and skills.

o Integration• integrate with other subjects in terms of knowledge and skills.

o Authenticity• relate to the community and interact in a meaningful way.
• have a focus on the citizenship capacity of the individual by treating civic and global issues.
• customise learning to student personal pathways.
• provide ample opportunities for students to be involved in project based activities.

o Global dimensions• be global in treatment- design and share information from global communities to meet a variety of purposes.

o Creativity• enable creativity in thought and action.

o Communication
• recognise a variety of ways to demonstrate knowledge and skills.
• encourage a variety of assessment strategies, including teacher, self and peer assessment.

o Challenging
• challenge students to inquire as to possible futures and explore the question of not only what?, why? and where? but also what if? and so what?
• stimulate student curiosity and inquisitiveness.
• reflect the intended outcomes for students by the development of clearly articulated and achievable standards.
• emphasis in course design and assessment on the skill of synthesis, critical analysis and evaluation.

Friday, August 6, 2010

The 21st Century learner

Picture descriptions:
Images: 21st Century students - are they any different?

Related sites to the Spatialworlds project
Spatialworlds website
21st Century Geography Google Group
Australian Geography Teachers' Association website
'Towards a National Geography Curriculum' project website
Geography Teachers' Association of South Australia website
Email contact

Where am I??
Port Lincoln, South Australia: S: 34º 42' E: 135º 52'

This posting explores the issue of where students as learners have changed. Is there such a thing as a 21st Century learner? The research indicates that there is! If we are on about developing a 21st Century curriculum then we must take into account that the learner has changed and think about how the currciulum may be different to accomodate these changes.

These changes may be categorised under the headings of what they require and expect and what they are interested in.

*They require and expect:• not to have to learn “by rote” knowledge. They recognize that knowledge is important but not to be expected to learn chunks of deep knowledge
• respect from their teachers. They consider respect needs to be ‘earnt’ by their teachers
• to learn the skills of knowledge acquisition, analysis and synthesis
• to develop a taste of the ethos and frameworks of disciplines.
• relevance of learning to their life. They ask how the curriculum delivered will prepare them for the real world whilst they are at school and when they leave. They expect real world competencies through their learning
• the freedom to personalise/customise their learning/tasks to meet their personal needs
• their learning to be flexible, self reliant and autonomous
• new technologies to be available to support their learning and collaborative work
• to work collaboratively in the real and virtual space
• be able to meet achievement standards if they work as required
• the opportunity to study in depth a topic/issue they find of interest
• connectivity with their life and their learning experiences.

* They are interested in:
• issues of social justice
• real stories
• connecting with others in the real and virtual space
• using current technology to learn – in particular to enhance connectivity
• being active citizens and make a difference
• embracing cross-cultural competencies – sensitivity to other cultures
• greenness and sustainability through real ecologically responsible acts
• being global in outlook – citizens of the world
• customising their education to their needs – personal pathways
• being a resourceful learner, curious, enquiring, community relevant and learning
beyond the school day.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

My favourite things!

Left image: Marine traffic site.
Right image: Mapping surnames site.

Related sites to the Spatialworlds project
Spatialworlds website
21st Century Geography Google Group
Australian Geography Teachers' Association website
'Towards a National Geography Curriculum' project website
Geography Teachers' Association of South Australia website
Email contact

Where am I??
Adelaide, Australia: S: 34º 55' E: 138º 36'

These are a selection of the sites I used in my RSGQ talk. They tend to be my favourite geographical sites – only until I find more!

Worldmapper- cartograms of socio-economic criteria around the world
Flights around the world in 24 hours
If the world was a village of 100
Earthcam: cameras around the world
Globalis: Interactive maps
Geocaching around Australia
Google Maps and Streetview
Marine traffic in real time
Tracking flu outbreaks around the world
Calculating ecological footprints
Cities from above at night
If sea level rose
Water storage levels around Australia
Digging a hole through the earth
Google earth and all it has to offer.

Times are still changing!

Left image: Traffic in London
Right image: Pace of life, Derby, UK

Related sites to the Spatialworlds project
Spatialworlds website
21st Century Geography Google Group
Australian Geography Teachers' Association website
'Towards a National Geography Curriculum' project website
Geography Teachers' Association of South Australia website
Email contact

Where am I??
Brisbane, Australia: S: 28º 28' E: 153º 02'

Times are a changing: Part 2
I enjoyed the opportuntiy to talk at the RGSQ last night about 21st Century change and the implications for the geography curriculum and geography teahcing in the 21st Century. Had some great chats with the geography teachers attending about the future of geography in schools. Here are the rest of my thoughts on the nature of 21st Century change which was the basis of last nights talk.

* Technology pervasiveness and information access

The world is now one of:
•all pervasive technology. The use of technology impacts on every aspect of 21st Century life. For entertainment, navigation, information and work an individual is hooked up to technology. The implication of this to our understanding of the underlying principles governing many of these applications reduces our capacity to live without the technology. For example dependence on a GPS can spatially de-skill individuals who feel “quite lost” if the technology fails.

• visualisation and wanting to see what things look like. The ability of technology has drastically increased the ability to show individuals what something looks like, even on the other side of the world. The world of “seeing and knowing without going” is thriving though the virtual world of the Internet i.e. if you are interested in a holiday destination, virtual tours can give a taste; if you want to buy a house, you can view via walkthroughs. The visual coverage of every street and every house across the globe is growing day by day through the Streetview of Google Maps and the aerial view of Google Earth. Increasingly we are visiting places virtually before choosing to go there or not. No longer does one have to guess about what a thing or place looks like. The individual does not expect to be kept in the dark and only read about something!

• the instant expert. Linked to our access to information at the end of our fingertips is the birth of a population of instant experts. People feel prepared to comment and even criticise as a result of the knowledge they have attained electronically. This trend is evident by the Blogger and Twitter phenomena where individuals feel they can comment on complex issues with the same credence as an expert i.e. the demise of the film and literary critic in the media.

• cynicism and questioning. The pervasiveness of information and communication technology, combined with the power and penetration of the media has resulted in a world where people consider they are as informed as experts and those in power. Although a little cynicism or more politely the art of questioning by an individual is healthy in any society, the denial and constant challenging of expert knowledge and the motives of our leaders can become dysfunctional in a democracy.

• requiring critical analysis of issues and information. The bombardment of information and ideas an individual comes into contact with the media every day necessitates the ability to sift, customise and make sense. Such problem solving and critical analysis skills are becoming increasingly important citizenship skills for any functional individual in society. In the age of the instant expert such a skill within the general population is an imperative for an informed and considered society.

• media saturation. Individual outlay on media has grown astronomically. Whether the mobile phone, cable TV, Ipad or Internet connection people expect to be in the know. As a result the media has continued to grow as a social influence far outstripping more traditional influences, including schools.

* The phenomena of change

The world is now one of:

• constant change. Things are continually being updated and we strive for a better version. Whether computer upgrade or the latest digital TV, we expect the current version. Repair is a foreign concept, being easier to buy a new one for not much more. As well as material change we are also seeing significant societal change in terms of values and morals. What was taboo or socially unacceptable last year can soon be changed through our connectivity with the rest of the world via the power of the media. An individual in the 21st Century needs to be able to cope and adapt to change.

• fast pace. Communication technologies, information technologies and transport have resulted in the pace of life increasing. People expect and indeed demand speed of response. We are not prepared to wait for a letter to return but expect an email or answer asap. The mobile phone has contributed to the pace of life by making everyone contactable, anywhere, anytime.

• immediacy of life. If we want to find out something it is at our fingertips via Google. There is endless access to information and a huge potential for an individual to gain new knowledge immediately. This has significant implications for the need for an individual to have a bank of “known” knowledge in their brain. What is more important is how to access knowledge via the information technologies available and how to be discerning with the acquired knowledge (bias, reliability)

In summary, the world of the 21st Century a young person in our schools is presently living in and soon to be fully functional citizens of a globalised world which is highly interconnected and interdependent, media saturated, culturally diverse, technology driven, rapidly changing, information overloaded, cynical, environmentally degraded, mobile and increasingly homogeneous. How different is that to the world most 40+ teachers were born into? No Facebook, no computers, mono-cultural, only free to air TV, limited global inter-action, books the holders of knowledge etc. Our present education system was developed for the world of the 20th Century (some will argue that it is still 19th Century orientated). Can this “one size fits all” education system developed in the 20th century continue to educate effectively the 21st Century citizen. The literature says no because the needs of the 21st Century learner are vastly different in this changing world and that teachers and their pedagogy, curriculum, schools and systems need to change.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Times are a changing

Left image: CBD, Christchurch, New Zealand.
Right image: Arthur's Pass, New Zealand.

Related sites to the Spatialworlds project
Spatialworlds website
21st Century Geography Google Group
Australian Geography Teachers' Association website
'Towards a National Geography Curriculum' project website
Geography Teachers' Association of South Australia website
Email contact

Where am I??
Brisbane, Australia: S: 28º 28' E: 153º 02'

Times are a changing: Part 1
As mentioned in my last posting, things are changing rapidly in society and our world view. Such changes are not necessarily reflected in our education system and in turn reflected in curriculum and teaching. Before going into detail on the implications for geography curriculum and teaching in the 21st Century I have had a go at trying to delineate what the major changes are which have a socio-geographical basis.
Today I am in Brisbane and will be addressing the Royal Geographical Society of Queensland on 21st change and the challenge for geography educators to develop in the Australian Currciulum a world class, state of the art, contemporary and engaging geography for schools. Some of what I put in the next few blog entries are the basis of my talk. The changes and their nature are only my ideas and I would love to have any others add to my list and discuss the veracity of my discussion on the matter. Others may have a very different take on the changes we have lived through and face in the 21st Century.

The changes to the way of life and perceptions in the world of the 21st Century can be discussed under the broad headings of global perspective and globalization, environmental change, cultural interaction, technology pervasiveness and information access and the phenomena of change.

For this entry I will only explore the first three; changes in global perspectives, environmental challenges and cultural interaction.

* Changing global perspective and globalisation

The world is now one of:
• high connectivity due to communication technology and the ease of travel. Distance is no longer one of friction but ease. One can have a friend / business associate anywhere in the world and interact with them upon demand.
• homogeneity. The mobility of individuals, global markets and communication technologies has resulted in the world becoming more homogenous. The influence of multinational companies such as MacDonalds and US TV networks have resulted in a phenomenon called “Cultural Imperialism”. No matter where you are in the world, a little bit of home is available.
• places around the world are of ever increasing interdependence in terms of information, people, ideas, trade and exchange. Again, made possible by the reduction of the friction of distance and the growth of global markets. Australia’s increasing engagement with Asia is an outcome of this phenomena.
• increasing reliance on international markets. People need to be ready to move and interact with other nations. No country is an island with the products and materials we use coming from every corner of the globe. In turn our industry is dependent on overseas markets for their survival.
• diminishing size and power over the tyranny of distance. The power of technology not only shows you what something looks like but where exactly it is. In the 21st Century over 80% of data is attached to place. Such spatial awareness of where things are on the globe has changed individual’s perception of distance and accessibility. No longer is any place really out of our virtual reach. For example with the capacities of GPS we also expect to be taken somewhere with minimal spatial thinking. What is the impact of such technology having on our spatial, global and community sense?

* Environmental change

The world is now one of:

• environmental challenges. Communities are aware of the degradation of our land, air and biosphere. As a result there is an ever increasing awareness of the need to act and change aspects of our lifestyle. An aspect of this awareness is the knowledge that degradation does not respect national borders. For example China’s loss of bio-diversity is also other countries. Such awareness will result in increasing global co-operation and in turn connectivity and interdependencies. These events/phenomena are challenging societies, livelihoods locally and globally in the 21st Century. These issues range from climate change to migration, from energy resources to environmental hazards, from food production to water resources, and from the future of the countryside to the impact of globalisation on developing countries

* Cultural interaction

The world is now one of:

• increasing cultural diversity. The movement of people around the world for a range of reasons has resulted in most countries of the western world having highly multi-cultural populations. The need for inter-cultural understanding and cultural literacy has become an important component of citizenship and cultural competency.

• awareness of injustices and inequities. The society of the 21st Century is more aware of the minorities and their plight. Issues related to the indigenous community, the disabled, refugees and the homeless are highlighted by the media and socially there is a sensitivity to actions and remarks which may be deemed as racist or elitist. Recent outrage about racism in football codes around Australia indicates that attitudes do change and are changing. Although not a minority the increasing influence of women in Australia in the 21st Century cannot be denied. Although not universal, the issues of social justice and equity is a concept that has resonance in the 21st Century.