Sunday, 25 October 2015

Education outside of the classroom

This week I had the honour to guest moderate a Twitter education chat for the first time, with the #INZPirED community. What made this doubly special was that #INZPirED was the first ever Twitter Edu chat I participated in, back in May!

The topic I chose for the chat was 'How can getting out of the classroom benefit learners?' For the purposes of the chat, and to allow for Twitter's 140 character limit, we used the abbreviation EOTC (Education Outside The Classroom) during the chat. 

There were many great thoughts and opinions around just how useful getting out of the classroom can be for learners, for example by creating active learning opportunities and reinforcing classroom learning.
Getting out of the classroom also gives those students who are sometimes a bit quiet in class the opportunity to become more engaged and gain more of a voice. I have observed this on field trips in the past, where a student who may have never asked a question in class will come up to me with a seemingly endless series of questions!
An important feature of education outside of the classroom is to provide students with ways to engage with authentic and real-life situations, helping to break down barriers between their classroom learning and the real world. 

A couple of very real concerns around the practicalities of getting out of the classroom were raised, such as issues around behaviour, transport, and disruption for other teachers. These are fair points, but ones which can be addressed. Behaviour requires the appropriate number of adult supervisors necessary for the grade level and specific needs of the learners involved - obviously resources may play a role in this. Transport, again, is a resources issue. Disruption for other teachers may occur, but as I mentioned during the chat, this is something that as teachers we have to expect. I may take my students out of other classes for a biology field trip to the zoo, while a few weeks later they may be off to the museum for a social studies trip. This is fine - the learning opportunities afforded by well-designed field trips can outweigh the slight loss of curriculum time. 

Technology can play a very useful role when it comes to learning outside of the classroom, and this was highlighted during the chat. For example, learners can use their phones for taking photos or videos, recording information, collaborating, and communicating. 
I also pointed out that technology can be useful when field trips may not be practical due to issues of cost, safety, or geography, for example the use of virtual field trips. 

The entire Storify of the chat can be found embedded at the bottom of this page. 

The #INZPirED chat takes place on Twitter every Saturday at 9:30AM Bangkok time (GMT+07:00) - please feel free to join in!

Thanks to Diana Engwa for inviting me to guest moderate and for putting the promo image together, to Ritu Sehji for compiling the Storify, to Sunny Thakral for making me have to think of another topic ;) and to the #INZPirED community.