In an effort to extract and amplify the expansive wisdom of our Academic Advisory Board, we've been dialling in to their 'isolation stations' and asking these education oracles how they see the impact of COVID-19 playing out across the sector, and what advice they have for education leaders at this time.
Geoff Kinkade is former Principal Consultant, Gifted & Talented in the WA Department of Education, and still teaches and consults for Gifted Education at regional, state, national, and international levels.
Studiosity: Given your experience with schools, how do you think the current, necessary, shift to online will affect students’ learning?
Geoff K: Well, I think that there's going to be considerable change, based on the specific needs of learners. So there's an opportunity here for new clusters to be developed and for new learning to be taking place, in a new kind of arrangement.
Teachers across a number of schools will be able to collaborate, conceive, develop and present packages for learning, in ways that haven't even been considered before, or are impractical in the formal school learning environment.
Schools and students will gain a lot through the 2020 experience.
Schools and students will gain a lot through the 2020 experience, though much of it will be better understood in review. There will be a great leap forward in educational technologies and a jump in the expertise and skill-levels of teachers, in the art of online learning. And I believe these are very, very good things for students. The vast majority of students will grow and develop their academic maturity. They're going to have to organise themselves in ways that previously they might have been reliant on others.
Studiosity: What advice do you have for the principals, teachers or educators charged with moving schooling online in the short to medium term?
Geoff K : Well, firstly I'd like to acknowledge the fabulous work that's going on right now in staff rooms and school faculties, as well as at the organisational bureaucratic level. There are concerted and coordinated efforts taking place, to make sure that the disruption to students and families is kept to a minimum. Parents can have every confidence that their child's school is planning and preparing the best possible support. And I have tremendous confidence in the ability of teachers to adapt their learning programs to online environments.
I have tremendous confidence in the ability of teachers to adapt their learning programs to online environments.
There are many resources and support available; two that I'll mention specifically. The West Australian Department of Education has a 'Learning at home' by year level bank of resources. It's similar to the NSW Department of Education, which is under the banner of 'Learning from home: teaching and learning resources'. Here, parents can go to access materials related to their child's curricula, and have confidence that what's online is directly linked to what teachers would otherwise be doing in classrooms.
One other resource that I must mention which is outstanding for mathematical concepts is Dr. Chris Tisdell, who has a channel on YouTube and presents dynamic sessions about mathematical concepts, in a fun way.
Studiosity: Yes, he's so great isn't he?
Geoff K: Yeah, he's got a great sense of humour. You can see that he brings a real love of learning into the classroom.
Dr Chris Tisdell on YouTube
Studiosity: What special arrangements do you think schools or universities should make for the 2020 Year 12 ATAR students, if any?
Geoff K: Well, there are a lot of adjustments taking place in terms of what ATAR requirements are going to be. And I believe that those students who approach their studies with commitment, dedication and continue to work to the highest possible level, will enjoy success.
Perhaps we'll start to take account of those kinds of compassionate factors, human traits.
However, I do think that the exceptional circumstances really call into question the kind of formality that we've become used to in these assessments, and the changes could be really, really good in the longer term. Our historical reliance on these rigid systems doesn't always recognise other skills and abilities that students bring, through twelve years of secondary schooling. I'm talking here about the contributions that that many students make to their school community, and the broader community as well. Perhaps we'll start to take account of those kinds of compassionate factors, human traits. This era, after all, is a challenge to us as humans to be as humane and considerate and understanding of our fellow human beings as we can.
Studiosity: What do you see ahead for schools and students in 2020? How will the disruption impact the progression of their school education?
Geoff K: In summary, I'd say that I think that this is a time when we may need to sacrifice a little bit of content, with the knowledge that we're contributing to a better world. In education, content is the means by which we provide activity for students. And along the way, what we're really wanting to do is develop them as people. We're trying to bring out their characteristics. We want to help them to see that there's a place for them in society and that they are valuable members who can contribute to our society. So right now we might say, let's not emphasise on the content so much, let's look more toward the kinds of things that help us to be resilient, that enable us to have encouragement for other people and acceptance.
Okay, it might sound a little bit hippy-dippy. But I still think we live in a world where these messages have a place. And I believe that children are very powerful recipients, not only of this humanity, but they're also wonderful conveyors of those qualities.