Creating Tension: Orchestrating Disruptive Pedagogies in a Virtual School Environment

Creating Tension: Orchestrating Disruptive Pedagogies in a Virtual School Environment

Gloria Latham (RMIT University, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61350-495-6.ch019
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This chapter will critically examine the disruptive pedagogies being employed during the initiation, transition, and extension phases of a virtual school culture and its impact upon the virtual school community, pre-service, and ultimately, in-service-teachers. Through the virtual, it is intended that pre-service teachers (who have a placement at this school of ideas) may be able to experience new ways of teaching and learning and, in turn, start to step away from their schooled pasts in order to reflect upon, critically assess and then enact needed change. As pre-service teachers are the potential creators of yet unchartered pedagogies, they are a vital resource. Provocation will be examined using an Action Research model.
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Much has been written about changing mindsets and practices around an industrial model of teaching and learning that dispenses information and normalizes students, content and practices (Fullan, 2007, 2008; Darling-Hammond, 2009; Hargreaves & Shirley, 2009) While educators recognize and accept that today’s learners are radically different and require learning that responds to the rapidly changing socio-cultural, technological and global conditions, little has altered in reality. Research also emphasises the centrality of the teacher in the learning process (Hattie, 2009; Darling-Hammond, 2009). Responsive teachers start by getting to know their students ‘strengths and learning styles, attitudes and interests and only then do they address mandated curriculum, programs and standards.

Teachers need to reconceptualize what schools can become so that today’s learners explore, problem solve and design new knowledge within a range of learning communities. New kinds of responsive teachers reflect upon and then enact teaching and learning practices that do far more than merely replicate past practices that no longer serve learner needs. Rather, they create and implement innovative practices that reflect real world issues. Hargreaves and Fullan (1998) suggest that the teaching profession has not yet come of age. They question whether the next decade can ‘develop its own visions of and commitments to educational and social change, instead of simply vetoing and reacting to the change agendas of others.’ (p. 103)

New ways of learning ‘outside’ of formal schooling continue to bring about fundamental changes to the ways in which learners interact with others, and how identities are enlarged and strengthened by local and global connectedness. Linda Darling-Hammond’s (1998) statement over a decade ago holds even greater credence today. Darling-Hammond says that ‘today’s schools face enormous challenges … [they] are being asked to educate the most diverse student body in our history to higher academic standards than ever before’ (p. 6). Twenty-first century learners are accustomed to self-regulated learning, learning that provides choice in what they learn, where they learn and when they learn. These students are digital natives; wired as Prensky (2005) describes them. They have grown up with access to a wide range of digital technologies that allow them a range of social networks locally, nationally and globally, along with vast amounts of information at their fingertips.

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