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Attending the Google for Education Moonshot Summit

Rob Clarke

Rob is the co-founder and CEO of Learning Architects. He supports leaders and organisations to thrive in the future through coaching, development, technology and learning design. He is a Ministry of Education accredited PLD facilitator. He is also a Dad - at present, these blog posts will focus on the interplay between schooling happening at home and his professional reflections on distance learning.

For more information please visit: learningarchitects.com/about or get in touch via +64 21 590 572

Attending The Google For Education Moonshot Summit
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I am lucky enough to be attending the Google for Education Moonshot Summit in Amsterdam. This a special event which is organised by Google for Education. This event is an invitation-only, special event that brings together innovative teachers and education leaders from around the world to design education-focussed ‘moonshot’ projects that move education forward.

I am excited to have been selected to attend this global event and am one of only 40 people to be able to take part.

The goal of the summit is to introduce or reinforce a mindset of rapid prototyping and user testing. Participants will design projects that require testing and reiterating – all aimed at moving our education system forward.

Google EDU Moonshot Summit 2015

A ‘moonshot’ is an ambitious, exploratory and ground-breaking project undertaken without any expectation of near-term success or benefit and also, perhaps, without a full investigation of potential risks and benefits. This video summarises the concept quite nicely:

 

The idea for my moonshot has been mulling about in my head over the last few years, in which I started my career as a school principal and got to experience the ‘introduction’ of our governments’ National Standards assessment and reporting regime; which over time brings the risk of potentially narrowing the focus for our wonderful New Zealand Curriculum. I say this because I have the belief that ‘what you measure tends to grow’ and that due to focussing too much on only two of the eight learning areas (ie. two of the six sub-strands of the English curriculum, and Maths as the other learning area).* In addition to this, how this information is now being used at various levels in the education sector is causing a narrowing of focus for principals, Boards of Trustees, teachers, students and parents.

Now that I’m a consultant I am unsure whether this narrowing (or ‘harrowing’ as some might put it) is diminishing, I see many in education spending a lot of energy on these ‘basics’ of reading, writing and maths… but to the detriment of providing a rich, broad and dynamic learning experience for young people. I sometimes wonder if this is just the start of other agendas to be imposed on education by politicians.**

Therefore, my moonshot is quite simple; yet also a fascinating challenge to explore:

“What if we measured what really matters?”

If we were to do this, how might we measure educational outcomes in such a way that this measurement allows education to become more responsive to the needs of today’s learners?”

*Read this page on the Ministry of Education site, last point explains that reading, writing and maths are fundamental to success across the entire curriculum. I don’t dispute this claim, I am merely stating that an over-emphasis on assessing only two of the eight learning areas can be detrimental.

**Please note: some aspects of the National Standards regime have in my view been very positive – such as the de-privatising of achievement data, teachers sharing practices and looking closely for effective strategies, moderation and other aspects.

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