Hale Future School; an invitation to investigate the future of school.
The future isn’t what it used to be. Distance-education has long been a school-sector requiring special resources and considerations to resolve the inherent inequity in educational opportunity for families, students, teachers, and, schools across our huge state. But, remarkably perhaps, the tables are quietly turning.
It may be fate. It may be irony. Or, it may be justice, but certainly distance-education is providing a platform from which we can explore the very future of school, all schools. Collaborating with peers to solve problems online and over distance, is no longer a challenging technical obstacle for remote schools and families to conquer. It is a critical skill for all students to master for successful employment and meaningful participation in society in the 21st century. It is the classroom of the future.
Innovation is trumping the Government/Independent school divide, thanks to some forward-thinking rural school principals and teachers who are accessing a unique opportunity provided by Hale School. Some of them have been involved with the programme for 3 or 4 years now and all are passionate, innovative educators. This exciting new rural education context is called Hale Future School; and it is designed and delivered by Michael Valentine from Hale School. Hale Future School is a programme offering capable year 5 and 6 students a chance to work online in a dynamically interactive, virtual classroom each week investigating hands-on STEM and extension projects. The virtual classroom (using WebEx conferencing software) offers a reliable and richly visual “classroom”, whilst a secure Microsoft 365 cloud-based site offers all students and teachers a breath-taking 21st century work space. It is for boys and girls, it is free, and, it is truly unique.
Over the past 4 years Hale Future School has evolved to what is now a stunning 21st century work space. In 2017, over 40 students from 10 rural primary schools work with Michael Valentine every week on an extension programme which will run well into Term 4. Schools select their own students using their own criteria and provide their students with time and support to complete their weekly projects. The students collaborate to share the workload and so an hour at most is required each week of classroom time. The students have 24/7 access to their work if they wish to contribute more to the project that week. The work space allows for students to collaborate with students from other schools and other countries. A Spanish school is a regular member.
Hale Future School is now inviting students in Years 5 – 8, in rural schools or School of the Air, to participate in a new STEM focused programme in Term 3 2017. The course will be 10 weeks long. It is of course free. Boys and girls who enjoy learning as well as the opportunity to investigate a new approach to secure, online collaboration will relish the interactions. It is proposed that there will be two groups of students, one from Years 5/6 and the other from Years 7/8. Each group would have maximum of 10 students participating.
Hale School offers this exciting new learning environment so it can collaboratively explore its own future; whilst sharing its resources and learning with fellow educators. There is technology available today which can transform distance education and city education. Hale Future School connects both and enables educators and students to gain insights, have conversations and overcome long term isolation problems. It is a relationship fueled by ideas, a love of teaching and a determination to invent the future for all students and all schools.
Michael Valentine March 2017
Director of Distance Education
Hale School Perth Australia.
Screenshot March 2017 “class”; Students from 3 schools listen and watch a presentation from a student on their M&M maths project work; a very popular project with Hale Future School students! (Each student presents findings and new understandings to the HFS classroom each week. So, vital communication, problem-solving and technology skills are enriched too).