DEC Scan Journal : August 2011
Scan Vol 30 No 3 August 2011 the digitally empowered populace, where the students’ homes were flexing their new found educational power and beginning to take far greater control of their children’s learning, it observed: Parents have always been allies and advocates for their children in the traditional school environment. With new digital choices, today’s parents are now enabling greater educational opportunities for their children, both in and out of school, and at the same time, empowering a new paradigm for the role of parents in education. Project Tomorrow (2011, p. 14) Historically, Australia has never had such an educated parent group, and yet their role as the primary educator remains largely unrecognised and unused in many schools. Australia, moreover, has never had such a well-educated group of grandparents and, even though many play a vital teaching role with their grandchildren after school, their contribution is similarly unrecognised, unsupported and unused (Lee & Hough, 2011). In the vast majority of young people’s homes the level, range and use of digital technologies far surpasses that within the average classroom (Lee & Ryall, 2010). Technology has long enabled the Net Generation (Tapscott, 1998, 2009) to learn every moment they are awake and yet schooling currently engages with them less than 20% of that waking time each year. Educationally, Australia has unfortu- nately two distinct, unrelated educa- tional streams: the formal, controlled by the educational professionals in the schools; and the informal that is handled by default by the students and their homes (Lee & Finger, 2010). More and more speak with alarm about the growing home-school digital divide and the increasing irrelevance of the traditional school (ID, 2007). Lee and Finger do not, however, see it as a divide but rather as a difference of situations that, if viewed positively, can be seen as a rare educational opportu- nity to pool the resources of the home and the school and adopt a far more collaborative and networked mode of schooling (Lee & Finger, 2010). Networked school community That sentiment is expressed in Lee and Finger’s concept of the networked school community. In contrast to the current limited home-school collabo- ration, Lee and Finger (2010) envision variations of the following kind of model (Figure 1) and define the community as: A networked school community is thus a legally recognised school that takes advantage of the digital and networked technology, and of a more collaborative, networked and inclusive operational mode to involve its wider community in the provision of a quality education appropriate for the digital future. Lee & Finger, (2010) p. 22 The school is defined not, as now, by its place, but rather by its function and form. As is now apparent in the work of the pathfinders (Lee & Finger, in press), the school can thus take any form that is apposite for the particular community. Broulee Public School: a networked school community That thinking is very much reflected in the developments taking place at Broulee Public School (PS). Broulee PS is an important study internationally in that it reveals what an everyday primary school, without any special support, can do with its community if it has the vision, the overarching educational rationale, the readiness to work collaboratively with its community, the leadership and the personnel to make the change, and is prepared to put in the hard work over time as an integrated unit to realise its vision. It also exemplifies how fast a school community can make the desired changes once the school has gone digital, and why it is so important that each school community shape, and continue to shape, its desired future once it goes digital. The snapshot provided here touches on only a few of the facets of Broulee’s operations. Nonetheless, it gives a glimpse of the range and complexity of the elements needing to be integrated, and the importance of accommodating key operational elements within the networked mode that did not exist in the paper-based. The implications of Broulee’s shift to the networked mode will become more apparent over time. Already, some important findings and lessons are becoming apparent. 26 Figure 1 Lee and Finger’s networked school community model ... the readiness to work collaboratively with its community to realise its vision.