Trust in education

Trust in the school context, especially around the use of technology.

Archive for the tag “Stephen Heppell”

Trust at the EduTECH Conference

Trust was a buzzword at the EduTECH conference in Brisbane last week.  In fact here’s the Buzzword Bingo card I was handed before one presentation.



Trust was up there with student voice, multiple intelligences, MOOCs and Sir Ken Robinson!

Martin Levins spoke about the research he has conducted along with Mal Lee into schools who have made a successful transition to a BYOT model.  The factor that guaranteed success, he said, was the presence of a culture of respect and trust.

That doesn’t mean that students won’t ever do the wrong thing, Levins said, because after all, they’re kids.  Teachers can demonstrate trust and respect, however, by assuming that kids will generally do the right thing.

Teachers can also show themselves to be worthy of respect by being co-learners and co-sharers in knowledge and technology use, unlike the teacher in the following internet meme, which Levins shared with the audience.

Unhelpful teacher 


Stephen Heppell also talked about trust, graphing the exponential growth of technology use between 1985 and 2012 along with the change from a staircase model of policy making which piloted, iterated, tested and controlled before legislating, to a model where the pace of change means there is not time to go through that process.

Instead we rely on a model of trust, said Heppell, and a need to be able to work out who we can trust and who we can share with.  Above all, he said, we must trust our students.  The video of Heppell’s presentation at EduTECH is not readily available but a clip which covers some of the same content can be found here.

A lot of other speakers touched on the concept of trust and one issue which came up a few times was relevant for schools with a “good reputation” in the community.  Sometimes the decision-makers in these schools are hesitant to embrace change or take risks with new forms of pedagogy for fear of ruining something which is perceived to be working well.  Martin Levins called it the problem of “changing and staying the same”.

I have taught in schools and been a parent at schools with a “good reputation”.  The reputation comes from some combination of impressive academic results, sporting and musical achievements and high standards of behaviour.  These schools are mostly happy communities where children are learning but the dominant model of pedagogy is teacher-centred.  That nagging little voice in my head says that in these schools we are, in the words of another EduTECH speaker, Suan Yeo, educating our students for our past rather than their future.


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