What does ‘chalkface’ mean?
Chalkface is a UK term first coined by Ted Wragg writing for the Times Educational Supplement. It was adapted from the phrase ‘working at the coal face’ which mean’t basically working on the front line. It was quickly adopted by teachers in the UK and came to imply the same for education. Teachers working at the Chalkface were those standing in front of the class planning, delivering and grading.
It is a term I have used on many occasions as a teacher in the context of ‘going back to the chalkface’ (back to school) or in discussions on the applications and use of education authority initiatives and training – ‘how will this help at the chalkface?’. As teachers from any country, I am sure this is starting to sound familiar!
Chalkface evokes an image of traditional teaching methodology. Chalkface teaching is progressing away from teachers imparting knowledge and essentially being the keepers of the information and moving towards (love it or hate it) experiential learning.
Information is out there and it is free, subsequently technology and it’s role have become paramount in the classroom to develop real word skills.
Why provide opportunities to use Web 2.0 in your classroom? As teachers, technology is now the main medium to communicate understanding. We use it in order to speak the same language as our students, to prepare them for it’s use in the outside world and to enrich that knowledge that we still need to impart. The web is a tool of our trade that provides visualisations and information, but more importantly today Web 2.0 provides interactivity. Students expect to be given opportunities to interact through a computer.
Our students talk to teach other, they blog, video-cast, voicethread, animate and control websites. On many of these they are talking about education. If they are using this medium as their form of educational expression and communication, then as teachers we need to be learning their language and helping them access material in the digital methods that they know how.
Communication has driven our social evolution from the ancient chinese tablets of tortoise shell, to the Cretan hierglyphs. Our civilisation has always striven to communicate. We have used materials such as clay from the Assyrians to wooden tablets of the Ancient Greeks. In my life time alone we have moved from the blackboard to the white board. We are now moving from the whiteboard to the interactive web-board we call Web 2.0.
Teachers have to adapt in order to lead this revolution rather than playing catch up with our students.
Why Chalkface 2.0?
Web 2.0 – the interactive and collaborative web is the environment our students use everyday, cooperations, business, marketing and public relations all make use of the interactive web. Teachers need to be ahead of the game rather than playing catch up. We are educating a generation that views this mode of communication, interaction and promotion as the norm. I am an online teacher with a lot of chalkface experience. We provide training in the use of classroom technologies and learning platforms that school administrations subscribe to, and expect you to use. Training is practical and immediately applicable within classrooms.
Schools can provide the technology, but providing does not ensure it’s used to it’s full potential.