The theory behind The Project
The Project (currently named ‘Sydney Alive’) is needed in response to our rapidly changing and complex world. As education moves from the industrial age to the information age, traditional forms of English Language Teaching (ELT) are becoming obsolete.
The traditional classroom has become stale. A by-product of the industrial age, it served its purpose to create line workers for factories and other industrial age work environments and processes. Outcome or product orientated, it valued uniformity, stability, permanence and security.
But now that we are in the information age, a new type of classroom is needed. A classroom that is person or process orientated. One that values diversity, personal potential and fulfilment, through flexibility, choice and personal control.
Whether this new classroom is an actual physical, four walls, door, desks and chairs standard set up or a virtual classroom, or a travelling classroom, is incidental. However this information age classroom is set up, it must hold up the values of a knowledge economy.
The knowledge economy is the economy of collaboration and interaction. Exemplified by web 2.0, it is a reflection of our interconnected and networked world. The world has been globalised, information is abundant and free flowing. The information age classroom has to keep pace with the new paradigms of our society. Technology is now an important factor in all facets of our lives and must be reflected in our education.
Students and teachers in the knowledge economy are expected to be innovative, communicative and collaborative, not receptive, compliant and dependent. The Project embodies all these expectations, through its Content and Language Integrated Learning based (CLIL) approach to ELT.
Based on the social learning theory of social constructivism, CLIL is an approach for learning content through an additional language (foreign or second language), thus teaching both the subject and the language. It is an umbrella term which encompasses bilingual education, content based instruction, immersion, English (or other languages) as medium of instruction and other methodologies.
Numerous studies have shown that ‘learning by doing’ is far more successful than traditional pedagogies, which form the basis of The Project. Often the best school day for students and teachers alike is excursion day, where learning is taken out of the classroom and done on the go so to speak. The new environment enhances the learning process.
The Project is ELT outside the traditional classroom of a school, it is experiential learning. An innovative combination of two of the five biggest export industries in Australia – education and tourism, The Project makes ESL learning fun and unique and tourism a more intelligent experience.
An idea whose time has come, where there is creative freedom for both student/tourist and teacher/guide. An idea that uses the information age for the benefit of all, as collaboration is the key in our web 2.0 world. An idea that is fun and not boring like traditional forms of learning, an idea that sees value in edutainment and using technology in novel ways. This is The Project.
The Project in practice
The first thing that sets The Project apart from your standard study tour is the collaborative platform website (‘the soapbox’) that brings all parties together to be able to create a unique learning program.
‘The Soapbox’ platform website could be used in the following ways
- Teachers are agents who can advertise for work or quote on it
- Larger organisations such as schools can do the same
- Students can advertise for a custom tour or event, create a group for a standard tour or event, or simply join a scheduled standard tour or event
- Teachers can ask for suggestions in organising or quoting by appealing to the wider community of fellow teachers and/or directly to the main office.
- Students and teachers can participate in online discussions, access activities and further information.
The second thing that sets The Project apart is that it has moved the classroom to where the tour is. Why learn in a school classroom, when you can take the classroom with you. Walk along the Sydney coastline while on an ESL treasure hunt then finish your adventure in a conference room at Bondi RSL with dinner and drinks. Learn vocabulary and grammar associated with golf at the clubhouse before walking out on to the course or driving range and teeing off.
The third thing that sets The Project apart is the novel use of technology, namely its mobility. With the mobility of smart phones and tablets, along with the ubiquity of Wireless Internet connectivity, technology no longer keeps you stationary. Perhaps on the treasure hunt mentioned above, a smart phone or tablet is used. Or a variety ESL show at a community club uses either to participate in activities e.g. answer questions.
The next thing that sets English Alive apart is that it is not only tours but shows as well. It could be a variety style show at a community club, either a Saturday night extravaganza, or perhaps a more sedate weekly type course. Thinking big it could be stadium shows across Asia!
A mix of game show, variety show, conversation club, trivia, the classroom, corporate training and anything else really. It is English rescued from the boredom of textbooks and classrooms and brought to life in the real world with adventures and prizes, fun and silliness.
The Project gives control to the learners and gives creative and financial freedom to the teachers. It makes learning English come alive in the following ways:
- Overwhelmingly kinaesthetic (‘hands on’), aural and visual.
- Stronger emphasis on speaking & listening, less so on reading & writing
- Strong use of audio & visual materials and technology
- An online platform (‘The Soapbox’) to facilitate collaboration – for both teachers/guides and students/tourists
- Gamification of learning via rewards and prizes
With Australia being a sought after tourism and education destination all over the world, especially for our growing Asian neighbours, The Project combines two industries to create a unique and innovative service that all stakeholders can benefit from.
If you are interested in being part of The Project please make contact via the Contact page of this website.