Chris Sessums is quickly rising to the top of my favorite blog list, and it’s because I just love the way he writes about the shifts he sees in learning and classrooms. His latest post is a great example. Start with this concept:
Teaching and learning with social software will change the way our learning landscapes unfold before us. Where once standards demanded a 1500 word essay, an equivalent could be managing an online discussion for one week or editing and posting a ten second video or scripting and posting a three minute podcast. I believe when the conditions are right, ICTs and social software can permit students more control over their learning.
Which is why I think one of the most important points in this whole discussion is that regardless of whether we think teachers should be content producers (and I think they should), they at the very least have to have an understanding of how these tools work so they can affirm a student’s choice to use them. And, every teacher needs to understand the social aspects of using the tools them so that when students ask to collaborate and publish and share, they will be supported instead of shut down.
Chris quotes Stephen Heppell who says that “ICTs can allow educators to build something personal, something interesting, engaging and ingenious.” There is interesting, engaging stuff all around us these days, and if we use our imaginations, more will come. Imagine if every teacher began to create and contribute in this way.
There is some powerful vision in this post as well:
To be truly successful, school must be a place where we can expose and express ourselves, and have room to create, experiment, imagine, and fail â€“ a place where we can find support, critique, and honesty…ICTs and social software can allow us to work in smaller more intimate groups of peers and mentors where we can connect to other groups around the globe. As Ben Werdmuller coined it: the Internet is people. Teaching and learning is people too. And the locus of control should be ours to negotiate as long as accreditors provide the opportunity to do so. Accreditation can be more than whatâ€™s issued by universities. It could be issued by Microsoft, the BBC, Apple, Oracle, Hewlett Packard, Toyota, etc. A personâ€™s c.v. could be more organic, assembled from courses taken in a variety of settings, from a variety of providers. The universityâ€™s monopoly on accreditation will soon be a thing of the past as other players enter the tertiary education market and offer the skills and training that meets the needs of employers globally.
So at what point do we start looking at our own kids and see a different learning future, one that isn’t necessarily filled with $20,000 a year tuitions but more of a assembly of experiences that helps them get to where they want to go? I mean, my kids can learn anything, anywhere, anytime. How does that change their future? And how do I help them build something interesting, engaging and ingenious?
technorati tags:learning, education, Chris_Sessums, shifts
Tom Hoffman says
The core of Chris’s argument, about standards, just isn’t compelling to me as someone who has worked with contemporary K-12 standards. A “1500 word essay” might be an assignment, but I bet there isn’t a state in the union where it is a standard, and the standards we used in Providence five years ago (from the NCEE) already promoted authentic projects like Chris mentions.
Bill Fitzgerald says
RE: “A â€œ1500 word essayâ€ might be an assignment, but I bet there isnâ€™t a state in the union where it is a standard” — can I please take that bet? I’ll even let you name the amount.
Check the California Standards for English in Grades 9 and 10:
In the Writing section, go to: 2.0 Writing Applications (Genres and Their Characteristics)
To quote the first line: “Students combine the rhetorical strategies of narration, exposition, persuasion, and description to produce texts of at least 1,500 words each.”
Admittedly, they do say “text” instead of “essay”, but I’d say the point still holds.
FWIW, the standard is repeated for grades 11-12 (http://www.cde.ca.gov/be/st/ss/enggrades11-12.asp).
For earlier grades, the number of words decreases.
The core of Chris’ argument holds together very nicely. Arbitrary standards, and their ugly cousin, high stakes testing, create an environment that interferes with innovative teaching using the latest tools.
As I read Chris’ text, an underlying point is that education is about people — not standards, not tests, but about people interacting with ideas, using the best tools currently available. Standards do not need to be incompatible with that, but as long as we have standards equating word count with real learning, there will continue to be a tension between what students have to learn and what they could learn.
Karen Janowski says
You touched upon a completely unexplored area – what does Web 2.0 do to higher education?? As you state, our kids can learn anything, anywhere, anytime. They can create content anywhere – they can explore information anywhere. What impact will this have on colleges that charge $30,000/year for four courses per semester? This will greatly impact the ivory tower and I wonder how many of those tenured academicians realize this?
Why do my kids have to attend a college that doesn’t even know how to teach to digital natives?
Tracy Fowler says
In response to Karen’s post…
Higher education is taking notice, but I think their thinking is far behind what is likely to happen. Your post made me do a quick Google to see what people are saying. Norma Scagnoli, Program Coordinator for online programs at University of Illinois, writing about the Impact of Online Education on Traditional Campus-Based Education concludes: “The use of Web technologies has had an impact on classroom teaching, but this influence is not as extensive or widespread as it is in communications and entertainment. Higher education institutions have invested in hardware, software, and wired classrooms, but not as much in resources for research, or in training, and support. Therefore, the center of knowledge creationâ€”teaching and learningâ€”still remains very much unchanged. Both the impact and the implications of online learning for classroom education need to be seriously addressed. Online education entails a new educational paradigm, closer to the transformative mindset that is ongoing in the twenty-first-century world outside the classroom.”
My husband is always fond of saying, “he never let school get in the way of his education (a quote from Mark Twain).” I wonder how many people will take on this attitude as the amount of high quality, interactive information appears on the web?
I would love to have any and all of you comment on our SUNY Cortland course blog for a grad. class in tech. apps for ELA classrooms.
The 9/10 post is asking many of the same questions you are here including some discussion of Friedman’s notion of idea-based knowledge workers and references to the attention economy Lankshear/Knobel cite in their chapter in Donna Alvermann’s edited collection: “Adolescents and Literacies in a Digital Age” which we read in this class.
Higher ed is moving way too slowly. Would anyone agree this is a transition period and we have one foot in the old paradigm of what college classrooms and student work in them should look like and one foot in the 3.0 world?
Andrew Pass says
Will, I don’t think that we need college campuses for higher academic education, anymore. But college campuses provide something else. They provide an opportnity for social development and growth. They provide an opportunity for maturation. As the human race we will never be able to eliminate face-to-face social interaction. I, for one, wouldn’t want to do so.