Welcome to eLIVE 2006 in Edinburgh, Scotland where Alan November did the opening keynote yesterday and I do mine in just a few minutes. I managed to roll right off the plane yesterday morning looking like a rumpled mess, but I’m always interested in seeing Alan live. So here’s the day after “live: blog. (Ewan posted yesterday.):
Used to be that school was the place where kids had the access to technology, but now they are getting a wider access to ICT at home. Their favorite application is MSN. And the school says that’s against the rules. Someone needs to explain why we take away the tools that kids use. It’s fear. I think schools like to stay the way they are. What we are trying to do is fit technology in to the culture of schools as they have traditionally existed. It’s ok to use a computer to do what we already do, but to start to use tech with stuff we don’t do, that’s a tougher sell. Many kids have Websites. School policy says no. We use the Internet, kids do the Internet. We should talk to our students ask them what they do with technology when they are not is school and then ask ourselves why are we blocking all the things they do on their own. Ask kids what happens when schools block blogging. They will go home and create one. We need to give them role models of the appropriate use. Otherwise we are sending them out on their own to use some of the most powerful tools ever invented. We say this is for protection, but they are using it at home. (Comment: The whole city blocks MSN but there are some sites that the council tries to make available.)
IBM on an average day generates 10 million IMs each day of adults working. They do it because they have people around the world that need to solve problems. Outside of schools, computers are the number one form of communicating around the world. Do I punish or reward my son for using IM to finish homework with his friends. Collaboration is one of the most important skills we should be teaching our students. I think teaching is one of the lonliest, most isolated jobs in the modern economy. Tells the story of teaching on a Boston island prison school, and he taught algebra and oceanography. All of them wanted to know more about oceanography. If you are desperate for learning, you will learn.
What is the problem? The problem is not technology or teaching children technology. The problem is that India is ramping up in technology and education, online learning. China outstrips the US by the year 2050. It means a lot more people have a lot more money to spend to use up the world’s natural resources. We could lose over 17 percent of US jobs to offshoring. One of the unitended consequences of the Internet was that it was overbuilt in 2000s which made it free to send information around the world. Now our kids will have to compete with anyone on the planet for their jobs. This is the most scary, unusual moment if you are a father and you have kids and you wonder if they will be economically viable.
Who owns the learning in your school? Who manages it? In the Victorian model, the teacher owns it. Now we have all this new stuff, and kids can learn it faster than most adults. 2006-07 Scotland will be delivering digital content on an amazing network. Teachers will not have to deliver content in classes anymore. We can rewrite the job description of a teacher, and at the top should be diagnostic skills, teachers who can understand data about how children learn across a wide variety of subjects, and how to personalize instruction. Kids are social and territorial. We don’t give them their own space, and we should. Shows High Tech High in San Diego where students own the learning. If you have educated kids for 8 years in one way, you have to unlearn them, which takes months. But we’ve underestimated what teen agers can do. But what is the balance between what the state wants and the self-direction of the student. Here, you get the same math teacher for four years, and he’s taking everyone to calculus. We have to change time, space and relationships. If we don’t change those three things, it doesn’t matter about technology if we don’t do that. If a teacher has a student for four years, you know the student, and you know the end product. Content is in the network, and so students can take the tests any time you are ready. There are tests that are now created in real time, and the software brings back the results in real time. So you can go through content faster. The real issue isn’t technology. Are we willing to allow students to move at different rates in the same school.
It’s not about adding computers, it’s about fundamentally changing the culture of learning. This is a fun time once we get past the fear. So I would start producing videos of what’s happening in the classroom and send them home. And podcasts. I think the changes I’m talking about so far are two decades worth of change. 65% of kids leave for college and then come back. So the first question is how long do you want your adult children to live with you.
Kids don’t understand the algorithm of Google. The Internet is the real change, not the hardware. And the first step is to teach students to decode the Internet. The real staff development is to teach teachers to design mew assignments that we’ve never designed before. Shows tree octopus, MKL.org, etc. We teach young children who wrote a book, and yet we don’t teach kids how to read who wrote a website. Most parents will agree that we can’t get rid of the Internet, so the question is are you actually graduating students that don’t know the grammar of the Internet. We still teach like print is the dominant medium. Shows altavista. Use ask.com and answers.com rather than Google in terms of school work. Syntax in using search is crucial. We need to teach teachers to find content all around the world, because now the assignment is how do you reconcile the difference between the way the Japanese think about Hiroshima as opposed to the way we think about it. The role of the teacher is the network is to build relationships around the world that create authentic learning. Kids would rather present their work to the world than to just their classmates. Shows fan fiction. Asks why don’t the kids use their own names? On this site, you get reviewed. Asks, how many of you have 103 reviews of your work on the Internet?