It’s no secret that Jay Rosen is among my five favorite bloggers, if for no other reason that I learn something almost every time I read a post on his site. To me, that’s time well spent. I could very well start my own “Thoughts About Jay Rosen’s Thoughts” blog and just respond to his ideas as a way of capturing and internalizing his best stuff. But that would no doubt lead to divorce.
Of late he has been working through his “Top 10 Ideas for 2004” looking at what happened to the media and journalism this year. It’s good stuff as always, and I’m eagerly anticipating his deconstruction of points 5-10. But as is my wont, I see a lot of edu relevance in his list, though, as usual, at least a year or more behind. So, with apologies, here’s some similar thoughts on what education might learn from journalism for 2005 and beyond:
1. The Legacy Educators–It will take much more than a year, but there is no doubt, at least in my feeble mind, that the shift to a very different concept of education is underway. The Read/Write Web has much to do with this, almost as much as a traditional system that just isn’t making the grade. Much of the hump is political, but I think the biggest change is in the transparency and active learning that these new models offer. We’re getting close to the point where technology will be easy enough for even those Digital Immigrant teachers to use. Don’t get me wrong, this is going to be decades in the making. But it is happening.
2. Teacher said, students did–I haven’t had a chance to write anything about it, but I’ve been reading and thinking a lot lately about the Social Constructionist Pedagogy on which Moodle is based and how it fits with all of these changes. Constructionism at it’s core holds that “learning is particularly effective when constructing something for others to experience.” I’ve been living that idea for the last three years, and I’ve seen the effects in kids when they start doing the same. The Read/Write Web allows our kids to start constructing all sorts of relevant content in all sorts of interesting forms: blogs, wikis, podcasts, movies, Websites. And I’m sure there will be more forms a coming. The barriers to entry are dropping. What schools have to realize now is that we can have students create content that is meaningful beyond the grade and the teacher’s assessment. What a concept.
3. Open Source Education or “The Group Knows More than the Individual”–The delivery of curriculum is no longer the work of a single teacher. The collaborative construction of curriculum by many teachers using evolving pools of resources and shared “objects” that are selected and revised through reputation systems will make the most effective means of content delivery available to all teachers. Long sentence, I know, but powerful idea, and one that is already taking root. I really think over the next couple of years this might be where the biggest changes in education occur, in the sharing of resources. It not only articulates what works, but it also articulates what’s important to know.
4. Education turns from a lecture to a conversation–Ok, so this one may have been happening for a while, but the idea that student learning can now embrace all sorts of voices and viewpoints is pretty powerful. We can go far beyond the classroom walls and we can create all sorts of conversations among kids and the real world out there. The teacher’s role in all of this changes, of course, from content authority to conversation facilitator. But if we really believe that kids learn by doing, and that what’s important to know is largely socially constructed, that’s a shift we have to be willing to make.
5. What was once good or “good enough” no longer is–While I can understand that people fear the transparency that the Read/Write Web suggests, I also think that ultimately transparency will make for more accountability and better practice. On a small scale, that means that students who construct content for larger audiences will need to create quality, more so than when just creating for the teacher. On a wider scale, it means that schools who put their curriculum online will need to do the same. I don’t know how long it will take, but at some point I truly believe that our constituents will demand this transparency from us, especially if the power of public participation in other spheres like journalism and politics takes root. The public will become more demanding because it can.
Now, the standard disclaimer: I’m not saying that any of this will be easy or that it isn’t fraught with all sorts of potential abuses. But on the whole, I see some real opportunities for improving what happens to students in the classroom. The big question, to me at least, is how long it will take.