Today was one of those days that it felt like there was a subtle shift in the discussion about the effects the Read/Write Web is having on education. I spent about three hours with around 30 or so technology leaders from the Lower Hudson (NY) region, and my talk and the ensuing discussion felt less about tools and more about learning, our students learning and our own. (The session was live-blogged, btw.) And it felt more like a conversation about systems rather than blogs or wikis or podcasts. How will systems be impacted, and how will systems need to change to support what seems to be coming? Sure, there were questions about safety. But this was more of a “how do we make this happen?” session rather than “here’s about 50 reasons why we can’t” one.
Now this was a pretty heady group to begin with. There were people in the audience whose schools were getting rid of AP courses, and others whose students and teachers were holding classes in Second Life. These are by and large connected schools with connected kids, and many of them have traveled much farther down the road than most. And there was a palpable “can do” feel in the room, despite the concerns that were brought up. It was pretty inspiring, if I do say.
I wonder if maybe, and it’s a big MAYBE, we’re nearing another level in the conversation. It’s one where we talk about how the realities of the ways in which our kids are already starting to learn outside of school need to be leveraged inside of school. One where we really start to take a look at teachers as learners modeling learning first. And it’s one where people start to recognize that this isn’t about technology as much as it’s about assembling a new vision for their own practice and for their students’ education.
One thing I do know, and I feel a longer post coming on about this. We have to carry this conversation to other audiences. We’re doing a great job of talking to each other, but at some point, we have to find ways to bring it to people who have little to do with educational technology, namely parents, businesspeople, etc. I’ve said this before, but I need to blog less and try to write more for print pubs that have nothing to do with tech. Hmmm…maybe there’s an angle here for Good Housekeeping…
(Photo of Mohonk Mountain House where the session was held by WalkingGeek)
technorati tags:learning, Mohonk, education, Hudson_Valley
You need a visit to Oprah. :–)
Sam Grumont says
I am an Australian humanities teacher – sort of consultant called an educator for innovations and excellence for a cluster of schools)- who has just begun blogging in order to gain an idea of how I can use this with teachers and kids that I work with. I’ve entered the world of Will Richardson, David Warlick et al and I feel there’s a lot of talking to each other, which at times I don’t understand.therefore I agree that you need to broaden the conversation.
Well, broaden in the sense of keeping in mind that you gain new readers like me who are novices to blogging as well as retaining readers with deep expertise.
Bumping along the learning journey is really interesting as I try to figure out how to go about things. I must say a lot of information and links you and others use are very helpful. Some things I understand and other things I haven’t a clue about.
It’s a fascinating learn by doing experience.
Sam Grumont says
I just realised that I figured out how to link to my blog and forgot to do it. Always learning – slow learning as Guy Claxton says.
James Yap says
we met earlier today. Here is a link to Peggy Sheehy- the real person behind our second life classrooms: http://rampoislands.blogspot.com/
As you can see the blog has not been update in awhile but I thought you might want to see it just to get an idea.
thanks for a great talk today. I agree that we did break down some barriers today.
Catherine Parsons says
I was there today, and was adding a few of your mentioned resources to my internal site when I realized you probably blogged about the event – LOL. Perhaps the audience is policy makers or higher ed, perhaps Woman’s Day, perhaps National School Boards, perhaps State Education Departments. I still find that we are pushing forward through the Saran Wrap Ceiling, it gives a bit, you can see beyond it, but it holds everything in real well. I still can’t see as of yet where the breaking point is. Here is what I want the answer to, answering the question – when does it become important enough for the people in positions of policy and fiscal responsibility to see that we have stood still as the world evolved around us?
Thanks for the link to the live blog. I agree that the discussion went in a positive direction.
I wondered aloud at lunch today why we allow a teacher nearly free reign when they get out of college with a class of 25 young minds. Then we get our most trusted colleagues, our educational and technological leaders, and we load them with such terrible constraints as to nearly choke off innovation.
I want to walk in to the bosses office and say “Look- no one here knows this stuff better than I do. We could wait for empirical data until the cow comes home, but good educators know in their gut that these tools can completely change our students in ways that will most certainly improve their achievement. Give me some rope to run and let me at it.”
The, I just need to make sure that rope doesn’t tighten around my neck.
Thanks for a great day!
Kimberly Moritz says
Apparently I need to clarify my earlier comment regarding Oprah–I was suggesting her show as a forum for broadening the conversation, as you suggested we do. Let us all know when you get the invite. Bill Gates one month, Will Richardson the next.
Pat Aroune says
Will, I could not agree with you more. Recently, I have been part of a group of teachers in our district that have been charged with the task of taking many of the read/write technologies and the learning styles of students, and melding them with our instruction. In the process we have also given the responsibility of developing a framework that will plan out the high schools staff development plan for one year, three years, and five years. During the course of our first three meetings, this group has begun to focus on the need to recognize how our classroom instruction must evolve into something very different than the traditional methodologies we have used. This has also brought to the forefront, the need to develop a new understanding of the need to first model our learning of this new technology for our students, and then blend the learning of our students with the learning of our staff. Simply, the direction that our group will eventually go is to construct a learning environment that puts the teacher and the student on the same plane of learning. My personal hope is that our learning environment detracts from the content that has driven our courses, and refocuses on the value of critical thinking, in particular, greater emphasis on problem solving
Regarding the spreading of the message. I believe that this type of institutional change must begin from the middle out. Administration cannot mandate something so unfamiliar and uncomfortable to a generation of teachers who learned their craft in a 20th century framework. We as enthusiastic and visionary educators must lead the way for change.
David Warlick says
Will, this is the kind of thing that I get up in the morning to read. I wonder, that in the process of starting to become interested in these new tools, and even to recognized instructional potentials (through systems), we may also come to recognize some of the brilliances of our children who often use these and similar tools as learning engines — while at play.
Perhaps it’s this sort of zen approach that we might consider. I’m willing to play 😉
(Thumb-typed on my Q)
Will Richardson says
I’m all for Zen…it’s what gets me through the day sometimes. Breathe…
But at the same time, and maybe it’s just my life, I feel a real urgency to make sure as many people have the opportunity to enter this conversation as possible. I’d like to hear more voices talking about learning. And it is, on some level, I think, selling the idea. I get Stephen’s concerns with that, but I think we need to ask the questions and fuel the conversations as much as we can.
Would it be possible to get an email of the live blog you mention.
I am on the continued search for information that supports the use of blogs, podcast, etc. so I can show the leaders this is a positive use of the tools the kids are using every day.
Thanks Vinney – I am with you, I just need a little bit of rope. Not enought to hang myself just a little. I have been teaching over 10 years, my district trust me with the lives of 28 kids 6 times a day, a room full of new computers loaded with the latest Adobe software but will not allow me to access any website with the word blog somewhere. I only had to wait 2 months to be allowed to read weblogg-ed.com.
Thank you again Will
jim lehmann says
Pat placed this well “I believe that this type of institutional change must begin from the middle out. Administration cannot mandate something so unfamiliar and uncomfortable to a generation of teachers who learned their craft in a 20th century framework. We as enthusiastic and visionary educators must lead the way for change.”….
We cannot expect veteran teachers or administrators to fully understand Blogging and Wiki’s etc…for many of them barely understand how to attach something to an email etc…
So yes,….anything such as this has to be from the middle out. I currently teach graduate level courses in an education university and know from experience that many teachers are lost on technology. They are fearful of what students know etc…
But the kicker is they approach this from strictly a technical point of view. Sure kids can download music and play games and surf the web stumbling upon sites of interest etc but, do kids know how to use the Internet for learning? ….No….and that is where teachers come into play.
We need to instill upon our teachers that they are now guides and facilitators of learning and not talking heads. Sites such as this 2nd life allow students to use tech within their learning but to do so on a seamless basis. We don’t have a class on how to use the overhead projector taught in our High Schools so why should we separate current technology? What is current (and it will change constantly) needs to be woven into our curriculum as natural as we now weave in paper and pen etc…
Great site…..spread the word all….jim