If you believe as I do that the Internet will continue to become the dominant technology tool for schools, then the new Pew Internet study on the future of the Web is must reading, particularly the part on the future of formal education. Here is the scenario they offered and asked whether the experts agreed. (57% did):
Enabled by information technologies, the pace of learning in the next decade will increasingly be set by student choices. In ten years, most students will spend at least part of their “school days” in virtual classes, grouped online with others who share their interests, mastery, and skills.
If they’d asked me, I’d say that eventually schooling will look like this. But there’s no way it will happen in ten years. If there is one thing that I have been struck by since becoming immersed in these new technologies it is how slowly educators have been implementing them in the their classrooms. And, I may be wrong, but I am absolutely convinced that the collaboration and information management opportunities that these tools facilitate will change much of what we do in the classroom. Schools have to find ways to nurture an individual student’s talents and passions, and one way to do that is through online communities of practice. I’ve said this before also, but I really think it’s going to be more important for teachers to be learning facilitators than subject matter experts. The classroom should be exploration not restricted by what’s in a text. These are all tools for exploration.
Some other interesting responses that I agree with just for the heck of it:
If you can, take a few minutes to read through them…
Tom Hoffman says
Adoption of on-line classes is quite likely _because_ it is the most linear, controlled, self-contained way of using the internet in schools.
Jane Levy says
On this same line of thinking, I just wanted to comment on a professional development experience that reminded me of the very real digital divide between educators and the rest of the world. I just attended an all day workshop on Writing Workshop conducted by a published, well-regarded educator. The room was packed. She spoke extensively about immersing students in real life writing as a means for students to become better writers. She showed many examples, but nowhere and at no time did she use online publishing as one of her examples. Nor did she discuss the potential of the internet as a tool for students to publish and interact with other writers. After the workshop I asked her if she was familiar with blogging. She said she had heard of it, but she really didn’t have the time to find out more about it. It was obvious that this genre was not even on her radar screen. I realized that to get that information I would need to attend a workshop with a title along the lines of “Integrating Technology into the Classroom” because that’s seemingly the only place to have the discussion or learn the skills. How ironic.
It’s no wonder we can’t seem to get this technology thing. . . it’s taught to us as a separate component. For the most part, it is not being included in the mainstream professional development on curriculum development and teaching strategies. Until these two arenas of professional development truly merge I fear we as educators will continue to lag behind and not take advantage of these tools for learning.