In light of the interesting back and forth that occurred on my last post, I’ve been thinking about what the fundamental lessons of schooling ought to be and the role of technology in helping us teach them. “ceolaf,” someone who is new to commenting here, has spent a lot of time pushing back and articulating in some pretty compelling ways the friction between creating lessons to fit the technology or vice versa. I think at the core, we agree that the larger lessons are the larger lessons (or at least that there are larger lessons). And while at the heart of it I don’t think we disagree that technology can be a useful tool for learning those lessons, there is obviously a difference in the way we approach it. It’s been a good conversation, one worth digging into a bit more.
I think “ceolaf” sums it up pretty well here (and if this isn’t the best kernel then I’m sure he’ll tell me):
I fear that Will would lose sight of the real importance of the lasting lessons for the possibilities of todayâ€™s technology. (I think that Will might fear that I am not giving enough credit to what a different world our students live in, and therefore must learn to operate in.)
Assuming that we can can come to some general agreement on what those lessons might be, no doubt we need to question and examine the choices that we make around these technologies in our own practice and in our classrooms when it comes to learning those lessons for ourselves or for our kids. We can’t take those choices lightly, and we have to be able to make those choices from a certain foundation of personal learning with technology in those contexts. It’s one of the reasons that I get continually frustrated with NECC sessions and Tweets and blogs that celebrate tools without giving weight to the considerations that goes into choosing a tool in a pedagogical sense. We need more sessions on “why?’ not “how?”, more thinking about teaching with technology and less of what Gary classicallly described as “Burping with VoiceThread.” (That’s a whole ‘nother post.)
Regardless, I believe that used well, these still nascent Web technologies can help us teach those larger lessons, and do so in a way that engages our students and has more relevance than “old” pen and paper, face to face ways. Not all of the time, but some of it. “ceolaf” pointed to this post by Diane Ravitch titled “The Partnership for 19th Century Skills” which eloquently makes the case that in terms of those big lessons, nothing much has changed.
I for one have heard quite enough about the 21st century skills that are sweeping the nation. Now, for the first time, children will be taught to think critically (never heard a word about that in the 20th century, did you?), to work in groups (I remember getting a grade on that very skill when I was in third grade a century ago), to solve problems (a brand new idea in education), and so on. Let me suggest that it is time to be done with this unnecessary conflict about 21st century skills. Let us agree that we need all those forenamed skills, plus lots others, in addition to a deep understanding of history, literature, the arts, geography, civics, the sciences, and foreign languages.
She goes on to list 16 such skills which are definitely worth the time to read, and many of which thoughtful use of technology can enhance. And, I would argue, many to whichÂ social media add a new layer of complexity which we must be able to model and teach. While many if not most of these lessons can be learned without technology, I think transferring those lessons into the contexts of online networks and global, cross-cultural, sometimes anonymous interactions is not necessarily fait accompli with our kids. Self-discipline and idealism and certainly communication (among others) in these environments have additional complexity that compels us to explore the affordances of these technologies (again) for ourselves, for our classrooms and for our kids.
There’s much more here, obviously, in terms of even bigger questions about the roles of schools and teachers and classrooms in a networked learning world. But I agree that here is where we have to start. What is it we most want our kids to know about what it means to be a person of this world, and how do we best convey it in ways that make sense for the times we live in? Everything else flows from that.
What do you think?
(Photo: “Playing Water Games and Learning” by Ivan Makarov.)
Bill Ferriter says
This conversation about the importance that tools play in designing meaningful learning experiences for kids is such an important one—especially for teachers and school leaders that are new to the topic.
And you’re right that what’s missing is any serious consideration about what exactly we want to see happening in classrooms after all of these new tools, technologies and subscriptions are unveiled—No one has defined which “larger lessons” technology is supposed to support.
But even though they haven’t been articulated well, I think we all know what those “larger lessons” are. Ceolaf names many of them, doesn’t she? We want kids to work collaboratively and to be critical thinkers. We value creativity and innnovation and problem solving.
The importance of those traits haven’t changed over time, no matter how many digital gizmos we push into our classrooms.
The difference is that the lessons that I use to give students the opportunity to practice these kinds of larger lessons—-having students engage in conversations around content, encouraging shared reflection of articles connected to topics we’re studying in class, bringing experts into my room, pairing my kids with national or international partners—-seems so much more “doable” than it did when I tried to tackle the same tasks without digital tools.
New digital tools haven’t changed the lessons—Instead, they’ve just made the kinds of learning experiences that support collaboration, creativity, critical thinking and problem solving more efficient, more instant, and more interesting.
What does that mean for schools?
That EVERY teacher—-not just top-performers—can engage students in the kinds of experiences that we know are valuable. Collaboration shouldn’t be intimidating to anyone when dozens of free collaborative tools are developed every day. Critical thinking is easy when one’s ideas can be challenged by audiences that were once impossible to provide and when tons of content on any topic–biased and otherwise—is readily available.
Does any of this make sense?
Greg Casperson says
I think teaching students how to learn about new tools, use them, work, explore and play with them is important. This doesnâ€™t have to be about just digital tools. Digital tools especially are transient: a good one today may be gone in 2-5 years. It seems what we often want is for our students to have Ancient Greek Philosopher skills: we want new Socrates and Aristotles.
And honestly, a Socrates would not need to grow up using digital tools to learn how to use them if needed. Heâ€™d jump in, explore, ask questions of others and figure out how to learn them, use them, and reappropriate them rather quickly I think.
To get young students to develop these skills, processes, habits of mind, etc., they need mentors: parents, teachers, community members to help them. In schools that means teachers need to have time to prepare engaging lessons which give students choices, opportunities to explore, play and fail. Time and limited number of students to assess them in meaningful ways: through writings, interviews and observations, not limited, standardized tests. Rather than spending billions on new technologies, assessments, educational research (seven pound doorstops that come out of AERA every year), we need to be spending money on giving students smaller class sizes with teachers that have greater time and flexibility to help children achieve the goals we really desire.
To me the greatest focus on technology would be to give students 1to1 computing in as economical a fashion so that they have web enabled devices to access open content. Eliminate the money wasted on textbooks. Otherwise, we can use the tools afforded by these devices but should in no way be tied to them. We should no more be producing â€œknowledge workersâ€ for our country today than industrial workers of yesterday. We want students with thinking skills that can use tools of all sorts. Some students will choose to use more physical tools, some will choose to use digital tools, some may flexibly use both.
monika hardy says
as greg wrote: we need to be spending money on giving students smaller class sizes with teachers that have greater time and flexibility to help children achieve the goals we really desire.
doesn’t the web/pln’s allow for this?
gosh – i hope by “goals we desire” – we mean learning how to learn – not coming up from behind in the standardized test race.
i think pd should be spent on 2 things
1) what we have to offer kids
a) beginning questions/connections
b) play/game time
c) reflect/assess time
2) how to model safe online activity (the rest in regard to tech can be found in blogs/wikis/podcasts or in your pln,….kids can figure it out if you can’t..like socrates)
David Walker says
The question is why? My students’ interest in the web is pretty narrow, and my impression is they are happy to keep it that way, particularly where self publishing is concerned. They do as much research as the system will allow; they use Facebook; and they im. Most do not seem interested in following the web trail, as it were, along a line of inquiry, because they do not see a compelling reason to do so. They do not see a need to maintain a blog because they have Facebook. None of my students seems to have much interest in Twitter because they text and im. They have what they need within relatively easy grasp.(I know these sound like criticisms, but they are really simple observations.) Our job is to provide our students with compelling reasons to use the web in the ways that we do. I am not sure I have a coherent idea about what the reasons are. How do I show my students how a deeper engagement with the web will enrich their experience? How do we bring the richness or our own experience with the web to our students in ways that will make them curious? How do we meet them where they are in their experience of the web and encourage them to come see where we have been?
Will Richardson says
Always a treat when members of the family chime in. ;0)
The question is correct, but we need to ask it then about everything we do, not just technology, right? Kids’ interest in books is pretty narrow. They read what they have to for the most part, what they are assigned. (Adults are not much better in this regard according to studies.) Does that mean that we don’t try to give them compelling reasons to read? You have coherent reasons to do so because you are a reader. And I know that my experience with the Web has been profoundly different from most, yours included. I think I can make that compelling case, that the experience can be enriched when disparate voices engage in the conversation. That in the connections we can make with others around the things we most want to learn about can change the learning equation in some meaningful ways.
Maybe I’m just drunk on the Kool-aid, but I find the potential of the Web to be equal if not greater than that of books and more traditional “technologies” when it comes to learning. Our kids may not see the compelling reasons for using the Web in these ways, but just as we’ve tried throughout our lives as teachers to engage them in ideas in print, now we need to do the same online. We need to model it and name it for them and empower them to make the most of it just as we would any other learning tool we offer them in the classroom.
I have to disagree with you here. It is not our jobs to be evangelists for blogging or for Twitter. It is not our jobs to encourage kids to use the web like we do.
There is too much in the world for them to be able to available themselves of all of it. It is not our job to force — or even encourage — them to focus on the parts of the world that we ourselves like best. That would be like math teachers discouraging a love of reading and English teachers discouraging a love of building things in the back yard.
We want to give them the tools to make their own decisions — not our decisions. We want to let them know more of the decisions that are available for them to make than they would without us.
It’s ok if the high school graduates still don’t like poetry. What is not not OK is if they have not been given the tools to figure that out for themselves. (One of my proudest achievements as a teacher, year in and year out, was how many of my students changed their minds about poetry, deciding that they liked it. Even though — as I later revealed to them — I don’t really like poetry. They made their own decision.)
So, if they prefer to read old litature, or news magaines, or doing original field research, or printed academic journals (god save them) and do not dive into the parts of the Internet that your or I favor, that’s ok.
If we can get them to take their interests and passions seriously, that’s awesome. But we need to remember that exploring them in blogs and the like is not the only way to do that.
Excellent observations above, but I’m not sure it’s the kids who need to learn the “larger lessons.” I think students want to use the new technology (cell phones, facebook, etc.) in school because it’s just a part of their everyday experience, but they also don’t see how these tools can be used in an “educational” sense as we see it. It’s up to staff to learn to these new technologies and apply the pedagogical sense to them. To quote Greg from above: “To get young students to develop these skills, processes, habits of mind, etc., they need mentors: parents, teachers, community members to help them.”
However, veteran staff (and even some of the newcomers) want to be spoon fed how to use these things in the classroom during professional development time, and there just isn’t enough time in the schedule to make that happen. But most of our teachers won’t take the time at home to learn them and integrate the new tools into their curriculum (contract negotiations have not been great in our district the past few years).
So we’re continually stuck with a few teachers dabbling with using the new web 2.0 tools and not a whole lot of mentoring going on. How do we get our staff to make systematic changes to our curriculum K-12?
Robin Heyden says
I agree, DaveF. This is such an important question. And there are so many well intended people trying to answer it, without success. I just returned from a high school teacher summer workshop. It was a two-day teaching & learning with technology type event that included lots of great ideas, suggestions, and specifics. Even with this total immersion and creative, discipline-specific suggestions, the topic that kept resurfacing? All the reasons why it wouldn’t work. Firewalls, parent objections, not enough internet access, out-dated computers, not enough computers, uncooperative IT staff, not enough time, fearful administrators. It was mind-numbing, depressing, and – of course – all very real.
Marc Prensky says
This question, which seems so thorny, is easily approached, I think, by making a distinction between “verbs” and “nouns”.
“Verbs” are the skills you, I, Ravich, and everyone else thinks people should know, and learn as students. They include the skills you mention above: to collaborate, to solve problems, to think critically, to be creative, plus many others: e.g. to persuade, to present logicaly (I list 50 in my new book.) These verbs or skills, as Ravich points out, don’t change very much over time.
“Nouns,” on the other hand, are the tools (aka technolgogies) people use to practice and do these skills. Nouns have always changed over time, e.g. memorizing to writing, papyrus to paper, quills to fountain pens, handwriting to keyboarding. Today nouns are changing extremely rapidly: Powerpoint to Flash, email to IM, Myspace to Facebook to Twitter, encyclopedias to Wikipedia, local disks to cloud, reading to watching short video, laptops to smartphones, etc.
In my view, our goal should be that our learners use, to the extent possible, the best and most up-to-date nouns (tools) to learn and perform each key verb (skill). Older tools often still work for a time (e.g. books), and others work less well (e.g. slide rules). But technology will continue to provide us with better nouns for each of the verbs.
In teaching, our focus needs to be on the verbs, which don’t change very much, and NOT on the nouns (i.e. the technologies) which change rapidly and which are only a means. For teachers to fixate on any particular noun as the “best” way (be it books or blogs, for example) is not good for our students, as new and better nouns will shortly emerge and will continue to emerge over the course of their lifetimes. Our teaching should instead focus on the verbs (i.e. skills)students need to master, making it clear to the students (and to the teachers) that there are many tools learners can use to practice and apply them.
This verb-noun distinction is one of the key points of my upcoming book, Partnering with Your Students. (You are welcome to a pre-read!) Also see
In terms of practically doing this, the only way all the newly emerging nouns (technologies) will work in our classrooms is if they are used to support the “new” peagogical paradigm of kids learning on their own (with their teachers’ coaching and guidance.) Technology only supports the “lecuring” paradigm in the most trivial of ways–showing pictures and videos. But technology supports the new pedagogy really well–it is all the new “nouns” that can be used by students as they learn to do all the “verbs” on their own. For more on this see
I will be presenting on both of these points at BLC in a few weeks. See you there.
You seem to be equating “best” and “most up to date.”
Is the Kindle really better than a printed book. Sure, it has advantages, but is it better? I would say that it is better in some ways, and markedly inferior in others. So, it depends on your purposes.
I think a big element of what is missing here — as it is often missing from discussions of class size reductions — is the costs. There is a cost in bringing the “best” and/or “most up to date” technologies to our class rooms.
* the $ cost of the technology
* the personnel cost of finding people who know how to use them
* the time cost of the staff learning how to use them
* the cost of giving up older daily or weekly lessons that have been refined over time
* the cost of developing/refining new daily and weekly lessons over time
And I am sure that there are more, too.
My main point here is that we talk about what we ought to do as though we were in some ideal world that has not costs, but in reality it is the schools and their employees that bear a lot of these costs — costs that might not be proportional to the gains for students. And then there are the costs to students. The first time a teacher goes though a lesson or a unit it just doesn’t go as well as when s/he has had time to refine it and fix the bugs and uneveness. Are we going to acknowledge that some students bear those costs that others may get the gain?
I also am not sure about your verb/noun thing. Some of your nouns are verbs and some of your verbs are nouns, and most of them could easily be switched. I think your “tool” and “skill” distinction is more useful. I might also suggest verb and obect, rather than noun.
(That’s a function/form distinction I am making. Nouns (form) can be subjects, or objects (functions). Heck, they can even be turned into verbs or have verbal forms. What do you want to do with gerunds and participles, when most people don’t know the difference and the look the same? I mean, is writing a noun or verb? Clearly, it can be both. But the context tells us the function, and function follows of from the relationship between the words in language.)
More later, but two points now.
1) Will, I am glad to see that you feel that I fairly represented your view. That is an essential aspect of any discussion in which anyone hope to convince others to their own view point. (And something that is much harder to teach online than in live/in-person discussions — a point I’m about to mention in my last set of comments on the previous post (coming soon!!))
2) Bill, why do you assume I am a woman? Is it because I am expressing a Deb Meier sort of viewpoint? Is it because you think I am uncomfortable with technology? Would it change you view if I mentioned that I — 15-20 years ago — knew more than half a dozen programming languages, wrote some educational software for higher education, was hand-coding HTML before the first Netscape brower, carried my own laptop to school (as a teacher) every day in the early 1990s, kept my grades on my computer long before you could buy specialized software for the job, and remain an “early adopter” of technology? From what I have seen, women are rather in the minority among commenters of this blog, so I am curious why you concluded that I am a women. (I suppose that that could be a reason to use a pseudonym like mine, right? To hide my gender. Or mabe I really am Debbie Meieir….hmmm…I’ll need to look into that.)
Bill Ferriter says
Bill, why do you assume I am a woman? Is it because I am expressing a Deb Meier sort of viewpoint? Is it because you think I am uncomfortable with technology?
None of the above, ceolaf! I just needed to use some kind of pronoun and the “he/she” is awkward at best. In those cases, “she” is as good as “he” and much better than “it.”
I’m never opposed to people who hide their genders in online conversations, but I always hope they won’t be offended when other readers are forced to guess when choosing how to respond.
Robin Heyden says
Great conversation. Thinking about these new tools gets really interesting to me when I think of them in light of our students as authors and producers. Mark is right, above, when he says that new technologies don’t add much to the traditional education paradigm (lecture mode). But they add a whole new dimension to a pedagogical shift that moves us away from the “open-their-head-and-pour-it-in” approach and toward guiding our students to create, construct, post, broadcast, and find their own teachers.
Yes, Robin, move away from the “sage on the stage” concept…
I’ve been telling people that I find it scary that we could drop almost our entire teaching staff (if not all) into an 19th century classroom (or one room school house) and within minutes they could be teaching…it hasn’t changed that much in 150 years.
I understand the points made above about the cost of technology and the time to learn it – I’m in Maine and our school district decided to opt in to the Apple 1 to 1 initiative for grades 7-12, effectively giving us 1 to 1 laptops grades 5-12 (we just couldn’t pass up the deal we got). However, as nice as that is, there’s absolutely no way we’re going to be able to provide the level of professional development needed on “contract time” even using all of our professional days and using all of the professional development days the state is going to offer. I feel that for us to fully use these new laptops in the way I envision (mirroring what’s said above) it’s going to take a sea change in teacher attitudes about teaching that I feel are not going to be easy to make.
Does anyone know of any research that shows the type of teaching we want would help raise standardized test scores? I think that’s the only way I can see change being enacted in the current climate. Correct me if I’m wrong, please!
Alec Couros says
I have enjoyed being a lurker throughout these conversations. There have been some terrific points made, but I still feel something is missing. Maybe it’s implicit in the language somewhere, but I think it needs to be expressed explicitly.
It screams out to me in Ravitch’s points. “The ability to …, the recognition of…, the willingness to …”. Our edu-lingo is so very soft.
What about developing children who will act, not consider acting, or have the ability to act, but *will* act. Or, developing a generation of individuals that do, not simply have the ability *to* do, but who are do-ers.
Act to create a just society.
Stand up and speak against oppression and injustice.
Express themselves through creativity and innovation.
Learn, teach, create, consume, remix, mashup, repeat.
Critique information, knowledge, and authority.
Become responsible, active citizens.
Create a better world, together.
Yea, I know, “what does that mean?” And, much of this may be different to everyone, to every culture, to every community. But that’s all at the heart of the matter. These are the most important of questions, even if (especially if) we continue to disagree.
We often hear the rhetoric “preparing students for the world”, or “preparing students for a world that *will* exist”. Throughout the spectrum of the argument, the assumption is that these students are not currently part of the world, but *will* be part of this world upon graduation.
What would happen if we actually trusted children to be part of our world. Would we stop pretending that we always know what is best for them?
Jenine Wech says
My frustration with the conversation of the day is that fundamentally we will not change education through tweaks in verbs or nous. Maybe we should start focusing on adverbs and adjectives; Quick and shallow, sustained and deep. I am more concerned at a current state of education that encourages time/cost efficiency, neat and tidy data points, with a one-size-fits all wide yet shallow curriculum.
When do our students learn that sustained work and attainment of mastery are more valuable than momentary tweets and multiple choice responses?
Technology enables the expansion of time in a schooling environment which operates in a constrained linear model. Technology also expands resources by opening the door to expertise beyond the walls of the schools. The body of human knowledge is doubling at some unfathomable rate. It seems that the number of required learning standards is attempting to keep pace. In order to fit it all into the schedule the current model is shallow and wide with quick and efficient touch points of accountability.
When will we begin to address the artificial bloat of required curriculum and the false notion that all learners need the same level of mastery in all areas? Learning takes practice. Learning is time consuming and messy. I’m with Will…let’s talk about the ‘how?’. How can we help teachers cope with the chaos, loss of direct control, accountability squeeze and lack of efficiency that comes with a learner-centric environment?
Maybe it is not so much about the tools used in the classroom as it is about using the classroom as a tool for dispensing just the right amount of learning.
MEREDITH BRODERICK says
PERHAPS WE WANT TO SEE SOME OF THE SAME THINGS WE HAVE SEEN HAPPENING IN CLASSROOMS THAT HAVE BEEN HAPPENING IN CLASSROOMS FOR THE LAST 100 YEARS OR SO? A SOCRATIC OPEN DISCUSSION, A PASSION IN THE TEACHER THAT ENCOURAGES THE STUDENTS TO WANT TO KNOW MORE OR EVEN BETTER MODELS FOR THEM THAT EVEN IN OUR WORLD WHERE PEOPLE ONLY REALLY GET PASSIONATE ABOUT WHAT CAN BE BOUGHT, PASSION FOR LEARNING, AND PERHAPS MORE TO THE POINT FOR THE QUEST OF LEARNING CAN BE THE GREATEST PASSION OF YOUR LIFE?
DON’T BE FOOLED TO THINK THESE TECHNOLOGIES ARE ANY DIFFERENT THAN THE GUTTENBERG PRINTING PRESS, POWERFULLY TRANSFORMING IN HOW WE ARE EXPOSED TO AND SHARE THOUGHT. BUT THEY ARE NOT THOUGHT, IF YOU WERE A ONE DIMENSIONAL TEACHER REGURTITATING FACTS FROM A TEXTBOOK WHO HAD NO REAL RELATIONSHIP, DARE I SAY LOVE AFFAIR WITH THE CURRICULIM YOU ARE TEACHING, AND YOU CREATE WIKIS, AND PODCASTS, AND TWEETS AND SHARE DIGITAL PRESENTATIONS ON YOU BLOG, AND HAVE YOUR STUDENTS CONFERENCE WITH OTHERS ON A REGUALAR BASIS, VIA SKYPE YOU WILL STILL BE THE SAME ONE DIMENSIONAL TEACHER REGURGITATING FACTS FROM A TEXT BOOK FOR YOUR STUDENTS, YOU JUST WILL BE SHARING IT WITH A GLOBAL AUDIENCE.
THESE TOOLS DO NOT A GREAT TEACHER MAKE. THEY JUST TRANSFORM HOW WE SHARE TEACHING AND LEARNING IN THE WAY THE PRINTED WORD DID.
BUT GREAT TEACHING, AND A LEARNING ENVIRONMENT THAT ENCOURAGES OPEN THOUGHT, ORIGINAL THOUGHT DOES NOT COME OUT OF A BOX AND THEIR IS NO FORMULA FOR IT THAT CAN BE TAKEN LIKE A PILL.
THAT SAID THESE TOOLS ARE TRANSFORMATIVE IN THE WAY THE CHEAPLY PRINTED BOOK WAS AND THEREFORE THEIR EFFECT PROFOUND
“A SOCRATIC OPEN DISCUSSION, A PASSION IN THE TEACHER THAT ENCOURAGES THE STUDENTS TO WANT TO KNOW MORE OR EVEN BETTER MODELS FOR THEM THAT EVEN IN OUR WORLD WHERE PEOPLE ONLY REALLY GET PASSIONATE ABOUT WHAT CAN BE BOUGHT, PASSION FOR LEARNING, AND PERHAPS MORE TO THE POINT FOR THE QUEST OF LEARNING CAN BE THE GREATEST PASSION OF YOUR LIFE?”
Except for a few teachers, these things weren’t happening when I was in school! Technology or lack thereof hasn’t affected teachers who values these things, but what I see is even those exceptional teachers who use “socratic open discussion” are being beaten down by the need to “make AYP” and raise standardized test scores for NCLB. Can these two competing methods co-exist or how do we go about changing expectations at a national level????
I am a teacher who is new to Web 2.0 tools. I followed with interest these posts in which others are grappling with issues of how to use these tools with students. I came across the notion of Web 3.0 which is working with metadata or tagging. In a comment on a blog post way back in January 2005, Zes said, I have a dream. Create metadata once, use many times.
Would this be important in the skills (the verbs) that we give or teach our students? As we have our areas of passionate inquiry learning and model navigating the tools (the nouns) using tagging and folksonomies, can we blaze a trail for our students to develop and follow their own passions? We would need to teach our students to develop categories and to see patterns. We would need to help them explore the world in deeper and broader ways. This can begin in grade one with buttons and sorting. Creating those categories and finding attributes would be part of the problem solving set of skills.
Dean Groom says
Will, with so many diverse stakeholders involved, each with their own drivers and influencers, there is distinct problem in any organisations ability to conceptualise how learning can be augmented by technology – in one vision.
It’s like asking what the perfect narrative is for a video game.
Defining these student attributes (21C skills) is not a question of verbs or nouns; but understanding how to articulate innovative classroom teacher practice with the mechanisms that shape policy.
Co-curricula is far easier to do; and perhaps why ‘projects’ can appear very successful to the diginistas, have no alignment with current curricula or stand little change of being adopted as ‘enterprise’ level technologies.
As to the ‘futurists’ and ‘visionaries’ …
It would be nice to see some of these observers show up and run a class for a semester with their ideas, or to see them get actively involved in real projects, not just commenting on them.
MEREDITH BRODERICK says
I wholeheartedly agree, with Dave F. and I did not mean to imply that at any time in the last 100 years this the picture I painted of the kinds of things we want to see taking place in classrooms, actually took place in any school in a majority of classroom, ( though I must admit I remember hearing George carlin go on about the catholic school he attended in manhattan in the late forties early fifties, as being a paragon of open thinking, indeed he credited the nuns who taught him with his ability to think critically about the world at large as strange as that may sound)
I was merely pointing out that though the recent onslaught of web technologies have made some pretty amazing things possible in classrooms, if the classrooms are not being led or coached by teachers who value open, ongoing discussion, who are themselves passionate learners, who see learning and teaching as a process, that is yes an art form, nothing much will change in the schools in the United states,
The real problem is as DAve f. states teachers like this have always been the exception in their schools, how do you get to a point where at least a small majority of teaches are creating learning environments in their classrooms, that are based in a true and open curiosity, where they themselves are passionate learners. I do not think that the answer lies in any of the technologies that have popped on the scene in the last ten years. Yes we need a revolution in education, and a portion of that is to step into the 21st century, and begin to utilize the power that Web 2.0. ( god I hate that term) can and should have in the classroom, but the real revolution needs to address what the blase’ babysitting service that we try to pass off as schools.
I love the points you make in your blog. I agree with your frustrations with education tech innovations. It seems that companies and media specialists keep championing how great all of this technology will make education. As a result districts spend huge sums of money on impulse purchase for things they have no idea of how to implement in a pedgogical sense. The district will simply cry out to the public saying “look at all of this great technology that will make education better!” We need to think as teachers about how we can take this technology and implement it into the fundamentals of education that have always been known to good teaching regardless to the level of technology. The technology can only enrich the student’s understanding about the world if it is properly used, maybe thats what alot of districts need to think about before dropping lots of fat cash on all of these fancy bells and whistles.