That’s a question that I’m really trying to get my brain around of late. In the past few weeks, I have really ramped up my rhetoric to teachers in terms of trying to get them to examine how these technologies challenge their own personal learning. How can the connections we make with these tools affect their own learning practice? How can they begin to understand what the implications for learning are for their students until they at some level understand them for themselves? And so on. And for the most part, heads nod politely in agreement.
But, here’s the thing. By and large, most of the questions that come up during the workshop or the presentation run along the lines of “how do we keep our kids safe with this stuff?” or “if I want to put up my homework for my kids is it better to use a blog or a wiki?” or “so parents could subscribe to these RSS feeds, right?” All good, useful, legitimate questions. But very far removed from the personal learning focus I’ve been trying to articulate. In fact, when I stand by these teachers and hear their questions, when I look at them directly and say “well, that’s a great question, but I really want you to focus on your own practice here, your own learning,” more often than not what I get is a scrunched up face, a biting of the lower lip, a feeling that their brains are saying “AAARRRGGGHHH.”
And even as I sit in this session with Tim Tyson at Building Learning Communities, one principal says “I want to learn more about these tools so I can help my teachers use them in the classroom.” I want to jump up and say “No! You are missing a step! You want to learn more about these tools for yourself so you can help your teachers learn from them too.”
So what’s that all about? Is it just habit? Is it just such a focus on curriculum delivery that “learning” is all about how to do that job better? Is changing the way we do our own business just too darn hard? Or is this such a huge shift, this idea that we can actually learn through the use of technology that most people just don’t think they have to go there, that they can just keep using it as a way to communicate without the surrounding connective tissue where the real learning takes place?
Or, maybe it’s just me…