Shift: A Final Reflection

Photo Credit: orangeacid via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: orangeacid via Compfight cc

As I sit and reflect after reading the final chapter of Alan November’s Digital Learning Farm, one thing comes to mind:  paradigm shift.  November gives a lot examples of teachers using forms of technology to reshape their classrooms, but really what is happening is that teachers are shifting from a traditional approach to a new hands off experiential model in which students begin to own their own learning.  November’s final example of Garth Holman and Michael Pennington sums this all up perfectly.  These two teachers through the medium of online tools have completely shifted their teaching methodology from teacher centered to students centered in which students created and took responsibility for their content and learning.  Holman and Pennington’s students creation of, and the motivation to create, their own online textbook, again,  dovetails perfectly into Daniel Pink’s motivators of mastery, autonomy and purpose.  It is important to be aware that it is good design and pedagogy that has created the awesome learning environment.  This vision combined with the embedding of technology into the design is the key.  As Kathy Schrock says in her video Connecting Your Classroom to the Future, “Technology does not drive curriculum…curriculum drives technology”.

So what are my predictions for the future? Well I think that the following video, that a fellow learner in this course Stacey Johnsen, reflected upon in her last post Digital Communication and Collaboration, speaks very strongly towards what I would like to see education become.

For me, what Pat Bassett talks about in the above Tedx talk manages to capture a lot of ideas that are constantly swirling around in my brain that I can never get a hold of all at once.  Ideas from my own reflections, ideas that I’ve read, seen or heard about. Ideas from my experience that I never have had a chance to articulate because they are fleeting.  I love hearing that education is no longer owned by the teacher.  Bassett says, “subjects will be in the service of creation”.

Photo Credit: h.koppdelaney via Compfight cc

Knowledge to imagine and create.                     Photo Credit: h.koppdelaney via Compfight cc

I love that he says students should do something with their imaginations and knowledge.   No longer will students just “know stuff”, but they will need to create – to engage in real world problems – and have real world solutions.  I want to be a part of a movement that can get beyond high stakes testing and move into “High Value Demonstrations”.  It’s exciting.

That is the education future that I want to be part of.



EduPunks Say School Yourself

There are a lot of interesting points coming out in this article regarding the re-shaping of how education looks, is delivered, and is quantified.  I agree with some, other parts I have questions, other bits I don’t think I agree with.

“Campbell notes businesses will be hungry for people who aren’t going to sit down and simply do a set of assigned tasks, but are going to invest themselves in the ongoing discovery…”

This makes me again think back to what I blogged about before, that being the notion that classrooms are currently set up to create industrial workers, but future employers of today’s students are going to want creative independent thinkers, rather than than task driven producers.    Since I am supposed to be considering technology on this blog, I will reflect on the fact that so far my experiments with wikis and web quests have been relatively successful;  however, in terms of  creating people who will invest in discovery, I’m not sure this happens just because they can follow instructions and use the internet as a learning tool.   This is a whole different complexity of the classroom, and just getting student to use available technology doesn’t necessarily mean we are moving forward with independent thinkers that will one day fuel the creative economy.  I guess what I’m getting at is just because I can teach students to bang a nail, it doesn’t mean they will be great craftsmen.  I know I have stated the obvious, but I must remind myself that there is more, much more to re-imagining the classroom than just inserting laptops and digitizing what is students produce.  Inserting technology is a big piece, but I can’t allow myself to be progressive just because I get my students to post their work on a wiki, or comment on each others poetry on a classroom blog.  In my pursuit of technology I must also  remember to check myself and search out ways to develop students into creative thinkers ready whatever tomorrow ends up being – technology is just a piece of that process.

Bare walls digital world

If student works become more and more digitized, meaning work is produced on the computer, then shared online, via PowerPoint presentations, video, etc, what does your physical classroom begin to look like? At the moment my room is richly decorated with student work. I believe, as I’m sure most teachers do, that it is important to the learning environment to display student work. So what happens to the richness of a classroom when student work disappears into the clouds of the digital world? Does the future involve digital bulletin boards? I’m wondering.