Friday, 12 March 2010

Edutopia?

I love language. This is a perfect word that describes what techies believe and describe as that perfect world where we as educators can finally learn to connect with our students and keep them endlessly motivated to learn. First off, I'd like to say that we have to remember that we're still human, no matter how far we go with technology and that the nature of being human is to be motivated to learn. So, fundamentally, we have the capability, and that no matter what seems to be apparent boredom in our classrooms, the desire to learn is still there. What we teachers seem be doing and what we're afraid might become more of an SOP is that students will become even less enchanted than they sometimes are in the classroom if we stay frozen in the 'Doing old things in old ways' or even 'Doing old things in new ways,' and instead the claims are that we need to move to 'Doing new things in new ways,' as described in 'Shaping Tech in the Classroom,' by Marc Prensky. I do agree with Prensky when he brings to mind the difficulty with teachers adapting to change—we 'digital immigrants,' but to consider a counterpoint, the younger educators—'the digital natives' are bringing the immigrants along. This process has consistently happened in the past and is safe to generalize to the future regarding technology reform.

We're listening to Dean Shareski, from Saskatchewan, Canada. He believes we (the ones in this type of course) are the ones who are making the change. I agree, but young people do have the drive and energy by nature, so let's consider that it's not just us, but it's us and them together. It's more like the critical mass factor—if we collectively believe we need a reform to match up with the new paradigm we seem to entering—more like beyond Web 2.0.

Implications are huge for all educators. How does all of this look and play out in the daily lesson? We seem to be heading to 1-1 starting in grade 6 here at ISB as Jeff has explained in his 'Next Phase...' post. But after looking at a more seamless integration of the digital world with our own physiologies—'Gesture-based Computing (2-3 years down the road) as described in the 2010 Horizon Report, are we sure we're heading in the right direction with purchasing more hardware? Are we sure we want to work on integrating what the kids claim they want: emailing and instant messaging 24-7? Are we swinging the pendulum too far to the left to try and keep up with it all--or where are we on the pendulum swing? At what point or is there a point where we can reach and balance and achieve 'edutopia'? It seems like educators today just need to be willing to take major tech leaps and have the kids go along with us. And as the 'Living and Learning with New Media: Summary of Findings from the Digital Youth Project' concludes, we're the need seems to be to move away from the adult as the authority (which is fine with me) to: "The most successful examples we have seen of youth media programs are those based on kids’ own passionate interests and allowing plenty of unstructured time for kids to tinker and explore without being dominated by direct instruction." So are we prepared to move to this new education paradigm with aims of preparing students for the world beyond the work world? I definitely have more questions than answers here!

1 comment:

Jeff Utecht said...

"So are we prepared to move to this new education paradigm with aims of preparing students for the world beyond the work world?"

I am! :)

"Are we swinging the pendulum too far to the left to try and keep up with it all--or where are we on the pendulum swing?"

At this moment in time I think we're a bit behind the pendulum. 1:1 laptop programs have been around for 15+ years. They have really taken off in the past 5 years, and just internationally, we (ISB) are one of the last schools of our size to go 1:1.

We are definitely not pulling the pendulum. One great thing I like about tech is that we're on a four year replacement cycle. Every four years we replace our technology with newer and better equipment that allows us to do things different. If we were truly keeping with the pendulum I would say that would have to be a two year replacement cycle. Four years in our world today is old news....scary but true.

Your car is "old" if it's 4 years old?

Your computer is "old" if it's 4 years old?

Your iPod, cell phone, clothes, shoes, milk in the fridge, and even the twinkie, would be considered old after four years. ;)

How about that lesson plan?
How about that overhead, that unit plan, that common assessment?
How about that lesson, that essay topic?

It's an exciting time of constant change, of constant learning and re-learning of skills as things change. Either we learn to embrace it, or pull our hair out because we can't change fast enough.

I for one....am learning to embrace it! I'm learning that prices on flights change by the minute, that information about a current event (#redshirts) can be followed by the minute. I'm learning that in a connected world.....yesterday is old news. :)