Yes, it has been a while since I have blogged; however, I have not stopped collecting experiences and thoughts to include here.
An overriding theme of the last two or three weeks in my experiences and reading has been this sense of urgency that schooling must change if we want our next generation of learners to be able to keep up in the rapidly changing global economy.
When you are a teacher in a system where important issues brought up and debated at department meetings are whether or not to permit the use of spellcheckers in English exams (which are handwritten) or whether Shakespeare should be taught at every grade level, sometimes it is difficult to gauge whether or not there is a great shift happening in the “real world”. (These are real examples, by the way)
I try to listen to podcasts and videotaped conference presentations regularly so I have a bit of an opportunity to see what other educators are grappling with. Of course, I also have an rss feeder and try to keep on top of my blogstream – not easy with so many good edubloggers out there!
One of the videoconference presentations I watched last week which I thoroughly enjoyed was the video of Alan November’s conference presentation
at the Christa McAuliffe Technology Conference in New England. Some of his ideas that resonated with me:
- Skype in every classroom
- engaging in online discussions with other countries
- “I think every teacher should think globally!”
- “In order to do that, you gotta know skype, You gotta know the syntax of the Internet….”
- “Watch what kids do when they are not school - what if we could combine what kids WANT to do with the curriculum?”
Alan tried very hard to get his audience to see the urgency of the situation.
It was very validating to hear those things because of my own use of skype in the classroom recently and my passion for international projects.
A Real Life Sense of Urgency
Last week, when I was at the staff party of my husband’s workplace, I had a very interesting conversation with Stephan, an engineer and project manager with the company. I told Stephan that because I was a teacher I didn’t often get a chance to talk with those in the “real world” and that I wanted to ask him a few questions. So I asked him how often he communicated with someone outside of our country. He said many, many times a day he had to communicate with others around the world. Then he went on to tell me that, although he had been trained as an engineer, he rarely needed his technical skills – those were outsourced to other countries – but how he now relied on those communication and collaboration, most often cross-cultural. He went on to say how fearful he was of his own children’s future because he felt that the present educational system was not preparing the next generation for the realities of this new global economy.
I asked him if he had read Thomas Friedman or Daniel Pink – he had not. He clearly saw these problems on his own and it bothered him a good deal.
I finally picked up the book, A Whole New Mind
, by Daniel Pink and was quite impressed with it. He is another author who has also picked up on the changing reality of our global situation and is recommending, among other activities, the necessity of promoting collaborative skills.This book deserves an entire blog post on its own.I have already had a conversation with at least one person who does not like the concepts presented in the book and it has forced me to be a more critical reader as I go through it.Definitely worth its own post…
My IT Director passed this article on to me:The Disruptive Force of Web 2.0: how the new generation will define the future
This is a speech made by Viviane Reding at a youth conference recently in Hong Kong and it provides another good overview of web 2.0 and its influence on the next generation. Again the sense of urgency is present in the speech. Web 2.0, or social networking, is presented as a disruptive force. Its exponential growth is pointed out. The negatives are highlighted - such as Internet piracy and the potential of diminishing value for the telecom providers because of VoIP (Internet telephony).She also points to the positive and great potential as this new version of the web provides more possibilities for “connectivity, communication, collaboration, and creativity”.I liked her point that the more people who use it, the better the service becomes.
Particularly interesting was Reding’s discussion of the digital divide - a topic that is not covered enough by we in the edublogospere and one that we at Women of Web 2.0 would very much like to cover in an upcoming webcast.
And this week’s Time magazine cover article was How To Build a Student For the 21st Century.
It is a terrific example of the urgency finally being sensed and reported in the mainstream media.We discussed the article at some length with our guests the other night at the weekly webcast of Women of Web 2.0
(podcast is here
). It was a fantastic evening with special guests David Warlick
and Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach
- such a great opportunity to pick the brains of educators who have been trying to spread this message for some time now.Stephen Downe’s coverage of it
was very interesting a worthy exploration.