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Carole's Blog

Time’s Up! EDER 679 Technology and Society: Post #4

Filed under: EDER 679.05 October 29, 2012 @ 9:41 pm

Time is up for “old school.” (Richardson, 2012) Today’s learners demand a new kind of education. Teachers, as designers of classroom learning, need to be able to provide learning environments that allow students to thrive.  According to Will Richardson in his new book, ‘Why School?: How Education Must Change When Learning and Information Are Everywhere’ (2012), education has gone “basically unrevised for 150 years.”  In a majority of Canadian schools the physical building, the timetable, report cards and the playground look very familiar. In some schools, the way learning happens, though, and the environments in which it happens have changed. Most importantly, learning can happen “around the things we learners choose to learn, not what someone else tells us to learn.” (Richardson, 2012)

“Literacy has always meant being able to consume and produce the media forms of the day, whatever they may be”. (Ohler, 2011)  Have you thought about books, papers, pencils as forms of media? Based on Richardson’s timespan of 150 years, school has focussed on reading print material, writing paragraphs and essays and lots of time listening to a person talk. Literacy has meant reading, writing, and speaking with viewing being added as a form of literacy relatively recently. In 2012, literacy can mean mixing words with images, sounds, music, video, and other media to create, as Jason Ohler (2011) describes, a multimedia collage, in the form of web pages, digital stories, videos and so much more.

Time is up for schools to insist that literacy revolve around limited forms of media for consumption and production. Schools can move from being text-centred to supporting a collage of media literacy in creative, thoughtful, ways. Students and adults can create media, stories and projects that are articulate and authentic. Teachers and students are surrounded by a multitude of Web 2.0 tools to explore, master and share. It can be difficult to choose which tool to use. Some people may feel that technology makes tasks more difficult rather than easier. If that is the case, either the wrong tool is being used or the task needs to be changed.

On the journey of creating excellent learning environments we do not have to be experts at everything, however, teachers need to be willing to take risks and be lifelong learners. One question that may help teachers and students select high quality tools is, ‘Does this tool allow me to expand my classroom beyond physical space or the constraints of time?’ Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 tools can meet these demands.

By collaborating and sharing work and talents within our school communities and our online communities we can create dynamic places for children and adults to learn. School can continue to exist even when “Learning and Information are Everywhere” (Richardson, 2012)

References

Ohler, J. (2011). New media, new kids-new literacies, new citizens. Retrieved November 21, 2011, from jasonOhler.com: http://www.jasonohler.com/
presentations/keynotes.cfm

Richardson, W. (2012). Why school?: How education must change when learning and information are everywhere. New York: TED Books.

5 Comments »

  1. Greg Luterbach:

    Hi Carole

    Thanks for the posting that challenges me to not accept the status quo. Too many classrooms could be time warped back to 1913 and fit right in. How can the world be changing so rapidly around us yet one of most valuable social assets is stuck?

    Even for those starting to accept and ‘allow’ technology into their classroom the locus of control is firmly planted with the teacher. Your comment about ‘willing to take risks’ is key. We need to allow, encourage and demand our teachers to take risks. We need lots of support around them in this situation. Most of all we need to be constantly messaging that you can be in control of your learning environment without being IN CONTROL. Providing opportunities for students to be leaders of learning is important. Students need a voice and choice in their learning opportunities with the teacher there in their highly important, professional role. Not just opening the door and saying ‘go for it’ but rather carefully building opportunities and guiding groups of students based on the teacher’s knowledge of the curriculum, content, students. Together the group is able to build a dynamic, robust, engaging learning environment.

    We have lots of work to do!

    Greg L

  2. carolejones:

    Hi Greg. Thanks for your thoughtful post. Too bad you are so far away – I would be interested in visiting your school. Your description of being in control of the learning environment without being ‘in control’ is very true. This is the kind of risk taking that is needed.
    Last night in a face-to-face course I challenged a teacher to explore Twitter along with his grade 5 students – not wait until he felt he was an expert but rather to let the students lead the learning. (we also talked about what he would need to do to get ready for his students to explore along with him) Your last two sentences are precisely the way to distinguish between chaos and good learning – can we quote you in our LT4? (really)

  3. Greg Luterbach:

    Definitely.

  4. Kevin W:

    Here, here, Carol! (And Greg.)

    Your post made me think of many students who are unable to write and read hardly anything with paper and pencil. Suppose these students were able to use an iPad with dictation apps, and then could edit the work for grammar, spelling, and punctuation by using digital tools.

    Does this count as writing? Could I indicate that such a student is performing at grade level on their report card? I posed this question to some of my colleagues. It was interesting to hear their varied opinions. Some felt that using dictation apps meant there was no writing at all, while others saw this as a new way of interacting with text. This situation opened up a dialogue at our school about what ‘counts’ as literacy.

  5. carolejones:

    Thanks for the feedback, Kevin. I think we need to have those difficult conversations so that we can all validate what ‘counts as writing.’ A student writing with assistive technology should not miss out on equitable assessment based on their teacher’s ‘bias’ against technology. Students deserve fair, authentic assessment of what they produce, not just what they scratch onto a piece of paper.

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