Sunday, July 29, 2007

Schools 2017

When thinking about classrooms of the future I think about what Marc Prensky said in his presentations at BLC07. Marc Prensky is the author of two books, the first being Don't Bother Me Mom--I'm Learning! and the second Digital Game-Based Learning. Marc was the first person to use the terms "Digital Natives" and "Digital immigrants. Marc has also written numerous articles on classrooms of the future.

Walls are a thing of the past. Schools of the future will have much fewer walls. Learning will become much more collaborative and cross curricular. Students will be working at meeting tables collaborating on projects influenced by the "real world". Closed book memorization tests are going to be a thing of the past. In today's digital world who cares if they memorize all the capitals of the world when they can have an answer on their cell phone in under a minute by texting Google. We need to connect kids to their communities and to their world.

Dan Pink and his book A Whole New Mind tell us that schools of the future should foster skills such as creativity, empathy, contextual thinking and big picture thinking. “The greatest opportunity for change is currently found in after-school programs and informal learning communities" – MacArthur White Paper, 2007

I like the metaphor that Prensky uses in his presentations. Kids used to grow up in the dark. Schools and education were showing them the light. Digital natives with technology are growing up in the light and schools are turning off the lights. We need to bring the students back into the light. How do we do this?

I don't think anyone has the clear cut answer, bet we need to engage them more. Kids are bored with our classrooms. I do think that technology and connecting kids to the real world will with out a doubt play a huge role in engaging them.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Web 2.0 in the Classroom

Attending BLC07 has been an inspirational experience for me. I have always "known" about the various collaboration tools available on the internet. What I haven't been able to wrap my brain around is how to apply these methods of communication in my classroom. I started BLC07 attending a workshop by Will Richardson. In his workshop he reviewed technologies such as RSS, blogs, and wikis most of which I was already familiar with. Even though we spent a lot of time reviewing technical skills, he really drove home the idea the connections we make are what is important. Alan November again repeated this same concept in another session that I attended. In education we need to connect our students to not only each other, but to others in the world. When we make connections and build our own personal networks that is when the real learning starts to occur.

What makes web 2.0 so powerful is that we can connect our students to people they may have never had a chance to connect to before. It could be an author, researcher, athlete, or anyone. When a student makes a connection to an author of a book they are reading that is really empowering for that student. Other connections that are important are that between the teacher, parent, and student. As Dr. Tim Tyson points out in his presentations the blog can help connect the parent to the classroom. Connecting the parents and family to the classroom is very important to the students education.

I am just beginning to connect myself to the world and I hope to start to help my students connect to the world as well.