Friday, December 5, 2008

Syncronicity Regarding the Future of Learning: Are you a Sherpa or a Jazz Musician?

Yesterday, Sara Swenson, Edina High School Librarian (She prefers that term!) shared the following video with me via e-mail that she found on an NCTE Web site.

I thought that the video crystallized for me the potential for educational technology integration, 21st Century learning and learning beyond the classroom walls. It is something we are working on with our Community of Practice. That isn't to say that there won't be road blocks to navigate, or crevasses to traverse! We know they exist now! I was intrigued to see the teacher's role defined in such creative ways!! When people ask you what you do for a living, do you respond as "teacher", "educator", "instructor", facilitator", or are you a "Connected Learning Incubator" or are you still "Keeper of All Knowledge Which Is Good?" Hmmm...

Then this morning, I checked my Twitter feed and Will Richardson had posted about a conference on the Future of Education he attended at Microsoft.
I saw a strong connection between his post and the video, and commented on the blog. When I read the post over again, this quote certainly sounded familiar:
As would be expected, much of the conversation was spent on the barriers to change, and at some point I found myself amazed at how deeply woven the reasons why not are ingrained in our conversations. At one conversation, someone said that many of her teachers didn’t feel like they needed to teach with technology at all since their students were doing just fine passing the tests without it. And I wanted to scream (but instead politely said) ‘then we gotta change the assessments.” Nothing in these conversations changed my view that to really change what we do in schools we have to first change our understanding of what it means to teach in this moment. That doesn’t mean than we throw out all of the good pedagogy that we’ve developed over the years and make everything about technology. But it does mean, I think, that technology has to be a part of the way we do our learning business these days.
I remember in my interview for my current job stating that "a pencil is technology, and if a task is done more efficiently with a pencil than a computer, then use the pencil! "(Of course we don't have a class in pencil either, that's why we need to integrate!!) However, if by having a student blog about a poem, allows them to have an authentic interaction with the poet he/she is writing about, then perhaps the pedagogy should change.

I arrived at work, and there was an update from our local teacher's union with this quote from Education Minnesota Edina President Van Anderson:
We do not know from day to day, or even hour by hour, what we will encounter among our students. Of course, we get to know them (and data can help us do so), and that knowledge helps us plan suitable lessons, but sometimes even the best laid plans veer from the path we thought our students might be able to follow. Then we, like good jazz musicians, improvise.
Later, again in my Twitter Feed, was a post by Dean Shareski , a Digital Learning Consultant from Moose Jaw, SK responding to Richardson with the following quote:
My own experience with meeting people at conferences and having great conversations outside of the formal sessions reaffirm that face to face is good and necessary and in many ways real reason and value of a physical place where people gather. I believe it was Kevin Honeycutt who said, “it was the first time I’d met someone’s brain before I met their face”. Being together is really what my class is about. But the richness of conversations and willingness to be open and transparent is difficult to foster in 3 hours a week where much of that learning is teacher directed. I think the model developed by Jonathon Bergmann and Aaron Samms is one we’ll likely see more of in the future. Coming to school to do homework and learning with others.
I had actually attended a Webinar presented by Jonathon and Aaron, and blogged about it here. Their model is one that I see having great potential in a one to one learning environment. I believe the ability for students to connect beyond the walls of the classroom with experts, expert content, and each other will allow for richer learning opportunities in the classroom.

These connections don't have to happen virtually, either.
Last week I was in AP Environmental Science teacher Eric Burfeind's classroom while he had guest lecturer, Phil Miller from the Conservation Breeding Specialists Group using computer modeling software to look at animal populations.

As I have been making and sharing these connections this morning, I hope I am modeling what it would look like for a connected student as well. I've talked before about having a Personal Learning Network, and Sara, Will, Dean, Jonathan, Aaron, and Eric certainly are members, (whether they know it or not!) and so are you! Join me as we climb the "Mount Everest" that is the future of education, I'll be the Sherpa carrying a few tools (rope, ladder, oxygen, wireless laptop) to help along the way!

What are your thoughts? Are you ready to be a Concierge, or a Sherpa, or a Jazz Musician?
What would training for such roles look like? I look forward to your comments!
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