Blogging live from our professional development day, so pardon the typos. Will Richardson is keynoting here. for our Superintendent's Conference Day. We are embarking on a year of technology in our district. Christine Southard is showing me Coveritlive, so, hopefully you will see that at the bottom of this post.
Will says that our classrooms look very different from what our world looks like right now. Kids and technology -- pointing to 25 Days to Make a Difference - a young girl who is using a blog, working her community. Laura, the 11-year-old, writes what her readers want to know about. So what is Laura learning? That she can engage with the world -- irony is, her blog is blocked at her school.
Students are hyper-connected. Their network is in the palm of their hand - text messaging. Our kids are starting to explore these networking technologies in interesting ways. They are taking advantage of this shift that is occurring on the web - 200,000 YouTube videos are uploaded everyday. 1.8 million blogposts, over 1 million flickr photos uploaded everyday.
He is referring to a 'tectonic shift' - one of those moments in history that we will look back at and say, "oh, my goodness, look at what happened"...like the invention of the printing press. The ramifications are tremendous, see Here Comes Everybody by Clay Shirky. Schools are preparing students for a concrete world, rather than the world that will be. We don't even know what the top ten jobs will be in the coming years.
The easy ability to form groups is one of the main advantages of the technology we have. People who are passionate about something can easily get together. We can form groups around the things we believe in. This is a different model of politics, business and needs to be for education. Media is shifting - citizen journalists - CNN will buy your media. Online versions of news media is encourages you to interact.
New toy: Kindle- Amazon's wireless reading device. By the way, I believe that is on Oprah's Favorite Things list. Businesses are not about products any longer, they are about the conversations about their products. This is a huge shift. So, news, government, business is changing, reacting to these shifts. But EDUCATION is not shifting. We have to speed up. Upward to 80% of students have a Facebook or MySpace site. Gives an example of a student who died, and over 400 comments about grieving were posted on Facebook immediately. We block these things. We need to know about these things, but we filter and block these things because we are fearful. Most students know how to get around these things and can hack into them, anyway. We can't filter out the world to our kids; it is a very challenging moment in education. What do we spend our technology money on? What's here today is obselete tomorrow.
Will doesn't believe in the digital native/immigrant theory. The natives still need our help in using technology well. Learning is changing - with online environments and on the web. Will's blog only addresses how the technologies are changing teaching and learning. The comments to his blog posts reveal and teach a lot. Every person that comes to his blog is potentially a teacher. So different than students who have to come to your classroom. People come to his blog because they WANT to be there. This is about networks, that we can create networks around ideas and connections. Kids have already figured this out. FanFiction - just illustrates what kids are able to do if they are passionate about it. Reality is, administrators and principals will google prospective teachers.
Kids are learning Myspace and Facebook from each other. We need to be the ones to prepare them for their future- a more transparent world, expectation that when they get googled, good stuff will come up. We can't pretend this doesn't exist. We need to teach this in age-appropriate ways. This is the way the world operates now; it has to be taught even at the earliest ages. (OK, this made me feel good, because I am teaching information literacy, web evaluation, and media literacy to my elementary students.)
Students, through blogging, can learn they have a global voice while being guided by a teacher who is teaching them information literacy. Why aren't we teaching kids how to use iPhone in schools to access information? What is the potential for this device? Content is no longer scarce, we teach state capitols for the test - the way it was done years ago when access to information was limited. In a world where content is everywhere, we need to teach kids to find, vet and edit content; form groups with others who are passionate; and learn on their own. Content is not static any longer. Wikipedia is the most important site on the web right now...represents the collaborative construction of truth; negotiate and collaborate around the creation of content. Sarah Palin entry in Wikipedia was most updated entry. If we are not teaching Wikipedia, we are not teaching editable media. We can't teach reading and writing in the same context as we used to. We need to connect our students to the smartest people in the world - to larger, richer experiences -- and we now have the capabilities to do this. Our kids can do real work for a real audience, even in first grade - look at Radio Willoweb.
Challenge: Teachers have to realize that this is about us...getting our brains around the idea that the world is changing. The tools may change, but what won't go away is our ability to connect with others around the world any time we want to, about the things we are passionate about.