I’ve asked this question many times, but it is important to keep asking it. “Would you have accepted the truth about classroom of 2005, if it had been suggested to you in 1995, that in the next ten years, most classrooms in the U.S. would have more than one multimedia computer connected to a global digital library of billions of pages of information, not to mention sound, images, video, and animation?” Things have changed far faster than we could have imagined, and it seems that our imaginations just barely limit what might happen between now and 2015.
Then a few days later
I asked educators to pretend that they were walking into their classrooms in 2015, ten years from now, and to describe what they see that is different. I was pleased with the answers, especially considering that they had only a couple of minutes to think about it — and considering that most teachers are struggling to get through the day.
I continue to be disturbed, however, by the number of educators who predict that the classroom will go away, that they will teach their students through the networks, each from their own homes or other places of preference. Certainly this is technologically feasible and certainly some teaching and learning happens very well through the digital lenses that are our computers and networks. But, is doing away with classrooms what we really want?
Technology works best when it is connecting, not when it separates. We have the potential today to put students into direct contact with a global library of information, and the power not only to access but to twist and turn, uncover, and discover with that information, to construct new knowledge and new information products, and share them with the world. This is the measure of the distances that can be spanned by technology.
However, believing that with technology, we can educate our children without bringing them together, uses technology to separate, not connect us.
I may just be old fashioned — a romantic. But the electricity that happens in the eye contact between teacher and student is what brings to life, a world of wonder and opportunity.
I, of course, really like what he's saying here. Both about the impact that technology will have on our classrooms, and the fact that the magic still happens when you get a group of student together with a teacher in the same room. But I think one of the keys is - as we've talked about in our class - making the classroom a dynamic, engaging, student-centered, meaningful and relevant space. If all we do is try to add technology to the "sage on the stage" classroom, then we will not be able to compete with distance learning opportunities. They can do that better, cheaper, and more conveniently than we can.
I think that this goes along with some of what I've been trying to say in class as well. We are still in the infancy of all these technologies - the Internet itself and particularly the Read/Write web (blogs, wikis, podcasts, video casts, screencasts, etc.). Try to imagine what the classroom of 2015 could look like if we - as a school - really take to heart the constructivist ideas and the technology we've been talking about in class. The Internet - in terms of broad access and appeal - is only about 10 years old. Google is about 6 years old. Blogs and wikis are about 2 years old. Podcasts are about 1 year old. (All in terms of mass awareness and access). Mass broadband access to the Internet from homes and schools is about 2 years old.
So, what if we take on this challenge as a staff and change our classrooms? And then add into the mix the maturation of this infant Read/Write web, along with the inevitable technological advances in terms of computers, software and Internet access speeds. You can either view this as terrifying or incredibly exciting. Either way, now is the time to make your decision. I vote that we embrace it and lead our entire school forward. What's your vote?
Imagine . . .