Thursday, July 27, 2006

NECC - A Web of Connections: Why the Read/Write Web Changes Everything

Just like with David Warlick, it was great to see and hear Will Richardson in person. He is also just as articulate and passionate as he is on his blog. This session was podcast, so you can listen to it via iTunes, but I'll try pull out a few quotes that resonated with me.
Quote 1: It's not about technology, it's about imagination.
As I've said before, I fear that as adults we focus too much on the "machine," instead of what the machine can do for us. More and more we are truly only being limited by our imaginations - we need to make sure we are allowing our imaginations free reign and not imposing limits on ourselves.
Quote 2: Kids are building their own networks - far beyond the classroom walls - and they know it. Where is the classroom now? Anywhere I have access.
I think the underlying message here is that if we don't work to include these tools in our classrooms - to actively expand our classroom walls ourselves - we will lose our students - perhaps figuratively at first, then literally.
Quote 3: We are moving from "do your own work" to "work with others."

Quote 4: We are moving from "just in case" learning to "just in time" learning.

Quote 5: We are moving from "hand it in" to "publish it."

Quote 6: We are now working in a networked environment - a distributed, collaborative environment. We used to value text solely on what it contained, but now we also attach value to where the text can take us.
We really are (or should be) moving toward "School 2.0" as the U.S. Department of Education booth at NECC was calling it. We no longer should (if we ever should have) try to cram everything a student might possibly need into their first 18 years and expect it to then last their lifetimes. This is the "push vs. pull" idea again - instead of trying to push all this content into their brains just in case they might someday need it (and hope they remember it), we need to focus more on their ability to pull the information when they want and need it. As Friedman says, we need to focus on their ability to "know how to learn", on their flexbility and adaptability, on giving them the tools and the skills to be successful in a networked, collaborative 21st century that is very different than the industrialized 20th century that we grew up in (and modeling our schools on).
Quote 7: School is currently looking less and less like the "real world."
I don't think he meant this in a positive way. Quoting myself from the grant:
Our students are immersed in media and technology; they have access to information and communications technologies undreamed of even fifteen years ago. At home they research on the web, use e-mail, and instant message several of their friends – all at the same time. When not on the computer (and sometimes even when they are), they’ll be talking on their cell phone to one friend while text messaging someone else. Then they come to school and they have to dial it down; their classroom doesn't look, feel or sound that much different than it did 20, 30 or even 50 years ago.
Eventually students are going to give up on us - when they compare the world as we apparently envision it to the world as they live it. They are immersed in communication - one of the foundations of education - outside of school, but they are practically banned, and certainly discouraged, from communicating in school. After a while, they're just going to ask themselves "How many more five paragraph essays - on a topic that's not relevant or interesting to me, that I then turn in for one person to read - do I need to write?"

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