Wednesday, April 21, 2010

An Open Letter to Educators

I'm fresh home from Pasadena where a group of 100 educators explored the potential of mobility in education.  Our dialogue largely centered around why it is so important to change the way we facilitate learning in our institutions of higher education and offered hands-on opportunities for leveraging collaborative tools for learning.

In a workshop I convened, we pondered how the recent decision of Ning to eliminate free networks would affect educators' integration of  social networking into learning.  Ian Bogost shared a provocative and compelling presentation tracing the potential of videogames to create relevant, immersive learning opportunities.  Steve Hargadon presented "Learning 2.0," a dynamic tour of the participatory learning environments that have revolutionized our society and reshaped the way our students are forming relationships.  Regan Caruthers offered a glimpse into the many ways that open content can, but isn't, revolutionizing our students' learning, despite the enormous content that exists...for free.  Our panel discussion was filled with passion and reflection.

All in all, the messages we collaboratively explored at the conference, and continue to through our Ning network, are centered around pedagogically shifts through mobile devices and web 2.0.

Then...just a moment ago, Diana Wakimoto forwarded this to me.  Seems we truly do need to invite our students into this dialogue.  Bravo, Mr. Dan Brown!



amberman said...

I especially appreciated the Mark Twain quote...

Unknown said...

Enjoyed every minute of the conference. I am having my 9th graders call folks to create a list of artist for our class on feminist art! Thanks for that idea and all the rest as well!

Unknown said...

So happy to hear you enjoyed the conference at that my mobile teaching activity is one you'll implement for your own students. I'm sure you'll come up with plenty more! Cheers - Michelle

Anonymous said...

I had to watch this video several times before I was fully able to articulate my thoughts regarding this very subject.

Firstly, I think it's important to note that Mr. Brown seems to contradict himself a few times during his shared views on the trajectory of institutionalized education. While I agree with him in the areas of technology revolutionizing the way educators, students, and laypeople acquire information, I do feel however, that a complete separation from the traditional classroom model is not the way to go. Instead, as we are seeing more and more, a marriage of the two mediums is perhaps more effective at getting students engaged with the presented material rather than just being fed facts. In this way, both parties can initiate the kind of change, perhaps, that Mr. Brown is advocating. Similarly, it's also naive to inhabit the thoughts that all students feel the way he does and that divorcing institutional education will benefit the learning styles of all students. He to suggests changing the institutional model of education to expertly accommodate all students. While that's a great way to "fix" education such as her proposes, it is not the responsibility of universities to do so. The students should also take responsibility in this area as well--making this form of education work for them rather than entirely the other way around.

Education is a collaborative process, one that teaches skills to those who want to further their knowledge in other markets that will help and educate others. Technology in the classroom is a wonderful skill building tool. It presents ways in which students can hone the skills necessary to build effective networks and means of education that suit their needs.

Perhaps I've gone overboard and have completely missed Mr. Brown's point. I'm not en educator, but a student (a rather inexperienced one) who is probably among the minority who feels that university education is more than just an industry dealing facts--it's the ultimate skill building machine.

My apologies for getting too opinionated here. I just watched the video today and LOVED it because it really does make me think about these things and how and why education is changing its interface to accommodate the evolving technological aspects of human education. It's incredibly fascinating!

I'm not if any of the above makes sense. My apologies if it doesn't.

Okay, there you have it. Input from a student who is probably missing the point (as usual) but who feels this topic is crucial for understanding the future of her education as well as that of others.

Lovely posts Michelle! Thanks for being such a champion in this arena and ensuring that education not only be vital for survival but making it fun and something all of us should embrace.
Wonderful work!


Unknown said...

Hi Chelsea. As always, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I always relish hearing from students.

Here's how I frame this me (again, this is me, not Dan), our society has shifted significantly in recent years. The very nature of information is different -- it's digital, fluid, accessible from anywhere for the majority of college students, and information is textual, visual and auditory. Unfortunately, the predominant method in which college students are taught today is still centered around a professor at the front of the room speaking "to" students who sit passively, receiving information. 18-24 year olds show the highest saturation rate of actively and collaboratively engaging through web-based technologies. Whether experiences be on Facebook, YouTube or -- these web 2.0 tools invite users in to comment, share, participate. Our digital society is interactive and collaborative and this type of informal social learning experience directly capsizes the effectiveness of higher ed's focus on facilitating "learning" through passively receiving and regurgitation information for a grade.

For me, the need for higher ed to change pedagogically is more focused on the shifts we see in our global information society, rather than just because "students want it." This was embedded in Dan's message but I think his words overly focused on teaching facts as a problem. I believe we all still need to know facts but they should be learned through an active process of engaging in learning activities, collaborating with peers, presenting content online and coming to conclusions through this process. Achieving/creating the end product requires the learning of core facts *in context* which is precisely the way facts are leveraged an integrated in our mobile society.

I use my iPhone every day to identify factual information that I need at that moment to help me resolve a question or an issue. That's how we need to be teaching in the classroom and out of it. Engage the real world and critical thinking, rather than focusing on the memorization process.

Again, thanks for sharing your thoughts...stay in touch. And, by the way, if you're looking for a way to get involved with other students to discuss education, check out Steve Hargadon's new It's a social network of students and educators focused on related dialogue. Let me know what you think.



Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing Dan Brown's video. I appreciated the main point he makes. I would say, though, that there are many educators who understand well the implications of what he articulates and who are working to effect change in education institutions.

Part of this is empowereing students to take an active role in their own education.

Here is the story of what happened in a philosophy course I taught last fall: