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Ellen Hoffman takes my Google talk as a starting point, and wonders what’s happening with education:

Many practitioners and scholars have commented on how little impact educational technology has on schools. But if … authority is shifting, the basis for formal education founded on disciplinary expertise and traditional knowledge definitions is likely to be impacted in ways that we haven’t even begun to explore.  … When students have more knowledge and capability to explore it at their fingertips than the entire school holds, and they have the ability to contribute rather than just consume, what is the role of the teacher? This is an impact far greater than determining if technology enhances achievement or has value in classrooms. Is it possible that educational technology should be thinking of itself as a revolutionary discipline?

That’s exactly the question, although the answer of course isn’t obvious or settled. Right now, the teaching cycle tends to go from textbook to classwork to test…that is, from solitary to social to solitary. But the Web is enabling us to learn socially and even to know socially. With the growing importance of reputation (in counterbalance to credentials), even the reward and measurement system is becoming social. The Web is disrupting the old rhythm. And it’s not clear that the traditional rhythm is teaching our children how to dance in the new world. (Block that metaphor!)

6 Responses to “Education, technology, revolution”

  1. on 09 Jun 2007 at 11:23 amChris Judson

    And I’m about ready to read your book and, I want to remind you that your comment about the teaching cycle is a generalization. If you would ask teachers if they’d like to teach via social means, most wouldn’t know how to answer you. A possible reason: teachers are employees of their respected states and the states are really keen on mandating the “law of the land: NCLB.”

    I love the new metaphor idea and the ideas of others who encourage more project-based, social instruction. But those ideas have very little to do with the classroom and lots to do with the current impulse of legislation.

    Do teachers really like teaching to the test? Probably not. Do teachers really like allowing their students exploring their possibilities? I think so, or that’s what I remember of Mr. Eynon (my 3rd grade teacher) and many others after him.

    Now, the problem with technology and education is that it’s a really, really bad idea…at least now. Too many vendors vying for another invoice and very few discussions how to learn with technology (the “how to use” it is still the mantra, unfornately, and that’s simply laughable).

    Looking forward to reading your book…been reading the blogs for a month now.

  2. on 09 Jun 2007 at 4:33 pmDavid Weinberger

    Chris, I’ve watched NCLB sweep through the local public school system. Yes, in general, the teachers and administrators dislike it. They were doing a great job before NCLB squeezed out what was innovative and creative.

    I don’t know how to get to social learning and social knowledge within the school system, especially as it now stands. The pendulum is still swinging in the other direction.

  3. on 10 Jun 2007 at 8:27 amJeri Hurd

    Wow, this is EXACTLY what I’ve been wrestling with for a couple of years now, and started pondering at the end of the Google video. As a 20+ year teacher of English who started out very traditional, over the past 10 years I’ve been making the move to more digitally based projects. For example, I spent six months with my 10th graders having them research, write, tape and edit 10 minute documentaries on a problem in their city. We did other things in that time, of course: read plays, wrote essays, etc. Yet I’d argue students learned more in the course of that project than in the rest of the year combined, because they were at the center of the learning and became the experts on their subject. I was there to act as guide, prompt for deeper research, serve as technical advisor, but, really, they were the ones making meaning. I just provide the overarching context of using persuasive techniques.

    I took a lot of flack for this project from the rest of my department. (grin–fortunately, I was HOD, so could ignore it to a large extent). Their argument, which had some value, was that most of the kids can’t write essays yet, and I was wasting time with “fluff” stuff like this. But traditional essays, etc. are based on the old, hierarchical educational archetype of teacher as sage and students there to regurgitate expert opinion. Not only is that not where the world is heading, it’s a great way to turn kids off education completely.

    blah, blah, blah. To get to my point, I spent the past year getting another Master’s, but in Library Science this time, and I have a new job in fall at a school that really wants to start integrating technology into the classroom more. Thus, I’ve spent a lot of time the past few months studying wikis and podcasts and blogs and digital storytelling as educational tools, and wondering about the ramifications of that not just on education, but on our understanding of what it means to be educated. If the old idea of the Trivium is out, if we can no longer categorize all knowledge because there’s just too much of it, then an educated person wouldn’t so much need to learn a core set of facts, as how best to access information and create meaning from that–education becomes a social, collaborative process with less emphasis on expertise. Goodbye NCLB.

    While I’m excited by the prospects in this, I have enough old school left in me that I struggle with it. While I despise Hirsch and Bloom as elitist, a part of me does believe that there are just certain things one needs to know and read. There may be wisdom in crowds, (and wikis), but there’s a great deal of idiocy also, when knowledgable people are scorned in favor of mass opinion. Face it, it’s the old struggle between classicism and romanticism, but it seems like the stakes are higher than ever before.

  4. on 13 Jun 2007 at 4:14 pmNE

    Jeri, I’m just getting interested in using blogging as an educational tool and would love to hear your ideas as well as any suggestions on references.

  5. on 26 Jul 2007 at 8:24 amJeri Hurd

    Sure– I have a plethora of links, resources. Check out my blog, send me an email and I’ll be happy to forward them to you.


  6. on 22 Feb 2008 at 7:25 amArmando Rodriguez

    Your blog is refreshing.