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Guest Thinkers

A day with Will Richardson, Part 2

And what if I tried an excerpt instead?

Here is Part 2 of my notes from our day with Will Richardson. You also can see the live chat and/or follow the Twitter conversation and/or participate in EtherPad.

  • How are you personally taking advantage of these online / technological affordances?
    • If you’re not, can you participate in the conversation? ‘Cause you don’t have the context.
    • The business sector is behind this; they want specific policy initiatives (can ISEA / SAI / Iowa business leaders / etc. all get behind these?)
      1. Get every kid/home connected (broadband)
      2. A device for every teacher
      3. A device for every (secondary?) student
      4. Do you have a curriculum that supports the things that Will is talking about? (does the Iowa Core go far enough?)
      5. Community forums that educate the average Iowan / statewide visibility initiative
      6. More online coursework options (e.g., statewide virtual high school)
      7. Education of teachers / community members about workforce / 21st century skills / globallization needs/issues
      8. Greater flexibility for schools to use existing funding streams
      9. Repeal / revise Dillon’s Rule?
      10. Different / better assessments
      11. Allow schools to use/create free textbooks and use textbook money for student computers
      12. We are the last generation that had a choice about technology (Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach)
        • I am amazed that schools are investing in all of these technology tools
          • Schools should be in the curriculum business, not the hardware business or connectivity business
          • We need learners, not teachers, in the front of our classes
            • Teachers are no longer the smartest people in the room; the smartest people in the room are the ones you invite in from outside
            • Teachers come in all shapes and sizes from all parts of the world
            • We need to create learning communities, not teaching communities
            • I don’t know any kids or teachers that have SmartBoards in their bedroom; why aren’t we focusing on the technologies that our kids have in hand?
            • We need a new graduation requirement: Students will be able to create, navigate, and grow their own personal learning networks in safe, effective, and ethical ways
            • In Iowa, we need a movement!
            • If folks aren’t at the table, get them there!
            • The world is about networks right now (how can I get the answer I need when I need it?), it’s not about textbooks and memorization
            • Check out to get a sense of user-generated communities
            • We’re preparing kids for a world in which they’re going to be Googled over and over again in their lives
            • If you don’t share, you don’t get hits / visits; you’re not visible
              • If you can’t be found, you’re irrelevant (Scott McLeod)
              • You have to put yourself out there in ways that people can find you
              • Kids are doing this every day without us
              • Kids don’t care about much of what we have them do in school – it’s inauthentic, it lacks meaningful and relevant purpose, it’s disconnected and decontextualized
              • MIT is offering all of its courses online
              • Tough questions from Will
                • Can you please teach my child to read and write in the context of ?
                • How many of your schools teach Wikipedia (how it works / how to contribute / etc.)?
                • How many of your schools teach kids how to read/write in hyperlinked environments?
                • How many of your schools teach kids how to be Google-able?
                • It’s just not us edublogger blowhards; see, e.g., the NCTE Framework for 21st Century Curriculum and Assessment
                  • Gut check: How many of these bullet points can you do? Are you literate according to NCTE? And if you’re not, how are you going to teach our kids?
                  • This stuff is here already; this is not future stuff
                    • Will demonstrates Diigo using this Science Daily web page
                    • Annotated web pages, for example, are social reading. No one is teaching our kids how to be social readers.
                    • We gotta rethink “Do your own work.” Collaboration is everywhere.
                    • Schools spend money on a lot of things that they don’t need to be buying except in limited numbers: software licenses, textbooks, etc.
                      • It’s increasingly an open source / Creative Commons world
                      • See the Flat Classroom Project 2006, 2007, and beyond
                      • Will collected all of the work that got sent home in his two kids’ Friday folders for a year; the stack was 2.5 feet tall
                        • This didn’t include all the work that stayed at school
                        • His kids never went back and looked at all that paper; they had zero investment in it
                        • Will showed Radio WillowWeb
                        • Will showed the 2009 Horizon Report
                          • “Increasingly, those who use technology in ways that expand their global connections are more likely to advance, while those who do not will find themselves on the sidelines. With the growing availability of tools to connect learners and scholars all over the world — online collaborative workspaces, social networking tools, mobiles, voice-over-IP, and more — teaching and scholarship are transcending traditional borders more and more all the time.”
                          • Is your own personal learning practice transcendent? Are you learning / interacting differently? And if not, why not?
                          • Will quoted Howard Gardner: “[A]fter millennia of considering education (learning and teaching) chiefly in one way, we may well have reached a set of tipping points: Going forward, learning may be far more individualized, far more in the hands (and the minds) of the learner, and far more interactive than ever before. This constitutes a paradox: As the digital era progresses, learning may be at once more individual (contoured to a person’s own style, proclivities, and interests) yet more social (involving networking, group work, the wisdom of crowds, etc.). How these seemingly contradictory directions are addressed impacts the future complexion of learning.”
                          • The reality is that the way we’ve done professional development for the last 30 years doesn’t work.
                          • You have to create a culture in your teaching staff where, if they need to know how to blog, they can go online and learn themselves (in communities)
                            • We’ve made teachers as passive about learning as kids – kids wait for teachers to tell them how/what to learn; teachers wait for us to tell them how/what to learn
                            • NSDC agrees: it should be long-term, job-embedded professional development that really shifts practice
                            • There aren’t enough educators / policymakers that are looking at the current system of schooling and saying “Oh, crap! We need to stop tinkering.”
                            • Leadership is a choice. It’s a choice not to do nothing. (Seth Godin)

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