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Guest Thinkers

Some big questions for educators (and parents and policymakers)

I can’t attend Educon this year. Snow in Philadelphia has canceled school today so they’re moving to Plan B. I thought I’d share some questions for attendees to ponder as they interact with each other this weekend. These are some of the questions I asked attendees at last week’s ELMLE conference in Amsterdam.

  1. 7 billion people on the planet; 5 billion cell phones. 2 billion people on the Internet. 500 million people on Facebook. 200 million on Twitter. 85 million on LinkedIn. 5 billion photos on Flickr; 50 billion photos on Facebook. 17 million Wikipedia articles. 500 billion mobile phone apps were downloaded last year. 6.1 trillion text messages were sent last year. Apple will sell 20 million iPads this year. 35 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube every minute (or 176,000 full-length Hollywood movies each week). When are we going to start integrating technology into our schooling lives like we do in our personal lives and in our non-school professional lives?
  2. Is your school organization serious about educational technology? (click on link to see what I mean)
  3. What percentage of your school technology budget goes toward teacher-centric technologies – rather than student-centric – technologies?
  4. Our kids live in a world in which they expect to be able to create, publish, share, collaborate, connect, and have a voice. What can you do to tap into the educational power of your students as online collaborators, creators, sharers, and contributors?
  5. How can you tap into the power of open access and open educational resources for your staff and students?
  6. How are you (or should you be) tapping into the power of technology to facilitate differentiated, individualized, personalized learning experiences for your students?
  7. Schools typically move at incremental, linear rates of change. But everything around us is moving at an exponential, revolutionary rate of change. It’s like the Industrial Revolution crammed into 15 years instead of 150. Are you facilitating linear or exponential change in your school organization?
  8. In all of our efforts to teach students safe, appropriate, and responsible technology use, are we forgetting the more important job of teaching our students empowered use?
  9. Everything is moving to the Web. Everything. When we teach our students how to write, are we teaching our students how to do so in hyperlinked, networked, interconnected online spaces for authentic, relevant worldwide audiences? (hat tip to Will Richardson for this one)
  10. When e-books or e-textbooks now can contain hyperlinks, embedded video, live chat with other readers, collaborative annotation where you see others’ notes and highlights, and/or interactive maps, games, and simulations, does it still make sense to call them ‘books?’ How might we tap into their advantages and affordances?
  11. Electronic versions of books on Amazon now are outselling both their hardback AND paperback counterparts. Reference materials are moving to the Web at an exceedingly fast pace. When all of the books in your media center become electronic, will you still need a physical space called a ‘library?’ Will you still need ‘librarians?’
  12. Do we really understand what our kids are doing with social media or is what we know primarily from the news media?
  13. Are we intentionally, purposefully, and explicitly modeling these new technology literacies for our students?
  14. What percentage of my job could be done by robust learning software that not only delivers content in a variety of modalities to students but also assesses them on their mastery of that content? What percentage of my job could be done by a lower-paid worker in another country who is accessible via the Internet? In other words, what percentage of my job requires me, the unique, talented human being that stands before you?
  15. Do I truly ‘get it?’ Am I doing what really needs to be done to prepare students for a hypercompetitive global information economy and for the demands of digital, global citizenship? In other words, am I preparing students for the next half century rather than the last half century?
  16. And if I’m not… If as a teacher I’m not incorporating digital technologies into students’ learning processes in ways that are relevant, meaningful, and powerful on a regular and frequent basis – should I get to keep my job? Or should I be replaced by someone who will get the necessary job done?
  17. And if I’m not… If as an administrator I’m not creating, facilitating, and maintaining robust technology-infused, globally-interconnected learning environments for staff and students, should I get to keep my job? Or should I be replaced by someone who will get the necessary job done?
  18. And if I’m not… If as a policymaker I’m not allocating fiscal and policy resources in directions that move schools and society forward in the appropriate directions, am I willing to be held accountable for sacrificing our children’s futures for the fears and political pettiness of the present?
  19. Have fun in Philly, my friends. May your conversations be fruitful. May your learning be legendary. [and what would you add to this list?]

    Image credit:268/365 – Default state


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