Rethinking Education in the Age of Technology

Rethinking Education in the Age of Technology written by Allan Collins & Richard Halverson, offers some insights from a balanced point of view, is succinct and easy to follow, and is one that I believe all administrators and educators in positions of responsibility should read. It could and should form the basis for discussion about educational change in schools, (in particular, required changes in pedagogy), and would aid in the construction of school vision, strategic and annual implementation plans.

Halverson and Collins call for a rethink about what is important to learn in a world with ubiquitous access. With the explosion of the availability in information and indeed the amount of available information, students now more than ever, need to learn about how to learn, rather than acquiring more information through passive conduits. The rate of information and technological development is increasing exponentially and if you believe Cisco Systems Inc. futurist Dave Evan, in five years we’ll be creating the equivalent of 92 million Libraries of Congress worth of data a year . No one can now know all there is to know – it is an impossible task.

Halverson and Collins share a a series of questions that they argue act as a framework and should encompass the types of thinking and action required for adaptive thinking in an information-rich world.

1)From what viewpoint are we seeing, reading or hearing this?

2)How do we know what we know? What’s the evidence, and how reliable is it?

3)How are things, people or events connected? What is the cause and effect? How do they fit?

4)What if…? Could things be otherwise? What are or were the alternatives?

5)So what? Why does it matter? What does it all mean? Who cares?

I was lucky enough to be able to participate in an interview with the authors of this book on Tuesday, February the 16th at 12pm AEST. The interview was facilitated by Will Richardson and was held using Elluminate with over 100 participants actively engaged in discussion via the backchannel and having the ability to ask the authors questions directly. Listen to the recording here.

With the explosion in information, the proliferation of web technologies and the emergence of new forms of teaching and learning, what role will school play in the future? Historically, school was identified as the place of learning – increasingly this is no longer the case.

User Generated Content – Fan Films

User generated content entered mainstream in 2005 and is continuing to grow in both availability and sophistication. This is due to the increasing affordability of equipment and the simplicity of drag-and-drop editing software. The power is being shifted from mainstream mass-media producers into the hands of the people. The educational implications are profound – having students take ownership of the curriculum by being content creators is right at the top of Bloom’s Taxonomy.

I recently came across this 40 minute film, made by fans, based on the LOTR and was painstakingly shot on a low budget as a homage to Peter Jackson’s trilogy and the writing of J.R.R. Tolkien. This film titled ‘The Hunt for Gollum’ cost less than $5,000 to make, with a team of volunteers, and has had over 2.500,000 views on Youtube since its release in May, 2009.

Enter amatuer film maker Kate Madison. She comes up with the idea for a full length prequel for LOTR called ‘Born of Hope’ – puts her £8,000 life savings into the project, works as an office temp to gain extra cash and raised a further £17,000 by posting a trailer on YouTube appealing for donations. She convinces 400 actors to give their time for free and posts the final version to the web.

Read more:

She does not get paid. She recieves no royalties. She does it because she can. (It is very likely however, that the exposure will lead to significant financial reward down the track)

If you find the time, watch these movies. Maybe even show them to your students. For low budget, user generated content they are quite good.

The game is definately changing.

Learning From The Extremes

Learning from the Extremes is a white paper funded by Cisco Systems Inc. and written by Charles Leadbeater and Annika Wong.

Excerpt: “The 20th century was the century of the teacher and the school, the class and the exam. The 21st needs to become the century of the educational entrepreneur and of the pupil as protagonist, self-motivated and self-organized learning, at scale, wherever and whenever it is needed.”

An interesting read that I would recommend. If 40+ pages doesn’t really grab you, then perhaps have a look at the 2 page executive summary of the same report.