Heppell from the 90s

Its amazing how my interests change. From what can I do now to what should I be thinking of next. What happens after we get critical mass to allow students to participate in connected digital conversations. If the goal is simply to share an electronic exercise book – is that indeed a worthy goal at all or short of the mark.

I’ve come to accept that social constructivism theory, when played out in online discourse communities, does unify, encourage and improve student engagement, perhaps not at the top end of the class, or the bottom – but certainly, those in the middle appear to engage in deeper learning. I have little doubt, that when students are given projects that intrigue them, that are in someway worthy of exploration, then they are much more engaged than learning in passive environments.

This needs enthusiastic teachers, armed with online access to engage students in personalized, reflective learning – and Web2.0 tools are very good at achieving that.

I’ve been following the connectivism and connective knowledge ‘open online course’. George Siemens and Stephen Downes co-facilitate the course and the daily email they send out is so packed with ideas and suggestions, that its hard not to engage in it.

Aside from the content that they are putting online, the very idea of running such a powerful course online and for free makes me rethink about how and when learning can take place.

Chris, sent me a link to the UNSW’s YouTube space – a respose to an article I read about students at UWS being unhappy with ‘podcast’ only lectures.  Two more ‘spaces’, neither physical or time critical.

When I think about ICT integrators, integrating learning technologies into classroom – I wonder if this is what High School should be doing? and if so –  for how long? When will we be pre-packing, opt in and on-demand learning as normal activities (and what age is that appropriate). We might think never, but I imagine we could have said the same about Universities not too long ago. Ewan McIntosh is another example with his 4iP project – where the boundaries and definitions of learning, play and content become fluid, collaborative and networked. What kind of people will work at 4iP? what do our kids need to learn to work at a place like that.

If University and academic study is moving to ‘open classrooms’ and ‘breakout areas’, then are we in fact saying that small groups can work more effectively when connected to everyone else by technology than physical space.

How much of our lesson structures accommodate the notion that learning only occurs between set times, lead by set individuals within set boundaries (something I’ve been challenging in in the design of the 9th grade Animal Farm project).

Will our desire to rethink and build new physical classrooms – be pointless, as much of our learning will be in virtual communities via mobile phones or point of view cameras by the time they are built. I learn so much from so many from the comfort of my lounge … physical interaction is now socially driven, not ‘content’ driven.

I love this video from Stephen Heppell in the 90s and find it quite amazing. Even his latest presentation from K12 Online, gently asks questions about if we are even thinking about what is next, let alone what that will look like. Are the futurists right? If so, what happens to all those guiding education right now – how many of them are ‘futurists’.  I wonder if we are focusing too much on what we want to see in the classroom today and not thinking enough about what all this connected ‘usness’ means in the future.

I worry far less about teachers learning about tools, or kids using them – as I do about where we go after they become as Chris Lehmann recently said – like Oxygen, and Chris is citing a student who asks

“we need to have the ability to choose our own education and not have our hands held all the way to adulthood for we will be a child trapped in a human’s body mentally and won’t flourish like we were supposed to. In short the concept of school is horrible but the concept of learning things you like is what matter most.”

Spaces, realities, conversations and language become increasingly fluid which has to be problematic for educators who like: classrooms; doors; timetables; bells and defined terms of reference. If anything the industrial age model that was never really quashed (in education) by the information age in ways we saw in the workplace or our personal lives. Now we are faced with the ‘conceptual’ or ‘media age’ … we are reflecting and perhaps predicting the future, based on the last decades massive shift in ‘connectedness’ and ideas of time and space.

The question asked today was ‘what to you think 21C learning is’ … perhaps the answer is … another tidemark on the ebb of learning to a much more distributed and networked model.

Where will learning go? …. mmm, more questions than answers. Damn you RSS reader, I’m still at the beginning.

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