James Daly, editor in chief of EduTopia, hits the proverbial “nail on the head” with his July 2007 article “Editor’s Note: It’s Time to Catch up to Tech-Savvy Students.” Two key points stand out in my mind. First, our schools have largely not changed although much in our society and economy has thanks to rapid, discontinuous changes ushered in by technology and other factors. James writes:

What happened with our schools? Not much. They continued to plod on gamely, passing out paper-based textbook after paper-based textbook, keeping their rooms and halls nearly free of the technology saturating their students’ lives. The public-education system was a modern-day Rip Van Winkle, dozing peacefully beneath its educational elm while the distance increased between the technology that schools provided and the daily reality of the world students live in.

In response to the changes we see in our society, and specifically in the information landscape, schools and teachers need to fundamentally redefine themselves. This is the second big point James makes. He writes:

The new reality is that the public-education system is no longer the only, or the paramount, place where we go to learn. Most likely, the average child did his or her first Google search on a home computer. For many kids, they probably first logged on to a network (most likely AOL or Yahoo!) remotely, using a portable PC a parent brought home from the office. Their first online chat was more likely to happen at home while the child was enjoying Club Penguin than it was in English class.

This shift represents a fundamental restructuring of what public education is all about. Schools must now jump into the river of information provided by business, international groups, and the media and step into a new role: assembler of the collective intellect. Educators must help students sort out the insightful from the ludicrous, assisting them in their new role as capable and critical thinkers. Schools should not shun the seemingly endless variety of outside information sources, but should instead see them as new sources of inspiration for their daily lessons.

Amen. We’re pioneers, in the words of Alan Kay– striving to predict the future by INVENTING it, rather than PREVENTING it.

Do all the teachers in your school building realize a revolution is underway? If not, who is going to enlist them in this struggle to redefine teaching and learning for our new millennium? At this point, you’d better believe we’re taking all the volunteers we can. We need to tap the collective and individual imaginations of every teacher “out there” to figure out how we’ll make this transition to new models of formal learning.

If not you don’t recruit new volunteers, then who will?

Welcome to the revolution. Join the conversations. We’re just getting started!

students working with digital video, photo by Marco Torres

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2 Responses to Schools are no longer the knowledge gatekeepers

  1. Geri says:

    Great points. I think it’s how some teachers handle their class which makes it effective. We admit that education would be better with the aid of technology even though we grew up fine without them during our time.

  2. Frank says:

    I wonder why some schools still don’t recognize the help of technology in their education system. It’s not enough that they are blinded by reality, but they choose to have the old ways which they probably find comfortable.

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