John Canuel of the Jeffco Public Schools provided a presentation entitled, “A Fresh Look at Literacy For Current Times” at the October 2005 Technology-Leadership-Learning conference in Denver, Colorado. In Jim Dornberg’s blog entry about Canual’s presentation, he recorded the following comparisons between the informational environment of the 1960s and what we face today in the first decade of the twenty-first century:

1960’s

  1. School is the hub of information and technology
  2. Simple access to information—i.e. encyclopedia found in the school library
  3. Single telephone or television in the household
  4. Basic home-centric view of the world

Present-day

  1. Home is the hub of information and technology
  2. Wide range of information can be accessed via the Internet
  3. Multiple personal phones and video devices
  4. Global-centric world—i.e. media provides instant access to world events

I am not sure I agree that the home is the “hub of information and technology.” Maybe it is, but it seems that in the “old” model the information actually came from the school: from the textbooks, from the teachers, and from the other print materials (like library references) which the school provided for students. The home does not provide informational resources today in the same way. The home may serve as an Internet gateway for students browsing the web on computers, but it is not the informational source. The information resources actually reside on the network. And students themselves are sources and publishers of information via IM and social networking sites like myspace. Schools also serve as information gateways to the Internet to the extent they provide students with access to the Web.

There is no doubt our informational environment for teaching and learning is qualitatively as well as quantitatively different today than it was 40 years ago. Yet the educational experience remains relatively consistent today as it was in the past.

We need broad-scale educational reform, not simply pockets of innovation and excellence. Canuel provides a basic framework for examining the knowledge landscape of the twenty-first century and comparing it to that of most teachers’ formative educational experiences. I think it is not only a simplification, but perhaps a misrepresentation to portray the home as having replaced the school as the source of information and content for today’s student.

For more on the T+L2 conference, check out the official conference blog as well as a dynamic Technorati search for nsba2005.

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