Friday, February 27, 2009

I’m IT. Now, you’re IT.

5 Changes to Education Meme ...A Retrospective

You are tagged! I’ve always loved playing tag as a child. Here is a 21st century adult Web 2.0 (call it what you want or not) version.

First, TJ Shay wrote this and tagged Pat Hensley; then Pat Hensley, wrote this and tagged SkipZ, SkipZ wrote this and tagged elizabethkoh who wrote this and tagged me. I had no intention of writing this; but, being tagged by Elizabeth provided me with the opportunity to reflect more on the connections of the why, what, who, when, where and how I got to be where I am today. This sounds like a chain letter; but, be that as it may, it's fine by me given the importance of the subject matter and the opportunity for all of us to continue to learn from each other.

TJ Shay’s rules were: “List FIVE changes you would like to see in the educational system. Your responses should represent your perspective and your passion for learning and students…tag the following people…from a variety of perspectives. If you have been tagged, tag as many people as you choose, but try for a variety.”

A recent blog post, entitled From PLN to P-L-A-N for Moving our School Forward by Melanie Holtsman, brought back a memory of familiar/similar experiences. In fact, I recently blogged, interestingly on the same day as Melanie, about my "PLN P-L-A-N" journey entitled, 21st Century Teaching-Learning: Why, What, Who, When, Where & How to go about IT. As both a scientist and educator, I cherish my 10 years of Jesuit education. I always try to maintain a Socratic approach to teaching-learning and follow a path of discovery though experimentation. If you ask me a question, I’ll ask you another and another and another etc. We need to think pedagogically about six questions when considering Information/Instructional Technology (IT).

This post represents an ongoing reflection of how I continue to go about teaching-learning activities in my quest for life-long learning, consulting activities and now, most importantly, with my grandchildren. Oh, by the way, did I mention that I experienced 'teaching and IT burn out' in early 2002 after 35 years of teaching and 25 years of teaching-learning with technology. To keep active subsequently, I went to work in a pharmacy part-time for several years and didn't touch a computer very much except for e-mail and entering prescription information. It was just about three years ago that my daughter, who was then a senior in high school and involved in selecting and applying to colleges, mentioned Facebook; then, one of my son's (G4 out of G5) mentioned Twitter. Well, that's all it took. I began to explore and discover and got hooked on social media. My learning became exponential the more and more I gained friends and became involved with my 'learning circle of friends'.

My teaching-learning with technology journey began in 1982. The first computer I owned was an Apple IIe which I quickly enhanced and later graduated to an 'original' Mac. At work I crossed over to the PC world in 1984 when I and a colleague developed a SUNY 'living-learning experience' program called In Vitro Cell Biology & Biotechnology. Essentially students, 25-30 from public and private colleges/universities around the world, were in residence at an institute 25 miles removed from campus along with all its inherrent distractions. There was only one full-time instructor, me; the rest of the faculty (15) were guest 'experts' drawn from other colleges/universities, government and industry. Students asked, designed, experimented, analyzed and discovered 24x7 for one semester. There were no such things as 3-hour labs since there were no time constraints to learning by doing. We did what we had to do in whatever time it took. However, there was one major drawback. We were removed physically from easy access to various campus learning resources, library resources and face-to-face gatherings of people from campus.

To get around this shortcoming in 1982 was difficult since desktop computer systems and their applications were limited and inflexible. But, still we began to explore the use of technology to solve the 'distance and access' problem. We went through many teaching-learning with technology iterations from 1982-1999. These included early cryptic e-mail applications, VAX Notes conferencing, Gopher, Lynx, etc. which were all text-based, unless you used ASCII drawings. Then in late 1993 and early 1994, along came the early Web using Mosaic; hence, the began the journey to online multimedia classrooms which gave impetus to the birth of CMS/LMS applications like Blackboard (CourseInfo), TopClass (WEST), WebCT and early web conference applications. In 1999, I left SUNY to work for a LMS company based in Boston, MA and Dublin, IE which gave me an opportunity to gain a global perspective about teaching-learning ith technology in business, education and government. Wow, what a journey! I was exhausted and I took a break from IT.

I am happy to say that the current 21st century teaching-learning pedagogy and social media have revitalized me once again, primarily due to my personal and professional learning environment (PLN/PLE) friends who I would have never met and learned from if it were not for the new Web 2.0 tools. I anxiously and cautiously look forward to what lies beyond the current iteration of the Web as well. It's an exciting time to be involved and sharing/contributing once again. In the article, I outline a baker's dozen of the transition steps I took in order to be where I am today. I hope it is useful to anyone who stops by to read it because I just LOVE (Learning, Open, Visual, Experience) to LEARN (Look, Engage, Analyze, Reflect, New).

As a result of all that I have experienced, here are my FIVE changes which I would like to see in our 21st century K through Grey educational system; it’s A FACT.

1) Adoption - of both formal and informal learning and the required means to achieve true learning with a focus on high standards of performance rather than bits of knowledge

2) Focus - more emphasis on collaboration in problem solving projects and experiences with less emphasis on standardized content and tests

3) Accountability - performance reward using technology in teaching-learning with a PLAN which has a demonstrated outcome(s)

4) Connectivity - more involvement of both internal and external retired pool of ‘experts’

5) Technology - equity of access, less filtering and chance for success at using IT for all those who are seeking to realize their full potential

To continue this thread, I now respectfully tag the following friends/colleagues:

@bknittle - Beth Knittle: K12 Technology Integration Specialist

@cliotech - Jennifer Dorman: Educational Consultant/Contract Trainer for Discovery Education, STAR Discovery Educator, Google Certified Teacher, Keystone Technology Integrator

@courosa - Alec Coursa: Educational Technology Professor at the Faculty of Education, University of Regina

@Downes - Stephen Downes: Senior Researcher, NRC of Canada, Affiliated with LCTechnologies Group, Institute for IT, specializes in online learning, new media, pedagogy and philosophy

@georgesiemens - George Siemens: Founder and President of Complexive Systems Inc., Associate Director, R&D with Learning Technologies Centre at University of Manitoba

@jclarey - Janet Clarey: Analyst/Researcher @ Brandon Hall Research, Instructional Design Ph.D. student @ SU

@hjarche - Harold Jarche: CEO/Founder/Principal, Jarche Consulting, performance consultant

@KarinB – Karin Beil: Teacher, retired after 34 years, Technology Trainer

@mivanova / @malinkaiva - Malinka Ivanova: Blogger, Lecturer, Technical University - Sofia, Bulgaria

@sharon_elin – Sharon Elin: NCBI, Technology Integrator, Trains/models Edtech in 14 Middle Schools

@tonykarrer – Tony Karrer: CEO TechEmpower & Producer eLearning Learning

Here’s my honorary (repeat) mention because I’ve benefited quite a bit from him as well.

@rmbyrne - Robert Byrne: Teacher and Producer of Free Technology for Teachers

My sincere apologies to all my PLN/PLE friends that I didn't tag. I mean no disrespect or hold you in any less value than the above since you also also contribute to my as well as others' daily learning. If you, or any web passers by for that matter, just happen to come across this post, please feel free to leave your "5 Changes to Education Meme" as a comment or start your own. I would love to read your meme.


TJ Shay said...

I love the acronym!!!

My favorite part was, "Focus - more emphasis on collaboration in problem solving projects and experiences with less emphasis on standardized content and tests"

We have been suffering through this era of testing to death and we need to work together and have kids work together to get out of it!

Thanks for keeping this going!

Elizabeth said...

Thanks for your wonderful reflection and sharing. Especially like your first two points. A - there is definitely a place for informal and formal learning especially with social media. F - this problem solving point reminds me of what I have written about the process of education, rather than the actual test itself.

Thanks for continuing the meme! It's been great learning from you and others.

Sharon Elin said...

Your acronym rocks! I especially like the "connectivity" entry. Bringing in outside, real-world people into the classroom as experts/consultants would enable students to see the authentic application of concepts and how they are used by actual people in actual situations.

I've responded to your invitation to write 5 changes I'd like to see ( Thank you so much for this opportunity to dig deeply into my educational philosophy and articulate what I would like to see in a perfect world. It's nice to dream, isn't it? I hope those who have not been tagged know that I would love to read their ideas, as well. We all need to start lifting our voices for change instead of hiding in our classrooms and wishing!

Bill Graziadei, Ph.D. (e)Learning Consultant said...

Sharon, I really enjoyed your points 1 and 2, especially about administrators being good teachers and educators on the board. We must disassemble or at least neutralize the silos in order to move forward. Your post is an excellent treatise that I hope many will read and reflect upon. Thank you for carrying the forward the EDU Olympic Torch!

loonyhiker said...

I love all of the acronyms thoughout your post! I'm really liked all 5 of your list but especially the connectivity one (since I am retired, that really hit home) and I think connecting with others can really bring about a lot of change. I know connecting with others on twitter and plurk has really changed my own life! Thanks for doing this!

Sarah Li said...

Hello Bill and everyone,
I found your blog from Beth Knittle’s blog. After reading your posting about 5 changes to education in the 21st century, I reflect on it a lot and I’ve decided to post a comment here.

Let me introduce myself, my name is Sarah. This is the first time I visit this education blog and so far I am overwhelmed at how everybody is connected and the fact that I found your blog through Beth’s blog, which I also find it interesting! I am a student studying a Master course with Walden University specializing in Integrating Technology into the Classroom. This is my third module and we are instructed to look for education blog related to technology and post our original thoughts or reply to a posting. I chose your blog becase your acronym really got my attention and I love it!

I am a Chinese working and living in Hong Kong. This is my third year in teaching, hence I consider myself very young and inexperienced. Reading blogs like this really open up my eyes and perspective! I would like to start off by thanking you and all the tagged people and whoever keep contributing to education blogs like this. It’s such a great pool of information useful to educators nowadays. Not simply as a platform for posting messages and connect with others but it’s a great place for professionals with similar background meet and gather and share their opinion. I am sure forums and blogs like this affect a lot of people’s mindset and perspective about things in our world. In my opinion, without communication, the world will go stagnant. Technology serves, as far, the best tool in keeping communication going, at a very low cost and in a very effective way.

You mentioned in your posting about your experience in education, you’ve been teaching for 35 years before you experience “teaching and IT burn out”, that’s a considerable amount of experience I must say. I’ve seen a lot of teaching professional nowadays that quit their job over trivial matters in school and saying ‘this is not my place after all’. The interesting thing is you said you got back to IT when you came across Facebook and Twitter and that you gained a lot of friends ever since and you’ve continued until now. Technology serves the role here doesn’t it. It’s so easy to keep in touch with the help of technology; we can connect to people literally around the world, which was so expensive and nearly impossible in the past.

Linking technology in terms of education and classroom, as you personally experience, the more friends you gained the more involved you are with your ‘learning circle of friends’, same for our students in school I believe. Most schools in Hong Kong are still placing students to sit in rows and columns. I haven’t seen many mainstream schools here that sit students in small groups apart from kindergarten or universities. This is so backward and traditional that the seating arrangement is still like those in the 18th century. Education is seriously lagging behind technology. Most importantly, the education system is not catching up quick enough to match up with the environment that our students are brought up in.

My students of this generation are mostly visual stimulated. They enjoy watching a movie but not doing worksheet. They can concentrate on computer games for hours but not sitting still and read a book. They could talk with their peers no problem but not interacting with teachers. Why is that? What’s the problem? I think the reason I can think of and from my experience so far (3 years of observation), we haven’t changed our mode of teaching to accommodate our students of this generation. Our students are basically all digital native, using computers, cameras, phones; DVD, etc are like second nature to them. Taking them in a classroom that’s not hooked up with all these technology and talk about learning will be like taking ourselves back in time and live in a cave again. I bet we’ll find it difficult and will struggle with it.

I’ve dealt with a lot of students who have low motivation in learning in school, they don’t like staying after school if they have a choice, they’d rather stay home sit in front of a computer and play video game. Nothing seems to arouse their interest in terms of learning. It doesn’t mean they are stupid or slow. Some colleagues said they have low concentration span and that they are not interested in anything. I think if they can spend hours and hours working on a computer game, their concentration cannot be low. If they can be so persistent as in finding a solution of how to beat a game, it showed that they are interested in something. As educators, I strongly believe it’s our job to find out what ‘click’ our students. What makes them go ‘ah huh, I wanna do this!” instead of cramping them more content and facts that they can’t rely to and stuck them with tests and quizzes and exams and telling them they are going to be useful in the future. It is our job to help them see the future. And future doesn’t lie in rote learning and cramping tons and tons of information. The future lies in technology and how people utilize it the betterment of the society. That’s our objective, that’s students’ goal and main purpose of learning in school.

Every one is curious by nature. Everyone LOVE to LEARN. Since our students are born into this digital world, taking out the essential element in their life and hope they learn to their potential is not going to happen. For education to truly thrive in the 21st century, teachers and educators and government will have to bring in the latest technology in education and even more importantly train teachers their mindsets and how to use integrate technology into their classroom. That’s the only hope in our education for the future.

There will be so many jobs in the next decade that we might not even heard of nowadays. How are schools going to prepare citizen of the future when we face such dynamic challenge as to we don’t even know what might be looking at. What we need to instill in our students is the skill to self-taught, self-learn, and self-reflect. These life skills will get them through adversity or any situation which rote learning wouldn’t give them.

I hope more and more teachers and professionals and especially management government bureau can see the seriousness of this and how to direct ourselves in order to be fully equipped for future challenges.

Bill Graziadei, Ph.D. (e)Learning Consultant said...

Sarah, your comment (blog) is well-thoughtout and very much appreciated. I'm so glad you found your way here.

I would encourage you to post it on your blog site. There is so much here that many others would definitely benefit by reflection. Your thinking/observations in just "(3 years of observation)" is spot on. I agree we do need to know "what makes our students go"!

Also consider posting at the 5 Things I Would Change About Education Wiki

Thanks for sharing and collaborating.

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angel said...

i am especially fond of laynie browne’s take in her 2007 book daily sonnets…lovely gentle surprising fun familial. she takes after bernadette mayer…
have you done a sonnet prompt for read/write/poem yet?
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I’d been taught that left-aligned labels are preferred, to support the prototypical F-shaped eye-tracking heatmap of web browsing. The idea is that it supports easy vertical scanning.

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mack said...

This is fascinating.
I’d been taught that left-aligned labels are preferred, to support the prototypical F-shaped eye-tracking heatmap of web browsing. The idea is that it supports easy vertical scanning.

online learning

angel said...

i am especially fond of laynie browne’s take in her 2007 book daily sonnets…lovely gentle surprising fun familial. she takes after bernadette mayer…
have you done a sonnet prompt for read/write/poem yet?
online informal

angel said...

i am especially fond of laynie browne’s take in her 2007 book daily sonnets…lovely gentle surprising fun familial. she takes after bernadette mayer…
have you done a sonnet prompt for read/write/poem yet?
online informal

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