Monthly Archives: December 2008

Antisocial networks??

All day we hear things like “the world is flat” “wisdom of crowds” “always on communications” and more and more and they are all right – in their own way. Well, except that wisdom of crowds thing. Can’t say I have a lot of faith in most individuals so a crowd of them doesn’t make it much better – just more of the same. I think we have a good example of it happening now. The current global financial crisis spread like wildfire; because there is so much “connectedness” and the doom and gloom message gets to everyone rapidly.

If there’d been less availability of the bad news, then far fewer people would have gone into panic, far fewer banks would have started foreclosing, far fewer people would have sold shares. But, that all happened, the spirits of doom and gloom won.

Since the capacity of people to react so fast to something bad is so powerful why hasn’t someone researched how to harness that same capacity to spread the good stuff? Why are we still trying to spread the good word about the capabilities of educational technology to improve a teacher’s lot? How is it, the right people still don’t know a student’s study life improves with some classroom 2.0 support? What is it that stymies the good, but filters through the bad? I wish I knew. I wish we’d found the way to stop telling each other in the choir and got the congregations singing too.

Wisdom of crowds? Pffft!

Overcoming technological myopia: Whos job?

There is a common myth, a technological myopia, applicable to the current generation of students. Most students regularly use technologies like SMS texting, iPods, games consoles, internet chats, etc. It is highly visible and this leads to the (reasonable?) assumption that there is a broad and deep understanding of the associated technologies. This is a myth, although there is a superficial appearance of being technology savvy the understanding of what can be done goes no further than the instantaneous end user activity. These are not necessarily transferable skills; they are situational and students cannot always apply those skills in a new environment, situation, or context. As digital migrants, we do not know what we do not know; more importantly we do not know how to check what the students don’t know and consequently have low expectations of their technology use. That superficial use appears to be acceptable and even amazing. It will, however, not suffice in the increasingly dynamic, increasingly information packed, increasingly demanding, increasingly competitive world students are part of. 

In order to be a successful learner not only through junior school – senior school – University, but also in the rapidly changing workplace, adaptability is key.  The ability to learn, change, relearn and apply known skills in as yet unknown situations will be vital for our current students. One of the central tenets of success in the work place will be lifelong learning. 

Lifelong learning will be dependant upon the successful construction of a Personal Learning Network. This will involve as set of self sufficiencies, constant availability of updated resources, some physically tangible (libraries, etc.,) some personal, (family, teachers, SMEs, etc.,) and many many virtual ones (social networks, micro blogs, online resources, Wikipedia, Google, etc,). Additionally, collaboration will become more and more vital, not just for the social aspects but for the diversity of thought processes. 

Current curricula are jam packed with knowledge and students have timetables full to overflowing, not only with academic but also co-curricula material. There is little time for reflection, questioning, time for ideas to sink in, and time for ideas to form and surface. Concept development happens during interaction and collaborative exchange. New possibilities appear when ideas are bounced around among peers, mentors and other creative people. Two students sharing, synergistically, produce better work than two students working separately.

Transferable and adaptive skills and in depth knowledge of technological possibilities will be vital to student success in the workforce. We are educating children for a future that we cannot even envision.