Now that I have been reading what is an ever expanding blogroll for over two weeks now, I think the time is nigh that I start trying to make some personal sense out of what I have been ingesting.
At the Thinking Stick, Jeff Utecht talks about what the meaning of School 2.0 is, and how it is not enough that we are just digitizing. What the next step for most schools in America is to grab hold of the interconnectivity that their students, the natives, have already taken hold of.
School 2.0 needs to be about creating knowledge, analyzing information, and evaluating both. It’s about understanding a world in which connections and communicating with others is at the foundation of how we learn, that through creating our own knowledge not from what a teacher tells us, but rather from what we read, listen to, and watch ourselves is far more powerful. A teacher is a guide, much like the guide we had in Vietnam. Arrange the boat for the trip, but allow us to experience the trip, answer questions when we have them, and stay out of the way when we want to experience something ourselves. We could have easily called our guide a history teacher showing us the “Hilton Hotel” where POWs were held, allowing us to experience a silk factory, and filling in the gaps that we couldn’t or didn’t know. We did the learning, he did the guiding.
The folks over at Think:Lab in a post dated earlier in the week spoke about the premises that underlie School 2.0 date back to the progressivism of John Dewey. Without a doubt we are not touching on new theory here, but rather using the read/write technology in lieu of a woodshop or any other pragmatic tool used in Dewey’s time. This is what we should take from the terminology: that the influx of technology means little without the useful, practical application of it in contexts that best fit the direction that the learner needs to go in. The guide spoken of in the post above did just that. Provide the framework, manage the tools, answer the questions as they arise, and be prepared for whatever bumps come up.
For years now we’ve talked about being the “Guide on the Side” in the classroom, and that’s what we need to be. Of course it’s hard to do that when you have to fill an 80 minute block. In School 2.0 a ‘tour’ might take 80 minutes it might take 10 minutes. It might be 10 minutes of background knowledge and then 80 minutes of exploration and creation of knowledge. Teachers need time to plan out the route, book the trip, and make sure the experience is available. We need to rethink schools and think about just how messy learning is.
Most of us, at some point in our teacher training, were given the phrase that Utecht uses “the Guide on the Side,” and we chuckled at the rhyme, and maybe even took it to heart. However, the true meaning of School 2.0 lies in that very phrase. My aim as an educator has taken an abrubt turn in recent weeks due to the changing demographics of the American and global workforces.
Utecht talks about a definition of School 2.0:
What is School 2.0? It’s a school that defines learning and knowledge not by seat time, or hours spent on a project, but by what is experienced, created, and communicated.
Everything that has come across my nose in the past few months points to a future dependent upon creativity in problem solving, in collaborative efforts, and in the ability to see solutions to questions that haven’t arisen yet. What better way to prepare student for that than to introduce him or her to the beautifully unsettling world at large through the use of available technologies? I will let you know as soon as I find it…