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The 2.0 Riptide

Web 2.0. I get it (I think). Our students are using it outside of school. We need it inside our schools. The question is how. I was reading the blog post, The Embedded Practitioner, from the blog “blog of proximal development” by Konrad Glogowski. He posed three questions that have me thinking about POB and what we can do to create a 21st century learning environment. The questions from the post are:

“1. How do we prepare teachers (my change) all educators to teach 21st century learners whose lives are based on rich interactions in multiple on-line environments?

2. How do we help new teachers move away from what Marshall McLuhan once called the “imposing of stencils” and adopt a practice of probing and exploration?

3. How do we help new teachers acquire the courage to transform their classrooms into communities of learners and transform themselves into participants who can embed themselves in those communities?”

How do we turn the tide in POB? Is it like a riptide where you need to find the middle and go through it instead of trying to fight it? If so, what is the middle? By middle I don’t mean middle ground (settling) I mean the middle of the riptide.

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(Picture from Wikipedia)

To educate 21st century learners we, as educators (teachers, aides, administrators, board members), need to be 21st century learners. We need to stop using the phrase life-long learning and start living life-long learning. Personal Learning Networks should be a way of life for educators. It shouldn’t be imposed like our 18-hour staff development. We need to get rid of this 18-hours of mandatory staff development (which can only be 2-hours contiguous to the end of the school day). All educators should be developing PLN’s to meet their needs. Overtime, PLN’s change as your needs change.

Besides PLN’s, staff development should be replaced with professional learning communities. What are you interested in? Form a group of like-minded individuals. Chase it (the learning) down. Apply it (what you have gleaned from the PLC) to the learning environment you are in. Assess it. Refine it as needed to meet the needs of all learners. We need to move away from it being about us, the educators at the front of the room, to being about students and listening to what they have to say. Create the learning around their needs. Check your ego at the door. Pick it up when the day is through if you must.

Yesterday, I was reading a post at Teaching College Math and I found this quote and follow up that I think summarizes what I am trying to say. “Quote from Hunter Lovins: “What is the purpose of education if not for future generations?” Now that’s a quote I can sink my teeth into. As educators we can’t dwell on “how we learned it” – we’ve already been educated and have moved into the world community, but the students we teach need to be prepared for the world they will enter. If that means that instructors will have to continue to be learners themselves – so be it.” There is no way around it. To have students become 21st century learners we need support each other in our own learning in order to facilitate student learning.

Questions 2 and 3, I feel help move question 1 along the path of where we need to go. Where are the early-adopters, pushing the envelope? I believe there are some that already exist in the schools and we need to bring them to the forefront of every building, school district, state, and country. I also believe that every new hire needs to have the capability and desire to be a 21st century learner. How about an intensive course in the summer of the new hire to teach tools (Thanks Tom Schwartz)? How about a mandatory blog, website and a wiki that is created and maintained by their students. How about as part of receiving tenure, a teacher should have a portfolio of these creations to share with other educators to demonstrate their own growth and learning?

Teachers should not have to be asking for the hardware; it should already by in place. You really can get by with a minimum amount of hardware, as long as it is functioning and filters do not restrict you. I recently heard a quote from a podcast by the “techchicks” and I may be paraphrasing; “Technology can no longer be integral integrated, it needs to be integrated integral.” This is why administrators and board members need to be aware of what is going on in the 2.0 world. They do not need to be aware of every tool, but they need to see the ways in which it helps students and teachers. If the see it, I believe they will support it and provide the necessary funding.

Educators need to be steadfast in their beliefs, willing to learn and always have at the forefront the students. The new educators will need to seek out and find (and vice-versa) the established teachers who are doing things to promote 21st century learning. No longer can teachers go into their “dimple” (classroom) of the “egg carton” (school) and not be aware, share, and be a part of what is going on around them. Educators need to take risks and stand up for what they believe in.

Do we want this: Teach different

or this: Sir Ken Robinson.

I am going to spend some more time thinking about these things but in the meantime I want to leave you with this:

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