Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Dave Warlick's K12Online Preconference Keynote

I have just finished viewing Dave Warlick's pre-conference keynote (you can too by clicking the video link here).

Here are some thoughts.

When hear Dave and many other people discuss the future of education, with or without a technology focus, I'm reminded of myself as a student in high school physics trying to grasp the concept of acceleration. Acceleration is a measurement that doesn't describe speed, as some students, including myself thought. It wasn't about how fast you are going in miles per hour or meters per second. It's actually a measure of the RATE OF CHANGE. I think that is what Dave Warlick is describing when he mentions being part of the last generation of young adults who, when looking at their parents, could see that as their future as well. I think that is what he is illustrating when he reviews the all important meter stick of 20th century information model-- the encyclopedia.

I think the central question in education for today and the future then becomes not "What can you learn?" but "How quickly do you learn something else?" In order to answer that question, I think students and teachers really need to know themselves as learners, inside and out. They need to know how to compare new knowledge and experiences with one's they've had before and see where the fundamental similarities and differences are. They also need to know how to sift through the scenery on this information superhighway to look for the sign posts that really matter to their journey.

When traveling on any journey your acceleration is totally useless without VELOCITY. Velocity does involve speed, but more importantly DIRECTION. If students and teachers are to be sucessful in the future, we need to be know what direction we are traveling in, be able to adjust if there's a detour, and not be scared to end up in the breakdown lane or get lost once in a while.

Dave outlines three convergences on education's future.

1. Info Savvy Students
2. New Informational Landscape
3. Unpredictable Future

If teachers are going to cope with these factors, they MUST be encouraged to take risks, explore, reflect, and LEARN. As a high school teacher, I know that most of my fellow colleagues are more content to avoid risks, better know the current patch of grass they've been standing on, and often times blame the students for not "getting it right the first time". Sadly, when looking around to see what our schools have to offer teachers who are willing to take these risks, the list is pretty short. Our district does offer support for professional development (conferences, coursework, and the occasional one day in school department meeting for curriculum development). However, for most teachers who want to try something new in their classroom, "You are on your own." Sadly the only time most teachers get recognized for trying something new and innovative in their classrooms is when they are spoken to about covering the curriculum or disturbing the technology department with requests to unblock sites.

What can schools and communities do to encourage students and teacher to accelerate their own learning, reflect on where they've been and plot a new course?

I have some ideas, but I'd like you hear yours as well.

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Carolyn Foote said...

So glad to hear you have revived your blog to participate in K12Online...great commentary, by the way.

Your questions about what we can do to support innovation are important ones.

I'm sitting here watching the video, and my campus is "on the brink" of change, but it also feels like I am very isolated here, which is a shame because I so much want to use and share these tools.

What's causing it? Teachers' schedules are too busy, attitudes, too many demands, our infrastructure isn't working as well as it should be, our calendar is lopsided so people are overloaded already....lots of different reasons.

But I think considering mindfully what can be done to support change is an extremely important question.

Miguel said...

Thanks for summation and the discussion of acceleration. Surprisingly, my work colleagues had an argument about the exact meaning of accelerating change.

We were discussing Collin's book, "Good to Great," and the use of technology to accelerate transformation.

I often hope that accelerating transformation doesn't mean doing the same old thing faster, but achieving escape velocity.

With appreciation,

Miguel Guhlin
Around the Corner-MGuhlin.net