Friday, February 1, 2008

Social Thinking

Knowledge is collective. We have heard that. James Paul Gee also says literacy and thinking are...primarily social achievements. Let that soak in for a minute.
There are several literacies that humans express, among them reading, writing, mathematical, musical, & digital. Achievement in any of these is not a solitary endeavor, but involve social interaction. By collaborating, communicating, & connecting with others learners actually increase their literacies.
Thinking is also a social activity.

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent John Donne, Meditation XVII, English clergyman & poet (1572 - 1631)

Humans are spurred into thinking by expressions of others, whether auditory or visual. By recognising and facilitating the social aspect of literacy and thinking, lead learners can enhance literacy levels and thinking skills. Traditionally, both of these have been solitary school events. Twenty-first century k12 learning embeds many social activities. Social-networking, social bookmarking, backchanneling, & conferencing software are the new literacies and spur thinking in 21st century learning. I hesitate to say 21st century schools because school is so confining. The term has too much baggage with it. What will future schools look like and how will they differ from future learning?
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Photo by Davide Guglielmo uploaded Dec.23, 2005 to


Isu said...

Hi Lisa!

My name’s Max and I am a sophomore at Illinois State University where I’m studying to become a high school Biology teacher. In this blog, you asked the question, “What will future schools look like and how will they differ from future learning?” I’m not sure how schools will look in the future, but I do know someone who has great ideas about how schools should look in the future, Jeremy Schneider. He is the author of the book Chalkbored: What’s Wrong with School & How to Fix it. He is an advocate of CAI (computer assisted learning) so he feels that schools of the future should have: computers for every student, a system of levels for the students to complete instead of grades, and a variety of different lesson plans so that students can do their own learning their own way. He envisions brilliant educational software that allows students to go at their own pace, chose their teachers and classes, keep track of progress, and eliminate a lot of the paperwork teachers today have to deal with. If you haven’t already read this book, I highly recommend it, and who knows, maybe his vision of the future of education isn’t as far off as it may seem?


brewershaunte said...

The schools of the future, along with the learning process, will revolve greatly around technology, as Max has explained. More and more, the school system and cirriculum, will evolve to better serve the students of the nearing furture. The learning process will still be one of a collective progress but it will be through a different medium, internet related methods.

Teachers in these soon to come times will also have to beware of their students letting technology have a somewhat negative affect on their learning and social skills. Technology includes cell phones, that contain the ability to send instant messages and text messages. What could become of this is that the a student will only interact with a small group of people that they are connected to at everytime of the day and not actually pay attention to the people that are surrounding the student.
This creates a problem with students becoming a community of support and fulfilling the community's full learning potential. To try to cease that problem before it arises, teachers should make sure that students are still engaged in the world around them, not just what's on their computer screen, and that the class work is not one of constant repeated actions. The classrooms of the future will be one of gradual improvement through technology with help of some social psychology.

Anonymous said...

Like Max, I, too, am an Illinois State University Student, who is also reading “Chalkbored: What’s Wrong With School and How to Fix It.” The author focuses on what schools of the future could and should look like. Obviously, schools of the future will contain more and more sophisticated technology, as everything we do and experience revolves around it. Technology can streamline the wasted time and money spent in the classroom, as well as making learning more profitable and efficient for every student. My only concern with this, which is a concern that I believe many people also have, is the loss of human interaction. Technology does allow lessons to become streamlined, but I hope it does not cost us some of our ability to work with people face-to-face. Yes, it is amazing to be able for students in one continent to converse with students in another, but I think it is still so important to be able to communicate with people effectively without the help of a computer. I also believe there is no substitute for experiencing the richness of the world first hand. I also know that it is not always possible for everyone to do that, and when used effectively, technology makes the world a smaller place. I may never get to Africa, but I can find a vast wealth of information about it on the internet. John Donne said that no man is an island, and every man is a piece of the continent. I only hope technology helps people realize they are all one piece of a bigger picture and does not allow them to alienate themselves into an “island.”

Alex Becker *isu said...

Like my peers who have posted before, I'm an ISU student as well.

I think technology in the classroom is just the next step in the evolution of our public schools. With this evolution comes the positive and the negative.

I envision some of the positive aspects being a classroom integrated with skype were students in a current events or social studies class can talk about current issues with students from all around the world. These students will be enriched with social interaction and a perspective of the world that isn't just from their own culture. This is very important as we are no longer isolated from the rest of the world. Global thinking is an important skill for the new age.

Negatives are mostly logistical in nature. Spending classroom time setting up computers, making sure everybody is on topic, and making sure each school has the funding to integrate this technology will be some of the issues eating up classroom time. Instead of jumping into a lecture the class has to spend a few days just preparing the technology.

If we can get past these logistical problems, each classroom can be a doorway into the global community.

.mrsdurff said...

Alex - it doesn't actually take a few days, but minutes. The biggest hurdle for real-time interactions are timezones. This is why Voicethreads are so useful! asynchronous interactions globally motivate learners!