Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Educational Transformation

I work in a school that limits kids' access to digital tools. This school community is not ready to give up control to stakeholders. They do not recognise that the power has already been taken, the coup has happened, and the next generation is pretty much laughing.
In the next year, do I sense a major paradigm shift in educational policy? Sadly, no. But there will continue to be those of us who are disruptive to the educational status quo, who recognise that if we are not willing to lose our job, we're not going to be able to do our job, those who run so far ahead that we don't see anyone running with us.
One of two things could happen in our futures, maybe both. I don't think we will be the minority for very much longer. I think the USA educational system as we know it will collapse. The better we can educate today's k20 students using all tools at our disposal, the better. Ultimately, none of this is really about the tools, though they are nice. It is about the learning.
As I noted on Twitter earlier this afternoon, we as educators must seek to inspire a global mindset in the next generations. This means they must be able to communicate, connect & collaborate on global scale with other learners, not just chronological peers in the same room.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Global Championships of the Eracism Debates

I had the privilege today of being present while history was being made. The Final Debates of the Eracism project took place today. I was judging this Lincoln-Douglas style debate between two middle school teams.
What made this debate stand out was where it took place. We were in an auditorium with debate tables, judges' chairs, a podium, and cameras. But this auditorium was in a virtual world similar to Second Life.
This K12Online Conference 2009 presentation was filmed live inside a virtual world. Talk about trail blazing! I am in awe that there were not an enormous amount of technical glitches, but it went smoothly. The presentation, Inside the Global Collaborative Debate: Eracism will go live tomorrow morning at 7:00am in eastern USA. The link will be hot at --> Time Where You Are. The hot link will be found at the K12Online Conference 2009 Blog. Be sure to watch it and tell all your friends. I sadly, won't get to watch it until later tomorrow due to my teaching schedule. But all the K12Online Conference presentations are archived on the blog and can be viewed anytime at all! That is what is so wonderful about this asynchronous conference.
Congratulations to the winning team, you know who you are. The rest of you will have to watch to find out who won....

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Learn our lessons well...

This image was part of a VoiceThread sent to the 1st grade class by the 1st grade class at Shanghai American School. You can see both VoiceThreads here --> Clever Learners
I was reading an article that Bob Compton, author of Two Million Minutes, wrote during his recent visit to Korea. In this article, which you can read here --> Visit to Korea,
he says Korea has learned the lesson that when China takes away low-value work, it is best to let it go. It is best to shift education, research, and resources so that more value is added to the processes of design, innovation, invention and entrepreneurship. (Compton, 2009)
Are you getting this America? If someone else on the globe can do it cheaper, they will. So let it go. Shift the educational paradigm. Shift the business paradigm. Shift the research foci. Stop teaching what someone else can and will do cheaper, because they will get the work, not you. Start teaching creativity, innovation, critical thinking. Are you getting this US education? Honestly, the schools to which I have talked recently are getting it. They are not in the mainstream, they are private.
Are you getting this American teachers? Do you lecture and test rote learning? Have you checked RateMyTeachers ?
Are you using project learning? Are you using multi-media? Are you helping learners develop skills in design, invention, and entrepreneurship? Are you teaching to more than one intelligence?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Connect --> Learn

It has often been noted that connections must be made in order for learning to occur. Yesterday at the bridal shower for a friend's daughter, I got to converse with a bridesmaid's mother who was also the 1st grade teacher at the school where I taught. (Listen for strains of "It's a small world afterall....").
She is bilingual. Which got me to thinking, although I do know some German, I would never regard myself as bilingual. What are the connections that happened for her and not for me?
I remember being friends with a family when I was young. They had two lovely girls who were bilingual - German and American. They made connections easily in either language. They would speak in German to me and my stepmother but in American to my dad, often switching languages mid sentence as someone entered or left a room. They made the connections. They learnt with ease.
I see so many language learners in our schools not making those connections with ease. I see so many struggling to pass mandated courses were the language learning was started too late. And I wonder why.
When I visit relatives in Germany, they always want to practice their English. It is British, but quiet understandable (except one friend, but that is another story). In most European countries, foreign languages are begun much earlier. Thus it is easier to make the connections and become bilingual. I consider all my relatives practically bilingual, even that uncle who wouldn't speak English to me at all ( I think he knew exactly what he was doing too!).
If we are to continue to be a super power, wouldn't it behoove us to do something about this language thing ASAP? Of course, the tech tools that could help.......

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Photo courtesy of miss blackbutterfly covered under an Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic Creative Commons license available at

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Fireside Chat with Joyce and Konrad: December 12th, 6:30 pm GMT

This Saturday there will be a live Fireside Chat with Joyce Valenza and Konrad Glogowski, the keynoters for week 1 of the k12Online Conference 2009. The live chat will take place at EdTechTalk --> where participants can hear the keynoters and chat in the chatroom. The Fireside Chat is scheduled at 6:30pmGMT --> Time Where You Are.
Below is a downloadable flyer about this week's Fireside Chat. Feel free to disseminate.
Live Event 12-12

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Friday, December 4, 2009

Tools of the Trade

These are some of the tools of the teaching trade. Those 19th century tools with which I was equipped are missing (blackboards, overheads, chalkholders, pencils, etc.) Colleges of Education that do not prepare educators with these tools are doing them a disservice! I recently needed to interact with a group of preservice and inservice educators. The preservice educators had none of the tools except email, which is antiquated at best. I asked for Skype id's in order to form a group backchannel, out of sight of the students involved. As many will note, Skype is free. The preservice educators said they didn't have and would not download this free tool. That attitude is intolerable! Not because it put me out in any way, but because A) all preservice teachers should already have it and B) an unwilling to learn attitude is not conducive to great teaching. And it is great teachers we so desperately need.
Our kids need, not just deserve, but need a world-class education. If we teachers (all educators, both preservice and inservice) are not providing it we are wasting taxpayer dollars and flirting with national disaster. It is time to get serious people.
I was surprised and taken aback by the attitudes of these preservice teachers at a prestigious college of education. These are not freshman, but those who will be entering the field in the next couple of years. We better start doing something about this and quick!
If you are a professor of education at any college or university, please, please, please prepare your teachers for THEIR future teaching responsibilities. Require preservice teachers to have and to use the tools of the trade. If you don't know how, find someone on Twitter or the Classroom2.0 ning who does. If you don't know what these are - find out or retire. I do mean it. This is not the time to lolly gag and mince words. As a very wise person once said,

The only thing more expensive than education is ignorance

America cannot afford to pay this price.