Friday, April 20, 2012

An education revolution beckons in the digital age -

An education revolution beckons in the digital age -

I love Michael Wesch because he asks such good questions -- what are we doing, why are we doing it, how might it be different?

I was raised as an advocate for intellectual freedom, and have never been comfortable with limiting or filtering information.  I realize that this is a complex question in the digital world, but it's a fundamental philosophy question in child raising:  do you 'child proof' your home, or do you teach your child how to distinguish danger and react to it?  Obviously, in a perfect world, you do some of both.  However, creating a completely safe environment for a teen or young adult is not possible, so it's important that the child has a lifetime of moral values and decision making practice to use as they navigate the world.

I've been confused for a long time by discussions in schools that have two threads (and sometimes are discussed in the same meeting or time frame).  Thread A.  "What are we going to do about not having enough computers and internet access for all our students?"  Thread B.  "How can we keep students from using their cell phones / electronic devices in school?"   It seems that there is an obvious relationship between the answers to the two questions -- what if, instead of spending a lot of time and effort on B, we used the power of personal electronics to help solve A?  To be fair, some high schools are beginning, too slowly, to do this.  Are there risks?  Yes, but manageable ones.  Students who are determined to cheat will find a way to do so, but the answer to that is not taking away the tools of cheating (which include pens, pencils, and chewing gum) but to creating engaging assessments that are not based on memorization, and therefore don't lend themselves to cheating. And there are other ways to create disincentives or change the school culture as well.

I know change is difficult, and I also know that there is a lot of work going on in education today to try to use new media and technology tools,  and  to engage students in creative work -- some of it spectacular, some of it stymied by rules and fears. 

So what is the answer?  What should education look like in 20 years?  or 5?

Unrelated picture of the day:

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Fortune Cookie

Information is not knowledge.
Knowledge is not wisdom.
Wisdom is not truth.
Truth is not beauty.
Beauty is not love.
Love is not music.
Music is the best.
Frank Zappa