Wednesday, January 06, 2010

2010- The future is here

When folks lament to about the fact that blogs and wikis are blocked at school, or that teachers don't have access to youtube for teaching, etc, I always say, "It's not a question of IF they will be unblocked, just WHEN they will be unblocked." And, for some reason, 2010 feels like the year when that will happen.

I think there are lots of reasons for it, too. First, the year itself just sounds… futuristic, doesn't it? Twenty ten. It feels as though the world has come into the age that we've been reading about for so long. "The future is here", sort thing. And with that comes an awakening and a realization that is somehow different from previous years. It's time, now, to act differently. Does anyone else feel that, too?

Another reason that I think this year will mark the year of change for schools is that the current economic slump has shocked folks into an awareness that we're not invincible. We're VERY vulnerable to the effects of global pressures and personal greed, and in this very interconnected world, one person can shock the world's economy into disaster. Who would have thought someone like Bernie Madoff, one man, could cause such total world chaos? Yet, he did, and it is being felt hard in some areas, and it's disaster in others. That kind of event shocks folks into new ways of thinking, and in the world of education I just have a feeling that it's going to mean that folks are going to be more aggressive in how they offer tools and resources to our youth. It's criminal to stand in the way of that, in my humble opinion. (IMHO)

As for those who are blocking blogs, nines, wikis, etc, I really feel that this year - 2010 - will have folks reflecting on those tools a bit more and coming to the conclusion that they're not the evil that they were once perceived to be. In fact, they're becoming rather "old school" - which is when many schools begin to use them. Rather than using tools that are current and exciting, many schools wait until they are past their prime, and then slowly adopt them. That's not to say that blogs have lost their value as a teaching tool. Not at all. There is still real value, I think, in writing for authentic audiences instead of just the teacher. It's just that it's not new and fresh as it once was. Time to adopt. There is NOTHING to be afraid of.

In 2010, if a district doesn't have a filter in place that gives teachers different access from students, then there is something VERY wrong going on there. According to this site teachers in PA with Masters degrees are among the top 10% educated adults in the state. Yet, they are treated with the same disrespect and distrust as the students. The same folks who would be permitted to take 30 students to Europe for a week cannot be trusted to use appropriate youtube videos in class? Nope, I think 2010 will see an end to that insulting practice in MANY MANY districts.

Finally, I (want to) believe that this year will be the year in which teachers face up to their digital illiteracy and begin to do what is necessary to update those skills. No longer will our computer teachers be permitted to purchase textbooks on Powerpoint. That will stop. Instead, those teachers will begin to take seriously the changes in the world that go so far beyond powerpoint, and then they'll begin to build their curriculums around them. Classroom teachers will begin to realize that knowing the url for google doesn't make them computer savvy, and they'll begin to take ownership for their skills and work hard to update them. Librarians, too, will stop worrying solely about the bookshelves and begin to take seriously the idea of information management. The disconnect between the libray and the world will begin to disappear in earnest.

Let's face it, when kids come to school with more technology in their pockets (smartphones) than they access to during their entire day in the classroom, that classroom has become irrelevant. Not the content, but the way in which it is being taught. Some would take issue with that. But, ask yourself this, "If THIS isn't the year that you begin to teach with tools that are current, then when IS? How long can you ignore the realities of technology? Another two years? Five years? Ten?" No, the answer is, you cannot ignore it. Not for another second. It's time to let go of Clarisworks. Let go of animated bulleted PowerPoint. Time to help the students learn to use the tools that will help them learn.

Twenty ten. 2010. It just FEELS like the future, doesn't it? And, it feels like it's going to be exciting.

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