Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Response to "Top 10 Predictions for 2011 (with proof)

I wrote this as a response to this article:  http://www.techlearning.com/article/35406 but it turns out that it was over the character limit, so I decided that rather than try to trim it I'd just make it my own post.

Here'is my response:

I do believe that you will see these predictions happening around the country - just not in the same schools. A school here or there will stop textbooks, for sure. That's not that far fetched. And there are already some schools that are allowing their students to bring in their own tech, or using cell phones for educational purposes. But, there are a couple of these predictions that I think are harder to make happen except in rare instances.

The idea of assessments being comprehensive and constant, for one, will be much harder to see happening except in rare instances. Why? Because there are SO few models of what that looks like, and precious little professional development time being spend on showing that model. Teachers can't easily and suddenly change how they are teaching and assessing without some sustained PD to show them what it looks like and how to transpose those alternative assessments into letter grades. ANd that's their reality. Letter grades.

Students forced to use phones in class? Why? What pedagogical reasons are there to force the use of a cell? Force? Grounds for detention? In these litigious days? I highly doubt it. Schools are far too worried about the (perceived - right or wrong) dangerous uses of the phones. I don't think you'll see this in many schools at all. At least not to the degree that you have mentioned here.

Another area that I don't see changing is the use of Facebook. Yes, a student could make a facebook page about an historical figure and friend other historical figures. Is that all there is? That and friending a teacher? If that's all there is then I think, for all the distraction Facebook access would cause I just don't think it's worth it. It's certainly not the hill I'm going to fight for. Have you noticed how addicted some folks are to facebook? Do we want/need that distraction - for students AND teachers? I think it's a forced fit at best. If you can't do anything with it other than pretend to be an historical figure, then let's move on to what we KNOW to work in Education.

Finally, the end of testing? I have the utmost respect for Chris Lehman, but I respectfully disagree with the idea that the end is in sight. I see nothing to support that. A switch from NCLB to RTTT? No end to testing in sight there, for sure. And, I keep going back to the idea that there just isn't enough PD for teachers for them to know how to make that kind of switch. And, even if every day of PD this year were devoted to it, it's just not going to go away that quickly. I just don't see it. At the end of the day the teachers need to record a grade, and until they have a LOT of experience creating and using rubrics to score projects, it's just MUCH less work and FAR less subjective (if you have to support your grade to an upset student or parent) to give tests.

I'm not saying that I favor tests. I'm just saying that until colleges begin to show their education majors alternative ways to assess students (and start to model it themselves) that the test just isn't going to go away.

My hot button is the filter. (Ever hear me screaming?)  The notion that this year students will be able to surf away is an exciting idea. But, in 2011? Again, maybe in isolated instances, but I doubt if you'll be able to look back on this year and say that you've seen a significant change. Not until the CIPA gods stop the nonsense of functioning as a "Gotcha!" To have such vague rules for being compliant and then keeping everyone on their guard about being audited and losing that e-rate funding (especially in these days of funding concerns) is not fair to anyone. If schools could run down through a checklist of searches that would show areas of concern then at LEAST they would know the boundaries. As it is, we've got some districts that block Google Docs and wikis, for crying out loud. When there is THAT much rampant fear in this country, then the idea of surfing freely is just unrealistic. IMHO.

Your article sure gave us food for thought. Thanks to Ellen for getting us thinking more on the topic(s).

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