Archive for the ‘21st Century Learning’ Category
Posted in 21st Century Learning, Classrooms, Digital Citizenship, Digital Reading, Email, Facebook, Google, Growing Up Digital, Online Schools, Parenting, Research, Schools, Social Networking, Teaching, technology, Teens, texting, the future of education, You Tube on January 27, 2011 | Leave a Comment »
A look at the digital white water rapids coming at us. Powerful snap shot.
Posted in 21st Century Learning, China, Classrooms, Facebook, Google, Growing Up Digital, Innovation, Laptops, Microsoft, Online Schools, Schools, Social Gaming, Social Networking, Teaching, technology, the future of education, Uncategorized, You Tube on January 10, 2011 | Leave a Comment »
Facebook wants to get into China. Or, at least that’s what Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has led us to think. On a recent visit to China, he declared, “If you want to connect the whole world, how can you leave out 1.6 billion people?” Well, Mr. Zuckerberg will have to find a way to crack the Great Firewall — the impregnable Chinese Internet blocking system in place. No Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube on the Chinese mainland. Because of social unrest in Xinjiang over a year ago, the Chinese government has put in secure measures to contain social media traffic.
But, as China looks to guard itself against intrusion, the country is also seizing on new initiatives to catalyze innovation through a drive to increase the number of patents, with the goal of 2 million by the year 2015, up from 300,000 applications in 2010. In The New York Times, David J. Kappos, director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office explains: “The leadership in China knows that innovation is its future, the key to higher living standards and long-term growth. They are doing everything they can to drive innovation, and China’s patent strategy is part of that broader plan.”
Having just returned from China as part of the International Society for Technology Education led People to People delegation, which comprised thirty U.S. school and university educators, I was able to experience the limits of social media in China, and to see the engine of innovation at work.
I toured and visited schools in Beijing, Xian, and Shanghai, and saw primary and secondary schools, and universities. From the remote, rural Dongtun primary school, to the high tech, futuristic Shanghai TV University, I viewed a China as wide as the Mongolian steppe in terms of technology integration, access, infrastructure, and innovation.
At the Dongtun primary school, situated 90 minutes outside of Xian in central China, there was no heat (it was 20 degrees outside), and students sat in tight rows, doing recitation work. The students wore winter hats, coats, and gloves to stay warm, and while there was a coal burning stove in the corner of each classroom, it did not generate much heat. There is one computer for the whole village, and its use centers around increasing knowledge about agriculture for the farmers. The Chinese government has committed to putting one computer in every village, and the computer lives inside the home of one person. The purpose is to give access to agricultural information.
In sharp contrast to the rural schooling, the work at Shanghai TV University is visionary and accelerating at a fast pace. They took us into a surround vision room with interactive screens on the floors and walls. It was a stunning atmosphere, with touch screen, and holographic imagery. The Microsoft Envisioning the Future project is what comes closest to what we saw. Shanghai TV University claims that they are a year away from deployment in homes and schools. In our discussion with the Shanghai TV University educators, they expressed interest in learning about differentiated instruction, one to one computing, collaboration, and creativity. They want to begin to move away from textbooks, and exam focused teaching, to utilize multi-modal approaches to make teaching and learning more engaging. Interestingly, the day I left for China, international test scores showed that Shanghai students are at the top of the world in reading, science, and math. On The Program for International Student Assessment, a test run by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Shanghai blew away the competition.
There will no doubt be continuing tension between new modes of teaching and attention to testing and success, as measured by performance on traditional assessments. In The Wall Street Journal, Chinese educator Jiang Xueqin, comments: “Chinese schools are very good at preparing their students for standardized tests. For that reason, they fail to prepare them for higher education and the knowledge economy.” Jiang goes on to ask: “But what about the entrepreneurs and innovators needed to run a 21st century global economy? China’s most promising students still must go abroad to develop their managerial drive and creativity, and there they have to unlearn the test-centric approach to knowledge that was drilled into them.”
The most interesting discussion occurred at the YKPao International School in Shanghai. We talked about a technology vision for the future, if given a blank slate, like the one YKPao has in starting its secondary program. YKPao is currently a K-6 school, but is expanding to add a secondary 7-12 school, on a separate New England boarding school modeled campus.
However, much of a new technology vision is constrained by government control of access to the Internet, blogs, and collaborative learning community models. Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and objectionable content, like certain New York times articles, are all blocked. CNN is tightly controlled. When watching CNN at the hotel, the screen would go black for minutes at a time, and then come back on. YKPao and Beijing International School, another school that we visited, both expressed frustration with the censorship, and the limitations it places on their ability to open up access for their students.
The first item that rose to the surface in our discussion with YKPao educators, who were from Australia, New Zealand, and the United States, was the issue of email and whether schools are doing a disservice in continuing to teach students with email. As many of us know, email is the messaging of last resort for students. Real-time communication in the form of chat, text, and video dominate their social interactions online.
A recent NYTimes article supports this trend. Andrew Bosworth, director of engineering at Facebook, comments in the Times article: “The future of messaging is more real time, more conversational and more casual. The medium isn’t the message. The message is the message.”
James E. Katz, the director for the Center for Mobile Communications Studies at Rutgers University, explains, in the same Times article: “It’s painful for them [the younger generation]. It doesn’t suit their social intensity.”
At Beijing International School, where many students stay for two to three years at a time before their families are relocated, the school creates digital portfolios with students, from application to graduation. Families want access to their child’s learning, as they migrate to different parts of the world. Everything lives in the Cloud. Every year is carefully organized, mapped out, and continuous, so that they also know their students really well. They have student led conferences where kids share their digital portfolios.
Beijing International School is hosting a conference on the Flat Classroom Project in late February. They have partnered with Katie Salen’s Quest to Learn School in New York City, using Gamestar Mechanic, which “was designed as a learning platform to foster the development of 21st Century skills while teaching the principles of game design.” Beijing students create and design their own games, and iterate through the process with students in New York City, testing prototypes and receiving feedback. They are using design thinking, and are intrigued by the opportunities with game design.
The two international schools, YKPao and Beijing International, are global in their outlook and approaches, and open and eager for innovation with technology. They are just further along than the Chinese schools that we visited, but the Chinese educators with whom we met share interest in innovation, collaboration, and technology integration, and appear to want to move at a fast clip, like Shanghai TV University, to catch up and even surpass U.S. educational approaches. Our tour guide in Shanghai captured the pace of innovation there when she said that she buys a new map every six months because the city is changing so fast.
I am fascinated to follow the direction that China heads in with technology integration, social media, especially if Facebook can gain a foothold in China, and education.
Fascinating discussion of teaching with technology on Soundprint. Teaching: The Next Generation. Excellent points brought up about how to move beyond the “preparing for the worst” situation, knowing that the technology will likely fall apart in the middle of a lesson, and how to turn students into engaged problem-solvers with technology. Worth listening to.
Posted in 21st Century Learning, Bullying, Classrooms, Common Sense Media, Cyberbullying, Digital Citizenship, Digital Footprint, Email, Facebook, Growing Up Digital, Laptops, One Laptop Per Child, Online bullying, Online Schools, Open Source, Parenting, Privacy, Programming, Schools, Sir Ken Robinson, Social Networking, Steve Hargadon, Teaching, Teens, texting, the future of education on November 24, 2010 | Leave a Comment »
Posted in 21st Century Learning, Classrooms, Facebook, Growing Up Digital, Laptops, Online Schools, Parenting, Schools, Sir Ken Robinson, Social Networking, Teaching, Teens, tagged Growing Up Digital on November 21, 2010 | Leave a Comment »
Woodside High School’s principal David Reilly describes 17 year-old Vishal Singh as being “caught between two worlds — one that is virtual and one with real-life demands.” Vishal is the focal point of a New York Times front page story about digital distraction and teens.
The problem does not lie with Vishal. Kids are not caught between two worlds. They have been catapulted into the 21st century with the flood of Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Schools, on the other hand, have not yet figured out how to move forward with technology as learning tools to heighten student engagement, and deepen the learning experience for students. Schools are “caught between two worlds” — the one that kids are living 24/7 online, and the factory model school structure that Sir Ken Robinson explains so clearly.
The key question for schools to ponder is how will technology deepen and further authenticate learning for students. It’s not a matter of schools better start figuring out how to use technology — the technology for technology’s sake – or they will lose students like Vishal. That’s a short-sighted and artificial approach to thinking about the role technology needs to play in schools.
Creating new courses, like the digital audio recording class introduced at Woodside, is a step toward capturing student interest. However, at the end of the Times article, an English teacher at Woodside shares her frustration with her students and her inability to get them to read 30 pages of a book for homework. So, to address this shortcoming, she engages in a read aloud of the book in class, “because students now lack the attention span to read the assignments on their own.” She’s using old methods to teach students who are thinking in new ways. She could instead have students create character Facebook pages, or use chat tools like Today’s Meet to approach class discussion in a different way to facilitate greater student-student dialogue about text. Or, better yet, she could ask her students about ways that they would like to engage with text using different technology tools.
The virtue of moving to new models in schools, in the form of one to one laptop or tablet programs, is that it accelerates thinking within the school community about ways to leverage technology to deepen and differentiate student learning. Also, schools eventually want to reach the point where teachers cannot begin to think about lesson design without technology. Woodside is not there yet.
I was talking with a teacher who is using clickers in his math classroom, and he beamed with excitement about student engagement. He also shared that students are now beginning to ask why other teachers and classes are not using clickers. The kids can become the catalysts for innovation, and they can become the engines for change in schools, if schools and teachers can remain open to their ideas.
The Social Network stands as a cautionary tale about 21st century learning. Mark Zuckerberg is a programming wonder kid, who seizes opportunities, burns bridges, and marches over and through any obstacle in his path to be first. He is quick, sharp, acerbic, and lacking in the reading of social cues. He understands networks, and literally jumps at possibility over adding new features to add to Facebook, like the relationship status.
The movie zips along at breakneck speed, leaving you to marvel at the exponentiality with which Facebook takes hold. It’s like Zuckerberg hit the slot machine and it kept pouring money – he found the magic combination to bring a river of coins.
But, his character lacks communication and collaboration skills. He’s a one-man wrecking crew, even though he initially draws on the checkbook of his one and only friend, Eduardo, to get off the ground. He hears an idea – the Harvard Connection – and he runs in the opposite direction of the generators of this idea. IP – forget about it. His arrogance shakes the room.
What’s the lesson of the film? I’m not sure. Where did Zuckerberg pick up those programming props? Was it school? Exeter? His own tinkering? Where did he miss out on social skills development? His kindergarten report card must not have read “plays well with others.”
Yet, we are left in awe at the way he constructs Facebook. We get a glimpse of his tireless pursuit to be first. His stamina and drive are remarkable. He gets an A+ in his non-routine approaches to problem-solving, a key 21st century skill set. Zuckerberg sees no constraints, only optimization of his goal.
I have no idea of the truth of every scene of the film. I do know that Aaron Sorkin is a maestro when it comes to writing piercing dialogue. The interchanges in the film snap like the code Zuckerberg cranks out at all hours of the night.
The Social Network captures the social cravings of the first decade of the 21st century. Are we to believe that Zuckerberg resents the fact that his buddy Eduardo gains admission to the elite Phoenix club at Harvard? Perhaps that played a part in Zuckerberg’s decision to freeze Eduardo out of Facebook’s feast of cash and shares.
But there is something deeper at work with Zuckerberg. He comes across as both scary and brilliant, but fearful of relationships. This is ironic of course since Facebook provides another avenue for us to stay connected with acquaintances, friends, family, and long lost elementary school buddies. Yet, does Zuckerberg have any real “friends”?
At the release of the film, Zuckerberg makes a bold public relations move by offering up $100 million to buttress the Newark Schools. Newark Mayor Cory Booker and Zuckerberg hail from the same small town of Harrington Park, New Jersey. It’s a noble philanthropic effort, even if Zuckerberg is so unlikable.
I do wonder about the role of schools with a kid like Mark Zuckerberg. He missed out on some pretty critical social lessons and there is so much talk about the importance of collaboration and communication skills, when it comes to the topic of 21st century learning. That’s what is ultimately mind-boggling about the story. Zuckerberg has such limited ability to read and understand people, yet he creates the largest social network in the world to connect people.
From Fear to Facebook: One School’s JourneyMatt Levinson has written a stimulating, provocative book about the educational opportunities and challenges posed by the new digital media. ---Howard Gardner
- From Fear to Facebook is an insider's view of the journey from peril to possibility with digital media in school communities. Matt Levinson gives a clear picture of how communities need to work together to create safe, innovative opportunities for kids to learn with digital media. From Fear to Facebook tells the story of the cultural shift happening in schools with technology and provides a road map for how to navigate this sea change with buy-in from all key stakeholders. The stories [Levinson] shares are grounded in the day-to-day challenges and opportunities that accompany digital media. From Fear to Facebook should be required reading for schools looking to figure out how to optimize technology to enhance teaching and learning. ---Jim Steyer, CEO and Founder, Common Sense Media
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