Thursday, October 1, 2009

Last One For Today

I attended a webinar yesterday on the topic of virtual learning. As I've posted earlier today, this topic holds great interest for me. I've enjoyed seeing it evolve from online correspondence materials to true, engaged learning. The program I am taking through the University of Phoenix has been the icing on the cake for me in this sense, as it is amazing learning. I can see how it would not be for some people, but for those who could succeed in this model I think we are doing them a disservice by not providing them with the opportunity.

One of the presenters yesterday mentioned how little schools have physically changed over the years, and showed a couple of pictures to illustrate his point. Not being terribly original, but definitely loving the impact of pictures, I thought I would share this image here as well.

I realize there are always exceptions, and these are generalizations, but I think they are pretty accurate. Certainly my experience in the 70's and 80's as a student, and since then as a teacher, supports the pictures.

What will our classrooms look like 25 years from now. Children, society, and what we know about teaching and learning have changed a great deal since the 1900's, do our classrooms maybe need to change too?

When you look at the pictures below, do you see any similarities?
1900s (original available here)

1930s (original available here)

1950s (original available here)

1970s (original available here)

1980s (original available here)

1980s - When technology started to appear...but how many did we see like this? Or do we now see like this? (original available here)

The saying is, if it works, don't fix it. Maybe we need to reflect on the question: is it working well enough? And if it isn't broken now, how long will it be before it is broke and in need of fixing? In his book Disrupting Class, Clayton Christensen says it won't be too long now...

This gives me something to think about for the rest of the day, anyway!


Mrs. Ramsey said...

Very nice Sandy! When I visit schools I mostly see the same old model, only with a SmartBoard at the front used as a glorified projector. I don't see student centred learning, technology based or otherwise. I don't see kids being given the opportunity to follow their passions. You know yourself from your old high school days that some of your most powerful learning took place when your teachers turned you loose. Hours of research into Watergate for example.

I've been working in the virtual world for 12 years now. It has its pros and cons and is certainly not for everyone, but we could at very least incorporate some of the aspects of independent study into our classrooms using existing technology. So why don't we? I think it's because it makes teachers nervous when they see kids moving away from the prescribed lesson and into unknown content. And of course the focus on prescribed outcomes and assessment doesn't help.

Alexander (Sandy) McDonald said...

You did not just reference a 30 year old grade 12 inquiry project on the topic of Watergate did you? LOL You may very well have the best memory in the world! I bow humbly before you.

I agree completely. Those are not just fond memories...that is deep learning that will never be taken away!

That is the learning I want every one of our students to have every day. I think the concept of 'giving up control' to our learners is exactly what we should establish as a goal. The gradual release of responsibility for learning is a POWERFUL goal.