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New Year, New Connections, New Learning

January 2, 2009

Day 2 of 2009 and I’ve already taken part in my first connected learning experience. Darren Kuropatwa was taking part in a radio discussion about 21st Century Learning in Manitoba, but there was some great conversation going on in the backchannel he set up on Chatterous.

cjob.pngIf anyone wants to know how the way we learn and communicate and share is changing for the better, they only needed to drop in on Radio CJOB from Manitoba, Canada. Darren Kuropatwa, Dean Shareski and Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach were the guests of the radio station’s Richard Cloutier on his 3 hour morning show. Darren had set up a back channel using Chatterous, which was a new service for me, and I dropped in along with a host of other educators from around the world.

Over the course of the three hours (in reality, about two hours when you take the adverts and news out!), there were over 1,000 comments made on Chatterous… absolutely incredible if you ask me! Can you imagine what a difference that level of conversation could make to three hours worth of lessons? Maybe we need to start looking to open up a backchannel in our classrooms. The idea is appealing… and doesn’t need to be hi-tech. A supply of post-its and pens on every desk and a space on the wall to post the questions could be an interesting starting point…

The issues that sounded a common chord were fairly predictable: blocking, slow adoption, time, and so forth. All the usual suspects were there. Interestingly, there was also an ‘on-air’ question from a teacher who’d phoned into the show to bemoan the lack of ‘penmanship’ of the computer literate kids he taught… I was reminded of Karl Fisch’s infamous “What If” presentation. To me, what all of this suggests is that there is a genuine reluctance to accept the changes that are happening.

There are a small minority of teachers who ‘get it’ — and, of course, they make up the vast majority of my readers. This is a shame. A great shame. Because without more people becoming aware of the possibilities, we are unlikely to see any of the wholesale changes that I believe are necessary if we are to truly move education — learning and teaching — forward.

There’s an interesting passage in the discussion at about the half-way mark (Page 5, about halfway down) where we were discussing how the change is so slow. Sharon B (one of the participants) makes the really valid point that “[She does] not think there is much trust between many IT depts, administators and teacher – not to mention students”. Trust has to lie at the heart of all we do, but all too often this is undermined by the focus on the finishing line. The importance of having the right grades can overwhelm us at times. The end result is of more importance than any learning we may do along the way… and I think this is all wrong.

If we are going to create and guide children capable of learning for themselves so that they can thrive in their unknown futures, we have to start allowing them to learn from wherever they can find the knowledge. Our role moves from the traditional ‘authority’ role to the more useful ‘mentor’ role — but this step into the potentially unkown and unknowable is what scares traditional models of education and is going to hold us back if we are not careful.

The real worry for me at the moment is the impact of the ‘credit crunch’. Suddenly, we are faced by an even more uncertain future and in the past this has tended to mean people stick to what is tried and tested — playing safe rather than trying new ideas. But I believe this is really the best time to try out new ideas and strategies… after all, it was the old ways that, arguably, created the credit crunch in the first place.

One thing I do know is that I’ve started 2009 running. A great conversation and some fantastic contacts added to my twitter — I’m looking forward to what my future brings!

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. January 2, 2009 8:36 pm

    Great post! Glad to have you in my PLN. 🙂

  2. January 2, 2009 10:02 pm

    Great summary of the discussion – I finished the chat inspired and envigorated, ready to go out and fight the good fight some more! I’m happy to add so many more passionate and perceptive folks to my PLN.

  3. January 2, 2009 10:14 pm

    Thanks for the comments! It was a great start to the year, not least for the new contacts I’ve made.

  4. January 2, 2009 11:14 pm

    Nice synopsis of the topic. Definitely will link to your Blog in my next Blog post.

  5. January 2, 2009 11:26 pm

    Thank you for summary of the discussion. I enjoyed both the broadcast and the chat and feel inspired and ready to share what I have learned with my colleagues.

  6. January 2, 2009 11:28 pm

    Thanks for the kind comments folks. Looking forward to following up all the contacts we made.

  7. alicebarr permalink
    January 3, 2009 12:49 am

    Thanks for the post, it was a nice way to get back into the edtech world again after a brief holiday! Enjoyed connecting with you and hope to see you again online!

  8. January 3, 2009 12:55 am

    @Alice: I thoroughly enjoyed the session as well. I’ve been too inactive for too long. I’m now fired up and ready for the new term on Monday!

  9. January 3, 2009 6:48 am

    I posted the 1 hour and 40 min recording of the radio show (minus news and ads) as a podcast.

    I think your point about trust is so true.

    This was a lot of fun and a GREAT way to start the new year to be sure! Thanks to everyone who joined in the conversations.

  10. Nancy Caramanico permalink
    January 4, 2009 1:51 pm

    Thanks for sharing this post and for organizing this summary. It was great to connect with everyone!

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