Changing Education Paradigms … Online Digital Communites?

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This is one of my favourite videos on Youtube and Ken Robinson is an amazing speaker. I love how the animation on this video clarifies what is being talked about. I am definitely a visual learner.This video will make you think.

I was reminded of this video talking to a friend about the virtues of blogging, how technology and education are changing and why our school ‘needs’ to be a virtual online community. It got me thinking just how much technology and its presence in education has changed even just in the past 10 years. I’d consider myself to be pretty young, heck, I was at school taking my GCSES just 10 years ago and the most digital my school was was in the form of a website. Facebook didn’t even really exist then. At least I don’t remember it being so. Perhaps it was but considering Facebook has over 350 millions users today (and who knows how many by next month), that’s huge.  I only got my first mobile phone at 15. Now it seems everybody has one and not just any phone, a smartphone most probably, capable of doing a zillion things … internet, instant messenging, satnav, bluetooth, Twitter. Things are changing so fast, where will we be as a society be in just 2 or 3 years? How will education change? Will most schools be online, with ehubs and digital communities? Is it as important as it seems to be? Will it be as valuable as it seems to be right now? Is it all hype? I’m not even kidding you, today when I used the ‘Clean My Mac’ application on my MAC, it asked me if I wanted to ‘Tweet’ my result! Why on earth would I want to do this? And why would anybody care to know the results of whether my MAC was clean?! Really, ridiculous. How much of what we post online is meaningless or excessive?

When I consider the work I do each work at school in terms of communication with parents with Newsletters, Friday Feedbacks, creating videos of my students and class to share with my parents on Youtube, email reminders …  I feel confused. I love sharing our news with them. I don’t mind putting in all of the effort (most of the time!) but how much do they really read? They get infobytes, Infoflashes, ‘The Buzz’, letters home, emails about important notifications almost daily.. how much do they need and how much do they actually read? Is it information overload? Can all of my parents understand what I write, considering most of them speak English as a second or third language? Is the job of a teacher to be an online narrator, a digital citizen? How many teachers out there are not technology savvy? Some teachers surely will not feel comfortable with using technology so profusely. Will these teachers be judged in their future by their ability to use technology? Surely the main function of a teacher is to teach?

I, myself consider myself savvy enough with technology to be able to use IT effectively. I use Imovie regularly to create movies of my students. I can set up and use a blog. If I need to figure something out, I can work it out on the computer. I am looking forward to beginning my class blog .. it will simplify what I am already doing and everything will be on one site. I am looking forward to being creative, to sharing our class community to those who matter … but I keep wondering where will these changing technologies take us?

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2 responses »

  1. Wow. What a fantastic post. I think the first part of the conversation have to be the questions you have raised here. Information overload is certainly a concern for how people function on and offline. A large part of building online communities that are orgainc and authentic and complement “real” communities and not overtake them, is this sense of managing content. We hope to create spaces on line that narrate a manageable story. We learn how to connect to data when we need to, or keep things simple when the task demands it.

    You are right that much of what is online is useless to most people, but the new web is a den of customization. Everyone shares, and we learn how to find what we need.

    You are right to day that what matters most is how you teach and the connections you make with kids everyday. Everything else, ehub..etc… is just the garden bed. Once it has been set, the idea is that you plant the seeds of what you do in your room.

    Lots of great questions! Thanks. I hope others will share their concerns too.

  2. Thanks Jabiz for reading and leaving such an interesting reply. I am beginning to understand more about the concepts of ‘online communities’ as you suggest and today’s class about Flickr and creative commons really helped me see how blurry things like rights to use content can be on the web. Having explored Flickr, I can see it is a great online community with that idea of sharing manageable content at its heart .. I even posted on people’s photos to tell them I used them as you suggested … planting seeds to start building connections and communities … I hadn’t even thought about the issues of using images from google before so that was something new I explored today.

    Yes you are right about the idea of learning how to find what we need .. I guess we all use the internet in different ways and understanding that what I find useless may be a hidden gem to somebody else is something I hadn’t considered before. I guess in a sense, the whole blogging and DC101 class is like that. Whilst I don’t have any big hurdles in my way in learning to use a blog, (although I am new to it) what I take from your class such as the issues of creative commons and using images/ music might not necessarily be what somebody who was learning how to upload an image for the first time today in class … ‘we learn to find what we need’ .. I might not need to learn how to upload a photo or create a new post, but I am learning to find out more about issues I had not even considered before ..

    Thanks so much for your insights today Jabiz!

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