Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Please move to Thinking Allowed.

If you get this via RSS subscription, or if you've ended up here for something else, please note that I will be doing all of my posting at Thinking Allowed from now on. For awhile I was posting to both that site and this one, but now to make the move complete and official, I will stop posting here. Please change your blogrolls and subscriptions accordingly.

Here's the link for the Thinking Allowed. feed directly.

Thanks for coming by and giving my thoughts an audience and more importantly feedback.

photo found at flickr creative commons. Taken by suckamc.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Earcos07 - Day 2

Day 2 of the conference brought us another wonderful student keynote who spoke on the Chinese tale of the Frog in the Well. The frog only has a limited view of the sky through the top of the well, and until she is moved and shown the true nature of things, her horizons and her perspective are never changed. A fine start to the day for teachers to think about and to consider international education.

Then, the ever dynamic, Ian Jukes came on to speak. With excellent supporting visuals, Ian spoke on the dire need for our schools to address the thinking skills needed to prepare students for the world that outside of education has changed and continues to change so rapidly. Great quote from Woodrow Wilson, "it's easier to move a cemetery, than it is to change a curriculum." He makes a terrific point that the main difficulty is that the change we are dealing with is hard to comprehend and so it is hard to make our own changes when we are dealing with the "tyranny of the urgent."

Kids today are different - Jukes spoke on how the visual cortex of the brain is larger, more developed than kids of 20 years ago. "Screenagers", he called them, citing two Time Magazine articles. Interestingly, he talked about how current research seems to indicate that our brains continue to adapt and make new connections. But the brain needs regular exposure to the "change-maker" to make this change. So does this have implications on our schools? (rhetorical)

Jukes talked a fair amount on games and their impact on kids. He encouraged us to learn about these games, to play them with kids and to get our "asses kicked" by kids. They are hard-wiring themselves through these technologies. We should need to tap into this.

I saw a lot of Ian Jukes this week. And the message is clear. Change is here...change is fast (exponential) and getting faster. And predicting the future? Impossible. So what does that mean for us? It means that we need schools to be different. I haven't had "my own" class in a few years now and I do think about how I would do things differently if I were in the classroom again. But my need for change in education is even greater now. As the tech-guy, this stuff seems to fall under my umbrella for change. And I need to work out how to convince a curriculum office to dump content and adopt thinking skills, a faculty to include me in their lesson planning, and an administration to hire and evaluate based on a willingness to adapt to these ideas and change the way schools work.

Is this overstepping my bounds? Probably. But the need seems to strong to ignore. Education really seems to be failing kids. They seem to be learning in spite of us, not with us. Maybe that's too harsh, but I liken it to the exact opposite of wikipedia. Wikipedia is accurate at the macro-level, but could be inaccurate at the micro. I think real learning is possibly working in individual rooms with individual teachers, but we are failing miserably on the school-wide education-as-a-whole level in preparing kids for futures requiring 21st century skills. (speaking of which, I attended a workshop on these skills that set us back on moving forward more than anything I've seen....good presentation is good presentation and when it isn't good...ouch. Until I get up and start presenting myself in that forum, I suppose I should not judge).

Luckily, I am spoiled. I work with a forward thinking leader colleague and am about to be joined by another in the ES. I saw many faces from my school at the various Jukes sessions. The tide could start changing at ISB and I think that those who are interested is as good a place to start as any. Let's see how many come to school on Monday wanting to be committed.

[if you are reading this post, then you are visiting Harter Learning. I have moved my blog over to edublogs (for a variety of reasons which I detail on that blog) under the name, Thinking Allowed. If you are one of my few subscribers, you may want to switch to the Thinking Allowed Feed or at least start going there for further posts. For the near future, I will post on both blogs, like this one.]

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Earcos07 - Day 1

Great start to the conference.

A student from my school, ISBangkok, gave the first ever student keynote address. As expected, she was incredible, speaking to what it means to be a Global Citizen. She emphasized that it took more than being an international student, but also required breaking down barriers that exist between nationalities within an international school and bringing common experience to all. She likened her journey towards global citizenry to exploration for the New Atlantis. A new world of global awareness and of solving global issues.

Not without intent, this led well into the keynote speaker Jean-Francois Rischard who spoke about topics from his book High Noon: 20 global problems and 20 years to solve them. He spoke to global issues that need to be dealt with AND CAN BE DEALT WITH, but require systemic changes in the way the world can approach them. While his outlook seemed bleak, his solutions were do-able...if only world leaders would listen. At times, I wonder whether world experts can get together and begin to develop solutions without the world leaders' blessings.

I attended two sessions by Ian Jukes today. He spoke on the exponential times that we live in. Change is inevitable, but more importantly it is nearly incomprehensible. The degree to which access, processing power, information, and bio- and nanotechnology will infuse our lives in the coming (soon) years is crazy. His best line of the day: "the difference between science fiction and reality? Science fiction is more believable." So what are the implications on our curriculum? What curriculum? Content can no longer be the focus...higher order thinking and communication must be. I worry less about the technology skills of students and more about their ability to use with responsibility, with understanding, and with critical evaluation. We cannot prepare them for the tech. that will exist. But we NEED to prepare them for the thinking that they'll require.

So when and how can we re-invent schools to focus on thinking skills instead of "content"? Who makes this call and how do they make it with majority teacher, parent, and administrative groups that are stuck in 1960's educational needs and outcomes?

Good stuff.

Looking forward to hitting Jeff's workshops in the coming days.

[if you are reading this post, then you are visiting Harter Learning. I am in the process of moving the blog over to edublogs (for a variety of reasons which I detail on that blog) under the name, Thinking Allowed. If you are one of my few subscribers, you may want to switch to the Thinking Allowed Feed, though for the near future, I am going to post on both blogs.]

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Earcos begins tomorrow

I will be attending the EARCOS ETC conference in Bangkok, starting tomorrow and running through the weekend. This year there seems to be a focus on technology as there are a bunch of quality presentations going on regarding 21st century learning skills and other tech-focused subjects. Ian Jukes is one of the keynote speakers and I will also be attending a pre-conference session with him.

The hard part this year is going to be choosing which session to go to when multiple 'interesting' sessions happen at the same time. I will try to blog about some of the thoughts that come out of this conference, as I am sure that Jeff Utecht, from Thinking Stick will do as well (he is also presenting).

One cool random fact about the wife designed the "cover" art. She'll probably kill me for telling people, but I'm very proud, she's got a great sense of design.

On a side note, if you are reading this post, then you are visiting Harter Learning. I am in the process of moving the blog over to edublogs (for a variety of reasons which I detail on that blog) under the name, Thinking Allowed. If you are one of my few subscribers, you may want to switch to the Thinking Allowed Feed, though for the near future, I am going to post on both blogs.

Posts on the ETC conference to come...

Monday, March 12, 2007

"The Resilient Power of Common Sense" - Wikipedia in the Economist

The Economist just ran an article on Wikipedia, which while behind the times for us in ed. tech. blogging, is a good indicator on how the rest of the web-not-quite-2.0 world perceives it or will come to perceive it. After all, the Economist is the intellectual's magazine.

"Wikipedia has strengths too, chiefly the resilient power of collective common sense."
The article shares how anonymity can be a problem with Wikipedia, but then argues that collectively it is in fact VERY well maintained and that even many of the pretend-experts are conscientious, careful, and accurate.

"Constant scrutiny and editing means even the worst articles are gradually getting better, while the best ones are kept nicely polished and up to date. Someone, eventually, will spot even the tiniest error, or tighten a patch of sloppy prose. Mr Jordan, for all his bragging, seems to have been a scrupulous and effective editor."

It's a great article to share with your teachers. As much as I have tried, I come across teachers who are resistant to the idea that Wikipedia can be trusted or that Wikipedia can be used as a source by students. They think that they are teaching good research skills. I think they are missing an opportunity for students to think critically, to defend arguments, and to confirm information from other sources.

Has anyone else come across the attempting-to-be-web-savvy teacher who in efforts to show they are "with it" with new technologies, make the pre-emptive ban on using Wikipedia as a source with students?

Are we not missing out on conversations with students on "collective common sense"? Or global participatory culture? Educators complain about misuse and abuse of social networking sites like MySpace, but fail to acknowledge the powerful force for shared knowledge that Wikipedia (and other sites have become). Web 2.0 is being used for good right in front of even the most tech-resistant noses, but they miss it hiding behind "anyone could write it, so it's not allowed."

"The quality of writing is often a good guide to an entry’s usefulness: inelegant or ranting prose usually reflects muddled thoughts and incomplete information. A regular user soon gets a feel for what to trust."

I thought that was a nice quote to describe exactly what we are missing out on, by not allowing kids to use Wikipedia. Don't we want kids developing that skill of getting "a feel for what to trust"?

I'm going to be sharing this article with my staff. Let's see if it can get our own conversation started.

[on a side note...Conservapedia?!? Really?!]