“If we give teachers the responsibility, the time and most importantly the autonomy to design, implement, evaluate, tweak and improve their pedagogy and curriculum, that is when we will really see innovation happen,” says 30-year veteran and Web 2.0 leader Brian Crosby. “Teachers won’t long put up with colleagues who are not pulling their weight. And others will blossom when given quality, ongoing training and support in what they do.”
I’m an Australian, and yet I function in online networks with educators from all parts of the world. I know my practice has benefited from these interactions. Some of the most exciting times I’ve experienced with students have come when we’ve made contact with a teacher or class in another country. As corny as it might seem to some, students are really enthused by a live video connection with someone in a far off place. If you’d like to build your own global classroom, I’ve included some tips that can help you think ahead and plan for hiccups.
Texas IT leader Tim Holt wonders: “Can teenagers actually point to some place in the day that they recall learning something? Is there a event in the day that peaked their attention? Something that made their neurons fire up and their brains engage? I asked my son this exact question. ‘What 30 minutes stands out most in your day?’ His response: ‘Lunch, because I got to be with my friends.’” It’s clear to Holt that “our lessons and our curriculum need to be more social in nature” — and social media is one tool to make that happen.
Let me state for the record, I like Khan Academy. Specifically, I like the principle behind it: students can move at their own pace and practice until they understand the concept. In other words, students can own their learning. They need to know how to learn and how to manage their learning. In possessing this valuable skill, our students will hold the keys to the kingdom. How many academic stars do we lose now because they don’t progress at the rate considered necessary by unit and test calendars?
Most of our current classes structurally discourage cooperation and collaboration. For many hours of the day, our students are expected to sit and learn by themselves. I have to confess that all of the years I’ve taught, my classroom has been teacher-centered. Students facing the front. Me talking. Next year my classroom will be different.
Guest blogger Chris Preston shares three unifying concepts identified by his team during a year of action research around inventive thinking: The learning experience must be (1) authentic, (2) connected, and (3) collaborative. “At the conclusion of our instruction,” he says, “many students commented that they would approach solutions to questions much differently in the future: ‘It changed how I look at projects,’ one said, ‘by really opening up my surroundings to more insightful sources of information, and not focusing just on knowledge I can find here at school.’”