In his response to a recent Wall Street Journal article touting rote online learning as the wave of education’s future, Powerful Learning Practice co-founder Will Richardson calls to action every educator who believes that great teaching is not only relevant but essential in the Digital Age. Will’s comments (first published at his blog and then at Edutopia) match the spirit of our Voices from the Learning Revolution group blog, which shares the work and ideas of educators committed to creating a robust vision of teaching and learning in the 21st century. So we’re publishing them again in this space.
Mix evolving translation technologies, both visual and audio, and then combine them into a program like Facetime or Skype. Suddenly, you have people from anywhere in the world being able to carry on conversations with anyone else in the world. Language will no longer be a limiting factor when people in different cultures and language communities want to share information or go deeper into true collaboration.
Sometimes new learning experiences, just like gifts, don’t work as we expect they will. You probably won’t end up implementing them just like someone else did or the way you originally imagined you might. But in the end, if you’re making a change for the better — if you’re helping students take steps, even baby steps, to becoming more independent learners, that’s progress, and progress is what really matters.
The kind of continuous exploration, reinterpretation and flat-out invention pursued by Rembrandt and his students are at the heart of good education. Their search for empathy and for representations of Jesus that bridged the gap between human and devine suggest to history teacher Margaret Haviland ways in which educators can help students today better understand what they value and how that shapes their decisions and actions.
I teach in an inquiry, project-based, technology embedded classroom. What does that mean? I lecture less, and my students explore more. I create a classroom where students encounter concepts, via labs and other methods, before they necessarily understand all the specifics of what is happening. It’s a place where my students spend time piecing together what they have learned, critically evaluating its larger purpose, and reflecting on their own learning. Technology is embedded into the structure of all we do. It’s part of how we research, how we capture information, and how we display our learning. It’s never an accessory tacked on at the end.
Teacher and inquiry learning advocate Peter Skillen shares a student project “that worked” — a remarkable short video celebrating graffiti art in Toronto. “I believe his work is so successful for several reasons,” Skillen says. “This project was his. He owned it. He created the idea. He had the passion. He had the motivation. He wrote the rap. He composed the music. He performed it. He struggled with the contradictions. He overcame the ambiguities. He was in charge and maintained focus and effort until completion.”