Exhibit number one is a (paraphrased) list from a discussion about the "new learning environment." Here are the characteristics people listed:
- Student centered
- Connections beyond the classroom
- Personalized for the kids: includes formative assessment, instruction matched to learning styles and at the level needed for the student
- 24/7 learning that is not confined to the classroom
- collaboration between students
- Partnerships with the community and integration between subject areas
- Real world experience; authentic learning
- More creation of learning using the upper level of Bloom's Taxonomy
But the bigger beef I had with the discussion is that every other person in the room believed that these things were only possible with educational technology. I told them I realized it was heresy for me to disagree with a room full of state EdTech leaders, but I really felt it had to be said. (I also told someone their legislative report wasn't "sexy," but that's a different story...) It was also a lonely place for me to be.
Really? No collaborative work ever occurred before the existence of GoogleDocs? No student ever had a real world experience that connected the classroom with the outside world? Until now, there were no teachers who encouraged critical thinking and who differentiated learning?
Did we not send men to the moon with technology less sophisticated then what I have in my cell phone? Did we not eradicate smallpox long before fax machines and the Internet?
Oh, but they said, the technology allows the experiences to be richer---kids can generate and look at more data! Talk to people in other countries! I believe that technology facilitates those experiences, but it is not necessary in order to have them. I was still lonely in the room. Nope, they said, it's impossible. Only with technology can students have meaningful learning experiences.
I have smaller (mini-burger) beefs with the list, too. "Learning styles"? Bunk. Bloom's Taxonomy is not a hierarchy and was not intended as such. Those who believe that "recall" is a lower skill than "analysis" are dangerous. It's not the verb people---it's the task. Bloom does not describe cognitive demand merely by the box you put the verb in.
It should continue to be an interesting few days here. I imagine that it's a bit like being an atheist at the Southern Baptist Convention. Or perhaps I should consider myself to be a wolf in sheep's clothing. Either way, I'm sure that nothing I report here will be news to you...only to those who are too blind from the kool-aid to see need for good classroom instruction (with or without tools).