Two Weeks Later: Expanding Thoughts from #Embracing2012

Ya…this post might seem a little late, but that’s okay. It’s okay because I find that after professional development we (teachers) get all pumped up for the message, only to forget what we thought, felt, and got us excited in the first place; or we just didn’t implement anything in the first place. So for this post I’m going to revisit and expand upon some of the tweets I made while taking in the Embracing the Edge* conference.

I’m not writing an essay here, I just want to expand on some of these thoughts. These thoughts are basically about how we view the Internet and its purposes. For the sake of brevity and converstation, I’m going to simply give you some bulleted thoughts.

Got something to say to that? Good, comment!

The Tweets

Sagetweet_-_changing_curriculum
  • The world is constantly changing. Instead of focusing on learning “stuff” we need to develop skills to help decode that “stuff”.
  • Skill based courses can capitalize on this best because they are not constrained by mandated provincial “knowledge” outcomes.
  • Real, applicable lessons are all over happening all the time. Don’t be afraid to stop your class when a teachable moment occurs. If the students are engaged in the topic then you’re probably going to accomplish a lot more for their long-term education than you may think.
  • We no longer need be held hostage by textbook companies and encyclopedias. We don’t need a particular company to tell us what’s happening. There are huge amounts of wikis, blogs, magazines, and other reputable publishers and news agencies that give us the information we want to know. Want to learn a new skill? I’d check YouTube first!
Sagetweet_-_responsive_less_passive
  • We no longer have to sit back an take in media and be told what to think. We (the observer) are now a vital part of media landscape. We are welcomed to respond and interact with the producers of media and share our thoughts and opinions. In many cases, WE are the producers of information and media.
  • This is democracy! Because of the Internet, everyday people can interact and be heard among the vast array of voices online. People debating, arguing, producing, consuming, learning, and teaching. It’s the new age Agora.
  • The “older” generation has no problem with watching movies and TV, but “darn those video games!”. Well sorry to burst your bubble, but gaming is a much more immersive and responsive world that teaches a lot of critical thinking skills. Games tell stories, except you (the gamer) gets to participate in them.**
Sagetweet_-_information_experience
  • Looking at a screen, clicking buttons, and participating in technology is not always fun or engaging. Believe me, there are countless video games, websites, and programs where you can do this but they ARE NOT fun or engaging.
  • If we teachers think that just because we use “tech” in our class that we are teaching 21st Century skills, we are wrong! The students know how to do lots of this stuff already. It’s the closeness that we experience with one another in the exchange of information and stories that’s fascinating. Some examples are: being able to track and talk to celebrities via Twitter or Instagram; giving your opinion to your favourite companies or friends on Facebook; watching videos on YouTube to learn something or take in a great story; keeping up to date with what’s popular on the Internet and talking with people on Reddit. The examples are endless.

What now? How do we use this? What is “this”? Will we let our level of familiarity of online tools dictate if we want to learn it and use it? Are we willing to change how we teach in order to capitalize on the Information Revolution? What are the pitfalls?

Footnotes

* Based on the number of tweets I saw congratulating Andy McKiel (@amckiel), I believe it was him who was the driving force behind this conference. Bravo sir! You carried out this conference in a manner that truly practiced what we (tech educators) preach. The livestreaming of the keynote speakers was cutting edge, the number of tweeps interacting online was noteworthy, and the overall organization and presentation were executed flawlessly.

** There are lots of trash video games, just like there are trash movies, books, and TV. Don’t take my endorsement of gaming as a green-light for all gaming. It’s about moderation. I don’t think any individual should be spending 30+ hours a week watching movies, TV, or playing video games. This includes myself for the times that I have done this!
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