Working ourselves out of a job

Out of all the discussions around the purpose of school and the goal of education, no one argues that the idea of developing "life long learners" is critical. Some use the phrase in mission statements, others emphasize it less but I don't know anyone who doesn't value that concept. 

Yet we do very little to achieve that goal. 

One of my favorite moments over the past several years was having a teacher write me about some of the changes she was making in her classroom. She described a shift of handing the reigns of learning over to students and moving from doing everything to as she put it:

Talk about engaged learning. I could be sitting at the back quilting!! They are helping each other, going above and beyond any expectations I have.

Of course she didn't sit at that back of the room quilting, but it does illustrate that her role as teacher at the front, in control of the learning had shifted. There are many new roles she will now have to embrace. I think there are some similarities for all types of classrooms but in particular I've been wondering how the gradual release of responsibility should look Read the rest

A Portal Page

While this remains my primary place of learning and contact, the fact that we continue to play and learn in other spaces makes the idea of a home or portal more important.

Last year I purchased but wasn’t quite sure what to do with it. For a while I used it as a place to try and sell our house. This weekend I went ahead and built a portal page much like you see at I see Ian Hecht created one as well.

I’m not totally sure how this will play out, whether this will actually impact my identity or simply be something I use to point folks to when they want more than my blog. The simple idea of owning my personal domain name seems like something more people should be doing.

Anyone else explored this concept and figured it out?… Read the rest

My hometown

mapInspired by Doug Peterson, who was inpsired by ZeFrank that then inspired Stephen Downes and others I’ve created a little video of my life growing up in Morden, Manitoba. ¬†Thanks to the every growing database of Google Streetview, it’s now reaching even small towns like the one I grew up in.

This one’s mostly for me. Yet, it’s been interesting to learn about other’s experiences growing up. Lots of similarities largely due to a very different attitude toward safety and community. (By the way, I recall a blog post/website a few months back where someone detailed the changes in how far kids are allowed to roam from home, if anyone knows it please leave a link)

Besides the content, the use of Google Maps/Streetview as storytelling tools is largely underused as Alan Levine has said a number of times. Watching Jim Groom’s video, was like literally like going for a walk with him.

I created this with about 3 Jing movies stitched together and then uploaded to blip and youtube. One take. No rehearsal or editing, other than adding a title and one image I had handy. It lacks polish but most of our stories … Read the rest

Are We Text Snobs?

This post will be double posted to the tech learning blog shortly.

Schools are text snobs. Most people reading this are text snobs. Our institutions are built around the written word. That in itself is not bad and we owe much of our culture, knowledge and understanding to the written word. It’s not our fault, we’ve been living in a world that up until a few years ago, only offered us to easily produce content via the written word. But like the revolution of the printing press, we are in the midst of a revolution of a digital nature that’s allowing us to easily create and consume context in many different forms, specifically audio, video and imagery.

So what are our schools doing to address this? I’d say for the most part very little. I must say I’m please to note that many curricula, are beginning to address this gap. In fact my own Saskatchewan Curriculum identifies these six strands as the cornerstone of the English Language Arts Curriculum: Reading, Writing, Speaking, Listening and Viewing and Representing. All are considered equal but take a wild guess as to which ones receive the bulk of the attention? No doubt that many … Read the rest

THIS is a 21st Century Skill

I’ve struggled with the term 21st Century skill since many of these skills have been around for a long time. It’s not a discussion I’m passionate about but sometimes I’m struck but the clarity of a skill that is clearly new to this century.

Video is indeed a 21st century skill. Take the recent contest for the Best Job in the World. Applicants were charged with creating a one minute video as their application. The ones highlighted on Presentation Zen are impressive. But Stephen Downes nails it,

They are, of course, creative and imaginative and effective. Now for the kicker: ten years ago, not one student in a hundred, nay, one in a thousand, could have produced videos like this. It’s a whole new skill, a vital and important skill, and one utterly necessary not simply from the perspective of creating but also of comprehending video communication today. Some people out there argue that such skills (a) are old hat, and (b) not worth teaching. The world is passing such critics by, and they should not be heeded.

Our schools need to re-evaluate how much time we spend on print alone and start broadening our focus. Joe BrennanRead the rest