Saturday, October 27, 2007

Merely Managing Data?

This week's readings continued to inspire me in terms of what technological innovations can be integrated in the classroom experience. But as I read, I kept pondering if the utilization of these learning tools (i.e. electronic database software) assumes a certain base knowledge. I remain skeptical.

At this point, I agree that these technological tools can augment the learning experience and even add some breadth to the learning. But I cannot assume that the student will understand the logic and reasoning behind database structuring before they move too far ahead by simply navigating their way through it.

That leads me to the question that are we merely teaching our students how to manage data? Are we truly giving them the foundational tools to understand WHY a phenomenon is the way it is? Obviously both are needed. But we really need people who understand (from at least a minimal baseline) how to be information creators, not just information managers. Why does 3+2=5? Information creators have the capability of adding to our knowledge base, not just the application base. I am concerned that we are raising a generation of information managers.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Net Savvy vs. Research Savvy

The recent Net Savvy reading caused me to reexamine my hunch about today's students' ability to navigate the information highways in search of meaningful and data-proven research. I do agree with the author's premise that today's students have utilized technology in some capacity for as long as they can remember. They know how to seemlessly find information (i.e. via Wikipedia, Google, etc). But I have to question their ability to navigate through scientifically researched information to draw meaningful inferences about phenomena. In general, I feel their ability to "fill in the gaps" is missing. Complicated by parents that hover over and control their every move and teachers who "teach to the test," our students today lack the skills necessary to think on their feet, improvise, and draw reliable inferences from a valid base of data. Each move is prescribed. "Johnny do this. Watch out for that. If you go here, here's what will happen."

What ever happened equipping our children with the capacity and fortitude to figure some things out on their own? I'm not saying that we treat them like adults, but we can expect more. Why are we so overprotective? I cringe at the lack of rigor in my elementary children's spelling words. And I'm flabbergasted at the fact that they seldom are accountable for what the words actually mean.

Nevertheless, I believe that this trend of "quick fix information seeking" is contributing to the demise of academic rigor and one's ability to research and infer meaning based on valid and reliable data. If our students are relying on friends and general search engines to locate scholarly material, what lies in store for the field of information technology?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

More Human Learning

The class session with the gentlemen from Apple, coupled with the the "Did You Know" video shared by Dr. Faverty, really showed me a snapshot at the exponential growth of information. I agree with the idea that we can't control it. But we can teach students how to function within it. For example, lots of print information is being made available digitally. What implications could this bring financially? Would it less expensive to provide technological access instead of hard copy books? I think this is certainly worth exploration.

And as mentioned in my last blog, what implications for assessment does the digitization of information yield? With increasing ease in publishing, who decides what constitutes scholarly work or not?

Will teachers (at all levels) be rewarded for teaching amidst this new paradigm or for continuing to replicate the old paradigm? Or will educators teach students how to function within any paradigm? Food for thought...

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Human Learning

I like how this piece discussed the usage of some innovative technologies in the educational environment. I understand its empatus in truly engaging the student in "authentic" learning experiences. It's my interpretation that authenticity is subjective. Therefore, the student decides which learning experiences are truly worth their while. It seems like a never-ending game of "cat and mouse," with the teacher always trying to find a way to keep the student engaged.

I worry, however, if this can lead to students defining what gets taught in the classroom context. For example, they may not place any value on the Civil Rights Movement or other significant events. So what then? Do we no longer teach that subject? Maybe my perspective is limited beacuse I'm not a teacher.

This leads me to assessment. I am really curious to see how assessment protocols and criteria shift with this new learning emphasis. I do agree with the text in that assessment typically examines lower order thinking skills. How can we assess higher order thinking skills? Will the assessment model also shift? How will that affect the conducting and evaluation of research? And it goes on and on...

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Forward Thinking in Action

I left class really inspired last night. I've always been one to imagine the possibilities and it was a pleasure to hear from our guest, Patrick, someone who has made a living out of staying a step ahead of what is now.

Truth is this that anything we consider important, we'll find a way to do it. Period. I understand that there are many barriers in the field of education that need to be knocked down if we're going to see the results we're seeking. But just because it requires a different approach doesn't make it impossible. As the leaders, it's our job to rally the troops in the new approach and make the zeal infectious. Enthusiasm can somewhat buffer that which we don't fully understand.

In business, leaders and managers are forced to thrive in discomfort and uncertaintity. Their very livelihood depends on it. To me, this is leadership at its best. It doesn't take much leadership to replicate that which is already prescribed. Education has never been forced to live in that uncomfortable place; therefore has taken solace in "there's always tomorrow." Their jobs will still be there and funding (on a large scale) is not in jeopardy. Trust me, there would be a sense of urgency on every level if funds and jobs were at stake. I'm not saying that it's all about dollars and cents. But there are incentives that will inspire people to rise from mediocrity and complacency to a place of expected excellence.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Changing a Way of Thinking

Our classroom discussion got me really thinking about the paradigmatic shifts that are necessary if education is truly going to be educating our future. We operate under a reactionary model that lacks the ability to anticipate what's to come. And in my opinion, the lack of anticipatory thinking in our educational system mirrors the resulting mediocrity in academic achievement, faculty and staff morale, and innovation.

As leaders, it is our job to debunk this reactionary form of thinking and challenge our teachers, future leaders, and students to apply a different model. The existing one hasn't worked. Why not market success as the rule rather than the exception? I know this isn't possible until you change the person's belief system. Imagine the possibilities if we demanded and rewarded innovation. Google, Inc. has tapped into something in requiring "think time" as part of the work day.

Are people resistant to change because of their own inhibitions? How do we move them past that?

Sunday, September 30, 2007