Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Forum Question:

Do you remember the definition of cusp? Today we are at the cusp of a momentous change in teaching and learning on a global scale. Your generation has grown up connected to the world. The toys and tools of the Internet are an integral part of your daily life. According to our Student Internet Use Questionaire you spend an average of 1-2 hours online each day. Marc Prensky called you digital natives in his essay, Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. You think and process information differently than those of previous generations. You are used to getting information really fast and like to multi-task. You prefer graphics and games over text and tasks. You are impatient; you crave instant gratification and thrive on frequent rewards. Prensky suggests that your brains are physically different because of the digital input you receive growing up. What does this all mean for you as you try to navigate through the information wilderness that lies ahead?

Read through the following questions, and then choose one on which to write a thoughtful reflection.

1. In the introduction to our weblog it was suggested that because of Web 2.0, “Anyone can learn anything, from anyone, anywhere, at anytime”. Do you agree or disagree with this statement? If you agree, then what role do schools and formal education play in your learning? If you disagree, then what gets in the way of learning?

2. Mark Twain said, “Never let formal education get in the way of your learning.” What did he mean by that? Is technology blurring the boundary between formal and informal learning?

3. How do schools need to change to better serve the needs of you digital natives?

4. The video Did You Know presented a provocative view of the world of the 21st century changing at an exponential rate.The video states that , “… schools are preparing students for jobs that don’t yet exist…with technologies that haven’t been invented … in order to solve problems we don’t even know are problems yet …” using technology that quickly becomes obsolete. If all this is true, then what should schools be teaching?

5. Describe the essential skills, knowledge and expertise you think you need to master in order to succeed in work and life of the 21st Century.


  1. Bru,

    Are you thinking of creating a virtual online high school? It would certainly cut down on expenses. You are probably very familiar with www.21STCENTURYSKILLS.ORG? I appreciate the emphasis on technology, but they also highlight some other very important skills which I think technology touches on(information & media literacy, communication skills, critical thinking and systems thinking, problem identification, formulation and solution, creativity and intellectual curiosity, interpersonal and collaborative skills, self direction - accountability and adaptability), but which may get lost in the shuffle. I only worry that some think that technology in education is the end all, at the expense of good teaching and "real" (I'll leave that up to your imagination) communication. I like your site! I'd love to see the student responses to the 5 questions.

    Sarcasm Guy

  2. Sarcasm guy,

    I agree with your comment that some may view technology as the end rather than as a viable means to develop the 21st century skills that you mentioned. It is an enlightened educator that recognizes the difference, and designs both online and face-to-face activities to foster those skills.

    You are right to be wary of the computer acting as a barrier to “real” communication. It is easy to use the computer to shield us from any real human contact, replacing human relationships with virtual connections. However it can also be viewed as a democratic tool of communication that can lead to greater participation. It can act as an equalizer that encourages those who are timid to make their opinion heard.

    I do not think that online and e-learning will ever replace a teacher’s influence in the physical classroom. Maybe I am old school, but I believe that there is value-added for my students to be in the same classroom with me. A thoughtful blend of online activities to supplement classroom instruction perhaps should become the recipe for 21st century education.

  3. Gosh, I wish I had you as my math teacher when I was young and impressionable!