To bring learning back into school

By Anne Collier

This is a mashup of a blog post and a retweet. I’m basically retweeting (Twitter users’ term for reposting someone else’s tweet because you think it’s worth your own followers’ attention) educator and author Will Richardson’s March 2011 TEDxNYED talk in case you missed it. At about 1:30 into Will’s 14-min. talk, he mentions 17-year-old professional cinematographer Mark Klassen in Ontario. Here’s Mark’s beautiful blog, where – along with – he posts his work and gets feedback from fellow filmmakers all over the world. This is how and where Mark is consciously, actively learning his art – in social media, not in school (how powerful it would be to bring that learning into school for all students!), and in concert with people around the world who share his passion for film. Will quotes Mark as saying, “Sharing my work online has become a huge part of the way I learn. Those connections make it possible for me to gain a bigger audience, which means more feedback and more learning.” Will gives plenty of evidence in his talk of how school in the US is more and more about test prep, pointing out that test prep and learning are two very different things. And it’s learning and the joy of its pursuit that he wants for his own and all children (school, he says, should be about life prep, not test prep). Will finishes with a quote from social philosopher Eric Hoffer (1902-1983): “In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.” This is decidedly a time of change.

The body of evidence is growing fast that heaps of learning in so many subjects and genres is happening in social media. [Will says in his talk that, with these new media they find so compelling, our children have access to “2 billion teachers,” and it’s at least partly because they have that access to professional mentoring, feedback, competition, etc. around the world that they find these media so compelling.] So think about it! Since so much learning is going on in social media, it’s quite possible that – if we can bring use of social media like 17-year-old Mark Klassen’s into classrooms throughout the day and curriculum – we can bring learning back into school.

Related links

* In a video interview, Arizona State University Prof. James Paul Gee “reminds us that testing drives teaching and that we won’t get genuine reform of teaching until we have genuine reform of our testing,” and – because so many of our children find videogames compelling – we might consider how testing works in games, Australian educator Nev writes, linking to the video. Testing, Gee, says, happens throughout games; it’s essentially feedback, which players seek so they know if they’re mastering the tasks of successful plan or of leveling up.
* From Digital Media & Learning: “Why ‘democratized’ and ‘participatory’ learning are essential to educational renaissance” – a video interview with Diana Rhoten of the Social Science Research Council
* “A student’s view of informal learning’s value”
* “5th-graders teaching us about teaching digital citizenship
* “Student’s tornado relief page on Facebook”
* “Students’ PLNs: Great social media use!”
* “‘Do no harm’: Message to educators, parents”
* And, back in May ’09, “School & social media: Uber big picture”

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