A Lot to Chew On ....

5/18/2005 05:28:00 pm

I had the good fortune to attend a presentation and briefly chat with Alan November Monday night. After his 90 minute talk he left the entire room breathless.

Some of the themes and issues Alan raised:

The boomerang generation. About 30% (and growing each year) of young people, having left home around the age of majority, return home to live with their parents.

He pointed to Stanford University's Education Program For Gifted Youth (EPGY) website where he showed the curriculum available to the k-2 set for $400US. In math these kids begin algebra in grade 1. Your $400US gets you 3 years of enriched schooling online, 24/7 whenever you want it. Alan said most kids work their way through this curriculum in 6 months! This isn't fair! Education isn't just for the rich! Teachers should collaborate and create high quality, continuously evolving online courses accessible to everyone 24/7. We don't need big software packages like WebCT or Blackboard when something like Moodle is available for free.

He talked about the power of RSS in education. Giving an example of two university students; one with a bloglines account, one without. While the first, RSS educated, student sleeps, his Bloglines account pulls in the latest information from international universities all over the world. He'll use this information to write the various required papers, essays and research summaries in his classes. While the second student sleeps; he sleeps. Which student will have greater academic success? Which will learn more? Which will create, for himself, the best education he can?

Teachers missed the boat with instant messaging. The reaction of the educational community was to keep IM out of school. His 15 year old son, after hearing him talk about IM came home from school one day and told his dad he finished ALL his homework; he typically doesn't do his homework. Alan asked to see it. His son explained: "Well, these two kids are doing the math, those two the English, this group is working on science, another on social studies. When we're done we just IM each other our work." Homework becomes obsolete. (Or does it?) The school thinks this boy should be punished for not doing his homework. Alan suggests he should be rewarded for his social skills, networking ability, intelligence and innovative solution to every students' homework problem. What do you think? How should the education community react to the evolution of blogs, wikis, furl, and other social tools freely available on the internet? He pleads with us not to miss the boat this time.

Alan is advocating a cultural revolution in education. Kids have to learn how to think globally, to manage massive amounts of information and they have to be self-directed in their learning. He's saying that parents need to get their kids globally connected using blogs and wikis. The spur to change the educational system should come from the home. That's a bit of a mouthful. I have trouble getting parents to come out to see me once a semester for parent/teacher interviews.

There was lots more but this is what I'm chewing on for now.

Lots of other folks are chewing on some of these ideas too. Check out these links:

Yeah, an awful lot to chew on ....

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