Video – This is how we think

I recently revisited a video I originally viewed well over a year ago. I highly recommend it as it presents ideas relevant to schools as we think about new media and shifting paradigms of communication. In this post, I’d like to share the video as well as my notes.

  • Fundamental shift in human communication
  • As the data collection gets better and better (the elements in the system), the model has to become more complicated. As humans we want to “save the appearances” – to hold on to what we believe. How can we make the model more complex to account for the data but not change the model? In educational technology, we preserve the model and tack on the technology. We cannot continue to preserve the model.
  • The shift in communication will change our paradigm of education.
  • A paradigm shift doesn’t mean that everybody changes their point of view. It’s how we see things that changes – our relationship to the elements of the system. A paradigm shift is a shift in perspective – a new way of organizing the elements of the system.
  • We are moving from a print-centric paradigm to a network-centric paradigm. We are organizing the elements of the system differently

  • How do we in education adjust to the realities of a network-centric world?
  • Where do you imagine your work ending up – paper or screen? If it is a screen, then we need to rethink education – all the relationships change. The screen (or composing in the 21st century) means composing in text, sound, moving images.
  • Resourcefulness – thoughtful about how we move from information scarcity to information abundance.
  • Learning in Public – the notion of privacy and learning has changed. It is possible to watch the greatest thinkers of our time to think in real time. We don’t have to wait for their ideas to be fully formed and published in journals. We can now watch the thinking happen in public in real-time.
  • Our educational challenges are bigger than ever. In order to solve them, we need to think together in public. We now have the tools to do this more easily than ever. The world is fundamentally collective and collaborative.
  • Writing – a vehicle for extending thought – for thinking. What does it look like to write? The revision process is public – who is the audience? There now is an audience and it is possible to get a response in real time.
  • Writing is an invitation to conversation and get the ideas better – it’s not about “getting it right” the first time.
  • Writing in Public – In a networked-centric environment, you can have a conversation with the writer about the writing – challenging the ideas, extending the ideas – an open engagement of ideas.
  • Thinking in Public – We can pull out and see the resources the writer is working with – a 3-D topography of a textual world a writing moves through – text, video, sound, historic documents – hyperlinking. The writer provides for you the landscape of what he was accessing to work through his/her ideas. We can now see the canvas for our thinking and writing. Engaging with the ideas of others and presenting your own thoughts. Connective thinking in real time.
  • Reading in Public – Traditionally a solitary activity. Sites like Diigo allow us to share our thinking about our reading. We can read together online.
  • The challenge is to produce the curiosity that will motivate others to engage in the processes and technology of learning, writing, thinking and reading in public.
  • Turning away from the prison cell of the self and toward the new paradigm of public.



Redesigning the Language of “21st Century Skills”

The language of 21st century skills has become so pervasive it has lost meaning – words such as communication, collaboration, problem solving, etc. Stephen Downes posted thoughts on new language – language that he says “reflect(s) the times and not simply the fact that we have a lot of machines.”

  • Emergent Thinking: extracting patterns, rules, regularities, prototypes
  • Sensing Value: finding meaning, truth, relevance, purpose, goals
  • Acting Semiotically: using signs, signals, art, design, etc., to do things
  • Seeing Beyond: describing, defining, drawing conclusions, explaining data
  • Ecological Sensitivity: placing in context, seeing frames, making meaning
  • Living in Change: understanding flow, adaptation, progression

While I’m just starting to think about these ideas, I really like them. This language provides traction to the generic language to the description of most 21st century skill. To develop these skills individually is powerful, and to apply them in a social setting with others who have developed these skills is even more powerful.

How does what we currently do in school reflect the deep development of these relevant skills? What should we stop doing? What should we keep doing? What should we redesign to better reflect the skills?

Culture of Dissent

If you’re in education, you probably have just winced at the title of this post. That’s because most education cultures don’t engage in dissent very well. And maybe that’s part of our problem. If we are constantly spending time “covering up” the sucky stuff about what we do and where we work and not facing the problems head-on, we’ll never achieve greatness. As Tim Harford, author of Adapt: Why Success Always Starts With Failure, says in the short video linked below, every organization has moments and areas that suck. It’s the ability to identify those areas and engage in conversation about improving them that will move suck to non-suck. That conversation will often be fierce with good, healthy, dissenting opinions on how to change.

The challenge, though, is not simply being willing to define areas that suck, but to want to improve and become great, even when you differ on how improvement (or non-suck) should look.

Tim Harford – Big Think video

Blended Learning – Pt. II

My district is in the early stages of examining virtual learning. The primary objective, at the moment, seems to be to create our own virtual school in order to “bring back” students who have left the district to enroll in cyber charter schools. While that is fine (assuming we hold the mirror up and ask the question – Why are they leaving?), the creation of our own virtual school doesn’t necessarily benefit our current students. The variations of blended learning shared in an earlier post provide some traction to the question – What can we do better than simply create our own virtual school?

In this post I want to share some of the resources I’ve discovered over the past few days. The ideas shared here will likely find their way into our conversations. What other resources would you suggest as we research the topic of blended/virtual learning.

7 Things You Should Know About First Generation Learning Analytics – The latest in the 7 Things You Should Know About... series from Educause sheds light on an important component of effective online learning. Learning analytics are in their infancy, but it is exciting to think about how they will improve in the near future and what that improvement will mean for the teaching and learning process. Learning analytics will need to become more sophisticated if online learning is to reach its full potential. I have no doubt we will get there.

The Rise of K-12 Online Blended Learning – Almost a year old, this report outlines in more detail the models of blended learning explained in the Education Elements video shared in the Blended Learning Pt. I post.

A Closer Look at Cyber Charter Schools – In this TEDx video, Ali Carr-Chelman asks good questions about cyber charter schools. Her talk helps point us in the direction that whatever solution we arrive at must be greater than simply a cyber school of our own. That would be too much for the good of the organization and not necessarily the good of our current brick and mortar students. This doesn’t have to be an either/or. Whatever solution we arrive at – and it may be a two-pronged solution – virtual and blended/hybrid – must be driven by the need to improve and grow what we currently do.

Gamification and Education

I loved watching this video on how powerful learning can be when it involves game thinking. As I was watching, I kept thinking, “We are the problem. It is our ‘adult’ mindset that needs to change.” In fact, most “adults” watching this would probably cringe at the things Gabe Zichermann is proposing related to education. Then at about 14:00 he says this:

We are the generation most out of touch with our future or current children than any generation in history. We like to think that baby boomers’ parents were the most out of touch people in the world. They’re the ones who had to deal with the summer of love, sex and drugs and all that kind of stuff. We still make phone calls! We are the ones with the problem, and we are going to be the most out-of-touch generation in history.

The prescription?

Get into the game with your kids. Stop fighting the game trend. Become one with the game. Enter the game. Understand it. Understand the dynamic of how your children play the games that they play. Understand how their minds work from the context of the game outward rather than from the world outside, inward. The world that we live in right now – the world of Sunday afternoons, drinking a cup of herbal tea, reading some old book, chilling out by the window – is over. And that’s OK. There are a lot more things we can do that are fun and engaging – you get a chance to go play with your kids.

The key to changing mindsets is to stop looking at the “problem” from our own world, but rather from inside the world of the “problem” – in this case, gaming. What other areas do leaders and educators need to shift mindset?