Thursday, September 25, 2014

It's an Open World... Where there is a will, there is a way to learn

Recently in our ECI 831 Community I posted a TED talk from Sugata Mitra on "Building a school in the cloud" or learning in the cloud. It's premise is that when given the opportunity kids will teach themselves - without teachers, without classrooms, without background or prior knowledge. (Kind of makes you wonder about our role as educators when you see the video).

What motivated thes kids from the streets of New Delhi was the drive to learn and the opportunity to do so via the "Hole in the Wall". In our schools we provide so much more than a hole-in-the-wall. We look at pedagogical needs, multiple intelligences, resources, cross curricular teaching and teaching strategies... I'm barely exploring all aspects that are considered in education... but I must get to the point... We work so hard to "get through" to kids, to capture their interest and engage. Then when I watch Mitra's TED Talk, I wonder how do we allow for those windows into student self discovery into their own learning? How we create opportunities for students to be so engaged that they want to figure it out for themselves?

Another aspect that I loved about Mitra's project are the Granny Cloud of Tutors. When you think of the phrase, "It takes a village to raise a child". The Cloud Granny Tutors are examples of how with access to Skype that village becomes the Global village. The project is an example of how intergenerational boundaries and socioeconomic boundaries can be conquered with new ways of thinking.

Another thing that this video got me thinking was the role of the teacher. Perhaps as teachers we need to "back off". This does not mean that I'm advocating teachers assigning random projects to the kids and providing no direction... it would be pretty hard to justify the hands off hole the wall concept when teachers are there to do a job - teachers must be accountable! But perhaps we need to explore helping students develop the skills to think and persevere, even when things get complicated or tough - deepen that "grit" and the drive to learn. Sounds good, but how do we do that??

In order deepen understanding we need to explore what it means to question, or learn how to inquire and dig deeper into issues. Inquiry doesn't just mean asking questions and quickly coming to the answer. If this is the case, then the exploration is pretty shallow and you haven't really aimed at finding out real answers. With inquiry, when one piece of information is found, more questions will invariably come up. To me this is very close to some of the points that were explored in our discussion with Dave. The whole Rhizomatic learning is about when you think you got to the root of your question, another question pops up. This is the kind of thinking we want to develop with students... to dig deeper, find other questions or perspectives and make our own meaning... and this is where Genius Hour comes in... students would be able to examine their own questions about a problem, issue or question. Ideally I think it would be beneficial for them to blog and collaborate on their questions, as it is proven over and over that although one does need internal drive, most learn best when we can collaborate and hear other perspectives. In some ways, this is how I would change the Genius Hour model (if there was a "model" to follow) - organize a method for students to also share their questions or findings. The question I'm now exploring is the forum for this communication for students - Kidblog? Edmodo? Video logs? Wikis?? What would be the best place for individual logging of learning - but also a shared space for collaboration.

I also believe that there is so much potential for sharing and collaboration, that as educators we should also take the time to learn from each other in a community. Teachers could collaboratively explore the format, expectations, curricular outcome connections and assessment... As with any project we can accomplish more or increase our depth of understanding when we explore something together. I suppose this would be the true nature of the potential outcomes of using the Google Plus community and Twitter platform for this class. When I think about it, it's nice to explore some of these platforms as "learners" and take this experience and knowledge into the classroom.

What it all comes down to is... ACCESS.
Has access to digital technologies and the Internet become one of the cornerstones to quality education?
In our world where we have Internet access, are schools doing everything to push past the boundaries and explore what is available?

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for your post Jenn. I thought this video and concept were inspiring! Curious to see what format you decide for your Genius Hour sharing.