Brave New Wireless World

Typical 21st-century teenagers are now enrolled in cyber-school where they select and organize their own personal learning experiences. Every learner is equipped with the technology required to participate in this equitable, brave new wired world. Partnerships between computer companies and education ministries make this possible.

Students no longer sit in neat rows enduring archaic Socratic lectures delivered by burnt-out, autocratic teachers. Young people now are motivated by multimedia programs and learn at their own pace and level of understanding.

Does this scenario sound too far-fetched? Is this actually the future of education or merely a vision of things that might be?

Whatever the face of education will look like as the 21st century unfolds – one thing is certain: technology is dramatically changing the way our teachers will teach and our students will learn.

Today’s blog post is inspired by the following excerpt from an article, The New Face of Learning: the Internet breaks school walls down, by Will Richardson published in Edutopia’s magazine October 2006 issue:

“This is, indeed, a changed world. From the realities of war to the fears of avian flu and the global-warming crisis, these first few years of the twenty-first century have already tested us in innumerable ways, and the tests show no sign of abating in either intensity or frequency. But I wonder whether, twenty-five or fifty years from now, when four or five billion people are connecting online, the real story of these times won’t be the more global tests and transformations these technologies offered. How, as educators and learners, did we respond? Did we embrace the potentials of a connected, collaborative world and put our creative imaginations to work to re-envision our classrooms? Did we use these new tools to develop passionate, fearless, lifelong learners? Did we ourselves become those learners?

Or did we cling to old ideas, old models, and old habits and drift more fully into irrelevance in our students’ eyes?”

The reality is – it’s not too late to reshape the education system to effectively harness the transformational power of collaborative technologies like blogs, wikis and podcasts on the Internet.

School districts need to create a clear vision and framework to direct and implement broad-based teacher training and student access to these dynamic technologies as well as a robust financial plan to support and sustain them.

Student buy-in is pretty much a given. As each day passes, our children continue to drift away from the tired teacher-centered pedagogies of yesterday. They live, breath and converse in a brave new wireless world where instant messaging and online sharing are king.

Yet the rush to embrace new technologies should be tempered with the fact that they are tools. Effective teachers inspire students and foster the love of learning; computers can’t. Educators can set moral and academic standards and encourage their students to achieve them; computers can’t. Computers have lots of memory but no imagination.

Our current education system may very well one day be replaced by a new paradigm that fully utilizes the collaborative nature of the read and write technologies of the Internet. But let’s hope that tomorrow’s learners never completely lose contact with real human beings who can both enlighten and inspire them to realize even greater heights.

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One Comment on “Brave New Wireless World”

  1. Rodd Lucier says:

    A more upbeat view:

    I was going through some old school photos yesterday (80’s-90’s), and came across many that documented learning experiences that were truly engaging for both student and teacher.

    I had the great benefit of working with a dynamic risk-taking staff in my early teaching years, but in switching schools, I began to teach with my classroom door closed… too many colleagues just didn’t get it.

    With evolving technologies bypassing many educators, we can only hope enough teacher-learners can create a tipping point for change…


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