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Blogging K12 Online Inventing New Boundaries

David Warlick, Keynote Address

(You can follow the subsequent conversations using this tag: k12online07pc)

I’m writing this as I, intermittently, watch David Warlick’s keynote address for the K12 Online Conference. Intermittently because I am able to pause the video or audio and post my thoughts in this post or on Twitter for others to read. This is the essence of the K12 Online Conference as you will find out. David’s presentation is great because it is so real. Real in the sense that anyone could record the way he did this keynote. Now I’m not suggesting that anyone could keynote this conference, David has loads of experience presenting and conducting workshops on the concepts of connected learning, learning through communities and outside of traditional boundaries. I can imagine some who are participating for the first time in this conference expecting that the keynote video would be professionally produced and edited (in fact it has, David is quite the professional). That might turn some participants off, man I hope not. They would miss so much insightful information from the keynote and the conference itself.

David spoke about his reference his talk last year about the railroad system and how students are all on the same track. Which is the traditional model, is it not? He then compared learning is now more like an airplane taking off on the runway. It will taxi down the runway and proceed to take off on a flight path. Differing from the train on the track, the plane follows it’s flight path, however, it can deviate from it’s path if needed. With the train track it’s one direction with occasional changing tracks at specified “crossroads”. In the airplane model we are only limited to the airports and the runways for landing and takeoff. I really like this analogy to describe learning in our bound education system. My 16 year old stepson, who is extremely intelligent and well read, rejects school for learning it is more a social face-to-face environment for him. I have often said to him that he is in a system that is breaking down and that in order to succeed in this arena he has to “jump through the hoops”. This is sad that I have said this, but isn’t this the reality? For all we blog about learning in the blogosphere it still remains that the shift that is happening is slow. Our current students can experience transformative learning, however, it will most likely be on their own, not from their current cadre of teachers.

David describes how his son learned, not from his teachers at school, but on his very own:

“He learned, because he’s connected. He learned, because he’s part of a network, he’s part of a community. He learned because he knows how to find people, who can help him learn what he needs to know to do, what he wants to do.”

Another quote that resonates with me and should with all educators:

The problem is when they enter our classrooms, we chop these tentacles off. We want our children to be the students we want to teach, rather than teaching the children that they are. And this is an insult to our children.

One point I would contend with David is when he states that “our classrooms are flat”. I disagree. I don’t think our classrooms, as they appear currently, are flat. I don’t disagree that they could be “flat” allowing students and teachers to learn from each other, however, I might suggest changing this to “our students are flat”. As David suggests, we can use the info savvy students to tap their “intrinsic needs”:

  • Responsive Information Environments
  • Communicate & Share Personal Experiences
  • Form & Participate in Communities
  • Ask Questions, Accomplish & Invest themselves
  • Safely Make Mistakes
  • Earn Audience & Attention

I believe that all educators NEED to understand the New Information Landscapes, maybe not for their own learning (they may have a learning landscape that works for them), but definitely for their students learning.

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