Just watched the Charlie Rose interview with Thomas Friedman, Joel Klein of Amplify, Amy Gutman, President of UPenn, and Art Agerwal of EdEx. The subject was MOOCS, and I am not sure they told us anything new, but I had two thought take-aways:
We have asked if change in K-12 is, or needs to be, evolutionary or revolutionary. I think it is both. The true revolution is the degree to which connectivity will impact learning. The cognitosphere has been in development for less than a decade, yet we already see that students, teachers, and learning institutions that are not part of this now-forming neural network of knowledge creation, flow, and consumption will become backwaters. This is happening so fast and the change from a compartmentalized, controlled system of knowledge flow is so great, that we must admit that it is a revolution. The world has fundamentally and irrevocably changed; MOOCS are just one piece of the structure.
Our ability to mine, analyze, and differentiate learning for individuals is an evolutionary process. The advancement is rooted in new technologies, but our ability to understand, use, and leverage the results will continue to evolve as we interpret and modify pedagogy and process based on actual learning results. The Holy Grail (which as we know is something we never actually find) is using these new processes to actually make learning something that is maximized for each student, young or old.
The second thought is that teachers can become their idols. Every school group I have worked with recently, given the opportunity to parse what they provide of irreplaceable value, focuses on the relationships a school provides. Freed from the assembly line, every teacher can be Yoda, a connector to the universal forces of knowledge and wisdom. Or every teacher can embolden their students to stand on the desk, calling “O, Captain, my Captain”, because they can focus on who the students are, not what bit of knowledge they need to transfer.
Some will say that these events will only come to pass if we get rid of standards-based learning. I am going to remain an optimist, perhaps bleary-eyed, and say we can do both.