Wednesday, April 25, 2007

21st Century Learning, School20, and K12 Online

I have been an advocate of technology since I first started wandering around the Internet as an undergraduate in the early 90s. For me, using technology to teach just makes good sense. Nevertheless, I was wandering around blindly until I was introduced to APBC’s 21st Century Teaching and Learning Project. Although, I’m still wandering around, I now seem to be wandering around with my eyes wide open. As a result of the 21st Century Teaching and Learning Project, I have blogs, wikis, dsn sites, and more online accounts than I can keep up with. Moreover, my students are using my Spanish blog, Spanish wiki, and moodle on a weekly basis. Although, all of this takes up a substantial amount of my time, it’s all worth it. I plan to do even more in the future.

The past!

This past fall my school became apart of Alabama Best Practices Center’s 21st Century learning program. When my principal came to and ask me to be apart of the process I was a bit reluctant to jump in, and then he told me that it was technology based. Enough said! I told him if it had to do with technology to count me in and I thanked him for the invitation. Looking back I am thankful for the opportunity to be apart of the 21st Century Teaching and Learning Project. It was a real blessing.

At the first meeting Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach and notable others presented a presentation about 21st Century learning. The presentation was outstanding and presented a number of current and emerging technologies, but the main topic of the presentation had to do with the way schools are currently run and teaching the Net Generation. Most schools are stuck in a rut or have an old school mentality of the way teaching and learning should take place. The 21st Century Teaching and Learning Project provides an avenue to help teachers keep up with the Net Generation.

What we need for the future?

Nussbaum-Beach says that we have to stop un-plugging our students when they reach the front doors of our schools. After all, students have cell phones, iPods, laptops, and utilize a variety of gizmos and gadgets at home only to have these removed when they come to school. Then they are stuck with teachers that expect them to sit in their seats and listen to sometimes dull lectures without the assistance of technology. Nussbaum-Beach asserts that we have to plug our students back in if we want to create a 21st Century learning environment.

Warlick might say that the old school mentality deals with students being feed and consuming information only to regurgitate it at a later time. In contrast, in 21st Century learning students should contribute as much as they consume. If I’m wrong maybe David will correct my thinking, but I believe that students have to contribute as well as consume if we are to truly achieve School 2.0 and get out of the old school rut.

Richardson would say that we have to connect with our students if we want them to connect with us. If we don’t understand where our students are coming from, how can we connect with them? He points out that at most conferences when he asks about social networking only about 5 percent of the teachers have social networking sites of their own. It’s going to be hard to connect with students if teachers don’t have a clue where their students are coming from.

John Norton would say that if we truly want to reach our students, we must create virtual learning communities. In other words, we must create virtual learning environments (VLEs) or personal learning environments (PLEs) if we are intent on teaching and reaching our 21st Century learners. Moreover, we have to change the way we do business in our schools. School reform as a result of 21st Century Technologies is now more important than ever.

I agree with all of the above! If I over stepped my bounds or put words wrongly in the mouths of any of the persons above they can correct my thinking. What I am certain about is that we have to move forward with School 2.0 and away from old archaic teaching practices. I’m not saying that we should stop lecturing. Good lectures provide a strong foundation for learning, but too much of a good thing can be bad. Also, I don’t believe that we should be using technology for the sake of using technology. However, I do believe that we should be using technology to connect with our students. We should be using technology to promote learning and higher order thinking skills. But ultimately, we should be using technology because our students love technology and they will be using it throughout their lives. It isn’t hard to get a duck to take to water. Just show it the pond!

The future!

Speaking of showing a duck to a pond, Wesley Fryer’s latest post highlights the upcoming K12 Online Conference. In his words…

“Yes, it’s coming again in October 2007 - another outstanding professional development opportunity that can go on and on… The K-12 Online Conference! Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach posted a great summary of the conference and review of what took place last year on her blog, I’d encourage you to read it. Note that Frost and Sullivan just published an article focusing on what a tremendous professional learning event K-12 Online 2006 was!”

Thanks Wes…

I attended the conference and continue to revisit the posts from time to time. The 2006-K-12 Online Conference was outstanding. I look forward to the 2007 K-12 Online Conference with great anticipation. The only drawback is that I have to wait till October. Fortunately, we plan to have an onsite technology conference for our teachers at my school in August and the AETC conference is in June.

William Bishop (Bill)


Blogger Techyolk said...

Hi Bill,

The article on 21st Century Learning, School20, and K12 Online is quite good, i realy liked it, i think so it will happen.

7:04 AM  
Blogger WBishop said...


8:59 AM  
Blogger snbeach said...

Well said! Thanks for such a great mash-up article of us all.


10:03 AM  
Blogger WBishop said...

You're welcome. Thanks for K12Online...

10:47 AM  
Blogger John said...

Hey, Bill... You got it right when you said I think formal as well as "loosely joined" virtual learning communities -- including teacher communities -- are an essential part of Web/School 2.0. Great job summarizing important points in the ABPC 21st Century Learning project. It's been the eagerness of you and many other educators in the beta group (a nicer term than lab rats!) that helped us experiment with new ways to combine PD and community building.

12:21 PM  
Blogger CathyGassenheimer said...

Hi Bill! Thank you for your thoughtful reflection on your involvement in the 21st Century Project! We're honored to be working with you, your school and the other committed educators involved in this very important project.

1:50 PM  
Blogger WBishop said...

John, it's nice being a lab rat for this project. Thanks for the comment.

Cathy,we're honored to be working with you and the rest of your team. Thanks for the opportunity.

11:27 PM  

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