Thursday, May 03, 2007

Old School, School 1.0, or School 2.0?

Old School, School 1.0, or School 2.0?

Take a little time and think about the true meaning of the above concepts. What are they? Sometimes a couple of these topics seem like more than a conundrum. Old school for example has become something of a cliché. When teachers or individuals refuse to embrace change we often hear “That’s old school.” How appropriate! As such, I was reading the article from Time “How to Bring our Schools out of the 20th Century” [via the link at the school 2.0 wiki] and I thought that the introductory significantly framed the current predicament of many U.S. school systems. They’re stuck in the old school rut and they don’t really want out.

Wallis and Steptoe (2006) sum it up with an analogy, “Rip Van Winkle awakens in the 21st century after a hundred-year snooze and is, of course, utterly bewildered by what he sees. Men and women dash about, talking to small metal devices pinned to their ears. Young people sit at home on sofas, moving miniature athletes around on electronic screens. Older folk defy death and disability with metronomes in their chests and with hips made of metal and plastic. Airports, hospitals, shopping malls--every place Rip goes just baffles him. But when he finally walks into a schoolroom, the old man knows exactly where he is.” Unfortunately, this heartbreaking analogy is a reality in a lot of U.S. school systems. Sure we have a computer in almost every room, but often it isn’t used for anything more than taking attendance, submitting grades, and checking/sending electronic mail. With the exception of a few gizmos and gadgets, nothing has really changed since the early 1900’s. This is Old School!

Schools systems that are willing to spend money or that have money to spend are ahead of these “old school” schools, but not by much. These schools fall in the 1.0 category (i.e. School 1.0). They have the technology in house to use, but few teachers if any are actually integrating the technology into their classrooms. A typical 1.0 school uses technology for the sake of using technology. For example, if you did a walk through, you’d find teachers using LCD projectors or SmartBoards to show video clips, movies, and maybe even presentations. School 1.0 really isn’t that bad. Rip Van Winkle would be impressed if he visited a 1.0 school, but these schools are still stuck in the 20th Century rut of traditional schooling. There’s so much more!

What? School 2.0 or course! 2.0 schools embrace, seek out, and find new innovative ways to utilize 21st Century technologies to promote sound pedagogical practices in all classrooms. 2.0 schools are trailblazers. They don’t wait for others to build a road through the jungle; they get out their machetes [technologies] and clear a path. In a typical 2.0 school students are familiar with blogs, wikis, podcasts, classroom management software (e.g. moodle), and social networking. In these schools students are more than just aware of these technologies; they are using them responsibly on a daily basis. If old Rip Van Winkle walked into a 2.0 school, he would most likely go immediately into cardiac arrest. This is School 2.0!

To sum things up, we can’t nor should we embrace School 2.0 as the perfect solution for our schools. School 2.0 is just one piece of the elaborate puzzle, but it’s a significant piece. The tie that binds! The perfect solution is to take all of the best practices from the 20th Century and combine them with School 2.0. Creating a collage of Old School, School 1.0, and School 2.0 practices can bring our schools out of the doldrums of the 20th Century and into the 21st Century. It will have monumental affects on student learning and achievement. Moreover, integrating School 2.0 technologies may even reduce the dropout rate. Isn’t it time we moved our schools into the 21st Century? It’s like this… “If we build it, they will come.”


William Bishop (Bill)

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