Posts Tagged ‘education’

In this very engaging talk, young Adora Svitak reminds us all, including educators, that we need to listen to students, provide them with a voice, and remember that learning is reciprocal. The most poignant part of the talk are the statements around adults adding layers of control to what we fear. While not speaking specifically to mobile learning, one can see the arguments around mobile learning and BYOD over the years following the same process of fear and control, and adults not listening to kids, that Ms. Svitak speaks about.


Here’s a Youtube video on the future of learning featuring Stephan Heppell.  I recently heard Stephan Heppell speak at Leading Learning 2009 and was fascinated by his ideas and his charisma. Two ideas that I find important in this video are the ideas of “learning to learn” and “learning by failing”.  What struck me as well is the heart surgeon who said that he’s been doing heart surgeries for 45 years and is still learning.

“This isn’t the information age, it’s the learning age” – Stephen Heppell

Often in this blog, and other education-related blogs that I read, the focus of  blog posts is often on the technology tools themselves, why these tools should be incorporated into the classroom to help students learn and how-to’s of accomplishing this tasks.  However, sometimes I feel a desire to be philosophical and look at the state of how things really are and where things are going.  In doing so, it is often easy to take the stance the what is happening right now in education is insufficient, that we as educators are often ineffective (at least when it comes to connecting kids with technology) and that we have to make things better. At this point in time, feeling this way is especially tempting for me as I work with my network to get the Ontario Educator Meetup off the ground.

I want to get a little philosophical but I don’t want to fall into that negativity trap.  Obviously, something right is happening in today’s schools because kids are learning, reforms are taking hold and improvements are being made.  Jobs are being filled by qualified individuals and standards of living are improving.  Negative comments that bemoan the quality of today’s education system and/or the capabilities of today’s students/graduates reek more of nostalgia than of actual reality.  For example, I’ve often heard complaints that today’s youth can’t do mental math when handling a job as a cashier. I can’t help to believe that the statements like this are biased and non-reflective.  I challenge particular example with the following statement: in modern capitalism, cashiers have always used some sort of adding machine and when those weren’t available, calculations were always done on paper.  I challenge this statement in another way as well – if a young person has the high stress job of being a cashier at a the largest discount department store in the world (and we all know which one that is don’t we?), they couldn’t possibly deal with the pressures of the job if they couldn’t rely on cash registers.  Essentially, then, the comments made by these individuals are not based on reflective thought on the nature of reality but on some biased, preconceived notions.


Let’s look at reality – where are we headed?  Socially, western societies are becoming more global.  People are taking advantage of technology to organize their lives, to communicate with others in a number of different ways and to access content on-demand.  Individuals young and old are leveraging their immediate access to the Internet to live differently.  Corporate staff rely on BlackBerries.  Graphic designers and other visual artists rely on computers and software packages.  Doctors are using mobile devices to search for reference information or to prescribe medications.  Others in the general public use their mobile phones to:

  • communicate via Facebook, MySpace, SMS, Twitter, voice calls;
  • manage their time through calendars, alerts and reminders;
  • consume multimedia; and
  • browse the Internet

Handheld devices are becoming the means by which more and more people are organizing their lives, consuming content and creating content.

Education needs to resemble this new reality.

Leaders in education need to ignore ill-advised , unreflective opinion and focus on meeting the needs of kids in today’s reality.

When I began writing this blog a little over one year ago, the major focus of my thoughts were around using the iPod to help kids learn.  At that time, I began a series of blog posts titled “iPod in Education”.  In these posts, I try to offer practical ideas in integrating this popular mobile technology into classroom instruction to help kids learn and to help motivate students to want to learn.  I have completed 10 posts in this series to date and these continue to be my most popular posts.

While an iPod is one mobile device that can help kids learn, it is definitely not the only one.  As a result, while I will continue with the iPod series, I want to begin a new series that profiles another mobile device and offer practical ideas in using that device to help kids learn.   That device is the cell phone. I see this series as a little more problematic than the iPod series for at least two reasons.  Firstly, using cell phones in schools is a highly controversial political issue in today’s climate.  Secondly, unlike the iPod, cell phones range widely in type, form, and functionality.  However, I view these challenges as an opportunity to discuss the issues and to overcome challenges and biases.

Keep an eye out for the first post in this series.  I look forward to the discussion.