I’m a big fan of the Sky quizshow “Are you smarter than a 10 year old“. I’m more than impressed with the confidence and knowledge on show from the 10-year olds in the class. But what I really am enthralled by is the variety and depth of subject domains that 10-year-olds in the UK study on their national curriculum. I’ve seen numerous versions of the show, and I have to say “I am not smarter than a 10-year-old”.
But now, alas, alas, it’s all changing.
The latest suggest the primary school curriculum in the UK should do away with the emphasis on historical, geographical and ….. other factual type subjects and replace them with more practical and everyday skills like twitter and wikipedia, typing, blogging etc.
I’m a big fan of such web 2.0 tools and applaud attempts to incorporate them into the education curriculum. But such incorporation at the exclusion of important subject knowledge areas like the Victorian period or the Second World War is worrying.
However, as I have mentioned in here previously – at least the Uk are actively trying to get more IT skills and subject matter into their schools. When will Ireland learn the importance of this matter?
Apparently, our Government here in Ireland are hugely unpopular. As of now, only 10% of Joe Public support them.
I’m not going to comment on this, apart from saying that any political party that wants to take on the current financial debacle has their work cut out for them.
Here’s something interesting –
Our Government has been watching the Obama presidential campaign, and have decided to employ the services of the organisation who run the Obama website. Yes, Blue State Digital have proved themselves with Obama (we won’t mention their work on Ken Livingstone’s failed mayoral bid in London) but how many Irish web orgs could prove themselves if given this opportunity.
Blue Digital are upfront about recognising the total necessity for citizen relationships and getting people involved. As in the business world, interaction with the people whose support you want is paramount. This is particularly important in the current scenario where our government haven’t been exactly transparent in communications with the public.
Go have a look at www.fiannafail.ie and see for yourself. The main element appears to be an online Q&A. You can submit your questions directly and Brian will answer them via video (how is going to have time is a whole other query). However, there are no discussion boards, no blogs, no “Brian mobile” texting, no link to other web 2.0 tools such as the FF you tube channel, Facebook Pages, etc.
Perhaps, I’m asking too much. These things cost money. Blue Digital don’t work for free. And there is this recession going on.
Update 1 Mar 2009 – Karin Lillington was at the launch of this website. She has a podcast where you can hear the presentation by the main man behind the site. Interesting to see that Karin doesn’t hold a huge amount of hope for the same success as Obama achieved.
We hear so much about students using social networking to enhance and expand their interactions with their friends, and why not. Bebo and Facebook and the plethora of them out there are achieving something valuable – if not, why would people spend so much of their spare time on them?
I’m particularly interested in how the tools can be used to support learning and education. Here’s an interesting example. The key is Connectivism – the idea that we learn by interacting with others to form our own knowledge. The learning takes place in a socially networked environment – with emphasis is on the student being active in their own knowledge creation.
It’s a far cry from the transmission model of learning where the all-knowing teacher comes in and talks for an hour and then leaves again. First of all, there is no textbook. Instead web 2.0 tools are used to source and manage the incoming knowledge. A synopsis –
- Google Scholar (and college online library) to find articles
- Bookmarks them on Delicious
- Find other people who have bookmarked the same articles, lots of mutual intra-sharing
- Search for blogs on the topic – with an open mind reflecting that blogs aren’t always the hard cold facts, make some comments on them, manage the plethora of blogs with a reader
- Write it up in own blog with space for others to comment
- Other sources of interest – Itunes U gives access to top professor’ ‘insights without having pay for them, email these top guys and a response is sometimes forthcoming – people love to share their expertise and it cant hurt to ask
- Final product could be a video or an audio or text, on a wiki perhaps, so others can learn from it and enhance it
On a scale of 1 to 5 how far removed is this from your experience of school / college? It’s light years away from my student learning. Welcome to the 21st century.
Time was when the knowledge was either embedded in books or in the heads of lecturers / teachers. But now, the internet has expanded the sources of knowledge significantly. Tracking down and managing those sources becomes a significant part of the learning. The important thing is that the student is at the centre of this knowledge management process.
They have to actively search out and sift through sources of knowledge, actively processing it as they go. Result – there is a better chance of some of this content sticking, as opposed to the “in one ear and out the other” mode of sitting passively in class.
So, if this is all so wonderful why isn’t everyone doing it? Why are classrooms with teacher at the top of the room still hugely dominant in our schools and colleges? Ok, the shift is so dramatic, it’s too big a jump to make in a single leap. Old institutionalised ways of doing and thinking are hard to shake off. But it does make you think………!