Last Week, I was at the Intel Classroom of Distinction Interactive Forum. Technically this was a technology conference about the future of education, but I have learned much more about 21st century learning by listening to NECC, TIE, SXSW, and many others on my iPod.
I have been hearing from so many educators (Wesley Fryer, Steve Dembo, Paul Allison, David Warlick, and others) that all of the learning comes from the conversations, not the sessions. They are absolutely right. In the hallways we were talking about pedagogy and authentic learning with people who have a vision for education, but in the presentation rooms, we only discussed a well formatted agenda for specific (always proprietary) tools.
After going through all of the motions of this day, I have decided that gadget wonks are of no value to me. Although I see that they are disconnected from the classroom, that isn’t what bothers me. Many people who aren’t in the classroom have great ideas for the future of education. What bothers me is that they have can’t see the entire vision. They can’t see the affect of reflective practice, of piecing together the scattered collaborators into a movement.
The entire vision for School 2.0 is of desperate importance. It is the only way that the learning environment will change. Gadgets do not create change, people create change.
If I really believe that, I need to stop asking myself how I can get more gadgets into the classroom. What I really need to start asking is how I can get more people into the classroom, through collaboration.
I want to cram as many people into my classroom as possible. I want parents, students (both mine and others’), teachers, community members, and anyone else who has something of value to feel as though they are a part of my learning environment. They should not feel like a foreigner in my learning environment. But, how do we do this? How do we start to bring in all of the rich voices from the outside world without the dependence upon gadgets and proprietary methods? How do we stop teaching for tools themselves and start teaching for learning?
It may sound like I am making a semantic distinction, but I feel, especially after spending an entire day at an extended sales pitch, that our students will never transfer learning if they believe that they can only do it on one tool, or in one classroom. We need them to know that learning happens everywhere with every person they know in a key role. The only way that they will learn is if the people they are connected to learn with them.