K-12 Online Conference: Inventing New Boundaries

Pre Conference Session by David Warlick

I watched this video twice because there is so much information in it. I am always impressed by how David makes connections about learning and education. My AHA moment was the notion of students being “free agents”. As teachers, we are no longer able to predict what careers students will choose in the future. David uses the example of watching his father get ready for work. He is part of the last generation where students knew what careers were available to them and tended to choose a job similar to their parent. Now due to the change on communications and technology, people are able to work from home or have a business that is essentially on the road most of the time. People can create “as needed” careers. David is a good example of a “free agent”, he makes his living delivering new ideas to teachers. I wonder what my current high school students will choose for careers? And what new ideas they will dream up?

There’s an interesting shift going on right now in the classrooms in my own school. Our students have been generally happy to receive and give back information to a teacher on a one way basis. They are complacent enough to sit in front of Powerpoint or copy notes from the board. But, every student in my high school now has a laptop. And some teachers are beginning to realize that there are some new ideas they can add to their teaching. They are experimenting with communication and collaboration. And, I am hearing something interesting; classes where students are required to use Web 2.0 tools such as Voicethread and Edublogs, complain about how HARD it is. But for the most part, they like it!

So what’s the next step? How do we take David’s three conditions, stir in teacher’s knowledge and produce a community of free agent, self directed learners, who collaborate on their learning? Whew! I struggle with this as it means a change in teaching practice. I see the benefit, I anticipate that others will too. I am looking at the Karl Fisch model of personal learning networks as a means to improve instruction. I hope some of the other K-12 sessions will give me some more ideas to address this question. Thanks David, for such a thought provoking session.

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