At a conference recently, I was approached and asked for advice about resources for using skype in the classroom to connect with schools in other countries.   I started to answer the question with a specific suggestion (the Cool Cat Teacher’s Flat Classroom) when I stopped myself and took another tack in my advice-giving.

Instead, I suggested, I encouraged him to join the online community of educators, to join the network, and to be empowered to learn continuously rather than in discrete lumps.

Teach a man to fish and feed him for a day.  Teach a man to fish, and feed him as long as the fish supply holds out.  But create a collective, and every man will learn how to feed himself for a lifetime.

I am quoting from a brilliant new book, A New Culture of Learning, by John Seely Brown and Douglas Thomas.

Learning in an age of constant change simply never stops. In the new culture of learning, the bad news is that we rarely reach any final answers, but the good news is that we to play again, and we may find even more satisfaction in continuing the search. (more…)

[original version, 11 Ways…, originally published at Connected Principals, 1.24.11]

[Numbers 11-14 have been added since the previous publication.]


Technology and innovation are accelerating rapidly outside education, but not rapidly enough inside education.  To quote NAIS President Pat Basset, Schools which are not schools of the future will not be schools in the future.

Like others, I am fascinated by pieces  forecasting the coming changes in schooling, and I am inspired by their example to offer my own.

Two that have been particularly intellectually intriguing and influential to me are  Tom Vander Ark’s Ed Reformer post,  The Pivot to Digital Learning: 40 Predictions, and Shelly Blake-Pollock’s post, 21 Things That Will Become Obsolete in Education by 2020.

I should add too that my thinking is greatly informed by the Christensen and Horn’s Disrupting Class,  US DOE’s Karen Cator’s NETP: National Education Technology Plan, the writings of Michael B. Horn, and the Digital Learning Now initiatives.

This particular list is intended to present fifteen ways schools can continue to be  relevant, compelling, attractive, and effective to both students and parents in the coming years.   (more…)

As I’ve written before, Michael Wesch is among my very most important intellectual influences, and this new video is yet another important contribution to our thinking about how our intellectual world is changing and how education must be rethought.

Some of the key ideas come toward the end of the video:

the critical thing that is happening is that the public is exisiting now, is living and breathing, within a much larger sphere of information and knowledge.

we are missing the boat.

a critical open-ness to knowledge is something our work had better address or we are ill-serving our students.

I have written often here about the tranformative power of the web 2.0, and if we want our students to be active, engaged, critical and creative contributors, their learning environments should be ones of connection and communication with the wider world of intellectual discourse that the web provides.    But writing these ideas, as Wesch continually demonstrates, is only one of many vehicles for demonstrating the significance of this intellectual transformation; videos like he produces are eye-opening also.

Solitude and Leadership, the title of William Deresiewicz’s much circulated American Scholar article intones.   Solitude and Leadership:  one cannot help but lower one’s voice and slow one’s enunciation as the title is enunciated.

This piece has been shared with me by many, the estimable David Brooks recently cited it as a top essay of the year: there is indeed much wisdom to be found in it.    But before I relay that wisdom, a caveat:  Deresiewicz creates a false dichotomy which simply isn’t supportable: solitude and concentration are valuable elements of leadership and independent thought, but they do not exclude, in any defensible way,  the possibility or even as I would argue the probability that there is great parallel and synergistic value derived from an immersion in the crowd and the stimulating, creative, multitudinous energy of our contemporary Forum, Twitter.

The piece, which indeed everyone should read and discuss, is in two parts. (more…)

For me, teaching is joyful when you feel that you are both leading and participating in a collaborative problem-solving team tackling real-world problems.  This I tweeted recently in response to a twitter inquiry: what brings you joy in teaching.

I was taken by the parallels of my view and Wesch’s  when viewing this video and hearing his argument that the best way we can teach students “knowledge-ability” is to ask them to tackle real-world, challenging problems, problems we don’t know the answer to, and then lead and guide them as a collaborative team in addressing those problems, while facilitating their use of the best available tools to address these problems.

Knowledgeable is what we call people who have learned a lot of material, a lot of content; I don’t think Michael is saying that we no longer want knowledgeable students.  He is saying that they need to be more than that, they need to be knowledge-able: they need to be able to construct their own knowledge, to make their own meaning, and to have the tools and skills to effectively and compellingly critically think, communicate, create, and collaborate on-line.     He is also saying that this is no longer a TV watching generation: it is one which thrills to two-way participatory environments and is dulled senseless by one-way communication channels.    The knowledge they need to acquire they need to learn by working with content, not absorbing it.

In looking back over the past five years to identify the key handful of “moments” when I became energized and inspired to embrace and advocate a new vision of learning in our new fast-changing era, I know that watching Michael Wesch’s students’ famous, brilliant, and chill-inducing video, A View of Students Today, was one of the main ones.  Watch and see if you don’t shiver, and see if your own worldview of learning does not change.   (more…)