DML 2012—Amazing!

This crowd “says it like it is”. It’s refreshing to be among highly-educated people who don’t speak in rhetoric (or, at least they speak in understandable rhetoric). The discourse, both onstage and off, was lively, direct, and sparked controversy. If even a small percentage of the “action items” raised at the conference are started and/or completed in the near future, we will have made progress towards true and deep education reform.

John Seely Brown’s keynote truly set the stage for the rest of the conference:

DML 2012 Keynote delivered by John Seely Brown (aka JSB)

Prepare now for future tech job skills?!

This is a great infographic, yet success doesn’t happen by simply getting technology into the classrooms, but also by making sure it is being used well. Some learning still takes place best in an analog fashion. But for the learning that is best served using digital means, then yes, everyone should have access!

Of course, Zulama’s success depends on students and teachers having digital access to each other and the greatest content around (ours). So we support getting more devices into the hands of the users. Including mobile devices. My question raised by the infographic is—yes, maybe we’re doing a terrible job so far, but how/where/when, and by whom, is the state of technology in our K-12 schools going to change? Is that really what the Digital Promise will provide?

John Merrow’s new book, a worthwhile read!

Very inspiring read: John Merrow’s The Influence of Teachers: Reflections OnTeaching and Leadership. Here’s an excerpt from our latest favorite book:

Providing access to knowledge, one of three historical justifications for schools, no longer applies in the usual sense. Children need teachers to help them learn to read and master numbers, but, beyond that, a new approach is required. 

A second justification, socialization, has also been turned on its head by technology. Today’s kids don’t need school for socialization in the usual sense of learning to get along with their peers in the building. Why? Because there are online places for that, dozens of them, including Facebook, FarmVille, My Space and so on, and so ‘socialization’ takes on new meanings when kids routinely text with ‘friends they’ve never met’ across the continent or an ocean. Schools must adapt to this new reality.

Only custodial care, the third historical justification for school, remains unchanged. Parents still need places to send their children to keep them safe. So does the larger society, which has rejected child labor and does not want kids on the streets.

But when schools provide only custodial care and a marginal education that denies technology’s reach and power, young people walk away, as at least 6,000 do every school day, for an annual dropout total of over 1 million.

And some of those who remain in marginal schools will find themselves in danger, because the youthful energy that ought to be devoted to meaningful learning will inevitably be released, somewhere. Often it comes out in bullying, cyberbullying and other forms of child abuse by children. That is, marginal education often produces dangerous schools.

Unfortunately, those in charge of public education have not been paying attention to these seismic changes. Instead they are warring over teacher competence, test scores, merit pay and union rules, issues that are fundamentally irrelevant to the world children live in. Who are these warriors?

This book gives practical examples of what’s happening now in education to change (or not), these three historical principles. Change is happening, and Merrow’s observations and arguments are the most sensible we’re come across in a while. We’d love to hear your thoughts!