I’m not usually one to give out spoilers, but that is a quote by Stephen Hepell at the end of this video:
Dan Brown (no, not THAT one) makes the same argument in a more controversial and tongue-in-cheek sort of way:
Education, as an institution, is in decline. People are no longer reliant on institutions as the dispensers of knowledge. With access to the internet, the cost of knowledge is now essentially $0.00! Because of that, it has never been a better time to be a learner. Interested in mathematics? Take some courses from MIT. Want to find out how to use photoshop? YouTube has you covered.
Knowledge, of course, is only one aspect of learning. As Punya Mishra said in his keynote at #21clhk, “Go to Google for knowledge. Come to me for wisdom.” It is through connecting, collaborating, constructing and conversating that we find wisdom. This is where the transformative powers of technology really come in to play. We, as learners, now have the ability to connect, collaborate, converse and construct meaning with groups of people around interested in the same topics. (This COETAIL cohort is a great example of this!)
From a practical teaching point of view, getting involved in collaborative projects, whether global or just around the corner, requires a different level of preparedness. Teachers must be willing to be flexible, both in terms of time in the classroom with students (to deal with inevitable technical difficulties) and in terms of course pacing and objectives. I’ve talked with teacher who have balked at the idea of global projects because the are ‘messy’. I’m not sure how to change the minds of those teachers other than to point out that life is messy. Things rarely, if ever, work out perfectly and there is a certain amount of negotiation has to take place “in the real world.” But aren’t these the types of lessons that we want to guide our students through? Aren’t these the skills that will best serve our students in the future? Isn’t this the learning that we want to see and be a part of?