Learning to love the iGeneration

ECIS TECH CONFERENCE 2013, 14 – 16 March, Hosted by ACS Cobham International, London, England

Learning to love the iGeneration… and… embrace the irresistible IT vision of tomorrow’s classroom….

A confronting double edged conference’s title that implies a generation divide wider than any preceding ones, in a new context of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity and an urgency that can no longer be ignored: The paradoxical co-existence of “Education 1.0” in “Society 3.0

Who is the iGeneration?

A generation fully at ease with fast changes, “born to be wired” whose first digital footprints date back in time of a fetus in the womb, for whom

“WWW doesn’t stand for World Wide Web but Whatever, Whenever, Wherever, and for whom, a phone is not a phone but  a portable computer to tweet, surf the web, and, of course, text, text, text”. Larry D. Rosen

A mobile generation, no mouse, no desktop, no landlines, who chats rather than email. A generation who does not get what we did with computers before “the internet”, why we had to buy 10 songs to listen to one, nor the time wasted trying to locate a track on an audio cassette… A generation of “screen-agers” connected 24/7, who doesn’t separate work life and social life, school and world. Who has tasted the honey of participation and authentic audience and who sees creating videos just as essential as writing essays. A generation who can work past midnight on a shared Google doc and does not see why Facebook should be banned at 11am. A generation blamed for their short attention spam who…

“…certainly don’t have short attention spans for their games, movies,music, or Internet surfing. More and more, they just don’t tolerate the old ways—and they are enraged we are not doing better by them.” Mark Prensky.

A generation who has figured out before us, that “Community Trumps Content”, that learning is more meaningful when “collaborating, tagging, voting, networking, sharing, juggling with tools to create user-generated content”, rather than sitting in classrooms consuming and regurgitating data for tests. A generation still herded in classrooms by date of manufacture and core subject: Math, English, Science, Social studies (MESS), who questions Why Do I Need a Teacher When I’ve got Google? Thus echoing Nicholas Negroponte’s prophetic: “is Knowing obsolete?” A generation who would prefer independent projects and would not draw classrooms if asked to design schools. Finally, a generation who does not seem to care or understand whyprivacy matters.

Is education ready to embrace the irresistible IT Vision of tomorrow’s classroom?

Jean Vahey, ECIS Executive Director, set the tone in her opening keynote:

“It is not about bringing IT into the classroom. It is about bringing classrooms into the world. Should we call it classroom still? “ Is technology an enabler or a Distractor? Does it extends the thinking and prepares students for the future?

The fire from the conference’s 1300 participants (400 schools, 80 countries) spread through sessions and keynotes, all inspired by a shared understanding of the “irresistible IT vision of tomorrow’s classroom”. Summarized below as the 8 characteristics of Education 3.0:

Meaning is socially constructed and contextually reinvented.

Community as Curriculum:
Plan curriculum around connections, information, communication, location, generation.
The greatest changes of our future will not be technology, but the power of people as they connect. Its communities that change the learning not the content.
Its over the content that we teach that we need to build in our schools.
“Flipped instructions” should be created within a network of open learning, and connectivism.
Munich International school presented a session on how to avoid the top-down flop side of Khan Academy: “Khan’t we do better”?
Gafeclass.com is a great example of an online class within a community: students have to learn in 8 weeks the content together, share sources and take a final exam.
The new participatory architecture of learning: collaborating, tagging, voting, networking, sharing, juggling with tools to create user-generated content, will free up classroom time to facilitate more meaningful collaboration.

“Best learning takes place when the learner takes charge.” Seymour Papert creator of Logo before Scratch.

Technology is everywhere.

We can’t compete with connection, so let’s embrace it together and through connections, acquire habits of life-long learners without bringing in our fears stemming from past baggage. Change is normal. With strong resolve, fire and passion will dissolve resistance: “Dont-teach-your-kids-this-stuff-please!
Trust leads to intrinsic motivation. Students and teachers need to be trusted to take advantage of the educational opportunities provided by social media. Rather than separate life and school, we should be teaching time management.

Responsible Internet use is best guaranteed by positive reinforcement, not restrictions alone.” Johnson Jacob

Jeff Utech’s presentation showed that integrated digital literacy will reduce teachers’ fear that students may use internet for bad things rather than good things like this anonymous FB page to “Send a compliment” to other students. Jeff explained how we fail students by not teaching search. Students should use Google Search quickly and efficiently to obtain quality information, evaluate internet sources, and understand the use social bookmarking to help facilitate collaboration. See Jeff’s search page and Google Search skill links. Are our questions for students googleproof? If Goggle can answer it, it’s not a good essential question! Do “A google a day” question for 5 minutes per day, to understand how to ask a good question.
When things don’t work out, don’t blame the kids, don’t blame the tech. Blame the context & learn to adapt.

Marc Prensky and Stephen Heppell discuss the concept of turning nouns to verbs.

“Technology is not about stuff but Verbs vs Nouns. Verbs are the skills that students need to learn, practice and master, verbs are the underlying learning, and pedagogy is typically about the verbs, that is, how to provide students with the subject-specific and general skill they need” (See Digital Union – Teaching Digital Natives. What’s Your Role? Partner or Lecturer? p. 45) Nouns are the tools that are used to learn and practice the verbs or skills, including hardware and software –in other words, the technologies that can be used to learn and teach such as social networking sites, podcasts, You Tube, etc. For example, if the “verb” is Researching and Managing Information as it relates to watching and listening, the “nouns” would be podcasts, You Tube, Big Think, TED Talks, video search engines, speed-up tools for audio and video clips, text-to-speech programs.”

Teaching is done teacher-to-student, student-to-student, and people-technology-people.

“Engage me or enrage me”,“It’s Not ADD—I’m Just Not Listening!” Engage with students rather than try to engage them.
Find-out their passion, inspire rather than train.

“The fight for the kids’ attention, for me, is not a fight for attention, but steady focus, by choice, driven by passion. It isn’t that they can’t pay attention.  They just choose not to.”  Marc Prensky

Teachers must model collaboration for students.Teachers with good digital literacy in social media can become part and parcel of positive initiatives in a community. The fear of the new context should not become an excuse to exhort more control but instead to learn. “Feel the fear and do it anyway”. There is no best practice in a fast moving context, but shared new practices. Sometimes teachers need help with technology; students can help with that. Schools should embrace responsible sharing with their students; a skill to be taught and practiced in classes. Sharing is key, the more you share the more you learn.

“Our job isn’t to teach, it’s to get the students to learn.” Ian Gilbert.

Make teaching less important than learning. Its not what we learn but how we learn. Teachers are more than ever innovators in their crucial role to guide students through the abundance of information and changing the culture of teaching in a collaborative network.

“technology will never replace teachers.  However, teachers who know how to use technology effectively to help their students connect and to collaborate together online will replace those who don’t. Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach

A teachers’ role is more than ever to discriminate between fads, trends and principles.
What about The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking? Asynchronous conversations online are now giving an unexpected opportunity for introverts to share, participate and be recognized in their own time and space.

Schools are located everywhere.

Julie Lindsay: Flatten classrooms through connection, citizenship, collaboration.

“Technology is now as foundational as reading”.

Flatten the classrooms walls, open-up to the world, digital classrooms feel like the world, connecting and teaching schools, students, and teachers to reach out for new learning opportunities. “Flat learning” is important because it connects learners with the world and impacts the contexts in which we learn. A good leader is one who gets out of the way of the learning.
Digital learning will change the way schools are designed and will enable access, exploration, failure, focus, imagination, independence, collaboration, agility and… success. Designing new schools without first designing learning is like going back to the future: “Is”classroom-design-and-(then)-learning’ the best that we can do?”

Parents view schools as a place for them to learn, too.

Between, teachers, students, parents, there is a dialogue waiting to happen if we let it.
Make the best out of parents’ expertise and connections. Integrate them in digital literacy.

Teachers are everybody, everywhere.

Teachers become “teacherpreneurs” and reach out to find profitable opportunities to create relationships and communities that can foster learning in interdisciplinary projects.

Hardware and software in schools are available at low cost and are used strategically.

Invest in student-centered technology enabling connections and collaboration. Google apps to: Stay connected, Study together, Get stuff done, Invisible IT, Green, Security.

See clip: Spreading the fire with Google apps

“Most of the discourse around innovation in education has been around infrastructure, but do not focus on new strategies for knowledge acquisition or transfer.” Invisible learning

Apple TV vs Interactive Whiteboards as a low cost alternative for engagement. We must really the power of online learning like Coursera. In 2014 0.5 Million K-12 students will go to class online in 2014. MOOC ( Massive Open Online Courses) are growing exponientally watch this great discussion on MOOC.

Industry views graduates as co-workers or entrepreneurs.

What is entrepreneurial learning?

“How do you constantly look around you, all the time, for new ways, new resources, to learn new things? That’s the sense of entrepreneurship I’m talking about, that now in the networked age, gives us almost infinite possibility. “As we move into the 21st century, we have to completely rethink the works-cape and the learning-scape. We have to find ways for each of us to get more talented by working. Just getting being able to learn as individuals not enough. The question is, how do we start to scale these types of learning systems…and invent new types of institutional forms, new types of practices, and new types of skills to be able to leverage the capability of technology. The technology is the easy part. The hard part is what are the social practices around this, and also the institutional structures. We have to ask ourselves, what will the institutions of schools and universities…look like five and ten years from now.”

Credentials will become far less important than people/projects/portfolio. Companies will be looking for people who are ready to take risks, apply new experience, with workers motivated to share and collaborate, thrive in non-hierarchical organizations, try new technology, be ready to learn unlearn relearn, not afraid of failure. The qualities required will be: persisting, managing impulsivity, responding with awe, questioning, innovating and thinking interdependently. Programming and coding are literacy skills that should be taught and required.

Genius will trump gifted:

“The whole educational and professional training system is a very elaborate filter, which just weeds out people who are too independent, and who think for themselves, and who don’t know how to be submissive, and so on– because they’re dysfunctional to the institutions.”-Noam Chomsky

From the the iGeneration to the “weGeneration”.

The term ‘IGeneration” came from Steve Jobs’ 98 keynote introducing the iMac with fast access to the Internet. “i” then, stood for internet, Individual, Instruct, Inform, Inspire. Today’s urgency is less to “Instruct, Inform, Inspire” but grow together as S.O.C.I.A.L. “Sincere Open Collaborative Interested Authentic Likable”.

“Learning to love the iGeneration” may be less crucial today than participating in a “weGeneration” with collective intelligence in building communities, writing textbooks together, in a world that is always on. Connect old and new literacies, and be Net smart and thrive online”.

We all need to open-up to the ability to use those skills socially, in concert with others, in an effective way. MIT press edu

“One-to-one” learning is turning into “one-to-world.” Alan November

And balance remains key:

“I would trade all my technology for an afternoon with Socrates.” Steve Jobs

Thank you @steven_cliff and the ACS Cobham International team for making #ECISTech2013 happen!

Some keynote speeches: Jefft UtechMarc PrenskyJulie LindsayChandran Nair

Conference tweets: #ecistech2013

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