Tuesday, December 09, 2008

What is Education For?

This is one of those timeless pieces. Although it was written by David Orr in 1990, it is a valuable perspective - as valuable today as it ever was and ever will be. I had my 12 and 10-year olds read it and discuss it in the wake of what happened recently in Mumbai, and in the light of daily commentary on global warming and climate change.

I think high school children - old enough to debate global issues, participate in Model UNs and what not - should deliberate on the message in this speech. Although it was made as a commencement address to students graduating from college, I think kids should leave school - not college - with this message, so that it can shape what they study and do with their lives - and more importantly, how they do it.

One does not have to necessarily agree with everything David Orr says in this essay. It is enough that every citizen of this earth give this question deep and quality thought. When I look back on my studies in education at Harvard I feel that the paper on "What is the purpose of schooling?" was one of the defining moments of that academic sojourn. It was at once the most difficult and the most fulfilling exercise. I would give this question higher billing, and go a step further to contend that deliberation on this question could well be a critical part of human development, and must in some form or fashion, be part of every academic program - not just one on education.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Connectivism and The Networked Student

I spend much of my time reading, writing, discussing, and blogging about ideas around the broad theme of 21st Century learning. More specifically, what should 21st Century learning look like? How can social networking technologies be harnessed in learning spaces? How can emerging technologies truly, meaningfully impact the future of learning? How do we prepare our students and teachers for the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century?

This video on Connectivism and The Networked Student resonates with many of my views on the subject, and answers in part some of the questions raised above. No surprise that the video has a connection to the person some refer to as the "father of e-learning 2.0" - Stephen Downes.

"The Networked Student was inspired by CCK08, a Connectivism course offered by George Siemens and Stephen Downes during Fall 2008. It depicts an actual project completed by Wendy Drexler's high school students. The Networked Student concept map was inspired by Alec Couros' Networked Teacher. I hope that teachers will use it to help their colleagues, parents, and students understand networked learning in the 21st century." (Description of video on youtube).

Love the 'Paperworks' style of the Common Craft videos ...