Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Will Richardson

If you are excited about the new world of technology in education, and you are unfamiliar with the work of Will Richardson, I apologize for not posting this sooner. I've mentioned before that Will Richardson is one of my favorite authors and bloggers, one whose thoughts on the read/write web have had a profound effect on my own classroom.

In the discussion about the concept of literacy, Richardson is one of many to point out that we are facing new literacies in our world. He identifies huge shifts the read/write web is bringing about:

1. Content moving from teacher-controlled to student-controlled
2. Classes moving from 1 teacher and time-slot to many teachers available 24/7.
3. Class structures moving from individual work to collaborative work, even outside of the building walls.
4. Teaching moving from lecture to conversation
5. Skills moving from "know what is important" to "know where to find it"
6. Students moving from readers to contributors
7. The medium for student work moving from paper to electronic forms
8. The format for student work moving from text only to multimedia
9. Mastery moving from the test to the product
10. The goal moving from completion to contribution

When I work with educators or teach graduate courses on technology, one of the crucial things for me is the level of acceptance in the truth of these shifts. I have struggled as a professional development trainer in that I can easily provide teachers the "wow" of technology integration. In fact, I rarely fail, and that doesn't say anything about me... it says everything about the natural draw to human interest that is technology. But, I haven't as easily made this connection, that the world of teaching and learning is fundamentally changing, and we as educators have to change with it. Rare is it that I find a teacher willing to admit that the way they currently teach--which admittedly might be very good--will be completely outmoded in a matter of years.

As sincere as I can be, I say to you that these shifts are real, and I see no way a school without a quality digital curriculum meeting the needs of our students much longer, despite the quality of teacher in the classroom. I have to make my move from "trainer in technology" to "trainer in pedagogy". Or, I too will be outmoded as an educational technology specialist.

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