Early adopters

Jose – I really appreciated your last post on the false dichotomies we engage in when we discuss online vs. in person learning. I especially appreciated this passage, While we’re reframing pedagogy for what’s necessary in the 21st century, we’re also making sure we delve deeper into the more critical skills from the past and […]

Jose –

I really appreciated your last post on the false dichotomies we engage in when we discuss online vs. in person learning. I especially appreciated this passage,

While we’re reframing pedagogy for what’s necessary in the 21st century, we’re also making sure we delve deeper into the more critical skills from the past and present that our students need now and in the future.

As Barnett Barry would say to us, online learning and in-person learning is a false dichotomy. Learning can happen anywhere. It often depends on who the teacher is, and if they’re the closed-source programmer who only lets students perform certain functions, or the open-source programmer who helps others build upon their own code so they can develop their own operating systems.

I think you really hit a nerve in describing Linda Darling-Hammond’s experience as a 12th grade English teacher in NYC. Her comparison of the relative importance of teaching the Dewey Decimal system as compared to teaching her students to read, addresses the idea of what is really important to teach. I wrote a post about every Kindergartner in Maine getting an iPad on EmergentLearner.com that asks a couple of the same questions as your recent post. As often happens, when I shared it on twitter with my friend who inspired the post, I struck gold. This time my friend, the totally 21st century superintendent @PamMoran, took my perspective and pushed my thinking in a new direction. In my post I suggested that the iPad initiative in Maine was a heavy handed approach to increasing learning in the early years. I retweeted Pam’s original tweet like this,

$200,000 cost for the iPad 2 tablets “It probably would take 4 teachers to do what (ipads) can do with 1 teacher” $mart not <3

The opinion article suggested that the intention of the iPads was to substitute for real live teachers.

She tweeted me back

@jmholland kids need to be multi-lingual w/tech – pc tablet, macbk, iTouch, desktop – device becomes the language #ECE #edtech #prek

Then Pam connected me with @IraSocol a brilliant advocate for Universal Design. Ira sent me a steady stream of blog posts, at 11:45 p.m. mind you, that blew my mind. He really gets at what we are talking about here. Use the right tool for the job. Here are just three of Ira’s posts that he shared, straight from the hip, one right after another on twitter.

Looking for Universal Design (The View from Here Part II )

Toolbelt Theory, TEST, and RTI

Architectural Assistive Technology

The common theme in these posts is that learning should be completely designed around the learner, from the chairs (if there are any) to the technology (from paint to voice recognition software). Ira points out the consequences when great applications of assistive technology are applied with out concern for the realities of micro-contexts (individual learners), learning spaces (classrooms, including teachers), and learning ecologies (schools, both 2, 3, and 4D).

I agree with Pam and Ira that the tool becomes the language and that we should not have biases when it comes to developing multiple literacies. I also think we need to consider which languages are important to teach if we want to create an equitable learning ecology.

I suggested to Pam that another one of those languages should be “the language of the heart” or how to connect with other human beings. The development of the Habits of the Heart has  occasionally been an important value in education. Students’ ability to reconcile the freedoms and responsibilities of the individual and the community do not necessarily come up when a young child is plugged-in to their learning environment. The connection to other human beings can be the missing ingredient when (young) kids learn with tech. I understand that there is the connection in the experience to other participants sometimes, a la community game engagement, but when you are talking about the spark of learning that will help create a better world for the future, a caring professional teacher IS the best tool for the job.

Thanks to Ira and Pam this is my take away. If universal design were applied to the future of education what would the Architectural Assistive Technology look like for students and teachers? What flexible structures would we put in place to help create the student centered teaching profession of the future?

Image: http://www.jorymon.com/images/2010/april/ipad_kid.jpg