Sunday, May 22, 2011

On Education Reform

I am adding the TeachPaperless blog to my bloglist.  His most recent post Face to Facebook: 5 Thoughts on Education Reform provides food for serious thought.

Also adding thoughtful Nicholas Carr's Rough Type blog after reading the Amazon 2-chapter "sample" of his book What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains: The Shallows and then downloading it to read on my new iPhone.  His most recent blogposts are about e-textbooks and recent studies of their use in schools: Zero tolerance for print and e-textbooks flunk an early test.

Will add the findingDulcinea blog by Mark Moran of Dulcinea Media, and suggest you check this "Dirty Little Secrets of Search Skills of the Lost Generation" post:

We realize that most classroom teachers generally lack the time and experience required to teach intensive online research skills, and thus school librarians play a critical role in preparing students to succeed in the current marketplace. Yet around the world, many school librarian positions are coming under the axe as school boards begin to consider next year's budgets.

Conversely, we've come across hundreds of schools with very strong library programs that anchor a true 21st century curriculum that teaches students the skills they'll need to succeed in the workforce. We're encouraged that our presentation on teaching Web research skills has been downloaded 21,000 times in four months, and is being taught as part of the curriculum at colleges of education and library science. Students who learn these skills will become the eventual political and business leaders of our world; students who don't will continue to get tripped up by scammers who finagle a high position in Google's search results.

As well, I take great liberty in sharing Moran's response to the recent CBC poll on teacher-librarians and their role in teaching students to think critically about what they are learning:
I write this as a former corporate lawyer, a former executive officer and general counsel of a pioneering Internet advertising firm that had 1,200 employees in 29 countries; and now as the founder of a company whose mission is to help librarians and teachers teach students how to use the Internet effectively.

I now travel the world, meeting with school administrators, teachers and librarians to discuss how the needs of students are changing dramatically. Based on my extensive life experience, it is my view that library media specialists have the most critical role in the entire educational system - and they must be a significant presence in students lives beginning in first grade.

Without adequate media literacy training, kids will not succeed in a 21st-century workplace. The "old school" ways of communicating won't cut it; I've mastered those, and yet now spend each day re-learning how to communicate effectively in this new world order.

Students at many elite schools are learning critical 21st century skills while librarians are eliminated from budget-stressed school districts. The result is what a University College of London study called a "new divide," with students who have access to librarians "taking the prize of better grades" while those who don't have access to school librarians showing up at college beyond hope, having "already developed an ingrained coping behaviour: they have learned to 'get by' with Google."

This new divide is only going to widen and leave many students hopelessly lost in the past, while others fully embrace the future.

On which side of this divide will your students fall?

And finally, I share the marvels of Twitter:  I like this news story cited on Ian Jukes' 21st Century Fluency blog, tweeted via @davidloertscher re-tweeting tweet via @leecrockett (DVL's Posting to Twitter:  "Ian Jukes on technology and reading. Clever tech use boosts deep understanding - via @leecrockett").  Did you follow me? 

In short, the news story is "Technology helps make language click," by Kevin Simpson; he writes,
[Educator and literacy coach Elizabeth] Kennedy loves the range of digital tools that teachers can use to advance literacy — the Web, its blogs, the seemingly boundless information superhighway. And yet, she begins the class by asking kids a calculated question: What's the strongest reading and writing tool you have with you?  "Our brain!" comes the response.
Twitterjab from cheeky friend watching hockey game on Sunday:  Put the book down, Ekdahl!  I will -- when there's a plot twist in this 0-0 game, Canucks v San Jose!  This blog-as-twitter recounting by the way is a deliberate misuse of blog to demonstrate immediacy and capacity of social networking on a horribly rainy Sunday afternoon to share info and commentary amongst friends and experts.

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