Education has been on my mind the last year or so. On one hand we have this public push to devalue all college education for not being some kind of magic bullet leading to getting a job in a down economy. While I agree student loans and college prices have gotten out of hand, I think to devalue education and knowledge for not having enough immediate monetary “ROI” is something we will come to regret as a society. On the other hand we have knowledge for the sake of knowledge – completing something for the sake of having done so – these things have merit to individuals and to the world we live in.
I’ve given a few presentations to universities and high schools on using social media in the classroom and in the organizational structure of the school itself, but those presentations largely focused on the mechanics of “school” and “tactics”. It is my opinion that we need to move beyond the institutional thinking and institutional process to really ride this sea change in education. While most are focused on the process, people in their infinite thirst to learn are building a new global process for eternal, immersive, self directed, multi-faceted learning and knowledge that will leave the traditional school system far behind.
Take a look at Twitter, for example. This super simple service has been making its way into the classroom a little at a time since 2007. Twitter has a long history of varied use at the administrative and classroom level (here are 60 quick examples out of thousands), and still makes headlines each time a new school like Wise High School finds a new way to adopt the service. Twitter makes learning accessible in a school environment, and is part of the overall change in the face of education itself. Access to knowledge in your pocket can break the institution of “school” out of the concrete, rigid shell it lives in and turn it into organic knowledge that students yearn for.
Everyone wants to learn something. It’s human nature, this quest to know. Some folks want to learn a new language (the BBC is one of many places offering free immersion language courses), some want to know more about Snooki’s life beyond the Jersey Shore sitcom and some want to learn how to fix a car or quantum physics, but we all yearn for more information and deeper understanding of something beyond ourselves. Innovative schools like MIT, with it’s new free online education program, are beginning to deliver a future that takes knowledge and sets it apart from “school”, putting us in control of what and how we learn, and what quality of learning it is.
Even our search tools are starting to cater to this quest for knowledge – for good, vetted knowledge. Take a look at MentorMob (“Learn what you want, teach what you love”), for example – bringing you knowledge from around the web that is then sorted by trusted sources and people who have demonstrated topical savvy. Will it work? That’s not clear yet, but it definitely stands as one result of this new thirst to know everything, anywhere.
My takeaways from obsessing about education are several:
1) Education will become multi-media (and richly cross platform, moving fluidly from PC to phone to tablet to augmented reality and more not yet imagined)
2) Education will become portable (leaving the rigid institutional “school” structure far behind)
3) Education will become free (eventually)
4) Education will become completely student driven (gone are the days of the rigid, semi-applicable “core curriculum” concept)
5) Education will have two clear and more divergent paths: immediate ROI (job training, trade training) or life enhancing (broad knowledge based)
6) Teachers will become more like mentors or knowledge sherpas than the current system of educational drones chained to the ideas of a school district far removed from the needs of its students
7) Education becomes game-ified
Just think, education is going to be changing so much that the days when you can plug in to the Matrix and learn like Neo are nearly here. Are you as excited as I am for where this is going and how we can teach and learn from each other?
What did I miss? What other cool things are being cooked up in education that aren’t mentioned here? How did I do on my predictions? What are yours?
Updated to add this video from RSA, a unique look at the education system:
I’ve been doing a lot of education of our educators here in NH this summer, from Keene and Franklin Pierce in the west to UNH on the coast and more. It’s been a blast helping them grasp the implications and possibilities for adaptive media in the classroom, in the curricula, throughout the infrastructure and on into the future lives of their students. I thought I’d collect a few of my slide decks here for you, and some of the tools I’ve been talking about, so that you have a handy resource. I try to find fresh slides for each presentation, but a few do repeat – it is a traveling lecture series, after all. The aspect that is most fun for me is that each time I teach the course, I have new examples and methods to add. This means educators across the country are finally getting it. That is a good thing.
Social Media 101 For Educators (Given at Keene State, May 2010)
This slide deck touches on the very basics of social media for those educators that needed an intro to some of the more prevalent tools and issues with use. If you know what Twitter is, are familiar with the Facebook privacy documents, and more – you can skip ahead. I do love how much the Facebook privacy interface changed in the weeks following these slides, but it’s important to note: while the interface may have simplified dramatically, the policies did not. Take the time to read them.
Social Media 201 for Educators (Given at Keene State, May 2010)
This was for the advanced educators at Keene, a lively and interactive bunch. There were less slides and more hands on brainstorming and creativity here. Look for Keene to do some big things in the way of adaptive media plus education – they have an engaged and intelligent bunch of educators led by a connected and forward thinking provost.
The Role of Social Media In Education (Given at UNH, June 2010)
Tools for Education and Adaptive Media
These change all of the time. I’ll have to make a note to come back and update this post once in a while to keep them fresh. Important to note: in June 2010, Twitter will require all clients to use OAUTH instead of a password log in. This means some of your favorite Twitter apps will stop working if their developers haven’t decided to toe the line. I’m not sure how that will change the Twitter tools scattered amongst this list.
Here are a few social tools to get you started integrating adaptive media into your class and school:
TwapperKeeper is useful for collecting the group notes centered around a hashtag and saving them for future use and study
QuoteURL can put different tweets from certain folks into one page. Useful for project summaries or live lecture notes.
Google Wave now integrates into Blackboard
Don’t overlook the cell phone as a tool for announcements, notes, Q&A sessions, class participation and more
CiteMe is a Facebook application that cites sources in proper APA, Chicago, MLA, Harvard and Turabian styles
CoverItLive allows classes to take notes live and include multi media and other items as they go
Notely has a Facebook integration for their existing application to bring the classroom into Facebook
Moodle is an open and social tool similar to Blackboard
CourseFeed Another Facebook application, this one helps student figure out which fellow classmates and classes are online and easily join the group, page or discussion
Eduspaces is a social network devoted entirely to education, students and educators
DoResearchForMe This one I find a bit hard to swallow. It’s intent is good – to keep students from completely relying on Wikipedia articles by leading them to other sources – but I think the kids should learn this skill without training wheels.
CampusBuddy helps you find other students at your school. Useful for those times when people have changed their network to a city or town instead of a school.
Twiducate is a social network for schools
Schoology is a digital classroom set up integrating social media aspects with learning management
Flashcards is a Facebook based flash card creation application
ClassNotes a Facebook app that lets you visually share your teacher’s notes with others
Quizzinator helps teachers create, store and print quizzes, worksheets, and more online
Google Docs, Google Wave, and other online collaboration tools are invaluable in a class