Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A Decade of Change in Education

In today's Globe and Mail there was a commentary reviewing the top ten events in Canadian education over the last decade - by Paul Bennett, Director of Schoolhouse Consulting. Mr. Bennett's choices for the top ten "tipping point" events are:
  • Advent of Google and Wikipedia
  • 9/11 and School Security
  • Public Acceptance of School Rankings
  • Harry Potter Phenomenon
  • Smart Board (IWB) Craze
  • Social Networking
  • Opening of Toronto's Africentric School
  • Revival of All-Boys Schools
  • Homework Backlash
  • Spectre of School Closings
While I like Mr. Bennett's choices, I find the focus to miss a few of the really key events.

Despite touching upon technology in a number of choices, no mention was made to what is now one of the most pressing issues among education researchers - how teaching, the administration of schools, curriculum, policies, and foundational methodologies will need to undergo big changes if we are to successfully integrate technology into the classroom (inevitable, whether we like it or not) and remain an integral and meaningful part of students' increasingly "digital" world.

Digital learning has always been so much more than simply technology, and placing all sorts of technologies into today's classroom context without considering the foundational changes which need to be made will turn into a prolonged, painful, and expensive learning ordeal.

A slew of major research studies (e.g. The Digital Youth Project) have shown that today's digital generation not only spend an obscene amount of time online, but that their wired world has created
a new way of learning, thinking, playing, and socializing - these kids are different, and by the time they reach university or the workforce their world will be mobile and the skill-sets required to succeed will be completely different from those we teach and value.

Entire networks have been setup to solely discuss this very topic: Classroom 2.0 is a social network for teachers with well over 25, 000 members from across the world (mostly North American, but with a surprising increase in participation from non-North American teachers), all of whom are exchanging ideas on how to tackle this moving target...see Education and Web 2.0 White Paper or our research section for more information.

Digital learning and educating our "digital youth" deserves to be on any list of top ten "tipping points" for education over the last decade.

Another event which, to our surprise, was left off the list was the whole "health" bubble - alarming increase in childhood obesity, eliminating fast foods from our schools, exercising, etc. Just today the Ministry of Education issued a news release Challenging Students To Make Their Schools Healthier.

Are there any "tipping point" events over the last decade which you believe have really changed the world of education?