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If I could shape the MP4 (Part 2)

Posted on: February 11, 2014

Yesterday I started reflecting on what my dream ICT Masterplan 4 (MP4) would be.

In the first part of the plan, I suggested that technology integration in schools should catch up with and mirror what was happening in other arenas.

How do I see this second part play out? Like a movie, I see a few storylines that run parallel or even merge.

One is a focus on learning as enabled by technology and not on teaching as merely enhanced by technology. All of us should be focusing on the problems we create for our kids and how they need to learn for their futures. When you start to think like that, there is no way to take technology out of the picture. These are the same technologies that allow the learners of today (and tomorrow) to communicate, connect, create, critique, and collaborate. They do this on a scale that is both local and global.

This part of my dream plan would also focus on the mindset and expectations of teachers. If there is that much information online and if learners can readily access them, what and how else should teachers teach? The monarchy of content no longer rules in a democracy as exemplified by Wikipedia and YouTube. I think teachers must learn to be real facilitators, coaches, encouragers, confidants, connectors, tour guides, career managers, etc. They should not be textbooks.

Another segment is a truly learner-centred focus on digital identity and citizenship. This is not another name for “cyberwellness” (which I think is an oxymoron and driven largely by fear instead of real concern).

Learners of all ages use current technologies to shape their identities and interact with the world around them. They learn to do this like the way they learn languages, social cues, cultural norms, facts and figures, etc. Sometimes they learn when they are taught. Most other times they learn on their own by observation, social interaction, or experimentation.

Research tells us that most of our learning originates from the informal space. Even school-based knowledge and skills at work are learnt outside of what we understand to be formal learning environments.

That said, schools cannot ignore the ills that accompany the misuse of mobile and social technologies. Many aspects of modern parenting is “outsourced” to schools.

But I think schools should not use the curricula-only approach to dealing with this complex issue. Instead, the forming of digital identity and the nurturing of global citizens should mimic what happens in social spaces, counselling rooms, and dinner tables. There should be less do-as-I-say and WHAT or HOW you should do things, and more think-for-yourself and rationalize WHY.

The third storyline to this second part of my dream MP4 is a reduced focus on “learning about” and a move towards “learning to be”.

Our kids should not just be learning HOW to form their identities or WHAT it means to be a global citizen. You do not just learn dry historical facts or memorize rules that you do not understand. Devoid of meaning and context, this approach is low on relevance. It only works in the GIGO (garbage in, garbage out) approach in exam preparation. But the examination of life does not work that way.

Our kids must learn to BE global citizens as well as establish, develop, and maintain their identities as useful individuals. Likewise, they should not be learning Science, Art, or history; they should be learning how to think and act like scientists, artists, or historians. They do that by doing, making mistakes, being scrutinized by their peers, and guided by experienced others.

The fourth related storyline is a systemic unlearning of just-in-case (JIC) teaching to include just-in-time (JIT) and just-for-me (JFM) learning. Currently teachers front load students with content JIC there are tests later. Learning is more powerful, meaningful, and effective when information is actually needed JIT and customized JFM.

I am not suggesting we do away with JIC instruction. I am saying there should be a better balance with more JIT and JFM. To do this requires a huge cultural shift in what it means to teach.

In short, the second component is a very learning and learner-centred focus that is not just based on lip service or theoretical frameworks, but on the fundamentals of understanding the learner and learning.

Those are the elements of my dream. They may or may not be shared by the MP4 committee. But I believe in these ideas, so I try to create the changes to make these things happen.

I am not alone. Perhaps the spheres of influence that others and I have will meet and then we will have the critical mass that shapes a new culture.


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