Another dot in the blogosphere?

Q & A again

Posted on: June 26, 2014

Every now and then I get interviewed in person or online. Sometimes it is for a publication, sometimes it is for a project of some sort.

Here was a brief exchange via email and courtesy of @jaelchng of Halogen, SG, a few days ago.

Do you think educational technology is leveraged enough for learning in Singapore?

Classroom by xcode, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License  by  xcode 

In the informal learning space, yes, because it is a natural extension of what people do. Examples include using YouTube videos to learn dance moves or to pick up a new language, or Googling to get timely information.

There is still much room to grow into in the formal learning space, i.e., classrooms. While classrooms here have taken steps in the right direction, the average neighborhood school is not quite in the 21st century. You could replay what you and I experienced in our classrooms in today’s environments and they would not look out of place.

There is still too much reliance on teacher talk and the teacher as the fountain of information. There is still too much disconnected paper, single-audience homework, and non-authentic busy work.

Educational technology alone will not solve classroom ills, but it will enable changes by pushing boundaries in the classroom like it has everywhere else.

Do you think Singapore classrooms can be designed in more creative ways?

Open Teaching - Thinning the Walls by courosa, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by  courosa 

Certainly. The rank and file system is still designed with industrial discipline in mind. Even when desks and chairs are moved about for group work, the social environment is still old school.

There are many examples of creative physical layouts and one simply has to Google for examples. However, there are at least two innocuous but very important ways to redesign the classroom.

The first is to make the walls transparent by going and sharing online. This opens the classroom to the world and invites stakeholders in. Not everything is safe or desirable, but there are important lessons in those as well.

The second is redefining the classroom beyond the physical space in school. Learning does not just happen in that building. More often than not it happens outside of it. The home, the social hangout, the museum, and the eco-park are all classrooms.

Why is leveraging educational technology for learning important?

It enables learning that was not possible a generation ago. Instant transliterations, synchronous and asynchronous sharing and critiquing between cultures, testing ideas in virtual and real social spaces, learners quickly creating content to share and add to the pool of knowledge, and so much more.

It is the responsible thing to do. To quote Dewey: If we teach today as we taught yesterday, we rob our children of tomorrow. When leveraged powerfully and meaningfully, educational technology enables tomorrow’s learning of knowledge, skills, and values today.

I like to tell people this about learners: You cannot teach them unless you reach them. Communication and creation technologies are where our learners are already at and most ready to learn. Educators need to go there instead of dragging them kicking and screaming into the Old School.


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