To Teach in the Modern World, we need to live & learn in it

connected learning

The fourth of my “core values” is:

To teach in the modern world, as professionals who are experts in our craft, we need to live and learn in the modern world.

This value can be contentious, particularly given our ageing workforce, but it is essential if we are to adequately prepare the young people in our care to engage, as effective global citizens in our society.

The nature and exponential speed in which the rules that govern our world, how it connects, and how it runs, is changing. We are preparing students to engage in a connected world, not the connected world of the 90’s, or even 2015…but the connected world of 2025 and beyond. Web 3.0 truly is a paradigm shift, not only in how we view information, but how we access, evaluate, verify and question it, and unless you are immersed in the culture of modern learning…it won’t make sense.

As an example, I am currently teaching Research Project to my Year 12 students. On the one hand, I can design learning activities that encourage them to:

  • interview someone their parents know,
  • survey all of the students in the school, (by paper of course)
  • utilise a basic search on google, and
  • maybe, even access some resources from “Academic Journals” to support their research.

That’s been the typical approach and has definitely characterised my teaching before 2013. But last year, this is what a student did in researching “How to plan a trip to Europe”

  • Posted google forms surveys in various travel forums to get current views on what was required,
  • Connected with Travel agents in different countries through email to compare their perceptions of the dangers,
  • Accessed current academic research on “Backpacking Culture” from – and compared it to a number of backpacking blogs – appropriately selected from responses to Lonely Planet reviews,
  • Used curated search engines to find and connect with authors appropriate sources,
  • Used way back machine to evaluate how travel descriptions had changed,
  • Used diigo to record all of her research, highlight web pages and search her notes for appropriate information…and the list goes on and on.

But, do you know what the most powerful learning moment for her was? When she wanted to use a particular photograph in her final presentation…so she emailed the person asking permission.

They said yes…then they wrote her a page “help guide” showing her how to find cc licensed images, she then showed a number of friends…she then made a screencast showing her peers how to do it…and I now use this as a teaching resource!

Amazing experience, yes…but I needed to manage all of those online interactions! We have a duty of care…and that duty of care is to support the students to keep safe, but also to open their eyes to the possibilities…we can’t do this if we’re not immersed in this world…and it’s not OK to say I’m not comfortable.

As professionals, we have a moral obligation to prepare students to engage in their world, not what remains of ours.



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