Friday, September 18, 2009

Baker Manifesto (part 3)-- Bridging the Great Divide

In parts one and two I explained how I have come to embrace George Siemens' educational model of Connectivism. But my past blog posts,
have noted that many educators resist the technologies which make the best features of Connectivism possible. And too often tech evangelicals actually motivate the resistors to dig in. Consider the following blog exchange that debated whether cell phones should be allowed in the classroom:

None of this is new. Socrates and Diogenes opposed literacy and writing on the same grounds you oppose phones - they disrupt the learning environment - the cognitive authority environment - preferred by the teacher. Monks opposed Gutenberg technology on similar grounds. Schools long fought the use of film and television, even typewriters. Today, educators continue to fight against utilizing the technologies of communication which define our age. An endless retrograde action which ensures that "ability" and "disability" remain traditionally defined and that power never changes hands.

So what you are espousing is that the world bend to the student? That the teacher, with all their knowledge and experience, knows less about what a student will need to learn what the teacher knows? Sounds arrogant to me. You make it sound as if no learning can take place if the student can't have their mobile. What did students in America do before 2005?

The vehemence reflected in these views is not unusual when it comes to technology integration in schools. So how could such disparate views ever be reconciled in a school building?

I actually think that the Connectivism model itself goes far toward crossing this great divide. I was struggling with this issue when preparing a staff development proposal for my school administration, last winter. After Siemens reviewed my white paper, he pointed out,

We have different groupings of people when we take different perspectives. A "naysayer" in technology may be a "pathfinder in pedagogy". . . .The development of technology use (PD) and culture is important, as you state. It's worth drawing distinctions between the different roles we play in fostering change...and the stages we need to consider.

Connectivism holds out the prospect that each member of a learning network (for instance, a school faculty) could contribute at different points to a learning challenge (for instance, whether/how to use technology). Siemens hypothesizes that

A tipping point occurs when [an idea] has created a strong enough network to begin to influence the entire thought process.

He proposes "using . . . the IRIS Model for creating change around technology in organizations: "Innovation, Research, Implementation, Systemization."

I think that Connectivism not only offers a model of student instruction-- it is provides a process for changing a school's entire technology culture. I envision innovative pilot programs planting the seeds of change within a school or district. If the innovation is properly hooked into the network, change can occur within networked teachers, who can then help kids build their own learning networks. This is a pardigm shift to be sure, but it's one that can evolve if a collaborative environment is cultivated, allowing the school to become a vehicle for all members of the network to obtain and share knowledge from a virtually limitless number of connections.

"Rio-Antirio Bridge" Flickr Creative Commons Photo by Ava Babili

No comments:

Blog Archive