I have just finished reading Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms by Will Richardson. The entire book was filled with great ideas of how to enrich teaching. I stopped frequently during chapters to brainstorm about how I could transfer the book examples to my foreign language classroom; the possibilities are endless and exhausting.
However, the section that will stick with me the longest is a quote towards the end of the book (p.130).
When today’s students enter their post-education professional lives, odds are pretty good that they will be asked to work with others from around the globe collaboratively to create content for diverse and wide-ranging audiences. Compare that to an educational system that, by and large, asks those same students to work independently for a very narrow audience (usually the teacher who gives the grade), and the disconnect becomes painfully clear.
I know this is true for my own education. I went through the educational system as the technology was beginning to evolve and emerge. I was naturally curious and friends with like minded people, so many of the new things were played around with. I would not call myself and expert because of the experimenting, but at least I was familiar with it and willing to learn more. I think students are more willing to use the emerging technologies than teachers are to teach it. But the students need someone to model how to use the technologies.
I think a perfect example for the quote is my younger sister. She graduated from college with a major in international business. She works for a company based in Holland that has major offices in major cities across Europe. On a daily basis she works with people in her office … and people half way around the world. She learned quickly in the real world how to deal with the collaborative technology. How could she have graduated (a few months ago) in an international program and they did not prepare her for working with people around the world? I thought that was the definition of International Business. There is not a language barrier, but there was a technology barrier. All her classmates would have benefited to see the practical and applicable technology for doing business on a global scale. But that was not how the professors did business before they retired to teach. They need someone young (and without years of experience holding them back) to teach web 2.0 and social media. High school and middle school students need this as well. Everyone always says they want to set the students up for success and getting a good job in the future. This looks different today, you know how I know? When I spell checked the post, it did not recognize the words wikis, blogs, or podcasts. Word (the spell checker) is old school. The present is wikis, blogs, and podcasts. I do not know the future, but I am sure it will be life changing.