Schools in an Information Age

What should an information age school look like?  Clarence Fisher has given me a bit of a glimpse of what is possible.  I believe I need to let go of my control of the classroom content; all students doing the same thing in the same way at the same time.  I would love to say that my own classroom has been a bee-hive of multiple tasks, but it has not been.  I know that just as each assignment needs to look different because it has a different author, so to each classroom must look different as it has a different teacher.

What are the key components then in developing a school and a library which meet the needs of the information age? We need to develop creativity, critical thinking capacity and connectivity.  Neat the three C’s!  A complement to the three R’s perhaps.

Creativity –Darren Kuropatwa highlighted some important ideas on creativity recently.  If we are going to start to cultivate creativity, we need to start to respect that all people have different skills and that each of those skills have value.  In my son’s kindergarten class, there is a girl with a talent to draw and another with the talent to write. Each of them get recognition from the teacher for their talents and the energy with which they complete the journaling task.  Watching them I wondered if it was my own bias or if underlying focus of making sure you add words to the journal, devalued the ability of the artistic girl.  Each of them has a talent.  School will not make them have the same talent. I hope that each of them will feel that they have something to contribute as they get ‘schooled’.

In an information age school, I hope we will see that the talents of each child will be valued and encouraged, that the media which allows one student to write music, another to capture video, another to dance and another to draw their responses to the ‘curriculum’ will be used to the best possible advantage.  The school will need teachers who have a broad understanding of many possibiltities.  Jack of all trades will be the best teacher in the information age. A teacher who is an expert at finding other experts.

Critical Thinking – We need to engage in analysis and synthesis and judging.  Good old Bloom’s taxonomy.  We need to do the high level thinking in the information age school.  Quantity of information is no longer an issue:  quality of information and finding good information is.  Our ability to help with this critical thinking task needs to extend beyond our walls.  Virtual libraries are a vehicle which can help teachers to continue to stand by students as they research and think about their findings outside of school time.  We need to set good assignments.  Assignments which take students beyond the surface of ‘oh this fits’ and an ‘I’m done’ mentality.  Doug Noon was talking about this kind of reading today.

Connectivity – The information age will bring together students, teachers and all kinds of outsiders.  An information age school needs to teach about how to be online participants. It needs to talk about the impact of an online identity.  An information age school builds connections between its students and its teachers, its students and other students, its students and other interested adults.  Look at this possibility connecting Sue Monk Kidd and a classroom.

Perhaps these three C’s are not a guidebook and checklist for producing an information age school, but they are a start.  A BHAG, as mentioned by Scott McLeod today.

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3 Comments

Filed under education, edutech, library, web 2.0

3 responses to “Schools in an Information Age

  1. Susan; I think this is a fabulous, excellent encapsulation of a lot of exactly what we need. I truly like the simple “three c’s” idea. Getting there and matching them with provincially required outcomes is of course always the issue. By the links in this post, I can see that you have chosen some good guides for your thinking.

  2. The idea of letting go of control of classroom content (the fourth ‘c’?) is suggestive of many things that are problematic. When I imagine these classrooms, I invariably construct an image of a roomfull of self-motivated learners who are all engaged in some noble learning task. But…the reality is far more gritty and hard to describe. Letting go of control when you see things spinning off into the unknown is scary, and not necessarily something to allow. Knowing that they are going to reach those required outcomes requires preparation for kids and teacher. Lots of steps in that process. One thing that would help my vision of the information age classroom at this moment in time would be to have fewer students in it, and more space to move around. In my imaginary information age classroom I would have 12-15 students, and plenty of room for them to spread out. I have a crowd control problem this year, and it has put a lot of my hopes and dreams in limbo.

    I liked the idea you left on my post about helping the kids to develop a reading identitity within a literate community. In the networked classroom, that community could be quite large and include a variety of media literacies. I’m a long way from there, but putting some foundations under these visions is a good use of creative energy. My students tell me that I’m an inventor. They got that right, I think. Every day is a revision.

    Good stuff to think about.

  3. I understand what you are saying, Doug. I think we need a set of outcomes which allow for flexibility. Perhaps I should say less control and not ‘letting go of control’.

    I absolutely agree that the smaller classroom would allow for more flexibility and better connections – student to student, teacher to teacher. I had the fortunate experience to be in a school which was ‘over-staffed’ a few years ago. Each classroom had approximately 23 students in it. The next year, we each had around 30. The difference in climate was palpable. Teachers were stressed. Students were irritable and fought more. Teachers did their best to stay ‘in control’ and offer interesting things to do but I honestly believe I spent most of the year on management and not very much on creativity.

    I agree there is a huge connection between class size and the 3 C’s.

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