Tie And Jeans

Baseline Positions

The plan keeps coming up again
The plan means nothing stays the same
But the plan won’t accomplish anything
If it’s not implemented
– Built to Spill, “The Plan

I’ve worked for a lot of years in small schools and small districts, where only a handful of people would put up with me using “2.0” as a standard part of speech, much less have any conception of what it connotes.  Which makes stumbling into Ed Tech blogs a startling experience, because now everyone is on roughly the same page.  So, let me set out my basic positions on a few things:

Classroom 2.0 is just Conference+Beer.

The fundamental reorganization of the classroom environment into a globally connected learner-centric platform through which students gather the wisdom of the world, tempered into deep personal understanding via the guidance of dedicated peer-learners nee teachers is what I get up for every day.  I *hated* middle school, and then went back to teach it for a decade to try and milk some semblance of humanity out of that broken system.  But, if nothing else, I learned how much middle school kids crave and thrive with structure, routine and patterning.  There may be a great 8th grade algebra curric composed of nothing but explorations of “authentic” problems using web/human resources, but it will still involved a whole bunch of very traditional classroom organization and procedure.  Classroom 2.0 will exist in my professional lifetime, but it won’t look like “independent study,” which is largely what I hear from keynote speakers.

Digital Immigrants are people too.

I really despise this terminology.  I remember the shock I had when I realized that my first class of 6th graders had never interacted with a computer other than with a mouse.  But that didn’t mean that their understanding or modes of interaction with tech were in any way superior to mine.  I’ve been a nerd for a damn long time.  I was on 2400 baud dialup to local BBSs (and going to the meetups!  And still in contact with some of those folk through LJ and Twitter!) by the time I was in 8th grade.  I was born in 1978.

Kathy Schrock made a nice post on this last October, and I can really emphasize with her desire for an “interim” terminology, bridging the immigrant/native divide.  But, really, the whole binary is just full of crap.  Aside from my real dislike of the immigrant/native terms in any context (too much semantic weight in either of them to accomplish anything useful), I don’t think it gets at the core issues with tech.  I’ve seen plenty of kids walk away from a machine because they were “afraid to break it,” and I’ve seen the same number of middle-aged elementary teachers click away on a smart board to see what it would do.  What makes a person successful with tech is curiosity and context, and neither of those are meaningfully tied to birth date.

I’ve had a fantastic 9 months at home with my wife and daughter, free from jargon filled (and ire inducing) conference keynotes.  For my last trip to the Laptop Institute in Memphis, my keynote takeaway was “if you’ve got a computer in the classroom, you’re not the smartest person in the room.”  This has been a real lens in my teaching practice for handling the “2.0” transition – look for the moments where I would say “I know this” but really mean “I know where I can find the answer to this,” and pass that responsibility back to the students (with some guidance).  It was a good line, and a nice moment for me to focus on and ignore my overwhelming rage at the speaker’s  “everything moves too fast and the world is smarter than you” opening Powerpoint.


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