The Reinvention of Education

I started this blog post on October 18, 2011, and it’s been sitting ever since. It was first titled “ITEC11 Day 2.”

This morning, eight months after I started it, I was reminded of Steve Hargadon’s important words when I responded to an undergraduate student’s question about what I meant by “the reinvention of education.”

I don’t lightly toss around words like “reinvention” and “revolution”, “shift” and “shakeup.” I really mean them (and other rebellious word choice) when I describe what is happening in education.

I just completed a transformational year in my teaching career. After joining the conversation the year before, I went to ITEC11 (Iowa Technology in Education Connection) last fall and was inspired to rethink how we do education.

My eight-month old notes follow…

The second day of ITEC11 was as stimulating as the first. It was educational, in the best sense of the word. My favorite speaker was Steve Hargadon, founder of Classroom 2.0, among other things. He shared amazing possibilities. Here is a link to EduVision, where you can find Steve’s keynote. Search for “ITEC Day 2 Keynote Steve Hargadon 10-18-11.”

Here is an outline of his talk, with my occasional reflections in italics.

He had Three Things to Share With Us…

  • An Important Idea
  • A Platform
  • A Framework

The Important Idea – YOU MATTER!
You matter a lot!
Search YouTube for Angela Maiers & You Matter
We were asked to share with someone sitting near us a passion, a skill or a talent we had. It was exciting to hear the buzz around the room.

“Each of you is uniquely valuable in this world,” he said. Not only do you matter individually, but collectively. Steve explained that tech changes have led to culture changes that are leading to educational changes. As teachers interested in technology, that makes us matter collectively. He likened us to super heroes, in fact.

He asked us to discuss with another neighbor, “What is the main purpose of education?” I said,

We have a new platform. No longer do we have to rely on the institutional or professional narrative. There is a new shift in voice and a shift in power. He used the protests in Egypt as an example of the shift in power in governance. Wisconsin, Occupy Wall Street, are examples. New conversations and new voices are being heard in those big-issue conversations.

Web 1.0, the first Internet, was all about reading, receiving, and researching. It was a lot like books.

The new Internet, or Web 2.0, is about contributing, collaborating, and creating – “Web 2.0 is the web as a collaborative platform, a framework for user contribution.”

“The Internet has become an unparalleled platform for learning AND initiative, participation, productivity and creativity…most of which take place outside of formal institutions.”

Name an educator you learn from whom you have never physically met. Now, more than ever, what we are learning is coming from peers rather than experts on stage.

Then Steve asked us to discuss with a neighbor the “ways the Internet is changing our culture that will profoundly impact how we think about education.” He summarized these three ways:

1. How we find, create and consume information
Education is conversation, not content. So, to fight the avalanche of content overload, create more content. We have online learning and flipped learning now. The Internet is more than just reading and researching.

Learning is creation, not memorization.

Learning is about sharing knowledge, rather than protecting your knowledge.

A great example was when he mentioned the buzz in the room as everyone was sharing their knowledge about what education meant to them. The fact that there was more discussion and, as it were, an “avalanche of content” made the learning more real, not less so. We don’t have to consume all the knowledge, we can share knowledge and join in on a more intimate level with others who are sharing knowledge. As we have heard often in recent years, there is no longer the sage on the stage, but the guide on the side. That’s how I felt Steve was to us–a guide reminding us of the importance of real-life education.

2. How we connect with others
From just local connections, to global connections.

This is an important way that my class and I are involved in connecting. We’ve gone from just having each other and the people in our building to have unlimited access to friends, colleagues, and experts.

Image by Sheri Edwards, shared with CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license.

3. How we get things done

When we balance structure and freedom, we unleash individual energy and potential.

We go from control to liberation. We educate to unleash individual energy and potential. This is a change from the factory model we’ve been doing for over 100 years. Steve refers to the factory model of education as broken.

Back to June, 2012…

Mary asked this morning, “by ‘reinvention’ do you mean more technology involved with student’s daily lessons/learnings?” Great question! And an easy assumption to make in this era. Perhaps when I started on this journey a couple years ago I may have meant just that.

Now, I realize it’s so much more than that. I’m learning something new every day about how school can be more relevant, students can have freedom to be passionate learners, and teachers can get out of their way and be the chief learner in the classroom. (Genius hour is one of the exciting ways my students and I are practicing this transformation in education!)

Good thing I’m the chief learner in my classroom! There is lots to learn!

13 thoughts on “The Reinvention of Education

  1. So important: “Learning is creation, not memorization.
    Learning is about sharing knowledge, rather than protecting your knowledge.” Creating and sharing knowledge learned demonstrates the depth of learning and the commitment to the learning. Commitment comes from interest and passion; creation comes from engagement. Teachers and students doing for and with, not doing to. We are in the connected age, the creation age, and we are guiding students to discover their passions. You are helping the rest of us learn how with your documentation of your genius hour, the time for kids to engage with their interests to develop their passions. Creation. Sharing. Liberation. Thanks.

  2. Beautifully said, Sheri! Thank you for visiting, and joining me in the conversation about passion-driven, creative, liberating education!

    I’m happy you are one of those educators I am learning with!


  3. Mrs. Krebs,
    The fact that you own up to the use of such strong words to describe the change in education says a lot about your passion for this field. So often we come across educators, may they be experienced, rookies, or up and comers like myself, who just do the bare minimum to maintain their position in the school system. When I visit your blog and links to various activities you apply to your classroom, I know that’s not the case with you.

    Also, thank you for sharing Steve Hargadon’s thoughts from the ITEC11 conference. I briefly visited his page and wow! The information is copious and I have bookmarked it for further reference. I love that he touched base on my favorite part of becoming an educator and that’s knowing “I matter”. As a teacher to anyone, with or without technology, you matter!! But, as I am learning, the technology truly makes a difference. Prime example, my blogging conversations with you are the result of technology changing education and answers the question, “name an educator you learn from whom you’ve never physically met.” It’s been a pleasure to learn from you and I hope to continue gaining from your blog as I move forward in my journey to become a teacher of connectivism.

    All the best,
    Mary Anderson

  4. Mary,
    I get chills reading your response! How wonderful. It has been a pleasure conversing with you on our mutual blogs, and you are right. Without technology we would not have been able to connect this way. This is another good example of how technology is a means to this reinvention of education, but not the end goal. What fun! You have great insight and now I can say I am learning from you, too — an educator whom I’ve never physically met! I have experienced this so much over the last two years, and I have truly been renovated myself and liberated to be the best I can be!

    I will look forward to continuing the conversation as you finish up with your class. I think you will continue blogging. You have a lot to offer others who are just beginning to join the conversation!

    Denise Krebs

  5. Denise,
    This is an amazing post. One of the things I admire about you is that you finish what you start (a flaw in myself!). You held onto those notes knowing they would come to good use. You share your ‘genius’ with many of those whom you’ve never met face to face. You inspire not only your students, but other educators who know there is more to education than ‘content’. With the demands of state testing, many have lost sight of what ‘Education’ means. You are leading the way with your Genius Hour because it is TRUE learning for your students. Guiding them in their research, allowing them to follow their passion, building confidence – these are ways you are reshaping education.

    Truly, thrilled and honored to have connected with such a wonderful educator and person! Thank you for your constant inspiration!


  6. Nancy,
    Thank you! Yeh, about those finishes…I have more blog posts in draft form. I’m glad Edublogs holds onto them for me, in case I’m inspired to finish them. I am pretty sure I would not have been able to come up with paper notes from that event, but thank goodness for Google Docs. Those notes are still with me. Going to Google Apps has really helped me stay organized too!

    Thanks, Nancy, for being part of my PLN. I’m just working on a presentation for next week at the Iowa Reading Conference. You’ve helped me by adding to the Linoit for the event. It is just so exciting to have colleagues in Massachusetts and all over the world. It’s good to learn outside of the four walls of our schools, outside of our districts and states, and even countries. I learn so much from you and others.

    Thanks again,

  7. Great blog post! I am humbled to be mentioned. 🙂

    I love that you state that “education is conversation, not content”. That’s how I learn and grow as a teacher. That’s how the students learn and grow when they skype or blog with other students.

    There is so much to learn from others by reading their blogs, chatting with them through skype, tweeting on Twitter or connecting in other ways through the internet. Teachers do not have to be at the front of the room lecturing while students take notes. Use class time to connect, talk, and grow. If I was a classroom teacher, I would certainly have a flipped approach.

    I love the things you try for yourself and your students!

    Thanks for the mention and I look forward to more learning and growing with you!

  8. Theresa,
    Your warm smile in your profile picture gives me many memories of the connections you’ve made with my students in comments from you (and your students using your account). Thank you for connecting and conversing with my students and me, and for inspiring me to do likewise.

    You jumped right in to digital learning with both feet and all those of the K-8 students you lead. It’s fun to watch you. I’ve been slower to catch on, but with people like you in the lead, I’m taking risks!

    Thanks again,

  9. Denise,
    Thank you for writing about this particular stop along the way in your journey. We are all so fortunate to have people like Steve in our lives to help us move forward as we continually reflect, evolve, and grow.
    As I sat with Tracy Wantanabe last Saturday at SocialEdCon I thought about how great it would be if you were there with us. Not only are you a guiding force in the classroom you are a force among us all. I am so grateful to be in your company and continually learning from you.
    Oh, thanks for the mention:)

  10. Thank you, JoAnn, for the kind words. I would have loved to have been at the conference with you! My life has become so much richer since I joined the conversation and met people like you and Tracy!

    Thanks for thinking of me, for commenting on my blog, and for the vote of encouragement.


  11. Another fabulous post by Denise! I’m honored to part of your PLN and truly love the rich learning that takes place online!

    As JoAnn mentioned, we spent some time at ISTE together and it was absolutely fabulous to meet face to face! I am actually a bit shy and l tend to be very private about my life with the majority of people. However, my online friendships have grown very close to my heart and it’s much easier for me to open up and share. I think that’s mainly because I have connections with passionate educators who know they matter, and know the impact they make on other people’s lives. Plus, if you see someone online enough, you know their values and beliefs by what they say/don’t say.

    I once heard that it takes 20 hours of being with someone to break through the ice and to build relationships. That’s something I share with my Collaboration Coaches because it affects how honest they can be with one another/their team, and it affects the rate of their learning together. Once they reach the 20 hour mark, they notice the willingness to learn more opens up… So, I wonder how online connections changes that sense of time? If this post took you two hours to write, and it took all of the commenters 15 minutes to compose their comments, then does that count towards that 20 hours of time? Or, is it by how much time it took me to read and compose my comments? Can the online process speed up that sense of time if we can visit post after post by someone and see them over a long duration of time? — I hope this is making sense.

    Thanks for helping me think about that! This is the first time I’ve ever put those pieces together.

    Kind regards,

  12. Thanks, Tracy,
    That makes perfect sense. I wonder too about all the hours adding up to make us more comfortable with one another. It certainly seems to add to that sense of time to develop a relationship. Adding each time to write, read, absorb, comment to that 20 hours, perhaps. Maybe you’ll write more about that someday.

    I like what you say about knowing someone’s values and beliefs by what they say and don’t say. So true! I know I have friends on line who do share my passion for education, and I think when I meet them we will seem like old friends.

    Thanks so much for visiting,

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