Friday, 27 August 2010

Reform Symposium 2010

Reform Symposium 2010- Steve Hargadon - reflections on the Keynote address

[PART 1]
[PART 2 next week 1st October]

Recently, I had the opportunity to take in part of the very successful two-day Reform Symposium 2010.

However, like many, life got in the way and conspired with global time zones to make it impossible to take part in more sessions than I would have liked. It was a great professional development experience though, which I look forward to taking part in again in 2011.

The organisers have provided the sessions as downloadable links, which was especially convenient for me since my wife and I spend much of our "downtime" in areas of the world with very limited (dial-up) or non-existent internet connectivity for long periods of time.

As a result, I was able to download some of the sessions I had wanted to attend but couldn't and watched the presentations as we travelled (yay Nokia E72!).

In this post, I am going to summarise and reflect on the issues of particular interest to me, given my context, in Steve Hargadon's keynote address which he presented at the Reform Symposium 2010 on 30th July which he called "School 2.0: How the world is changing dramatically and how that will impact education." Steve is an excellent presenter so his was the first session I downloaded.

Steve began the presentation by discussing John Taylor Gatto, the New York State Teacher of the Year from 1989 to 1991, and author of the book "Dumbing Us Down." Steve read a short snippet from Gatto's retirement announcement and went on to highlight the fact that Gatto's message, that the factory model of education is not working, is now considered pretty much mainstream in the Ed Tech world.

Steve couched much of his discussion in terms of "stories" and that although the factory model "story" is understood by many to not work any longer, there is some question as to what the new story should be. Steve argued, quite correctly, that the new story of education needs to be an all encompasing one with, in fact, many different stories connected together. I would suggest calling it an "anthology of education stories."

The presenter then raised the point that the internet is now a very powerful tool which allows a multitude of participation types like never before, while being essentially beyond bricks and mortar school rooms. Steve presented two views of the revolution which is occuring.

The first of the two viewpoints was called the "Orderly View" and the second was the "Realistic View". The "Orderly View" shows "The Three Eras of Education" as being 3 distinct stages: "Apprenticeship", "Universal Schooling" and "Lifelong Learning". In the final era, students and parents take responsibility for learning and the content

What is is that makes people do this stuff (Free & Open Source) for free?

Steve went on to consider the idea of open source software and briefly discussed Linux and Apache programs which are very popular open source programs created as a result of volunteer effort. This led him into discussion of the topic of Volunteerism 2.0.

While he was discussing the MIT open educational resources service he suggested that one of the reasons institutions like MIT would provide educational resources for free is that the value is no longer in the knowledge per se. I think I would have to disagree with that. I believe the value is still in the knowledge, the difference I feel, is no longer in the need to have an "all knowing" expert who appears to own the knowledge be an the sole distributor of it. I would like to believe also, that it is an increasing sense of community responsibility on the part of large institutions who are making an attempt to be seen to be working towards the reduction of the digital divide in such places as Africa. It is easy for us sometimes to forget that by far the majority of the population of the planet do not enjoy persistent, reliable, ubiquitous connectivity to the Internet to the extent that we do in Western Europe and North America and parts of Asia and that much of the world's population relies heavily on mobile phones for their connectivity.

In keeping with the topic of Volunteerism 2.0 Steve also discussed the situation where Clay Shirky was being interviewed by a member of the television media who asked where people get all this time to volunteer for in such things as open source programs. Shirky's response, according to Steve, was that the time spent watching television is declining simply because television does not engage us enough. As a result, there is an increasing amount of "cognitive surplus" which people use on things that do engage them.

Photo Credit: burakg via Stockvault

[Part 2 next week]


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