Struggling with Chaos

My friend Steve O’Connor, whom I met by chance when we were presenting in the same room at NYSCATE a few years back, just tweeted about a poster titled, “The Internet Will Not Be Another TV”. Here is the poster:

Internet NO será otra TV by Miguel Brieva

There are many things I like about the poster. It is an argument for Net Neutrality in the EU, and can apply anywhere in the world. What struck me most about it, however, is how the same concept can be applied to the current state of education.

If the top circle is restated as, “The School that Education Establishment Wants,” the picture is a perfect example of how school is today. Separate compartments, all designed to keep students focused on goals designed by those in charge.

If the bottom circle is restated as, “The School that Learners Want,” a much more authentic style of learning is depicted. Inquiry is led by the student (regardless of age), and the Internet is in fact a key tool that supports the inquiry.

Where does the question about struggling with chaos come in? Simple – when inquiry is driven by the learner, the environment is messy. That is the way it should be, but managing learning like this in an educational  system that is so structured is difficult to do. It’s the age-old conversation on how schools can best support learning.

The main example I’ve been struggling with for the past few months is the use of personal mobile devices in the classroom. I’m all for it, but I also know that managing such an environment is tricky. Its one thing when a group of adults “back channels” at an ed tech conference, where by nature everyone in the room wants to be there and shares the same passion. I’m not so sure how well back channeling would be in a Geometry review class where all the learners struggle with the most basic concepts, and don’t want to be there in the first place.

For me the personal mobile device is indispensable. A smart phone, tablet, and laptop completes the suite of tools that I use constantly to learn, be productive, be reflective, and be creative. And I’m from a generation that grew up where the latest technology was the Apple II that you could program in BASIC. Today’s elementary school students expect (I mean this in a good way) that they can access anyone and any information from their device. How can we not take advantage of this?

The time is coming where the personal mobile device will be in the classroom. It’s necessary. It’s inevitable. I’m struggling with chaos…

Image credit:
Internet NO será otra TV by Miguel Brieva