Ed-tech innovators share their vision for education

Video_CameraresizedFrom ideas on how Web 2.0 tools and game-based learning environments can help schools move beyond the industrial-era model of instruction, to the key question that should define successful teaching and learning in the 21st century, eSchool News TV recently captured the insights of several education technology leaders in a series of video interviews you won’t want to miss.

With support from JDL Horizons, our video crew was at the International Society for Technology in Education’s annual conference in Denver in late June, where we interviewed several visionary leaders in education technology.

Here is a small sampling of the wisdom we captured on video during the conference. Be sure to watch all of our ISTE 2010 videos on eSN-TV, however—where you’ll find information on such diverse topics as the latest in school eMail security threats, new Microsoft certifications, and more.

Why ownership of the learning process is key

For many educators who are veterans of past education technology conferences, the name Alan November should be familiar. A senior partner of November Learning, a consulting firm that helps school systems redesign teaching and learning for the digital age, November has spoken at numerous ed-tech shows. But readers might not know that he became an educator “by accident,” as he says.

Trained as a city planner, November’s first client after college was a reform school for boys on an island in Boston Harbor that had burned to the ground. He was asked if he’d like to teach algebra and oceanography when one of the teachers quit, and that was when he discovered that he loved teaching—and also that the current education system didn’t meet the needs of every student.

One of his students broke into the school’s computer lab in the early 1980s, November said, but “he had broken in to learn.” With November’s help, the student was given a computer to take home and soon had finished a semester-long course in just a single weekend. Yet the student was given a “C”—because he had missed too much class time.

“Now, he did perfect work on his own, self-directed, and gets a ‘C,’ because the system just didn’t have the capacity to deal with somebody who was that smart [and] creative,” November said. “And so it was a wake-up call for me that the structure of school wasn’t really designed to support all learning styles; it was designed to punish certain learning styles.”

He added: “I thought technology was going to change that … and I was wrong.”

The reason technology hasn’t had the kind of dramatic effect on education that many people hoped it would have—at least, not yet—is because the pedagogy hasn’t changed in most schools, November explained.

He said the key question he seeks to answer when he evaluates a school is: “Who owns the learning?” If the teacher is working harder than the student, he added, there’s a problem.

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