The digital disruption has already happened, and it is past time to move the discussion from “will technology change education” to “how will we disrupt education”? What would that disruption look like? While it might be difficult to imagine, perhaps we could take some clues from the companies and service providers who are leading the way. Netflix and Alibaba provide choice, access, variety. Facebook and WeChat allows people to connect, share, and reconnect, as needed. Uber and Airbnb provide access to bring people and resources together. Someone has a car; someone needs a ride: the analog systems and barriers in between are now redundant. Credibility and reliability is built on reputation, based on level of expertise, within connected communities.
Could schools similarly become places where students are connected to a community of learners who can provide them with the support and expertise they need? Could they become places where members contribute relevant information to the community, and their learning reputation is based on these contributions? Technology already provides access to the resources, networks and creation tools to make this happen. Some students already learn in this way on their own. Will Richardson clearly outlines the shift that would be needed in his inspiring Ted Talk The Surprising Truth About Learning in Schools. It’s time now to stop focusing on the question of “if education will be disrupted”, and engage purposefully in the “how can we disrupt education” dialogue.
At our school, we have begun to explore ways to make this new vision of learning real, starting with small steps that have now evolved into a complete schedule change, including the creation of a Personal Learning block. Our motivation is clear: to do what is best for students. Our impetus is perhaps best articulated by George Course in his recent book, The Innovator’s Mindset, “Once we know better, we have to do better”.
In 2015, most educators know better. I’ll be blogging about our learning journey as we try to do better.