Image via Wikipedia1. Dr. McLeod surprised me. I clicked on the link to his website, expecting to read an article or essay explaining something about learning. Instead, I got a poem in un-metered verse and written so sarcastically that it made me grin uncontrollably. I loved it. Basically, he says that other people can prevent students from using and growing technologically, but he was going to keep on doing things his way. Which is a great thing about the poem. It doesn't conform to any meter or form. It just flows. Exactly like his points and argument. He brings up the "taboo" topics of sexting and porn to show what the others fear the most about the internet and technology. But what he wants us to grasp from the message is that there are great things that can be taken from the topic too. Students can learn, grow, and become more creative as they share things over the internet. Sometimes, the results are worth the risk.
Dr. McLeod himself is a risk-taker. His blog, Dangerously Irrelevant, is one the edgiest ones I've seen so far among educators. Even the title of the blog (which he addresses in the link Why the title?), is edgy. He took the name from War: The Lethal Custom, and if that isn't enough of an explanation in itself, I don't know what is. He's the Associate Professor of the Educational Administration program at Iowa University, but I suppose that at the moment he is in New Zealand acting as the Visiting Canterbury Fellow at the University of Canterbury. That is a very long title. In any case, he's a very interesting fellow and I plan on lurking around his blog a bunch in the near future. Oh, and he's also the co-creator the video Did You Know? (Shift Happens).
2. Oh wow. I am seriously impressed with Travis. He may be only seventeen, but his idea of forming an iSchool is completely revolutionary. I never knew that the iTouch or iPhone could do that much stuff. I mean, I already have the Classics application and I knew about the calculator, but all of that other stuff? It's mindblowing. I'm going to join the iSchool Initiative on Facebook.
His reasoning as to the savings that schools would experience seemed logical to me, and I have to agree that it certainly would make everything so much easier if the only thing you had to keep up with was the iTouch. Books, paper, assignments, etc are so difficult to carry and keep up with. The iSchool would streamline the school experience and allow students to become accustomed to a world where technology dominates. I wish my high school had been an iSchool. It would have saved me a lot of backaches.
I don't know if his idea will ever come to fruition, but I think it's worth a shot. Maybe some important names will start listening to him and help make the movement a reality.
3. Ingenious. Just purely ingenious. The video Lost Generation had me close to tears at the simple beauty of language, words, structure, and form. It's amazing how you can interpret words in one way, and then reverse them to mean the complete opposite. The entire video message was a long antigram-esque passage. I was seriously awed by the way the meaning of what she was saying was flipped so entirely once the script started to reverse. The way that was used really made an impact, and despite that being the only special effect, I thought the entire video was very hard-hitting. As I've said before, sometimes simpler is better.
4. I have chills. They're still running up and down my spine just thinking about listening to Lux Aurumque. It was haunting and beautiful, and all the more so because of how it was made. The thought and planning that must have went into creating that masterpiece of technology and music is astounding. How was that even possible? I don't know. But I'd like to ask Eric Whitacre.
Then there are the participants themselves. They were from all over the world. The sheer magnitude of such a feat astounds me. I'm astounded. Which I'm fairly certain I've already made clear. This video is just another reason why the internet is such a great tool for connecting people. We can create something like what I just listened to (multiple times, by the way) and we don't even have to be in the same room! We can be on opposite sides of the world, as I'm sure some of those vocal participants were at the time, and it wouldn't even matter. The collaboration still happened and it rocked. There are no boundaries any more. It's fantastic.
5. What does it mean to be a teacher in the 21st century? Good question, Mr. Very Long Video. I'm glad you asked. The video had some great points, and I grasped tightly to the concept of entertainment versus engagement. I strongly agree that engaging students in learning is the best way of incorporating new methods of teaching. If students don't feel personally involved in their education, guess what? They aren't going to do much learning. They'll just zone out and that will be the end of that. But, if we engage them in the activities, they'll have a stake in the results.
Also, I think it is a good idea to be active in teaching students how to navigate in this highly advanced internet based society. They need to know the basics of search engines, blogging, sourcing, posting, messaging, emailing, etc. If they don't, it could be a factor in their careers and futures later on. It's only a matter of time before we go completely digital. Already most of the major companies conduct meetings and interviews over Skype or some other form of internet based communication. The times are changing, and we as teachers need to change with them, if only for the sakes of our students.
I think that teaching in the 21st century is going to involve a lot more than the standard fare of education. We're going to have to step in up a notch in order to prepare students for the world ahead. It is our job, isn't it?