Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself. ~ John Dewey

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This is going to come as a shock I know…but pre-service education programs are not preparing teachers for a technology rich classroom teaching experience. Or to put that another way the classrooms of today.

According to a Project Tomorrow Report

…principals concluded that they want to hire new teachers with creative ideas about how technology can be leveraged to create authentic and differentiated learning experiences. But student-teachers report that their tech training focuses only on simple management tools. At the same time, the report concludes that those who have the biggest influence on new teachers — veteran educators –  don’t always embrace new ways of using technology to engage students. ~MindShift

Photo Credit: uoeducation via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: uoeducation via Compfight cc

This is an issue and one I have seen first hand. I have had the privilege of meeting with pre-service educators in both undergraduate programs and Master’s In Teaching programs…mostly here in the State of Washington. Now some of these programs are doing things different, trying to do things differently or bring a different approach. However, for the most part what I’m finding is technology is still an afterthought in these programs and not a true representation of what is happening in schools.

One of the main issues I see is that technology, in many programs, is a separate course and is not integrated into each of the subject/classes that a pre-service educator takes. History teachers….as part of their program should be required to know how to use all the amazing layers found in Google Earth. Math teachers should know about things like PhotoMath and how you could leverage this in the classroom. English teachers should study and understand how writing has changed over the years and have students practice writing in mediums that apply to 2014. Blogs, Tweets, Status Updates, images and videos. Those are the writing tools of today and of the future.

Or how about just on an professional level. I wonder how many pre-service program cover things like:

  • How to respond to an upset parent over email
  • How to respond to an upset student over email
  • How to respond to colleagues professionally over email
  • How to write a professional email that conveys your message and will be read
  • How to handle a situation in which a parents sends you a DM on Facebook about their child (yes they can…yes it happens)
  • How to handle yourself professionally when everyone has a camera in their pocket
  • How to update your “class website” in a manner that is appropriate, within school guidelines and gets your message across to your community

That’s a list that just rolls off my head in about 5 minutes…I’m sure you can add more to the list in the comments.

Teachers-in-training say coursework focuses on technologies that help a teacher stay organized, rather than ways to engage students. In their methods courses, where teachers learn the mechanics of running a classroom, 71 percent report that they’re taught to use simple word processing, spreadsheets and database tools, 64 percent report learning how to create multimedia presentations and 55 percent say they’ve learned how to use interactive whiteboards. ~MindShift

It’s not just that technology is not being integrated into the course subjects and methods courses but that what is required to be produced is not good stuff typically. Sure 64% report learning how to create multimedia presentations but are they good presentations that take into account what we know about brain research? I’m going to guess not.

Are pre-service programs and methods courses looking at what skills need to be replaced for this generation? Are they studying new approaches to learning such as gamification and reverse instruction. Where they might work and where they might not. Are they studying new and emerging learning theories like Connectivism that was written and has been around since 2005 and is the foundation to what MOOCs are based on.

I shouldn’t be complaining I guess this is exactly what has made COETAIL so popular. We cover all these topics and so much more over the course of our program. BTW a new cohort is starting in February…feel free to spread the word!

We have work to do throughout education and preparing students for their future. We can’t rely on new teachers coming from pre-service programs to be the answer. Yes…they use a ton of tech in their own lives but have never been taught how to apply that to the classroom in a safe and learning focused way. Are they ahead of the game….sure….but without the focus on how and why learning changes when we have access to a connected classroom that tech life skill is wasted.

We can do better…..

Gigaom had a great article this week on some of the push back that MOOCs and Coursera in particular are seeing from university professors.

A couple quotes:

Princeton professor Mitchell Duneier told The Chronicle of Higher Education Tuesday that he will no longer teach his class out of concerns that it could undermine public higher education.

In April, Amherst rejected a partnership with edX citing concerns that MOOCs could take tuition funding from middle- and lower-tier schools and lead to a degraded model of teaching.

MOOCs
Photo Credit: mathplourde via Compfight cc

You can read the article yourself and I also encourage the comments. What I am hearing is that things are getting scary here in this MOOC world. That both professors and universities are starting to either feel the effects or see the writing on the wall that things are going to change. The problem is….I don’t know if they can really control it or stop it.

When anyone anywhere can learn anything and all they need is an internet connection and a device to access it….things change.

Just a quick post to point to two pieces of information that shows the slow march we’re seeing to online learning and how it is going to effect high schools in the near future. The disruption is near for sure.

A small study done by Millenial Branding with college students shows that many believe they can get as good if not better education online. Here are some figures from the survey.

50 percent of students said they don’t need a traditional classroom to learn, but 78 percent do think that it’s easier to learn in a traditional classroom than online. (associationsnow.com)

Not sure what to make of this. Is it a good thing or bad thing that 78% of students think it’s “easier” to learn in a traditional classroom? I have talked to people who have taken online courses and most do say they are more work as you can’t “hide” in an traditional class but not in an online course. I would have rather them say it was more educational or it was more “fun” to learn in a traditional classroom. Not sure what the questions were on the survey…but not sure I like “easier”.

43 percent say that online education will provide them with courses of the same or higher quality than traditional colleges. (associationsnow.com)

So not all of them believe online is the way to go….but they do believe it is the way education is headed. There are some other good stats to look at in the survey.

As this survey comes out asking millenials in college about online education, News. Corp’s Amplify launched a High School MOOC course. The first course is an AP Computer Science course and is aimed at preparing students to take the College Board exam.

The online program, taught by an experienced high school teacher, is free to students. And an added option, called MOOC Local, which provides schools with students in the CS MOOC additional resources, will cost $200 per student but is free to schools for the first year. (gigaom.com)

Photo Credit: mathplourde via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: mathplourde via Compfight cc

So if your school doesn’t offer AP Computer Science and you have students that want to take it, now they have a choice. The MOOC Local option looks like the future to me. Where a school has a “coach” who helps students when they need it, who can be that connection and even connect students within a school. Think how this could change what it means to be a teacher…..

Anyway….just two articles that have me thinking this week. It’s not that online learning has to be “better” than traditional. It just have to cost less, give students time to work a job, or fill a course need/want that their local school doesn’t offer to start making a mark on high school education. I think of these articles and the day I spent with Alabama ACCESS online educators a few weeks ago where they have the third largest online high school serving over 65,000 students. Or as the director put it 65 – 1000 student high schools. We’re going to continue to see growth in this area and the MOOC approach will be part of it for sure.

collegedegree
 

This thought has been rolling around in my head for a couple of weeks now. How much longer will a college degree mean something? 

What has me thinking is the news I have been following about the Stanford Artificial Intelligence class that is now open for anyone to join. Some 35,000 people have turned in the first three weeks worth of assignments and are completing the same work as those paying thousands of dollars for the course at Stanford only for free. 

At the end of the course, those that complete all the work will receive a certificate from Standford. They can’t actually get Standford credit because…well…that wouldn’t be fair to the 175 students in the class that are spending thousands of dollars to take it on campus. 

So if I can take courses for free and I can get a certificate that says I have completed this course, or that course, what does the degree actually get me?

I think we’ve already started to see the end of the degree in many areas, especially around technology where kids are hired straight out of high school or drop out of college to go work for the likes of Microsoft or Apple just to name a few. 

The knowledge they have trumps a degree.

When do we start hiring for the knowledge you have rather than the degree you hold?

When will a certificate of this open course or that open course mean as much as actually taking the college course?

What happens when a college degree really doesn’t mean anything other than you spent x amount of hours with your butt in a seat somewhere for four five six years?

What happens when you’re hired for what you know not what courses you took?

What happens when the skills you have become more important than the content you know?

What happens when a college degree no longer means anything?

 

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