Thomas Friedman


I’ve been catching up on my RSS reader over the past couple of day. I’ve decided I need to prune the aggregator again and really focus in on some good solid learning that I need to do.

George Siemens’ connectivism blog is one that always makes my brain hurt. I’ve just tried reading four articles in a row and now I’m looking for the advil. George has a writing style that is so clear, so true that, for me at least, pulls me in and really makes me think about my own learning, my own beliefs and question what it is I’m trying to accomplish. If you don’t use an RSS reader he allows you to sign up for a bi-weekly newsletter that is well work an extra e-mail in your inbox.

Out of the four posting I just got done reading, the posting on Digital natives and immigrants has me thinking about where we are in society.

Siemens believes that the Prensky analogy of Digital Native, Digital Immigrants has

outlived the role it initially played in getting educators to think about the different types of learners now entering our classrooms.

I agree with this statement the more I think about it, but I’m still left searching for a better analogy of the shift that has occurred.

Siemens goes on to explain that the shift has been in society and not in the generation itself. Something that easily hits home with me working at a school in China that has gone from 850 international students to almost 3,000 in the same time the Internet as we know it today has existed. Coincidence? I think not.

As I gave a presentation to parents today explaining to them their children and how they learn, communicate, collaborate, and live digitally, I found myself still using Prensky’s analogy. Those of us in the business need to understand that it is society that is changing and why we need to change our educational systems. But for mothers and fathers understanding that the tools their children use are different, allow them to communicate and live in different ways continues to be an emotional attachment that the digital natives, digital immigrants argument still fits nicely into.

In 2001 when Prensky wrote the paper I do not think many of us understood the changes to society that were and would take place over the next six years. Many people credit Thomas Friedman and his book The World is Flat with bringing this social shifts to the main stage. But yet I’m left looking for a ‘hook’ when talking to parents and other educators that might better explain to them the children they are now raising and teaching. To understand that these children are different because of the tools they have available to learn with not the generation itself. Although they are a great generation but they would have been without these tools. They wouldn’t have been as connected, as global, but still great.

So I’m left thinking; what’s the hook? What is it we tell educators, administrators, parents, school boards, and community members for the reason we need to shift the way we teach? They have been part of this social shift yet they don’t understand it, or refuse to see it. Out-sourcing is part of this shift, so is in-sourcing, so is innovation, and business. We all live in this shifted society but do we understand it? Do we understand what it means not only for us but for our children?

What is the hook?

[tags]shiftedlearning, Thomas Friedman, World is Flat, 21st Century Learning, Connectivism[/tags]

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