Changing schools, changing knowledge

As I left home today my son was at his computer watching more science clips on YouTube, looking set there for the day having completed his exams. With my 'dad hat' on I asked if he was likely to be taking time out of his busy 'screen time' to hook up with his friends. With a grunt, he let me know that might be a happening thing – then asked me "did I know what the best way of find out what his friends are up to?" My best guess was "Facebook". he grimaced and said, "No – Steam! – I can see what they're up to by what they're downloading and playing!

My son's quick response reminded me yet again that our young people are growing up with quite different views about knowledge and ways of knowing – and that the kids in our classrooms today are used to interacting with eachother and with knowledge in quite different ways to what we did when we were younger. 

This is the focus of the interview featured above, between Steve Paikin from The Agenda and George Siemens from Athabasca University. In his opening to the interview, Paikin asks:

"We live in unsettled times.  More and more knowledge is available to us, but the amount of time for us to pay attention to it remains the same.  What kind of knowledge will be needed, and in what ways are we going to be acquiring it?"

For those unfamiliar with the work of George Siemens and the emerging learning theories for the knowledge age, this video is well worth watching. Paikin asks Siemens about his views around personalisation and placing the learner at the centre of our education system. They explore together the role of technology in making this happen, and the changing role of the educator in it all.

There's a good segment in which Siemens explains the relevance of learning theory, in particular, the impact of constructivist thinking on our current system, and he discusses the concept of 'fragmentation' and of the importance of relationships in knowledge construction (not simply remembering facts). 

Paikin quizzes Siemens about whether there is any knowledge that should be considered 'core' – key elements of base information that learners should have when they leave school. This is quite topical in many contexts I've been working in recently – and is always a concern expressed around this time of year when educators, parents and students alike question the validity of exams as a means of measuring a student's learning. I thought Siemens provides a paricuarly considered and useful response – our challenge is to convert that thinking into a curriculum that is relevant for all learners. 

The interview ends with a discussion around the question..

 "~Will the change toward personalized education deepen the educational divide between the "Haves" & "Have-nots"

This is an excellent clip to watch and digest (I suspect you may want to watch it more than once) – and suggest you have something handy to take notes as you do so, as there are lots of 'take-aways' and good one-liners interspersed in the dialogue. 

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