Friday, 29 June 2007

Overwhelmed by NECC postings!

Oh dear, it’s been a few days that I have tried to follow some of the conversations around the NECC conference in Atlanta. In the end, I just had to take a break, since it was getting far too overwhelming for a newbie like me. I simply have to start in small doses, and not try to swallow the lot in one big gulp - as much as I’d like to. At one point I got so tangled in all the fantastic ideas I was reading that I couldn’t even go to bed at night. Needless to say, my family started throwing sarcastic comments about my net addiction… I’ve now got a hunch what Doug Johnson meant by the ‘Sociopathic Obsessive Compulsive’ in his blog! Whenever I did fall asleep for a short while, next to my dear laptop, even my dreams were full of Web2.0!

I want to thank all of the super-dynamic NECC commentators for their various contributions that have taught me so much and opened the door into this fascinating new world to me! I have been studying constructivist learning theories for some time now, but they always left this nagging doubt in my mind as to how to put them into practice in my classroom. It’s now dawning on me that the methods of ‘the old school’ were the problem. No wonder I found it difficult to fathom the constructivist approach, when I was all along using a set textbook in a rather teacher-centred context. And using ICT for me was mostly just treating the Internet as yet another reference book.

The new school should be about individual learning spaces and self-directedness. About LEARNING, not teaching. Just a few eye-opening quotes from my NECC-related reading:

Our students are living in cyberspace but too many of our teachers are not. They
are strangers in cyberspace at the same time their students are calling it home.
Teachers need to go where students are.
Alfred Thompson

This is so true, and one reason that put me on this path this summer. Also Chris Craft in his Crucial Thought blog live-blogs about the same issue:

What students do outside of the classroom for personal expression and
entertainment looks more like 21st century work than the classroom does.

I was especially happy to notice that the importance of getting our students connected globally came up in the NECC blogs and conversations several times. For example the next quote from Jeff Whipple reassured me that what I have been promoting during the last 10 years is not considered ‘old hat’ just yet. What’s more, I am sure that the Web2.0 tools will be a great booster for this.

The need for our students to connect globally. The new 21st century global community will require our youth to develop the skills to play, learn and work in a digital, global environment.

And finally a quote from John Pederson:

Sessions are for presenters. Learning happens in the conversation.
I feel this also applies to lecture-type teaching. Teaching is for teachers, but it doesn’t guarantee learning, which often occurs elsewhere and through a myriad of media. There should be more communication and collaboration amongst learners, both online and f2f.

Pheww, I will carry on digesting the information feast I have enjoyed for the past few days…

No comments: