Sean The Bass Player has come up with some interesting thoughts in his latest Students 2.0 blog post. In short he would like not only to be taught to pass exams but to ensure that students are kept up to speed with technology. His thoughts were piqued by the Queen going all 2.0 by posting her latest Message to the Commonwealth on YouTube, along with a variety of historical films.
He asks that if an institution as old as the monarchy can move with the times, why can't education?
I think this question is very valid. Why indeed does the education establishment not move and evolve more quickly. Well we all know the stock answer boils down to funding, or lack thereof; but unfortunately there also tends to be quite a lot of inertia in classrooms. If a certain way of doing things has got kids past their exams for the last10 years ago then it will jolly well do so now...if it ain't broke don't fix it.
The inertia thing is quite a difficult problem to deal with as it involves trying to persuade folk to do things they have no desire to do, and I don't wish to go in depth about that here.
But what about the other issue that crops up...funding. Many schools operate on networks that are long past their sell by dates. (My place has only just replaced the Windows '98 machines we were operating.) Now obviously updating these costs a heap of cash, but many of the very usable applications available on the net are free, especially to educators. I'm thinking of applications such as YouTube (or any video hosting site), Flickr, Animoto, Voicethread, Skype etc., etc. All these and more are free and are outstanding resources for educators and their students, BUT how many of us can actually access these sites in schools? Many are banned in the name of child protection, for (a very real) fear that kids will access inappropriate content.
This is where we the educators and students such as Sean ( and his 2.0 colleagues) need to step in by dealing with digital literacy on a daily basis; by educating and encouraging thoughtful, sensible use of the resources on the web. Then maybe, those who hold the keys to the filters may unlock them when they see that these tools are being used wisely and how useful they are to education. And then Sean et al will feel that they are getting an education that goes some way to preparing them for a future that we cannot yet know.