In his essay on socio-technology trends in learning, Stephen Wilmarth describes how once upon a time, development of a symbolic alphabet moved us from “orality” to “literacy.” Movable type and the printing press later redefined literacy. The Internet has redefined literacy again, and in fact with the speed of new developments (Web 2.0, the cloud, mobile computing) we have very likely entered an era of constantly shifting and evolving literacy.
Teachers and administrators have to get past the chatter on whether this is “good” or “bad” and recognize it as reality.
What educational themes emerge in this new reality?
1) Students as content creators – Rather than passively consume information, students need to transform and interact with it. (This, of course, has always been true!)
2) Collaboration and “collective intelligence” – Students need to interact with each other and make positive contributions to each others’ learning
3) Social media as identity creation – Trying on different personas has never been as easy as it is now. The personas we create online help to define the relationships we have with others. Students need guidance in navigating the risks and benefits of this process.
Wilmarth concludes that education is moving “from cathedrals to bazaars.” The longer administrators try to keep their schools ivory towers, the more irrelevant those schools will become. Instead, we need to embrace the “messy, non-linear, highly organic process of learning—at least the kind of learning that seems to be at the core of what it takes to be a successful citizen of the 21st century.”
Wilmarth, Stephen. (2010.) Five Socio-Technology Trends that Change Everything in Teaching and Learning. In Curriculum 21: Essential Education for a Changing World. Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.