Google Rules again….

I am a little ashamed that there has not been more discussion here about the application of the new economic landscape being created by technology applications as discussed in the book What Would Google Do? The author, Jeff Jarvis, even tried to get the conversation rolling by offering the first comments (thanks Mr. Jarvis!). I have had several people stop me in the hallways and even on the streets to give me a little feedback and agree that we need to be more transparent as a school and do all we can to get more community input. BUT……although they said we needed to procure more input, very little input has been given. Some folks just do not want to leave a comment on the web. It might haunt them or something I guess? Anyway, before I move on to the next book and what it might mean to me (yes, I am deluded and think somebody might care, right mom?), I would like to talk about one more of the author’s new rules for the new age…..

“We have shifted from an economy based on scarcity to one based on abundance. The control of products or distribution will no longer guarantee a premium and a profit.”

I know I have said this before but I am not going to let it go! We are no longer the community bank of information and “knowledge”! Information is no longer scarce. It is quite abundant! We certainly do not control it or its distribution. (some)Home school students are doing quite well and are being excepted to major colleges with their ACT or SAT score without a “real” high school diploma. We better wake up! Be gone the days where education is an assembly line to immerse students in the right doses of each academic area! We could simply buy on-line curriculum and sit our students in front of computers and have them do programmed learning. If information assimilation is the goal, we might as well do just that!(update…we already are!) I know, I know, we are still in the business of transmitting culture. That is an important part of what we do, but we could do it while making our students learn to use 21st Century skills. They must learn to discriminate between sources of information, they have to master working as a member of a team, they must think critically and make judgements. Students today must learn to communicate using multiple mediums. They have to be able to make a formal argument using research to back it up as well as participate in a personal learning network that uses less formal communication standards. We have to get them away from linear thinking and force them to think and create in more complex learning environments that challenge them with multidisciplinary problems.

Because the world is changing and educational needs are becoming much different, we cannot wait for someone to come save us and tell us what to do. I believe that if we do not reshape public education soon we will simply be replaced by those who figure out how to deliver what is needed before we do. If you do not believe me ask folks from the travel, newspaper, photography, bookseller…etc. business. They will tell you their world got turned upside down and most of them are still trying to figure out what happened. That is, when they are not looking for a new way to make a living.

I ask you, do we need to modify what we do?

12 thoughts on “Google Rules again….

  1. Well…

    I think we have to make education more relevant for the students. The old lines that were handed to me about "mental discipline" and that other one that made me roll my eyes 30 plus years ago… "you'll have to do things you don't like when you have a job" just aren't cutting it with kids anymore. (Obviously, those lines didn't work with me way back in the dark ages!)

    Kids need a tangible goal; a pay-off that means something. Working for some kind of licensure that is needed for a good paying job; a chance to intern at something that really interests them – those are the kinds of things that non-college bound kids need.

    (And no, I don't worry about those 30% or so who will go on to college. They are like "us" – motivated by good grades and the thought of college.)

    Until we change what we are offering kids, it doesn't matter what kind of technology is used. They have to want what we are trying to give them.

  2. Wow, I have to say… I think you get it!

    The structure of our current educational system was laid over 100 years ago, designed by an industrialist to create fodder for his factory machines. During the industrial age, that plan flourished.

    Public education is struggling these days because we've moved head long into the information age and we're trying to teach the industrial age. I just won't work. By the time many students reach the classroom, they have already established social connections and networks online and are more accomplished than many of their teachers.

    The educational transformation that needs to take place is one that creates thinkers rather than workers. Teach our kids the value of solving the problem, not following a given path to the answer. Research and citation… I Agree!! Group think, having an opinion, supporting it, and changing it in the face of new information. These are the skills our next generations (heck, our current generation for that matter) need to learn from school.

    We have this misconception that high school teaches them all they need to know to get by in life. That couldn't be farther from the truth. What it should be teaching them is how to be a life long learner, critical thinking and problem solving, and attribution to the group at large.

    Thanks for a thought provoking post. You've got a follower here!


  3. Thank you for the thoughtful post. You are absolutely correct with regard to your assertions regarding the manner in which technology is changing communication and information dissemination in various industries.

    You mentioned the upheavals in the travel, newspaper, photography, book selling industries. I would add my "industry"; medicine.

    Like you, I just finished reading What Would Google Do by Jeff Jarvis, and I have been considering how I and my colleagues can use the newly opened technologies and access to information to improve the care I provide to patients. I have found fantastic suggestions in the people that I interact with on Twitter and elsewhere.

    I'm recommending the book to everyone I know. I'm discussing some of its concepts with my 13 year old son.

    I will be following your blog as well and I wish you all the best in your endeavors.

  4. i think you're barking up the wrong tree. it's not the ability to better discrimiate between poor information and good education that sets a school apart from the internet. It's the environment. you have to think deeply about why kids go to school (apart from being forced of course).
    you talk about "more complex learning environments" .. but I would look much more literally at the word environment.
    I work for a newspaper group in the UK. We are trying to go from a monoculture of print to a diverse culture of print, online, mobile, whatever next…
    we spend a lot of time (rightly) talking about how the timescale of news has shifted dramatically since the internet – and not favourably for print. But we don't spend so much time focussing on one of the main reasons people still buy newspapers in great numbers (my paper, the Daily Mirror, sells 1.4million copies a day).
    They buy it because they love the feel of paper in their hands, the turn of the page, the serendipity of the editing and the sense of community it brings them – often, the connection with the parents and their parents before them.
    It demarcating what a school offers, as opposed to what the internet offers, I would emphasise the concrete and worry less about the abstract.

    Since when hasn't the world been changing? Since when haven't educational needs become different? Since when did teachers ever wait for someone to tell them what to do?
    Since when didn't students have to communicate in multiple mediums fer'chissake?

    You have a proven, tested and much loved platform (a school building). You are (as you have always been) just part of the education landscape.
    But you have unique assets; setting, place, legacy, the fact you have to show up on time and get inspired by a real human being who may go off on whirlwind tangents that lead you down paths you never even knew existed. Just like it did for your mum and dad (sorry, this is the states, right? mom and, er, pa?)

    And you got the greatest brand in the world! School! everyone knows what that does.

    Just some random thoughts…

    Matt Kelly
    Daily Mirror
    twitter: mk1969

  5. Information has always been abundant in terms of availability to students and teachers in schools. Has there ever really been a shortage of information in most schools? How many elementary school have a shortage of information about two-digit multiplication? High schools with a shortage of information about the Civil War?

    Flooding schools and students with information isn't the problem. It's the quality of teaching. We need to improve the actual work of what teachers do and how they interact with student and content. So far technology has merely increased the flood of available information, and that has had no effect on student learning on a large scale.

    Googley schools skirts the real problems, and is an incredibly elitist view of what needs to be done.

  6. Dave,

    You have started an important debate. I found your post on Twitter – I follow Jeff Jarvis, and he asked people to add comments to your post. That's the way the world communicates now. I recently read Jeff's book "What Would Google Do" and I agree with you – the education sector is in for a rude awakening.

    One of the big questions will be – Will / Can / Should the internet replace classroom based teaching?

    Let me give you my practical experience. I give an adult education class in our local school, called "Get More out of Google". My 'pupils' tend to be 40+ years old – and are a bit intimidated by the internet.

    I show them how to use Google (and some other Internet Stuff)to find the information they want.

    I used Google Sites to create a free website – just for the class members.

    I created a page for each class (10 classes over 10 weeks).

    One page lists the class members' objectives for taking the course.

    On another page I embedded a Google Picasa Screen show with the photos of the class members.

    After each class, I create a page for that class and list the topics we covered. I then find a video on YouTube that covers the topic, and I embed the video in the page.

    This enables the class members to remind themselves of what we did.

    Back to the question –
    Will / Can / Should the internet replace classroom based teaching?

    In my opinion – NO. The role of the teacher is to guide, and to teach the class how to research answers for themselves. The YouTube videos are fantastic for revision etc. – but the class members cannot ask the video questions.

    We are only on the cusp of what the internet can bring to education.

    You have highlighted critical skills that cannot be learnt in front of a computer:

    – How to be good Team player
    – Personal Communications Skills
    – How to research
    – How to create Research based arguments
    – How to think
    – etc.

    Thanks again Dave for starting this debate, and thanks to Jeff for drawing my attention to it.

    Rgds Ken

  7. Of course we need to modify our current system of education. True, there are online courses out there that anyone can take. But this approach does not work for everyone, and it cannot work for long if everyone has the same access to the same information. The skills these courses offer are the skills that are most easily offshored.

    Home schooling is almost always more effective than public education; however, there are few who can afford home schooling of the highest quality. And public education can offer skills that home schooling does not really cover. Public education should focus more on interpersonal skills and group effort.

    Activities seen as extracurricular should be incorporated with the curricular, since they more often provide skills required in todays global economy. Lectures can only go so far.

  8. And I would also like to point out that today's average high school student knows a lot more about using different mediums of communication than your typical teacher.

    It is high time for the school administration and faculty to adopt technology students have mastered a while back. I'm talking about Facebook, Youtube, Wikipedia, and even the Apple App Store. These are all powerful tools to enrich the 21st Century student's experience. Get with it!

  9. a great insight.

    I think one role is to use technology to make students dreams more real for them.

    To use the new media to allow people from outside of the school to follow their dreams.

    This tells the children that they are more important than the school.

    They are what people are interested.

    I am having a go at it. Check out

    Thanks for doing this. Love your open minds …

    Cheers Jon Thorne

  10. Dave, this is a very interesting post. I think one approach might be to look at what advantages the current system has and then build on those strengths. For example, the existing school system has the advantage of having students in a face-to-face environment in the context of a physical, local community. Face-to-face interaction is different in many ways from virtual. How does that give schools a competitive advantage? What can you do to exploit that advantage and then integrate in virtual capabilities that can enhance it?

  11. I think this entire debate boils down very simply to this: We are no longer the source of knowledge, rather we are the medium by which students learn to find and use knowledge.

  12. @pure vida,

    I do not think information has always been as abundant and accessible! Students have greater access to content than ever before! MIT classes are on line for free!

    I agree, it is the quality of the teacher that makes the biggest difference.

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