Many have seen Pattie Maes’ TEDTalks on the Sixth Sense technology that is currently in development at MIT Media lab. For less than a typical phone, users can tap into much of the data that currently swirls around us in the digital ether.
The question is not, “Will this really become available?” Already rudimentary versions of the the Sixth Sense are already available and the upcoming Google Glass project (reviewed by David Pogue and the Demo video).
Even from the earliest days of the Web, many heralded an era of disintermediation. This essentially means “taking out the middle man” or intermediaries. When someone wants a book, they can buy or download it immediately. They do not need a “bricks and mortar” bookstore.
When someone wants to access a wealth of information, they can access it. They don’t need to pay for a textbook or expensive encyclopedia. They do not even need a teacher. This does not mean the end of schools, but to a kind of schooling. Book stores did not disappear, nor did travel agents, stock brokers or bank tellers. But the Web has changed these industries. What they have learned to do is to “add value” to their products. Personalized service, helpful suggestions and expertise, these are some of the “extras” that add value.
When students have immediate access to the world’s rich, interactive and personalized data, what is the role of the educator?
You may choose to address any or all of the questions below. Use the Comments link or create an online response and I will be happy to link to it.
1) Your “Value Add”
What “Value Adds” does your school already provide that appeal to your clients (your students and their families). Consider all the things that make attending your school a positive experience. Be exhaustive in your list. Part II: What other services or benefits can you envision that would make your school even more appealing? Remember, the learning is in the hands of the learner, so what does the school contribute to make this a more enriching and successful experience?
2) The End of Information Dissemination
Teachers no longer need to “disseminate information.” This can be readily performed through rich media like electronic textbooks, video tutorials, Web Apps and podcasts. Student can access all of these from their own laptop, netbook, tablet or phone and attend to the learning at their own speed, time and place. Given this fact, what services do teachers already perform that make them even more valuable than a “broadcast medium.” What other services can you see teachers perform once this digital delivery is well in place?
3) Classroom Life
Alan November talks about how digital technologies reverse what we think of as “homework” and “classwork.” Typically, class is where the information is communicated and home is where students practice with the new learning. When all the information is digitally available, it seems silly and a waste of time and resources to use class time for listening to new information. With a reversal, students can listen and watch on their own time, saving precious class hours working with the new learning so that it can be tested, challenged and embedded as a deeper understanding. How can you reverse what you are already doing so that more of the learning practice happens under your guidance and less of the “acquisition?”
4) Focus on Achievement
What are schools doing so that students’ can take advantage of such personal learning potential? Consider how curriculum, tasks and assessments would need to be reframed to move from the time-based progression to competency-based units of work. How will you ensure that “1:1 students” will achieve as well on tests as the “non 1:1 students”? Extra credit: How could you do things so that these 1:1 students actually out perform students in the current approach?