Cultural Cues about Learning
From the AEC's blog
I’m currently at ISTE 2012, the annual conference of the International Society for Technology in Education. This annual conference draws about 15,000 attendees representing many different countries. As well as reflecting geographical diversity, ISTE also draws people from many different situations (K-12, higher ed, online schools, brick and mortar schools, for-profit and non-profit organizations) and every content area represented in the K-12 curriculum. It’s a great place to meet new people and hear about the broad issues in education beyond the (relatively) narrow world I usually live in – arts education.
The conference is half over, and I need to take some time to reflect on the events so far. I’ve attended many different sessions, from one on how to assess and measure teachers’ technological, pedagogical, and content knowledge (TPACK – read more about it here on the AEC’s website) to another on the importance of creativity in the classroom. I’ve also attended keynotes; the opening keynote, featuring Sir Ken Robinson, Marc Prensky, Mayim Bialik, and Qualcomm’s Shawn Covell, focused on the ways that schools are structured to actually discourage learning.
One of the promises I made to myself for this, my fourth ISTE conference, was not to overbook myself. At past conferences, I would fill every minute with events, fall into an exhausted sleep around midnight each night, and leave the conference completely overwhelmed. This year, I am walking for at least an hour each morning, attending many more informal events (like playgrounds and meet-ups), and limiting myself to 2 formal sessions each day. My goal is to take time to reflect and build a larger narrative around what I’m hearing.
After the opening keynote on Sunday, one of the things that struck me was how the panel wasn’t saying anything new. In fact, as I follow the backchannel for ISTE, a number of people are commenting on that…the message isn’t any different now than it was 5 years ago. So I’ve started to think about why that might be.
One theme that has been running through the presentations I’ve attended has been the idea of what we believe education to be. Before the opening keynote, ISTE ran a promo video for the conference. In that video, there was a photo of students sitting in desks, in rows, with their hands raised. And I thought, “Boy, that’s ironic. Here we are talking about completely changing learning, and then the organization chooses to use that image to communicate what learning is.” I started to wonder…what kind of cultural cues do we send and receive about learning every day?
I think this is the beginning of my narrative. I’ll spend the remainder of my time here thinking about and listening for more about this topic.