Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Preparing for “The Big Test”

What do we need to know for this test?? Meaning, what do we need to know for the ultimate test that we all face, which is surviving in the world in which we live -- the modern world of new media, war, social issues, depression, lower wages, etc, etc. This question, posed by Wesch (2010) argues that “it’s not about being knowledgeable, but rather being knowledge-able” -- able to work with the knowledge that already exists so as to generate new knowledge that impacts on your world in a meaningful way; that is, in a way which tackles the issues and challenges we face so as to make the world a better place. As a supporting example of how this might play out in education, Wesch (2010) explains how his anthropology class simulates the world to try to solve some of its problems, yet they never end up actually solving anything, but rather leave with more big questions about the problems. To me, this represents progress, because the problems (and their associated big questions) are being refined so that the problem is being crystallised. The more it is refined and crystallised, the better we understand its root causes and therefore the greater our chance of solving the problems (or at the very least mitigating them to a large extent to minimise their impact on the world’s people).

I believe that how we teach people to think is a crucial issue that is itself crystallising, and its associated questions and challenges are being more refined and defined, leading us towards modern learning environments and away from traditional ones. Examples of these environments were identified by Wesch (2010) in his shots of his lecture theatre; a place where his students admit to disengaging from the learning process in order to engage with the real world around them through both new media (Facebook, Twitter etc) and traditional methods (just not turning up). Tackling this issue is crucial for all educators because it will allow today’s students to make real connections to their world which actually matter, and in a way which is more effective and efficient in it’s delivery.

I developed an interactive resource for a previous assignment which for me explains using new media to educate for positive social change (Hagler, 2014). I believe that the only truly meaningful education is one which ultimately leads to positive social change because it’s the only education that truly has relevance to people today and improves their lives/worlds. Education that doesn’t lead to positive social change (even remotely and perhaps indirectly) isn’t worth the paper its (probably) written on. As the diagram shows, to affect positive social change , schools need to avoid stifling creativity in learners (Robinson, 2006) and utilise technology in a way that leverages both formal and informal learning opportunities (Lai, Khaddage & Knezek, 2013) to increase the chances of ideas going viral (Spartz, 2014). Education that follows this path can lead to positive social change and perhaps, through mass participation akin to Wesch’s (2010) experiments with his anthropology classes, create solutions to some of “the big test’s” greatest issues.

Hagler (2014, May 10). Change #Teaching. Retrieved from http://www.iseeteaching.com/2014/05/change-teaching.html
Lai, K. W., Khaddage, F. F., & Knezek, G. (2013). Blending student technology experiences in formal and informal learning. Journal Of Computer Assisted Learning, (5), 414.
Robinson (2006). How schools kill creativity. Retrieved from http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity 

Wesch (2010). From knowledgeable to knowledge-able. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LeaAHv4UTI8

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