The OLPC initiative in Ethiopia is getting some traction in ed tech circles, and I came across a blog response by Ben Grey, a tech CIO for a K-12 district, professor, teacher and optimist in the field. He was thrilled about the potential coming from this initial look at data. I find his passion inspiring, but was weary of the article’s elements Grey was ignoring while extolling other virtues. I responded to his blog via comment, and will mirror that below:
I appreciate your enthusiasm in this field…such energy is needed in the edu world. This article came across my computer today as well, and my reaction was slightly different.
I saw the Ethiopian children’s unintended use of the devices in the same light as you, but I don’t see anything new here. People in your comment stream have already talked about “more them, less us” in the student/teacher dynamic, and any constructivist worth their salt would look at these results and say Duh. Kids want to learn, want to explore, and want to create, and they want to take ownership. Jailbreaking the camera and the desktop design is part of a learning process, something folks like Piaget and Papert would have expected in any supportive environment. Continue reading →
Months ago I had a conversation with a friend of mine who works for an organization with strong ties to the charter school movement. I respect him and a mutual friend of ours, and because I have a visceral problem with the charter school movement, I wonder how he and this other friend could have dedicated their lives to education yet be advocating for school choice and ravaging Diane Ravitch through social media. I told this friend I wanted to understand his POV on the charter school movement, letting him know I was at best a skeptical audience. We talked civilly the entire time and I felt like it was an eye-opening experience for the both of us, but I walked away from the conversation focused on one exchange: I expressed dismay at the continual turnover of teachers in charter organizations was not only harmful for students at the school (as The Onion illustrates here), but was aiding in the erosion of teaching as a profession. My friend’s response was simple: I do not believe teaching is a profession.
Along with the hype, there is a lot of fear in the pundrity and commentary in relation to the MOOC movement: if massified ed takes place on this global, global scale, what happens to teachers? Continue reading →