This blog post is primarily about a video of a talk Will Richardson gave, and I went ahead and embedded the link.
I really like how Richardson described the internet as something that allows students to learn information or skills when they want to learn it, without having to wait to learn about it in school. We all know from experience that we learn better when we are truly interested in something, and the internet enables us not only to choose what we want to know, but to also set our own pace for learning it. Maybe a student knows enough about a topic and only wants to look over some information, or maybe a student spends time reading and analyzing a piece of information. This is rarely a luxury of the classroom. With the internet, students can learn what they want to learn when they want to learn it and at their own pace.
Granted, I think the piano teacher raises an interesting point, if taken more broadly. Are there things that students are not ready for. Should first graders learn the graphic details of the Bosnian genocide? Hardly. It’s not whether or not students should be given complete access to everything the internet; it comes down to drawing the line between what is appropriate and what isn’t. The real question becomes: do we have the authority to make that determination? Parents and teachers probably have individual opinions on this one.
In order to compare what students learn and when on the internet versus as part of classroom curriculum, it’s probably a good idea to take a look at what goes on in the classroom. Well, this video focuses on how urban classrooms are teaching to tests and how schools have essentially become no more than test prep. Obviously, this does not lend itself to an acceptable learning environment by any stretch of the imagination. What really got to me was the statement that education had not fundamentally changed in over a hundred years. Times change. The education system should adjust itself accordingly. Yes, education has changed, but I believe society has changed much more. The way to approach this is use the tools of today, namely the internet, which allows students to take learning into their own hands. It’s time for a change, and if one combines an eager learner with access to knowledge via the internet, that change will take place.