One Big Question: a #digped Discussion

When one is overwhelmed, as everyone must be from time to time, by a sense that School is too firmly implanted ever to change, it is helpful to contemplate the political changes across the globe that were until recently considered quite impossible.” ~ Seymour Papert, The Children’s Machine

In truth, it hardly bears saying any longer: school must change. To pretend otherwise is to ride a wild unicorn into the rainbow sunset of a world where standardized assessments lead to a fuller mind, where grades are — instead of dismissive of inherent learning skills — representative of who learners are and what they bring to their own efforts, and where the increasingly autonomous LMS is a benign wizard with the ability to make each and every learner more fulfilled, more successful, and more empowered. That, however, is not the Education we occupy. In our Education, it is yet possible to turn a blind eye to the pervasive nature of the digital in our own and learners’ lives. It is yet possible to create online courses that are little more than Powerpoint slide decks. And it is yet possible to assign for students measures of success that have no bearing whatever on their capacity to learn on their own, to invest in their interests through connected networks of friends and peers. Our Education resists change, even while our culture has the digital in every corner.

Sean has said elsewhere:

“Here’s the thing: digital technology is no longer optional. It can’t be ignored. That doesn’t mean we can’t make choices about it — in fact, it means we must make choices about it. But those choices cannot be simply to pretend it isn’t there, that it doesn’t matter or isn’t relevant. The proliferation of the digital may feel like an invasion at times (and at times, it is), and so it is in our ability to choose — to decide, decipher, discern — that our power lies, not in a bull-headed commitment to ignore the digital altogether. That’s a desert island mentality.”

For many, the shift toward the digital feels exciting, while for others it’s a threatening move. In either case, real change — in our pedagogies, in our classrooms, in our relationships to learners, administration, technology itself — feels impossible. But, if Seymour Papert is correct, then change is always plausible. In fact, it’s more practicable than imagining that change isn’t necessary.

What big questions do we need to ask about Education?

Knowing where to begin can be challenging. In many ways, change must be organized, even self-organized, in order to be effective — and probably on a smaller scale rather than a larger one.

This Sunday, August 9 at 5:00pm Eastern, we’ll be hosting a special #digped discussion as a way to begin to ask big questions, and to kick off the Digital Pedagogy Lab 2015 Institute. Together, we’ll brainstorm questions we’ll consider at the institute and during our monthly #digped chats throughout the next year.

In “A User’s Guide to Forking Education,” Jesse writes,

“Rather than simply transplanting the Lego castle of education from one platform to another, we need to start dismantling it piece by piece, all the while examining the pieces and how they fit together. Only then can we reassemble the pieces thoughtfully inside the digital environment.”

When we take apart our Lego castle, what pieces do we find? What pieces should we discard? Upon what pieces will we build the foundation for the new?

Here’s one big question to get us started:

Imagine that no educational technologies had yet been invented — no chalkboards, no clickers, no textbooks, no Learning Management Systems, no Coursera MOOCs. If we could start from scratch, what would we build? From there, let us let other necessary questions spin out.

If you are interested in this question, and in helping us set the agenda for our next year’s worth of #digped chats, join us on Sunday, August 9 at 5:00pm Eastern. For those unable to join the conversation this week, Hybrid Pedagogy’s #digped will return to its regular time in September. We chat monthly, on the first Friday of every month at Noon Eastern. If you have suggestions for future topics, feel free to add them to the comments on this entry or tweet them to @Jessifer, @slamteacher, or @hybridped.

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