Here is today’s leading #edchat question:
How does the internet change the role of content and prior knowledge?
It doesn’t. Kids still need a personal stake in both to create meaning. While everyone can learn content and has prior-knowledge, school-valued content and prior knowledge remain commodities that some have and some do not. I would further argue that how kids access that information outside school has changed a lot more than classroom practice inside school. Think about the types of information students pursue on their own time in accordance with their own interests. They know where to go and what to search for regarding their passions, hobbies, interests, and fads. I think kids are used to learning at a faster pace outside of school than inside. The relevance of what students are learning and their specialization in search tools speeds up the pace of learning for them. Because we still insist on a curriculum being a curriculum and a school year being a school year (and a $14.95 unit is a $14.95 unit, and a mini-lesson is 5-15 minutes, dammit!), we educators often keep ourselves from re-imagining learning through personal, rather than curricular, connections at a different pace. It’s like when Vger DMed Earth and it took an outsider like Spock to realize humanity’s “child” was on Twitter, not email. See scene 175. I mean, obviously. K1RK GOT PWNED, NOOB! FAIL! I was totally ROFL.
At school, however, most students are still told what to research and how to research it. They’re told what to learn and how to learn it (Question: in paragraph 3, is the underlined phrase ROFL figurative or literal, and how does the reader know?). Choice of browser, search tool, and/or subject can sometimes cloak schoolwork in relevancy, but I don’t see many teachers, myself included, radically changing classroom practice specifically in response to the amount of information and access points provided by the Internet and associated instructional technology. I still struggle to balance inquiry and test prep in making design decisions.
Then again, while I encourage students to Google it whenever possible, I’ve never been a fan or practitioner of the research project. Teachers who have incorporated the Internet into research projects, what’s worked for you and your students? How have new opportunities to find information changed the way you teach students how to gather, analyze, and use it? How has the Internet changed student research habits?
I wonder if a next step isn’t to elevate the search to an art form complete with peer critique. How much more would students learn about the what and the how if we ran conversational search seminars? What if students brought stuck or failed searches to the table and then talked or messaged with one another about the best ways to find relevant information? What if we crowd-sourced both the relevance and the rigor of search lessons to students and their relationships?
I don’t think technology has changed to role of content or background knowledge in learning, but I think it continues to change how we collect information and what we do with it. How else should I look at the question, PLN? How do you think the role of content and prior knowledge have, indeed, changed? Has access given them a new primacy? Has standardized testing? Or is the purpose of instructional technology to package content and prior knowledge for quicker assimilation into more rigorous work?
How do we get better at helping students learn how and why? How do we take advantage the ways that technology speeds up the what? How do we involve students in all this content and prior knowledge? The questions remain the same.
(Answer: figurative or literal – either way the question is illogical.)