You can't capture the spirit of Podstock in a post; it's collaborative learning while having fun, hanging out with friends, and passing through chaos. And you certainly can't get a feel for anything but the chaos part from the website: http://podstock.ning.com/.
But, here is a taste, a summary of the keynote session I attended on July 22, 2011.
Dean Groom offered a lot to think about. You can also follow his blog and learn more about him at http://deangroom.wordpress.com/.
Let's say you're riding on a bus, you look up, and you see a sign: "Spitting is Prohibited." It makes you think, in what world do we need a sign to tell us that spitting on a bus isn't the correct thing to do?
Most of us do things without waiting or someone to tell us we can or we should, we can figure out what's the right thing to do, and we're generally pretty good at figuring out how to get them done even when there are rules against it. Many of the technologies used in schools today are there because someone (one of us?) has figured out how to get away with it, even if it isn't within the regulations. In communal teaching, teachers also become learners, and students become teachers.
A lot of what we do now in the classroom is like adding a clock onto a toaster. It's pretty straightforward to do it, and it does allow you to make toast AND know what time it is, but why would you ever want to do it?
But it seems that we could be seeing a fundamental shift going on in teaching and learning.
Good classrooms and good learning today are based on communities.
A community has shared values and shared goals, and when you are part of a community, your perception (your reality) gest expanded beyond your wildest ideas. Effective communities offer many rewards for learning, among them fun, knowledge, a sense of belonging, possibly money and/or power, and this is what good games offer as well. While communities may not need signs like "No Spitting" they do require an effort to make sure that values are shared and understood by their members.
Content is becoming less important.
We are starting to differentiate between teaching content and teaching cognition. Is it more important to know the dates of the major battles in the US Civil War, or to understand how certain wars have changed the social network and our collective understanding of human nature and social values?
Ability is becoming more valued.
Age, race, and gender are becoming less important, as we look for accomplishments, knowledge, and skills as criteria for advancement.
Pedagogy is becoming gamified.
Students are spending an average of 2 hours a day playing games. They're learning, and they're learning a different way of how to learn. One can think of an iterated four step process in becoming proficient in a game:
- Learning the basic rules
- Exploration and early success with simple tasks
- Mastering the game
- Generalizing skills learned to advanced levels and other games
We are learning how to construct learning strategies and projects around these same steps.
As we get better at modeling classroom learning on these emerging methods, rather than regurgitating Blooms taxonomy, we can conform education to the way kids are learning to learn. In this transition, accepted teaching practice will involve showing kids how we are going to assess them and how they can assess themselves, making sure they know how to learn on their own and learn from and with others, giving kids tasks where the solutions are worth celebrating, providing a sense of adventure, and making learning unpredictable.
There is actually a lot more I could write about in today's sessions, from friends and experts Dean Mantz (on the 21st Century classroom), Chelsea Whisnant (student ePortfolios), Sharon Ricks (the best educational Apps), and Jill Bromenschenkel and Nancy Mangnum (connections and collaborations between classrooms). But, it's time for the dance.