Please go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDZFcDGpL4U. Ken Robinson calls for a transformational change in our approach to educating kids. Here at BIS we are looking at these and other powerful ideas to change the way we approach getting kids to learn (the key is to focus on LEARNING, not how we teach – to focus on outputs not on the inputs!). What do you think? Why isn’t the way we have been teaching kids for centuries, good enough? It worked for us? What’s wrong about all this?
(from the Marshall Memo, a weekly round up of the best articles on Education)
In this Harvard Business Review article, editor Paul Hemp offers advice on dealing with the distinctly modern dilemma – information overload. The problem started with Guttenberg’s moveable type, he says, and has worsened exponentially with subsequent communication technologies: “With the information floodgates open, content rushes at us in countless formats: Text messages and Twitter tweets on our cell phones. Facebook friend alerts and voice mail… Instant messages and direct-marketing sales pitches… Not to mention the ultimate killer app: e-mail…”
Researchers say that one-third of e-mail is considered unnecessary and (says Hemp) “the stress of not being able to process information as fast as it arrives – combined with the personal and social expectation that, say, you will answer every e-mail message – can deplete and demoralize you.” It can also addict you.
A 2008 survey of e-mail users found that 60 percent checked e-mail in the bathroom and 15 percent had done so in church. Eleven percent had hidden from a spouse or loved one the fact that they were checking e-mail. The survey also found that 26 percent of e-mail users have considered implementing “e-mail bankruptcy” – deleting all messages and starting fresh. All this can result in what author Linda Stone calls “continuous partial attention” among today’s knowledge workers, some of whom notice “e-mail apnea” – jerky, uneven breathing as they tackle their e-mail. Children of addicted adults can become “BlackBerry orphans” desperately fighting to regain their parents’ attention (one child reportedly flushed a BlackBerry down the toilet).
The impact on productivity has been documented. “Ringing phones and e-mail alerts lower I.Q. by 10 points,” reports Hemp – twice as much as smoking marijuana. One study found that when people are interrupted by an e-mail and then succumb to the temptation to look at other e-mails, surf the Net, etc., it’s 24 minutes before they refocus on what they were doing. What suffers most in this kind of highly distracted environment is creative thinking, demanding work, and decisiveness.
In a sidebar, Hemp summarizes the collective wisdom of time-management experts on how to deal with e-mail overload:
– Turn off automatic notification of incoming e-mail. E-mail is not a telephone!
– Establish specific times during the day when you can focus completely on checking and taking action on messages, and use that time to deal thoroughly with what’s come in.
– Don’t waste time sorting e-mails into folders or labeling them “unread” (one exception might be an “urgent action” folder, which needs to be checked religiously). If you have access to an inbox search engine, use it to do some preliminary sorting.
– If you know you can’t respond to a message for several days, acknowledge receipt with a quick e-mail giving a sense of when you’ll get to it.
– Establish common expectations on e-mail response-time with your main contacts (for example, within 24 hours).
– Make messages you send easy to digest by writing a clear subject line and starting the body of the e-mail with the key point
– and keeping the message short (one rule of thumb is no more than five sentences). Use boldface headings, bullet points, and numbering to highlight action items.
– With very short messages, put the whole message in the subject line and end it with “eom” (end of message). – Minimize back-and-forth by making a suggestion (“Should we meet at 10?”) rather than asking an open-ended question (“When should we meet?”).
– Minimize the use of “Reply to All” so you don’t burden colleagues with unnecessary e-mails (some companies have gone so far as to disable the Reply to All function on their e-mail systems).
– Finally, send fewer e-mails. Each e-mail message generates, on average, two responses – which you then have to read and deal with!
“Death by Information Overload” by Paul Hemp in Harvard Business Review, September 2009 (Vol. 87, #9, p. 82-89), no e-link available; Hemp is at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Recently educators have been engaged in a debate about the educational uses of what is termed “Web 2.0.” Some are ardent supporters that we – the generation of teachers who might be considered “digital immigrants” adopt our teaching practices, communications style and modes, and indeed, our way of looking at how we share information, with the student of today – the digital natives. There is much fear – is the tech getting in the way? – as well as much hope and excitement – this helps me better engage the learner!
In a recent discussion (June 2009) on the powerful forum www. TED.com, Clay Shaky leads a discussion titled “How Social Media Can Make History.” I strongly advise you to watch the 17 minute clip. Shaky talks about something called “global tech transfer” and how social capital is actually more important than technological capital.
This has powerful implications for schools as we move further into this incredible century of learning. His highlight on how innovation is happenning without respect for WHERE in the world it comes from. He also points to the power of how individuals have become producers of information as opposed to just receivers. Schools today are involved in this in creating content not just consuming it.
I believe this “conversation” on this topic will become increasingly important in the next years. Please stay tuned for further opportunities to get involved!
For now, please go to http://www.ted.com and do a search for ” How Social Media Can Make History” and see the clip.
Are kids today better writers than prior generations? This author believes that technology is pushing kids to publish and that the audience is the key factor in determining yes or no. The comments at the end of the article tend to disagree. What do you think?
Clive Thompson on the New Literacy
“I think we’re in the midst of a literacy revolution the likes of which we haven’t seen since Greek civilization,” she says. For Lunsford, technology isn’t killing our ability to write. It’s reviving it—and pushing our literacy in bold new directions.
Check out two clips:
- “Shift Happens” @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ljbI-363A2Q
- and “Shift Happens 2.0” @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pMcfrLYDm2U
Sample of some of the thought-provoking statements you’ll find in the clips:
- If My Space were a country, it would be the 11th largest in the world (between Japan and Mexico)
- By 2010 new information is predicted to double every 72 hours
- There were more than 2.7 BILLION searches completed by Google … this month
At our recent Director’s Forum we explored this issue. The conversation revolved around the following EQs (Essential Questions):
- What we are teaching students today in our schools is already in the past. How do we prepare our kids for a future we can not “see?”
- There are two main purposes of school: either to sort and select students, or to ignite the heart, mind and soul. A school needs to choose which purpose it aspires to support. It can not do both.
- Schools would be completely different if we did not have to get students into tertiary institutions (universities, colleges). In what way?
- Being skilled in math indeed IS more important that being skilled in basketball or rugby.
- The impact of their parents on students’ work habits and interest in school is not as big of a factor as the impact of the right teacher … at the right “take off point” in a child’s educational life.
We watched a few interesting pieces of media to lend perspective on the talk. Check out the Robinson video mentioned earlier in this blog, as well as the clip “Visions of a Student Today” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dGCJ46vyR9o) completed in spring ’07 by students at Kansas State University. I welcome your comments on the video and / or the questions posed above.
Here are some other great clips to check out that cover aspects of Web 2.0, Learning in the new millenium, etc..:
A Vision of K-12 Students Today (Note: different than the previous one!)
Education Today and Tomorrow
21st century pedagogy
Web 2.0 … The Machine is Us/ing Us
Please do yourself a favor and watch this clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MslbhDZoniY
Truly inspiring …
A recent article from the Sacramento Bee discusses a growing phenomenon in the use of Facebook – a social networking site – where the demographics of who is on line are changing. Check it out: http://www.sacbee.com/education/story/1654390.html
It seems, all of a sudden, like everyone is on Facebook.
The boss. The grandparents. Long-lost friends from high school.
Facebook attracted 25 million new users in the last month alone.
The social networking Web site that started off as an online hangout for college kids is exploding in popularity among grown-ups. The real kind. The kind over 35.
1 Can all kids be considered “gifted” in some area of their learning?
2 It seems it is easier for schools to support struggling students. What is it more challenging to differentiate learning for students who are more able – or “gifted” in a particular aspect of school? I would like to hear your thoughts.
Please check out an article that came out last month in the Washington Post: Go to
When the Label Is ‘Gifted,’ The Debate Is Heated
by Daniel de Vise
Sir Ken Robinson gives a powerful talk on the need for schools to teach the “whole child” and reach out to all talents that children START out with when they begin their education. The talk was part of the http://www.TED.com series based out of Monterrey, California. TED brings together the best of technology, entertainment and design for a forum of world leaders and changers.
My key question to you (once you’ve watched the clip, of course!) is:
In what ways can we change our school to better cultivate the TRUE and natural talents of our children?