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Blog o' Greg

Greg's thoughts on education and technology (and anything else that comes to mind)

June 2007 - Posts

  • Global Change Management

    From where does global change derive? How can we use global change to promote deeper learning around the globe?

    Global change occurs as a result of political, social or environmental events and the evolving global technological infrastructure. Much of the global change we witness is largely unplanned; the equation for global change is typically too complex for strategists and political leaders to plan and implement. At the global level, political leaders tend to observe change and react by attempting to control it.

    Global change can be perceived as positive or negative, but regardless or the perception, we can take advantage of change for the purpose of promoting deeper learning. The Internet is a major factor in the flattening of the world. People of all nations use this communications pipe to tap into the global body of knowledge. Web 2.0 technology has enabled anyone to contribute, share and collaborate. Our challenge is to reach out across borders using these enabling technologies and start a conversation with people who are different from us. Our Second Life event and website for choice in education has sparked international interest. Yesterday, we received an email from an educator in England who is so committed to educational reform that he plans to attend our event even though it's at 3:00AM England time. I was excited to hear that we already have a fan base. I'm ecstatic to know that there are no borders or boundaries!

    Posted Jun 30 2007, 01:21 AM by ghinshaw with no comments
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  • Change Management at the Individual and Local Level

    From where does personal and local change derive? How can we use change to promote deeper learning as individuals and in our local settings?

    We all have within ourselves the ability to change ourselves and our environments. Throughout my year in Pepperdine's OMET program, I've been looking at personal change. From where did it derive? It started with my desire for a master's degree. I wasn't looking for personal change--it found me!

    Change comes only when there's a desire for change. Personal change requires desire, self-discipline, and a vision of what that change might look like. Spreading personal change to your local environment has the same requirements, but it also requires the ability to communicate your vision and evangelize it. In Selling the Dream, Guy Kawasaki claims that traditional sales focuses on making money while evangelism focuses on making change. Evangelists are passionate about their visions, and they are poweful forces for local change.

    How do we use change to promote deeper learning? First and foremost, we need to give students the chance to connect what they learn with what matters most in their own lives. As we see when kids play games, they absorb much more than they ever would sitting at a classroom desk listening to a teacher talk (even if the teacher was talking about games). Csikszentmihalyi's Flow theory reinforces this premise. As individuals, we cannot expect to change NCLB and standardized testing, but we can teach to those standards in more meaningful, lasting ways than by memorization alone. We can incorporate project-based learning wherever possible. We can give learners more choice about how they learn what they need to learn. There's plenty we can do at the local level; it's even possible that some local change might defy gravity and trickle up.

    Posted Jun 24 2007, 11:38 PM by ghinshaw with no comments
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  • Globalization and the Impact on Education, Part 2

    How might the US respond to the tides of change resulting from globalization? What role does education play in this response?

     

    The bell-shaped curve of the American middle class is changing to have more of a dumbell shape. Globalization has had its biggest effect on middle-class jobs, especially those which can be defined as a process and don't require imagination or creativity. Programmers, technical support representatives, and even tax preparers are easily outsourced, thanks to a widening global free market and the advent of the Internet, fiber-optics and satellite communications. You might think the outcome for the American middle class looks bleak; however, it may not be so bad if Americans find new and better ways to tie k12 and higher education to the careers that await learners. In The World is Flat, Friedman tells us that a new middle class is beginning to emerge--one that capitalizes on American ingenuity and entrepreneurship. Friedman claims that it's critically important for schools to start teaching new skills and strengthening inherent traits to bring out creativity and adaptability.

     

    It's probably not the best idea to wait for the US Government to respond to the call for educational reform that emphasizes creativity and life-long learning and authentically ties learning with life. NCLB and the Spellings Commission show that the government remains focused on objective, measurable, testable standards that will continue to crank out workers who can produce and compute, but not necessarily collaborate or create. It is our responsibility as teachers and parents to supplement the school standards by helping students make the connections to life that are missing from our memorize and test system. Teachers can teach to the standards and incorporate progressive principles like those in Wiggins' Understanding By Design. Schools such as Napa's New Technology High School are employing project-based learning to authenticate the learning experience. They've also created a foundation to share the model with other districts who are interested in project-based learning. Our response to globalization will come from the ground up. When we reach the tipping point, school districts across the country will begin to shift focus from left-brain development to whole-mind development. Hopefully, this will happen before China, India, and other developing countries take the creative lead.

    Posted Jun 14 2007, 02:02 PM by ghinshaw with no comments
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  • Globalization and the Impact on Education, Part 1

    How does globalization change the needs and demands on US, K12, higher education and corporate learning environments?

    As I began to mention in my previous blog entry, globalization and Friedman's "flattening" of the world is causing Americans to rethink the notion of job security. Globalization, the Internet, and democratization has opened the market for middle-class jobs to the world. Increasingly, jobs that can be defined as processes and are not gepgrahpically anchored are moved to countries that have skilled workers who are hungry for work. Where does this leave the American workforce? We need to identify those jobs and skills that will give Americans an edge. Much of the work that is considered anchored is service industry work--food service, auto repair, medicine--but the service industry depends on industries that design and manufacture products and other not-so-anchored industries. Our current educational systems serve job markets for anchored service industries reaonably well, but we need to carefully look at the other jobs--the middle-class jobs that are rapidly disappearing. It is possible to replace the jobs lost to engineers, programmers, and customer service representatives in India, but it requires that we rethink our core educational values. We need to find the time and resources to foster creativity and adaptability among learners. We need learners to synthesize and invent. We can't abandon the standards, but we could do a better job of creating authentic learning experiences that will better prepare students to enter the global workforce.

    Posted Jun 11 2007, 01:18 AM by ghinshaw with no comments
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  • NCLB and the Spellings Commission

    How do NCLB and the Spellings Commission affect change in the use of educational technology?

    The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 established Federal standards for states, districts, and schools with the goal of improving performance and increasing accountability. The Spellings Commission was formed in 2005 to examine the post-secondary education system and develop a national strategy for improvement. The commission also looked at high school preparation for post-secondary education.

    Both are Federal attempts to fix state and local problems. Both look for more accountability from states, districts, and schools. The problem with accountability is that there must be some metric by which to gauge the level of success or failure. Enter standardized testing and teaching to standards. Firm, government-imposed standards and stiff penalties for not meeting or exceeding those standards is creating a need to find ways to use technology to make teaching to the standards more effective. Therefore, much of the available money for educational technology is going toward tools that will help process students and tests. Resources that could be invested in technologies that would help students make connections and authenticate the learning experience are instead spent ramping up the factory assembly line. Legislators and their commissions are genuinely trying to raise the bar fro education. But as we've been reading in Friedman's The World Is Flat, today's student needs to be adaptable and creative--two skills that are not on any standardized test.

    Posted Jun 03 2007, 12:42 AM by ghinshaw with no comments
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