Reflection: Muddled Thinking about K12, Higher Ed, Learning and Research

I feel the beginning of a shift in my thinking. I can hardly articulate it right now, but here’s a stab at it….

When I was working in K12, I always had this thought that most higher ed schools of education were “behind the times” in use of technology. I know, sounds terrible to put it in writing, and potentially shocking, but I had that kind of a gut feeling. Teachers always raved about the practical usefulness of our training, workshops, and courses.

But now it seems like I’m seeing a little bit of a light (or going to the dark side as my K12 buddies might think!).  I’m seeing a focus on depth of learning, systematic assessment, concern about using technology in ways that actually encourage higher level thinking – that focuses on learning as the innovation – not necessarily the latest gadgets or free online tools.

When I reflect on the majority of what I hear in edtech circles – it seems like much of it is racing after the latest cool tool. There are certainly some excellent exceptions in the K12 world – thinking of Whirlidurb’s work in particular. You could think of more, I’m sure!

What do you think? I know now I have readers from both worlds… am I crazy? Maybe it’s not really a higher ed vs. K12 thing. Instead it’s a focus on gadgets vs. a focus on learning. And what I’ve seen in the three sessions I’ve attended so far here at AERA, there’s a strong focus on learning and how we know if students are learning. That’s where it’s at, right?!

I’m also thinking that the thoughtfulness I’m seeing is not making it out to the K12 world very well. For example, there are interesting taxonomies on wiki use that would be incredibly helpful in all the workshops out there for wiki use in the classroom. I guess that’s the point of the conference theme – To Know is Not Enough – but it also seems to me that the structure of publishing and research in higher ed puts barriers to this knowledge getting out to where it can be used.

2 replies on “Reflection: Muddled Thinking about K12, Higher Ed, Learning and Research”

  1. Linda McDonald says:

    Reading your thinking I had an A-ha…in the English/language arts world,good readers read all different genres of text and can make connections between them. Shouldn’t we expect that for all kinds of learning?? If a student has a solid understanding he should be able to represent knowledge of the content across multiple means of communication…verbal discussion, group debate, visual presentation, formal and informally using technology tools of choice. Good instructors will build opportunities for students to apply knowledge across multiple communication genres and offer choice when appropriate…

  2. Janine Lim says:

    Nice work, Linda! I agree that this is a good definition of literacy too – making connections and meaning across all types of genres and mediums. Thank you for sharing!

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