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Education 3.0

by Jeff Borden
03 February 2012

"I can't possibly keep up with all of this technology…I'm glad I get to retire in two years."  This was the comment from a faculty member at a school in Florida, after a recent keynote address showcasing the amazing capabilities of technology as it can influence education today.  It saddened me to hear the statement, but I understood.  It certainly does seem like there are a lot of technologies…too manytechnologies out there to have to figure out, if we want to adopt them in our classrooms. 

Sometimes these innovations are mandated by our schools and instructors feel like they are on a life raft without a paddle when little to no training or strategic thinking is given.  Sometimes, I hear the question,"Why add in technology?  We've been doing it without technology for hundreds of years!"  (Of course, if we all really sit back and think about the answer to that question, we know why.  What we have been doing for hundreds of years isn't working anymore.)  Education is on the precipice of a major shift and I believe the only way to meet new demands is through technology.  It's Education 3.0 - a label I used for a conference workshop a while ago that seems to have really resonated with people.

In the upcoming months, I will be providing a few blogs here around this subject.  Guest blogging has become a favorite hobby of mine these days.  But while I will share ideas, suggestions, technologies, pedagogical convictions, etc., please know this: I'm coming at the problem from an extreme point of view so as to move most of education just a nudge.  In other words, when I deliver my keynote addresses, like the one I gave at Online-Educa Berlin in 2011, I provided dozens of websites, technologies, and apps that are all feasible, usable, and effective.  However, I would never expect an individual instructor to adopt all of them!  Certainly not in the short term!  Instead, my job is to push boundaries for multiple people, trying to convince them that there is ONE technology out there that will make their lives easier, their teaching more efficient, their assessments more authentic, etc. 

But I thought it appropriate to explain what exactly I mean by Education 3.0 in this first installment.  Essentially I contend that without technology, teaching and learning cannot be scalable enough, differentiated enough, personalized enough, measurable enough, or creative enough to meet the demands of today's learners. Why not, you might ask? 

Because we know too much.  We know more about the brain than ever before in history.  We know about visual indexing, we know about cognitive science, we know about the power of variance in learning, and all of that knowledge cannot be ignored any longer.

So, as you read this or possibly hear me give a talk about the new Zite app (a personal magazine / professional development journal), Head Magnet (a website that measures your ability to remember and sends you flashcards of content at appropriate times), or the Nursing Neighborhood (an immersive learning experience for Community Nursing students), know that tools like these can help us with what we now know.  They can help us teach better.  Look for my Education 3.0 blog entries coming soon!

Good luck and good teaching.


If Technology is Making Us Stupid, How Can We Get Smart?

by Pearson Learning Solutions

In the 2008 article, Google is Making us Stupid, Nicholas Carr explains how new technology is transforming our brains into fast-thinking, multi-tasking, computer-like machines taking bits of information from various media sources. According to Carr, those whose brains have been massacred by Google, Blackberry and iPhones lack the ability to concentrate on a deep level or to think critically. When was the last time you sat down and read a book for, lets say, an hour, without checking your cell phone? Many students (myself included) would say: not in the past five years!

So, if technology is  in fact making us stupid, how can we "get smart"? Carr discusses how our recent inability to pay attention is the culprit of our demise. While new technology has provided us with various opportunities to connect and communicate, it should also be taken with caution. What steps must students and teachers take to revert back to an age of contemplation and reflection?

1. Require students to use HARD sources. Things like scholarly articles, literature reviews, or books (even just excerpts) force students to pay attention to the content of the reading and think critically about how that content may apply to class.

2. Be a Catalyst for Critical thinking. In one of my classes, we are assigned difficult readings followed by a "quiz" every class. The quizzes consist of questions that test our ability to understand the content and force us to apply the content to what we are discussing.

3. Encourage reflection time. Take some time in class to allow students to write freely. Free writing is a great exercise which clears the mind of useless clutter that our computers and phones create.

Innovations in technology will inevitably change the way we think and learn. It is important to recognize the changes occurring around us so that we may adapt accordingly and continue to teach and learn to our fullest potential.