Kevin Blissett: Out of the Cave

Leadership, Classroom 2.0, Curriculum, China

Another Either/Or Choice?

Digital Education reports that UK schools will be forgoing some content in the National Curriculum in favor of learning classroom 2.0 skills like Tweeting, blogging, podcasting, social media networking, etc. This is another one of those choices that I don’t believe is “either/or.” Learners will need some instruction in learning these skills, but I doubt that a considerable amount of content needs to be excluded in order to accomplish the task. Quoting from The Guardian:

“The proposals would require…children to leave primary school familiar with blogging, podcasts, Wikipedia and Twitter as sources of information and forms of communication.”

And from Digital Ed:

Even before the new documents are released they are fueling debate over content in UK schools. I can just imagine the response it will bring from subject-area specialists: Without the content, will students have anything meaningful to blog about?


March 28, 2009 Posted by | social media, twitter | Leave a comment

Inducting New Teachers

I found this post from Jo McLeay at Open Education in which she describes what a great new-teacher induction session looks and feels like. Her account certainly prompts me to realize that I can do much more to make new teachers feel welcome in a new environment. Check it out.

March 28, 2009 Posted by | orientation | Leave a comment

Content vs. Skills

Andrew J. Rotherman analyzes “21st century skills” and confronts the perennial conflict between content-oriented and skills-oriented education and comes to the conclusion–with which I agree whole-heartedly–that this discussion presents a false choice.

Rotherman correctly contends that whether to focus more on how to learn rather than what to learn has been debated since the days of Plato, though you wouldn’t know it from the fact that some education circles label it as a “new” approach. The International Baccalaureate Organization, for example, has been using an “inquiry” approach to education for 30 years.
Rotherman’s main point is that having the skills without the proper amount of content does not provide an adequate context for using the skills and critical thinking. That is, learners must have the content foundation upon which to exercise these skills.

To critically analyze various documents requires engagement with content and a framework within which to place the information. It’s impossible, for instance, to critically analyze the American Revolution without understanding the facts and context surrounding that event. Unfortunately, state, national, and international assessments show that despite a two-decade-long focus on standards, American schools still are not delivering a content-rich curriculum for all students.

Unfortunately some 21st-century skills proponents believe these skills should replace the teaching of content. They believe that because so much new knowledge is being created, students should focus onhow to know instead of knowing. This view threatens to reopen a debate in American education that is not new either: content pitted against critical thinking rather than the two complementing each other.

Ultimately, schools need to use both approaches, and I’m not sure that either philosophy is more important that the other. Students need to be able to provide a content context for information and also need to be able to analyze and expand upon it. To the degree that schools do both, they will be successful in preparing learners for the 21st century, in my view.

March 28, 2009 Posted by | skills | Leave a comment

E-Flashcard Generation

Charles Sipe of
School Tools Blog introduces some absolutely incredible sites for making flashcards online. These can obviously be used for a myriad of educational purposes.  One example:


Unlike Cramberry, Quizlet allows you to search and find flash card sets created by other users. A nice feature of this site is that it allows you to play games with the flash card sets. In “Space Race” you have to type in the corresponding definition or answer before the term crosses the screen. If you miss, the game prompts you to type in the answer to reinforce the correct response.

Pros: There are tons of pre-made flash card sets on a wide range of subjects. The games make studying fun.

Cons: The games don’t really work with long definitions

March 28, 2009 Posted by | technology, tools | Leave a comment