Kevin Blissett: Out of the Cave

Leadership, Classroom 2.0, Curriculum, China

Ride the Technological Wave in Classrooms, or Get Left Behind

ride-waveThere continues to be resistance among some in education who see learning social networking skills and online publishing as somehow outside of the framework of the set curriculum. I could not disagree more. I have seen my learners’ writing skills improve astronomically via use of our classroom blogs, and recognize that so much of social interaction, finding a job, shopping, etc. is being done online. These are skills that must be developed–emphasizing the benefits as well as the dangers–in order to prepare learners for success in their future lives.

Julie Lindsay addresses this topic in her e-Learning Journeys blog. An excerpt:

I tried to explain that my class does not end when the students work out the door. The collaboration, interaction and socialisation continues. My students interact with each other, they interact with me, their teacher, via online tools of various names and varieties which could all come under the broad term of ‘social networking’. They have their own online areas, including digital portfolios, as well as community areas. They post to blogs and respond to each other. They are out there using social bookmarking, folksonomy, class wikis, creating podcasts and vodcasts and putting them online, using social imaging (flickr) and anything else I can think of to encourage motivation and excitement in their ultimate quest for learning. I do not apologise for this. I do not essentially see anything wrong with this in 21st century learning. In fact this approach has changed my whole teaching style and changed the way I interact with the students. The development of PLEs (personal learning environments) and ubiquitous and mobile computing means I now start my classes with ‘…open your blogs, refer to the class wiki…etc’ rather than ‘..take out your books and copy from the board’.

Read more.

Photo by San Diego Shooter


April 19, 2009 Posted by | skills, social media, technology | Leave a comment

Assess Yo’self

rhan1079l3Interesting self-assessment here which attempts to identify how good we are at specific problem solving in the workplace. Produced by VitalSmarts.

April 6, 2009 Posted by | professional development, skills, tools | Leave a comment

Not Forgetting Arts and Letters in the Race for Information

In his article, “Pleasure, Beauty, Wonder,” John M. Eger, communications and public policy professor at the University of San Diego, intones a familiar refrain in today’s discussion over how to educate students: Is the beauty in our world and in education being lost in the race for information?

Eger points out the following statistics to illustrate the task assigned to educators:

  • The top 10 jobs for today’s students don’t even exist yet.
  • Adults will change jobs 10 times by the time they reach age 42.
  • Some reports indicate that the amount of data and information has doubled every year in this century.

Clearly, getting a handle on all of this information and determining which is relevant is a major task for the 21st century workforce. However, there is another dynamic working here: In this high volume information age, the arts seem to be taking a back seat to more technologically oriented studies. Eger believes that this is a mistake, and I agree.

Correct use of all of this information is essential. Character, ethics, and a grounding in the humanities are crucial components to properly processing all of the data out there. Eger continues:

Addressing an education conference in late 2006, Dana GioiaRequires Adobe Acrobat Reader, then the chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, said that we need “a system that grounds all students in pleasure, beauty, and wonder.” He added: “If we are going to compete productively with the rest of the world, it’s going to be in terms of creativity and innovation.”

Eger appears to be in favor of an integrated inquiry based approach to education. I have no problem with that notion so long as there is a proper amount of hard content to contextualize it. Students are never even going to scratch the surface of all of the facts out there, but they do need enough of a grounding and context to make sense of them. Moreover, they need a foundation in non-tech disciplines in order to correctly process and apply the knowledge.

April 1, 2009 Posted by | skills, technology, university | 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

Kevin’s Skills

I have a broad and effective skillset demonstrated by the following:

  • Educational systems creation and management
  • Curriculum development and management
  • Squeezing the most out of an administrative budget
  • Educational marketing
  • Developing outside support networks
  • IT skills, including Word, Excel, Acrobat, Photoshop, Dream Weaver, html and css, Publisher, etc.
  • Current with and excited about all the newest technologies
  • Fluent in English and Spanish;  novice to moderate in Korean, Mandarin, and German
  • Good relationships with colleagues and students, and the ability to pull the best out of them
  • Good working and personal relationship with Chinese staff

March 15, 2009 Posted by | skills, technology | Leave a comment