About a dozen of our teachers were able to have a wonderful conversation on April 10th with Alec Couros, professor of Educational Technology, at the University of Regina in Saskatchewan. The first thing Alec Couros did when he arrived at Fraser Heights was check in on Foursquare and check out our open wireless campus. He was very pleased at how open our wireless is as he was able to access everything he was looking for and he knows that our students can do the same. What a treat it was and what rich conversations we had. Dr. Couros was in the Surrey School District for a few days to meet with teachers and administrators about 21 century learning. His session was called: Anytime, Anywhere, Anyone: Transitioning Toward 21 Century Learning. Our informal conversation at Fraser Heights covered lots of ground. Its safe to say everyone in the room found the conversation stimulating and engaging. It was at times challenging and provocative and really stretched our thinking. We talked about a quote that I thought was from Alec’s brother George @gcouros who also recently visited our school district but the statement is actually from Scott Mcleod @mcleod and it is “If you are not using social media, you are slowly becoming illiterate.” We discussed what is meant by this and how our definitions of literacy are changing. For example if you or our students do not know what a hashtag is or a retweet then you are slowly becoming illiterate. Alec Couros showed us the new standards of literacy developed by NCTE National Council for Teachers of English framework for 21 century curriculum and assessment. The standards for literacy are changing in what some would call a post literate age.
Our conversation also lead to assessment practices. One teacher asked how you can assess a blog vs a powerpoint vs an imovie for example? Dr. Couros suggested we ask the students which we are more able to learn from and why.
Some of my other new learning from the conversations with Alec Couros includes: Commenting is as important as blogging. We often encourage our students to blog but students can learn just as much from commenting on others blogs as from their own blog writing. That we need to ask our students how did they contribute to the learning of others? That learning is social and that it needs to be shared. How are we teaching digital citizenship in our schools? We saw examples of what 21st century learning looks like. We also saw examples of student’s work whereby students were are able to share their learning in a variety of media. Sometimes they shared learning where the learning all came from the web or YouTube. He told us that reading and writing changes in the post literate generation. And that hypertext changes everything about learning. Books are no longer one dimensional. We watched a YouTube video of Joe’s non-netbook.
Here was an interesting teaching idea for an English teacher to use twitter. Ask students ” What would Hamlet tweet?”
Our conversations gave us many new ideas for teaching and learning in this digital age. We are grateful to Dr. Couros for his visit to Fraser Heights Secondary and to the Surrey School District. We have a new friend who has given us a lot to think about.