Yesterday was unusual day in our home, not only did I have the Home School Tweet locked down tight in protest of SOPA and PIPA, but my kids were given free rein to learn on their own all day (well within reason anyways) while I soaked in all that the Cyberlearning Research Summit had to offer via webcast. The summit was sponsored by sponsored by the National Science Foundation, hosted by SRI International, the National Geographic Society, and the Lawrence Hall of Science and received additional support from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Now I know the term “Cyberlearning” is one that makes many home school parents a little squeamish and stand offish as virtual schools and kids glued to desktops all day is what comes to mind, but in fact it is SO MUCH more and I want to talk to you about it today and explain what you as a home educator can take away from a learning summit intended for mainstream education.
So I’m going to start with the obvious and recurring theme of the summit yesterday, “We are in a post-PC era, especially when it comes to education."
What is this Post PC Era I Speak Of?
It is an age, as Curt Bonk of Indiana University put it yesterday, where EVERYONE can learn anything. Mobile devices, tablets and more allow students of all ages to engage in increasing their knowledge at varying levels. Children of migrant workers in South America who once received very little in the way of education are now learning like never before thanks to mobile devices.
Learning now comes in the form of interactive games such via SMART Boards, virtual labs at museums and even interactive digital textbooks that encourage students to really think about the text they have just read and connect it to prior knowledge.
Unfortunately, I have come to realize that many home school families are not ready for the post PC era of education, as they are still working in a pre-PC manner.
What are Home Educators Afraid Of?
How do I know that home educators are timid when it comes to technology, well, it boils down to surveys I’ve taken and close observations over the past year. It seems to me that beyond the occasional “game” and use of the word processing software with a printer, many of you feel like your thwarting your child’s education if you utilize technology. In fact, I wrote about how the Waldorf schools believe technology has virtually NO place in a child’s education. Here is where I must remind you, like with all things, there must be a balance.
I personally love the methods of Charlotte Mason and even Waldorf. I’m all for children experiencing subjects with their own hands and of course I believe in the power of good books, I am children’s book addict after all. However, education is changing and if home educators cannot find a way to change along with it, I’m afraid they will leave their students and themselves in a state of bewilderment in the future.
Embrace the Shifts in Education
Did you know that South Korea has a plan to convert to a fully digital curriculum by 2015? Did you know that the leaders in STEM education in our nation have a dream of that same goal here? Even more importantly, did you know that this shift isn’t focused on just learning with the newest technology out their because it is the “cool” thing to do, but because the newest advancements allow us to analyze, teach and understand the transfer of knowledge in ways that we may not have once thought possible?